2.03.2012

"You Deserve That Much For Your Bravery"

The Thirty Six #2 (Fossil Creek Productions): The second issue continues Noam further identifying “the guardians of humanity” as he attempts to save Lenore from the “Trench Coat Man” and his 12 new golems! Writer Kristopher White opens the issue with a nice thank you to the people who supported a successful Kickstarter campaign backing the project. Overall, The Thirty Six succeeds because of its primary reliance on source material that’s seldom explored in pop culture. The creative team certainly gets points for bringing forth an original idea, something that the mainstream segment of the medium is sorely lacking, but seems to be alive and well in the small press.

The only real down side to this issue was that there was a string of typos littered throughout the issue that began to distract me. It was stuff like “indy” (which is short for Indiana Jones) instead of “indie” (which refers to independent comics, press, music, etc.), an instance of “we’ll” when “well” was intended, the last name bouncing from “Lowenstein” to “Loewenstein,” spelling “therefore” as “therefor,” and an extra word inserted in to the phrase “even if he you trap him again.” None of these small mistakes are the end of the world by any means, only proof that extra care should be taken by someone acting as an editorial eye prior to production. The strongest parts of the writing for me are items like the “Symbol of Secrecy,” which infuse bits of myth and religion into the tale, and I’d be glad to see more of those elements incorporated into the work to make it a little more compelling for my taste.

The idea of piecing together more members of The Thirty Six is so strong though, that I’m all in on the high concept. In some ways, this story reminds me a bit of the Kevin Smith film Dogma, only in that it assembles a motley cast of spiritually powered individuals for a discrete mission, the act of modernizing figures from ancient texts makes it so palatable and enjoyable for younger generations. It’s sort of like this Kaballistic Dirty Dozen. Times 3, I suppose. I also enjoyed Levi performing the type of X-Files forensic investigation that would make Dr. Dana Scully proud. Don’t worry, my pop culture references, like The Thirty Six, won’t stop there! White and artist George Zapata also pull off what I assume is a rousing homage to Gandalf on the Bridge of Khazad-Dum, with Noam stabbing his staff into the ground and belting out “Let There Be Light!” This moment, with the attack of Gollum, err, golems, was totally fun and actually gave me goosebumps.

Speaking of Zapata, I was really taken by the manga influence in some of his work this time out, things like speed lines, which convey a nice sense of motion. The coloring is still excellent as well, particularly the imaginary visions of the woman in the care facility, calling to mind the pop of early Matt Wagner work on his seminal Mage title. Zapata’s facial expressions are also strong, making me want to see a printed version of the book. I can imagine such a hard-copy doing quite well at indie friendly shows such as the APE in San Francisco. White falls momentarily into the trap of having his villain monologue his motivations at the end, but it’s quickly redeemed by the charming romantic potential and a close to the first segment of the story that has me anxiously awaiting more. www.the36.net Grade A-.

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