Monday, August 23, 2010

Wednesday Is Radical For All I Care #79

Earp: Saints For Sinners #0
Image Firsts: Age of Bronze #1
Image Firsts: Proof #1
The Rising #0

This time out, it’s four dollar comics from two publishers. One dollar times four, not $4, although that's the kind of price point your follow-up issues are likely to start at.

Earp: Saints For Sinners #0 (Radical, 2010, $1.00)
I can hold up Image Comics from the early ‘90s as a standard for poorness, because they really were mostly crap books cut from the same cloth. I can’t do that today, because the company has one of the most diverse lines in the industry, and they print some of the finest comics around. Radical Comics though, I can easily mock, because they are so formulaic and generally lame. Besides taking the starfucking crown from the departed Virgin Comics, Radical’s “original” content typically consists of giving a sci-fi/horror/fantasy spin to a public domain concept, with as little further deviation as possible.

For instance, Earp looks to be Tombstone with bullet trains and machine guns. However, the script by M. Zachary Sherman and Matt Cirulnick is more eventful than Radical’s stillborn norm, and the dialogue less trite. The painted/CGI art by Mack Chater and Martin Montiel actually allows their subjects to be illuminated, even if the male leads are nearly indistinguishable. All told, that makes Earp much better than the average Radical book, but that’s still just damning with faint praise.

Image Firsts: Age of Bronze #1 (Image, 2010, $1.00)
Eric Shanower has been working since the ‘80s, but for some reason he limits his writing output to adaptations, whether Baum’s Oz books or this, “The Story of the Trojan War.” I’d say that’s a shame, but Shanower does the job so well, why knock it? This first installment starts small, introducing Paris’ world before his journey to Troy. The characters are well drawn, both figuratively and literally, through words and action. The storytelling is wonderfully old school, from the clean, clear figures to the lovingly rendered backgrounds to the consistent 5-6 panels per page. However, the ending is extremely abrupt, as though Shanower were scripting for a larger volume, then cut it into sections at an arbitrary page count. Otherwise, this is a very polished book that I expect would only shine in a collected volume.

Image Firsts: Proof #1 (Radical, 2010, $1.00)
A secret government agency tracks cryptids, sighted but unproven creatures like the chupacabra, in X-Files fashion. Among their top agents is a Sasquatch, John “Proof” Prufcock, who makes the acquaintance of his “Skully,” Ginger Brown. Their first case involves some graphic elements, including some unappealing full frontal nudity. The art by Riley Rossmo is too rough for my taste, but it gets the job done. Alexander Grecian’s script is cinematic, including the part where the book’s over before it’s gotten started. I do applaud the realistic body types on display, and none of the comic is exactly bad, but it’s modern decompressed storytelling with the in vogue sloppy look that frustrates me so.

The Rising #0 (Radical, 2010, $1.00)
Seemingly benevolent aliens have quietly conquered the Earth, while resistance fighters are scorned by the public. The book opens in Vietnam by way of mechs, and from the third page largely foregoes dialogue. By page nine, the book has veered off into Jake Sully going native with a Na'vi. When you hit page sixteen, back in the real world with dialogue and captions, you’re put out. More Big Brother aliens and reeducation camps, until a godless preacher arranges gladiator combat amongst a chain gang. The painted art by J.P. Targete makes this jumble of cliché look good, but not enough to spend money on.

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