8.27.08 Reviews

DMZ #34 (DC/Vertigo): The election of Parco Delgado wraps up in the last installment of the Blood in the Game arc. “The Forgotten Population” of the DMZ and their strength to overcome overwhelming odds to affect tangible change reminds me strongly of the lesson that V for Vendetta tried to teach us. “People should not be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” The Delgado character has really become the voice of an idea, the ability to provide the disenfranchised a medium of communication, and that’s really fascinating. It’s also becoming more of an interesting departure in that Matty’s life really takes a crazy left turn here and he’s squarely crossing a line. He’s no longer simply objectively reporting on a story, he himself has become part of that story. Grade A.

Northlanders #9 (DC/Vertigo): In the second little arc of Brian Wood’s new title, he reveals an overbearing father and touches on the hypocrisy of religion. You can clearly see the main character’s arc being set up as he moves from survival, to reinvention, to redemption. There is some beautiful imagery to be found here, particularly in the full page shots of religious symbols, the memory of a departed mother, the old gods of the North, and the arrival of an invading force. Wood’s done a clever thing with Northlanders by not focusing on one central cast member. He’s essentially created his own universe where he can explore different themes, locations, and various inhabitants, while still remaining true to a consistent voice as an author. Like all of his works (think of Local, Supermarket, DMZ, etc.), the first two arcs of Northlanders seem to be about young people placed in an alien environment struggling to find their true identity. Perhaps this is why his work resonates so strongly with the audience, we can all identify with the power inherent in a coming-of-age tale in which the protagonist learns hard fought lessons along the way. Oh, and bravo DC! I love the way you're getting behind Brian Wood as a creator and showcasing him with that text piece. Nice touch! Grade A.

X-Force #6 (Marvel): I dug the framing device being a recreation of events as told through the eyes of Wolverine, while he debriefs Cyclops on the mission. Amid the internal Purifier power struggle, we’re treated to character revealing lines like “Sixteen apiece. Kill ‘em all.” There’s a lot of threads at play here, which are handled effortlessly. Rahne confronts Reverend Craig one final time and is left shaken. Warren confronts his residual dark side and is left shaken. A larger plot of villainy is revealed beyond Bastion and The Purifiers, with some old X-Men foes. These sides of these characters and the new plot threads are ones we’ve “just never contemplated” and are seeded well for exploration here. There’s the immediate physical ramifications felt and the longer term emotional fallout put into motion. Overall, this was a great wrap up to the initial arc which sets up future plotlines. The art suits the tone of the book; it feels subversive in that the X-Men aren’t supposed to be like this. They’re largely not killers, and that’s the point. They’re forced to become something new here as the mutant population finds itself in a precarious and extreme set of circumstances. I’m amazed that I'm enjoying many of what I consider the core X-books to be. X-Force, Astonishing X-Men, and Uncanny X-Men are all pretty solid right now, all at once! I don’t think I’ve ever in my life bought three X-books regularly. Grade A.

Kick-Ass #4 (Marvel/Icon): Ostensibly, it's sort of odd to me that Millar already has the movie deal in the works when we’ve only seen a couple of issues of this title, a limited series no less. It sure doesn’t seem like enough content to judge the merits of a story on; perhaps the studio execs are succumbing to the same type of viral marketing that the title employs, but I digress. Perhaps it’s the wait in between issues or the buzz (kill) surrounding the book, but it doesn’t feel like as much fun as previous issues. I still enjoy the unapologetic way in which it presents the violence, the glee with which Hit-Girl scatters across the rooftops, and the snowballing perception about the masked vigilantes created for the citizens. But the self-serving 1985 reference hit me wrong as does the lack of bite I sensed from earlier issues. Essentially, I feel like it’s cooling off a bit. Grade B.

I also picked up;

Fear Agent: Volume 4 (Dark Horse): This edition collects the recent Hatchet Job mini-series. It's... very good.

Echo: Volume 1 (Abstract Studio): This edition collects the first arc entitled Moon Lake. While I had every intention of buying it as I walked into my LCS, I actually chose NOT TO BUY this once I saw it. What I saw upon examination is cover paper stock with lower quality than the single issues, a printing job that was fuzzy and lacked crisp clarity, and not a single extra bonus feature to speak of. No additional art, no essays or text pieces, no scripts or interviews. It is simply a reprint of the first five issues. With a $15.95 price tag, you’re getting $17.50 worth of material (5 x $3.50), or saving $1.55, less tax, by comparison. Now, if you missed the first five issues and simply want the story, this is a decent deal. But, if you’re like me and want to upgrade to a collected edition and already bought the single issues, you’re kinda’ left screwed. Aside from the simple utility of having something that will stand on the bookshelf, you’re basically just paying for the exact same content twice and not getting any added value for it. Had I purchased this, I would have been getting it in a different format, but not “upgrading” in the truest sense of the word. I’d hoped I could upgrade, as I like the title; but alas, I apparently was not the right audience for this. Perhaps I’ll have to wait for some type of omnibus or digest sized compendium as Moore offered with SiP. I think he mentioned at SDCCI that he plans on about 30 issues or so(?) of this book, so that will make a nice single edition or two once ultimately collected. Sigh.


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