Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Joe Rice Media Review 12/13/06

Ooooooh . . .it’s Wednesday the 13th! Spoooooky! Well-known for being a time of awful, horrible comics! And, while I’m sure there were hell-tons of them, I’m not going to review them. So if you see someone review something that came out this week and I didn’t review it, all you need to know is that that comic was bad and if the reviewer disagrees they smell.

I’ll start with the relative weak point in my stack, Fantastic Four: The End. It is, quite simply, a big “ender” superhero story. It doesn’t seem to be making any point other than “this part is cool . . .so is this . . .” etc. But it does this well. Alan Davis . . .he’s very skilled. He’s very good at what he does, but I must say I’m not exactly drawn to it. It’s a little too straight-forward for me, but he certainly doesn’t distract from the story. And this is the sort of thing he was born to draw. Large, epic battles; crazy sci-fi; larger-than-life personage; and, of course, my absolute favorite FF trope: stubbly Reed. Ever since the Kirby days, when the shit really hit the fan, Reed would stop shaving. Someone should collect an image from every artist that’s done this. I love stubbly Reed. It’s so on when he’s stubbly. The story here doesn’t make much sense, but it’s just a nice action flick, a blockbuster for your eyes.

Most comics these days might have one big twist you didn’t see coming. DMZ had two this issue. I don’t think it’s just because I’m functionally retarded, although I am. Christ, I just realized this is only the second part of this arc. Bryan Wood continues to write a compelling, real-feeling main character in an increasingly desperate situation. The parallels to real life are present, strong, but not preachy. And there’s some action thrown in for the teenage boys still out there. Oh, and sex. Burchielli officially went from (after having gone from tolerable to OK) OK to quite good this issue. The looseness of his line allows for an expressionism that doesn’t detract from the reality of the situation. Strong stuff with one hell of a cliffhanger.

How long do you think Vaughan had the idea for this month’s Ex Machina? The title reveal on the last page? Perfect. A great one-off issue exploring the background of Bradbury. Tony Harris can draw people talking and make it interesting. He can represent life without sacrificing an artistic voice. We learn only bits and pieces about the focus of the issue, but it’s more than enough. Just like that he becomes a real person. That’s good stuff.

Gotta say The Escapists was even better, though. It addressed one of the sneaking doubts I had about the book from the beginning. Sure, it was really well done. Sure, the idea was compelling. Sure it was the perfect mix of superhero and indie. But it wasn’t completely new. It was built upon the backs of others. The ending of this book may be a bit cheesy, but it’s so damn right that you don’t care. Screw the corporate comics that simply parasitcally drain the works of great creators. Start making something new. Pefect, perfect, perfect.

Not that it’s impossible to do great work on the back of someone else. Because I may have enjoyed the first issue of The Spirit even more. Cooke’s writing and art is so dang perfect here. He doesn’t try to imitate Eisner, he tries to do what he does as well as Eisner did what he did. The Spirit is charming, affable, fallible, but awesome. The supporting characters (even Ebony!) are spot-on. The plot works, works quickly, and never lets you down. The women are beautiful. The jokes are funny. The action is exciting. The villains are horrible. This, my friends, this is how you continue old superhero books. You don’t worry about years of who-did-what. You make a really great story and you draw it beautifully. Will this sell to the superhero nerds? I hope so, but they seem to run from this kind of quality like I run from leafy vegetables. However long we have it, it’s going to be a pleasure.

A great week for superheroes, folks. A great week for comics, too, actually. Go out and treat yourself. If you normally wouldn’t get one of these books, get the Spirit. And get the Escapists in trade. If you refuse, you’re more retarded than I am. And that’s really retarded.