3.10.2010

3.10.10 Reviews (Part 1)

S.W.O.R.D. #5 (Marvel): Trying to offer up a cogent review for the last issue of a cancelled book feels a bit like serving Perrier on the Hindenburg. I already offered up my post mortem on the series last issue, so let’s do this. As S.W.O.R.D. quietly exits stage left, the cover’s pop art and modern graphic design blend is a reminder that the series was a bit unique. Kieron Gillen and Steven Sanders wrap up the Drenx assault satisfactorily enough, but that’s never really what the series was about. This book was a divergent corner of the Marvel U, with fun art and inventive panels underscoring its quirky tone. It was a wonderfully eclectic ensemble cast, with everyone from Lockheed to Beta Ray Bill and Death’s Head getting in on the action in the finale: “I’m the King Kong who shoots back.” Sure, the title had its stumbly moments, like Beast’s “pursuit” joke here, which is a little painful to endure for an entire page, but at the end of the day there were more highs than lows. As usual, Unit really steals the show, displaying flair as a master tactician multiple steps ahead of everyone else. When his white speech balloons move to black once the subliminal dampening field is turned off, the chilling move is captured with the line “Pawn to D6. Mate in 17.” Now that it’s all said and done, we can call it a nice self-contained “mini-series,” and I hope I see these characters in a similar context again. It’s no “victory orgy,” but it was something different, and I’ll miss it. Grade B.

Ghost Projekt #1 (Oni Press): Steve Rolston’s art is the real draw here, with its vibrant, polished, slick, almost animated style. Dean Trippe’s crisp coloring also deserves a nod, particularly when Oni Press doesn’t offer a great many titles in full color. Rolston’s action oriented fun is a nice distraction from Joe Harris’ scripting, which is not as believable as it ought to be, requiring a little too much suspension of disbelief or active belief in the characters’ naivete. I think if you polled 10 people at random on the street, at least half of them would know what “dosvidanya” meant, having gleaned a few Russian phrases from their pop culture diets. So, it’s hard to believe that a United States Department of Defense Weapons Inspector, assigned to a case in Russia involving potential NBCs (no, not the TV network, that’s Nuclear/Biological/Chemical weapons shorthand used in industry), wouldn’t know what the hell it meant. Are there really still places in the world with brains, eyeballs with optic nerves attached, and full on fetuses in liquid filled jars sitting on the shelf? Really? Isn’t that only on TV? It’s hard to buy into the plausibility of this facility, especially when the supernatural overtones are thrown into the mix with the mysterious MacGuffin propelling the plot forward. On top of all that, it seems like every Russian cliché known to man is trotted out, with everyone named Gregori, Mikhail, Boris, or Dmitri, shouting “bozhe moy!” in their best Chris Claremont rendition of Peter Rasputin. Anya Romanova might as well be dubbed the Exposition Queen, informing us all of the stereotypical plot and subsequent conspiracy to suddenly kill everyone involved, straight out of The X-Files or Fringe (for our younger readers). Will and Kip are not the most likable leads since they feel like high school kids instead of adult professionals… and, I don’t know… the saying is “fortune favors the bold,” not “the brave.” I’m just saying. It sounds like I’m really railing on this title, but despite a heavy dose of scripting pitfalls, I still think it’s worth checking out for that luscious Rolston art. Grade B-.

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