7.14.2011

7.13.11 Reviews (Part 2)

The Red Wing #1 (Image): Jonathan Hickman delves back into the world of his creator owned work at Image Comics, and I really do like the results. This time out, he’s aided by Nick Pitarra, who brings a style somewhere in between Frank Quitely and Nate Simpson. The narrative style, and even some of the visuals, are an exciting mélange of pop culture ephemera, whose influences range from Star Wars to Firefly/Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, Shockrockets, and Hickman’s own library in later creator owned works like Red Mass for Mars. There are small drops marking these points like “a mite jumpy” (which is pure Malcolm Reynolds) or “spinning up” a type of drive on an engine (which is reminiscent of the FTL drive on BSG). In addition to the fun, Hickman is sure-footed enough to seed the story with big ideas as well. We see that any scientific discovery (here it’s time travel) is ultimately used as a weapon rather than for purely altruistic purposes. Hickman’s high concept attempts to dismiss the problems typically associated with it. Meaning, he suggests that if time is not linear, then you can’t have paradoxes. However, if time isn’t linear, then why travel through time hoping to change a future/past outcome as the protagonists do? That in itself seems paradoxical. Anyway, I like the idea of a generational time war and how it colors our perception of the world. There is a fair amount of exposition concerning best friends and temporal beacons, which are surely telegraphing future events. But The Red Wing succeeds with bold design, strong inking and coloring, and some really pristine paper. I used to give Hickman a lot of shit for the plethora of typos found in his earlier work, but they are thankfully absent here. Lines like “This is how we lost the 21st Century” reveal one of Hickman’s greatest strengths as a writer. All of his independent projects have a dire tone to them. You feel as if you’ve unearthed some lost text that is the most important story ever, that it’s the most important thing you could possibly be reading, some secret history that’s been uncovered and will hold the key to humanity. It was there in The Nightly News or Transhuman, and more pronounded in things like Pax Romana, Red Mass for Mars, and now The Red Wing. I’m definitely on board for this. It's going to be a hit. Grade A.

Terry Moore’s How to Draw Women #1 (Abstract Studio): Moore says right up front that this isn’t a “How To” book per se, but more of a look into his mindset. That’s great. I doubt I’d be buying it if it was just another cold anatomy lesson, but since he dives into his approach as an artist in an extended essay that accompanies the process art, it’s endlessly fascinating. He covers basic figure work, expressions, how the body moves, how clothes hang, the differences between a man and a woman’s body structure, superhero breasts vs. more realistic ones, and all manner of loose categorization for his creations. He spends a lot of time discussing how positioning and art itself can carry so much information visually, which is key in a visual medium that doesn’t necessarily have to rely solely on the textual information bridge. It’s a handy reference guide. I feel like I’m picking up things to watch out for and critique as a critic, so I can only imagine an artist would pick up some handy mental tools as well. The only bad part of this is that it’s $4.99. If he found a way to deliver the same product in the $3-$4 range, I’d probably rate it higher than Grade A.

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