2.22.2007

2.21.07 Reviews - Part 2

Hunter & Painter (Buenaventura Press): Another wonderful little mini-comic from the prolific Tom Gauld: http://www.cabanonpress.com/. This was a charming little tale about, you guessed it, the village Hunter and Painter, and how they challenge the prevalent archetypes in their little society, capturing moods and hitting sweet little notes of friendship, isolation, fate, and transcendence. Grade A.

Silent War #2 (Marvel): David Hine's script is bristling with energy about a society that truly believes in peace, yet is well prepared for war. And it's a war that's shaping up to be much more interesting than the Civil War that preceded it. The allegorical references to Churchill having anthrax bombs to retaliate against the German fire bombings proves that all it takes to win sometimes is the will to do what the other guy won't. The real treat here though, worth the price of admission alone, is Frazer Irving's dark quirky art style which is a perfect mate for the Inhumans. It creeps along with a troubling energy that nails the ethereal, otherworldy look required to depict those from Attilan. I was also taken with the little cookies he leaves everywhere, like a faceless Maria Hill (perhaps representing the homogenized government machine that she represents?) and the shadows of Quicksilver along the wall (which boast some devil horns as seen from the perspective of Luna, Crystal, and the Royal Family). Good script with great art? I say Grade A.

DMZ #16 (DC/Vertigo): This issue really hits on the beat of identity - just who is Matty Roth? What is he truly loyal to? There's a strong message here about the balance of reporting the news vs. becoming the news, as all factions now have reason to distrust him and his actions directly progress the plot of what he's supposedly reporting on. It's also full of hypocritical irony - that the US encourages the sending of UN troops as "peacekeepers" in numerous foreign states, but would of course be outraged if that every happened on US soil. The "Free States" as "insurgents" also makes for a nice verbal juxtaposition. Trustwell essentially has one arm creating demand for services by covertly backing insurgent cells, while the other arm publicly offers clean up in the form of Security Services. Nothing like creating your own market in a vacuum. It's kind of like funding Middle Eastern, government-aligned oil barons with money and military hardware, then going to root them out 10 or 20 years later in a purported war on terror, pocketing political favors and kickbacks with your cast of nepotistic cronies along the way. Oh wait, that's not a comic book plot. Grade A.

Local #8 (Oni Press): Megan fends off a bevy of suitors as she confronts her right to something better in life. Her quest for proper entitlement meets the weird reality that relationships sometimes just go all odd and irrational. As a former restaurateur, I particularly enjoyed the creative team capturing the universal truth that all restaurants, no matter if it's Pizza Hut or the trendiest 5-star joint in town, all restaurants are seedy dens of iniquity, rife with flirtation, incestuous relationships, and petty political posturing. All in that "special way" that's appealing to outsiders ("hey, I bet working there was fun!"), but never repeatable to those in the know ("umm, it's fun for a second until you get inevitably burned out on that lifestyle"). What started as stand-alone issues with disparate connectivity is now becoming more focused on Megan and her journey to adulthood, as she learns lessons, both difficult and subtle, along the way. That type of gritty genuine storytelling coupled with art that is the perfect marriage of Paul Pope and Farel Dalrymple gets you... Grade A.

Immortal Iron Fist #3 (Marvel): The cover image of Iron Fist still fronts with a torso that's weirdly elongated and hurts my brain to look at. But, other than that, Aja's art is totally strong. The script confidently chugs along here; I like the nice time jumping scenes, which make the whole thing feel kind of epic in proportion. It's no longer just about some martial artist street brawler type, but about a man's familial quest to understand and accept his place in the world. The flashback scenes have some Guy Davis influence and the curvature of the gymnastics on that 9 panel grid page are downright graceful in their balance. Throw in some Steranko style pop art to the fight scene with Orson and Danny and this thing is reading like an artistic primer on various modern styles. Grade A-.

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