11.20.13 [Weekly Reviews]

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A Voice In The Dark #1 (Image): I was pleasantly surprised to like this as much as I did. Larime Taylor creates a convincing portrait of Young Disaffected Millennials that is firmly in-voice and authentic. He combines this sort of girls-away-at-college bildungsroman, with the FBI serial killer profiling panache of John Douglas (someone who I studied closely in Federal law enforcement). Taylor is careful to directly and tactfully address all manner of hot button social issues, from budding sexuality, and hardcore bullying, to the general sense of isolation modern tech-permeated society breeds. You can see all the potential for the plot threads to converge, the radio show, the sister, the uncle cop, and it could be quite a shocking ride. Taylor’s art (done with his mouth, digitally no less, since he doesn’t have the use of his hands!) is full of bold line weights and emotional gray scale that brings things to life nicely. Grade A.

The Wake #5 (DC/Vertigo): I’ll buy anything that Sean Murphy is handling the art for, but the writing really takes center stage this issue. While I do think there is still some overtly staged exposition dumps and monologuing occurring, what’s actually being said is always compelling. Scott Snyder makes a daring move, by breaking his 10 issue opus into two easily discernible 5-issue chunks, one basically pre-apocalyptic, with the promise of the post-apocalyptic chunk to follow. The Wake spans millions of years, flashbacks to the dawn of time, present day high-adventure (cool sub, bro), and the aforementioned future, yet still manages to feel neatly self-contained. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s something downright James Cameron-esque about this, and I won’t be at all surprised when we see WB exercise the automatic option on this Vertigo property. It’s a summer blockbuster waiting to happen. Grade A.

Sex Criminals #3 (Image): I’ve been kind of a passive SexCrims fan up until this point, for me it’s been a book like Saga that I found merely “good,” but not as “OMG GREAT” as the rest of teh interwebs. The parts I appreciate are how this is primarily a very sweet love story (really!), merely masquerading around in the trappings of sexual window dressing. There’s the frank discussions of budding sexuality that are all too lacking in pop fiction, and by the time Fraction does what he does, in some weird hymen-breaking cherry pop of fourth wall destruction (sorry, couldn’t resist), I was pretty smitten with what was going down. I still can’t really believe they went ahead and did what they did, how they did it, and sustained it for more than a panel or two. It’s proof yet again that not only can comics do what no other medium can, but Creator Owned Comics @ Image Comics can do what no other comics can. Grade A.

Todd The Ugliest Kid On Earth #7 (Image): Oh, it’s just the funniest book currently being published. Ken Kristensen and MK Perker have married in-your-face hilarity with a biting take down of social ills, and wrapped it up in this zany irreverent package. Kristensen amps up the double entendre and wordplay in this issue, while Perker continues to make believable an oblivious but lovable kid with a bag on his head taking on the forces of Hell. There’s deep commentative wisdom hidden somewhere in these pages, but I’ll be damned if I can find it, I’m too busy laughing and shaking my head in disbelief. Grade A.

X-Men #7 (Marvel): I adore Monet St. Croix. I imagine she is the type of superhero I’d probably end up being. Deeply intelligent, with lots of attitude on the surface, but deep down a heart and the capacity to do what’s right when the situation truly warrants it. Oh, and the ego. Did I mention the ego? I’ve never been a huge Dodsons fan, but they seem to tone down the more cheesecake elements in their style, in favor of a glossy straightforward approach to storytelling, with memorable character designs. Lady Deathstrike is (kinda’) back y’all, and it’s up to this impromptu (but self-aware about it!) squad of women X-Men to set things right. It’s great to see this title back on track after writer Brian Wood’s first four issues that essentially got derailed by the latest crossover event, and picking up some of the macro plot thread with Jubilee, Karima, Arkea, Storm/Rachel, et al that he put into motion. Grade A.

Wasteland #50 (Oni Press): I can’t believe there are only 10 issues left of this book! I congratulated the creators for hitting that #50 benchmark, because in this day and age, hitting an uninterrupted, un-renumbered, un-mucked-around-with “natural” #50 with a stable creative team is a rare thing for ANY comic, especially an indie comic from a small press publisher. Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood are delivering the last vestiges of our time at NewBegin and (without spoiling anything) there is action, drama, exciting switcheroos, and real gravitas to absolutely anything that occurs. I’m sure most readers want to see more of Michael and Abi, but you can’t really get to there, without doing this here first. Obtuse? I don’t care! If you’re not already reading Wasteland, there’s nothing I can say at this point to sway you. So. Please read Umbral by Antony Johnston and Chris Mitten. Please read The Fuse by Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood. Please read Creator Owned Comics. Get on board early so you’re not playing catch up 50 issues later and we can actually have some conversation. Ahem. End Rant. Grade A.


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