5.23.12 Reviews

Mind MGMT #1 (Dark Horse): I’ve been sitting back, kind of slowly cataloguing the slew of pop fiction that’s come out in our post-9/11 world specifically featuring airplane tragedies. I’m talking about stuff like Lost, Flash Forward, Fringe, The Event, a couple other TV shows I’m forgetting, some recent Avengers work, and now Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT, which all open with some sort of airplane disaster. Even a decade past the events of September 11, 2001, this scar in our psyche is so deep that it’s been manifesting itself in fictional tales where uncertainty fills the skies. It’s like an airplane crashing into a building, or some unexplainable phenomenon aboard a plane, is now the absolute scariest thing we can imagine. That’s not meant to be a pejorative slight against the originality of Matt Kindt’s work, just an observation that it’s happening in a broad fashion. In this original series, there’s an “Amnesia Flight,” where all the passengers, save one child, lose their memory, and all the passengers, save one, are accounted for. One is mysteriously missing. This mystery is placed against the backdrop of a secret government spy agency that utilizes agents with mind control powers. I’ve been a fan of all of Matt Kindt’s projects to date, but this seems like it’s the pinnacle of where he’s been heading for a few years. There’s the fusion of historical elements with covert agencies and his fascination with all things espionage-twinged. His ink washes and muted Earth tones seem to bring warmth to everything as he uses modern techniques to achieve a more classic pulp-inspired aesthetic. The other part of this book I really love is that Kindt is offering bonus material that will be exclusive to the floppies, much like Brian Wood’s plan on The Massive, also out from Dark Horse next month. These guys are trying to resurrect the art of the floppy by incentivizing the purchase with "only here" material. Kindt overtly states that he’s a trade-waiter and he’s trying to make a monthly comic book that would make him buy monthly comics again, so he’s offering something of an interactive experience, with clues, puzzles, cryptic messages that test your pattern recognition skills, that exclusive content I mentioned (in the form of bonus strips that fill in the history of the world he’s working in), and that’s all on top of a riveting mystery rendered in his lush style. Anyway, I love that dedication and action aimed at the ailing floppy. It's really putting your money where your mouth is. This book is clearly a hit right out of the gate, and I hope it sticks around for a while. Grade A+.

Prophet #25 (Image): Giannis Milonogiannis steps in for art duties (even though Farel Dalrymple was billed in all of the solicitation copy, grrrr) with a more blocky, slightly representational quality to his art that felt downright Mignola-esque in isolated spots. It’s still a great contribution to this sci-fi/fantasy series, but when you’re expecting Dalrymple, nothing else will quite do. It felt like a bit of a rough jump cut from the interior spaceship we left off at last issue, but I suppose the gaps between every issue have been hyper-compressed and make the assumption that you’ll provide some closure and fill in the gaps between issues. Brandon Graham is really pushing the world-building extremely hard, throwing down layer upon layer of new information without ever pausing to explain anything to you or bothering to have his characters exposit. I appreciate him not insulting our intelligence, but it is very much a challenge to the reader to stay in step with the constant stream of ideas pouring out. Now we see a team of John Prophets, a “Six Prophet Arch,” but only three of the six seem to remain. There’s an “Arch Mother,” which appears to be like a hologram of the organic shipboard computer/person they use. The team is hunting a Nephilim on yet another world and encounter all manner of organic artifacts along the way, as well as weapons like the home-grown “Teuthidan Lance” which spits acid, and wet pinwheel missiles which attack them. By the end, ruins are smote, familiar headgear is found, and even though this is probably the greatest sci-fi adventure of this period in comics, I’ve got to deduct a little for narrative clarity. I seem to have lost track of our protagonist. Is he still on the ship? Was he one of the three of the “Six Prophet Arch” we saw? Is he this new one being reborn? Is “ours” even in this issue? I'm actually a little lost. Grade A-.

Batman Incorporated #1 (DC): Well, there should be no arguing that visually this book is an absolute wonder. It’s like Chris Burnham takes all the quirky spirit of Frank Quitely, but then improves the clarity of the facial expressions, jams in more small-figure scale background detail, and infuses the action with a greater sense of kineticism. I still prefer the Dick Grayson Batman paired with Damian Wayne Robin, but this’ll do. My only real complaint is exactly where I thought it would be, in that Grant Morrison’s script just feels really uneven. I never feel as if I have a firm foothold on what’s going on or why. It’s just, hey! Crazy action and crazy lines! Leviathan! People wearing animal masks! Bat-Cow! Cannibalism! Something about Talia Al-Ghul! Umm, ok. I guess I’ll play along for an issue or two because the art is just so good, and there is some good wry wit toward the end thanks to the great characterization of Damian and his unyielding attitude, and I’ll admit I am curious to see how Morrison will explain what happened at the end. Will he carry it through? Will he back away from it? How soon will it connect to the opening scene? Etc. So this clocks in with a very tentative mostly-for-the-art Grade A-.


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