10.31.12 Reviews

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Wasteland #40 (Oni Press): [Wasteland Countdown Clock™: 20 Issues Remaining]: Artist Russel Roehling joins writer Antony Johnston for a new arc that sees Michael and Abi fleeing Godsholm while their dad, the “Branded Man,” assumably heads to Newbegin. You notice the dramatic art shift on the very first page. There’s a level of detail to the ruins of the city, details on the close-up of the eyes, and a sense of motion in the thick speed lines thanks to some very robust inking. That’s the key, Roehling’s use of ink is really something special. It makes the slight big eye caricature of the faces really pop, and tends to frame actions to center your attention, like when Diana and her father touch hands during the “fown” scene. Roehling also does great things with shadows on skin when it comes to inking. His style is one we’ve not really seen yet on Wasteland, perhaps the closest to a life drawing aesthetic among some very stylized artists that have come before. Technically, it’s probably the best art we’ve seen, except for Chris Mitten, whose style I still prefer just out of personal preference. I enjoy Roehling’s depth of field, the careful placement of objects with different line weights in the fore, middle, and background, like when Diana is being chased through city ruins by weirdos (that’s “dwellers" in the "pre-city” if you speak the local). Anyway. I’m going on and on about inking, which isn’t something I normally do! Occasionally, Wasteland seems to take these detours, to the Dog Tribes, to Godsholm, and now to “Far Enough,” that further the main journey, but also flesh out the world even more. Johnston is careful not to digress too far away from the main narrative, continually upping the rate at which he drops clues and answers that snap together like puzzle pieces in a larger mosaic that’s forming. Here we find other people out there imbued with special “powers,” a man with a rudimentary “library” of scientific journals and other assorted tomes, maybe a shot of Abi’s dead mom(?), and something about what (with a little Google assist) looks to be a downed GPS sat from a USAF operated satellite constellation. There’s also (and I’m speculating) a backwards “78” in a flashback that could even be the phonetic tail end of the “see” sound in “A-Ree-Yass-I.” One of the little things I really enjoyed in the script department was Thomas warning Diana not to see a boy; she promptly sneaks right out and sees that very boy! It’s a small reminder that even in this post-apocalyptic Western Sci-Fi, teenagers are teenagers, and some truths about human nature are just timeless and universal. When you see that rustic swagger of Thomas, Michael, and Abi looking like masked ruin runners preparing to enter the pre-city, you suddently realize why you fell in love with this book in the first place. It’s the best this series has been in a while. Grade A+.

Ultimate Comics: X-Men #18 (Marvel): The country is disintegrating, Cap has been sworn in as President (silly, but beyond Wood’s control I realize), and we see that there’s a kind of freedom in feeling like you’re totally screwed. Kitty and her people making a last stand gives them a sort of pure resolve to give it everything they’ve got. Kitty does just that, winning the war on the battlefield like Rob Stark of Winterfell, but ultimately losing at all the political shenanigans going on behind closed doors. It feels like the end of an era, as Fury phases out in a silent transition and Kitty becomes the sole representative of her people. There’s tension around Kitty’s free will vs. Stryker’s fascism, and mutants ultimately being urged to take an anti-mutant gene virus/cure or live on reservations. You can draw hideous corollaries to real life with Native Americans, treatment of homosexuals, integration/segregation, the internment of thousands of Japanese and Italian-Americans on the West Coast during WWII, and so many real life issues. With that, Wood is tapping into one of the main reasons why the X-Men are such an enduring property, one of the basic primal factors that resonates, particularly with young(er) readers, not a grizzled old 38 year old like me. Everyone, at some point in their life, can identify with being the “other,” the outsider. On the art front, Barberi and Padilla are really good at times. They’re good with giant action shots of killer robots filling the sky, Warpath and Kitty doing their own little “fastball special,” and I generally like how they depict Kitty in her redesigned uniform. But, Fury has one of those t-shirts that looks like it’s been painted on his rippling muscles and looks pretty silly if you really think about it. I was also thinking about him, wondering why with all the SHIELD tech he doesn’t just have some bionic eye? The eye patch? Really? But, again, this is kind of outside the purview of Wood as a work-for-hire writer, and I guess you do have to just suspend disbelief at some point when you’re in a world where mutant telekinetics are blowing giant killer Nimrod Sentinels out of the sky and there’s a Civil War and Cap is President and and and. At the core, Wood has given us militant Freedom Fighter Kitty Pryde and that’s something I’ll gleefully geek out about. Grade A-.


At 3:57 PM, Blogger Tom P said...

He has an eye patch because its awesome.

Plus it's totally his thing, right?



At 11:16 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Exactly my point about suspension of disbelief. We must sacrifice logic for cool points, and that's ok sometimes.


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