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Saga #11 (Image): I dig the flashback (“Please shoot it in my twat” will certainly live in infamy) that opens this issue, showing an alliance literally forged in the heat of the moment. BKV is doing a nice job balancing passion, irony, and a true-to-life relationship dynamics, what people are willing to do, say, compromise, or sacrifice for others. It’s a sci-fi soap opera that pushes both genres with equal force. It’s funny, sometimes when reading this title I find myself less interested in the actual story, and more interested in the very specific mechanics of what I’m drawn to. For example, the chilling silence as The Will tries to save Bubastis or whatever as the ship is losing pressure and he’s sucked out into the black vacuum of space. I’m fascinated by the cultural differences between the people of Landfall and Wreath. Alana seems much more hot-headed, yet conservative in her approaches, while Marko seems more carefree and impulsive. Is this just their personalities or their family’s genetics or representative of their entire race? One of the things I was most impressed by in this issue was the language of the people of Wreath. BKV showed a little in the last issue, I think, and it’s neat because it’s just close enough to a Latin-based language like French or Spanish or Italian that (knowing two of those) you can sort of make out the intent of what’s being said. It also helps tremendously that Fiona Staples art is incredibly emotive. She’s gotta’ be doing the best facial expressions in the business right now, no? Anyway, this is a really effortless, stylish, and fun read. Grade A.
Mind MGMT #9 (Dark Horse): I like Mind MGMT a lot, I’ve been a fan of Matt Kindt’s for years, but I find that this book is a hard one for me to review. I feel like I have nothing to say about it, or that it might read better (for review purposes anyway) in trade form, but I want to continue to support it in singles. So, Meru kind of transitions from being a writer to a real dramatis personae here. I don’t want to spoil it, but she gets very involved in the action. As a whole, her new family unit also goes from being a somewhat passive or reactionary group on the run to putting a proactive plan together to recruit old agents and oppose the forces against them. There’s a terrific visual moment on the bottom half of page 12 that nails this idea, in a very cinematic fashion. Kindt’s art is just washed in color, yet dusty and sun-baked all at the same time, striking a perfect tonal balance. By the end, this sort of descends into a weird projected set of Meru memories/soundtrack thing, either that or a Perrier autowriting text, who knows. I read it three times or so and though I’m not crystal clear on it, there’s no doubt this remains one of the freshest and most unique books on the stands. Grade A.
Batwoman #18 (DC): So, Kate is on some DEO backed boondoggle to go after Mr. Freeze and (I guess?) recover some of his tech for analysis. That’s pretty much the extent of the story content for this issue. Cameron Chase is directing Kate/Batwoman, while Colonel Kane is directing Bette/Hawkfire (I appreciate the attempt to forge a new identity, by the way, but I hate this particular name). There’s sort of a gratuitous Batman cameo which just emphasizes the question as to why Batman never showed up when Gotham City was under siege by Medusa’s forces in the last arc and though they try to comically dismiss it with a line, it only draws more attention to the illogical nature of it. Similarly, I don’t understand why Bette doesn’t have the time to just use her flamethrowers up front against Mr. Freeze, but does have time to quip to him about having them(?). So, I guess the writing seems like it’s off to a slow clunky start for this new arc, “treading water” would be the less charitable phrase, and although Trevor McCarthy tries hard to add some of the panache of JH3 with inset panels, bat outlines in the layouts, etc., it’s basically nowhere close. There’s some type of mystery guest at the end, which could be Manhunter or Renee Montoya, I guess (but who knows in the New 52), but all that really made me do is wonder where Kate’s sister was, didn’t they show her at the end of the last issue? Suddenly, you realize that JH3’s pencils were slightly more than half the magic here, and the magic is gone. I’m still marginally interested in what happens, but it would be really easy to just skip it all until JH3 comes back. I’m on the fence, but could easily be at a point where I’m giving up the last vestige of the New 52 and basically the only DC book I’m currently buying. This is a pretty low Grade B.
Star Wars: Legacy #1 (Dark Horse): Good God, I did not enjoy this issue. I think I must have gotten a contact high from Brian Wood’s Star Wars series and thought it would carry over to this title. Not so much. I read an interview with Hardman and Bechko that really made me feel as if they liked some of the things that I specifically like about Star Wars, so I decided to check it out. It’s supposed to be 138 years post-ANH, but the Stormtroopers look hasn’t really changed substantively? They basically have a slightly different more conical thing in the mouth area of the uniform, and otherwise identical? Was that a ship or a rocket or what that hit their ship? I didn’t get that the Imperial Knight guy lost his lightsaber in the duel because a) the fight choreography wasn’t clear and b) someone forgot to color the saber so you can’t really see it flying out of his hand unless you look reeeeeallly close. I don’t get why the Sith apprentice guy randomly kills his master in the middle of a fight. I don’t get why the ice collector thing seems to be perched on a planetary ring, but you know, those aren’t really stable structures, basically just dust and ice particles. I don’t get who shot up the probe droid thing. I’m not sure why the Sith guy is posing as the Imperial Knight guy and why nobody else even seems to notice that their hair color is different oh and I just realized I don’t even really care. Ania and the Mon Cal guy act like they don’t know what the lightsaber is initially, but a few pages later they call it by name as a “lightsaber.” At a very superficial level, it’s neat that this is Ania Solo, a descendant of Han and Leia, and I thought some of the very small political elements were intriguing, like the Mon Calamari being refugees (because I think I read their homeworld had to be evacuated(?), but that’s not even explained here) or the decay occurring on Coruscant, but those are extremely minor elements. There are moments when some of the static images are nice, there’s a murky quality to the art that seems like it might be at home here, but there’s really nothing going on in the story that makes me want to return. Thank God, I’ve got Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda’s book to roll with. Grade C+.