11.29.2012

11.28.12 Reviews (Part 2)

Sponsor Plug: Special thanks to Michael Cholak at Yesteryear Comics for sponsoring this week’s review books. Make Yesteryear Comics your first destination in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new books during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.
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Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #2 (Image): Welcome to "Brandon Graham's Road Trip Comix," as the diagrammatic cover tells us, and it's exactly that as Nik and Sex adventure through a toll booth on a mountain pass, ultimately settling in a hotel for a quick stay, while Nura continues encountering her target. This future melding of cultures and food and fashion and rustic technology seems to alter the very way comic book stories can be told. Graham basically invents his own visual language that blurs the line between what is pure art and what is pure text, the two forming  a symbiotic perpetual world-building rubric. Within that dynamic construct, we see Shakespearean worldplay ("tacks tax" or "pair a normal filters"), a rhythmic dance of panels ("x!, y?, z..."), an aesthetic I can only compare to Stan Sakai and Paul Pope's lovechild, manga influence, 2000AD influence, food fetish rivaling Brian Wood's The Couriers/Couscous Express world, and may allow yourself to get lost in Geoff Darrow-like vistas, while enjoying the simple majesty of the way Sexica's hair blows in the wind poking out of a somewhat sentient Russian sunroof as a dutiful car sputters clouds of exhaust, the way a road disappears at the vanishing point on the horizon, and the way sexuality is presented as fun and leisurely instead of cheesecake degrading. Multiple Warheads is a hybridized creation, simultaneously so almost-familiar just on the periphery of your understanding, but also uniquely Brandon Graham's own intellectual property. It's like nothing else out there, a style of "World Comics" I'll call it, one we'll probably see emerging 20 years from now. Prescient, playful, innovative, and visually arresting. Sounds like a big fat Grade A+.

Prophet #31 (Image): Old Man Prophet and his uncanny lot are off to the trade cities, drinking aboard the ship, floating orbital moons in the shape of curled up men in the distance, searching for some woman army, but then Badrock, but then a cool find for Diehard at the end. It's kind of all over the place, but it feels like an organically paced set of meanderings, not like Brandon Graham has lost control of the plot or anything. It's such a jazzy jam session that ebbs and flows in an unpredictable and unconventional, but utterly natural way. That dynamic extends to the art as well. Let's face it, I never have much idea who the hell is doing what to which page, Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, and Giannis Milonogiannis come and go at will sharing writing and art duties interchangeably, but who the hell cares? You have this trifecta of big names who are all great and the end result speaks for itself. Joseph Bergin III's colors deserve a nod too, with these rich crimsons and purples that saturate the page, it reminds me of what modern master Dean White was doing over on Uncanny X-Force. There are a few book this year that are going to be on all the hipster doofus "best of" lists (Building Stories, I'm looking at you), but Prophet will probably be the one most deservedly consistently permeating all the critics lists. It reminds me of the power comics held over me as a kid, with the swift ability to sweep you away to another world, the way I felt about Green Lantern Corps or Jim Starlin's Dreadstar, in a true bout of escapism. Grade A.

Ultimate Comics: X-Men #19 (Marvel): Paco Medina is up on art for this issue as Brian Wood delivers the result of the choices handed to Kitty and her band by President Steve Rogers after the war ended. Essentially, the political denouement is take the mutant cure and reenter "normal" society or, for the 20 who refuse, reservation life on a plot of land that's some sort of 18 mile Utah salt flat, with no water and probably irradiated toxic soil. It's all a nice lesson in the harsh realities of being a sovereign nation, surprising what you DON'T get from the United States. Kitty and company are literally building a nation from scratch and they hold their impromptu first election. While only 15 of the 20 votes are seen, it's a great scene that instantly let's you know where loyalties lie and is a fun peek into where everyone's head is at. It's basically Nomi vs. Kitty, coexist vs. fight, the age-old mutant diaspora dilemma of Magneto vs. Xavier, now being echoed in the Ultimate Universe. The coloring helps Medina's art pop at times; I like the coloring and shadows around Kitty's face, yeah, these are the small things that I notice. I also think Medina handles the quiet intimate moments well, for example, between Jimmy and Kitty or between Kitty and Rogue, but overall I find Medina's aesthetic a little cartoony, with sometimes wonky facial expressions that aren't the perfect match for such a serious script with dire ideas being bandied about. Grade B+.

Uncanny Avengers #2 (Marvel): I'll tell you what, John Cassaday's art is mostly pretty, but it looks rushed in a couple spots. For example, when Thor is holding Mjolnir the perspective looks off, which is something you don't except from Cassaday. I feel like Rick Remender is having trouble getting this to all come together. In a roundabout way, it seems like Remender is trying to focus on the two women characters and show us why they're so special, which is nice, but there's so many other obstacles. Cap and Logan are monologuing at each other in these very long expositional scenes. It all feels a little disjointed to me, with so much going on in so many different places, flitting around from one disparate scene to another, the book feels like it lacks some focus, or an identifiable throughline. It's smartly written on the small scale, like Rogue's escape is clever, Red Skull's string of pejoratives for Wanda is crisp, but then we get the all-too-typical villain monologue where he explains himself for no reason other than reader gain. I'll give this one more issue to astonish me, and then it's going to be relegated to the "I'll buy the trades for 50% off at con" pile. Grade B.

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