Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wednesday Is Thursday, So There, There #71

Daredevil: Cage Match #1
Galacta: Daughter of Galactus #1
The Mystic Hands of Dr. Strange (B&W) #1
Sam and Twitch: The Writer #1

Daredevil: Cage Match #1 (Marvel, 2010, $2.99)
I bought this book because of the damn fine cover and the knowledge that the Luke Cage I grew up with would be involved in a story with the Matt Murdock I dug before both characters were neutered by Brian Michael Bendis. This would have made for a memorable eight page story in an anthology title, but as a one-shot, it’s stretched thin. I don’t know if it was a rush job or if the inks by Sandu Florea were inadequate, but Sean Chen’s work looks especially rough here. Otherwise, this is a good natured trifle.

Galacta: Daughter of Galactus #1 (Marvel, 2010, $3.99)
Take a holier-than-though vegan type, and then mix in functional anorexia and constant whining about daddy issues. Combine the ten dollar vocabulary of Sideshow Bob with Homer Simpson’s “mmm… doughnuts” simpleton tangents. Season with a Marvel super-hero cameo, and repeat every five-to-ten pages. Undercook for one note one shot collecting previously free online content. The result is a disagreeable dish that serves as few tastes as possible.

The Mystic Hands of Dr. Strange (B&W) #1 (Marvel, 2010, $3.99)
There’s a shop I visit on new comic day during breaks at work, to toss through recent releases and buy books I skipped on pre-ordering. I recall the day this title came out, when the dealer turned his nose up at the black and white throwback format. “Ew! Who’d want to read that?” It’s exactly that kind of uniformed, overly opinionated attitude, along with shitty discounts, that stopped me from buying most of my comics from physical shops.

I loved the magazine format growing up, especially when they involved cheap bulk reprints in the days before Marvel Essentials/Showcase Presents, plus a lot of artists are done a disservice by color. Certainly the great Pilipino invasion of the ‘70s thrived in the format, and I much prefer my Barry Windsor-Smith in Conan Classics and Mike Zeck in Punisher Magazine to the garish color comics. The Master of the Mystic Arts has always skewed mature, so he seems like a natural for the format. Unfortunately, the retro cover type is plainly a computer font, the frontpiece art is too dim, the book is cut in standard comic book dimensions on glossy stock, and the 48 pages feel slight. It’s a modest, illegitimate effort, recalling Marvel Comics Presents more than Savage Tails

“The Cure” is the main story, running a standard comic’s length. It’s about Dr. Strange confronting a cult and running game on the devil himself, Mephisto. It’s also small potatoes compared to the con job Loki ran in another recent Kieron Gillen script. Frazer Irving occasionally recalls the early days of ‘80s painted interior art, but most of the time its mundane and serviceable. “Melancholia” could have been heralded as the return of ‘70s icon Frank Brunner, but the guy has been a pale shadow of his former self for decades, and his work here looks like that of an amateur on a vanity project. The script on the twelve pager is by Peter Milligan, who tries to set up a twist ending ala Warren, but it’s both obvious and never quite gels into a true narrative. Ted McKeever continues to mainstream his esoteric style with “So This Is How It Feels.” The result is a really wicked looking creature foe that is somehow not a rejiggered Mindless One, versus an inadequate Sorcerer Supreme whose appearance and voice are way off. The story is a mess-- too funky for the norms, but too flat for the hip. Finally, there’s Mike Carey’s text piece “Duel In The Dark Dimension,” with a few illustrations by the always awesome Marcos Martin. It plays better in the mind than it would have on the page, and is alright for this sort of thing.

Sam and Twitch: The Writer #1 (Image, 2010, $2.99)
David Mamet is to Art Adams as`Brian Michael Bendis is to Ron Lim as whoever wrote this shit is to the swiping nobodies the Big Two staffed third tier books with in the early-to-mid ‘90s. Nevermind “The Writer,” this went bad at “The Editor.” It’s been fifteen years since Se7en, so the graphically literate serial killer isn’t exactly a fresh idea. It only gets worse when they somehow manage to write on almost any surface in a style strongly resembling a fuckin’ computer font. Then we’ve got characters speaking directly onto the artwork in Ariel, because some pretentious asshat failed to realize a decade back that their “innovation” was just Charlton typeset lettering for the digital age. Dialogue balloons come in really handy when multiple characters’ speeches are overlapping, but instead we’ve got a squiggly line at the bottom of the text, which screams lazy more than artsy. It hardly matters though, since all but one character speaks in video game cut scene exposition. That exception is Harvey Bullock, who instead speaks only in racist/sexist/willfully ignorant asshole. “The Writer” doesn’t seem to realize that the jerky detective cliché exists as two types: the antagonistic supporting character, and the no-nonsense tough lead trying to cut through lies/bullshit to get at the truth. Harvey Bullock is just an abrasive moron getting in the way of competent ciphers. Bullock isn’t clever, funny, or in any way vital to the story, but instead a narrative obstacle that shits on every page. The art’s okay, but everything else is garbage that made my eyes heavy.

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