5.18.11 Reviews

DMZ #65 (DC/Vertigo): [DMZ Countdown Clock™: 7 Issues Remaining] The opening shot of the USA forces forcibly reclaiming 75% of Manhattan is an attention grabber, in part because of the visual callback it pulls to the very first page of the very first issue of the entire series, with the map of Manhattan drawn as the DMZ. There's some eerie parity with the photo of the FSA Commander being released, when out here in the real world (prologue to DMZ?) the controversy over releasing the photos of Bin Laden has been swirling. It’s just another angle to demonstrate how timely, prescient, and relevant the series has always been. As the 10 year (!) Second American Civil War seems to be in its final death pangs, Brian Wood asks the question, after the ferocity of this final push, what will be left? There’s a nice trick in the voice over narration here, where the feed we’ve grown accustomed to as Liberty News actually turns out to be series protagonist Matthew Roth speaking in a story he’s reporting. The end of the Free States Rising arc takes us into a military tribunal for Parco Delgado. While the guy had some strange bedfellows with the FSA, and reveals definitively what we’ve long expected actually happened with the nuke, shit, the poor guy, all Parco ever really wanted to do was take care of the city in his own way, and he gets labeled an insurgent traitor for it. I can’t help but think after Matty learned of what happened with Wilson, he didn’t want to see the same fate for Parco. His testimony is nail-biting, his omission protects Matty, and as Matty asks the pertinent question “What would Zee do?” we see that the question he’s faced with is a matter of integrity. His choices are to do the right thing or to do the easy thing. If he tells the full truth, it will likely cost more lives. If he lies, maybe it saves lives. It’s the question Wood has been asking all of his protagonists to make as they grow into adults, the right thing vs. the easy thing, the right thing vs. the easy thing - it’s a like a mantra that must be answered in order for their identity quests to resolve. Remarkably, Matty is able to create his own unique path in this mess by telling a “good lie” of rich moral complexity in order to save some lives and hopefully expedite the end of the war in the process. If this holds, this dude really is a hero and has redeemed himself in the process. The type of hero that rings so much more true and meaningful than anything a superhero ever did. Even the living city of New York seems to respond with hope, notice how the graffiti scrawls in the background have gone from saying “God Hates NYC” and “Every Day is 9/11” to “We Love NYC.” There’s a part of me that wants to end this review right there, but I’d be remiss in not remarking on the art of Riccardo Burchielli. At some point when I saw the USA troops taking stray FSA troops into custody, I thought damn, not only is this art great, but it’s so much more polished and accomplished than Burchielli’s strong pencils appeared years ago. The guy has grown from being a rising star into a rightful superstar level of talent. If you’re not dedicating a portion of your spending power to DMZ, you’re really missing out on something special. Please join us for more at LIVE FROM THE DMZ. Grade A+.

Invincible Iron Man #504 (Marvel): I’ve been feeling like this title lost its way a bit some time around the switch to the 500 numbering schema and the arc involving Doc Ock, but this seems to be getting back on track a bit. Fraction seems to be managing a nice balance between the Iron Man-centric story needs and the needs of the Fear Itself crossover (I guess it helps that he’s writing both). As usual, Fraction is mining history by bringing both The Grey Gargoyle and Bethany Cabe onto the board. Essentially, this issue examines how the events of Fear Itself are impacting Stark Resilient, when there’s nothing left to rebuild in the wake of Asgard’s departure from Midgard. Blah, blah, seven Asgardian objects falling from the sky and our group has to investigate. It’s not a bad issue, but it’s also not chock full of the things that made it so successful in the first place. I did like the line “mayday - - Avengers - -“ though, and in spite of it all, it’s still one of the, if not “the,” best straight up superhero things happening at the moment. Grade A-.

Uncanny X-Force #10 (Marvel): This title is getting frustrating because in the space of just a couple of off issues, it’s gone from being “great” to merely “good.” So, the Shadow King wants to discredit both the X-Men and the Avengers by outing the hit squad through negative PR. That’s smart and creative. Archangel attempts to respond to the thing in the way only he can, and Logan has finally had enough and must stop him. There’s less of the entertaining Remender machinations here, less of his trademark humor, and seemingly more attention paid to setting up yet another X-Men crossover. Instead of the examination of morality we like on this title, it’s now Dark Beast and a sweep off to the Age of Apocalypse to save Warren from being the Heir of Apocalypse with some Celestials doodad. Yawn. On the art front, it’s just all over the place. There’s no consistency whatsoever from Tan. His first issue saw him very convincingly trying to ape Jerome Opena (probably thanks to some great inks and colors), to a second issue that was a large departure, looking like his scratchy older stuff, to something now in this third issue that looks like a passive swipe at Jim Lee (see Wolverine’s break through the window). This could have been the best X-Men book on the stands (those first 4 issues still live up), but now it’s slipping toward being just another in the flood of X-books. This issue also contains a full length bonus book, Iron Man 2.0 #3, which I enjoyed. I’m not going to go out and buy it or anything, but I didn’t hate it. Grade B.


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