2.26.14 [Weekly Reviews]
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Black Science #4 (Image Comics): The cover of this issue is drop dead ridiculous perfection, capturing the attitude, allure, and reclamation of old-school sci-fi. For me, Black Science plays like Fantastic Four x Lost In Space, but done right, in a way that modern incarnations of both properties never seem to get quite right. The front 2/3 or so of this installment is essentially the remnants of the team under siege, making a mad dash back to the pillar in an effort to give Grant a shamanic-save, with high tech Native Americans chasing our banged up protagonists in an old Jeep. For some reason, I kept thinking of George Lucas and his high-adventurization of the old pulp serials he grew up on. It’s a well-balanced issue that offers action, a pause that allows us to catch our breath, and leaves us with an intriguing figure clad in blue, almost a cryptic secret visual language from Matteo Scalera that harkens back to an amalgamation of Star Wars bounty hunters and futuristic Robotech gear. And how about that all-white page with yellow splotches as a demarcation point for the jump!? That’s good stuff. It’s all evidence that this is a rock star creative team. There are a handful of really great colorists working today, but I’ll go on record as saying that Dean White is the best. Period. Remender uses language to great effect, Hemingway-esque brevity like “The world tumbles--” doing in three words what lesser writers would struggle to capture in three full sentences. With Ward’s sense of duty giving way to a resigned sense of fate, Black Science is shaping up to be one of the year’s best books. #WatchOutForBarbedWire Grade A.
Hacktivist #2 (Archaia): Speaking as a 13-year veteran of Silicon Valley here, this is one of the smartest takes I’ve seen on the power of technology in the modern age. It’s about a philosophical debate between Nate and Ed over the interplay between government, the free market, and engineering revolution. I’m not familiar with any previous work from writers Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, but there’s a sharp intellect to the dialogue with quips like “I’m paused” or spinning the tortoise and the hare concept back on itself, or the cultural shorthand of “Fatality.” The way the writers handle the corporate evacuation, accountability, and forensic CCTV investigation (all part of my day job) makes me think these guys have spent some time working at some of these big companies or otherwise have some familiarity with it since it plays fairly authentic. Marcus To and Ian Herring were familiar to me from Archaia’s Cyborg 009 graphic novel, and their work is even more crisp here, depicting friends growing apart due to different ideological worldviews, grounding the proceedings in a believable real-world style. I really enjoyed the wry commentary about things the US has done for years abroad, engineering instability in a region and then arming the oppressors to the opposition, playing both sides against the middle, functionally creating demand and then offering supply. Hacktivist is a book that I fear some might dismiss as a Hollywood vanity project with Alyssa Milano’s name attached, without understanding her own activist/humanitarian/social justice pedigree. It’s a rich book about many things, from technology as a tool of social influence, to the gripping sense of futurism, to being an enjoyable corporate espionage and heist book all at once. I’m highly recommending this! Grade A.