5.21.08 Reviews

Scalped #17 (DC/Vertigo): RM Guera is really firing on all cylinders here with some crisp panel transitions. You can practically hear the hammer de-cock on the revolver as Bad Horse is being held at gunpoint in an early sequence. Scalped continues to be fresh and original, while offering an unapologetic level of nuance and surprise. Officer Falls Down steps into the picture and Bad Horse grieves in all the wrong ways, with drinking and attempts at self-destruction. It’s as if he’s really seen a piece of himself die when he failed the young boy in so many ways. I like that scribe Jason Aaron leaves things a bit unresolved emotionally with the Dead Mothers arc, but gives us a tidy visual conclusion with Bad Horse returning to the home he grew up in. Grade A-.

Echo #3 (Abstract Studio): Terry Moore continues to push his new narrative forward after a nice one page recap that brings new readers up to speed. And I truly hope that there is an influx of new readership flocking to this deserving title. Moore provides tons of new clues with a sister’s psychosis, government conspiracy, secret boxes, and many new players moving onto the board. The highlight of this issue was a gripping fight between the lead character and her ex, which proves Moore can handle the talking heads bits with as much gusto, flair, flawed realism, and engagement as many lauded writers are only able to handle a more traditional physical “fight” scene. Moore is the rare writer/artist who is capable of delivering both the action and the emotion. Grade A-.

War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle #3 (Marvel/MAX): Chaykin’s art is really the only treat here, his figures pop out of their detailed backgrounds and provide some brilliant depth. I notice that I seem to like all the characters in the book, except the naïve buffoon that is the lead. Is that the point? Not sure; I’m not able to really discern any narrative point other than… you know, war sucks, war is (ahem)… hell. But the script relies on either retread shock reaction to violence (oh the horror!) or hoary clichés (unaware servicemen getting after the VD) to make its points. It’s as if Ennis is just ticking items off a checklist of standard old war movie tropes. It’s pretty to look at, but nothing terribly original. For a five issue mini series, it should have gotten somewhere more significant or entertaining by now. Saved somewhat by Chaykin’s art, my last issue of this series scores a Grade B-.

The End League #3 (Dark Horse): From the start, the dialogue in this issue felt unnatural, as if it stemmed from the overly vocabularic hand of a writer. “So save the vague proclamations assigning culpability to some outside force!” Really, who shouts something like that off the cuff in the heat of battle? The bimonthly schedule has really worked against this series. We’re dealing with a very large cast of new characters; I still don’t know who’s who, and trying to conjure vague impressions of a book I read two months ago doesn’t really work. It’s also not appealing to go back and re-read two very dense issues to try and keep up. All of the characters seem to spout the same stilted and overly affected speech patterns, some even have onomatopoeic (but let’s just say unimaginative) names like Ragadoom. Really? Ragadoom? Sigh. Ok. The first two issues I found dense, yet intriguing. This issue is dense and high on exposition, but unfortunately not engaging. I find my mind wandering. I haven’t absorbed what I just read. I read the same sentence over and over looking for a mental foothold to be interested by. There are moments when Remender appears to be going for a Warren Ellis inspired (or even Joe Casey on Godland) bizarre charm: “Come visit, we’ll play Cranium and drink Cosmopolitans,” but it sticks out like a sore thumb and tends to fall flat since it’s out of tone with the context that surrounds it. On the artistic front, I’m not even sure if the art serves the story or not. Mat Broome’s style is umm… stylized (read: not to my personal liking), but certainly detailed and consistent. It just feels a bit incidental. In spite of all my gripes, I’m still fascinated by the core premise of a dwindling band of flawed heroes and think Remender is trustworthy enough to purchase another issue or two. For now, this issue feels ambitious in scope, but flawed in execution. Grade C+.

Checkmate #26 (DC): Greg Rucka has officially left the building, and it shows. While there is an interesting story seed here about the ramifications of the “good guys” performing some genetic manipulation to create a super soldier, the dialogue is extremely flat and doesn’t have the authentic espio-thriller hum that a typical Rucka script does. The Chimera (and isn’t it spelled Chimaera?) comes off looking like some silly manimal transformer thanks to the complex blend of desperation and mediocrity that is Manuel Garcia’s art. This suddenly feels like a generic second string title. No mas, por favor. Grade C-.


At 10:23 AM, Blogger Matt Clark said...

Agree with your review of End League. First issue had loads of promise but I spent the majority of this issue trying to figure out who was who. Not sure I'll bother with the next issue.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Thanks for stopping by Matt! I'm glad to see you over at Paradox Comics Group enjoying Fraction's new Iron Man series.

I also think if you stick with Captain Britain & MI-13 it will pay off. Paul Cornell's Wisdom series was one of the most underrated little surprises to come out of Marvel in quite some time for me.


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