Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Reviews for 2-2-05

Reviews will be short this week, because I’ve got a lot on my plate, and this is as much a self-indulgence as it is a service to my readers. (Then again, isn’t all writing?) Presents The Hire 2 – “Precious Cargo”
By Bruce Campbell and Kilian Plunkett
The Story: The Driver hits the Motor City for a very unusual pickup job.
The Good: Campbell spins a good noirish yarn. What surprised me the most was his willingness to step back in his script and let the story breathe. It creates just the right atmosphere. Far from the almost plotless claptrap that’s been dubbed “decompressed storytelling,” this is more like “uncompressed;” everything takes just the right amount of time and space (which, in comics, are very much the same thing) to happen.
The art walks a fine line between photorealism and expressiveness (although why one photorealism isn’t itself a form of expressiveness, I’ve never quite understood). The cars, of course, tend more towards the former, but they look sweet; I’ll never be able to afford a Beemer on the kind of money a writer makes, but I can still appreciate them. As for the characters, Plunkett lets some nice characterization slide in through his facial expressions. Good on him.
The Bad: A couple of times, Campbell makes the rookie mistake of using narration to describe exactly what’s going on in the panel. I can overlook it since this is his first script, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point it out.
Fun stories or not, this comic pretty much exists only for advertising. Then again, so do most mainstream superhero books these days, so who am I to bitch?
This series was announced last April. Issue 1 came out in July. I have no idea what the delay was all about, but I feel justified when I ask Dark Horse, “WTF, mates?”
The Quote: “First impressions aren’t always correct.”
The Final Word: A rarity in comics these days: A well-executed, fully-realized done-in-one. And yes, it’s *that* Bruce Campbell.
The Grade: B+

Exiles 59 – “A Tooth For A Tooth”
By Tony Bedard and Mizuki Sakakibara
The Story: It’s always tough bringing the boyfriend home to meet Dad. Especially when the boyfriend is Mimic, Dad is Sabretooth, and home is an alternate reality that went horribly wrong.
The Good: Bedard reveals what Blink was up to during the brief period when she left the team. I don’t know if it’s what Judd Winick had in mind, but it certainly piqued my interest. The heart of this story is about failure, personal and global. Both Sabretooth and Blink have to deal with some hard issues, and Bedard doesn’t hold back from showing the pain it causes them (although, of course, each deals with it in a different way).
Speaking of the Toothmeister, I liked the interaction between him and Mimic. Modern pop culture would have me say it’s reminiscent of “Meet the Parents,” but I hated that movie, and in truth it’s closer to Archie and Mike from “All in the Family:” Two guys who don’t particularly like one another, but cooperate because of their mutual love for a good woman. It’s hardly a new theme, but it works.
More setup for the big Timebroker reveal occurs here. That’s what’ll pretty much make or break the series, for me and a lot of people.
I tend to enjoy Mizuki Sakakibara’s work on this title more than Jim Calafiore’s. No slight against JC, but MS’s work has a cleaner line quality, and less of the overdone cross-hatching that’s been popular ever since Liefeld and McFarlane hit the scene.
The Bad: Once again, this issue feels like Bedard’s just clearing the path for a really big story. Which, to be fair, he is. And this story comes to less of a climax then it does an “Okay, on to the next thing,” which left me feeling a little cheated on the first read-through.
The Quote: “I don’t make the rules, I just get screwed by ‘em.”
The Final Word: As far as filler goes, this does the job. Still, I’m ready for things to pick up.
The Grade: B

Simpsons Comics 102 - “Uncle Burn$”
By Ian Boothby and John Delany
Cover by Matt Groening and Bill Morrison
The Story: Homer, Bart, Maggie, and Lisa get dragged along on Burns’s annual hunt for lost treasure. Somehow this all seems very familiar…
The Good: Okay, let’s just get it out in the open: this is a blatant ripoff/parody/homage of the old Carl Barks Duck comics. That being said, it’s an excellently-done one. Reprints of those stories were some of my first comics ever, and this captures the high adventure spirit perfectly.
Of course, it doesn’t do so at the expense of the characters. Homer remains Homer, Burns remains Burns, and so on. So what we get is something akin to what the Simpsons would be like on a regular basis if Groening had decided to set it in a universe like the one Barks created (although not completely like, as a few well-placed jokes point out).
As you’d expect, there are plenty of in-jokes. Most of them are placed well enough that they don’t interfere with enjoyment of the story.
The kids get to do a little Junior Woodchucking. I liked that.
The Bad: Two of the in-jokes don’t quite work. Burns’ lucky penny is just forced, and the identical Snakes meant to riff the Beagle Boys are just too weird to fit in the world of the Simpsons. Yes, I know how that sounds, but that’s how I feel. Plus, neither really affects the plot, so it just comes off as stuff Boothby threw in because he felt he had to.
The Quote: “You monster! You had no right to send my boy plummeting to his death! I’m his father! That’s my right!”
The Final Word: A fine tribute to one of the grandmasters of the art.
The Grade: A

1 comment:

Jane Vincent said...

my friend, who was hard-core into the comic scene before she fled nyc, is coming in town this week/end. i'm meeting up with her on tuesday. you should come along. email or call.