Codename: Knockout #0–4
[Vertigo/DC Comics $2.50 US $4.25 CAN]
Written by Robert Rodi / Penciled by Luis Small, Jr. & Yanick Paquette (4) / Inked by George Freeman (1), Mark Farmer (1–4)
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Codename: Knockout #3Some people complain that the Vertigo titles are too dark and depressing. If you’re one of those people you should pick up Codename: Knockout. Take a small pinch of the Austin Powers tongue-in-cheek spy wackiness, throw in a dash of Will & Grace’s snappy patter and then add a whole bunch of beautifully done good girl art and you end up with a pretty good idea of what Vertigo’s newest series is like.

Angela St. Grace is an operative for G.O.O.D. (Global Organization for the Obliteration of Dastardliness). Angela’s partner, Go Go Fiasco, is a handsome young gay man who has more in his past than the writer is willing to share in these five issues but I’m sure more will be revealed in future issues. It’s a good thing Angela’s partner is gay because she spends most of this series either nude or in various stages of undress. In issue one Angela and Go Go fight off a ninja attack while they’re both stark naked. It was kind of fun seeing how cleverly the artist would hide certain body parts.

If Angela’s life weren’t hectic enough fighting the forces of E.V.I.L. (Extralegal Vendors of Iniquity and Licentiousness) she discovers that her mother Celeste, aka the Executive Director of G.O.O.D., has been keeping a big secret from Angela concerning the identity of her father. In fact that’s the story arc for issues zero through three. I don’t want to spoil the plot so I’ll just say Angela finally meets her father and he invites her to join him in his work.

Issue four’s “Fleshback ’73: St. Grace Under Fire” gives a little history on Celeste (codename: Bombshell) and how she met Angela’s father. You can definitely tell Angela is Celeste’s daughter because Celeste gets naked just as easily as Angela does.

The fact that this series doesn’t take itself seriously at all is a plus. It’s a refreshing change from Vertigo’s usual ongoing line-up. They’ve dabbled in comedic titles in the past but they’re usually mini-series or one-shots. But the light tone can get a little old after a while and it doesn’t always create a good environment for character development. Angela and Go Go have yet to break out of the stereotypical roles assigned to them and with the tone of this series they may never.

The artwork in this series is stunning. Louis Small, Jr. handles the action sequences very well and his panel layouts are logical but dynamic. As stunning as Angela St. Grace is she looks like a real person...well, a real super-model person. But his other characters are also given a distinct look. You don’t get any cookie-cutter character designs. And with the help of Mark Farmer, Louis Small, Jr. is turning out some of the best good girl art on the shelves today. They also give us a little bit of good guy art in the form of Go Go in the buff but the comic is definitely skewed toward the male reader.

Codename: Knockout is a fun series but I’m not sure how long the momentum will last. Comics of this type can tend to get old if they don’t find a way to keep things fresh.

This title should still be available at your local comic shop or ask about reordering if they‘re out. You can visit the DC Comics web site at www.dccomics.com for more information about Codename: Knockout.