4.22.09 Reviews (Part 2)

Scalped #28 (DC/Vertigo): Scalped reaches such a successful artistic fervor that by the second page, my heart sinks at the quiet reveal of the dead body. It’s a particularly effective establishing shot, not only of place, but of mood. Jason Aaron continues to expand the cacophony of characters inhabiting the universe of the Rez with bit players like the dead black grifter from a couple issues back and shedding a small light on FBI Agent Newsome. We also get long-awaited clarity around who really killed those agents and Gina Bad Horse years prior, as the perpetrator attempts to make amends while the truth slowly comes to light, living into the words “Everything on Earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is The Indian Theory of Existence. Mourning Dove.” R.M. Guera’s pencils are as visceral and perfectly mated to this type of script as ever, whether depicting a tatted up, weight-lifting prison yard where you can actually feel everyone’s eyes in the back of their heads mad-dogging you, or even the books quietly tucked away in Falls Down’s house. With Y: The Last Man and 100 Bullets now concluded, it seems more obvious than ever that Brian Wood’s DMZ and Jason Aaron’s Scalped are the rightful inheritors of the mantle of “Vertigo flagship” book. Grade A+.

Buck Rogers #0 (Dynamite Entertainment): John Cassaday’s character design (and cover) is cool in a… Tron meets Havok sort of way. Writer Scott Beatty has plenty of practice writing Batman, Star Wars, and some encyclopedic guides to be well suited to spin tales about one of the first pulp heroes out there. It's apparent he has a decent handle on the character, with this nice quick intro story. The Ganymedian baddies are sort of a generic Starro the Conqueror. Carlos Rafael's artistic style is really representative of the Dynamite house style, if one exists. There are some static and awkward shots, but he shows tons of promise for this type of adventure. I'll definitely check out the first issue or two to see if this has legs. For .25 cents? Hell yeah. Grade A+.

I Am Legion #3 (Devil’s Due Publishing): Fabien Nury and John Cassaday continue their genre blender that’s part old school detective thriller, part horror infused creep show that would make Mike Mignola proud, and part pulp war examination that feels so nuanced and well researched – reminiscent of F. Paul Wilson’s The Keep from IDW a few years back. Though the plot feels a little convoluted in spots (Herr so-and-so doing activity x for what motivation again?), but that’s probably attributable to being a translated work that has been chopped up arbitrarily to fit monthly installments, and will likely read much better collected. As usual, Cassaday’s pencils alone are worth the price of admission and can capture the most rousing parachute drop or even the quiet hesitation on Maria’s face. This is really a sleeper little book. Grade B+.

Ignition City #2 (Avatar Press): I think I'll just stick with Black Summer, No Hero, and Aetheric Mechanics for my Warren Ellis fix from Avatar. Why all the bare midriff? What's with all the ass poses? Why the pointy angular breasts? There's a horrid panel on page 2, where the main chic looks like she has a weird balding scalp, with an elongated head and tweaked out eyes. I'm not sure if the inks or the colors are at fault here, but somehow Gianluca Pagliarani’s breathtaking style (remember Aetheric Mechanics?!) is getting mangled here; it's so lacking of the detail and fine line work, where before (in Aetheric Mechanics!) it was swimming in it. There are pieces of the puzzle here oh-so conveniently unfolding as whatserface begins looking into her dad’s death. There are fleeting flashes of Ellisian fun sci-fi ideas: “We’re not here because we lost space, honey. We’re here because we lost our planet,” but I'm distracted by the art mishap which makes it tough to continue. The protagonist soapboxes about her life expositorially. Lines like "I could spin her around on my cock like a bolt washer" just play sort of gratuitous for shock value’s sake instead of being the trademark realistic portrayal of the way a real bastard speaks. I thought it was ludicrous how the one dude just starts talking to himself admitting he killed the dad?! Talk about exposition, he tells us what he did, how he did it, and why he did it, talking to nobody but the audience(!) for no apparent reason! There's a shot where it looks like the chic is saluting rather than blocking the sun from her eyes as she looks up to see a strange ship overflying the island. Maybe I'll pick this up out of the dollar bin one day or check out the trade, but for now I think I've had enough. This reminds me… someone once asked why some reviews are so short and some are relatively long. My answer was essentially that I put in what I get out of it. If you’re going to take the time to craft a thoughtful tale, like say, Detective Comics #853, that inspires more response in me. If you’re going to just schlock out some crude sci-fi romp, then that creates an equally brief and choppy review. There was a whole episode of The West Wing about this type of “proportional response.” That is all. Grade C.

I also picked up;

Scalped Volume 4: The Gravel In Your Guts (DC/Vertigo): If you aren’t reading Scalped by now, I just… sigh… what’s wrong with you?


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