5.13.09 Reviews

Echo #12 (Abstract Studio): Terry Moore brings his best every single issue! We jump right into some first rate detective work at an insane crime scene which hums with an air of authenticity. Moore still nails the most realistic understanding of the way people actually talk and think to themselves. Lines like “Without a word, I give him the generic card. Here you go, ace. Knock yourself out. Call the office and tell ‘em how it really is. They’re dying to hear from you.” come off with deadpan sarcasm and a world weariness that anyone can identify with. It doesn’t matter if it’s a touching moment between two characters, or something like Julie’s frantic attempt to help Dillon, or a crazy fight scene, it all comes off completely plausible and believable and I can’t wait for the next issue. I really want to know why Julie’s husband thinks she’s a pervert! One pet peeve… Terry, ahem… Mr. Moore, please update your web-site more regularly. I can never find a pic of the current cover anywhere online. It’s always a hassle. This looks like a promotional cover and isn’t anything like the stupendous cover I actually bought. Grade A+.

Lockjaw & The Pet Avengers (Marvel): Let’s get a couple of minor gripes out of the way first. It bugs me that the text mentions 6 jewels that the story revolves around, yet the accompanying picture of Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet only depict 5. It bugs me that effort was made to ensure this was in continuity with Lockheed deliberately mentioning the departed Kitty Pryde, yet the scene takes place in the old HQ in Westchester, as opposed to the new X-Men HQ in San Francisco – which is most definitely a continuity breakdown. Obviously, I don’t think the story really needs to be in continuity since it’s largely a tongue-in-cheek romp, but if you’re gonna’ bother with one, then go all the way. In for a penny, in for a pound, I say. Those quibbles aside, I really liked this book! Right from jump, Ig Guara’s art is just drop dead gorgeous with its sinewy lines and expressive dynamics, and it's colored radiantly. I’d really like to see these cats on a more mainline property, they deserve a gig with some gravitas. Chris Eliopoulos provides the script, aided by the treat that is Colleen Coover (of Small Favors fame, rock on girlie porno comics!) on an origin sequence. We have the “Avengers” Assembling! here with Throg (Frog Thor), Lockjaw (the Inhumans teleporting pet), Lockheed (Kitty’s dragon… which sounds kind of dirty), Hairball (Speedball's cat), Redwing (the arrogant pal to The Falcon), and Ms. Lion (the male poodle of Aunt May?!). This is great fun! Can’t wait for #2, and my goodness that Niko Henrichon cover with Kitty Pryde looks dynamite! Grade A.

The Unwritten #1 (DC/Vertigo): Mike Carey and Peter Gross finally come along and do what The Books of Magic and Kid Eternity failed to do before, and that’s create the comic book equivalent of Harry Potter. That’s what it is on the surface anyway. Dig a little deeper and you actually find a story with the ambition to be the next Sandman level saga; it aspires to be the self-proclaimed “big secret conspiracy that unites all the world’s literature.” Gross’ pencils seem to be up to the task, boasting qualities reminiscent of P. Craig Russell, lavish sets with inventive page layouts that can contain hard panels, full page bleeds, or even free floating prose. While Carey’s script does address the superficial similarities head on, I found myself distracted by the same type of scar that aches when the protagonist’s nemesis is near, Mingus the miawling pet sidekick, and an acrostic poem that’s a call back to some of J.K. Rowling’s early puzzles. Another storytelling crutch seems to be the use of the news crawls to relay information. It’s too early to tell if this is deliberate homage to something like The Dark Knight Returns or is just plain old exposition. The “death on the net” sequence is meant to be foreboding I suppose, but it’s nothing moviegoers haven’t seen repeatedly in the last 5 years. I did like the duplicity of assistant Swope, Lizzie Hexam as Sue Sparrow as Hermione Granger, and any book that can drop a Sacco & Vanzetti reference deserves some level of respect, but overall I found myself bored. The story itself isn’t terribly engaging, but the themes it plays with – examinations of fame, the blurring line between fiction and reality – certainly are. The cover by Yuko Shimizu is a treat, as is the last page. It offers the clever notion of stories merging with images in order to become accepted reality or fact; I found this one page largely more interesting than the entire book that preceded it, which is to say I like the ideas at play here, but the execution left me wanting. I’m glad I bought it, and am happy to see DC continuing these promotional issues for a mere dollar, but I doubt I’ll be back for more. I wish the title luck, but fear it may be “made of fail,” which was a fun catchphrase I gleaned from it. Remember that it was only $1, so… Grade A.

From The Ashes #1 (IDW): This is a great looking book that puts Bob Fingerman (and spunky female companion) in an Adam & Eve type post-apocalyptic setting. They are the slacker, non-procreating, slightly gloating, obsessed with finding Astroglide, electrolyte-filled Gatorade, and nourishing Slim-Jims duo, as they ensure their “clean po-po,” because “you gotta’ wash yo’ ass.” There are a few good notes to be found here, impressive production quality as is standard for IDW, and it’s beautifully rendered, but unfortunately this book isn’t half as funny as it thinks it is. I just gave you all of the funny lines. Grade B-.


At 7:06 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

So, I came over here to recommend a new book that I now see you've already reviewed. :) I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with "Unwritten #1" BUT, unlike yourself, I WILL be back for #2. :)

I was sort of taken aback by the heavy criticism you gave it, even going so far as to say you were not interested in purchasing the second issue, yet still it eked out an A rating?


You know I'm a huge fan of your reviews. They're always intelligent and carefully written, which is why I was surprised at the inconsistent decision regarding this title.

I thought you hit the nail on the proverbial head by calling attention to the title's "examinations of fame" portion. That was one of the aspects that I thought was characterized best and intrigued me the most.

Anyhow, this is getting a bit long for a comment, so I'll wrap it up. Keep up the killer reviews, Justin! Lookin' forward to saying hello in San Diego. (You'll be there right?)

Take care,

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Hi Ryan,

I struggled with this review, actually. Probably what skews the grade/crit ratio is the price. If it was $2.99, I probably would have gone with a B or so, indcating that the art is strong, and there are some interesting ideas at play, but with me having the bored reaction and being (err, trying to be) a little more choosy with my purchases, I'd lean toward not adding it to the pull list. However, for a mere dollar (I really do take price into consideration for review purposes), it got bumped up to an A.

Even if I don't pick it up regularly, this is the type of book I can see myself giving a second shot when the first trade comes out or if I find more issues in a dollar bin. Still sounds like I'm damning with faint praise, but alas... that's where my head is at.

I'll definitely be at the Con Friday and Saturday! I'm really going to try to avoid filling my day with panels and spend some quality time on the floor in the Small Press area and Artist Alley, so I'm sure I'll see you!

Hey, how'd you like Echo? Getting single issues or just the trades?




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