12.05.07 Reviews

Kabuki: The Alchemy #9 (Marvel/ICON): Volume 7 in the Kabuki saga reaches a state of self-referential craftsmanship and exuberance as Kabuki (and David Mack?) begins to tell her story about writing the Kabuki books, with nods to the debut work, Circle of Blood (and even a couple shout outs to Marvel's FF). I was reminded of the recent Trevanian novel I just finished, The Crazyladies of Pearl Street, in which the last few pages of the book are the author discussing how he began to write the very book you're reading. There's some well-played commentary on pop culture, with references to the transformative kiss that Michael gives to Fredo in Godfather II, as well as a faux exchange from the Charlie Rose Show. Picasso's quote: "Art is the lie that tells the truth" sets the stage for Mack's own spin on the statement. He essentially makes the point that "the expression of intent can alter reality," or that we have the power to change or destroy the world, as we become "contributing authors of our own culture." I was particularly fond of Mack's examination of the number 13: "...my favorite number, a Fibonacci number, the smallest and first prime number that can be expressed as the sum of two prime numbers... a pattern which can be seen to exist in man, nature, and the heavens... the human genome is based on 13 strands of DNA... the moon travels 13 degrees across the sky... 13 is the divine feminine..." and goes on for another couple of pages. Mack walks a very fine line, providing allegorical storytelling that readers can imbue with their own personal meaning, but avoiding a more prescriptive analagous form of storytelling. This issue proves again that David Mack's creation is compelling, brilliant, and unique, both transcending and re-defining the medium's capabilities. Grade A+.

Northlanders #1 (DC/Vertigo): The year of Brian Wood ends with a well punctuated additional hit! Davide Gianfelice's gritty, visceral art style boasts cinematic shot selection that keeps the action flowing with a musical, staccato pace. Wood's script reaches Shakespearean heights with its familial betrayal and high drama. Though it's set in the Viking period, Wood brings his modern ear for dialogue and trademark characters struggling to define themselves in uncomfortable new environments. This is yet another title to watch in Wood's expanding, diverse portfolio of achievement. Grade A.

Black Summer #4 (Avatar Press): Warren Ellis continues his examination of the collapse of the superhero paradigm, as Juan Jose Ryp's art boasts a combination of lean Frank Quitely lines and details reminiscent of Geoff Darrow. John Horus continues his driven rampage with illuminating lines like "do I have to make a crater, do I have to make a chunk of the country go away before you'll start acting like humans?" All the while I was reminded of the quote "I will burn this village in order to save it." Grade A.

The Infinite Horizon #1 (Image): Gerry Duggan and fan favorite Phil Noto present a harrowing, but plausible alternate future outcome of the United States' involvement in the Middle East. They set up an interesting journey as the familiar and comfortable trappings of warfare and what it means to be a soldier are abandoned in favor of a poetic journey that has the potential for further social commentary and devil's advocate style controversy. Grade A.

Suburban Glamour #2 (Image): SG stays true to its name, as the source of the magical glamour is finally revealed and the pedestrian suburban notes are hit perfectly, as evidenced by the simple act of text messaging in class. There are miniscule mis-steps like the way Aubrey's importance is somewhat telegraphed, but overall this is a strong book with a wonderful sense of graphic design, such as the thought balloon/pictures. Grade A-.

Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus #4 (Dark Horse): The creative team confidently puts forth a fun, accessible, dark adventure that's not mired in continuity the way that Hellboy has become. This time out, I was really impressed with the number of sequential panels that are sans dialouge, highlighting the effective panel to panel storytelling abililty and faith in eachother that this creative team possesses. Grade B+.

Justice League of America #15 (DC): This issue is a cornucopia of exposition, implausibility, and untidy storytelling. Lex: Oh no, "you transmuted my kryptonite." Amanda Waller: Hi, "for those of you who may not know, I'm Amanda Waller." How's that for some exposition? I do believe many of the poses and anatomical anomalies are impossible on that double page splash. How could we possibly be looking square on at Dinah's ass and her face at the same time? How is it that Roy, Batman, and Vixen are inhabiting the same horizontal plane? Who among the JLA wouldn't know who Amanda Waller is? Roy was a damn Checkmate agent! How in the hell could Amanda and a dozen fools from Task Force X sneak up on the JLA in a room without Superman hearing them? As for untidyness, there's about three examples of characters literally saying "we'll talk about this later," that's just silly. Also, umm, did I miss an issue? No. Was this part of a crossover? The cover doesn't say so. Yet, I feel like I'm missing things. There are Green Lanterns swooping in from nowhere, references to having called Firestorm, nobody knows where Flash is, etc. This is just really unclear, as is the continuing theme of the JLA being the home for wayward heroes. They've picked up Geo-Force (still unclear from Meltzer's run) and now have Firestorm, which makes for a line-up of about 12 Leaguers, which is all pretty unwieldy. Add that on top of a plot that thoroughly lacks any sort of gravitas and I do believe I'm just about done with JLA, as this ish clocks in with a Grade D+.

I also picked up;

The Escapists Hardcover (Dark Horse): Finally! One of the best mini-series finally published in a collected edition.

The Brave & The Bold: The Lords of Luck (DC): I had some quibbles with the latter issues of this first arc, but the strength of the first half and amazing George Perez art made up for them.


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