Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wednesday Is Priced To Sample For All I Care #112

The Darkness II: Confession. Free Comic Book Day Edition
Fathom Primer
Kirby: Genesis #0

The Darkness: Confession, Free Comic Book Day Edition (Image/Top Cow, 2011, "Free")
I gave The Darkness an issue trial when it first came out, because that was during the period when Garth Ennis was whoring himself out to whoever paid his rate for a handful of issues. This series was no different, and I was over Marc Silvestri by that point as well. As I recall, they turned the writing chores over to "Random Irishman," and the book limped along on Top Cow's equivalent of Marvel Zombies for a while. It's a bit of a zombie title, because it gets canceled and relaunched every few years, typically on a cycle of moderate name brand talent followed by the bullpen placeholders until the next relaunch. I actually read that discounted trade of the first Phil Hester arc and never got around to reviewing it here. It was okay, but it starred a hitman named Jackie Estacado who is anguished over powers that both save and ruin his life, and I don't give two shits about that.

This sampler was a straggler amongst my crop of FCBD orders, and I think it might have even swapped characters/titles in the meantime. I only paid about a quarter for it, and it's not like I was hot to read an Artifacts primer, but I was still sort of like "oh, this? I guess it was basically free. Whatever."

At first I thought this was going to be a fully (digitally?) painted(ish) recap of the Darkness' origins, which I was only passingly familiar with, so the details weren't an issue for me. I couldn't help noticing how repetitive elements were, like Jackie getting killed twice and adventuring in hell twice while attempting to accomplish some arbitrary goal. For four pages and no good reason, the artist and style changed to very much that of the house, slapping any semblance of prestige across its filthy mouth. When I got to the end, I was kind of "huh-- they didn't touch on all the mythology built around the artifacts and the universe Ron Marz has been building up for years. Peculiar." Finally, it dawned on me that the video game preview in the back of the book was related to the main story being a tarted up "comicization" of the first video game. I guess waiting four years to bother with a sequel requires this sort of thing. Credit where due, this kicked the ass of those Radio Shack comics I thumbed through in the '80s. As free goes, this was awesome. It can go away if it begs for any pocket change, though.

Kirby: Genesis #0 (Dynamite, 2011, $1.00)
The creators try to trade on both Jack Kirby's legacy and their own with the Marvels trade dress, but I think we're all on to the Dynamite bait and switch by now. Alex Ross will contribute some designs, concepts and covers, while Kurt Busiek will knock out an opening mini-series, and then some other guys will carry the ball to an offside tackle. Busiek was already one of those guys when Topps Comics tried to sell tired, old and gaudy "new" Kirby creations in the early '90s through the power of polybagged chromium trading cards. This time, Busiek is approaching this like Astro City, and even has an excellent new Brent Anderson in Jack Herbert. There really isn't a lot to go on in these twelve pages, and the fourteen pages of sketchbook material only serves to give me my dollar's worth. Maybe if these guys stick with the project for the long haul, and don't try to use it as an IP factory like Project: Superpowers, it might amount to something.

Michael Turner's Fathom Primer (Aspen, 2011, $1.00)
This was apparently the week of people associated with Top Cow Studios tricking my ass. I figured this was another instance of an artist getting his childhood buddy to write the script of his first creator owned property, only to have actual literate people point and laugh at the hubris, then hire some hack to re-script a "remastered" reprint of the first issue. It isn't that all of that isn't true, but Scott Lobdell also serves the purpose of managing to transition a mini-series' worth of issues into a single comics' narrative, which when factored for period decompression, means the story content finally matches the format. Stuff happens at a rapid clip, characters come and go in the blink of an eye, but it works surprisingly well at bringing readers in and up to speed. Four pages of text cover the following two mini-series, all to establish where a new one begins. It still isn't my cup of tea, but for a buck, you might like to satisfy any interest in the property you might have.

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