8.29.2012

8.29.12 Reviews

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Prophet #28: Prophet is the type of book that fulfills the original promise of Image Comics. It’s hard to imagine Marvel or DC, in their stodgy and repetitive ways, having the balls to hire someone like Brandon Graham and the artists he’s been working with on this title. It’s only at Image Comics that they could be brought in and then turned loose to do whatever the hell they wanted. It’s here that they can achieve this unique creative vision. Yeah, this here is what my techie friends in Silicon Valley used to call a “disruptive product,” one which shakes up the existing paradigm, here defying easy genre categorization. It’s a, uhh, sci-fi fantasy adventure… or something? Simon “Jan’s Atomic Heart” Roy opens things up with a loose homage to an old Prophet cover, and Giannis “Old City Blues” Milonogiannis absolutely kills that first two page spread. It’s got this expressive ethereal quality that reminds me of Ryan Cecil Smith’s brilliant SF Supplementary File, which is a Matsumoto Leiji reinterpretation best described as some sort of primal sci-fi dreamscape. Speaking of the “r” word, Prophet is absolutely an example of reappropriation and recontextualization of found objects (the “found” object in this case being the Prophet property itself). Therefore, it’s almost literally, by definition, achieved one of the hallmarks of contemporary art, left the sequential art world, and entered the elusive snobby realm of Fine Art. This story does still involve Old Man Prophet’s rebellious tension with The Earth Empire, but for the most part it becomes Diehard’s story, who even gets a full profile page in the back. Prophet and his Kinniaan companion seek to repair Diehard by finding his head, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t chuckle and think of Chewbacca carting C-3PO around on his back in Bespin when I saw Prophet carrying Diehard’s body around. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this incarnation of Prophet under Brandon Graham's leadership is the continual dichotomy of the organic technology. For example, this old starship is hurtling through space “at the bleed of light,” but inside Prophet is eating the sap of some filthy creature and snapping off giant arachnid legs to eat. I also love the way that the narrative captions are plentiful, yet there is no expository tripe clogging up the dynamic between creator and audience. The caption boxes only describe what you see, there’s no explanation of intent or motivation or characterization or anything reeking of exposition. The colors are also grand, and everything in this issue seems to work in perfect harmony. The new arc kicks off incredibly strong and it’s my favorite issue of the series to date. Grade A+.

Ultimate Comics: X-Men #15 (Marvel): Welcome back to Marvel’s DMZ, err, I mean DWF, the Divided We Fall event, which has US States seceding from the Union, Texas declaring itself an Independent Republic, and large sections of the country run by militia groups and patrolled by Sentinels after Washington DC has fallen. Brian Wood continues to characterize Kitty, Bobby, Rogue, and Jimmy Hudson (Wolverine’s son) as extreme outsiders. And, extreme situations typically call for extreme measures, according to Jimmy anyway. The actions required to get them out of the diner are something that Kitty is going to have to wrestle with as de facto leader, while they bide time before throwing themselves into the center of this conflict. I like this intimate take on Kitty and her little band; if you think Wood is working his magic with Kitty, oh, he’s going to kill it with Princess Leia in January. I guess I won’t spoil the mutant they pick up along the way (too much), but if you were one of the 13 people who were reading it at the time, it’s a pretty dope callback to Wood’s very first Marvel Comics work in the old Generation X. There’s a pretty cool reveal at the end and I can’t wait to see Kitty start to build her army, assuming that’s where this is going, since it feels like the team has been on the run for ages just sort of killing time while the rest of the crossover syncs up or something. Paco Medina’s art is serviceable. It’s sort of like background music, something you don’t really notice, it’s just there. Sorry if I don’t have anything more illuminating to add, I just don’t feel that his particular style adds or detracts in any significant way. Overall, I’m enjoying how this title is charged with raw ideas and the cool character moments along the way. Grade A-.

Locke & Key: Grindhouse (IDW): I’ll caveat my disappointment by saying I’ve been a fan of the series to date. I’ve been reading it in trades, but decided to jump on the floppy train for these specials and the impending final arc. That said? Man, this was a hot mess! This is the first time this book has really stumbled hard, swinging for the fence and whiffing huge. The first thing you might notice is the pulpy art style Gabriel Rodriguez employs on this retro one-shot. On one hand, you have to admire any artist’s ability to  alter their style so convincingly. On the other hand, I have to say that this style isn’t one I’m particularly fond of. Art aside, the bulk of the problem lies with the scripting, and that has to be laid squarely at the feet of Joe Hill. There’s a litany of things I could cite, but I’ll try not to waste too much of our time. There’s lot of “it is” and “I am,” totally wooden dialogue that needs some contractions to make it flow better. I also hate when writers shoot for slangy parlance and just don’t make it sound real. There’s the tough guy Palooka Joe gangster “bastid” and stuff like “oh, gee, I don’ never fuckin’ know, this kid!” It’s terribly jerky and makes me wonder if a writer with the pedigree of Joe Hill has actually bombed the old “say your dialogue out loud” test. God, it’s just all booze and thievery and talk of hairy pussy (not making that up), and “my pie is ready to eat.” Seriously? “Who’s the bitch now, bitch?" Yeeeeahhh. That’s some fine writing right there. You might as well imagine James Cagney saying “you dirty rat!” and it’d put you in the neighborhood of this crap. “Hey, lookey hyere, shee, whydoncha clam up ya’ wiseguy, yeah!” I’ll admit that the core idea of the house and residents defending themselves against intruders is pretty bad-ass, but it’s so mired in the preceding crap that takes 98% of the real estate to set-up. It’s just a laborious and awful thing to slog through. I enjoyed the quick essay from Hill and the architectural blueprints from Rodriguez that serve as bonus content, but the story itself is a fail for me. The over-the-top nature is too earnest to be parody, too full of parody to be dark, and too dark to be earnest. That’s a pretty flawed end result. Grade C-.

2 Comments:

At 5:00 AM, Blogger Keith Philip Silva said...

This was my first Locke & Keye story, so that one is on me. I read your review before reading the story, but I wasn't 'spoiled.' So the chills/thrills were kept intact. All I could think of was the 'grindhouse' nature of this thing, perhaps that's the 'earnestness' you mentioned. As a gritty little tale of cliches and innuendos (both standard grindhouse fare) it works, right? Not having an encyclopedic knowledge (is that phrase even viable nowadays?) of 'grindhouse cinema' my guess is this story would fit right in with schlock and (peekaboo) titalation the genre demands. Coulda' been better, less Planet Terror more Death Proof. For a one shot this one was more like a carnival ride, been on better been on worse.

 
At 6:07 PM, Blogger Justin said...

KPS!

All fair points, I suppose my main beef with this one-shot was that, for better or worse, I don't like carnival rides, and carnival rides are certainly not what this series has been about thus far.

Gone was the intrigue of the macro-story regarding the key lore, gone was the strong characterization of the familiar characters, gone was the genuine emotion, gone was the polished art style, the greasy carnival corn dogs and whatever innuendo they offer was all that remained.

 

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