Echo #11 (Abstract Studio): If you’ve ever watched one of those movies that made you shout at the screen “No, don’t do that! Don’t go in there! Why are you doing that?! Pick up the gun! Come on, nobody talks like that! That’s not realistic! That’s stupid! That would never happen! WHAT?!” – then Echo is the complete opposite of that. I can’t recall another comic that so realistically captures people’s plausible reactions to totally fantastical events. As the mysterious drifter comes into full contact, we’re left wondering if he’s trying to steal the other parts of the suit and consolidate power(?) or if there is some other motive or deranged wannabe deity psychosis at work. There’s an exchange that would make Dan Brown proud, spouting copious amounts of theory and fact, and revealing the dazzling connections between math, biology, ancient cultures, and the heavens. This issue of Echo really has a lyrical quality to it, cinematically editing the jump cuts between scenes in a beautiful way, as they bounce from the present, to dream-like flashbacks, to channeled memories, to other events. In a way it really reminded me of the series finale of Battlestar Galactica, after a brutal battle Kara jumps the dying Battlestar, cut to a scene of her and Lee doing shots years before in a bit of corrolary storytelling bravado... but I digress. As usual, Echo remains one of the best comics out there and amid a lackluster list of Eisner Nominees this year, one of the few bright spots was seeing Terry Moore get a nod for Best New Series – he should totally win this category. Grade A.
Ignition City #1 (Avatar Press): With Black Summer, No Hero, Aetheric Mechanics, and Anna Mercury, Avatar really is becoming the “house that Warren Ellis built.” And that’s fine, while there are some recycled ideas and common threads in all of his work, there are some absolute gems as well. Ignition City offers up an alternate history of Earth, where space travel became possible as early as the 1940’s and looks to be shutting down in 1956 due to regulatory control, after much exploration and interstellar conflict, where Earth doesn’t appear to have been the clear victor. Sometimes I get the sense that Warren Ellis has a journal somewhere in which he jots down disparate story ideas in a long list. When it’s time to belch out another series for some publisher, he goes down the list and goes “ok, let's see... item 4, 9, 23, 71, and 113, now I’ll come up with some thin storyline to hamstring them all together” and voila – Ignition City. Despite that feeling of haphazard assemblage, there’s nice play here with the “Highball” Jordan/Dan Dare/Buck Rogers sort of archetype and this first issue really is a nice example of a “world-building” issue that makes a destitute spaceport come to life. Gianluca Pagliarani’s pencils, which were stellar in Aetheric Mechanics, I think actually suffer a bit here from Digikore Studios' coloring, and look surprisingly stiff and flat in spots. Found one typo, “received” instead of “receiving,” and (at least in my copy) there were some printing issues in many of the text boxes, looking like the lettering had a distinct shadow type behind it. We’ll see where this goes. Grade B+.
Wolverine: Weapon X #1 (Marvel): Another Wolverine book?! Yes, because it’s Jason Aaron this one is worth a look. Aaron’s script opens with a lot of rich detail and descriptions that immediately lend a tactile and visceral quality to the story. Ron Garney’s pencils look great, offering a higher level of detail than I remember his nice Captain America pages having; assisted by Jason Keith on coloring, there are some absolutely beautiful panels. One sequence was a bit confusing; I’m not sure how the grenade(?) tear gas canister(?) would be stuck in that dude’s throat and not detonate, then wait until he was inside the compound, be coughed out, and then detonate at precisely the right time. That was a head-scratcher. After a bit of a red herring, the ultimate reveal of Logan is fun and unexpected, and Aaron does offer some clever lines like “Retired, huh? That why you’re wearing four guns?” It’s clear that Aaron understands the character of Wolverine and shows off his world weary brand of confidence tempered with regret, but I have to say the plot does feel like rehash of previously rehashed elements. Secret government facility, blah blah, crazy scientists building the perfect weapon, blah blah, Wolverine has to hunt some people down and be, wait for it... the best at what he does. For a $3.99 price tag, I like that Marvel is consistently putting in some extra material, but the quality of the content seems to vary wildly. The extended pages about Maverick and Weapon X’s origin is so uninteresting. By the second paragraph I found myself tuning out and glazing over because it all sounded something like this: “Weapon X, Charles Xavier, Wolverine, Team X, Cell Six, Weapon X Program, CIA, Omega Red, C-Synthesizer, X-Men, Carbonadium, Adamantium, Vibranium, Alpha Flight, Sabretooth, Maverick, etc.” It’s just X-lore gobbledygook without any pronouns or verbs. This book isn’t bad, but so far doesn’t feel like anything new. There’s no hook. Because it’s Jason Aaron, I’ll give it an issue or two to develop one. Grade B.