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Moon Knight #4 (Marvel): With aerosolized brain spores being
used to ingest dreams(!), Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey create a sort of Sandman-esque
take on the dream state by fusing a lot of psychedelic science into the fiction.
Shalvey’s matter-of-fact minimalism reminds me of Carla Speed McNeil here, especially in the figure work, surrounded
by trip hop colors from Jordie Bellaire. I really enjoyed the way Moon Knight’s
costume transmogrifies into the familiar when he descends into the dream state,
insinuating that maybe that’s the real world, and everything we’ve been seeing
prior is the Matrix-like illusion. It’s never said outright, but the subtle implication
is all kinds of fun. I guess it’s also worth noting that Brian Wood and Greg
Smallwood were finally announced as the “Season Two” team taking over with
issue 7, and I couldn’t be happier about that. While Wood is no Ellis (who
is?), he’s the perfect writer to address a character in full-blown identity
crisis grounded in New York City, and Smallwood’s innovative art on Dream Thief
has the perfect amount of bold experimental glee. Grade A+.
The Woods #2 (Boom! Studios): There’s a big exposition dump
up front as the faculty “resets” their status for the reader, and Maria comes
off a little too self-assured and poised for the average high-school student,
but otherwise I really enjoyed the follow-up to the strong debut from James
Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas. Tynion is careful to infuse the work with the uncertainty
of his beloved horror genre, and overall I just really appreciate where this
book sits in terms of early 21st century genre fiction. Remember how
so many TV shows began with plane crashes in the wake of 9/11? I’m talking about Lost and Fringe and Flash Forward, as if that was the most horrific thing we could imagine. In
the pop culture collective consciousness of a post-9/11 world, we have a
conspiratorial need for fiction (and even reality sometimes, take a look at the
missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the way that people just crave a “story”
or a conspiracy, they just refuse to believe that a) things break, b) the ocean
is vast, c) we may never know) that fits some type of preconceived tidy
narrative. I think The Woods sits nicely in this storytelling milieu. Grade A.
The Wake #9 (DC/Vertigo): I’m starting to think this could
have probably been done in just 8 issues and has perhaps lingered on a little
long, but I’m still enjoying it. Snyder has always written with a certain
cinematic flair, and Sean Murphy’s imaginative visuals are basically the type
of wild-eyed expansive art that makes you want to read comics in the first
place. Grade A.