2.02.2007

1.31.07 Reviews

Wasteland #6 (Oni Press): Mitten's pencils seem to be growing leaps and bounds here. I was a huge fan of his Queen & Country arc, but here there's a little something extra. In addition to his bold angular lines and subtle effective facial expressions, we get these detailed lush backgrounds. Really. Stop and check out what's beyond the characters in the foreground. There's some amazing landscapes (which is a tricky thing to do when you think about it, keep the backgrounds interesting when the story is essentially set in a desert/wasteland) and then we get some amazing cityscapes too. Check out the majestic worn beauty of that first beautiful shot our travelers get of Newbegin. Johnston's script feels like a runaway locomotive here, just before it gets to the washed out bridge. Our travelers are falling apart, making it to Newbegin on their last legs, the council in Newbegin is going through a little coup d'etat, and some baddies are gearing up for a showdown. All of these plot points are building tension and set on an intercept couse - oh my, it's going to be a fun convergence. Metatextually, Wasteland is becoming mythic. All of these individual plot threads are entertaining on their own, but when you weave them all together we see man in his bleak future struggling to make sense out of his incomprehensible surroundings. Wasteland is simply one of the most politically charged books out there, imbued with the spirit to do something grand. Yes, it's inspired. Grade A+.

Note: Special thanks to Antony Johnston, Christopher Mitten, and the gang at Oni Press who used a snippet of my review for #5 as a pull quote for #6. That's right! Check out that back cover of #6 and you'll see some comments from 13 Minutes!

Ex Machina #26 (DC/Wildstorm): It's getting difficult for me to review Ex Machina and say anything meaningful. It remains my favorite BKV helmed title by a country mile. It's always socially relevant, has crisp witty dialogue that hums along, keeps me on the edge of my seat thematically, and is rendered with lush, beautiful, and deep effects. It's like writing the same review every single issue. If you're not buying this book... well, there's just no excuse for that. Buy this book! Grade A.

Kabuki: The Alchemy #8 (Marvel/Icon): There is no past. There is no future. There is simply a series of moments known as "now." Fully embody the moment; live without regret. Kabuki remains the most innovative book around, utilizing a pastiche of artistic styles, David Mack's self-aware creations transcend the medium and make us consider our place in the world and how we interact with it, this is art in the truest sense. Grade A.

Usagi Yojimbo #100 (Dark Horse): This special tribute issue uses a brilliant framing device - a roast for creator Stan Sakai in which a rotating cast of creators, publishers, and editors provide comments and anecdotes, all in different art styles, that draw much needed attention to this quiet craftsman (and his Rabbit Ronin) who don't get nearly the attention they deserve. Grade B+.

Wonderlost #1 (Image): CB Cebulski's series of shorts may be braver than most since it reveals intimate personal details, but it falls into some of the pitfalls that most autobiographical books do. Sure, there are moments that we can connect with, moments that may shock or titillate, moments that reveal small truths about life, but it never escapes the the traps of a) isn't this just a little self-indulgent? and b) what's the point? On the former, few autobiographical books can transcend the knee-jerk reaction of self-indulgence. As for the latter, it's sort of like eating some crackers when you're hungry. It's not as savory as candy or as satisfying as a sandwich, and is ultimately utterly forgettable. Not to mention, this was a $5.99 cracker. It's good, but not that good. Grade B-.

52: Week Thirty-Nine (DC): I liked one little tiny inconsequential thing about this issue, Ethan Van Sciver's portrayal of Count Werner Vertigo on the edge of one panel of the back up story. That sliver of delight aside, it doesn't get much more expository than "We haven't time left to deliberate, Ralph. The aethers are fast converging, and you must take action soon or risk losing your wife forever." Oh... is *that* what's happening? This model of storytelling is still having problems with plot threads from long ago being long absent, it's been so long that I'd forgotten about the Red Tornado head turning up in Australia. I finally realized I don't really care anymore - about any of it. I don't have the energy to read 13 more issues of this, the endless collage of plot threads (wait, we're on Oolong Island, no we're in Kahndaq, Nanda Parbat, The Bottle City of Kandor, Space Sector whatchamacallit with Starfire and Animal Man, Atlantis, Metropolis, wait, no, we're here, we're there...) that come and go as they please, begging many more questions than they answer. I'll let the ironic dialogue of Natasha speak for itself: "It's like the whole project has come off the rails. None of this is making sense anymore!" I just want the key points in the missing year summarized for me in crisp bullet points on two PowerPoint slides. Thanks. Grade D-.

Random Rant: Overall, DC is having some major issues trying to resolve what they did to the timeline. So, now (the idea this week as the Editors make it up as they go along) apparently 52 will culminate with WWIII (never mind the fact that Grant Morrison already did WWIII in his JLA run). But 52 is technically in the past; the "missing year." So how come all of the One Year Later books made no reference to the events in the self-proclaimed "mega-hit" 52 or WWIII? Where the fuck are we in the timeline? Infinite Crisis, One Year Later, 52: The "Missing Year," and now WWIII, which is still technically in the past, yet current events are linking us to the Kingdom Come universe, which was technically an Elseworlds story and not in continuity? Umm, What? WTF? I thought that the effects of Infinite Crisis were going to clean up continuity by integrating the multiverses? That may be the case, but the timeline of the "regular" DCU (regardless of the complications that possible multiverses would invoke) is now terribly out of whack. The one thing I kinda' cared about was Dick proposing to Barbara at the end of Infinite Crisis, which was before OYL and assumably before 52 and WWIII. So, uhh, when was that? And how come it's never been resolved even though we're technically in the second year of stories after it actually occurred in sequence? What year is it? When will this ever get reconciled? Hello, anyone? Infinite Crisis? More like Infinite Crap.

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