2.28.07 Reviews - Part 2
The Killer #3 (Archaia Studios Press): Jacamon and Matz have crafted the perfect pulp noir thriller. It captures a man conflicted by his own existence, struggling to justify his life and reconcile his own place in the world. In addition to being a brilliantly entertaining crime book with violence that shatters reality in the way it's depicted, it taps directly into one of man's primordial existential dilemmas. This is a modern work of art which has already immediately earned itself a place in the pantheon of respected industry works. Grade A+.
The Living & The Dead (Fantagraphics): Norwegian cartoonist Jason delivers yet another of his anthropomorphic (superficially a "funny animal book") tales that transcends its ostensible look to capture some very adult and sophisticated themes. This time around, the two core premises rise out from a tale about a dishwasher amid a meteor crashing down that causes undead zombies to emerge. Lesson one is simply "carpe diem," do what you want to do - now. Because tomorrow, the girl you're interested in might become one of those zombies and dash your hopes of a relationship. Lesson two is that love can transcend all. Regardless of Jason's subject matter or the themes he plays with, he is a master of panel to panel storyteling, able to express complex ideas and character motivations using his fine line alone, with little to no dialogue. Grade A.
The Secret History #1 (Archaia Studios Press): I really like the premise of this book, and the outline for the entire series as a matter of fact, but it read a little dense and slow in spots. I know that this is really a "setting up the world" issue that plants the seeds for the rest of the run, but still, a little yawn-inducing at times. Kordey's art ranges from being the completely inky and lush masterpiece we'd expect to feeling a little crowded and perhaps rushed in spots, like some of his panels didn't have room to breathe. Overall though, I'm excited about this promising new title from the upstart publisher that seems to be offering hit after selective hit. Grade B.
X-Factor #16 (Marvel): I suppose this issue does highlight an interesting moral choice for Jamie Madrox, someone who is admittedly notorious for shirking responsibility and decision-making, but... I can't escape the feeling that this plays like a total stand-alone "filler" issue that could have been inserted just about anywhere. It's also hampered by the ridiculously rotating round-table of artists. I guess Pablo Raimondi is meant to be the "regular" (using that term quite loosely here since no artist since Ryan Sook seems to last more than 3 issues) artist now? The ideal situation is to have a good artist last for say, 12 issues, or at least one arc for pity's sake. Barring that, we can have good artists (plural) last for a few issues, or we can have a single crappy artist last for an arc (at least there's points for consistency), but instead what X-Factor has done is manage to position intself with the worst of both worlds. There is neither quality, nor quantity. A bunch of less than stellar artists, none of whom stick around for very long. Really poor job in the editorial department here. A pity that Marvel doesn't take one of the best *written* X-Books more seriously. Grade B-.
Fear Agent #11 (Image): Ahem... speaking of books with cruddy inconsistent art that feel like filler issues... On the positive side, there are a couple isolated moments where the art does hint at an Igor Kordey type of vibe, but for the most part it's inconsistent and didn't serve the story very well. And this is, what? The 5th artist on this book? In 11 issues? That's not very good. There were some ok lines (I recall something funny about having a permit?), but for the most part the Western humor falls totally flat juxtaposed against the bug-like creatures. Just when I was considering dropping this book, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel in the text piece at the back. I had forgotten this is the last Image issue, as the series will now move to Dark Horse and adopt what Remender calls the "BPRD/Hellboy" format. Meaning: Fear Agent will occur as an ongoing series of mini-series penned by Remender with the alternating artistic chops of Tony Moore and Jerome Opena (which for my money are the two best artists that've worked on the series). Tales of the Fear Agent will be an ancillary title showcasing a rotating cast of creators (which if you actually think about it, makes the combination much more akin to a "BPRD/Hellboy: Weird Tales" format than a straight "BPRD/Hellboy," the main Fear Agent title more closely resembling the BPRD structure and the Tales of the Fear Agent title being like Hellboy: Weird Tales). So, Remender's analogy isn't quite accurate, but I actually do like the intent here. If, yes that's a highly caveated *if* folks, they can actually deliver on this, I think the title will be back on track in a strong, strong way. A cautiously optimistic, Grade B-.