9.05.07 Reviews

Scalped #9 (DC/Vertigo): Hrmm, how else can I pay Scalped a compliment? I seem to be running out of ways... oh yeah, what about those covers by Jock? They capture the mood of the book and from an artistic design standpoint, I think they certainly hit a high point in terms of innovative ability to draw potential readers to this book sitting on the stands. As usual, Jason Aaron continues his thought provoking social commentary about an isolated enclave ebmedded within a larger society. This time out, he hits on some more spiritual notes and I really enjoyed R.M. Guera's graphic representation of various character's spirit animals. Red Crow's is a sickly, beaten, vile creature, seemingly gasping for a last breath, while Granny's is the might visage of a bear - the dichotomy plays extremely well. One thing that really struck me this time about Aaron's scripting ability is how he's able to balance dialogue with well timed narrative that offers counterpoint perspective. This narrative also employs simple and effective prose that strikes me as a style reminiscent of a modern day Hemingway. Case in point: "If ya' listen to the Christians, they'll tell ya' that everything that's wrong with the world is the fault of a snake, an apple, and a little red devil. That's the biggest crock of shit I ever heard. The snake is a sacred animal. A symbol of rebirth. Apples is good eatin.' And the devil...? In my experience, there ain't no goddamn devil... 'cept the one a man carries inside himself." Grade A+.

Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #1 (Dark Horse): There's no doubt that the long awaited Lobster Johnson mini-series has started with a pulp inspired bang. It's a burst of adventurous fun with an eclectic and interesting supporting cast that's seamlessly introduced. Jason Armstrong's pencils fit right into the Mignola-verse and depict the flow of the dialogue with likable ease. And what I really appreciated about this (after experiencing the opposite with Hellboy prime lately) is that the story isn't too bogged down in its own mythos to distract or push the reader out of the story. Grade A.

Iron Man: Enter The Mandarin #1 (Marvel): Naturally, the beautiful art deco inspired cover that harkens back to The Rocketeer grabbed my attention and absolutely drew me in. But then, the interior art takes on a wildly different stylistic note with it's sketchy lines and sharp angles. Naturally, the name Joe Casey on the cover as writer means an automatic purchase for me. But then, I find a dialogue heavy, un-engaging story that really lacks any sort of gravitas. The Mandarin comes off as a hokey, pontificating, stock villain, while we all know that Iron Man really isn't in any sort of peril whatsoever. I don't know if Casey is trying to emulate a more dense homage to Stan Lee, but it's really not what I expected, not playing well, and I won't be coming back for more. I'm bummed that I'm so disappointed by this. Sigh. Grade C.

I also picked up;

DMZ Volume 3: Public Works (DC/Vertigo): Between Scalped and DMZ, Vertigo is really firing on all cylinders right now for me. I've been picking up single issues of DMZ, then passing the arcs onto friends and coworkers as I upgrade to the trades. DMZ is consistently strong and I hope it stays around for a long while!

Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm (DC/Vertigo): The pencils are beautiful and being that it's based on the real life (mis)adventures of an underground Hip-Hop artist, this was an easy sell.

The Arrival (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Books): I picked up a free poster for The Arrival at the Scholastic booth at the San Diego Con and never thought much of it. The casual flip test revealed a boldly told narrative, sans dialogue, that looks to be a beautifully rendered alternate reality take on immigration to America; I'm really excited to sit down and take this in.


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