12.15.10 Reviews (Part 1)
DMZ #60 (DC/Vertigo): Wow. One thing I’ve never heard DMZ called is “post-apocalyptic,” but in many ways it is. That label is usually reserved for titles like The Walking Dead or Wasteland, where an obvious external factor like a zombie plague or mysterious environmental catastrophe upends civilization. It’s interesting to see something internal like a fissure in political ideology bring about the apocalypse, and in this issue Brian Wood shows us how it all started to slip away. The rough edges of Martinbrough’s art, looking a bit here like Sean Phillips, emphasize the crumbling stability of the country. It’s filled initially with subtle visual cues about the regimes, like an “SS” tattoo, or an obvious swastika, or an FSA-like star on a bandana, and builds toward this in-your-face crescendo of the “split-star image” serving as a rallying cry for the disparate FSA components, fueled by the theme of fracture that it overtly implies. Jared K. Fletcher deserves a little nod too, I think, for the off-beat lettering in the voice over narration. The newsfeed was probably my favorite bit, giving the issue a very cinematic feel, giving form to the foreboding, and providing plenty of information about how things got so bad. It’s scary and prescient, with staggering statistics like 750,000 troops committed in the Middle East, 39 years of war on six fronts worldwide, and catchy sound bytes like “the slow death of urban America.” Wood includes the USS George Washington aircraft carrier group rounding the horn in Africa, and is it just me, or is that frickin' freaky because that's the ship we just sent to the North/South Korea conflict? This is one of the most powerful and illuminating issues of the series to date. I’m a little in awe of the fact that Wood doesn’t seem satisfied with exiting quietly stage left as the title enters its last year of publication, but has perhaps saved the best, most hard-hitting commentary, for last. Grade A+.
Magus #1 (12 Gauge Comics): There’s just nothing like a typo on the very first page. The Medieval font is a little hard to read to begin with, but yeah, it says “impermenence” when the proper spelling is “impermanence.” Adolf Hitler also called to remind you all that “facist” is actually spelled “fascist.” Man, I don’t know about the story. The underlying premise of magic returning to the world is fairly interesting, but the execution on script and dialogue needs some polish. The story opens with a Sarah Connor in Atascadero riff, dives head first into fanboy Star Wars chatter, and then runs through a bunch of stilted dialogue. The characters mostly talk in quotes and monologue about their motives, back story, and what they’re gonna’ do next. People just don’t talk that way. It feels like a rookie writer making many of the rookie writer mistakes. This might be the first 12 Gauge Comic I’ve ever bought, and the upside is that the production quality is pretty high. The paper is glossy and slick, the book even comes with a nice preview of the second issue, and, as expected, Rebekah Isaacs’ art is really good. It’s graceful and emotive, with really vibrant colors. If not for the art, this would have scored significantly lower. Grade B-.