4.13.2012

4.11.12 Reviews (Image Edition)

Secret #1 (Image): This is yet another reason why Image Comics is going to totally dominate 2012. This new ongoing series from Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim is where it’s at. This is the type of book that Mark Millar wishes he could do. The way the conversational nature of threats and violence are handled is really intimidating. Artistically, the washed out black and white, with bursts of color to emphasize light, threat, blood, calm, danger, contemplation, or whatever, is just so damn effective in directly controlling the mood. I always thought Ryan Bodenheim’s art was pretty cool, but I’m pretty sure this is the best it has ever looked. There are a few panels where it looks like you’re taking in some crazy hybrid of old Dave Gibbons and Jamie McKelvie, with that clean austere finish both of them are capable of producing. The security guy in me LOVES this book, with all the corporate espionage and talk of backgrounds and NDAs, and the clever spins in the dialogue about the industry standard who, what, and why in the investigative process. It’s all high pressure and fast pace, with Mr. Miller and Mrs. White instantly sparking my interest in this con game. I probably like the raw high concept of something like Hickman’s Pax Romana better, but in terms of execution I think this is basically the best thing I’ve seen him do in the creator owned arena. It no longer feels like he’s shouting and grandstanding his political worries or social commentary, but embedding them in a story first approach. The angry whispers of this book are so much more convincing than the blind fury of, say, The Nightly News. If this keeps up, I could easily see it making My Thirteen Favorite Things of 2012 list. Grade A.

Saga #2 (Image): I’m really enjoying the first rate figure work of Fiona Staples, but I’m not sure those open space backgrounds in the early passages really hit me just right. They looked like fake 1980’s CG work from The Last Starfighter or something. Maybe this was an intentional effort to make the vast emptiness of space look ethereal or otherworldly or something, but it just came off as cheesy and dated. But, I want to stress, most of the art is good. The creepy critter designs and fun sense of world-building are really working well for the most part. I’ll go ahead and co-opt a Brit phrase and say that sometimes this issue is “too clever by half.” For example, the bounty hunter calling his agent kind of screams at you and breaks the fourth wall, intimating *wink* *wink* “psst – the guy has an agent like he’s a Hollywood actor. See what I just did there? It’s funny, huh?” And we all know, laughing at one’s own jokes renders them instantly not funny. This might as well have been Vincent Chase calling Ari Gold considering how satirical it played (Anyone? Entourage? Hello? *Tap* *Tap* Is this thing on? Can you hear me in the back?). I enjoy the voice-over narration of the (assumably) grown baby, though at times I feel like the font or general aesthetic smacks a little of that old book Moonshadow. Overall, I dig most of the humor, and the relationship stuff rings with an authenticity, a set of universal truisms that resonate, and the whole feel of the book is just quirky and inventive enough to keep me coming back to see how it all plays out. Not quite as strong as the first issue (page count?), but still a cut above. Grade A-.

Glory #25 (Image): This really is a game-changer of an issue, certainly altering the course of where many thought the series was going to go. It’s due to an in-your-face and very startling 500 year flash forward, a glimpse into the future from Riley’s perspective. There are a few panels here that look like James Stokoe could have done them, with a more compressed sense of detail. Riley’s role in this world comes front and center as Joe Keatinge sucks the harmless sense of adventure out of it and lets you know that now he’s telling a story of bitter consequence. On rare occasion, I find Ross Campbell’s art to be a little too… “scrunchy” and light to capture the tone. But, for the most part it’s appropriately visceral and my mild complaint is more a personal stylistic one than anything wrong with the mechanics of good storytelling. Grade A-.

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