12.16.2010

The 12 Days of Comics: 2010 - Day 4


"Shockrockets" by Kurt Busiek & Stuart Immonen (IDW)
Demographic: Star Wars Fans
Selected by: Justin Giampaoli
Subsequent Interview by: Ryan Claytor

Justin: “Shockrockets” should appeal to anyone who is a George Lucas aficionado, and hey, who doesn't like “American Graffiti?” Oh. Yeah. He did those other movies too! “Shockrockets” uses a lot of the same themes as the “Star Wars” mythology. It's about a young kid seemingly adrift who is suddenly thrust into this adventure, swept up in a larger conflict that initially seems overwhelming. He's compelled to step outside of himself and see the bigger picture in order to fulfill his destiny. It's typical Joseph Campbell style Hero's Journey, Monomythic Self-Discovery, Crossing The Threshold stuff. Plus, it has really cool spaceships.

Kurt Busiek put this project out years ago under the Gorilla Comics imprint (remember that?) in 2000, but IDW recently collected it this year in a handsome little hardcover that's perfect for gift-giving. The art is by Stuart Immonen, who is someone I've been fascinated by for a while now. For me, he sort of operates in that space of David Mazzucchelli, a creator who can flip back and forth between mainstream superheroics and more personal indie projects. Mazzucchelli delivered celebrated runs on “Batman” and “Daredevil,” but then astounded everyone with “Asterios Polyp.” Similarly, Immonen has worked on high profile projects like “Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.” with Warren Ellis, and currently “New Avengers” with Brian Bendis over at Marvel, but then delivered an introspective book called “Moving Pictures,” about the Nazis systematically looting fine art museums in Paris and Western Europe during Word War II.

Anyway, the year is 2071 and Earth has been devastated by an alien invasion. There's a small band of rebels who've concocted this hybrid terrestrial/alien technology for their ships; the "Shockrockets" are the last line of defense as Earth tries to rebuild and awaits the impending final battle to save the planet. It's rousing and high-spirited, like an action movie on paper. The 160 page hardcover makes an impressive gift and ordering information can be found at: http://www.idwpublishing.com/

Ryan: I'm familiar with Stuart Immonen's work from the more recent issues of "Ultimate Spider-Man." As a frequent reader of that title, I was pleasantly surprised at Immonen's seamless transition onto the series. His art really seemed to fit. Although I haven't read "Shockrockets," the review images I managed to find seem like a more shadowed/noir approach to illustrating than what I'm accustomed to seeing from him on "Ultimate Spider-Man." Do you feel like Immonen alters his illustrations to fit the title on which he works, or do you see the art as more of a progression from "Shockrockets," a work done in 2000, to "Ultimate Spider-Man," a book penciled in the late 2000's?

Justin: I think he definitely adapts his style to suit the tone of the series he's working on. In the case of “Ultimate Spider-Man,” I think he consciously attempted a seamless transition from Mark Bagley (the previous artist) and the result was a style that was more light, airy, and in sync with what had come before. Conversely, “Shockrockets” has a relatively dark and somber tone (in the manner of “Empire Strikes Back” to continue the “Star Wars” comparison), so his penciling took on those characteristics. I'm sure the inking of Wade von Grawbadger also assisted that effort. And of course, there is the book I mentioned, “Moving Pictures,” which is done in black and white, with the use of lots of shadows and negative space, emphasizing the covert art siege the Nazis were executing, with the secret maneuverings of the resistance in Occupied France. So, Immonen certainly exhibits conscious versatility.

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