Written by Paul Dini
Pencils by Andres Guinaldo
Inks by Raul Fernandez
Colors by Ian Hannin
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Cover by Guillem March
Verdict: 4.5 bats out of 5
Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn discover the culprit behind the corpse that dropped through their skylight in Sirens #9, while the Riddler spends most of the issue trapped in a cage surrounded by wild beasts.
Gotham City Sirens has had a major focus on the Riddler since the beginning (in June 2009), but Paul Dini gives the former villain a much more balanced portrayal than his appearance in Batman #699. The first time Sirens featured the Riddler, Poison Ivy had enthralled him with her pheromones in order to steal his apartment. Instead of a triumphant entrance, resplendent in a green suit, Riddler first appeared in his boxers on a couch, dazed and drooling: not the most dignified of moments. While the Riddler has long since shaken off Ivy's control--and he's not happy about it--he isn't the spotlight-stealing private eye that he was in Batman. When the Sirens came to the Riddler for assistance last issue, the case could have been a rehash of previous Riddler/Hero partnerships, but it quickly becomes apparent that the girls were only using him as bait to draw out the villain. The Riddler is still clever enough to deduce the identity of the girl Doctor Aesop had murdered, and he does talk Aesop into eventually letting him out of the cage. He's not out of character, but he doesn't take too much attention away from the heroines.
Doctor Aesop appeared once before in the DC Universe, during the "Heart of Hush" storyline of Detective Comics. He's a rather standard gimmick-based villain, the sort that wouldn't have been out of place in the 1960s Batman television series. However, he manages to be a genuine threat--even an old man with a cane can be frightening when he has a pack of lions and wolves at his back. (Especially when said old man has been trained in Portuguese cane-fighting.)
There seems to be a curse on Gotham City Sirens. No artist, no matter how skilled they are on other titles, can draw the main characters correctly. Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn are known throughout comics for their skintight and/or skimpy costumes, and so one expects some "fanservice" scenes designed to show off their physique. However, the art on Gotham City Sirens shows off the female bodies in such a way that is not only gratuitous but also anatomically incorrect. Harley Quinn especially seems to contort her body in ways that cannot possibly be comfortable. The depiction of the female protagonists is the one downside of Gotham City Sirens.
A personal anecdote: When this reviewer bought the first issue of Gotham City Sirens, the male comic shop owner apologized for the art, because even he noticed how gratuitous the sexualization was. For a comic starring three spandex-clad women, an artist has to go pretty far for his art to be deemed "gratuitous."
What say you, Gentle Readers? Is there such a thing as too much fanservice? Give your opinions in the comments as well as in the poll on the sidebar. We'll touch on this issue in more detail in a later post.