1.10.2008

1.09.08 Reviews

Scalped #13 (DC/Vertigo): Jason Aaron runs a nice bit of parallel storytelling here concerning the (arc) titular “Dead Mothers.” It’s remarkable again to me how many panels are sans dialogue and how many overall pages contain very minimal dialogue. The creative team is really relying on the art to convey setting, mood, and various story beats. Case in point, check out the panel where Dash is performing a bust and we see a half naked chic suspended from the ceiling. We instantly know where we are, what we’re doing, and how we’re supposed to feel about it, all without any exposition whatsoever. These are truly collaborators with a mastery of the duality of the medium. This is a nice set up for the next story arc that highlights what passes for police tactics on the reservation. Aaron is careful to present the cyclical nature of violence in this world, as a youngster is touched by strife which will ultimately spawn an entirely new generation of troubled kin. Grade A.

BPRD: 1946 #1 (Dark Horse): It’s great fun to see a young Professor Bruttenholm and the post-war Berlin of the Mignola-verse, with different Allied sectors vying for control of the collapsed Nazi epicenter. While there is some pretty stock “dirty dozen” characterization, overall we hit just the right horror notes, and Paul Azaceta’s gritty pencils perfectly capture the bleak remnants of the Reich’s occult experimentation. Grade B+.

The Twelve #1 (Marvel): I do like the way that these lesser known Marvel/Timely characters were woven into the tapestry of the more familiar icons of the time and even modernized with integration into the Superhuman Registration Act. Like BPRD this week, there’s a noticeable focus in the zeitgeist on the Russians’ ruthlessness as they took parts of the city during the fall of Berlin. I was into The Phantom Reporter as the POV character and thought his observant investigative mind deducing the clues around him was played well. I really appreciated the fact that JMS’s script was not de-compressed in the slightest and he accomplished here in one issue what lesser writers would have taken six issues to do. Chris “Ministry of Space” Weston’s art is also solid. Not earth-shattering, but competent and perfectly pleasant. I found it hard to believe that 12 heroes in cryo-stasis would go undiscovered in a major metropolitan city for 60 years. I also had trouble swallowing the Colonel’s speech, with its naïve nature regarding the 12 being some sort of idealized perfect heroes when they’re really just people who have their own inherent personalities, foibles, and flaws. Worth checking out at least two more issues, clocking in with Grade B.

Youngblood #1 (Image): Having never touched a previous Youngblood property, I bought this out of respect for Joe Casey. Surprisingly, Derec Donovan’s art is pleasant, reminding me of early Scott “Nightwing” McDaniel in spots, with the angular faces and extreme perspective shots. On the “recap” page we get an interesting, albeit completely transparent, industry commentary that functions as a dual narrative regarding the fictitious Youngblood team’s comeback and the real comeback of the property you’re holding in your hands. Casey’s usual media sphere of confluence is present, if a little thick. Apparently Douglas McGarry is the nephew of Leo McGarry, the White House Chief of Staff to Jed Bartlett (Martin Sheen) and nominated Vice President of Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) on Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, played by the late John Spencer. There are also some outdated John Travolta and Dire Straits references, a plethora of jabs at The Empire Strikes Back, Oprah Winfrey, and even uber-cute (to the point of uber-annoying) Rachel Ray. It’s difficult to tell if Casey’s script leans more toward rip-off/homage or satirical media blender. I suppose there’s some important commentary here on pre-packaged personalities full of corporatized spin, but I just feel like this isn’t a terribly imaginative or innovative angle in the modern age, where just about anyone off the street would make the same observations and agree. I didn’t like the staged villain and felt like Casey missed the mark on what viral marketing is all about. Pop culture personalities having MySpace pages that are a planned marketing angle, designed and contributed to by committee, is the very antithesis of true viral marketing. I suppose if you read this as straight superhero fair, it will come across as pure cheese. If you read it as a satirical comedy, it’s a tired form of entertainment, like the very reality TV shows it purports to condemn, which begs the circular question – what’s the point? Because I tend to trust Joe Casey, I’ll give it an issue or two, but for now, a very hesitant Grade B-.

The Infinite Horizon #2 (Image): It really bugs me that the back cover copy needs to be edited. The “sentence” that reads “In this modern re-imagining of Homer’s The Odyssey, a soldier’s long journey home after years in the Middle East” lacks a verb and thus ceases to be a sentence. We also have “she would worry about too much about you,” boasting an extra “about.” Oh, the fun’s not over yet. The last typo I caught before I sorta’ glazed over in disappointment was “just they were dead,” which in addition to being a fragment, just sounds awkward and doesn’t make sense. Phil Noto’s usual elegant lines feel hurried and stiff with skimpy backgrounds. I don’t understand the different factions in this world and what their motivations are. Why did the sub attack their vessel? Why did the protagonist feel the need to ram the sub? The Captain’s monologue also felt wooden with no real gravitas or regret detectable regarding the horrible fate he subjected the members of the abandoned ship to. The high premise here is still golden, but this issue fell extremely flat and wasn’t as promising as the first. Grade B-.

I also picked up;

BPRD: Volume 7: The Garden of Souls (Dark Horse)

2 Comments:

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Big Tom Casual said...

"We instantly know where we are, what we’re doing, and how we’re supposed to feel about it, all without any exposition whatsoever."

I loved that line. Good shit Justin, keep it up! Thanks for the welcome wishes, it's good to be back in the rhythm of things. :)

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Hey Tom, thanks for stopping by! Needless to say, everyting about this book is just clicking for me.

 

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