Monday, August 30, 2010

Wednesday Is Vertigo Sampling For All I Care #80

Hellblazer #1 Special Edition
Jack of Fables #1 Special Edition
The Losers #1 Special Edition
Scalped #1 Special Edition

“What’s Next? Great Graphic Novels You Should Be Reading“ is an initiative of $1 introductory comics, in this case hard targeting Alan Moore fans through his laying the groundwork for DC’s Vertigo line of mature readers titles.

Hellblazer #1 Special Edition (Vertigo, 2010, $1.00)
I read this late ‘80s spin-off from Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing last after a stack of Radical, Image and modern Vertigo books. Talk about culture shock. Jamie Delano may have been an early adopter of captions in place of thought balloons, but the sheer number and the purple shade of prose within couldn’t be further removed from the five minute paper movie trailers of today. A lot of it is borderline terrible excerpts from a novel no one outside comics would publish, sort of a sideways attempt at “show, then tell at gratuitous length,” but I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the density of the reading experience. This first issue is a thick forty pages, far more involving than most trade paperbacks now produced at three times the length, in which John Constantine goes from his London flat to a flashback from Tangier to the Sudan to New York. I was really bummed when the story ended in a cliffhanger, not only because the probable ending’s been telegraphed, but because I felt like I had been with the story long enough to have gotten a complete package should it conclude. It’s a gas seeing this formative Constantine running around in a designer blue double breasted suit, moralizing, a bit too quick with an almost corny line. John Ridgway’s art is also a time capsule, his style already a holdover from ‘70s horror anthologies, coupled with the slightly confusing and overcomplicated panel arrangements. Yet, it’s clean, clear within the panels, and captures the necessary tension and horror. Delano’s script is a long strange trip, leavened with gallows humor. The team launched Vertigo’s longest running series with style and substance, validating its longevity.

Jack of Fables #1 Special Edition (Vertigo, 2010, $1.00)
Bill Willingham, especially writing in conjunction with Matthew Sturges, satisfies a specific taste. They’re more articulate and fanciful than Howard Chaykin, but you get my drift. Jack Horner is an immortal rogue whose adventures have been chronicled in fairy tales, and more recently in feature films. However, he’s fallen on hard times, targeted by Fabletown authorities, kidnappers and more. This opening chapter is mildly amusing, with its cursing Tinkerbell and its nude Goldilocks, which should tell you exactly what kind of book this is.

The Losers #1 Special Edition (Vertigo, 2010, $1.00)
Thirty-two pages of a relatively self-intact espionage/revenge tale for a buck is nothing to sneeze out. Still, The Losers is just the A-Team with a PG-13 rating, so I can’t get excited about it. At best, Jock’s choppy art looks like storyboards with delusions of grandeur, and Andy Diggle’s script is full of silly macho posturing and blatant expository dialogue. It’s a cheap thriller, and one issue is all I need, thanks.

Scalped #1 Special Edition (Vertigo, 2010, $1.00)
Diamond Previews had a 3-5 page sample of Scalped when it first came out. Between the tough guy dialogue and the Jorge Zaffino looking art, I was totally turned off. Color me surprised then that a few pages further into the book, artist R.M. Guera shows a command of facial and bodily expression reminiscent of Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. Imagine Eduardo Risso inked by Klaus Janson in his prime, and you’d be close. The art goes a long way toward legitimizing a typical noir crime story from Jason Aaron, complete with young tough returned to town, a lost love turned town slut, a crime boss deeply embedded in local government, and a last page “twist” visible from miles out.

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