11.26.2008

11.26.08 Reviews

Wasteland #22 (Oni Press): Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten’s masterpiece is best digested when read as socially relevant commentary on our own world. It might seem odd to think that a futuristic, post-apocalyptic tale of scavengers and mutants on the edge of civilized existence could serve as a platform that would ring so true to us in the here and now. But once again, close examination reveals the same struggles with class distinctions, religion, wealth, political maneuvering, and prejudices that inform our own culture. This issue (and perhaps this arc) shines the light on a particular form of female sublimation and ends with a nice last page reveal, though it was a bit telegraphed. Amid the never-ending events and market cock-ups courtesy of the big two, Wasteland offers the simplest and most elegant solution to good publishing, one that is so often overlooked. Tell a compelling story with engaging visuals and you’ll organically create a devoted fan following. The duo of Johnston and Mitten have evolved such a strong brand identity that I’d buy anything from them. Grade A.

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #1 (Dark Horse): Rumor’s suggestion of the animated John Wilkes Booth statue perfectly captures the offbeat sensibility that this title offers with such sheer joie de vivre, the type of lightning in a bottle concept that Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba have dialed in. This first issue of the second arc pairs strong emotional development of the characters with the interpersonal fall out of the first arc and a very rousing fight scene as the ambush of Number Five unfolds. Ba offers a nice little Easter egg in the form of the panel of dog racing from his Eisner Award winning collaboration, 5. Should the rest of this arc continue this wonderful pace, Dallas is poised to surpass its predecessor in enjoyment and appeal. Grade A.

Transhuman #4 (Image): I finally remembered who artist JM Ringuet reminds me of – Scott Kolins. There’s some fun kineticism to the strong line work, but at times the sketchy unfinished style of dashed lines can distract. With lines like “Let go of the old ways of keeping score, stroking egos and defining ourselves as ‘special’ individuals better than the herd,” much of scribe Jonathan Hickman’s story can be reduced to a death of Western thought, the death of capitalism, the quest for something beyond simply amassing wealth. In essence, advantage = greed = stagnation = death = replacement. On the neg, there are still a few technical glitches to be found, like word balloons attributed to the wrong character. On the pos, like much of his work, the ultimate denouement is anti-climactic and one-note if you’re holding your breath to see how it all ends, but when you sit back and enjoy the actual journey, not the destination, this work is quite thought-provoking. Grade B+.

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