A Train Called Love 3 (December 2015)

A Train Called Love #3

What is this comic book? Back in the nineties, did Garth Ennis really want to write a whacked out sitcom? A Train Called Love isn’t set in the nineties, of course, but it feels like it could be. There are just some technological alterations.

It’s a strange book from Ennis because it’s the first time I’m aware of him fully embracing his knowledge of pop culture. And he’s not doing pop culture references, he’s creating something in that vein. He’s showing up Kevin Smith, for example. He’s showing you can do these stories with the pop culture reference being transparent and all encompassing.

I really hope it works out. I can’t imagine it won’t. This issue, which has two outrageous things in both subplots–though to varying level of pressure–is a combination of inventive and, to some degree, realistically acceptable because of Ennis’s skill. But he does set up some characters for big changes.

This one had better go six issues.

CREDITS

What A Lady, What A Night; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Pretty Deadly 6 (November 2015)

Pretty Deadly #6

I missed Pretty Deadly. I forgot what it was like to read a comic aware of its genre possibilities, acknowledging of them to some degree, but entirely disinterested in taking part. As a result, the comic is its own thing, something strange and ethereal and beautiful from DeConnick and Rios.

This issue definitely starts off a new arc, dealing with the descendants of the previous characters (set in World War I, at home and in France). DeConnick doesn’t introduce or reintroduce anyone (the text prologue has very little to do with the majority of the issue). Instead, it’s just time to read Pretty Deadly again.

The amount of work Rios and DeConnick put into the visual construction of the comic is reason alone to read it. It’s cohesive, yet full of little visual sequences–not subplots as much as narrative tangents–all with a mildly different approach.

DeConnick’s thoughtful, deliberate characterizations keep it from ever getting too hostile to distracted readers. Even though there’s a fantastical, dreary, magical world, because the characters are able to navigate it, so is the reader.

It’s great to have it back.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Emma Rios; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editor, Sigrid Ellis; publisher, Image Comics.

Letter 44 21 (November 2015)

Letter 44 #21

Even with a fill-in artist (Ryan Kelly), Soule sticks to the Letter 44 standards. It’s a flashback issue, so he does a couple characters. It’s Letter 44 so there’s a lame cliffhanger.

The series didn’t always have lame cliffhangers. It used to have characters. When it had characters, those cliffhangers worked. Though I don’t think this one would work regardless. It’s some painfully obvious lionizing of one of the characters. Of course, this character doesn’t appear in his own flashback–I’m not hiding the name, I just can’t remember it–until those last few, bad pages. Otherwise, it’s good. The whole issue’s pretty good.

Kelly’s art matches the book’s unfortunate, cartoonish style, but Kelly’s got his composition and depth figured out. There are detail problems, but no visual flow ones.

Besides the lionized guy, the other flashback is the mission astronomer. How did he get on the mission and so on. It’s interesting to compare to the army guy’s flashback because the latter is all about the recruiter, not the recruited. It’s a nice contrast and Soule takes them both seriously.

Clearly, Soule cares about Letter 44, which is what always makes it so frustrating when it never manages to boil above the mediocre level anymore.

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; artist, Ryan Kelly; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Crank!; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

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