6.16.10 Reviews (Part 1)
DV8: Gods & Monsters #3 (DC/Wildstorm): I should probably be taking a couple more hours to collect my thoughts before posting this review, but I couldn’t contain my excitement over what I just witnessed. Starting with Rebekah Isaacs’ contribution, I love the way the diversity of the settings she depicts are perfectly capable of keeping pace with an aggressive writer. She has quickly become a favorite with just a couple of issues of this title, capable of delivering bold graceful lines like long-time Brian Wood collaborator Becky Cloonan, or lines as intricate as someone like Frank Quitely (look at The Carrier!). The vibrant colors of Carrie Strachan are part of the equation here as well, but the real hook for me is the writing. Wood sort of lulls us in with Powerhaus in a secluded hut adorned by scantily clad women, inhaling some substance. Of course, he also continues the engaging interrogation/debrief sequence with Gem, which is a smart exchange devoid of any overt exposition. And, he also proves that he’s still capable of turning a clever phrase which grabs you by the brain and demands attention, throwaway gems like “And let me tell you something, Ms. poly-cotton tech-wick track jacket, Ms. iPod, Ms. lab-vat-rat genactive future girl…” But the real meat on the bone is the basic examination of what it means to have powers. How that would affect a wide range of human psyches, and what the perceptions from those people and the rest of the world would be. He’s proving that, in actuality, “superpowers” would be far more problematic than superheroic, and that the perception of the masses would be that the figures were, well… “gods and monsters.” It’s this deconstruction, this examination of functionality and feasibility that everyone should be noticing. While it’s filled with smart observations, like magic, science, and religion lying on a continuum of understood technology, and while one could argue this is merely an extension of his fascination with the concept of character identity, the main focus is this tinkering with the genre, and it’s understated and surprising. To the casual observer, DV8 is masquerading as some passive reinterpretation of a 1990’s Image Comics property, a disposable adventure about some team mysteriously marooned on some planet, but to those of us in-the-know and wary of such dismissive parsing of our generation's rock star writer, it’s this very in-your-face post-modern superhero analysis. It calls to mind works like B. Clay Moore and Jeremy Haun’s Battle Hymn and Warren Ellis’ recent No Hero. Who would have ever thought that such a strong indy creator, the same guy who delivered Channel Zero, Supermarket, Demo, and Local… the same Vertigo powerhouse responsible for DMZ and Northlanders, would also quietly bring us this examination of heroes after the figurative (and literal) fall, an analysis of the flawed paradigm that superheroes seem destined to occupy. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this is Brian Wood’s Watchmen. Grade A+.