Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday Is For Bad Girls For All I Care #77

Artifacts #1 (2010)
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac #1
Lady Deadpool #1 (2010)
X-Women #1 (2010)

Artifacts #1 (Image, 2010, $3.99)
I read a collection of Ron Marz’s first Witchblade arc, so I’d like to start things off by congratulating Marz on finding a personality for Sara Pezzini. It’s your basic jaded Hellboy working class monster slayer attitude, but Pezzini wears it well. Second, the book opens with an alright “Professor Xavier Is A Jerk” wall-breaker, although I can’t say for sure if it’s intentional or a carryover from some damned prelude chapter that drops the reader into the middle of the action. Third, artist Michael Broussard’s style is like Leinil Francis Yu processed through Top Cow sensibilities, which makes it attractive without being titillating. Fourth, I appreciated John Constantine the defrocked priest and the oriental shopkeeper from Gremlins giving a basic explanation of what the thirteen artifacts are and how they relate to one another. Fifth, having a reasonable awareness of the Top Cow universe, I like how Marz is trying to draw together even quite disparate areas into a unified whole.

There’s a two page introduction to Witchblade, and another two for other characters. Those would have been really handy at the front of the book for new readers, but I’m glad they’re in there at all. Neutral points there. Something bad happens to a character I don’t know enough to care about outside general principle, at an angle that makes the degree of badness vague. That’s a point lost.

Just as I was starting to get into things, the book ends. I’m really tired of that shit. Comic book are not novels, which take me hours and hours to read in a fully immerse experience for just twice the price of this comic. Comics also are not films, which offer millions of dollars of production values and hours of entertainment for a dollar more than this comic. Comics are twenty-two pages where anything can happen. If your “anything” is the opening scenes of a movie, or first chapter of a book, you’re not doing it right. That’s worth at least two demerits, which leaves this book’s total score at middling. I do not foresee a thirteen issue commitment under those terms.

Hack/Slash: My First Maniac #1 (Image, 2010, $3.50)
I’m seeing a pattern emerge here. Stories focusing on Cassandra Hack solo in her formative years as a stalker of ‘80s slasher movie archetypes are pretty swell. From Dr. Loomis to the Dream Warriors, I’m a lot more interested in this type of material with a strong protagonist around. It isn’t until creator Tim Seeley tries to expand the series’ focus into super-hero bullshit that I find my interest waning. This story, heavy on internal monologue in the form of diary entries, makes getting reacquainted with the character a solid read. I suspect Seeley has hung out with his share of Suicide Girl types, since Hack’s voice is true for that generation of strong but damaged grrls.

I’ve seen flashbacks to Hack's origin a few times, so while I kept up with the scenes involving the Lunch Lady killer, I suspect this opening sequence as written could confuse the uninitiated. It was wise to give a full issue over to the aftermath of Hack’s first kill, showing her inability to fit into normal society afterward, and her need to direct her innate hostilities toward positive ends. It could have actually stood a second issue, as you do get the sense of Seeley rapidly shifting gears as his page count dwindled. Still, it’s good stuff, in no way hindered by the appealing art by Daniel Leister. An impressive opening that might finally see me take the plunge on a trade collection.

Lady Deadpool #1 (Marvel, 2010, $3.99)
I have one word to describe the current Deadpool phenomenon: “Lobo.” There was a brief moment in time when a giddy thrill could be had in this crass reprobate trashing the pristine, conservative DC Universe. That moment passed, and trying to read a Lobo comic today is painfully embarrassing. Lobo was stupid LCD trash, and yet Lady Deadpool is somehow worse. As you may recall, Deadpool is Spider-Man as a gun toting psychotic mercenary. Remember the “beautiful” veiled harem girl/princess/etc. from the old Looney Tunes that turned out to be a hideously ugly, boy crazy hillbilly? Lady Deadpool is an alternate reality hybrid of the two. That’s the whole joke. Lady Deadpool conceals her disfigured flesh while overeating, killing goons, and talking about her lust for a hawt dude. There’s also some miserably broad parody of the media/government that’s too empty-headed to offend anyone, beyond sheer lack of craft on the part of writer Mary H.K. Choi. Wait-- I take that back. Toward the end, there’s a “comedic” reference to the Manson Family murders that remains vomitous. I usually like Ken Lashley’s art, but when employed to facilitate a story so pointless, even it proved a turn-off. Easily one of the worst comics I’ve read this year, if only for the obvious disinterest on the part of all theoretically creative parties to bring more to this than the paycheck calls for.

X-Women #1 (Marvel, 2010, $4.99)
For decades, Milo Manara has been the uncontested master of stringing together a series of themed softcore set pieces through a thin narrative. Manara can do this because he draws the most beautiful and delicately realized women in the world. What makes X-Women different from most of his work is that in place of sex scenes are super-powers, the revealing costumes never quite give up the naughty bits (plentiful buns notwithstanding,) and there are numerous heroines in this adventure rather than a solo protagonist. Manara seems like he’s tried to pack in some unnecessary detail because it’s an X-Book, and Dave Stewart’s colors are a bit more harsh than Milo normally enjoys, but it's otherwise exactly what you’d expect. Chris Claremont is credited as writer, which manifests itself through the use of the island nation of Madripoor, the presence of Rachael Summers, and some clunky expository dialogue. Otherwise, it’s Manara’s show, and anyone who hasn’t come to terms with Kitty Pryde being a grown woman now is going to be left feel dirty.

As an aside, as someone who pays attention to indicia— the legal text that companies hung on the bottom of opening pages for about sixty years— I have to award X-Women the honor of offering the greatest scavenger hunt yet. DC and Marvel have gotten downright devious about concealing the location of indicia in their comics, but page 25 (of 64,) written atop the bottom portion of art on an advertisement for an oversized Avengers poster, takes the cake. Very easy to overlook on the assumption it was the details of a sweepstakes or something.

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