We don’t have “one that got away” this week, because we’re sending some quality time there. Where? You’ll see (I’m sorry for that). We also have the start of a new Amelia Cole arc; a book literally no one asked for; clones of clones of clones; Valiant’s Avengers; potentially the most touching dinosaur story since The Land Before Time turned into emotional torture porn AND the dinosaur story with potentially the most touching since The Land Before Time 14: The Dreamers. But first: why the hell does a British rock magazine want to terraform the Earth?
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #41 (IDW Publishing)
Cory Smith’s art on this issue is outstanding; sharp, anime-heavy, well-blocked and fun to read. As for the story, Shredder and the Foot Clan team up with the Turtles to infiltrate the Technodrome and stop Krang from terraforming Earth. I think IDW kidnapped my inner child and, while waiting for ransom money (that was never coming: I don’t negotiate with nostalgia terrorists), he went full Stockholm and got put in some kind of slave-editorial position.
The Valiant #1 (Valiant Comics)
Bloodshot, Armstrong, the Eternal Warrior, X-O Manowar and the newest Geomancer team up to defeat the ancient evil that periodically kills Geomancers and then ushers in a following dark period. This issue spends a lot of time hyping the fact that this not-Grendel has gotten the better of the Eternal Warrior several times in the past 10,000 years, but that runs parallel to the “gathering the team” montage that makes up the other half of the issue.
I have to be honest: the only piece of comic art my wife will let me display for gen pop to see in our apartment is a Rivera Spider-Man painting (it’s a print, said the blogger) that is stunning. He’s one of my favorite artists, and seeing him draw these characters is awesome, especially the big Bloodshot/mech fight in the middle of the book. That’s not to take anything away from the writing: Kindt and Lemire have put together a tight mission statement of a first issue. But damn, that Rivera art is nice to look at.
Spider-Man & The X-Men #1 (Marvel Comics)
With Wolverine dead(ish?), the Jean Grey school continues on with a parade of guest headmasters, beginning this week with Peter Parker. Elliott Kalan, the head writer for The Daily Show, gets the call here for his first regular comics work, and based on the preview pages, it’s a solid enough start, if a touch wordy. He’s got a decent Spidey-voice, but he plays Bobby as a little grumpy. The art, from Marco Failla, is outstanding. His figure work looks like if Chris Bachalo and Nick Bradshaw met halfway, with a wiry Spider-Man and a great look of disdain from Storm.
Kalan’s first story kicks off with the best joke character in all of comic bookdom, Unus the Untouchable, and apparently leads into a team-up of Stegron the Dinosaur Man and Sauron, the half-pteranodon half-vampire hypnotist from the Savage Land. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where this is leading, but now that I’ve realized the only logical way to end the arc is to reveal that Devil Dinosaur was the mastermind behind it all, then The Daily Show will get several sternly worded letters.
Here (Pantheon Books)
It’s odd how melancholy one fixed geographic position can make you, but in Here by Richard McGuire, one corner of one room can, when cast throughout time, run the reader through an entire spectrum of emotion. “Here” was a six page, black and white story published in 1989 in an indie magazine that used panel borders to screw with the traditional comic reading experience. More than 25 years (and 3 volumes of Understanding Comics) later, McGuire returns to the work that changed comics, and the results are amazing.
Panel transitions are the passage of time, and while we the readers are used to linear narratives as a means to convey a plot, McGuire uses panel transitions, overlays and different page designs to evoke emotions more than propel a narrative. Here is more impressionist than portrait; it’s structured more like a symphony than a comic book. The story is approximately 3.5 million years long and nonlinear. McGuire uses cutouts of instants of time to run the reader through a whole range of emotion: the sadness of a parent who’s maybe going senile; the joy of new births and holidays; the hope that’s sometimes there after a move; passion from lovers in the woods; the calm quiet of hunters. The linearity in the book comes from the progression of emotions, from the themes McGuire is trying to evoke in the reader rather than from any causal plot reaction. He shows glimpses of people and events and the world from that same spot in the living room over millions of years, but to add a grand feeling to the recapitulation.
It really is amazing how he ties all of these disparate times and events together to build toward a specific emotion, but he does it several times, and it’s tremendously effective. I know there are a hundred little stories in here (HA!), and if I cut it up or read it backwards like it were a Morrison comic, I’m sure I would pull a coherent, linear narrative out of it, but that would also ruin it. This was one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read.
You can pick up Here at your friendly local comic shop or at many local book sellers.
Eternal #1 (BOOM! Studios)
William Harris and Giovanni Valleta start a story about a dystopian California in a world where cloning and memory transfer effectively make people immortal. I’m glad Harris is acknowledging that this isn’t a terribly new hook for a story (and especially glad that he’s using Altered Carbon to make his point). It is unusual, however, to see stories set in the beginning of the world where this takes place and how immortality creates a possibly temporary dystopia. Usually we’re a thousand years in the future, with people from today still alive, wealthy and runnin thaangs.
Eternal has a couple of problems, though. It has a bad case of first issueitis, where things are kept deliberately vague and cryptic to the point where I’m worried I’m not going to know all of what happened in #1 until three issues down the road. The second is a problem inherent in the conceit: there are no stakes. We’re shown that this world sucks – and props to Valleta for showing it and Harris for trusting his partner enough not to clog up the page with infodump boxes – but it’s hard to get worked up over people dying when the person whose death we’re supposed to be “oh shit”ing has already been revived once this issue. I know, the stakes were laid out in the interview linked at the beginning of the review, but Newsarama shouldn’t be where I find out what happened in a comic I read. It could have been better, but I’m going to stick with Eternal because there’s promise there, and because a Richard Morgan fan at least has impeccable taste going for him, so it can’t stay bad.
Divine Right: The Adventures of Max Faraday TP (DC Comics)
Who cares about a 1996 Wildstorm series, that came out every whenever-Jim-Lee-wanted, that’s coming back into print? Seriously, I’m asking that. Post in the comments if you’re excited for the return of Divine Right. I’ve set the over/under at 3.5, and I’m taking the under.
I’m not excited, but I’m certainly interested. From the Comixology solicit:
Max Faraday was an ordinary college student who spent all his time on the Internet – until the day he accidentally downloaded the Creation Equation.
Odd that DC would reprint a book written and drawn by the guy doing issue 6 of Multiversity that sounds an awful lot like a character from an Orrery World finding the anti-Anti Life Equation at just this moment of time, isn’t it he j’accused at an empty, silent living room?
Amelia Cole #19 (Monkeybrain Comics)
This was a pleasant surprise. Amelia Cole is a pretty straightforward action/adventure/fantasy comic about a teen girl sorcerer supreme, defending her planet from evil wizards (the Council) invading from another dimension, trying to consume all her world’s magic. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it’s very well done. The action is well-paced. The dialogue is smart and entertaining without trying too hard. The art is clear and bright and exciting.
This issue marks the start of a new arc. Now the story is going in for a dimension hopping adventure, with Hector stuck on a magicless world, Amelia stuck in an insane, magic-only dimension and Lemmy trapped at home and sadly probably out of the book. That’s speechless protector golem Lemmy, not also-speechless-but-awesome metal singer Lemmy, though maybe he’s the no-magic golem Hector needs.
You can pick up Amelia Cole #19 online via Comixology.
Savage Dragon #200 (Image Comics)
Erik Larsen occupies an odd space in comics history. Not as a Comics Figure, but as an artist – he’s like the truest midpoint between Silver and modern age artists. He’s got the blocky power of a Kirby or Buscema or even early JRjr, but with background detail and dynamic panel layouts that weren’t always evident in the classics. It’s like post-crazy, pre-Barclays Protomorphosis Syndrome Frank Miller, only with backgrounds. The art in Savage Dragon is a really high point.
This…may not have been the best issue for me to drop in on. Ostensibly an anniversary issue, it’s actually only #8 of Malcolm Dragon’s tenure as the book’s lead, in which he also has a three way with his stepsister and her best friend. I spent a not-insignificant amount of time between reading pages 12 and 13 on Google asking “what the actual shit savage dragon malcolm sister doin it.” And then between pages 14 and 15 I googled “wait really savage dragon,” then “what happened in savage dragon 199” after page 17, and then character bios for Malcolm, Angel and Maxine after page 19 when Malcolm tells his father that he used some condoms with his stepsister. Spoilers: none of it helped.
That’s what I’m reading this week. What are you picking up?