9.04.13 [Weekly Reviews]

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Deathmatch #9 (Boom!): Ohhhhh, it’s just too good! This round we have Melody Toon vs. Manchurian and Dragonfly vs. Cube. Meanwhile, Sable and Dragonfly are basically the only sane people left as the remaining combatants dwindle down to just a handful, the only ones capable of figuring out what’s going on and how they came to be imprisoned in this NCAA Bracket Thunderdome. I was definitely not expecting either of the outcomes to those matches, but as usual, everything makes sense within the reality of the deconstructionist world that Paul Jenkins and Carlos Magno have so expertly crafted. As things race toward their inevitable conclusion, the narration from Sable this time out is brutal, and dark, and her realization about pre-determination is utterly heartbreaking. Jenkins and Magno are pouring their hearts into a world they’re slowly dismantling, but the effectiveness of the results shows. When Dragonfly and Cube face-off, it was reminiscent of Spider-Man and Doc Ock, leading up to an OH SHIT ending that leaves me gasping for the next issue. My only slight quibble with this particular issue is that we didn’t get all of the backmatter that we’ve become accustomed to; otherwise, you’re looking at one of the year’s best books. Grade A.
Trillium #2 (DC/Vertigo): I was intrigued by the first issue from Jeff Lemire (who’s hit and miss for me), but didn’t really feel like the gimmick of the flip book format added much to the story. Thankfully, he jettisons that device for this second outing and I think the work is stronger without the distraction. It allows us to focus on the mystery of the situation, which is deeply engaging. There’s an ease to Lemire’s dialogue that is very inviting; it never reads like comic book writing. There’s something of a time-jumping “first contact” scenario that plays out, and the dialogue between the two principal characters plays about as realistic as it can given the sci-fi underpinnings. The methods with which the two try to communicate are clever and charming. The only real head-scratcher for me was why both of their heads “pop” with knowledge when just Nika eats the trillium, but I guess we can chalk it up to some kind of mind-meld. At this point, I’m invested and will be riding out the series. Lemire’s art has probably never looked better, and while I’m not sure it will make my ultimate list, this certainly feels like the type of book that more mainstream outlets could cite as one of the year’s best, certainly indicative of the push that Vertigo is trying to make in order to (re)claim some of their lost marketshare in the creator owned space. Grade A.

Satellite Sam #3 (Image): I’m a little torn on my ultimate feelings for this issue. On one hand, I don’t feel like a whole heck of a lot happens in this issue and it’s more of a slow burn affair as the plot finally settles in. On the other hand, I feel like that settling in is a good thing, it has focus, it feels like Michael’s attempt to discover who killed his father is finally off and running. Cunnilingus aside, it spends the most time with Michael and Kara exploring the secret life of the man who was Sat Sam. Chaykin is another creator who can be wildly hit and miss for me, but his black and white art is tonally perfect for the Mad Men meets Star Trek milieu that Matt Fraction is diving into. From a more macro perspective, he’s addressing the seedy underbelly of the perception of the idyllic 1950’s in a way that probably still needs to be exposed for the masses. In that way, it might have a wider cultural significance than most of us are giving it credit for. Oh well, my favorite part was selfishly the full page ad in the back for Umbral, the new Image book from Wasteland creators Antony Johnson and Christopher Mitten, which features a pull quote from me right in the center. Look for it. And buy Umbral. Grade A-.


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