5.02.07 Reviews

Scalped #5 (DC/Vertigo): We get some nicely timed back story about our Native American FBI Agent who fled home, grew up, and ultimately returned to complete his journey. This is a brutally honest look at human intentions and unapologetic character motivations. Top that off with some splendid prose like, "today we send a voice for a people in despair," and you have the best new Vertigo series in a long time. Powerful words with iconic, haunting imagery get you a Grade A+.

Astonishing X-Men #21 (Marvel): It's nice to get an old fashioned space faring romp, in the tradition of the Claremont/Byrne era, and then infuse it with a great, modern, fresh, hip, team dynamic. Scott and Emma's conversation about their relationship, while dogfighting in an alien craft no less, is pure Whedon banter. I was particularly taken with his take on the culture of the Breakworld. Compassion is a sin. There's no word for "hospital." And Peter and Kitty's mysterious benefactor is a true individual with unique motivators, a thoughtful, balanced, well fleshed out character, not some mindless automaton or cookie-cutter "bad guy." It's the little things like that which make all the difference. Throw in some lush Cassaday art (I mean really, have you ever seen a hotter more seductive Kitty Pryde than that close up panel on her eyes? Oh. My. God.) and you have a Grade A+.

Hellboy: Darkness Calls #1 (Dark Horse): Yet another awesome start to an arc that continues the primary Hellboy mythos. We get some old school Hellboy treats here, like Ilsa Haupstein, and references to Vladimir Giurescu, his castle, Trevor Bruttenholm, etc. There are quiet little moments that hit all the right fanboy buttons (like an old soldier giving HB his 1941 Army issue .45cal handgun) and the big horror/adventure spectacle scenes we've come to love. Duncan Fregredo's art is right at home, capturing the moodiness of Guy Davis, but a kinetic energy and refinement that's reminiscent of say, P. Craig Russell. Grade A+.

Checkmate #13 (DC): The opening shot of the Ops Room confirms once and for all that Checkmate is indeed the Queen & Country of the DCU; it's right out of Rucka's own Oni Press spy thriller. And that's cool, but it just makes me miss Queen & Country and want to loathe Checkmate a little bit just out of illogical spite. Hey, Amanda Waller! So check it out girl, the whole point of using code names over the radio is to hide someone's identity. So referring to Metamorpho as "Maltese" in one panel, only to identify him as "Metamorpho" in the next panel sort of renders the code name moot. Tsk-Tsk. Was a nice moment to see Grace and Thunder fend off Checkmate and put up a good fight, evidenced by Jessica uttering "Fire just went out." And of course, I like the confirmation in the last panel that Nightwing is still a bad-ass and my favorite character in the mainstream DCU. Or Earth 17... or something. Ha. (Sorry, a little jab at 52!). Grade B+.

52: Week Fifty-Two (DC): Finally, it's over. We have Rip Hunter in full exposition mode for 20+ pages, monologuing his way through a rushed explanation of the incomprehensibility of the previous 51 weeks. I guess Blue Beetle is back and uh... not dead, but younger... and not the new Jaime Blue Beetle... or something. I don't really get how Booster Gold and Supernova "saved the multiverse" with a "time bomb," (heh, get it? "time" bomb?) but umm, yeah... they're like heroes and stuff... or something. Theoretical Quantum Physics tells us that the idea of alternate realities stems from the concept that with matter and energy, an infinite number of possibilities emanate from any single moment in time, existing simultaneously on different frequencies in space/time. Thus, the idea of a multiverse is fairly well predicated upon the infinite number of possibilities, yes, the infinity part is implicit in the very definition. That said, the idea of there being a finite 52 universes is conveniently arbitrary, random, and impossible as current science understands and explains the theoretical phenomenon. So uhh, that big scientific incompatibility aside, I guess it was pretty fun to see that Earth 50 is the Wildstorm Universe, and Earth 22 is the Kingdom Come Universe, and that Earth 4 is the Charlton Universe... or something. But ya' know, it pretty much contradicts everything the human race understands about space/time. On the one hand, I can see where the DC Powers-That-Be felt this was a logical platform to tell diverse stories from moving forward. I can buy that. But, it is impossible to reconcile that with the past 60 years of muddled, contradictory, incongruous, pre, post, and rebooted, retconned Infinite Multiple Identity Crisis continuity. So it may work looking forward, but it hurts looking back. The broad brushstrokes here lead us to believe that all is resolved, but many fine lines are left dangling, case in point: what happened to Starfire and Animal Man? Is she still laying on the ground outside his house? Will that get resolved? Does it matter? I dunno. Lastly, hey Dan DiDio! Dude, so you're the Executive Editor of DC Comics, right? Too bad that someone with Editor in their title doesn't know how to use insure/ensure properly. Insure means "to secure indemnity to in case of loss or damage." You know, you insure your house or your car in case Starfire comes crashing down on it. Ensure means "to make sure or certain." You know, like it would have been nice if you proofread your note to the DC Nation to ensure it was grammatically correct and error free. Grade D+.

I also picked up;

The Clarence Principle (Slave Labor Graphics): Never heard of these creators before, but this was an attractively packaged book with a unique looking art style, and SLG usually delivers some fairly strong, offbeat stories.

The Professor's Daughter (First Second): This would have passed the "casual flip test" anyway, but all I had to see was Joann Sfar's name listed as writer and I was sold. If he's listed as writer, artist, or writer/artist, that's an automatic purchase now.

In Dublin City (BRENB/Dublin Comics): I'm actually not sure if that's the publisher or this is basically a self-published effort, but the unique setting and odd artistic blend of a Robert Crumb/Peter Bagge sort of rough autobiographical style and an Eddie Campbell, highly detailed, fully rendered style made me snap it up.

The Walking Dead: Book Two Hardcover (Image): Been reading this title exclusively in the hardcover collections of 12 issues, so looking forward to a major leap forward in this "realistic" zombie survival story.


At 5:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justin, Your writing skills impress me. Tell me, Why the name "13 minutes" ?

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Hey, thanks for the kind feedback! The name "13 Minutes," came from... nowhere specific actually.

One of my former bosses used to use a saying frequently regarding our business; he talked about displaying the appropriate “sense of urgency.” I always liked that. And to me, 13 Minutes just sounds exigent. The industry is in need of immediate assistance, perhaps in the next 13 Minutes. Doesn’t it sound finite and fill you with panic? Don’t we all have something to do in the next 13 Minutes? What could happen in that amount of time?

But, honestly, it just sounded cool. I'll credit Dan Shahin, Owner of Wacky Hijinx Comics in San Jose for this one. I remember Dan telling me about his store name and why he chose it. It was a little subversive, it sounded hip, like something you wanted to be a part of. It sounds fun, he said with a sly grin. It doesn’t have to have some deep meaning, either intuitive or deliberate.

That much, I learned from Dan. Thanks for reading!


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