7.18.12 Reviews

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X-Men #32 (Marvel): It’s almost as if David Lopez is getting better exponentially with each issue; check out the level of detail in those opening shots of Quebec City in the rain. You know what I really love in this issue? It’s the way that Storm and Colossus talk to each other, like reasonable adults who respect each other and have history together, but who just happen to be having a fundamental disagreement. They’re not shouting and punching and acting stupid, the hallmark of lesser superhero scuffles (I mean, really, part of the reason I can’t “buy” the whole AVX thing is that it just boils down to Scott Summer and Steve Rogers not being able to sit down and have a rational conversation, but I digress). Another great part of the scripting is the philosophical debate surrounding what authority governs this team’s actions and the true power of raw information. Storm succinctly characterizes the team as “Mutant First Responders,” which is a super clean sound byte that could probably supplant my tired comparisons to Authority or Planetary. Maybe I just miss Wildstorm. It’s a little thing, but I also dug the intro of Magik, the use of the Russian language, mentions of the Crimean, etc. It just goes to show the research, or at least the whiff of authenticity, that Wood saturates his scripts in. There’s a huge jump in intensity, stakes, and tension here, as Wood and Lopez turn the dial up to 11. Grade A.

Saga #5 (Image): The early drop of the word “miscegenation” is a nice way to summarize this intergalactic Romeo & Juliet, a plague on both their species it seems, not just their respective houses. BKV continues to build the world, shifting the POV around from Marko & Alana on the run to Prince Robot and his own background, and then to freelance bounty hunter The Will and his apparent backstory with The Stalk. I still get the sense that Vaughan is not done pushing toward the edges to flesh the world out, and because of that he’s not 100% focused on the thrust of the narrative yet, still introducing characters and establishing their relationships, but it's interesting nonetheless. We see Marko in action, really for the first time, as a warrior with pacifist tendencies finally unleashed. I like a lot of the little things in the issue, stuff like “the horns and the wings” as slang shorthand for the different species. Those small touches of realism are quite convincing. I like the owner of the Slave Girl holding The Will’s pet hostage and the weird negotiation they go through, highlighting the sense of commerce in this world. I have to agree with artist Fiona Staples and her :( about the final image, but kudos to Vaughan for willingness to make these types of consequential decisions. Staples has received a lot of praise for her work. I too think she’s doing a bang-up job, particularly on the lovely backgrounds. So much care is being taken to create an effect that looks like watercolor washes, reminiscent of the late Ralph McQuarrie’s early LucasFilm concept work. If I have any criticism for Staples, it’s that occasionally everything else looks pale in comparison. Some of the foreground figures can look flat in contrast to the beautiful backgrounds, some panels have very stark single color or plain white backgrounds in comparison, and one or two times there are some odd angles that look unnatural, like the contorted Alana when she’s piloting the ship. Those are small gripes though in an otherwise distinct career high. At the end of the day, I enjoy Saga because it offers a full spectrum of emotion. Like real life, it can be boring, funny, sad, heartfelt, contain action, surprise, birth, death, and the full gamut of existence. Grade A-.


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