2.23.11 Reviews (Part 1)
The New York Five #2 (DC/Vertigo): I think Ryan Kelly is reaching an all new high with this series. His art was always a cut above the competition, but it’s clear that he’s really pushing himself here and the results are astounding. There’s so much extra effort and nuance in the way a piece of clothing falls against a figure, the contour of a set of lips, or the emotion filled gestures that all of the characters seem to reverberate with. The backgrounds in the full page panels and even some of the half page shots are just gorgeous, so luscious with depth and detail. They’re like the real world, with an almost endless level of detail for the mind’s eye to focus on. Brian Wood continues to push the characters in unexpected directions as their identity journeys forge ahead. Nothing is clean, we see that Riley can do what she absolutely knows is wrong, because, well, the heart wants what the heart wants, and everyone’s ego is capable of succumbing to the flattery of being wanted. We see that there are multiple sides and psychological drivers to everyone, even ice queen Merissa, who has initially come off as fairly one dimensional and shallow. Ren is all over the map, hitting manic-depressive highs and lows, while Lona continues to surprise us with her ability to justify her mysterious actions. I like the introduction of Olive, though it’s difficult for me not to think of Olive Yassin, and try to link her up to another section of Brian Wood’s work. It’s true that The New York Five can function as an entertaining coming-of-age story for just about any demographic, but for a select demographic it’s a unique view into the complex minds of women this age, who can be brave, sometimes contradictory, and always evolving. Grade A.
The Invincible Iron Man #501 (Marvel): Fraction moves a new player onto Iron Man’s board with a deftly handled bit of retconning, and the result is pretty entertaining and unexpected. Octavius can’t seem to match Tony in sheer brainpower, but seems to do ok with underhanded guile. Fraction continues to do his best channeling of Warren Ellis on this title, dropping techcentric futurism and fun industrial lingo with “God Numbers,” Asgardian Sci-Fi, branding conventions, and several jabs at the TV media circuit. It might all be a little Dennis Hopper in Speed What Do You Do Hotshot? but with a sometimes humbled Tony Stark, a cast of compelling supporting characters, and Larroca’s mostly believable art (save a few flat spots), it’s more than the sum of its parts. He’s faltered on other titles, but with Iron Man, Fraction’s figured out how to manipulate the medium, and continues to deliver serialized melodrama in the form of mainstream superheroics better than most writers working today. Grade A-.
Echo #28 (Abstract Studio): Yeah, despite retailers getting their books shipped AN ENTIRE DAY EARLY, Sea Donkey still didn’t have this book on the shelves, even though he’d received it AN ENTIRE DAY PRIOR, even though I stood around for 15 minutes watching him perform his Retarded Sea Donkey Dance™, still sweating to the oldies and pulling books out of boxes and trying to get them on the shelves while he was simultaneously opening the store, answering the phone, and working the register. Lame.