If you’ve read any of my Legends of Tomorrow reviews you’d know Sugar and Spike always received high praise. Instead of reviewing this book from end to end (as I already did anyway) why not deliver it in bite-sized clickbait bits of praise! Also check out our interview, some of which made it into our list below!
Sugar and Spike (DC Comics)
Each issue of Legends of Tomorrow contained a 20 page Sugar and Spike story focused on a different case that had a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Each story delved into the weirdness of superheroes while forcing our protagonists to deal with a variety of villains.
24. Sugar’s attitude.
Sugar is annoyed. She’s pissed. She’s sick of dealing with the drama of the superhero world, but it’s a living. Her attitude gives the series a bit of an edge it would otherwise not have if she wasn’t in it.
23. Tom Napolitano’s letters.
Not enough is said about the lettering of books because, in most cases, if you don’t notice the lettering it did its job. A good comic makes you believe you’re inside the characters’ heads or witnessing a real conversation and the letters in this book do that.
22. Ivan Plascencia’s colors.
They look and feel realistic. The colors of this book remind you these characters live in a world that’s real even though there may be super powered heroes running about. The color of hair and clothes all looks spot on. Considering how detailed Bilquis Evely’s art is (and the amount of flannel Spike wears) the colors are great.
21. It’s funny.
As writer Keith Giffen put it (from an unused portion of our interview), “That’s what one of the things that appealed to me with the book. In a way, Sugar and Spike are the straight men, they go through the book encountering weirdness. Most of this stuff, your first thought is, that’s ridiculous are you insane?!”
20. It shows you the world of DC superheroes from the eyes of two ordinary humans…and they aren’t that impressed.
Since they’re simply average human detectives, Giffen gets to play with the over the top nature of superheroes. More often than not the heroes have been compared to gods as of late, so it’s nice to see them taken down a notch here.
This might seem minor, but Sugar and Spike use tranquilizer guns and only to subdue enemies. They may brandish guns that look real, but it’s partly for show and partly to show how precise these characters are. Gotta hit skin with a dart right?
18. The clothes look lived in and real.
Evely’s art is jaw-droppingly good. The clothes act and move naturally with folds and ruffles. So often in comics you see tight spandex or clothes that have no life to them and faces that are not consistent. Evely brings life to the clothes and by extension life to the characters.
17. It doesn’t forget their roots.
It’s brief, but Giffen has a quiet moment where Sugar looks back at a childhood photo of her and Spike that respects the past of the series.
The last page of this trade paperback directly points out the inspiration of many of these wacky detective stories to the Golden Age, but it’s obvious from the start if you’re paying attention. Though the characters are dressed as they are in the modern DCU, the stories jive with the Golden Age of comics. They used to be a lot more fun people!
15. Superhero cameos!
Superman, Green Lantern, Flash and more! They show up, react to Sugar and Spike (giving them a bit of extra validity) and Giffen reminds us they’re only human. Given all the god-like stories in the DCU this is a breath of fresh air.
14. It’s the buddy cop setup, but they’re not so much buddies.
Sugar and Spike have known each other from the time they were toddlers, but the conflict they exhibit (really Spike has to deal with Sugar’s attitude) enhances the dramatic narrative.
13. The romantic bits are subdued and tantalizing because of it.
Though they’ll probably never be in a relationship, Giffen gives you the impression Spike may want more. That’s tantalizing.
12. Their first superhero detective job is in this book!
Giffen explores the first big break for the characters that involves a superhero in a deadbeat motel. A certain superhero shows up and it’s great fun to see them do good work even when they were new to the job.
Mentioned prior but still, it’s a fantastic homage. Giffen and Evely draw out the covers of the comics that inspired the detective stories in this book–literally. Great stuff.
10. The hair looks so damn good.
Evely draws wavy, thick, and fantastic hair. It looks natural, alive, and tops most great artists.
9. The secret weirdness of heroes is revealed.
Superman created an island that looks like him. Batman requires Sugar and Spike to find and steal back his wacky costumes. Green Lantern has a secret friend that needs saving. Superheroes are weird, man.
8. The backgrounds and environments are highly detailed.
Once again, Evely draws very strong backgrounds that are high in detail that place this story in a very real world. So often comics make the backgrounds flat or undetailed in some way to focus in on the characters, but it can take you out of the experience and makes it feel cartoonish. Not so here. Evely manages to put these realistic looking characters in real looking situations that suits this sort of story and make it feel grounded.
7. The facial expressions are animated and easy to read.
Evely manages to capture Sugar’s every emotion which is where much of the humor of many scenes lives. It also helps you feel the appropriate emotion in a scene. Great stuff.
6. The gumshoe detective story is a rare thing.
Think about it, detective work is done by Batman and not many more. What happened to the gumshoe who worked a case for little pay and a few femme fatales along the way? We have Jessica Jones on Netflix but not much more. This series gives us what we need.
5. Spike’s naive charm.
Rosy cheeks, easily shocked, and follows Sugar’s every order. He’s endearing, people.
4. The art style is unique harkening back to an older time.
Evely’s style is reminiscent of the classic Mary Worth comic strip in all its fine detail and fantastic facial expressions. That and the color by Mat Lopes and Ivan Plascencia give the story an older feel, which suits the story in the series.
3. Well written dialogue, especially the banter!
Sugar and Spike trade barbs, but Sugar also gives the villains in each chapter plenty too. Seriously, read this book to see good banter that adds to the character work.
There’s nothing else like it and the gumshoe detective story deserves to be featured much more than it has been as of late.
1. This is real detective comics.
Right down to the coffee-stained notes and business card panels that open each chapter, you’ll get the sense that this is down and dirty storytelling. The characters get in and get out, revealing aspects of the DC universe you never knew existed.
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