12.03.09 Reviews (Part 2)

Echo #17 (Abstract Studio): Yeah, that image is of #16, though this review is actually for #17. I always have a hard time finding images of current Echo issues online, it’s really annoying, so I just used the most generic cover I could find, and I think Moore does the same thing for solicits. This cover using the Phi Project symbol was never an actual cover, but it seems to work for my purposes, and his. In my quest to find the cover to #17, I did stumble across this little gem directly from Moore himself: “It’s official. We have made a deal for the film rights to Echo with Watchmen/Hellboy producer Lloyd Levin. The deal was outed today by Variety. Needless to say, I’m very pleased about this. More details later, but my plan is to get Echo made as a movie, and SiP on TV (think HBO).” That’s great! Anyhow, this issue (say it with me, #17) is unlike any previous in that it almost plays like an interlude that cuts away from the action with Julie and is a big data dump that fills in much of the back story surrounding the Phi Project and creation of the Beta (and Alpha!) suit(s). Moore gives you a big huge sign post right at the beginning, signifying that this is something different – something special, with the tightly zoomed shot of the fly perched atop a tomato in scientist Will Dumfries’ salad. The fly to man, is analogous of man to the power of science/nature/nuclear war, you name your own noun that best completes the SAT analogy exercise. Dumfries answers so many of the questions that have lingered with the audience – this is a do-not-miss issue, I can’t say it any more clearly. He covers the genesis of the Phi Project and Annie’s critical role for Dillon and Dan, and provides a history lesson regarding base-10 mathematics and the implications for modern science, all culminating with the creation of alloy 618. There’s plenty of rich text to parse, but it’s never boring, never dull, never obtuse or condescending. Moore understands how to please an audience regardless of topic. In fact, he’s a little bit of a magician here, using some terrific and organic storytelling misdirection. We become so absorbed and engrossed by what Dumfries has to say that we never see what’s coming for him personally. Not only is the book superbly entertaining, but Moore poses some challenging intellectual dilemmas as well. In the march of progress, scientists can become so preoccupied with whether or not they can do something, that they never stop to ask if they should. God damn, my mind keeps going back to Will Dumfries. That scene plays like a confession that will ultimately break your heart. It’s probably one of, if not the, best single scenes in any comic I’ve read all year long. Despite one minor typo, forgeries spelled as “forgories,” I’m inclined to give the ever elusive Grade A+.

Supergod #2 (Avatar Press): In many ways, it’s fitting that I read these two comics back to back. This issue of Supergod felt opposite of Echo #17 in the way it handled quasi-fictional scientific ideas and how they were integrated into the storytelling. In typical Warren Ellis fashion, there’s a lot of science to dissect in this issue. We get lines like, ahem, “forced to meditate upon his own atomic structure until he could perceive the quantum foam of every particle of his being birthing and annihilating under the certainty principle.” Now, I don’t really know what the heck that means, but I have some vague idea because it sounds remarkably similar to what Ambrose Chase just did over in the last issue of Ellis’ own Planetary series in order to save himself. My point is that it sounds like Ellis showing off a wild concept, not like an organic line that one of his characters might deliver. In Moore’s Echo, we get a lot of mind-bending science as well, but it sounds like Will Dumfries the scientist having a natural conversation with another character, not like Warren Ellis the writer having a forced conversation with his readers, simply using his paper man as a cipher. We get plenty of those types of lines here, things like “mega-reactor Buddha’s spine,” which was impressive visually, but I felt distracted. The script calls for an Israeli Uzi sub-machine gun, but Gastonny pencils something a little more akin to an Ingram MAC-10. And I’m not sure why the scene featuring it was even necessary in the first place. Maitreya looks a little too much like Spider Jerusalem for me. I kept getting pushed out by things like this. Gastonny’s art looked a little more simplified here, and not as detailed as the introductory issue. Generally, I thought it was interesting to see all of the different paths that the different countries heros took, China’s hero experimenting with his captors, India’s cleaning up, Iran’s straying, the Soviet Union’s being taken out, and the American on the move, but this issue really felt like a lot of middle, with a lot of exposition that couldn’t be masked as well as the first issue pulled it off. All of this tells me that I’m going to give this series the “No Hero” treatment, and trade-wait it. Grade B.

I also picked up;

Ex Machina: Deluxe Edition: Volume 02 (DC/Wildstorm): This volume collects issues 12-20, including the two-part specials penciled by Chris Sprouse. Yay! Chris Sprouse! Why isn’t he working more?


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