Terminal City 4 (October 1996)

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Motter starts his second “arc” here, but it’s not important yet. It does surprise me how much I like his approach to this issue–introduce backstory in the first half of a comic, then bring it into the present action in the second half. Motter never makes it feel hurried… but he uses Cosmo’s narration to do all the backstory for it. But Motter never ties down how Cosmo is telling the story or why he’s telling the story, so he can get away with it.

This issue mixes some of the narration too–there’s Cosmo’s and then there’s the Lady in Red’s. The Lady in Red’s narration is very different and almost totally removed from the narrative playing out in the panels.

The issue opens with some amazing Lark art of buildings, then moves into the silliest things I’ve ever seen from him.

It’s a slow issue, but good.

CREDITS

Writer, Dean Motter; artist, Michael Lark; colorist, Rick Taylor; letterer, Willie Schubert; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

Terminal City 3 (September 1996)

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And now, ever so slightly, the story begins to gel. Motter, without drawing attention to it, closes off one aspect of Terminal City. A character, established in the first issue, is totally different by the end of this issue. I think, as I struggle to remember my first time reading the series, this sort of approach is why I love the comic.

Motter’s plotting is very subtle in its shifts. He never reveals too much or makes too big of changes, but he is completing little stories. He’s taking the three act structure and miniaturizing it, inserting these little dramas into the larger one.

It makes me wonder if he wrote Terminal City from an outline or if he did each story by itself and then worked them together.

Of course, without Lark… the series would be nowhere. Every panel is a joy; Lark is just too good for words.

CREDITS

Writer, Dean Motter; artist, Michael Lark; colorist, Rick Taylor; letterer, Willie Schubert; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

Terminal City 2 (August 1996)

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The second issue has a little less story than the first. It’s not quite a talking heads book because it’s before talking head books, but it’s basically everyone–except the girl and the human fly (I’m hoping names will start sticking next issue)–hanging around the hotel restaurant.

Yes, a lot of new stuff is introduced–though an unobservant reader would probably miss the mayor being in cahoots with a crime boss–but it’s all very mellow.

Until the big action sequence anyway and it, quite nicely, raises more questions than it answers. If I remember the conclusion to Terminal City correctly, a lot does go unanswered, which means one has to look at what raising the questions do for Motter’s story.

Here, for example, the questions raised by the girl’s mysterious summons gives Motter the chance to establish her character in action, not exposition.

Again, I love this comic.

CREDITS

Writer, Dean Motter; artist, Michael Lark; colorist, Rick Taylor; letterer, Willie Schubert; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

Terminal City 1 (July 1996)

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The first time I read Terminal City, which must have been almost ten years ago, it knocked my socks off. I’m not sure if it knocked them from the first issue, as this time through, I’m not yet without socks.

I’m close, of course. And finally knowing enough to say Michael Lark’s art here (at least with people) resembles Winsor McCay fills me with joy.

While Lark makes the visual experience of Terminal City, Motter sort of creates the place. It’s not just Lark’s drawings of this retro-futuristic city–it looks like an art deco paradise, something out of a poster for an old serial the actual episodes never delivered–it’s Motter’s history for it. He perfectly mixes character and exposition.

The first issue introduces the principle characters, a bunch of mysteries, large and small, and passes a lot of time thanks to Motter’s multilayered narrative.

I love it.

CREDITS

Writer, Dean Motter; artist, Michael Lark; colorist, Rick Taylor; letterer, Willie Schubert; editor, Shelly Bond; publisher, Vertigo.

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