5.02.2012

5.02.12 Reviews ("I Found a Good New Book!" Edition)

Mind The Gap #1 (Image): Man, Sonia Oback’s coloring style is so distinct; it immediately makes me remember her work on X-Force. There’s a lot to like about this book, and it all sort of flies at you so fast, in this rapid fire staccato pace. The way it’s so firmly planted in NYC, the fact that there’s no exposition whatsoever, and you’re hungrily trying to catch up and catch everything, and the high concept, which admittedly plays a little TV pilot-y – no surprise considering writer Jim McCann’s work in daytime TV. The art has a realistic polish to it without any obvious signs of photo-referencing or the creepy fake clown aesthetic. I really liked the overlapping speech balloons which are staged to reflect the organic way that people actually end up talking over each other. It’s a nice touch. The story answers the question of where people go mentally when they’re comatose, to a sort of out-of-body spiritual plane. It’s spiritual, almost ethereal at times, but still plausible. It’s got the melodramatic touches of McCann’s soap opera writing background, but it’s also as if he’s filtered out the lameness and over-the-top elements that would push out the typical comic book audience. Some of the characters are familiar archetypes, but they ring true. My only slight criticisms are twofold. One, the unexpected twist at the end definitely gets points for not being predictable, but I’m just not sure I really like it, or that it’s even necessary with everything else going on. Two, the script might lean a little hard on musical pop culture drops, but for the most part I like what I’m seeing. It’s a murder mystery with lots of intriguing moving parts. I also enjoyed the way the back-matter sort of dares you to try and crack the mystery. Grade A.
X-O Manowar #1 (Valiant): Valiant in the house! Never thought I’d see that. But, cool. The more the merrier. I’ll check these books out to see what they can do. I know I sampled some Archer & Armstrong from quarter bins back in the day, not sure I ever dove into any of the other titles, but weren’t these all generally considered a slight notch above all the rest of the 90’s dreck? Anyway. It’s just so hard to do something original, y’know? This is like a mélange of small bits of a bunch of other stuff. You’ve got the Jonathan Hickman infographics up front, a little Gladiator "unleash hell" moment with the Romans, some Northlanders style stuff with the Visigoths, a little bit of the sci-fi juxtaposition of Brandon Graham’s Prophet, and then some of the beats of that weird Jim Caviezel sci-fi movie Outlander. Cary Nord really isn’t putting his heart into this book artistically, not in the way he was with Conan. The backgrounds are skimpy, the figures look rushed, there's just an unfinished quality to all of the panel composition. I was starting to get really bored until the aliens showed up; I’m just a sucker for the type of anachronistic visuals of the spaceship sitting in a field with Roman Legionnaires. But, cool visuals do not a story make. I mean, blah blah blah, I guess Aric will steal the X-O Manowar armor from the Cylons or whatever? So we’re just gonna’ wait around for that to happen now? Someone online was calling this like a sci-fi Game of Thrones or something? It’s a nice sound byte I guess, but umm, no. Not even close. Don't make me laugh. There’s just nothing new here. No hook. Nothing compelling me to return. I guess it’s not offensive, it’s pretty harmless in its mediocrity. Insert pith line about a valiant effort here. The Harbinger preview looks boring too. Grade B.

3 Comments:

At 6:42 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Re: XO
Wait, what? Did I miss something? Are the old (read: 90's) Valiant titles being REPRINTED? I'm struggling to figure out why when they usually comprise the other half of the quarter bins that Youngblood doesn't occupy. Or is this the latest re-envisioning of 90's property created to capitalize on the expendable income of the youth from that era? Can you fill me in here, Justin?

 
At 7:32 AM, Blogger Justin said...

You guessed it, Ryan. These are reimaged ALL NEW stories set in the revived Valiant Universe. Bloodshot, Harbinger, and Archer & Armstrong are all debuting this summer, hopefully with better results than X-O Manowar!

 
At 9:17 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Mm.

 

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