8.04.2010

8.04.10 Reviews

SHIELD #3 (Marvel): From a narrative standpoint, this series is feeling very unwieldy and uneven. For every bit of fascination, there’s a bit of frustration pushing back. The “previously in…” page that’s supposed to catch us up informs us that Leonid has been studying in the Immortal City for three years. Really? I don’t recall there being any passage of time, and it honestly felt like just a few days. Dustin Weaver’s steampunky page layouts are really appealing; I like small design elements like the crest on the sail aboard the SHIELD ship taking Isaac to Rome. The “Five-Fold Understanding” as a methodology to manage reality is very compelling, but with Jonathan Hickman’s script jumping all around in time and place with older and younger versions of people, it can be a little difficult to parse and I found myself flipping back and forth several times in an effort to track who was who. You’ve got cool enough players in Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, and Nostradamus, but at the end of the day it’s a bunch of old white haired caucasian guys who look pretty similar in the book. I liked the bit about the Deviant babbling a human DNA sequence, the bit about posturing and defiance being a thing of hope and promise, as well as the great explanation for the 10 day gap between the transition of the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. Like the best historical fiction, it begins with a piece of known accepted canon and then postulates how it might have gotten that way. Perhaps the best sequence encapsulating my feelings for the book is the line “the intermediary device that I have constructed will provide a clean conversion from potential to actuality…” Now, I have no idea what the hell that means, but it looks like it culminates with some dudes repelling Galactus in 1582 in a stunning scene. In short, I have no idea what anyone is doing or why, but it sure looks cool. Grade B+.

Kane & Lynch #1 (DC/Wildstorm): Superficially, there is absolutely no reason I’d be buying a video game spin-off book that I have absolutely no foreknowledge of. It doesn’t take long to notice though, that every distinct element of this book has it poised for success. There’s a Ben Templesmith cover. There’s this new Wildstorm cover design. There’s this sweet looking, slick, heavy cardstock for the cover. Not only is Christopher Mitten on art, he's in color. And Ian Edginton is a writer I don’t follow religiously, but I have enjoyed some of his work in the past. It’s basically a can’t miss creative team with superb packaging. Those who know me will know that the first thing to catch my eye was Mitten’s art. His angular lines have always been able to capture a stark fractured reality, but here they’re aided by the punch of full color from Tony Avina, and the result is striking. I don’t feel like there is much story to be had here. I grasp some association with a band of elite mercs and the emotional tie of familial strife, but beyond that it’s basically a high octane ride with badass dudes kicking some ass – maybe that’s what I should expect from the video game relationship. Taking a step back and looking at it from a larger business standpoint, I have to wonder if this is the successful future of Wildstorm. Aside from an occasional critical darling like say, Planetary, it’s largely failed as a DC imprint, with several rebooted and aborted attempts at reviving it as a “universe.” Perhaps the Wildstorm brand will evolve to harness all of these licensed property tie-ins in this slick fashion. As for the slick look of Kane & Lynch, let’s go with… Grade B+.

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