4.28.10 Reviews (Part 2)

Scalped #37 (DC/Vertigo): Jason Aaron and Davide Furno present the conclusion of the short arc about (my favorite character) Shunka entitled “A Fine Action of an Honorable and Catholic Spaniard.” It’s full of gut-wrenching internal conflict and a cultural dissolution of old ways that leads to “an angry gay Indian with a gun…” The story supposedly being told from beyond the grave is resolved with an interesting twist in narrative. Aaron continues to be a master of crisp dialogue and focuses on the dynamic of Shunka being a minority within a minority within a minority. Yes, he’s a gay criminal Indian hiding from what he truly is. Under the guise of making sure he’s not being framed for a murder, his act of vengeance for a murdered lover actually becomes an act of liberating his own soul. It’s masterful how such a small short arc could reveal so much characterization and further develop the mysterious Shunka. It’s proof yet again that Aaron treats all of his characters with great respect, they are all unpredictable and complex, all capable of both tender noble moments, and moments of outrageous brutality. Grade A.

The Last Days of American Crime #2 (Radical Comics): I don’t quite recall the nuance of who’s who and why they’re doing what they’re doing, but there’s lots of bluster and fury and swearing to enjoy! There’s a couple of distracting typos spread around, such as “buisness” vs. business, “drollin” vs. droolin, and “sponghead” vs. spongehead, but the overwhelmingly self-aware lines full of swagger like “let’s crime novel this shit up” more than make up for it. The book sort of revels in unique violence, such as the way one guy “eats rail” (you’ll know it when you see it), but it also addresses more cerebral ideas like the surrendering of personal freedoms to ensure a supposedly more secure society. The finer points of the story are not always crystal clear, but the isolated bouts of vile sex and double-crossing, along with the larger sweep of the story, like knowing that in this near future reality 6 dirty bombs were detonated by terrorists in 6 cities in a coordinated attack that killed 10 million people, really go a long way toward my enjoyment. What the story might lack in clear substance and storytelling, it makes up for with gleeful style. What some of the jerky oddly staged art lacks, is made up for with the lush coloring and fun panel choices. At times, the art might make things look a little disheveled, but it moves right along with a sort of post-coital raw energy that’s tacitly appealing. It’s got noir roots with a hip modern sensibility. This title is not without its flaws, but I like it. There’s some cool back matter too, especially the well-timed Free Comic Book Day blurb, and mention of a title called After Dark by Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. Grade B+.

Super Spy: The Lost Dossiers (Top Shelf): It’s really not a story per se, and I guess that’s what I was expecting. Once you get over that initial shock, it’s easy to enjoy the DVD style bonus material that The Lost Dossiers offers. The list of goodies includes a cut out section that allows you to rearrange the clipped panels according to a map and build your own story. There are vintage photos, a faux 3D portion, a character’s journal entries, OSS training on how to lose a tail, various tools of the espionage trade, a code key that helps you unlock secret messages in the main book, creator Matt Kindt’s own diary sketchbook, postcard illustrations used for promotional materials, a foldable origami “popper” gun, and annotations for the main book. While this is certainly an achievement in terms of sheer “bookmaking,” my one big criticism is that this doesn’t work very well as a stand alone book. What’s there is drop dead beautiful and evidence of the sheer amount of effort and attention to intricate detail, but much of it feels like non-sequitur snippets of a larger work – which is true. I think that this might have been better off included in a new edition of Super Spy, as bonus material in an “absolute edition” style package (especially the intereting annotations). I loved the original Super Spy, even have a nifty sketch in my hardcover that Kindt did for me at the San Diego Con, but I fear this book will only appeal to the relatively small audience who purchased the original, when a tricked out re-released new edition might have been able to garner a whole new audience in the process. Grade B+.


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