4.04.2013

4.03.13 [Weekly Reviews]

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Godzilla: Half Century War #5 (IDW): James Stokoe is a one-man band who’s delighted and impressed with this rock-em sock-em series. I don’t want to give it short shrift though, it shouldn’t be dismissed as just a monster book. While it does offer plenty of nostalgic action, it’s got a warm emotional center as well that hooks the reader. Murakami realizes, here at the end of his life, that’s he’s spent the better part of his existence doing something that he doesn’t fully understand. In a last ditch effort, he confronts Godzilla, along with two other creatures, inside a Mecha-Godzilla suit fashioned by the AMF. Murakami ultimately succumbs, attempting to get Godzilla to simply acknowledge him as a man, as an opponent, to give his life some meaning, instead of just being swept away and dismissed like a gnat. One of the big themes of this series, and the original to some extent, is not just that Godzilla was steeped in post-war atomic paranoia, but a message of “Don’t Fuck With Mother Nature!” because she’ll bite back. Of course, we all know that Stokoe is a staggeringly good artist, in this new school of artistry in the same category as people like Brandon Graham or Paul Pope, which may have been influenced by people like Geoff Darrow in their detail insanity, but also incorporate a more global style, with European, Manga, and other tendencies in their work that relies more on visual iconography to tell stories… you’re sensing a “but,” aren’t you? But, the insane thing is that Stokoe is a really strong writer as well! He cranks out some choice turns of phrase with very deliberate words choices. I enjoyed how Godzilla has left “half the globe in cinders,” as well as the talk of him “making landfall,” emphasizing his impact being like a force of nature. While there are some issues with the timeline (the war would have been more than 50 years ago, not “nearly 50 years ago”) and the book was more than a couple months late, this was still a very enjoyable old fashioned monster jam with a modern heart. Grade A.

Locke & Key: Omega #4 (IDW): This is issue 4, but the indicia says issue 3, while the cover dress says 3 issues left when I think it’s actually 2, and what the hell happened to the thicker cover stock while we're at it?! So, yeah, the book is kind of all over the place even before you dive into the story contents. The good news is that the interior is a barnburner on all levels. Gabe Rodriguez has got to be one of the best, most underrated artists working in the industry today. He’s like the bastard lovechild of George Perez and John Cassaday, with all the slick sheen of the latter and the emotive detail and sense of place of the former. He nails the action, the talking heads, the quiet character moments, the big jaw-dropping double page spreads, and the slick layout tricks like the panel-within-a-panel x-ray device showing Duncan and Tyler hiding in the trunk of a car. I can’t really say too much about the story without heading toward spoiler territory, but needless to say the shit starts to hit the fan. There are two major “oh shit!” moments here that should have lasting consequences, but… oh, god, that’s all I can really say. Just read it. Dodge/Bode breaking character is one of the most chilling scenes I’ve see in comics in quite some time. Grade A.

Ultimate Comics: X-Men #25 (Marvel): As the US Senate votes to suppress the resource rights of a fledgling mutant nation within its borders, Kitty and company struggle to keep it all together within their own borders. Brian Wood has done a great job in the latter issues of this series providing some balance, and presenting both sides of the argument instead of just soapboxing his own beliefs. Whether adopting a pacifist stance or one more aggressive, each approach has it’s pros and cons that test the mettle of Kitty’s leadership capability. Even Nomi appears to be losing control of her splinter faction to some degree as a handshake deal is struck between soldiers on the ground for the future defense of Utopia. There’s pressure from all around, from the US, from within Utopia, and now from Jean Grey infiltrating at the same time. While this issue is lots of talk and no real action, Wood is staging the pieces on the board for another high stakes showdown, which the series has offered in waves. It’s the second issue with Mahmud Asrar on art and I think it’d be a coup if he was somehow snagged as the regular series artist. His work reminds me of early Sean Phillips, a style that’s lean and angular, but never ceases to bear emotional weight in the lines, particularly the facial characteristics. Grade A-.

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