3.02.11 Reviews

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #1 (Dark Horse): Written by Malachai Nicolle (age 6) and drawn by his brother Ethan Nicolle (age 30), Axe Cop was a web sensation that was tearing it up for most of 2010. Dark Horse worked hard to capture the brothers' manic play time ideas in print, featuring the adventures of Axe Cop and Dinosaur Soldier, fighting bad guys with their unorthodox training and style. I can assuredly say that Axe Cop works because it’s not trying to be funny or outlandish at all, it’s simply done in the joyous and freewheeling voice of a 6 year old. It is essentially the random way young kids tell you stories: “and then this happened, and then that happened, and then something else happened!” and on and on and on, with no clear causality stringing happening A to happening B. Putting on my dad hat for a second, the creations certainly ring true. My daughter (who’s 4, closing on 5) invented a superhero alias for herself named “Flower Girl.” She promptly dubbed her little brother her “sidekick” and named him the all-adjective “Surfing Water Power.” When asked what they do, well, he saves people from the water, and she saves people from gardens. Axe Cop works with that same sort of undeniable charm and innocent logic that you can’t really argue with, such as the “faint bombs,” which are for the “dumb good guys.” It’s not just for kids though, because it unintentionally dips its toe into more pop culture waters at times, delivering lines like “I’m thirsty. I want a drink of water.” Anyone into Tarantino's films will quickly notice that it sounds similar to Harvey Keitel’s Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs, saying “I’m hungry. Let’s get a taco.” Axe Cop is endlessly quotable, rejoinders like “they were pretty sure it was a bad guy planet” fill the pages. Nicolle The Elder’s art is fast paced, beautifully colored, and has a raw energy to it from sharp lines, caricature style figures, and real environments that give it all a slight air of believability. Malachai’s ideas are not restrained by common storytelling conventions, which allow things like the Axe Cop Monster Truck to occur, a brief pause for our hero’s daily 2 minute nap, or the entire US Army being stolen by giants. From robotic chicken brain bad guys… with swords, to Handcuff Man being created and terminated within 3 pages, to Wexter the T-Rex with machine gun arms, it’s all instant kitsch. I guess if you were going to cross the Scott Pilgrim video game sensibility and SFX with the outlandish monster humor of Hellboy and run it through the mental pacing of a young fertile mind, you might get something like Axe Cop. Also? "SCRTATK." Grade A.

Joe The Barbarian #8 (DC/Vertigo): Oh, let’s see, the last issue of this came out in… September of last year. I’d honestly forgotten all about it, but after investing in the first 7 issues, what the hell? In for a penny, in for a pound. The detail of Murphy’s art is still breathtaking, sort of the sinewy elements of Frank Quitely merged with the sharp angles of Kevin O’Neill, and I really hope he lands some additional work that I can check out. Protagonist Joe is still caught in between reality and a hallucinated world induced by hypoglycemic shock. The art is grand and there are elements of the parity between worlds I enjoy, but the internal mythology of the “dream” world is really convoluted, with some dang prophecy continually referenced but never explained, and unclear motivations of different warring factions, despite some expository attempts at wrapping it all up in a tidy package. By the end, some of the parallels between worlds are clarified and the note from beyond sets some things right and is emotionally effective. Even if you ignore the ridiculous publishing schedule, Joe The Barbarian remains an imperfect, but imaginative affair. I think it could be adapted into a dark children’s book that is about the right length for a feature film, hopefully working out the kinks in the process. Somebody get on that. Grade B+.

Moral Geometry #2 (1777 Publishing): [This book was not released this week.] This is the latest issue of Sean Andress’ 24 page, black and white, quarterly ongoing that blends some wry humor, horror elements, and surreal happenings into one interesting package. It’s a thought-provoking, nay – challenging, work that doesn’t rely on the crutch of dialogue. The cover grabs you with a mixed-media collage style cover and dives right into imagery that individually ranges from the disturbing to the sublime. Moral Geometry is all about cultural observation and seems most concerned with our perceptions of the world around us, self-image in an imperfect world, and the continual lack of empathy toward our fellow man, which usually leads to some form of judgment. Along the way, Andress touches on death, rebirth, and personal evolution. If it sounds like I’m talking around the story, it’s because at times the story throughline becomes a little fuzzy due to some isolated moments of disjointed transitions from panel to panel, but there’s no denying the appeal of the visuals and overall tone being achieved. If I cite a comparison, as I’m wont to do, I’d say that Andress’ art takes the thick lines of a luminary like Gary Panter and melds them with the Gothic inspired oddities of someone like Edward Gorey. It’s an appealing treat, and more information can be found at: http://www.1777publishing.blogspot.com/ Grade B.


At 9:58 AM, Blogger Patioboater said...

I just want to second your "A" for "Axe Cop: Bad Guy Planet" #1. That book really caught something.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Thanks for stopping by!


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