7.09.14 [Weekly Reviews]

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Wasteland #56 (Oni Press): There’s a dark sense of foreboding in Chris Mitten’s art this week that perfectly captures how Antony Johnston is working this leg of the script. Johnston has pulled off a tricky thing in this final arc of Wasteland, essentially giving us two apocalyptic ideas for the price of admission. In the flashback scenes, we have the impending global climate change crisis of the future clanging up against this discovery of Adam, which leads to genetic engineering gone awry. There’s plenty of moral complexity to chew on, and some very cool moments, such as the origin of the Sand-Eaters if you piece the clues together. It’s not terribly hard work required of the audience, but I appreciate Johnston’s willingness to not directly provide all the answers and explain everything away like we’re 5 year olds, despite taking some heat for this approach on his newer works like Umbral and The Fuse. It gives readers a sense of discovery that would be lacking with easy exposition. Both story threads, the man-made natural crisis, and the man-made human experimentation, are different shades of “playing God” (either through omission and neglect in the case of climate change, or through overt acts on the DNA tinkering side) and the consequences of each action. This stands as a huge issue, in an arc essentially of origins, this issue is all about them, from the Sand-Eaters to Michael, Mary, Abigail, and Thomas. It’s a selfish move, but I want to give Johnston some static for not making Michael’s #7 designation #13 instead! I’ve loved this book from the start, but I love this issue more than most in recent memory. Honestly, it’s a shitty time to jump onto this book with only 4 issues remaining, so do yourself a favor and grab that first trade! Grade A+.

Star Wars #19 (Dark Horse): This issue has everything I’ve liked about Brian Wood’s run on this title. It reunites the original creative team, with Carlos D’Anda on art and Gabe Eltaeb on colors. There  have been some terrific artists during the run, Ryan Kelly especially, but for my money nobody has captured the gleam of the Empire and the grit of the Rebel Alliance in the way that Carlos D’Anda has. There’s an energy to his lines that’s in keeping with the source material, and Eltaeb has solidified that aesthetic with lens flares and menacing hues. Not only is the creative team reunited, but for the final couple of issues, we return to the Fab Four – Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie, as they dodge a Bounty Hunter Assassin Droid with a particularly bad rep, IG-88. As if that weren’t cool enough, Wood brings in deep cover Intelligence Agent Seren Song, and I instantly LOVE this girl. I love her look, I love her attitude, and I love her ship. I love her action figure that doesn’t exist. I love her animated series that doesn’t exist. I love the mini-series about her that Wood will probably not go on to write at Marvel. It’s all a testament to the possibilities of the Star Wars Universe, still being mined nearly 40 years later, from the mind of a kid who just wanted to escape California’s Central Valley, the dreary ass place I too grew up - literally one town over from George Lucas - I too cruised the streets of McHenry Avenue, depicted in all its perfect repetitive ennui in American Graffiti, where every night was the same microcosm of existential despair, an escape ultimately reflected in the fantastical Joseph Campbell escapism that is Star Wars. This run is the last great Dark Horse contribution to the Star Wars property, and I’m already sad to see it go. Grade A+.

Spread #1 (Image): It’s sort of an aside, but this week is a perfect representation of my current buying habits. We have a long-standing series up top in Wasteland that I’ve stuck with since day one, since before the creator-owned thing became as hip as it is now, from creators who I wasn’t familiar with at the time, creators who I’ve since followed to all of their other work. We have a rare company owned property in the next slot in Star Wars, a book that gets a pull out of fierce creator loyalty to my favorite writer, and then in this last slot we have another creator-owned work, a new one from a guy who has banked some credibility with me over the years largely because of the Luther Strode Trilogy. It’s also interesting that these three books are all from different publishers (not Marvel and DC!), Oni Press, Dark Horse, and Image Comics. THAT SAID, I enjoyed this book! Kyle Strahm’s visuals are instantly disturbing, capturing the sort of genre melding grindhouse violence that catapulted Justin Jordan’s career in the aforementioned Luther Strode. Jordan’s world-build is instantly convincing, positioning some Walking Dead-style post-apocalyptic survival ethos without bothering to explain too much about how it actually came to be. We’re just dropped in en media res. With the sort of ronin theme underlying things, it’s hard not to make the obvious comparison to Lone Wolf & Cub, then just throw in a dash of Saga, since events are narrated from the POV of the infant baby in retrospect. It’s one of the (few) things I love about Saga, so it was a welcome hook to see that play out as No meets Hope. I’m on board for this ongoing series. Grade A.


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