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Multiple Warheads: Alphabet To Infinity #1 (Image): I joked on Twitter that it was hard to find a way to adequately praise Brandon Graham for this, because it’s basically a perfect comic. I really liked King City. I love Prophet. Yet, somehow I miraculously adore this much more than those two books. I’m glad I recently picked up the old black and white Oni Press back issue Graham did (for a quarter, no less!), because it plays like a prologue story about the life of organ smuggling and werewolf dreams that Sexica and Nikoli are trying to escape from here. Graham throws down a vibrant sense of wordplay, double entendre, and pun. On just about every page, there a couple of these clever lines that bring new meaning to old phrasing, showing a sort of cultural evolution. The book is just so cool! It’s in full color and plays like hip-hop Shakespearean street art comix porn, if you track that and it means something to you. It’s an immaculate futuristic world build, one of best books of 2012 instantly thrust upon us, a fun adventure with an incredible amount of thought and attention to acute ornamentation poured into crafting it. Graham is a generous creator because sometimes these artistic flourishes and depths of field and detail aren’t even necessary to relay the story per se, but he gets so many style points for so much of the world being “told” in such a visual feast. There’s also a concurrent story running featuring Nura, perhaps not as adorable as our lovers Sex and Nik on the run, but equally fun and interesting in its own way. I certainly hope Image is treating Graham well because he’s such a large part of their resurgence this year and the Creator-Owned tidal wave. You know what else? It’s 48 pages for $3.99! Some of those other comics give you half that content for the same price. Grade A+.
Prophet #30 (Image): This is an odd book for me to review sometimes, because as much as I love it, I feel like I have nothing much to say beyond the obvious or repetitive. Graham and the boys add more characters, more species, and it still flows natural and effortless. It’s such an expansive beautiful universe, Diehard rejoining and some other team members being assembled. Creatively, you have Graham, Milonogiannis, and Roy as the core trio, all riffing on each other like the great jazz ensembles, jamming and rotating roles at will, each of them capable of writing, pencils, inking, or coloring, yet it all comes together in this beautiful mosaic of storytelling. Call it “Sci-Fi Conan,” compare it to the great Franco-Belgian Sci-Fi epics, talk about the reimaging of Image properties, get all Fine Art literati on me and we can discuss the reappropriation and recontextualization of found objects as a contemporary art hallmark like I’m at my day job, call it something new with a clever phrase you coin on your own, call it what you want – great comics is great comics. Grade A.
Mind MGMT #6 (Dark Horse): Matt Kindt finishes off his first story arc of this critically praised gem and unfortunately I have to echo some of my comments above. Love the book, but not much to say. Meru discovers some additional clues about her role in the Henry Lyme as ex-agent debacle, but more importantly I’m eating up how this builds into some type of indie espionage (vs. superhero) Planetary secret history of the world thing, with the keepers of the secret world hidden in plain view. Now, maybe I’m still on a major Argo high. Maybe it's because I have always loved things that smack of what the “Other Government Agency” ("OGA" being a euphemism used in some circles of the Federal Government I ran in for covert CIA involvement in “stuff”) refers to as “basic tradecraft.” Anyway. Kindt rocks the watercolor washes as a medium for all they’re worth, consistently delivers a unique story that builds in unexpected ways, something you can squeeze more out with every re-reading. As a “one man band,” you’re really missing out on something special if you don’t get Mind MGMT. Kindt sort of toiled away on even more indie projects for like a decade, and it’s nice to see the industry shining something of a spotlight on him finally. Shit, this book should be selling 100,000 copies; I’d take something like this over Spider-Man or Aquaman or whatever any day of the week. Grade A.
The Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine #1 (Dark Horse): Umm, WTF? I wanted more Geoff Darrow Shaolin Cowboy comics, not some black and white pulp prose with a few spot illustrations. I never would have ordinarily been interested in this if I’d had a chance to flip through it, but I asked my retailer to order it and didn’t think it was cool to stick him with something that was $15.99. I tried reading it and couldn’t crack it. Andrew Vachss contributes a lot of the writing. Even when I was deep into crime stuff as a young naïve college kid who mistakenly assumed that was all I could read because I was getting an undergrad degree in Criminal Justice Administration, even then, I never warmed to Vachss’ writing. So, this did absolutely nothing for me and it was expensive as hell and was not what I thought I was getting. I certainly hope that new #1 advertised for 2013 is a return to the comics I liked from Burlyman Entertainment. Grade D.