11.04.09 Reviews (Part 3)

Pope Hats #1 (AdHouse): Ethan Rilly’s self-published work was the winner of a 2008 Xeric Grant and is now being distributed by AdHouse Books. Rilly’s pencils have a very clean DIY style that have more full bodied figure work than someone like say, Jessica Abel. I like both creators, but Rilly’s characters seem to glide a little more effortlessly across the page, whereas Abel's figures seem sharper, and tend to punctuate actions. His use of perspective is especially unique and the generous inks feel warm and inviting. Most self-published work can easily slip into autobiographical navel-gazing, but Rilly avoids that pitfall and provides something a little more accessible that addresses a new generation engaging with their existence on their own terms. I particularly enjoyed the eerie paranormal stories that make up the last chunk of the book. Grade B.

The Great Ten #1 (DC): Bedard’s script gives us a nice one page introduction on the history of China, spotlighting the political differences between the mainland People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the island nation of Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC). That conflict continues to be manifested in the super team The Great Ten. There is a lot of (read: too much) time spent on weaving the opposing paradigms of Beijing and Taipei, Communist and Nationalist, throughout the story. The members of The Great Ten have their own internal conflict over the repressive PRC methods of dealing with social uprising and Accomplished Perfect Physician’s more progressive stance. It really reads more like a primer of modern day Chinese politics than an engaging superhero story. If that’s what you’re after, it’s very well done and informative, if a little on the boring side. Assumably, each of the ten issues will spotlight a different member of The Great Ten, and that I find appealing, since it will really be the first time these characters are developed beyond the conceptual, and serve as a platform for their potential future use. The introduction of an entirely new team, a more Nationalist team with nature based powers, to counter the more Communist based existing team, is also an interesting twist, but seems a little premature to include for the very first issue. I’m intrigued, but not nearly sold. I’ll give it another issue or so to see where it goes. Scott McDaniel’s art is quite a treat. His style suits this street level martial arts action very well, and his page layouts have certainly improved over time with little flourishes along the panel borders. It makes me miss his work on Nightwing, or even the short lived Richard Dragon series. Grade B.


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