2.23.2011

2.23.11 Reviews (Part 2)

Scalped #46 (DC/Vertigo): At times, this issue does feel like “just” a middle issue in a larger arc, however there are some pretty major plot developments trotting around, so umm, Spoiler Alert, I guess? Not only does Officer Falls Down get an actual confession out of Catcher for the murder of Gina Bad Horse, but even better, Chief Red Crow visits Lawrence Belcourt in prison and with some quick inductive reasoning, they also piece together that Catcher is responsible for her death. This shit is going to get ugly. I have a small quibble with Falls Down’s use of the term blood “splatter,” which you usually hear from laymen, but from a member of the law enforcement community, you’d expect him to use the correct forensic term, which is blood “spatter.” That petty gripe aside, the heavy dose of mysticism at the end of the book, in the Falls Down denouement, leads to a nice parallel story with Belcourt in prison. They’re both faced with impending danger, but through sheer force of belief, some unseen force seems to be watching out for them as they escape initial peril in an unexpected fashion, and in the interim, the audience feels all sorts of gruesome tension. By the end, Bad Horse is caught up in the middle of it all and being led in the wrong direction. We’ll see if he succumbs and his emotions get the best of him. Scalped portrays the complicated moral system of a society imploding on itself. Guera’s pencils are pure visceral intensity; this is really what “grim and gritty” should have been associated with, not that crap that came out in the 90’s. Aaron is still juggling so many plot threads so effortlessly; they never drop, they’re never predictable, they’re never boring, and they never fail to surprise, titillate, and delight the senses. Scalped is absolutely one of the finest books being published today. Grade A.

Kill Shakespeare: Hundred Penny Press Edition #1 (IDW): I think this book came out a couple weeks ago, but it mysteriously showed up en masse at Sea Donkey’s Underwater Lair this week. On the one hand, I didn’t really want to reward his illogical ordering practices any more than I have to. On the other hand, it’s only $1 and I have heard some decent things about the book, so what the hell? It’s written by Conor McCreery (which sounds like a 007 character played by Sean Bean, or some kind of Highlander or something) and Anthony Del Col, with illustration credit going to Andy Belanger. Anyway, the art is a little like David Petersen up front, with some thick ink and bold line weight, but then quickly descends into being less appealing. The book seems to take the literary infusion of a title like Fables, by way of Neil Gaiman’s imaginative blend of sources on Sandman, and voila, the pitch almost writes itself. Unfortunately, it’s flat and stiff in spots, and that critique can apply to both the art and the dialogue. Blah blah The Shadow King, and the premise seems to finally reveal itself toward the end of the book. We shift attention to the familiar Hamlet plot involving Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and then turn to include Richard III, and the power of Will’s quill. I will say that Kill Shakespeare appears ambitious in scope, but the plot lacks any engaging pizzazz, and the art lacks the dynamism necessary to achieve what it all set out to achieve. My lord, ‘twas a grand pitch that dost lack in level execution! Aye, good sir, a most noble failure. And thus, I bid you adieu. Grade B-.

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