SIBAM OCTOBER 4, 2005 EDITION: PART TWO
Written by Warren Ellis and Drawn by Ben Templesmith
Ellis’ latest creator-owned gamble turns out to be a worthy one with this nifty little detective book. Using a straight, restrictive format (sixteen pages of story, all nine-panel grids), he brings Richard Fell to vivid life as a detective working homicide in the worst part of the city. I’ve seen some online whining that Fell feels like a standard tough guy Ellis protagonist, but I think he veers away from that quite well. Fell is more of a man of reason, a descendent of Holmes, not a Spider Jerusalem type who chooses violence for its own sake. Fell is haunted and saddened by the world and truly seems to be dedicated to making his little corner of it better. For a while now I’ve been telling those who would listen that Ellis is comics’ biggest romantic writer, and FELL continues to prove me right. Extra kudos to Templesmith for his beautiful art; getting away from vampires agrees with him nicely.
BODY BAGS #1-2
Written and Drawn by Jason Pearson
When bounty hunter/killer Mack gets a surprise visit from his precocious, ass-kicking teenaged daughter Panda, all Hell starts to break loose in the big man’s life. What’s a father to do when his daughter decides she wants to follow him into the family business and won’t take no for an answer? Shoot her? Or teach her the tricks of the trade?
Obviously, shooting her would make for a very short book, so instead the training begins and the body count begins to grow in this absurdist piece of entertainment. Pearson manages to tap into a vein of pure lunacy as he finds ways to take the levels of graphic violence and bubbling sexuality to new places. This is a down and dirty hit of pop comics, with zest, gusto, verve, and not a single ounce of redeeming social value. Perfect.
Written by Joe Casey and Drawn by Tom Scioli
The first two issues of this book didn’t do much for me. I could sort of see where Casey was aiming; by using Scioli’s pure Kirby-pastiche art, he was working a modernist tribute to the late King and his wealth of ultra-cosmic ideas. Cool. But at the same time, I’ve held a strong distaste for Scioli’s art for a long time. I’m sick of pastiches; Kirby left behind a solid body of work for me to enjoy, and I don’t need someone muddying up the water. So the story took a strong backseat.
However, I tried to take a stronger look at the story and concepts with this issue, and yeah, it’s kinda groovy. Don’t get me wrong; Casey isn’t reinventing the wheel, but he is doing a nice job of creating a solid retro-pop sound on the four-color page. He’s embraced one of the fundamentally great things about comics: you can go anywhere and do anything, as long as you create a world where that makes sense. That’s what GODLAND is really all about. I’m in.
DEATH JUNIOR #3
Written by Gary Whitta and Drawn by Ted Naifeh
The conclusion of this wonderful miniseries is just about as perfect as you could ask for. The characters grow and complete their arcs, the plot resolves itself nicely, and you walk away feeling good about the whole series and its potential for a sequel. It was only missing a bow.
The third issue finds Junior working with his friends so that he can undo his blunder and return his father to his rightful job as Death. Earlier in the series, Junior had blundered a bit and a bad guy had stolen Dad’s powers and locked him away. Plus, Junior had accidentally killed one of his best friends. This could have played very heavy, but Whitta works it all note perfect so that the book is still a great read for younger readers. Throw in some lovely work from Naifeh, and this was truly one of the year’s more pleasant surprises.
Written by B. Clay Moore and Drawn by Jason Latour
No. No no no no no.
This is, quite simply, the single worst plot twist of 2005. Nothing else even comes close. This makes murdering the Blue Beetle look like WATCHMEN. This makes “House Of M” read like LOVE AND ROCKETS.
No. No no no no no. Bad Clay. No soup for you.
DEVILS DUE PUBLISHING
G.I. JOE #43 AND AMERICA’S ELITE #0
Written by Brandon Jerwa and Joe Casey
Drawn by Emiliano Santalucia, Tim Seeley, and Stefano Caselli
The old JOE endeth and the new one begins as Devils Due restarts the franchise and shifts the focus to a smaller version of the team. I’m guessing this is to streamline the storylines and make the series more inviting for new readers, but I also think it has the effect of whittling away some of the deadwood that can gather in the plot lines of a long running soap opera, which is what G.I. JOE has always been. It’s just a soap opera with ninjas and a lot of gunplay.
In the aftermath of the original team’s breakup at the end of issue #43, we meet the new version fairly quickly in ELITE, as a satellite crashes into Chicago, causing a cataclysmic event in Chicago and setting the Joes on the scene not only to assist in the aftermath, but to find the bad guy responsible for the thousands of deaths that have occurred. This Joe team already feels a bit more contemporary than past takes, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out as the book continues on. And hats off to Caselli, who is now freed from DEFEX and working on a book well suited to his talents. ELITE is a very good-looking comic.
MEGACITY 909 #7
Written by Andrew Dabb and Drawn by Kano Kang and Zack Suh
This is the penultimate chapter to this terrific series, and while I’m sad to see that it’ll be heading off into the sunset, I’m sort of glad, as well. This insane mishmash of demons, techno soldiers, meta-powers, and futuristic landscapes works hard to keep its balance and move the characters and plot forward; keeping it going indefinitely would be risky, and the risk of lapsing into self-parody would loom large as the road got longer.
I’ve been recommending this book from issue one, because it does offer a very unique blend of gorgeous art and off-the-hook storylines; nothing else on the stands reads quite like it, and the sort of “painted manga” look to the art is also something else you won’t see somewhere else. But I fear that my waving my arms around and screaming have done no good, which makes me sad. So as there is only one issue left after this one, I will save my breath and shout at you to buy the trade when it comes out, and savor the last remaining piece of the story for myself when it arrives.
HACK/SLASH: THE FINAL REVENGE OF EVIL ERNIE
Written by Tim Seeley and Drawn by Aadi Salman
This latest HACK/SLASH one-shot works very hard to be the best of the bunch, working in very strong character arcs for both Cassie and Vlad, which lends an air of depth to the book that the earlier, more high-concept driven stories lacked. Of course, the high-concept stories were also a real fun time, so whether or not it was necessary to give Cassie and Vlad strong character arcs is a “your mileage may vary” decision. However, sadly, the forward character movement is almost completely negated by the book’s titled guest star.
Evil Ernie. Ugh. I know that Chaos Comics and its characters had extremely loyal fans, but I was never even remotely one of them. Indeed, my distaste for the majority of them was pretty strong. So that made the appearance of Ernie a tough sell to me, and even though Seeley does yeoman’s work in trying to fit the character in and make him work with Cassie and Vlad, I just wasn’t having any of it. So basically, I just tuned his parts out as much as I could and did my best to enjoy the character bits Seeley was working so hard to get across. I’m truly a fan of this book, and its next incarnation as a miniseries bodes well for increasing its audience. Hell, maybe even Ernie’s appearance will bring some of those Chaos readers to future issues of the title. Maybe, just maybe, that will have made this guest appearance worth it.