Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wed. Is Any Day For All I Care #29

The Amazon #1 (1989/2009)
The Great Unknown #1
Marvel Adventures #9
Rex Mundi #16




The Amazon #1 (Comico/Dark Horse, 1989/2009, $1.95/$3.50)
Dark Horse is reissuing the old Comico mini-series that in its initial run failed to introduce most readers to Steven T. Seagle and Tim Sale. I can understand this, as the first issue is very dry and slow moving. There are three parallel narratives: excerpts from a magazine article, a journal, and dialogue in scene, all from the perspective of the same protagonist. While that might sound complex or disjointed, the three strains compliment one another in telling a rather boring story, so the reader is never in danger of getting lost or excited in any way. As an added bonus, there's a bit of preaching about deforestation and cultural imperialism, but nothing in such depth as to weigh down the story, however you choose to interpret the phrase. The art is nice, with more panels, detail and a smoother flow from Sale than one could expect these days. Still, if you missed it the first time, you shouldn't feel compelled to give the book a second chance.


The Great Unknown #1 (Image, 2009, $3.50)
Let me be up front and say that Duncan Rouleau was one of those artists whose work I outright dreaded when it appeared in mainstream comics. Having covered that, his peculiar style is far more palatable on this science fiction tale with an indie comix mindset. Seeing as Rouleau wasn't exactly blessed with the best scripters at Marvel or DC, I'd also like to breath a sigh of relief in finding he's a much better writer than any of that lot. This first issue offers a raging asshole as our point of view character, but promises that he has value and potential to be mined. It reads a bit like Phillip K. Dick paranoia by way of Johnny Ryan, which isn't such a bad combination.

Marvel Adventures #9 (Marvel, 2009, $2.99)
My second look at this series, and I'm afraid it's another misfire. While Paul Tobin offers a better story with a more amusing script than my last venture, I took umbrage with the liberties taken with the Dr. Strange character. Jacopo Camagni has a manga-influenced art style that's ill-suited to the hero, and his interpretation of Wong took me out of the story immediately. While I recognize Wong's traditional role as the bald Asian servant is a tad racist, giving him plain clothes and long brown hair in a sort of top knot with no ethnic features goes way too far the other way. Perhaps the move was meant to differentiate his from the bald Ancient One, who's in a friggin' Polo shirt and Dockers, yet still has features straight out of a Fu Manchu serial. So much for political correctness there.

Further, Wong is given the sarcastic dialogue of Alfred Pennyworth, while Dr. Strange is given the sarcastic dialogue of a Joss Whedon character, which should rip a hole in the barrier between humanity and the Realm of the Snarks. Instead, its just the Dark Dimension, from which rises a dread Dormammu-- with sarcastic dialogue that could have been provided by J.M. DeMatteis... which is kind of my point. All this forced whimsy reeks of the mid-80s Dr. Fate series and Justice League International, neither of which works for Dr. Strange. Come to think of it, Dr. Fate wasn't done any favors by that route, either.

Marvel Adventures seems geared toward introducing younger readers to Marvel heroes, so it bothers me to see an interpretation of Dr. Strange that goes so far abroad, and with such low yield. In fact, why even employ Dr. Strange in this manner? His origin involves him being a drunken asshole who wrecks his car and his career while under the influence. From conception, Dr. Strange was tailored for the college-aged Marvel readers who got off on the sophistication and surrealism of the strip. What appeal does a psychedelic Mandrake the Magician have to the grade school set? Because of this disparity, the script reads more like an update of Weisinger era Superman plots than anything suited for the Sorcerer Supreme.


Rex Mundi #16 (Dark Horse, 2009, $2.99)
This comic book is a perfect example of how to prime a new reader in just two pages. I picked up this random issue due to a recommendation tied to a heavy discount, and under any other circumstance this would be a terrible introductory story. It opens in the middle of violent action, involves multiple major character deaths, jumps perspective so that there's no central character, offers virtually no exposition, and ends on a cliffhanger. However, a text heavy page offering "The Story So Far..." manages to cover five "books" involving an alternate European history dominated by French characters with funky names and lots of double-dealing complications in just enough detail to thoroughly inform and grab my interest. A second page served up head shots and brief biographies, which combined allowed me to could jump right into the dense narrative without any problems. What I found was an impressive script by Arvid Nelson and attractive art by Juan Ferreyra that whet my appetite for trade paperback hunting. Nice work, fellas. I'll be back.

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