Evolution #2 (December 2017)

Evolution #2

Evolution reads like a novel. Or it doesn’t. Then it does again. Then it doesn’t. The comic makes the four different writes working on different things–presumably, I still haven’t read the back matter, but there are four different plot threads going. Anyway, sometimes there’s rhythm between the writers. Sometimes there’s none. This one time there’s terrible expository dialogue, while the rest of the book is fine.

Well. Wait. The last scene has the doctor who knows evolution is happening really fast all of a sudden narrating to his journal. It’s kind of obnoxious, especially since he was part of the talky expository dialogue sequence. So whoever writes that one needs a little more editing.

But… that writer also got to do the evolved monster people are congregating in groups in something with micro-face tentacles. Kind of like The Thing but more gross. Infurnari has this beautiful way of doing gross as horror. It’s scary to look at the gross, which makes it more visually compelling.

Evolution is still solid. It’s impressive what they’ve done, four separate writers and all, but the editing could be a little tighter. Not just in the dialogue; the comic still hasn’t found a rhythm. Though it might take a while with all those different writers.

CREDITS

Writers, James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson; artist, Joe Infurnari; colorist, Jordan Boyd; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Arielle Basich and Jon Moisan; publisher, Image Comics.

Billie Holiday (1991)

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday begins with a biographical essay by Francis Marmande. It’s from the 2000 Casterman edition. The original trademark is 1991, so Billie Holiday has had some editions, some revisions. At least in the packaging. Because Marmande’s essay, glancing through it, appears to give the reader a thoughtful, understanding quick biography of Billie Holliday.

The subsequent comic itself doesn’t do anything along those lines. There’s some connective tissue because the players can be the same, but José Muñoz and Carlos Sampayo aren’t really doing a biography. They’re doing biographical sketches, but there’s a lot going on.

For example, I wasn’t expecting Billie Holiday to have a guest apperance from Muñoz and Sampayo’s famous detective, Alack Sinner, but he’s here. He’s integral. At the end of the story, he’s maybe the most important character.

The structure is already convulted before Alack shows up. It’s about a reporter who has until morning to write about Billie Holiday. He’s a square white dude writing the story before sunrise. Billie Holiday, thirty years later. The reporter–who’s either nameless or should be–writes the biography, apparently, with nothing but veiled racism and class hatred. In the reporter’s story, Holiday is a dangerous drug addict. In the flashbacks, she’s this tragic figure, constantly abused by the men in her life. And since the flashbacks chop around, there’s nothing much but that abuse. When Alack arrives and gets a frame of his own into the story–he was one of the cops present at her death–his profound reaction to the anniversary overpowers the rest of Holiday.

The reporter is an obnoxious, loathsome idiot. Holiday’s tragic. Wonderful and tragic. She’s not really a character though. She’s not a dangerous drug addict, sure, but Sampayo doesn’t really want to get much further into her head. So she’s never a character. She’s the subject, nothing more. And she’s not subject to too close an inspection.

At least not narratively.

The art? Well, Muñoz is having a grand time. He’s ambitious and nimble and overindulgent and breathtaking. It’s a gorgeous comic.

And it’s a good comic.

It’s just a non-fiction Alack Sinner spin-off, which is strange and not the best way to do a biography.

CREDITS

Writer, Carlos Sampayo; artist, José Muñoz; publisher, Casterman (1991/2000), NBM (2017).

Punisher: The Platoon #4 (February 2018)

Punisher: The Platoon #4

The tragedy of Punisher: The Platoon is almost unbearable. Ennis juxtaposes the Americans and the Viet Cong. The female Viet Cong Frank Castle, the Frank Castle Frank Castle. The one with a dark shadow over him, even though only the reader can see it. It’s not in the bookend narration. The vets sitting around being interviewed? They don’t acknowledge the tragedy of Frank. It’s the saddest thing in the world… an earnest Frank Castle.

And something I suppose you wouldn’t get if you weren’t entirely versed in the character. Or at least in Ennis’s Punisher MAX. Or some of it, anyway. It’s freaking intense. Nothing happens this issue; violent-wise, I mean. The two times things could go violent? They don’t. Ennis and his war comics realism.

Frank’s marines are on R and R. Drinking and whoring. Ennis loves writing the old men jovially recalling those days. It’s actually kind of cute, as very little else in Platoon ever gets to be cute. Frank’s Viet Cong alter ego’s mentor is sort of cute. But he’s also a brutal commander so it’s a problematic cute.

There’s a conversation scene with Frank and one of his men. Just talking about their lives. Frank Castle talks about his personal philosophy. The other guy offers him advice. It’s extremely affecting as it continues because it’s so foreign from Punisher comics. Freaking Ennis. So good.

Parlov’s art is awesome. No action, lots of talking heads, just beautifully paced visuals. Parlov’s really got this one down.

CREDITS

4: Absolute Consequences; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Goran Parlov; colorist, Jordie Bellaire; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Kathleen Wisneski and Kathleen Lowe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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