9.16.2010

9.15.10 Reviews (Part 2)

DMZ #57 (DC/Vertigo): I was always peripherally aware of Cliff Chiang and generally liked his style, but what put me over the edge into fandom was his work on Doctor 13: Architecture & Mortality with Brian Azzarello. His style here is looser, grittier, and inked more heavily. Jeremy Cox’s colors are also more muted than the slick confectionary delight that Doctor 13 offered, but I still really like it. It’s nice to see him change up his style in order to tonally sync up with DMZ. I think Riccardo Burchielli was basically born for a title like this, but if anything ever prevented his involvement, I’d also love to see Nathan Fox or Cliff Chiang take over. Most series that run as long as DMZ has are lucky enough to get just one talented artist; Brian Wood seems to be getting two or three on average per title. It is fan-frickin’-tastic for the fans of his work. Getting into the story, we revisit Amina and what she’s been up to since we last saw her. She’s lived a pretty bleak and meaningless existence until the day she finds a seemingly abandoned baby. Chiang helps Wood capture the sentiment of being resigned to fate, yet still proudly claiming residence in the greatest city in the world. Wood hits a lot of interesting notes, about forgiveness being easy when you’ve made mistakes yourself, and about Amina being able to create a bastion of safety and motherly compassion even in the middle of an active war zone. If you hadn’t noticed, I just re-read the entire Brian Wood library and as I read about Amina in this issue, I kept thinking of Jennifer Havel. Her art future was co-opted by events in Channel Zero; here we see Amina’s early math and science education co-opted by a different kind of radicalism in the DMZ. Very interesting paths for two young women swept up in their respective times. For Amina, she seems to need a sense of hope and purpose to realize her identity, but it keeps shifting and being taken away from her. It was her parents, her bright future, Trustwell, Matty, Parco, and briefly the baby who give her some direction, but it's all fleeting and the emotional scars seem to remain. I wonder if we'll see her again, or if this was Wood tying up one of many loose threads as DMZ begins to wind down. Grade A.

Joe The Barbarian #7 (DC/Vertigo): Sean Murphy’s parchment maps still have the amazing ability to immediately pull you into this world the second you see them. While Murphy’s art is primarily full of emotion and energy that’s vibrating off the page, the Easter eggs are fun too. In this Grant Morrison and the DCU meets C.S. Lewis style adventure, we can find Superman, Batman, Robin, Lobo, Transformers, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Klingons, Snake Eyes, etc. G’Mo is also aided tremendously by the colors of Dave Stewart, who helps the entire creative team blend reality and fantasy, with echoes of each in the other. Seeing the sketchy superhero depictions and seeing how intricately they’re rendered, it makes me want DC to put Sean Murphy on a book like World’s Finest or The Brave & The Bold just so we could see him run wild with the DC stable of characters. I’m really digressing here, but I think it’s because it reflects the fact that I’m enjoying this more for the art than the story. I do enjoy seeing Joe grow to understand his surroundings and possess the power to possibly change the world around him and affect reality, but that’s about the end of the narrative enjoyment. Purely visually, the world building here is so imaginative and so fun to look at, even if the larger mythology and motivations of the cast are fairly convoluted. Grade B+.

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