1.11.12 Reviews

Scalped #55 (DC/Vertigo): It’s the conclusion to the “Knuckle Up” arc, and I’ll just say that I love the name of the final arc to come: “Trail’s End.” This issue picks right up moments from where we left off, and what ensues is a raging shoot out, which turns into a knife fight, which degenerates to a down-and-dirty street brawl between Dash and Shunka. These two men have probably despised each other the most, because only a con man can spot another con man, and they both sensed that the other possessed the most secrets in this harsh world. Shout out to Giulia Brusco, whose colors vibrate with rage-fueled red tones that bring RM Guera’s well choreographed action to life so damn well. You can feel every shot, every broken finger, and every guttural growl in your freakin’ bones, man. This has got to be one of the most intense, brutal, unpredictably violent fights ever depicted in comic books. I haven’t enjoyed a comic this much in a long time, sitting here with a nervous smile throughout, just eating it up, reading panels fast – unable to control my excitement and desire to see what happens next, and then going back to read them slowly – to really savor them and take it all in. Agent Nitz storms the casino with half of the FBI in tow. Shunka seems to utter a dying confession. Red Crow saves Dash with so much compassion, calling him “son,” saying “Dashiell” instead of the dismissive “Bad Horse” repeatedly, and in turn, on the last page, Dash says to Lincoln… well, that would just be a spoiler wouldn’t it? This is just something you have to experience for yourself. It’s a satisfying emotional payoff 55 issues in the making. It fucking blew my skull off. Grade A+.

Batwoman #5 (DC): It still strikes me every time I read a new issue how awesome the intro pages are on this book. As the camera zooms in, you read the recap, and get these staccato mental images, it’s clear that the "Hydrology" arc is something special under this creative team. Batwoman seems to be operating on a whole other level of function, transcending its identity as a “superhero” comic, employing ruminations on life, our existence, what we dedicate our lives to, and why. JH3, W. Haden Blackman, and Dave Stewart in particular are tearing it up every single time out. I feel like Dave Stewart should be listed as co-creator of this book, on equal billing with writer/artist because color plays such an important role. Holy crap, that full page reveal of Cameron Chase and Director Bones! Holy crap, I forgot about Flamebird! It seems that this sets up a new arc to track down the Medusa Organization as Bones comes recruiting, offering Kate a job with the DEO instead of Batman Inc. It’s awesome to see her striking her own path, but pitting her against someone you do not want to be pitted against (Bruce Wayne) will certainly have eventual consequences. Batwoman not only has it all, but does so intensely. It’s loaded with gripping characters, intricate storylines, the most imaginative layouts and fresh penciling ability around, solidifying itself as the best thing happening in the mainstream DCU at the moment. Forget Green Lantern. Forget the JLA, forget Morrison on Superman. Heck, you can probably even forget Snyder & Capullo on Batman (blasphemy!!!), because if you only had one DCU book to buy, this is it. Grade A.

Secret Avengers #21 (Marvel): It’s the last Warren Ellis issue before Remender comes on, and I’ll be sad to see this fun experiment go. The pairing of Ellis with Cassaday (cover) and Immonen (interiors) are two of my favorite pairings (Planetary, Nextwave anyone?), so it’s a treat to see both here in one compact package. Ellis repurposes the old O*N*E concept. I loved the whole emitting false fire scenario, with Beast in that inset panel aboard the ship. It’s clever and fun, representative of the whole affair. The panels are so slick, like Steve holding the gun, with Moon Knight and Black Widow flanking him. It’s just a visual delight. “I don’t believe in torture. So I’m going to let my colleagues do it” is the type of crisp turn of phrase, imbued with dark humor, that we love to love from Warren Ellis. Immonen also brings his “A” game, check out the Paraguay flashbacks. Only this guy could be the artist on everything from Nextwave to Moving Pictures. He’s incredibly talented and one of the most under-rated guys working today. Man, I’m a sucker for paramilitary style radio banter every time. Great colors from Chris Sotomayor, as evidenced by the glow of dimly lit rooms illuminated with only emergency lighting. The tragic denouement calls into question the very existence of this incarnation of the team. As far as individual panels go, it might never reach the heights of Moon Knight with that white mask in the all white suit that Michael Lark turned in previously, but overall this is probably the best issue of Secret Avengers yet. Way to end on a high note, Warren. Grade A.

Northlanders #47 (DC/Vertigo): Declan Shalvey really steps up here, with big iconic shots and depth to the environment as we come in on the tail end of Brida defending the Haukssons. It seems like this trilogy continues examining the universal existential questions of “who are we?” and “what is our legacy?” I recently read some little sound byte about how hope is juxtaposed with obstacles, and that tension created is basically your story. It sure seems like Brian Wood is living into that description with these stories. Dave McCaig deserves a special nod for the type of warm Earth tones he infuses into the mix. I like the whole package though, the influx of Christianity rapidly changing the world is such a nice backdrop, and the emotion of an exasperated Brida yelling “You are the bloodline!” With the introduction of Isobel, marriages to buy peace, and secret paganism, it becomes clear that survivors adapt, while people of strict principle can be consumed if they’re too rigid or inflexible. Grade A.


At 1:32 PM, Blogger Matt C said...

RE: Scalped #55

You know, I'm pretty convinced Red Crow says "I'm sorry, son." to Shunka.

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Yeah? I'll have to re-read that.


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