12.04.08 Reviews

Haunted Tank #1 (DC/Vertigo): I saw preview images for Haunted Tank at Comic-Con this year and had no intention of picking it up. I really have only a passive interest in the premise thanks to Dr. Thirteen: Architecture & Mortality. However, it passed the casual flip test at the LCS largely based on the strength of the art alone. Seeing Jeb Stuart atop a modern day M1 Abrams tank looked like great fun. In fact, the art was so strong that the register jock-ette mistakenly tried to convince me that the cover was done by Frank Quitely. Though there are certainly some similarities between him and (actual) cover (and interior) artist Henry Flint, I assured her it was most decidedly not Mr. Quitely. This interaction though is a testament to the strength of the latest wave of Vertigo artists. Simply look at titles like DMZ, Scalped, Northlanders, or House of Mystery and it’s a pretty impressive stable of line work. Moving along… I thought Haunted Tank had some strengths and also a couple of problematic glitches. Frank Marraffino’s script offers some quirky fun, whether it’s the accuracy of the “sabot round” or Jeb Stuart making the interesting differentiation between being a “Virginian” rather than a “Confederate” or the “War of Northern Aggression” vs. “The Civil War.” His ear for Southern dialogue also rings pretty true. Marraffino’s writing does seem to be infected by cinema-on-the-brain though, with glaring lines stolen from The Hunt for Red October, Ghostbusters, Aliens, and Star Wars: A New Hope. Though the premise of Jeb Stuart assisting his (Black) descendants is full of promise, I’m not exactly sure why the tank crewman would just happen to have a Confederate flag on board, other than to advance the plot in a kitschy way. Flint’s pencils are truly great, with clean and crystal clear action during a hectic fire fight between the Abrams and a group of Iraqi (Soviet T-72?) tanks. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised that Haunted Tank offers sharper and subtler commentary on some aspects of modern warfare that books like Army @ Love and even Kyle Baker’s Special Forces miss, though that’s more overtly what they’re supposed to be about. With a tease for covers by Kubert, Pope, Shane Davis, and Kaluta, I’ll probably be checking this mini-series out. Grade A-.

I also picked up;

Wasteland: Volume 3: Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos (Oni Press): First, thanks again to Antony, Chris, and the Oni gang for including a 13 Minutes pull quote on the back cover of this collected edition. Second, man I just love how this volume opens with the issue that’s almost entirely in Sand-Eater speak. I think this is bold proof of the unconventional tactics this creative team offers month after month, which is anathema to the dreck titles out there. Seriously, Wasteland is everything most titles are not. It’s black and white, a sustained long form epic, a stable creative team, it comes out regularly. There’s truly nothing like it. In being the very thing all comics ought to aspire to be, it becomes a rare specimen in its success.

Astonishing X-Men: Volume 2 Hardcover (Marvel): Being the long awaited conclusion of the Joss Whedon and John Cassaday run. Pretty much the only X-Men comics I need. Poor Kitty!


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