Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday Is Slim Pickings For All I Care #114

Conan: Island of No Return #1
Empowered "Ten Questions for the Maidman"

This column gets leaner and more sporadic the less I buy floppies, but on the plus side, there will be more time for Dirty Traders, since I have both new collections and stacks of unread ones to get through.

Conan Island of No Return #1 (Dark Horse, 2011, $3.50)
I grew up on Conan, and especially enjoyed the early Barry Windsor-Smith material that Bart Sears conjures up through a return to the "costume" used in those issues. Writer Ron Marz also teases that era, with Conan as a sneak thief and philanderer teaming up with whoever decided to bring him in on a job. However, those '70s stories were really great done-in-ones that usually condensed original Robert E. Howard stories to a sweet fuck'n'run. This is an entirely new work by a couple of creators past their prime that still has all the failings of modern comics. Conan is pursued for a crime for seven pages, spends three pages negotiating his next heist, eleven pages physically negotiating the terrain toward the spoils, and a final splash setting up the first fight with a creature. The back stories of two new characters are discussed along the way, but otherwise, this was maybe five pages of an old school Conan comic. Sears has panels that rock, but a lot more where he hacks out rubber people with no eyes and dubious anatomy. Colorist Mark Roberts does a good job of covering for the inconsistency, but the contrast between good work and bad is hard to miss. I still prefer Sears to a lot of the guys currently working, especially when he's in storytelling mode, as he is here. Too often, he'd rather inflict a design scheme meant to maximize the resell value of pages while actively sabotaging the narrative (see: Captain America and the Falcon.) The story is boilerplate Conan, enjoyable more for the nostalgia than any inherent worth. It's okay for a modern Conan mini-series, but not something I feel any urge to continue with.

Empowered Special #2 (Dark Horse, 2011, $3.50)
As I've stated in my reviews of every one of the Empowered trades and the other special, this series is among the best on the market, which is why I'm so bitter when an edition is less than great. This was less than great. It's another reasonably priced introduction for theoretical new readers, this time using color and guest artist Emily Warren as an added draw. This is not a cheat, since Adam Warren not only writes the whole thing, but draws fifteen B&W pages to insure those who take the dive into trades know what to expect. Unlike the prior special, there is a fair amount of continuity recap here, setting the tale sometime during or after volume six, with some series spoilers of volume 5. Aside from the recappery, this feels more like a standard Emp story, and so a better taste of the flavor of a full volume. Also, it's a nice Maidman spotlight, who rocks by the way, as possibly the greatest transvestite super-hero ever (apologies to Madam Fatal.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like this this
Not logically



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