12.09.09 Reviews (Part 2)

DMZ #48 (DC/Vertigo): “Mercurial.” Heh. I loved that. It shows a more playful side of Brian Wood’s writing, with a flair for the self-aware vocabularic stylings many writers find themselves contending with. John Paul Leon’s cover works magically to pull us voyeuristically into Riccardo Burchielli’s depictions of choppers overhead with their tri-bladed bleakness pervading the city. I enjoyed the inclusion of more of the Radio Free DMZ persona and am curious if the identity of that person is going to be a main plot focus or is simply a nice bit of embellishment to the rich world of Manhattan. Things again get ratcheted up to the point of breaking, with Matty getting forcibly motivated, and an attack that I’m wondering if it’s targeted or collateral. Matty gives an order in anger that is likely to start a war. This fourth (of five) issue of the Hearts & Minds arc made me really uncomfortable and I finally figured out why. At first, I noticed that I was frustrated because Parco’s end game isn’t clear. I’m not frustrated with Brian Wood’s writing ability or anything like that, but because he actually made me feel like a resident of the DMZ. I’m frustrated only because I have no idea where this is going, and I’m fucking nervous with anticipation, as if I'm sitting there in some street corner cafe myself, waiting for the next car bomb. It’s total submission, a vulnerable loss of control as we completely surrender to Wood’s writing talent, and he has his way with the audience, totally unaware of what life altering, game-changing danger might be lurking around the corner. Also included is a preview for Joe The Barbarian by Grant Morrison & Sean Murphy. At a $1 price point for the introductory issue, that’s a no-brainer. Grade A.

Invincible Iron Man #21 (Marvel): Aside from a rough patch of inter-company continuity, Fraction is still firing away here, consistently delivering the best book Marvel is currently publishing. So… Steve Rogers?! Huhwha?! Umm, yeah, he’s not even back in his own book or mini-series yet, so why the fuck is he here? Does it have anything to do with the fact that this book is dated February 2010? Does that mean that Iron Man is actually ahead of schedule; or at the very least, shipping on time? And the rest of the Marvel books are late? So the continuity is all jacked and out of sync? What do the editors actually freakin’ do while not, uhh, editorialing? Those must be some really long, liquid lunches they’re taking. Anywho… I still like the dual narrative. Tony in the desert with his parents, the quest for identity continually disrupted by his own errant technology in his mind’s eye is handled with aplomb. Even in the talky bits with Madame Masque and The Ghost, we’re never bored or lacking in entertainment, they hum with the same vibrant energy that all the rest do. Larroca’s pencils have grown to be quietly confident, depicting the raw emotion of Pepper Potts. Fraction litters the dialogue with his best Warren Ellis sci-fi, discussing “Stark-Rand” repulsors and callbacks to the Extremis enhancile. The loose association of Tony Stark confidants is impressive as they come together to reassemble their fallen friend. Pepper is the heart, Maria the brains, Rhodey the mechanic, Cap’s shield the conduit, with Thor supplying the raw power to jump-start Tony Stark 2.0 into life. If you’re missing Iron Man, you’re missing some of the finest straight up superhero comics currently available. Grade A.


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