"Kiss of Death, Part 2: The Nine"
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Andy Clarke
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: Lorena is able to figure out the true identity of the serial killer, and she decides to confront the killer directly, which she soon discovers is not the best of plans. The issue then jumps forward a bit as Aquaman continues his investigation seemingly unaware that the killer is someone tied very close to the case. However, as the case proceeds it becomes clear that Aquaman wasn't as trusting as he seemed, and the killer is brought to justice in pretty short order.
Comments: I guess I should have remembered the golden rule of all hidden killer stories: the killer is always introduced to the readers during the initial set-up. With this in mind since the previous chapter only brought two new characters to the table and one of them had been dismissed as having far too loose a grasp on his sanity to be the killer, I guess I really shouldn't be surprised by this issue's unexpected revelation when it came to the killer's identity. However, the writing managed to successfully catch me off guard, as when the killer is revealed I actually stopped for a moment and went back over the dialogue to make sure I had read the scene correctly. Now the success of this twist owes quite a bit of credit to the simple fact that the story had planted the character right in the centre of the investigation, and as such the easiest method of spotting the hidden killer didn't emerge, as the character wasn't a extraneous element that could be brought back to the table when it came time for the killer to be revealed. The story also had the added advantage that it ry turned this card over pretty early in the issue, and as such I wasn't expecting it, as everyone knows the killer isn't revealed until the end of the story. Now this issue does earn itself a check mark in the negative column with its failure to properly address the situation with Lorena, The way the story reads it's almost like the killer was confronted by a person who had figured out their identity, but instead of killing them to protect their secret, they simply knocked them out and left them free to wake up and give everyone else a heads up about the killer's identity. Still the scene where Lorena ends up on the receiving end of a beating nicely questions why this character holds the role of Aquaman's sidekick. I also have to say this issue also comes up with another interesting bit of ocean life that Aquaman brings into play. The final panel also manages to nicely cross off the final question.
This issue goes a little bubble crazy, as while I realize that this is a visual element that allows the artist to fill the background, this issue went a little overboard. Still, I guess it's better that Andy Clarke is guilty of putting too much detail on the page rather than too little, as if nothing else it speaks to the fact that he put a great deal of care and attention on the page. In fact, it's the little details that left me the most impressed, as I love the fact that the art plays with the characters' hair as it's used to sell the motion of a character. The art also does a nice job of the panel presenting the gathered police force, as the art perfectly presents the sceptical attitude of the gathered cast. The art also offers up a nice little moment where the killer changes from an ally to an enemy, as the character's eyes are able to reflect complete innocence in one panel and murderous fury in the next. I wasn't overly impressed by this issue's cover art though, as it's a rather flat looking action shot.
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