1.09.2013

01.09.13 Reviews (Image Comics Edition)

The Legend of Luther Strode #2 (Image): Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore have created a character, a property, a universe for themselves that has all the style and charm of your favorite cult movie. I already liked this book, but the return of Petra extends its prowess even further. Similarly, Moore’s art was already really strong, but you can see improvement here from the first volume of this book. It’s a pure eye-popping joy to wander through, some crazy mixture of Frank Quitely and Ashley Wood, the only person who even comes close in style would be an artist like Tan Eng Huat, but Moore’s thin-line material is even more damn lively with kineticism. Whether it’s the silhouetted dudes getting plowed through like they stepped off a page of Frank Miller’s 300, Jordan’s Whedonesque lines for self-aware Petra, or the fact that Moore just gets all of the firearm details right (a pet peeve of mine), with the right style of front stock tactical grips or the aesthetic of the slide on a Kahr hangun, every page, every panel, every line is something to be savored. By the time you get to Luther using a dude, another human being I’m saying, as a projectile to fling through a wall, you suddenly realize... YES. This is what comics are for. It’s grindhouse with a heart. In the same way Tarantino invigorated cinema in the 90’s, say hello to the new generation of comics creators. Grade A+.

Clone #3 (Image): This burst of entertainment offers some shocking commentary on the state of human existence and some of our base impulses, with the exceptional visuals to match. David Schulner and Juan Jose Ryp’s story operates with movie pitch clarity, offers high level political intrigue with stuff like embryonic stem cell legislation, as well as the in-your-face action people want. It works on the big scale and the small scale, but for me, Ryp is the draw. Pun intended. It’s exactly the type of art I enjoy, insane detail, but not so bogged down in minutiae that the figure work or panel to panel storytelling suffers. It’s clean and clear, with a distinct style that you can instantly recognize as his own unique intellectual property. This will sound mean, but this series probably isn't going to win any awards, yet it's one of the best crafted series I've seen in a while. Grade A.

Think Tank: Military Dossier #1 (Image): This is a fun “sourcebook” (to use an old term) that offers some diverse bonus content, ranging from short story set-up, to character profiles, to an overview of sample DARPA projects, which tickle the former federal employee in me. It’s undeniable that Matt Hawkins framing an issue like this leads to obvious staged exposition that sounds like the characters are citing researched facts in a staged manner, because, well, they are, but it’s so interesting you hardly mind. Rahsan Ekedal’s art continues to be strong and expressive, probably some of the best black and white (and gray) art in the business. The variety of material means that we get everything from some cheap laughs, to interesting factoids about the characters’ educational backgrounds, personality assessments, and security clearances (I enjoyed how it requires a POTUS Executive Order to take action on the series protagonist, which is an incredibly cool sound byte, but also pragmatically ensures his handlers can't just easily eliminate him, thus ending the series in an awful hurry), and family issues that could be fodder for forthcoming story elements. These are all the type of things that background investigators look for to be possibly exploited for blackmail with key government hires. Anyway, this was a good appetizer to tide the audience over until the next chunk of the series comes out. Grade A-.

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