5.23.07 Reviews

Wisdom #6 (Marvel/MAX): I love how the entertaining "Previously in Wisdom" sections are always a little different and become more pointed than the last as this crazy sitch wears on. Pete brings up a succinct point from the HG Wells novel that "We are the Martians.. they came to do to us what we did to the world." I enjoyed Maureen playing the self-conscious feisty heroine, but if her son will grow to be such a threat to Martians in every parallel dimension, I never understood why they don't just just kill her/him to prevent it? Paul Cornell is channeling his best Warren Ellis here with lines like "We've got an army made up of faeries and Beatles, and we're fighting HG Wells' Martians and bloody Jack the Rippers." Manuel Garcia's fluid lines capture the mayhem well, much better than original artist Trevor Hairsine, as evidence by the scenes where the faeries come to a surprise rescue instead of bringing war upon our heroes. It all feels like an Ellis plot, with bouts of Grant Morrison dialogue. I was so impressed by a gutwrenching act of unexpected love to ease Maureen Raven's passing, kudos to the creators for not pulling any punches, Garcia's art, sans dialogue nails the emotional gravitas in those 4 panels, as Pete does what's best for the greater good. The stage is set here for future stories as Maureen's son rises to prominence in the Marvel U. And as usual, Pete Wisdom just can't catch a break. He's the perfect downtrodden hero. Grade A.

Criminal #6 (Marvel/Icon): I keep trying to analyze why I'm not warming to this title or as impressed by it as everyone else seems to be. At first I thought it was because I've studied crime at the university level, the personalities, the crime scene pictures, and the reality of those situations and people is that they're just never the noble, stand-up guys, the likeable rogues, that pop culture makes them out to be with glamorized fiction goggles on. But, I don't think it's exactly that. Criminal is undoubtedly noir, and I think, for me, the intensity of that noir feel is a little too in-your-face. It's full of the tough, cynical characters in bleak settings from the film noir that inspired this work and is frequently discussed in the bonus sections and letter columns. I like my fiction a little more subtle and less defined, in the gray area between positive and negative attributes. I guess I like my fiction to present more of a moral dilemma, instead of being permeated to the point of saturation by a feeling of disillusionment, pessimism, and despair so embedded in the narrative. "This was a hard place, a cold place." If you like that tone, turned up to an 11, then this is excellent work, but not so much for me personally. It's too overt; it plays a bit redudnant to Phillips' adequately dark images. Yes, we have night sequences, the heavy rain, the greyhound buses, the neighborhood bar, the rough language, the sudden action, the man with a past, the down-on-her-luck prostitute, the strained familial relationships, and Brubaker pulls out all the tools in the toolbox, but I've seen it before. Maybe not in comics (not this well anyway), maybe not this polished or thought out, but it's really not *that* original. For me, it's all too ominous and terribly overwrought. So... the first ever, split grade at 13 Minutes. I think this is Grade A work in itself, I don't mean to discredit Brubaker's scripting ability and Phillips' commitment and delivery of solid visual storytelling, but my personal interest puts this only at a solid (some will say "mere") Grade B.

Snakewoman #0 (Virgin Comics): At a mere (there's that word again!) 99-cents, Wells & Gaydos offer up some history of the mythic backdrop this ongoing series uses. This was a smart release, this information is nice, but would have bogged down the main title, and is well-timed with the first trade and spin-off books due out soon. An even more effective release tactic would have been to make this the Virgin Comics' Free Comic Book Day offering instead of the unfocused crud they did put out. For that, we'll downgrade slightly to a Grade A-.

I also picked up;

Fell: Limited Edition Hardcover (Image): An awesome collection of the first 8 issues of the Warren Ellis & Ben Templesmith masterpiece. The book (along with Casanova, also released today) that proved the $1.99 format a true and instant success. This team absolutely nails story structure here, with perfect done-in-one stories, which coalesce to tell an overarching tale full of intrigue, gritty realism, with excellent pacing and engaging dialogue. Highly recommended, Grade A+.

The Homeless Channel (AiT/PlanetLar): Writer/Artist Matt Silady offers up an interesting high concept here, with art reminiscent of Jeremy Haun.


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