3.07.07 Reviews - Part 2

Scalped #3 (DC/Vertigo): The sheer energy of the plot pulls itself through some rather murky art during the opening shootout. Once that's settled, we get back to an extremely strong new book from Vertigo that bounces back and forth between present day and a flashback look at our protagonist. Scalped continually adds layers of complexity to this dark look at the modern plight of Indian Reservations and the twisted law enforcement efforts designed to address it. Grade A-.

Hulk & Power Pack #1 (Marvel): One huge quibble with this book that just punches you in the face. The Hulk was recently shipped off into space, by his own friends and colleagues mind you, because he was an unpredictable threat that could not be trusted anymore inhabiting the Earth. So, yeah, let's team him up with pre-teen kids in regular Marvel continuity and make him seem all cute and cuddly. Umm, what?! Nice one. Once you get past that irregularity, this is a really fun book. David Williams' pencils boasts some very dynamic perspective shots, brilliantly emotive facial expressions, and is the perfect artistic choice for the tone of this material. Marc Sumerak's script wastes no time, gets right into the action, and really nails the ear for kidspeak. He pays homage to modern kid culture (with things like Jack knowing the "Hulk Smash!" cheat code), but is also really respectul to the kids aptitude (they do figure out Banner is the Hulk after all!). All in all, a really well done book that is perfectly accessible for kids. Grade A-.

Mighty Avengers #1 (Marvel): I liked this debut issue, but have a few reservations. First off, the introduction of the thought balloons feels like a cheat. In this day and age, it just feels like a lazy storytelling tool. Bendis is an effective enough writer to convey meaning and motivation through his regular lengthy dialogue without having to attempt an additional layer of meaning with such a distracting mechanism. Second, it's very hypocritical. Recall that the Stamford disaster was the catalyst for the Registration Act and the subsequent Civil War. It all started with public backlash to innocent civilians getting killed. Well, in this issue we see a fight with "Mole-Monsters" right in New York City, there are at least two shots of high-rise buildings severely damaged and in flames. There's one panel where the Sentry knocks a monster right into a high-rise, cracking it in half. There's another panel where Wonder Man gets knocked into the air and in the background is half of a high-rise building sitting in flames. It seems safe to assume that NYC wasn't evacuated, since there are civilians visible running around amid cars being thrown, so we can also presume that hundreds of people have beek killed in this little melee starring the government sponsored team. Yet there's no mention of it. No reaction to it. Are we supposed to believe the public is ok with that? Why is that now ok? Because they're not children? I don't get it. I know that this is a basic conceit you have to accept with superhero books, but it's the height of hypocrisy given recent events in the Marvel U. Third, Tony is still being portrayed as really distasteful. He has a smarmy manipulative tone when dealing with Carol and refers to his long-time friend Captain America, Cap, Steve Rogers, Steve, now as... "Rogers" in a demeaning way. Fourth, some of the humor falls really flat. And finally, *this* is the best group of Avengers they could think of? The "best of the best?" I guess all the true best are behind bars or unregistered fugitives. All that aside... Frank Cho's art looks amazing, a perfect match for a book that depicts the mightier-than-mere-mortal Avengers. I'm a sucker for assembling the team issues. And you can't deny that there is a likeable energy here. Bendis is swinging for the fences in the very first issue by planting Ultron as the baddie. What I like the most is that it feels genuine. There is an authenticity to these events, characters, and the overall tone that is much more appealing than New Avengers ever came across. I would rather see the interactions of Carol Danvers, Wonder Man, and Ares ring true, than the much hyped dynamics of market juggernauts Wolverine and Spider-Man on the other Avengers title. Grade B.

Zauriel: Helmet of Fate #1 (DC): The best thing I can say about this is that it has a Kaluta cover. For a moment, there are some playful religious quandries posed, but then it absolutely drowns itself in exposition. The only raison d'etre for this book seems to be page after page full of expository dialogue that attempts to explain what the fuck is going on with the Helmet of Fate. One of the most boring and horribly scripted books I've read in quite some time. Grade D.


At 10:44 PM, Blogger Jason Aaron said...

Thanks for the review of SCALPED. Glad to hear you're liking the book.

At 8:50 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Hey Jason, thanks for stopping by! I also reviewed the first two issues, I think Scalped is the strongest book to come out of Vertigo in a long, long time. Keep up the good work!


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