10.26.2011

10.26.11 Reviews (DC/Vertigo Edition)

DMZ #70 (DC/Vertigo): [DMZ Countdown Clock™: 2 Issues Remaining] There’s a good riff in this issue warning that if you attempt to control chaos, it will basically eat you alive. If you’re still on board with the concept that Zee is a physical manifestation of NYC, then she explains that if you try to understand her, explaining how the city works, then you’ll just miss the magic. You just have to accept it as it is. Once you try to examine and explain, labeling and projecting your ideas onto her, well, that’s a form of control in itself and will be doomed to failure. Riccardo Burchielli has been destroying the city visually for so long, that it’s a hard trick to now show things stabilizing and making a comeback. Surprisingly, you do get that vibe from the art, that cautious optimism is on the horizon, and Jeromy Cox’s coloring choices support that feeling. It’s interesting to see Brian Wood get overtly cerebral now, subconsciously trying to figure out what the book has meant. It’s basically a framing device allowing an extended conversation between Zee and Matty as they see one example of war passing someone by who is failing to evolve with the times. It’s a scary thought that if the “New” New York isn’t of interest to some, then what was the point of trying to save it all? It’s that tender vulnerability that Zee mentioned. We learn through shots of The Empire State Building and the UN that “Midtown West” and “Midtown East” are the final two of The Five Nations of New York, in this fledgling peace attempt. Man, there’s this line: “What happens next is going to be written about, talked about, and analyzed for years to come. Don’t worry about that. You can’t control that.” I don’t think Brian tries consciously to get meta ever, but this type of thought just organically seeps into his writing. This line is like Brian Wood discussing the end of the series. Wondering about audience expectation and rejecting it. Just listening to his heart, his gut, and putting it out there. Maybe the character(s) we’ve come to love don’t all live happily ever after. Hey, as long as Zee is still kicking, NYC lives. For as much as I’ve written, this is really a quiet issue. But, I have a feeling it may grow to be a favorite, or one of the most memorable. It began last arc, but you can really see it here, the boy who entered the DMZ is no more. Matty is finally acting like a man. Grade A.

Don’t forget, LIVE FROM THE DMZ is your behind-the-scenes resource for all things DMZ. We’ve got interviews with Brian Wood up for the first 6 volumes of the series, and recently posted an interview with DC/Vertigo Senior Editor Will Dennis covering his thoughts on the series. Check it out!

Scalped #53 (DC/Vertigo): Whew! We finally get some resolution on that Shunka cliffhanger fake out from last issue. Here’s a dude resigned to duty in more ways than one, professionally and personally Shunka seems to accept his pre-determined path in the world, and it’s noble and sad all at once. When the hell did Sheriff Karnow become the unexpected star of this book?! I find myself enjoying his appearances immensely. It takes some really skilled creators to take a throwaway douchebag, turn him all around with growth and compassion and determination, and make us not only care about the dude, but actually like him a little. It just goes to show the realism at play here, how every character has so many facets to their personality. It also takes a skilled band of creators to take their lead character, Dash, and create a situation where he can’t talk(!) for multiple issues. Yet, he still “says” tons. It’s so deceptive, you almost don’t notice it’s been happening, but there it is. 50+ issues in, and Scalped is still unpredictable, full of surprises, and edge of your seat entertainment. There’s probably no other series in recent memory that consistently delivers, I’m talking every issue, such jaw-dropping, page-turning performances with grit and style. Grade A.

Spaceman #1 (DC/Vertigo): I’m always down for a dystopian futurescape, and I appreciate the attempt at evolving the language to include short clipped phonetically spoken pseudo words, but this was a little difficult to track at times. Brian Azzarello pours on a healthy dose of cultural commentary with a missing celebrity adoptee that the protagonist gets embroiled in. There’s also the deep dive theme of God vs. Nature, as primates are genetically engineered to be Spacemen, though it’s unclear if those are truly memories or maybe just hallucinations. Eduardo Risso’s art is as sharp as usual, but I’m not feeling very hooked by this story, just largely underwhelmed considering all the hype. Since I won’t be returning, this really makes you appreciate the no-risk $1 price on the first issue. If every #1 had such a price, I’d gladly be trying more even if it didn’t always work out long term. For that low price, I’m happy to participate even if it’s a “miss” for me personally. If not for that very agreeable $1 entry fee, this would have rated lower than Grade A-.

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