11.30.11 Reviews

Wasteland #32 (Oni Press): Well, it certainly feels like this is the end of one era of Wasteland, as another is about to begin. January marks a new year, a new issue in #33, with a new “introductory” price point of just $1, a triumphant commitment to a monthly schedule, a new cover artist in Christopher Mitten, a new interior artist in Justin Greenwood (though you have to watch those dudes with the initials “JG”), etc., etc. And let's not forget to thank Ben Templesmith for 32 amazing covers! It’s nice to punctuate the transition with one of the series interlude issues that often deviate from the main storylines, or rewind the timeline, and/or continue to world-build in a book that is already known for tremendous world-building. The lead character has a remarkably cheery disposition, I assume because she’s just glad to be alive, and in good company. It’s a reminder of what a harsh reality The Big Wet Universe is. It doesn’t really matter if you’re in a Sultan’s caravan, a Sunner, Ruin Runner, or living in Newbegin, you’re basically just trading one form of slavery for another. My favorite sequence was probably attempting to wash “Golden Voice” of his wounds at the river and the realization that brings. It sort of disproves my “out” theory I mentioned in last issue's review for what happens in the cliffhanger last time. Can you tell I’m trying to avoid spoilers here? I like how this character attempts to atone for past sins and how the group carries on despite a sand-eater attack during a sandstorm. I feel like as the series has crossed the halfway threshold to #60, the Ankya Ofsteen entries are becoming more and more seeded with potential little clues. It might not matter much in the grand scheme of things, but I really zeroed in on “Wosh-Tun” this time. Ankya has mentioned it numerous times before and I, like many, just assumed it was a bastardization of “Washington,” as in DC. This time out, I was left wondering if the language could have been corrupted so much that it actually refers to Boston. The clue of “across the river” in “Lo-Wil” might refer to Lowell, Massachussetts. I lived a year in the Northeast area, between Boston and New Hampshire, so I’m partial to that idea. Then again, “Lo-Wil” could also be below Wilmington, Delaware for all I know. Or maybe I'm just being The Ugly American by assuming this is in the US and not the UK! So many possibilities! In any case, it sounds like Wosh-Tun is a city still intact. It makes The Big Wet Universe sounds like a much bigger place than I originally thought, if the city still stands, and there’s some type of insular political council there. Weldele’s art suits an interlude issue just fine, and I like that it’s not as blocky or angular as I recall his old material being. Though I will say that it’s slightly difficult to follow sometimes, such as during the dog bite, the tattoo run-off, or when smaller figure scale characters become lost in the generous background details. But, he does get a lot of life out of just black and white, with some nice gray color washes. At the end of the day, it’s so nice to read a book that makes you think. Grade A-.

Haunt #19 (Image): Yeah, I wanted to clarify again that this is all about creator loyalty. I tried the first trade of this series knowing that this creative team was on deck, and didn’t get the appeal of the book AT ALL. It looked like very sad Spawn retread from the 90’s and frankly I find that vibe hard to shake. Joe Casey and Nathan Fox have delivered numerous times on separate projects though, and working together created the entertaining Dark Reign: Zodiac, which was all about wreaking subversive havoc right in the Marvel U backyard. It even made my best of the year list when it came out, so I was in for this. It’s hard not to acknowledge the attention-grabbing new direction the series seems intent on taking when the opening pages feature Cristo Redentor in flames and severed limbs awash in dystopian deified language. I enjoyed the visual of the Vatican(?) Shock Troops or whatever and sheer manic gusto of the prostitute bloodbath, but I have to say that the disparate story threads need to converge fairly soon for me, and it just needs to get to the trademark clever playfulness I expect from Joe Casey. Fox’s art gets more and more Paul Pope-y as time goes on (which is a great thing!), with garish coloring as impressive as you would expect, but I feel like Casey might need an issue or two to corral all the existing baggage before he can get the story to go where he wants and start inserting his raucous “Casey-isms.” In short, I’m hoping this gets better. Grade B.


At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Jamie said...

Great reviews justin. Just noticed that I've found myself to your blog alot over the last few months, attempting to finding coverage of some of my favourite/most interested books when some of the "major" comic sites have nothing at all. So thanks for having a good look at all of comicdom and sharing your views :)

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Thanks Jamie! I'm happy to have the feedback and to hear that you're finding the diversity you're after.


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