Sunday, March 31, 2013
Presenting two recent sets of reviews from The Comicbook Pusherman, the Comic Review Blog of JHU Manager Jeffrey O. Gustafson, this week on Vertigo's new anthology Time Warp and And a Bunch of New Releases for Wednesday, March 27.
Eight Quick Reviews for March 27
Journey Into Mystery 650 is the conclusion to a so-so-Sif story but Valerio Schitti on art is the reason for the buy. Schitti's stuff ain't shitty (sorry, couldn't not do it), far from it. Kathryn Immonen wrote this but Schitti's stuff is Stuart Immonen-ish in its energy and style and underrated nature because Immonen was the most underrated penciler on the planet til he blew up Fear Itself and All New X-Men (though he was honestly the coolest kid on the block since Nextwave). Bold, fun art from someone who oughtta be on the marquis and if he continues pulling out art this good he will be.
Garth Ennis had four great comics this week, all of them war comics in some fashion, and there is no-one in the world better at war comics than Ennis.
Ennis is still the best writer to utilize the playground he created in Crossed in this week's Crossed Badlands 26. The moral quandaries of a completely screwed post-apocalyptic world in his always entertaining and thoughtful parable about man's inhumanity to man get equal play to the true horror of the situation and the visceral thrill of some really, really twisted imagery. The first double page splash had me frankly guffawing Barracuda style, the horror that followed left me quiet like an awkward silence in a crowded elevator. What's left of an English military unit have decided to bombard populated areas with biological weapons, because logically this would wipe out the Crossed. It would take out any uninfected humans, too, but that's the cost of war. The characters do not come to this plan lightly, and the arguments and counterarguments - more moral murkiness - are presented equally. We know how the characters feel, at this point in his creative career we have a pretty good inkling of what Ennis feels, but he never tells the reader what to feel and the answers are never easy. (And the art by whomever Avatar keeps locked in their basement is quite crappy but if it ain't Jacen Burrows on your Avatar comics this week you're playing Russian Roulette with your eyes.)
Red Team 2 revels in uneasy answers, though counterarguments are less as the characters are more sure of their righteousness if not the really the legality of their actions - and we know damn well where Ennis comes down here. A group of elite NYPD have taken it upon themselves to, in essence, be team Punisher. But unlike the Punisher they are more concise with the vengeance the mete out, and work out in great detail where and how they will do what they do. There is a cold, immutable logic to what they are doing. We're not troubled by their actions because their targets have it coming, but when we put ourselves in their shoes could we do the same?
Elsewhere, Guardians of the Galaxy 1 was just alright and BPRD: Vampire 1 had Moon & Ba being creepy wonderful moody MOON AND BA (muito bom!).
Time Warp, Vertigo's Latest Anthology
|Time Warp, new from Vertigo|
Time Warp is a follow up to the previous one-shots in the series, May 2011's Strange Adventures, October 2011's The Unexpected, May 2012's Mystery In Space, and October 2012's Ghosts. Each of these 80+ page anthologies have featured contributions from some of the best independent creators working in comics as well as new team-ups of DC talent. A couple had the initial chapters of larger upcoming Vertigo series or serialized multi-part stories, but for the most part the stories were self-contained while thematically similar in each issue. As a whole, the anthologies have been fun but containing equal amounts killer and filler.
Time Warp breaks the mold by having only one weak story among the nine presented, that being a part of a Dead Boy Detectives serial. There's quite a bit to enjoy in the rest of the issue. The opening is an amazing Rip Hunter Time Master tale ("R.I.P.") written by Lost creator Damon Lindelof and illustrated by Sweet Tooth's Jeff Lemire. Lemire's style here is perfect for the dinosaurs and time sphere mashup and Lindelof's script is concise and wonderfully, logically (and emotionally) plays with multiple Rips through to the final R.I.P. The next short story, Tom King and Tom Fowler's "It's Full of Demons" is a heartbreaking tale of madness through a distemporal alternate history lens, and one of two utterly different Kill Adolph Hitler stories (the other being the closing tale, "The Principal" by New Deadwardians' Dan Abnett & I.N.J. Culbard).
|Andy MacDonald art from "00:00:30:00"|
"She's Not There" by Peter Milligan & M.K. Perker is a tale of spousal control not even limited by the bonds of death followed by "00:00:30:00" by Ray Fawkes & Andy MacDonald, a story I really liked. In a future war in space, when all seems lost, pilots can hit a time dilation field, giving them minutes of local time in just seconds, allowing them to complete mission objectives before being destroyed. But one pilot utilizes her time for more than just her duty, resulting in a lasting cultural change.
The penultimate story, "Warning Danger" by one of the best cartoonists working in mainstream comics, Matt Kindt, breaks away from the time travel theme shared by the other stories in the anthology. Like a mashup of Kindtian artistic flavor and Brandon Graham-like inventive sci-fi labeling, Kindt tells the story of a future war fought between just two combatants, enhanced and upgraded by years of research and billions in R&D. Two combatants, fighting on behalf of their respective worlds, the victor deciding the outcome of the entire war. Like the battle it portrays, it ends quickly but with a hint of the potential for abuse that such an arrangement could have.
If you've been enjoying the more frequent but more uneven anthology Dark Horse Presents, you should pick this up. A really solid jumble of time travel stories from a bunch of great creators, all for less than eight bucks.
For more exclusive reviews and opinions, visit Jeffrey's blog at http://www.comicpusher.blogspot.com and follow him on twitter, @B5Jeff.