9.28.11 Reviews (Part 1)

Secret Avengers #17 (Marvel): It’s pretty hard to go wrong with a Warren Ellis joint covered by John Cassaday, though I think Kev Walker’s art does attempt to derail the proceedings at various times. There’s the stiff and chiseled Steve Rogers, the blocky faux-Mignola War Machine, and I just generally want a more sleek and elegant aesthetic paired with my Warren Ellis scripts. There doesn’t appear to be much sense of kineticism to the action scenes, so I felt the talking head bits were more successful this time out. Walker manages a cute Sharon Carter that almost looks like John Romita Jr., so I know there’s some potential there. The rotating artists(?) bit can be troublesome because it often disappoints as often as it delights, but I’m still fairly in love with the done-in-one concept here. It’s basically Global Frequency in the Marvel U. This issue involves a small powerhouse espionage strike team venturing into an area of the world nobody wants to touch, in order to address high-tech abduction cleansing. There’s a nice ref to MI:13 too! I enjoyed the frustration of “Can we please get our act together!” It didn’t make much sense that Steve tells the team not to fire on the craft, and then they proceed to… really fire on the craft. Ellis makes up for gaffes like this with jargon like “combat separation event.” He has this ability to string words together in new, but intuitive, ways that add so much thrill to everything. I love that. It’s nothing we really haven’t seen before with the Star Trek: TNG saucer section separating from the warp nacelle section, or hell, even the old Apollo missions, but it’s still rousing. I’d have liked to see more of that sequence, but in a done-in-one there’s just no time for it. Ellis is operating in these clipped shorthand scenes to move things along. There are a few minor technical glitches to be found, but this is still better than most. I always very much look forward to reading this despite it not being perfect. Grade B+.

Wasteland #31 (Oni Press): Let’s see, the last issue was in February, so I admit I wasn’t really looking forward to remembering where we’d left off, but thankfully the recap page is there and did a nice job jogging my memory. Before I dive in, I should also note that writer Antony Johnston recently posted on his site that we’ll now be returning to something of a regular schedule, with issue 32 essentially shipping next month, and then 2012 seeing some return to regularity. Remington Veteto is flying solo this issue, with Chris Mitten no longer providing layouts (at least not credited), and I can’t help but feeling that the backgrounds are just a little too sparse. One of the best (and there are many!) qualities about Chris’ art for the series was that it had an immersive quality to it, with plenty of detail. Veteto doesn’t offer quite as much, with many panels just blank white and devoid of ornamentation, and some with very minimal offerings. For example, in one panel, a set of stairs is simply a set of stairs. We get no additional texture to indicate sand or dirt or the general sense of the environment. I’ll continue to bitch and say that I also find some of Veteto’s facial characteristics to be overly rendered and “busy” with cross-hatching and shadows and stray lines, so that the visages look a bit distorted. Art quibbles aside, Johnston is still able to deliver a compelling script that held my attention wide-eyed as I raced through the issue, savoring every bit. We get great conversations between Golden Voice and Skot, Jakob and Skot, and a personal freedom vs. security discussion than makes an interesting corollary to much of the political discussion occupying our post-9/11 reality. I’ll be anxious to return to the Abi and Michael story thread next arc, but in the mean time we get quite a shocker for an ending. I won’t spoil it, but I do think Johnston has left himself a big plausible “out” if he ever wanted to reverse this action. All in all, a rousing return to The Big Wet, with sometimes stiff and minimal art that doesn’t quite sell the issue as strongly as it could have. Grade B+.

Rachel Rising #2 (Abstract Studio): Terry Moore’s art chops are as good as ever, but I have to admit something felt a little off about this book. I appreciate the fact that Moore isn’t succumbing to exposition to fill us in on what’s happening, but it’s almost like we need a little in order to establish the tone and direction of the book. It’s all quite mysterious, but the audience is unsure to what degree the supernatural elements are imposed. On top of that, we’re introduced to “Aunt Johnny,” an eclectic character that stretches the suspension of disbelief a little too far for me. Aunt Johnny, a coroner or medical examiner – or some type of profession clearly rooted in science, is somehow willing to blindly accept that he/she is seeing the, what? Ghost? Spirit? Dream? of his/her deceased niece and doesn’t for a second question it. Not until he/she sees the shallow empty grave out in the woods does he/she become freaked out and accept it as something paranormal. I guess I just didn’t follow that logic and it pushed me out a bit, which is shocking coming from a writer I continually laud for being realistic. I kind of feel like the title needs to establish some clear direction or ground rules pretty fast, some parameters for plausibility, or I could potentially feel my attention slipping away. Grade B.


At 4:35 AM, Blogger antony said...

Hey Justin,

Only just saw this, been kind of wrapped up with one thing and another (including writing WL #38, hurrah!).

I think I know what "possible out" you're thinking of, but... well, next issue will kind of put paid to that. That really was him, and it really did happen. (Being vague to avoid spoilers...)

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...


Hey man, thanks for stopping by! Ok, you definitely see what I'm saying. So there won't be some "switcheroo" which voids what we think happened? It really happened. Bold, my man, very bold. I like it. Can't wait to see how the series proceeds!



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