5.16.12 Reviews (Image Comics Edition)

Danger Club #2 (Image): Landry Walker and Eric Jones are nailing these retro one-page character introductions. They are exceptionally good. In one fell swoop, they give you the origin of a character, offer crisp characterization and a fun nostalgic aesthetic. The balance between that first page and what comes after reflects the balance between the story’s alternate history and dystopian future. Danger Club is instantly grappling with the unflinching idea of people being handed power who are not ready to wield it. This issue focuses on Kid Vigilante and Yoshimi Onomoto. While Onomoto dances with former colleagues in Micro-Tokyo, and women’s rights in the process, Kid V. reveals his underground base. He finds himself in a topsy-turvy world where former enemies are now allies, and former allies have gone bad. In the process, he’s struggling with his own identity, as former teen sidekick, as brother, as leader, as who he risks becoming, when all he really wants to be is just “Andrew.” The art is clean and vibrant, but still has a raw edge to it that feels as dangerous and unpredictable as the world it depicts. Walker’s script is self-aware about the familiar archetypes he’s playing with, but still manages to tell a fresh and original story. These kids are all searching for who they are now, pulling out of the shadow of their former selves, and will hopefully save the world in the process. This is one of my favorite new books. Grade A.

Saga #3 (Image): BKV has managed a very compelling blend of fantasy, sci-fi, and drama. All eyes are on Marko & Alana as they try to protect their baby girl Hazel. It seems they can’t escape this war no matter what they do, and them being embroiled in the mess provides story fodder for this long form epic. Like Y: The Last Man, it seems like we’re going to start building an eclectic cast, here adding Cleave “ghost” Izabel to the band of outcasts. Fiona Staples’ art is a nice match for BKV’s intentions, capturing the ethereal color washes for the fantasy elements, the cold metallic sci-fi parts, and the emotional expressions of the drama. All of the scenes keep building the world, the Wreath prisoner sequence is particularly memorable, and while Vaughan is using some old storytelling tropes, you’d never know it because characters speak with modern parlance that's simply been adjusted for a galaxy far, far away. The bounty hunter banter is always fun too. I guess you could call this story decompressed, and that’s not intended as a pejorative for once. He’s slowly evolving things, and these things take time in their decompression, not just for the sake of spending 4 pages to show two superheroes Mamet-ing their way across the street (Bendis!), but for the sake of actually building a new world and letting characters journey through it. Maybe one of the most pleasant things is that I don’t know what they’re going to do or where they’re going to go or what's going to happen, and that feels original in a sea of crap that mostly isn’t. There’s a good old-fashioned letters page too, and Vaughan wasn’t even afraid to print a letter calling him out on soapboxing his liberal views and metrosexual lead (ala Yorick). Marko & Alana are an intergalactic Romeo & Juliet, representing not their houses, but their entire species on a planetary scale. Grade A.

The Manhattan Projects #3 (Image): Pitarra’s art is like a Frank Quietly and Farel Dalrymple bybrid which is quite good. It’s lean and sinewy with plenty of energy. The only time it slightly falls apart in my opinion is the depiction of military men, uniforms, and their weapons. It’s weirdly stylized in a way that doesn’t fit their counterparts at all. It seems like this whole thing is a lesson in duality. There’s a choice of two weapons, balancing war with peace, science vs. belief, mortality vs. immortality, two ways of interpreting scripture that would favor man over the natural order or vice versa, the divine right of those with the means to do something, and the old adage of being so preoccupied with whether you can do something that you never stop to ask if you should, all intersecting the ideas of science, war, discovery,  and humanity. It would be easy to let this book slip into mindless quirky action, but Hickman is smarter than that and instead focuses on these intricate philosophical debates on the very nature of… stuff. I enjoyed Einstein as an aloof genius, frustrated when he sees lesser intellects struggling with problems that would seem like tying your shoes to you or me. There’s FDR as Shadow Government AI. There’s Harry Truman the Freemason. And things like the “all we have to fear is ourselves” sequence provide you the type of secret alternate history that spark your imagination. It’s riveting to think about what actually led up to the Enola Gay dropping the bomb, considering what really did, or what really could have, happened to prompt these things that may have been kept from public knowledge. Through fiction we can consider our own reality more carefully. Grade A-.

Glory #26 (Image): Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell are still telling an offbeat reinterpretation, as Riley trains despite flashbacks of her futuristic vision, while the enemy is closing in. This is the first time that I’ve felt as through the art may be a little childish or something in spots, as if Riley appears to be 5 years old instead however old she’s supposed to be. Not much else to say, this was over super fast, not a lot happens, all middle, and it’s mostly a staging exercise for the next issue which looks like it should be crazy. Grade B+.


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