4.08.2010

4.07.10 Reviews (Part 2)

Demo: Volume 2 #3 (DC/Vertigo): “Volume One Love Story” is a clever and direct title that belies the psychological complexity of the story that Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan present. It centers on a beautiful young woman with OCD that manifests as a sea of post-it notes directing her life. The most satisfying way for me to read the story was trying to discern what the post-its were functioning for as a metaphor. I think that the post-its can be read as the various societal pressures that are imposed on all of us, whether those are real or perceived stressors that we choose to subscribe to. In that regard, the post-its begin as an attempt for her to navigate her life, they then become her life and are stand-ins for the real and unpredictable experiences that define us. But, by the end, Marlo is seen in a beautiful last page shot where she’s able to begin breaking out of this cycle of anxiety/obsession/compulsion and starts to follow her own voice and not a set of “rules” imposed on her by external factors. In the back matter, the creators mention Cloonan’s attention to people’s hands and their ability to convey emotion. It’s not something that I caught the first time through, but during the second read it’s amazingly obvious and intense. Whether it’s her standing and studying her post-it wall in earnest, playing with her hair nervously, her defensive posture on the bus, or the demure flirtation of the finale, we see Cloonan operating in a gestural form of communication that powerfully complements a subtle Wood script that’s instantly my favorite of the series to date. Grade A.

The Lone Ranger #21 (Dynamite Entertainment): There were parts I liked: Dan’s dreamlike horror mirroring his nightmarish reality in brutal detail. There were parts that bothered me: in one sequence, the trio is travelling horseback from left to right across the page, two riders break left and one rider breaks right. On the next page it’s suddenly flipped and we see one rider going left and two going right. It’s a small thing, but that really annoyed me because usually the title gets the details right. I’ve always liked this title by Brett Matthews, Sergio Cariello, and John Cassaday, but I really feel like I have nothing to say here. This reads like all middle. It’s like reading just a few pages out of one chapter of a book. Regardless of how strong they may be crafted individually, it really needs to be read in context in one sitting. Inevitably, the only way I seem to be able to maximize my enjoyment of this title is to forego single issues and read it in the collected editions. It’s an interesting example of how the medium functions, how collected editions read differently than floppies, and the varying strengths of the structures of some titles. Grade B+.

Batman & Robin #11 (DC): My knee jerk reaction to the latest issue from Grant Morrison and Andy Clarke was: Where? Who? What? DEA? What happened in the last issue again? Demon guys? Oberon Sexton? The issue is full of cryptic Morrisonian doublespeak and I’m not sure if I’m just losing my patience with this title or I was having a bad day and in a food coma from the delicious deli sandwich I’d just consumed. Sometimes the dialogue feels sort of charming, “scented dandy,” but for the most part I can’t escape the overt feeling that I’m being manipulated by a larger DC marketing machine with The Return of Bruce Wayne looming. Since I’m not buying any other Batman titles at the moment (alas, poor Detective Comics), it feels like watching a serialized TV show, but only catching every fifth episode. I’m not sure why Alfred is flying around, how this sits in the larger plot, I forgot all about the cave or what it means to Bruce's time-jumping, clue-leaving MO, not sure if I’m missing clues, or if there are actually any clues to miss. But the big question I keep asking myself is should I still be buying this title? I’m just standing around waiting for it to get better, thinking it’s totally lost its charm. The larger plotlines are lost on me since this is my only entry point into the line. The writing is tangential and filled with pseudo-parenthetical references. The art isn’t enough of a confectionary treat to keep me engaged. It leaves me feeling like it's time to check out. I'll probably wait until the Frazer Irving arc and then make a final decision. Grade B.

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