Crossed + One Hundred 8 (August 2015)

crossedonehundred8The good news of Crossed + One Hundred number eight is that the story does has someplace to go. Alan Moore’s “Series Outline” credit has been proven creditable, and the new arc is shaping up in a logical way to the groundwork laid out in volume one. Simon Spurrier’s future-English dialogue is still not as diabolically punny as Moore, but he’s playing around with some new details. This issue spends time with a new character’s dialect that’s a mishmash of Bostonian and Jersey twang. There’s also a monologue from one of the Salt-Crossed, probably the longest speech we’ve heard from any of them, and it reads how you’d hope it would: brutal, scary. After their near-absence in issue seven, Moore seems to have figured out how to continue revealing their insanity gradually, to maintain the creep factor.

That monologue reveals an important new plot point, which is also the turning point where Crossed + One Hundred justifies its ongoing existence. The Salt-Crossed’s organizational skills open up a whole new slew of dramatic possibilities, based on what is actually a fairly unique sci-fi/horror hybrid idea: if a burgeoning civilization were centered around the celebration of sadism, how could such a civilization function? The question slightly nudges the franchise out of the realm of pure horror and into a more philosophical kind of terror that’s not exactly a zombie tale any longer. It’s more akin to 1984, The Man in the High Castle or The Handmaid’s Tale, where the horror comes from contemplating the ruthlessness of an insane society. Future Taylor isn’t nearly as fucked as Winston Smith or even Evey from Moore’s V For Vendetta, but she’s got her work cut out for her in trying to stem the rising tides of Salt water.

Spurrier’s scripting, besides the adequate continuation of the future-speak, is not as good as Moore’s in terms of panel and page pacing, but come on. Whose is? The highlight once again is his bookending of Future’s latest sci-fi book review around her situation at hand.

The only missing component from the equation is, once again, Fernando Heinz’s art. The technical skills are mostly there – despite one distracting perspective problem on the opening splash page which makes a character appear armless, he actually nails a lot of tricky angles from high aerial perspectives as Future travels around by hot air balloon.  But his particular manga-influenced style is just too unserious. Future still looks weirdly younger than she did in the first arc, despite it taking place a year after the taking of Chooga and characters occasionally just look cute. One of the Crossed, leering maniacally, vaguely resembles a heavy from Dragonball Z. Even Future’s expressions of fear are a little too aesthetically appealing. It doesn’t ruin the whole package, but undermines the moments of grave seriousness.

Despite the aesthetic setback, Crossed + One Hundred is still compelling reading.

CREDITS

Writer, Simon Spurrier; Series Outline, Alan Moore; artist, Fernando Heinz; colorist, Digikore Studios; letterer, Jaymes Reed; publisher, Avatar Press.

Providence 4 (August 2015)

Providence #4

Unsurprisingly, Providence continues to impress, but–and maybe surprisingly–this issue doesn’t up the ante much as far as terrifying the reader. There are Lovecraftian elements around and there’s almost realization from the narrator in this issue’s back matter (which has Moore’s most obvious attempt at telling the reader to pay attention; he does it well and necessarily), but it’s not exactly scary.

Moore’s suspects–the players in the story–aren’t particularly dangerous as of yet. Maybe because they say they aren’t dangerous to the narrator, who’s just a visitor in their stories, not a participant or person of consequence, or maybe because they show concern. Moore’s doing a lot with the idea of town and country with Providence–which is somewhat strange, given the history and look at how people are treated differently is for New Englanders, not the British. It’s just his dedication to the project.

Reading the lengthy back matter, one has to wonder how much of it will eventually matter and how much of it is just Moore doing his job. He’s making Providence a filling read for its audience. He’s respectful of the reader’s time, respectful of the reader’s attention.

It’s an awesome, mellow comic. The one horror Moore does imply is so outrageous, one can’t truly fathom it so why try. Plus, Moore tells the reader not to try fathoming it. Subtly, but forcefully.

CREDITS

White Apes; writer, Alan Moore; artist, Jacen Burrows; colorist, Juan Rodriguez; letterer, Kurt Hathaway; publisher, Avatar Press.

The Fiction 3 (August 2015)

The Fiction #3

The Fiction only has one issue left, which is sort of good. Pires doesn’t exactly run out of ideas this issue–it’s just once he gets his regular cast together it does remind all of a sudden of Unwritten and then it’s hard to think of Fiction on its own.

Also because it’s almost over. It goes one more issue, so reading this issue, it feels like the grand setup for the finish. Pires does maybe four flashbacks, one flash forward and then two asides with the evil monster thing running the otherworld place. It’s even got a hard cliffhanger with the three good guys about to face off with their evil friend.

Like I said, while Pires might not entirely be out of ideas, it really seems like he let the impulse run its course. It’s an eighties cartoon all of a sudden.

The comic’s not compelling exactly when it needs to be most compelling.

CREDITS

Where the Sky Hangs or Four Years Gone; writer, Curt Pires; artist, David Rubín; colorist, Michael Garland; letterer, Colin Bell; editors, Jasmine Amiri and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Birthright 10 (August 2015)

Birthright #10

As usual for Williamson–and easily the most frustrating thing about his writing–the issue reads too fast. This issue of Birthright is some female bonding and a lengthy fight sequence. At the end of the fight sequence comes a big surprise. And it’s a good big surprise, but it’s not good enough to forgive the issue taking place over five minutes.

Especially since Bressan is wasted on a slow fight scene. Bressan’s an imaginative artist and instead of letting him visualize cool things, this issue has him visualizing a scene out of an eighties fantasy action movie. Released by Cannon.

Speaking of which, as a compliment, Williamson and Bressan should search out a licensee for the property who’ll honor that eighties vibe.

I really like Birthright. It just never fully delivers. Maybe Williamson’s just writing for the trade (and the YA audience in book stores), which would be smart. It’s an incredibly accessible book and one with a wide range of potential reader.

CREDITS

Writer, Joshua Williamson; artist, Andrei Bressan; colorist, Adriano Lucas; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Mike Williamson and Sean Mackiewicz; publisher, Image Comics.

Kaijumax 5 (August 2015)

Kaijumax #5

It’s a thoroughly okay issue, but there’s way too much information about the setting. One of the prison guards gets in a fight while off duty–so think Ultraman fighting a bunch of fighter jets and mecha-whatevers–and the boss shows up and clears things up. During that clearing up, lots of exposition.

And Kaijumax all of a sudden feels like Pacific Rim. Cannon’s been mixing sixties and seventies kaiju movie visuals and silliness with extremely difficult prison stuff. Then he brought in Pacific Rim and he loses his footing.

The slipping continues as Electrogor is in therapy with his shrink (the human woman who’s in love with his assailant). The scene seems too forced, with Cannon going too hard for the emotional devastation for Electrogor.

Minya’s poisoning of Godzilla is similarly problematic. Cannon’s pacing for it (and the issue) is off.

The issue never connects like it should.

CREDITS

The Mega-Monster Battle at Home; writer, artist and letterer, Zander Cannon; editor, Charlie Chu; publisher, Oni Press.

Letter 44 19 (August 2015)

Letter 44 #19

This issue of Letter 44 has a couple surprises. One of them is a surprise for a character–the reader having a surprise regarding that same character just a few pages before–the other is a surprise for the reader. So I guess three surprises near the end of the issue.

Soule’s got to do what he can to keep the interest going.

I’m not even being sarcastic. Even though this issue is better than usual–in all respects (Alburquerque’s final reveal page is hideous, however)–it’s still not back to the series’s original standards. Soule does give the President a little more to do here, but he still relies far too much on the Bush analogue. That guy isn’t an interesting character. Soule’s trying hard to make him driven insane by his principles but he can’t sell it.

So some interest is good. Even competently if manipulatively executed interest.

CREDITS

Writer, Charles Soule; artist, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque; colorist, Dan Jackson; letterer, Crank!; editor, Robin Herrera; publisher, Oni Press.

Velvet 11 (August 2015)

Velvet #11

It’s my favorite issue of Velvet in a long time and I’m not entirely sure why. It might just be because Epting drawing an American secret agent with grey temples with a bouffant-ish hair cut reminds me of seventies Marvel black and white Gene Colan. It just feels right.

But the rest of the issue is good too. It’s got Brubaker doing a lot of quick summary sequences with Velvet catching the reader up to what she’s been doing since the previous issue. She’s been getting into trouble, but totally in control of it. It’s a new type of Velvet; she’s not just the protagonist, but she’s in charge of how the narrative affects her (and is aware of it).

Velvet usually reads like a light project for Brubaker, but this issue certainly suggests he’s at least got some ambition for how he tells the story. It’s a great comic.

CREDITS

The Man Who Stole the World, Part One; writer, Ed Brubaker; artist, Steve Epting; colorist, Elizabeth Breitweiser; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors; Sebastian Girner and Eric Stephenson; publisher, Image Comics.

Cluster 6 (August 2015)

Cluster #6

I wish I enjoyed Cluster.

I like Couceiro’s art. But his sci-fi setting for Cluster is the same generic sci-fi setting with space troopers as Aliens or Starship Troopers. There’s nothing interesting about it. Some of the stuff with the aliens is good, but Brisson spends his time on the humans, so it’s background.

And I like Brisson’s writing. It’s all very competent, but it’s nothing special. The protagonist has gotten lost so Brisson could get to the space revolutionaries and so on. But he doesn’t spend much time on the revolution or anything else. Cluster is too fragmented, Brisson has too many subplots fueling the main plot. There isn’t enough time to care about anything.

Except the characters he’s already killed. They were more memorable than any of the new ones he’s introducing.

Brisson and Couceiro can keep Cluster running in competence, but they’re getting bad mileage.

CREDITS

Writer and letterer, Ed Brisson; artist, Damian Couceiro; colorist, Cassie Kelly; editors, Cameron Chittock and Eric Harburn; publisher, Boom! Studios.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: