3.20.2008

3.19.08 Reviews (Part 2)

Wasteland #15 (Oni Press): It takes heaps of confident bravado to propose an idea this experimental and actually pull it off. In a daring move, Johnston and Mitten give us nearly an entire issue in Sand-Eater speak, providing some insight into this part of the post-apocalyptic culture, along with interesting flashbacks full of clues as to the origin of their created universe. The idea of “A-Ree-Yass-I” being a corrupted form of “Area 51” again rears its head, and again I’ll remind everyone that I first mentioned that months ago here at 13 Minutes, really, check the archives. But, I actually don’t think creators as crafty as these two would use something that relatively simple to figure out. Their clues are harder and more engaging than that to crack. I just can’t wait for each successive issue; I’m so excited to discover the secret origins of The Big Wet. How’d we get here? Medical experiments? Biological plague? Nuclear holocaust? Global warming? Environmental disaster? The options are as endless as they are appealing. Thanks again to the gang at Oni Press for including a pull quote from me on the back cover of this issue! Wussslanddis agraaadeboog, urilly speg-taklur deeesplaya riiiiteeen thaaaa- What? Too much Sand-Eater? Ok, Wasteland is a great book; it’s a really spectacular display of writing and art that defies genre categorization and transcends the confines of the medium to achieve not just pop culture perfection, but social relevance as a cautionary tale. Grade A.

Fear Agent: Hatchet Job #3 (Dark Horse): Jerome Opena’s art is on fire! This issue, he seems to be channeling his inner Frank Quitely, from the cover to the very last page we get the slender pencils and nuanced details of an artist at the top of his game. I will confess that I miss the trademark Samuel Clemens quotes, but the entire package of damsels in distress, space faring rogues, imaginative alien conflicts, and retro sci-fi monster mash has basically captured the spirit of what adventure comics should be. Grade A-.

War is Hell: The First Flight of The Phantom Eagle #1 (Marvel/Max): The opening page of narration really got me into the right mindset for what I imagined this story to be. Then I got pushed right back out because of some pretty stock characterization and hoary dialogue. There’s the dingleberry American who glamorizes warfare until he actually encounters it, the slightly aloof Brits, the humorously drunk and raving mad commanding officer, and… I don’t know. For a book entitled “War is Hell,” I sort of expect a more serious tone. Thankfully, the entire package is redeemed somewhat by Chaykin’s interior art and John Cassaday’s *perfect* covers. The artists will likely compel me to return for an issue or two, but I’ll definitely be looking for the gravitas of the opening text boxes rather than the clichéd dialogue found within this first installment. Grade B+.

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