9.23.09 Reviews (Part 2)
Detective Comics #857 (DC): If you’re one of those people who was enamored of JH Williams’ art, but couldn’t quite get a foothold on Greg Rucka’s Religion of Crime super-story, then this issue may certainly feel more suitable. While it still boasts Williams’ amazing pencils, the story focuses less on the macro elements and is a relatively straightforward action caper, complete with Kate gearing up, motorcycle rides, aerial superheroics, stabbings, and dramatic falls and reveals involving a familiar named “Beth.” Rucka also brings his ear for procedural lingo to the table that I miss from books like Queen & Country or Checkmate, with dad yelling seemingly cryptic instructions like “MOPP for CW” and some great radio traffic during the landing sequence. In spite of Rucka’s heightened clarity, the real treat is still Williams’ pencils. What an awesome cover. What thrilling interior art. JH3 is a master at directing the reader’s eye around the page, the slight horizontal tilt pulling us through the action. There’s a touch of P. Craig Russell’s ethereal whimsy, the inventive layouts and multimedia convergence of David Mack, and the clear strong figure work of someone like Ryan Sook, all combining to attain a look that’s uniquely JH’s and derivative of no one. You can spot a JH Williams page from a mile off and gasp delightfully at its readable originality. Visually, this is the most creative book on the stands. But, aww, no Flamebird? If I didn’t feel like I was paying an extra dollar for The Question (which I didn’t even read this time), there would be a “+” on this Grade A.
Echo #15 (Abstract Studio): I thought it was a little odd that the cover image has nothing to do with the content of the book; in fact, it’s actually a little misleading. That observation aside… Moore brings it yet again. We see his typical rousing action sequences paired with the most realistic dialogue to be found, and he’s equally adept at depicting both the big-bang spectacles and quiet character moments. Along the way, supporting characters like Pam get fleshed out, Ivy moves closer to the main cast, and the ruthlessness of HeNRI comes to light. I’m left with just one question that’s been hinted at for at least two issues now – what’s in Julie’s box?! This is one of the best books that more people need to read. It seems to be flying quietly under the radar with little of the fanfare it so richly deserves. Come on, people. This is issue after issue of basically perfect comic book storytelling. Read it. Talk about it. Blog about it. Evangelize. Grade A.
Wasteland #26 (Oni Press): This issue spotlights Yan, with fascinating looks at (now) Primate Skot and High Disciple Jakob, who have both been favorite second tier characters in The Big Wet saga. The political maneuverings of Newbegin never fail to entertain. There’s the mystery of Mary, who was recently introduced, and the question of the government’s stability as the Sunners get some representation. True, it does feel like a lot of talking heads as Antony Johnston catapults us out of the gate into another story arc that’s sure to delight, but the biggest draw for me in this particular issue was Christopher Mitten’s pencils. He seems like a new man here. The pencils look different. There seems to be so much more detail in the figures, particularly their facial expressions. The backgrounds also feel more fully realized. They were great before, but it’s as if more effort is consciously being placed on adding fine lines in the foreground and thicker inks in the background. Maybe it’s my perception being altered after some time away, but it’s almost as if Mitten’s foray into the fully painted issue 25, or perhaps some of his side projects, had a noticeable effect on his black and white work. It’s interesting to watch the evolution of an artist’s skills and damn if those Artisian masks don’t remind me of being in Venice for Carnival. Grade A.