11.26.2009

11.25.09 Reviews (Part 2)

Detective Comics #859 (DC): While there are a few minor mix-ups between the Army and Marine Corps, Rucka’s script hones in on the reasoning behind Kate’s inherent distrust of organizations and perhaps why she has a penchant to go it alone. It’s also interesting that we see Kate not as a stereotypical closeted homosexual, but someone who isn’t afraid to be open, honest, and proud of her sexuality, which is all capped off by an unexpected and touching scene with her father about a personal code of ethics and sense of honor. Williams’ pencils still delight, the highlight here for me isn’t the bestial scenes that some might cite for his unique panel layouts, but a speechless sequence featuring Batman, that not only inspires a direction in Kate’s life, but showcases Williams’ strengths as a visual storyteller, capable of relaying a critical moment in the heroine's personal history without a single piece of text. It sounds odd to say, but in terms of art and writing, if you were to combine the experimental confidence of Promethea and well researched industrial parlance of Queen & Country, you'd land somewhere around Batwoman in Detective Comics. Grade A.

I Am Legion #6 (DDP/Humanoids): My knee jerk reaction once I got a few pages in was that this will read much better when collected. It’s a pretty intricate plot with so many names, motives, and sets being thrown around. As usual, John Cassaday’s pencils are on fire. Look at the close up shot of a man’s eyes welling up, on the verge of crying. In that one small panel, there is so much realism, so much emotion captured, so much energy just pouring out of that panel, you can almost see the man’s chin quivering as he fights back the tears. It’s just one small example of the kinetic detail crammed into every panel. This won't be Cassaday's most popular penciling effort, but it is surely one of his best. He does the action, the silhouettes, and the talky bits all with equal precision. At the end, I Am Legion proved to be a bit of a text heavy slow burn with delicious pencils, but for the patient and willing audience it’s a strong tale that blends the paranormal vampire mythos with historical fiction, ending with high level politics and an open-ended denouement. Grade A.

Invincible Iron Man #20 (Marvel): “Dying is the superhero retirement plan.” This is the Matt Fraction I want to be writing Uncanny X-Men. This incarnation of Iron Man is still basically a perfect modern superhero epic. The Rian Hughes cover pulls you right in to all of the different threads inside Tony’s mind. There’s him with his parents in a sort of purgatory style limbo. There’s his automated message from beyond that is part apology, part confession, part tactician’s plan, part gift to his closest friends. It’s fascinating that Pepper is one member of the “team” who needs more time to decide if Tony is worth resurrecting. There’s continued machinations with Whitney, nice bonus material in the saga supplement, and while there’s multiple taking heads pages, literally, Larroca makes it convincing, it’s never boring, always compelling. Grade A.

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