3.11.2010

3.10.10 Reviews (Part 2)

Daytripper #4 (DC/Vertigo): Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba continue their examination of the paths taken and not taken, some stopped short either figuratively or literally. This issue focuses in on a couple of compelling concepts, like the mirror themes of life and death occupying the same space in time. The Brazilians’ beautiful images are haunting; I think they could illustrate anything and I’d want to read it just for the pleasure of taking in the robust line work. Daytripper will be one of those series that some people might miss while the single issue installments garner critical acclaim, but is going to have a long life in the eventual collected edition. As events here twist back and touch on happenings in previous issues, the emotions of grief and sorrow are seen manifesting in different ways, on their time. Bras’ mother provides a nice window into the idea of the random memories that comprise our impressions of people. While some might think the art of Moon and Ba outweighs their sometimes saccharine scripting ability, it’s important to point out how smart and subtle they can be too. Notice the way Bras’ father says “son,” alerting his hidden half-sister that it’s her cue to leave. Perhaps the greatest strength of this book is its failure to exert dogmatic adherence to continuity. It allows a very liberating exploration of the many facets of the identity of one man. We’re so conditioned by the formulaic plotting in bestseller books and in Hollywood films (think about the sometimes enjoyable, but repetitive body of work of M. Night Shyamalan) that part of our brain anticipates some type of third act twist revelation that will explain how these things could possibly keep happening to Bras and force them to be plausible, all neatly working together. But, I hope that never comes. It’s quickly becoming clear that the point of the series is not necessarily to tell a linear story, but to examine life’s experiences, and the many choices and paths available to everyone navigating existence. I hope it remains ethereal and meandering and a slightly-less-than-lucid world, it’s what makes the book unique. In early promotional interviews for the book, the brothers described it as “a book about life,” which at the time felt like empty meaningless hyperbole, but it’s really earning that description. With every choice that Bras makes, we ask ourselves what we’d do in that situation and begin to review our own decisions during our own pivotal moments of the past. If one of the hallmarks of any “good art” is to inspire emotional introspection and the posing of philosophical quandaries, then Daytripper succeeds and may well be earning entry into the elusive realm of fine art. Grade A.

DMZ #51 (DC/Vertigo): It won’t come as a big surprise, but it’s another really good issue of DMZ. As “M.I.A.” Matthew Roth wanders like a surviving cockroach through a near ghost town, it’s a nice chance for Brian Wood to take stock and let the readership catch their breath for a moment after moving at a breakneck pace since the earliest introduction of Parco Delgado. Courtesy of the gripping Liberty News feed, we learn that large portions of Connecticut have been evacuated from the literal and figurative fallout of events in issue 49. We learn of the engrossing potential reunification of the country, as the US has the supposed moral imperative to eradicate not only The Delgado Nation, but also the FSA movement. The validity of that (suggested) fabricated imperative is quickly called into question in the media war over the type of nuke used, by whom, and for what true purpose. I think one of my favorite things about this issue was the way regular series artist Riccardo Burchielli laces his art with a few spikes. There’s the lone black and white panel capturing the desperation and ugliness of things Matty is seeing in “upper upper Manhattan.” And then there’s the graffiti like “fiddling Nero” and “NYC Cannot Die” scrawled on the sides of the buildings. While the critic in me appreciates the way it captures the social outlook of a broken city, the creative mind in me wonders how much of that was directed by Brian Wood in the script, and how much was the natural flourish of an artist working in perfect unison with his collaborator. At the end of the day, Matty will need to re-invent himself and his role in the DMZ, further fueling Wood’s fascination with character identity, all while contending with the thought that he’s going to die inside as long as he exists inside a city that’s dying. Grade A.

Batman & Robin #10 (DC): The style of Andy Clarke is certainly not as jarring a transition away from Frank Quitely as the previous art stewards have been. At times, Clarke’s line might be a little too lean and anemic in spots, but it’s mostly enjoyable. If anything, it’s serviceable enough not to be a distraction and quietly lay in the background, giving Grant Morrison’s script the full attention on the page. Morrison returns to his Easter Egg style plotting, leaving all manner of cryptic clues in the dialogue and winding back on earlier figures like Oberon Sexton, The Black Glove, and El Penitente. I’m not sure if I like Bat-lore retroactively pre-empting Bruce Wayne’s dalliance with the nocturnal creatures, but admittedly it was fun to see Solomon Wayne, secret caves, and new genealogy as Bruce, lost in time courtesy of The Omega Effect, is sending messages up through the past to Dick, Damian, and Alfred. It was also interesting to see the conflicted personality of Damian, caught between his mother’s plotting and actually attempting to defend Dick. At times, it feels a bit too Da Vinci Code, with clues conveniently leading right to the next one, no time to think or process, just accept the leaps that advance the plot, but I don’t know how much high art I can hold out for with a Batman & Robin book. I can’t say I was blown away by anything here, artistically or creatively, but it’s good enough to earn a Grade B.

6 Comments:

At 5:51 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

RE: Daytripper #4. Amen, brother.

In the past couple months, I find myself pushing this book in front of more faces than any other comic on the stands. The result so far has been unanimously positive.

Justin says, "Daytripper will be one of those series that some people might miss while the single issue installments garner critical acclaim, but is going to have a long life in the eventual collected edition."

I feel fortunate to be on the monthly release schedule with Daytripper, as I'm not very prompt to buy many of my books these days. This is the ONE comic I'm itching to devour every fourth Wednesday. I feel like this will be a release we look back on and brag that fan-brag, "I remember picking up those single issues as they were coming out. We knew this was going to be something really special...something to be remembered."

I'll admit, the start was a bit confounding. Daytripper #1 had me interested and #2 left me questioning and curious. #3 confirmed the pattern while #4 confirmed that I'll be buying the rest of the series. :)

I can't sign off without geeking-out about Dave Stewart's colors. His subtle, pastel, watercolor-textured palette always leaves me pining for more. Don't get me wrong, the Brazilian Bros. make a delicious meal with each installment, but Dave Stewart turns it into a feast!

Long live Daytripper <--(irony intended...poor Bras),

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics
www.ElephantEater.com

 
At 9:03 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Ryan,

Same exact pattern for me, it's slowly picked up steam and convinced me that it's something special.

Let me ask you this, as a big Craig Thompson fan, do you find any similarities in the art?

Thanks,

J

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

I'm not sure I would have pin-pointed it without prompting, but I can see the similarities now that you mention it. Both the Ba/Moon team and Thompson use those fat, gestural brush strokes, so I can see that as a valid comparison.

However, I see Thompson's art as more fluid whereas the Brazilian Bros strike me as more angular and staccato in their inking. Also, if I recall correctly (I don't have either book in front of me currently, and not enough time to go fetch them), Thompson uses a healthy amount of dry-brush technique in Blankets and Carnet, but (again, going from memory) I don't recall that technique in Moon/Ba's work. Seems like each of their strokes is pretty saturated with ink.

This description might be akin to linguists dissecting regional accents (similar yet nuanced), but I do see aesthetic differences between them.

Honestly, my big art-geek stiffy in this series is for is for Dave Stewart's colors. ...in case that slipped under the radar. <:)

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics
www.ElephantEater.com

 
At 12:25 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Hey Ryan,

No qualms over the Dave Stewart stiffy (a sentence I would not have guessed I'd ever speak), he's been turning in great performances all over lately.

"Fat, gestural brush strokes" was definitely what I was picking up on, my writer's mind having a difficult time with apt artistic descriptors! The angular aspect is a good differentiator though, defnitely some Mignola/Dark Horse influence with Ba and Moon that is much different than something like Carnet (which is my personal fave of Thompson - and I know I'm in the minority on that).

I'm anxious to see where it all goes, if it stays in the mold of the first four or takes a wild turn toward the end. It's different, and at this point in my reading life, different is great.

J

 
At 12:48 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

A "Mignola/Dark Horse influence" is another good observation. I can definitely see both in Daytripper's line-work.

In other news, do you know who else shares your sentiments of Carnet over Blankets? Douglas Wolk! :) ...a person about whom I'll speak more tomorrow. Ha-ha!

See you @ ElephantEater.com,

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Wow.

I thought I was the lone dissenter. Interested to see what you cook up tomorrow!

 

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