6.10.09 Reviews - Part 2

DMZ #42 (DC/Vertigo): Fuck! It’s so nice to read a good book with some sort of discernible authorial intent instead of all that dreck I consumed yesterday. Every once in a while you get to see a powerful creative team coalesce. I still remember buying a little book called Flex Mentallo off the stands in the early 90’s, from an up and coming Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Coming around to the point, Brian Wood and frequent collaborator Ryan Kelly have given us Local, The New York Four, an arc of Wood’s other Vertigo epic Northlanders, and now take us on a three issue tour of the DMZ. As the first part of the No Future arc opens, Wood is careful to give us allegory, not analogy, to 9/11, with the emotional toll the Civil War has taken. Wood plays with the recurring theme in DMZ of perspective, reminding us that the terms insurgent/terrorist/freedom fighter are all a matter of perspective. I also really liked the notion of granting permission to do something chaotic being all the catalyst that’s needed for an acquiescence of inertia to propel the deed into reality. Kelly delivers in a big way, depicting bone chilling cold in the rainy shanty towns of the DMZ, or something as subtle as somehow conveying emotion behind a gas mask. As with the recent issue of Northlanders, Wood’s prose is reaching new heights here: “…and then set loose in the dark playground of fear and violence. We felt like gods.” Like Jason Aaron does so well on the other “best” Vertigo book out there – Scalped – Wood is brilliant at world building. He proves that as a good writer, he doesn’t even need his ostensible lead character of Matty Roth to tell a compelling story. Like Aaron’s Rez in Scalped, the main character of DMZ is the city itself. Also included in this issue is a great preview of Peter Milligan and Davide Gianfelice’s Greek Street, framed as a reimagined modern tragedy, further proof that Vertigo is coming on in a big way. Grade A.

Uncanny X-Men #511 (Marvel): This book has got to be the most roller coastery experience I’ve had in a while. Every other issue makes me want to drop the title and every other issue makes me feel like it’d be ok to stick around. It’s a continual tit for tat starring throwing in the towel and renewed hope. I was ready to give up last issue, but this issue is somehow surprisingly ok. There was actually nothing offensive in either the writing or art. There was simply tons of fighting, some surprising moves around Allison and the whole Kwannon/Betsy Braddock/Psylocke deal, and Hank stepping up with some words. It was perfectly competent, popcorn entertainment. Shrug. Grade B.

X-Men Forever #1 (Marvel): I think this effort from Chris Claremont and Tom Grummett can best be summed up as harmless fun. It’s got your typical Claremont melodramatic exposition, with plenty of dense thought balloons and caption boxes. Gambit spouts out regarding Rogue “I know – if you touch her bare skin with your own, she’ll absorb your powers and identity.” Yes, Remy, we know. We all know. As if no one reading this comic will know how Rogue’s powers work!? Overall, it’s full of action and quips, endless banter between Nick Fury and Professor X that goes nowhere and resolves nothing, and illogical bits to propel the action forward (like, uhh, why doesn’t Scott just close his eyes to avoid the optic blast Fabian uses?). Grummett does a nice job of aping Jim Lee’s 90’s style, and I especially liked his rendition of Kitty’s almond shaped eyes. Not much else to say. No need to pay full price, might pick this up from a dollar bin for cheap reading material. This is like your basic ham and cheese sandwich. It’s not going to be a memorable meal, but it’ll fill you up momentarily. Grade B-.


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