9.10.2010

9.09.10 Reviews

Daytripper #10 (DC/Vertigo): Fans of this book are going to want to kill me for saying this, but at the end of it all, Daytripper is not any greater than the sum of its parts. Calm down… I still like the book a lot. It’s very good, though I think it misses the “great” mark by being just a little too obtuse. I like some isolated points it makes about sacrificing your life for your children, and the idea of “home” being basically a conglomeration of emotional elements that exists only in your mind. It’s certainly one of the better looking books that came out this year, and is definitely a contender for being the best purely visually. The art of Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon is really unparalleled for a story with this type of tone. Dave Stewart’s simply immaculate colors are a strong component of the experience as well. I don’t know about you, but those warm hues just make me feel good inside. Now perhaps I’m interpreting things a little too literally here when they’re meant to be parsed more spiritually, but my issue is that when you strip away the fancy ethereal wonderment, the book can’t answer a few very simple questions with any semblance of clarity: Did Bras die or not? Which issue? Which thread is his real life, and which are the divergent realities? They cannot coexist, and the last issue didn’t offer any more clarity to the quandary than readers found themselves in at the end of the second issue when Bras died a second time. I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything new since the second or third issue. The way I’d prepared myself to interpret it as a whole, and the way I think you can still interpret it, is that as Bras nears his death, his life flashes before his eyes, even the shards of his life that he didn’t necessarily experience. Every issue that we’ve seen has largely been a flicker of the possibilities that life had to offer him. Is this correct? Is it meant to have one definitive meaning? Is reality deliberately questioned and in flux? Is the story meant to be vague in order to spark conversations like this one? I have no idea. The one thing I am fairly certain of is that the book’s main message is a simple one, but it’s overwrought for my taste. Daytripper is essentially a long treatise on the adage that life’s about “the journey and not the destination.” That’s great. I accept that. I subscribe to that theory myself. I like thinking about man’s existential dilemma. It’s the idea that because man is self-aware, that renders his existence fragile. Man is aware that his time on Earth is limited, so it calls into question the meaning of it all – this is the quintessential philosophical human dilemma. If our time is limited, then what’s the point of anything? It is precisely because our time is limited that everything has meaning along the way. I think you can even argue that the book itself does this; there isn’t any big revelatory moment at the end where it clicks and all makes sense, we were meant to simply enjoy the experience. My huge gripe is that I got that message around issue two and it’s now eight issues later and I feel like that’s the only thing the writers have said for the better part of a year. Grade A.

Invincible Iron Man #30 (Marvel): Hey, it’s still just $2.99! In fact, all three of the books I bought this week were still just $2.99. That hasn’t happened in a long time; I thought that was cool. Moving right along, Matt Fraction continues to deliver one of the best non-Brian Wood examples of long form storytelling in the Modern Age. You’re witnessing one of the best runs of this title in the making, and it absolutely eclipses his work on Uncanny X-Men in terms of sheer quality and consistency. Despite liking the X-Men more as characters and concepts, this is a far superior work product on nearly every level. This is superhero comics at their finest. It still baffles me how Invincible Iron Man can sustain these far above average ratings, while the same writer can deliver a consistently sub-par experience on Uncanny X-Men. Moving right along… am I saying that a lot? So, despite the praise I don’t feel like I have much to say in a very cohesive fashion, but here are the disparate bits that caught my attention. I like how Tony comments that his public image is largely informed by the people he’s chosen to surround himself with. There are a couple of awkward shots from Salvador Larroca (like Sasha’s arms in the car ride), but overall he’s back on point, handling the talking heads as effectively as the action sequences. I thought the trap that Tony laid for Sasha was telegraphed pretty hard, there was just no way in hell that he would be dumping that much exposition on the readers and supplying Sasha with that much insider information about his tech without another motive at play, so there’s that. The press conference felt very… Joe Casey’s-Wildcats-Halo-Corporation-y to me, but was still enjoyable. “Neurokinetic user-controlled morphologic nanoparticle bundles” is a heaping mouthful of technobabble, but hey, what better place for it than a futurist sci-fi infused superhero book? Grade A.

Batman & Robin (DC): I think I’m suffering from some sort of superhero malaise, crossover ennui, shared universe fatigue sort of syndrome. Not even drunken-Scotsman-fun-on-panels-at-SDCC Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving’s moody art can pull me out of it completely. This is the only Bat book I’m reading at the moment (until Batwoman spools up again), I don’t read any of Morrison’s other Bat stuff or contributions to the DCU (Joe The Barbarian is Vertigo), and I didn’t really pay attention to any of the Final Crisis hoohah. Am I supposed to be feeling this un-engaged by what’s going on? Morrison’s Joker is solid, I like his whole "I’m not mad, just differently sane" bit with the locked room crowbar manipulation of Robin, but other than that I feel like the scenes are jumping around wildly, there’s no continuity from issue to issue, and you’ve got Joker, The Black Glove, and Professor Pyg conspiring to do some… stuff, which I’m not following the motivations or intent on. It looks like a fun time, but is also feels like a violent dance that I haven’t quite mastered the steps to. Grade B+.

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