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. www.yesteryear-comics.com
Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #3 (Image): I think this book is actually review-proof. There’s nothing I can say that will sway you one way or the other. If you’re a fan of Brandon Graham or this style of art and/or storytelling even in the slightest, you’re going to fall in love with this book. If you’re not, then you’re just not. Nik and Sex are still holed up in the hotel, Nik’s getting content just travelling around with his love and working on his machines, and Sex is starting to miss the old hustler life: “I need to see what I can get away with to feel like I’ve got freedom.” The puns and wordplay are still coming fast and furious, from putting legs on a car to get it running again to brewing some Chai Guevara. They’re so rampant, you could probably read it twice, slowly, and still miss a couple. Multiple Warheads is so many things, love story, road trip book, off-beat sci-fi, treatise on food and cultural tolerance and their resiliency to the ebb and flow of old wars, a master class in world building, and the type of fun, slick, cool comics that I’m proud to be reading and proud to show my non-comics friends to demonstrate the immersive experience and powerful potential of what comics can do when people are left alone to do what they love. Grade A+.
Wasteland #42 (Oni Press): Abi and Michael go their separate ways in search of A-Ree-Yass-I and this issue focused on Abi’s time in the town of Sunspot. She connects with people who were familiar with Fire Walker, who was the grandfather of Golden Voice, the Singer that Abi was most closely allied with. Got all that? Hey, if you're not keeping up, that's on you at this point. The issue centers hard on Abi’s (fluctuating) abilities and how she might fit into the overall Mother Sun and Father Moon myth. Russel Roehling is probably my second favorite artist the book has seen, second only to cover artist Chris Mitten. Roehling’s style is such a unique blend of an emotive caricature style with a detailed life drawing style that lends believability to this rugged universe. Oh, and the end here is kind of heartbreaking. Not much else to say. At this point, you’re either on the Wasteland train (or, I guess that’d be Sultan Ameer’s Caravan?) or not, and nothing I can say 42 issues in is probably going to move the needle. I’m loving the continual stream of clues and, as always, can’t wait to see what happens next. Grade A.
Saga #8 (Image): I’m still liking, but not loving this book. I keep struggling to explain why I don’t seem to be as head-over-heels in love with it as the majority of the online community. I like it when I’m reading it, but it’s not terribly memorable. I don’t remember what happened last issue other than Marko’s parents showed up at some point. It feels like it’s got the in-the-moment empty caloric value of a soap opera. The idea of grown-up baby Hazel narrating is cute and well written, but it’s also a dead giveaway that everyone makes it out ok to a certain extent, so it tends to rob the story of any real consequence. I enjoy the creativity of some of the world-building, such as the organic ship, but most of the time the book is written in such a self-aware fashion (ie: the meet-cute reference) that it always feels like it’s winking at the audience and attempting to obviously subvert audience expectations. It wears that dynamic on its sleeve, which isn’t a very natural stance to be taking. It’s juking you, you know it’s juking you, so instead of just enjoying the story, I find myself trying to outthink the juke, anticipate the cliffhanger on almost every page, looking for traps in how its constructed, never quite escaping the feeling that I’m being manipulated. I keep saying the same thing over and over in different ways, about the saccharine formulaic aspects of the thing. The art, you say? I really like Fiona Staples’ figures. They look clean and appealing and she’s very good at conveying a sense of movement, a wild-eyed sort of glee is there on the page in all the foreground work. Something I’ve been poking her about is the backgrounds, which have had a tendency to be quite austere and skimpy. Heck, even in the cool behind the scenes back-matter she admits she is looking for ways to “speed up” the backgrounds and the complexity of the environments. But, I think they’re slowly improving. I felt like I could detect more effort or time in this issue dedicated to actually placing her beautiful figures in a believable environment, as opposed to some vague washed out objects in the distance that barely registered a sense of place. Another good thing I learned in the back-matter is that she’s hand-lettering Hazel’s narration, which is really cool. So, yeah, call me contrarian, but Saga is sweet, fun, and inventive. But I call that high entertainment, not high art. Grade A-.
Locke & Key: Omega #2 (IDW): I was all set to go on some tirade about Grabriel Rodriguez being one of the most under-the-radar artists working today and that his art is really first rate in the business. Lo and behold, I started detecting some glitchy stuff, which may be issues with his art directly, or some type of miscommunication between him and writer Joe Hill. I love Rodriguez’s earthy and realistic aesthetic. It’s full of emotion and detail. But, umm, if the characters are complaining that it’s 90 degrees out and all, why are most of them wearing sweatshirts and sweaters? Why does Kinsey go from totally normal to tears streaming down her face just one panel later? Who is that black dude driving Rufus to his new home? He just randomly appears, wasn’t in the prior scene, and I have no idea who he is. Aside from all that, the art does shine. Kinsey in her prom dress seeking the approval/permission to look pretty and not be a tomboy for just one night from her big bro is just precious and well-played. Dodge is still doing his thing inhabiting Bode’s body, though his master plan to open the Black Door seems to be moving as slow as molasses, Bode's spirit or whatever is still incorporeal, and I guess the big news is that Rufus can see Bode in that form. So, some art glitches and a story that feels like it’s all-middle and treading water. Maybe there was a reason I was reading this in trade. Grade B+.