2.04.2010

2.03.10 Reviews (Part 2)

Scalped #34 (DC/Vertigo): As Chief Red Crow is getting absolutely pummeled, Diesel monologues his way through an interesting POV about taking care of yourself fire and foremost, potential ways out of the tight spot they're in, and the FBI’s questionable agenda and treatment of a state like South Dakota. In typical Scalped fashion, even the dirtiest and most ruthless men can be rendered complex and sympathetic when the focus is on them and their realism comes to light… though… it appears Dash Bad Horse may have another plan. Heh. The single page of text boxes that functions as the crescendo for this scene is simply a masterpiece. It’s an overwhelming sample of writing, full of powerful emotion, exquisite and exhaustive, describing in glorious detail the nature of violence these guys are reduced to. I wanted to include an excerpt of the dialogue, but fuck, I found myself retyping the entire page and I don’t want to spoil it for you. Buy the book. Read it. If I was Jason Aaron, I would immediately purge all copies of whatever I was using as a professional resume and just print out a bunch of copies of this script page on nice paper and use that as my damn resume for all future potential writing gigs. The Gnawing arc comes to a close, with more icing on the luscious cake. We see the fate of Carol take a big step forward, the denouement of the informant who could finger Bad Horse, Dash himself re-establishing his cover, and the Hmongs being lured into a wicked trap. It’s both clever and scary as hell to think that Red Crow probably resolved that situation in the least violent manner possible. Like Sun Tzu, he kept his opponent off balance and allowed them to relax with a false sense of security. He tried to keep it relatively “quiet” instead of letting it spill out into a bloody war on the streets of The Rez. Shunka continues to be my favorite character, the stoic right hand man with a growing sense of tension between him and Dash Bad Horse. Does Shunka throw a suspicious askew glance his way because he’s threatened by Dash as a possible replacement? Or does he still suspect Dash could be FBI? Shunka was alone a long time with the informant, and maybe he knows the truth about Dash as the informant uttered his last words before getting capped. It would be just like Jason Aaron to not let us in on that little secret, having Shunka play it close to the vest, and ultimately dropping a bombshell at the least opportune time. My mind races with possibilities and Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera have crafted one of the rare “must read” titles in recent memory, that keeps you on the edge of your seat, thirsting for the next installment. On top of it all, a DV8 preview. This book is fucking insane! Grade A+.

Invincible Iron Man #23 (Marvel): Matt Fraction plays some fun semantic games in this issue, with organic lines like “I am Iron Man” and Tony’s perception of self hinging on the word “the.” Tony Stark and Stephen Strange continue their conversation between their astral projection selves, as Tony plays the confused scientist trying to make sense of a chaotic narrative inside his mind, grappling with the dream world he’s fabricated. Occasionally, some of the dialogue choices sound a bit too Matrix-y for my taste. “The Bureaucrat” sounds an awful lot like “The Oracle” or “The Architect” or “The Merovingian” or many of the other things I hated about the Wachowski trilogy, particularly the last two installments. [If you want to see their best work, check out the film Bound with Joe Pantoliano, Christopher Meloni, and Gina Gershon]. In some advance reviews I read of this book, it’s taken some flak for being “talky” and not having any action. I think that opinion is ridiculous. I like that it’s a quieter piece; I like that it’s atypical. Fraction is offering up a lot of introspection here about what makes this character. He’s destroying a man and then literally rebuilding the persona before our very eyes. It’s rousing without involving fisticuffs. Rian Hughes' covers continue to delight, visually representing what’s going on during the inside story. Salvador Larroca’s pencils continue to grow, this time showing signs of a few growing pains. While I applaud his dedication to losing many of the more overt photo-referencing incidents, here his pencils suffer from not looking as polished as they typically do. Some of the bulbous facial tics were distracting. I am still enjoying the interplay between all of the women in Tony’s life. It’s interesting to view them through a certain lense, as counterpoints to the various aspects of Tony. It’s another manner in which Fraction has produced a very layered piece of work. Psychological aspects of Tony’s self struggle with themselves on the mental plane, while the women, as physical extensions of him, clash in their own regard, with Pepper Potts and Maria Hill coming to an uneasy understanding about sexual encounters with Tony. Awwwkward! Grade A.

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