Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care #51

Age of Reptiles: The Journey #1
Deadlocke #1
Green Lantern #49 (2009)
The Marvelous Land of Oz #1

To celebrate this column's fiftieth offering, I will include a book that actually shipped this week. Also, just plain posting on this blog is a pretty special thing lately, so relish it or whatever.

Age of Reptiles: The Journey #1 (Dark Horse, 2009, $3.50)
I typically regard "silent" comics with suspicion or contempt, but when you're writing a series about the migration of prehistoric creatures, you earn that license. Richard Delgado is a remarkably capable artist at depicting legions of creatures in seemingly realistic detail without overwhelming the senses with excessive rendering. He adeptly captures the scale of the endeavor while still paying mind to little stories within the greater movement. Without so much as a sound effect, he tells a better, more comprehensive and moving story with stronger characterization than most anything
Jeph Loeb ever scripted. It looks prettier and last longer as a read, too.

Deadlocke #1 (Dark Horse, 2009, $3.50)
Back in 1977, George Lucas figured that if he was ever going to get anywhere with his six part tale from a long time ago in a galaxy far away, he'd better jump past all that Anakin Skywalker bullshit and get to the good parts. He was smart enough to still subtitle his first Star Wars movie "Episode IV," and littered it with cryptic references to the first three. Most anyone with critical thinking skills can figure he probably wouldn't have had his hero engage in incestuous flirtation if Lucas had already worked out the finer relationship points between Luke, Leia and Darth Vader beforehand, but Warsies still held boners for over twenty years before an actual "Episode One" was released in the most scatological sense possible upon theater screens.

Jim Shooter was similarly canny in the early 90s, when he set aside the more extraneous expository crap from his early Valiant Comics series, then offered it in "#0" issues as incentives to die hard fans of his latest enterprise. Dark Horse could have stood to learn that lesson, but they instead published Deadlocke #1 as a single issue special as part of a series of "done-in-one" books they're promoting. You see, where this could have been a decent bit of retroactive prologue to a continuing series, it is instead literary blue balls, a "none-in-one" story that if anything helps kill any momentum an actual book might have achieved without this anchor around its neck.

In this single story, an emo comic dork gets laid, goes to a costume party, and has a falling out with his trim and her brother. The remaining five pages would have been a good place to work out some sort of satisfactory resolution, but instead our protagonist goes pissy bitch on his mom, wears out the sympathy of even those who've walked similar miles, and then abruptly stops. Absent of context, it's a trifle.

Arvid Nelson pisses away some of the good will he earned when I sampled his writing on Rex Mundi. Nick Stakal's art is very much like a storyboard, giving about the least amount of information needed to depict the necessary action in the script. Combined, the book goes from 0 to just there in 22 pages.

Green Lantern #49 (DC, 2009, $2.99)
I've been getting my books monthly via heavily discounted mail order for years now, but since I work near a comic shop, I bop by for the occasional missed preorder. For instance, I figured Green Lantern would be more integral to the Blackest Night event, but passed on securing them in advance, to savings on my part. Instead, I pay full cover for the odd issue. For instance, I count myself as a John Stewart fan, but more Mosaic's jazz loving intellectual than the ex-Marine hardass that came out of the Justice League cartoon. Still, his getting a solo spotlight issue here gave me pause. Then a back-up starring Mera and the Atom (a favorite of mine) directly tied to Blackest Night at no additional "co-feature" cost sealed the deal.

Ed Benes drew most of the lead story, and for once his flashy style wasn't marred by cheesecake, nor his at best rudimentary concept of visual storytelling. Flashback sequences rendered more gracefully by Marcos Marz didn't hurt, nor did strong color work by Hi-Fi. This one saw Stewart visited by his reanimated sins of the past, in the zombified form of his ex-wife Katma Tui and throngs of Xanshi's living dead.

Reliable Jerry Ordway drew the back-up, which doesn't actually go anywhere, but gets by on mood and melodrama. That's true of the lead as well, so the degree of value you place on Geoff Johns' writing here is likely dependent on your fandom. Nothing bad, but the book needs the participation of your preexisting interest to rise above mediocre.

The Marvelous Land of Oz #1 (Marvel, 2009, $3.99)
At times, Skottie Young has been one of my poster children for wrong-headed super-hero art in the Marvel universe. On an Oz book though, he's delightfully in his element. Eric Shanower is in his, what, third decade of adapting L. Frank Baum into comics? He certainly seems to have it down. Tip, our young protagonist, is a motivated scamp with an entertaining supporting cast. This here is quality all-ages reading.


mathematicscore said...

I was let down on the GL issue by there not beeing a BL Martian Manhunter there to rub Xanshi in his face once more. But, what can you do?

Frank Lee Delano said...



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