1.06.2010

1.06.10 Reviews (Part 2)

Stumptown #2 (Oni Press): This issue made me smile on the very first page. The intellect, charm, and overall vibrancy in the dialogue were all instantly appealing. Greg Rucka starts playing again with audience expectations regarding Dex’s sexuality, but ultimately (and wisely) settles on an (albeit middling) answer to avoid the fascination becoming a needless distraction. He lands squarely on the way one of my close friends describes her own sexual orientation – which is to say “greedy, err… bisexual” (her words, not mine). I like watching Dex navigate her surroundings, relying on a powerful balance of brains and flirtatious manipulation to get her way. Matthew Southworth’s pencils show a lot of diligence in their execution and overall the end result is solid, if a little stiff in spots, such as the shot of Dex and Volk squaring off in the squad room. On the lettering end, (or perhaps this was a printing glitch) some of the words during the conversation with Isabel appeared a little fuzzy to me. As Dex continues to chase down elusive leads, finds herself being lied to and knowing it, and getting herself tailed, I keep thinking back to Rucka’s work on Queen & Country. Stumptown has all of the plot intricacy and research, nearly everything that made Q&C a hit. I appreciate that the story is challenging, but not unfair. We’re often in the dark as to motivations and direction, but Rucka is careful to dole out clues as we go, we learn right along with Dex, watching some pieces of the puzzle start to come together. My personal taste tells me that I’ll always prefer espionage (all things being equal) over hard-hitting crime noir, but with that personal qualification out of the way, I can also safely say that Stumptown is quickly becoming a very close contender for my second favorite piece of Rucka’s writing, in a rather large and accomplished body of work. Grade A.

Echo #18 (Abstract Studio): I can actually hear that truck roaring by, the sound effects are so vivid with the style of lettering used. I enjoyed the entry level lab employees becoming paranoid and suspicious over people dying on the Phi Project. That scene is a great example of dialogue that doesn’t possess an overt affectation in the way that some Mamet/Sorkin/Bendis characters typically speak. It’s more grounded in reality and just as entertaining due to its authenticity. Terry Moore is always able to crisply capture emotions, such as the old drifter’s crazy ramblings quickly escalating into being really scary and intimidating, and then unexpectedly ending absolutely horrifically. That blend of emotion is coupled with themes and events that capture a wide range of storytelling elements. We see sci-fi, mystery, adventure, a twinge of superhero, and a sort of Dr. Richard Kimball as The Fugitive survival-on-the-run vibe, along with the relational dynamics that made SiP so well received. I just adored the conversation between Ivy and Julie. It was so enjoyable to see their incredible bond form and Ivy speaking with the guiding voice of a parent. Moore is building himself a parable here, about the responsibilities of power and technology in the Modern Age. There are moments that epitomize much of what I love about this book. “I have a long attention span” and the speechless sequence that followed. There’s such an incredibly strong sense of character present in lines like “You know, you’re pretty good at putting two and two together. Would you be my therapist?” I try really hard not to throw blind hyperbole around in order to ensure a balanced review, but this is empirical fact when you catalogue all of the evidence available about plot construction, character arcing, scripting skills, penciling ability, lettering, production quality, uniqueness, and overall package. I love this book. That voice inside of me keeps urging me to say this without reservation. I’m finally going to. This book is perfect. Grade A+.

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