REVIEW: National Comics: Looker #1

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The second of DC’s National Comics one-shots is on the stands, reviving Looker as a supermodel-turned-vampire. Does National Comics: Looker #1 have the it factor? Major Spoilers has the review.

NATIONAL COMICS: LOOKER #1
Written by: Ian Edginton
Art by: Mike S. Miller
Colors by: Rex Lokus with Antonio Fabela
Letters by: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover Art by: Guillem March
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

Previously, in Looker: Looker’s gone through a few changes in the Old DC, transforming from a homely bank teller to a beautiful, psionic superheroine member of the Outsiders. Who then got turned into a vampire. Recently, in the New DC, Looker has popped up in the pages of Batman, Inc., although the National Comics line is supposed to be separate continuity (not that there is anything explicitly stating so on any pages – thanks for the clarity, DC!).

ALL LOOKS, NO HEART

This National Comics incarnation of Looker jettisons all the ugly duckling baggage and embraces the latter-day vampiric stylings of the character. Emily Briggs was once an international supermodel on par with “Cindy, Naomi, Kate and Claudia” until she got bitten by a vampire. No longer able to appear on film (or in a bathing suit shoot, as she notes), Briggs faded behind the scenes, forming her own modeling agency alongside two erstwhile assistants who owe their lives to her vampiric vigilante interventions.

This issue casts Looker as a familiar sort of vampire, of the type that only feeds on the deserving, or as Briggs says, the “pushers, pimps and pornographers.”  This familiarity extends to the plot. Briggs investigates a missing model, suspecting the influence of drugs, even as something darker is going on – blood mixed into cocaine is a fairly good tip-off that not all is right with the world. The investigation moves from point A to B simply and quickly, with a tidy, all-too-easy resolution. The work is generic, with approximately zero tension generated. It also spends too much time setting up relationships that might have a meaningful pay-off for an ongoing series, but have no place in a one issue story. One wonders whether a plot built around the original Looker’s origin might have more narrative possibilities rather than introducing yet another sexy, good-guy vampire.

ART FIT FOR A SUPERMODEL

Mike Miller executes art as beautiful as his character. His backgrounds are lacking at times and there is a certain overall flatness that detracts from the work, but otherwise the art is strong in the usual superhero-style vein. His monstrous design for the issue’s big bad is suitably grotesque, and his action is clear, cool and energetic. No question, Looker #1 at least looks good, even if it doesn’t have the story to match.

NATIONAL COMICS, DO BETTER

As with National Comics: Eternity, this reads like a backdoor pilot for an ongoing series, but similarly, the set-up is entirely too generic. There is a certain school of thought which theorizes these National Comics one-shots are basically single issue pitches for a television series. Nothing I’ve read dissuades me from that notion. It feels like the creators/editors saw necessary to make these characters TV-safe by stripping them of anything identifiably novel or engaging. The bad guy’s reveal that Looker’s world is haunted by creatures worse than vampires sets up a “monster of the week” format that would fit an on-going, but it fails to connect as an interesting ending for this book. DC seems to be missing the boat on these National Comics one-shots. Rather than using them to focus on interesting but overlooked characters, DC is churning out stories that could be told by anyone throwing darts at a printout from TV Tropes. It’s a missed opportunity. National Comics: Looker #1 is an inessential exercise in bland genre storytelling. The strength of the art lifts it to a middle-of-the-road two and a half out of five stars.

Rating: ★★½☆☆