Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Is Genre Press Cheapness For All I Care #132

Extinction Seed #0
Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist #1
House of Night #1

Extinction Seed #0 (GG Studio, 2011, $1.99)
To the best of my recollection, this was my first real taste of the wares of GG Studio, and it was much better than I was expecting. Mind, it still wasn't especially good, but I was expecting utter shit. Livia Pastore's art bears the passing resemblance to J. Scott Campbell that appears to be the house style, but packs in far more panels per page to maximize the story space over any flash. The art was shot (are rather scanned) from pencils, which does an excellent job of showing why the industry still needs inkers. I'm of the school that believes there would be no Jim Lee without guys like Scott Williams, Art Thibert and Joe Bennett to polish him up. Despite the efforts of colorist Alessia Nocera to add shadow and weight, the art is marred by an ephemeral quality that comes across more like a bleached out cartoon. There's twelve page of plot threads, but they don't coalesce into a story, very much bringing home the feel of this being a novelty-numbered teaser. If not, the hints of aureola through bathing bubbles and short shorts aplenty should bring it home. There are then five sketch pages of designs for characters never properly introduced, then eight house ads (including a full page advertising the opportunity of future advertisement space to advertisers.) As a whole, the package is serviceable, but insubstantial, which I'd imagine is less of an impression made than hoped for.

Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist #1 (Dynamic, 2011, $1.00)
As the introductory-priced first issue of a mini-series, this was a pretty solid book. As a reintroduction to Flash Gordon for a new generation of potential readers, it's kind of misguided. Alex Ross worships at the alter of the 1980 cult favorite motion picture triumph of production design over-- well, everything but maybe the original soundtrack by Queen. The flick flopped, but it's better remembered than the numerous other attempted revivals over the past thirty years, so why not let Ross do a full adaptation at the den of nostalgia that is Dynamite Entertainment.

Instead, at a time when DC Comics has had surprising success with running screaming from its roots in World War II, Zeitgeist plants Flash Gordon firmly in the realm of period piece. The premise is that the alien conqueror Ming the Merciless sets his sights toward Earth, and presumably contemplates the assistance of Adolph Hitler. That, or some renegades seek Hitler to work against Ming. I honestly read the book a few weeks ago, and forgot which way it went.

Anyway, the book does a nice job of setting the stage, introducing the thinly disguised Yellow Peril menace Ming as a Super-Hirohito usurping Hitler as the axis of the Axis. There are also a bunch of pages with that Gordon guy, who exhibits no real personality and comes across as kind of a pussy protagonist. The only thing worse than his getting forced into an experimental spaceship by Hans Zarkov is how long it takes Flash to wrest control from a tubby middle-aged scientist. Gordon is matched only by the completely useless Dale Arden as worst character in the book. Hitler doesn't get speaking lines, and he's the most overused villain in all known media. Yet, as presented, Flash and Dale are worse than Hitler. Worse. Than.

I've managed to go this long without reading a single Alex Raymond strip adventure, so the only way I can confirm any truth to source material is by saying this issue is exactly like the movie, aside from the period setting. Eric Trautmann's script covers the basics (aside from providing a protagonist of value,) and the art of Daniel Indro is very appealing. Like several of the more recent Dynamite samples, the quality has improved well past the point of my using Dynamite as a punchline, but not quite to the point of paying more than a dollar.

House of Night #1 (Dark Horse, 2011, $1.00)
My girlfriend loves Harry Potter, and I know the movies pretty well through osmosis and some unfortunate direct contact, thanks to those incessant ABC Family weekend marathons. As you may have noted from my tone, I don't care for the stuff, but I respect the basic quality of the work and the fans. I find it much more tolerable than a lot of the other cults out there. When they finally stopped making Potter stuff, my girl decided to give Twilight a try. Thankfully, that didn't take, because that shit was insultingly dumb. I'd already ruined her for it with True Blood anyway, although I would wholeheartedly support some guest appearances by Anna Kendrick, Christian Serratos and Ashley Greene as girlfriends of Jason Stackhouse.

House of Night is like eating a Harry Potter book and a Twilight book and then shitting them both onto pulp stock. Whatever nourishing value either franchise has got absorbed in the small intestine, and House of Night was the refuse reject for use by the body. The comic is based on a series of young adult novels that clearly, calculatingly picked through the bowel movements of J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer looking for edible peanuts. The comic adaptation is therefore like the last body in a Human Centipede of literature that begins with eating the shit of two successful writers. I can't even begin to parse out the cliché laid upon cliché laid upon cliché from such obvious, direct and universally recognized sources. It is the worst elements of both franchises so blatantly stolen that even illiterate Americans who wait for the movies should cry foul. Plus, fuck it, they threw in some of Eric Northman's viking kin, because maybe the kids won't have snuck a peek at True Blood their own selves. The lead is even some fairy sorceress or some shit like the lovechild of Ron Weasley and Sookie Stackhouse. As (poorly) drawn by Joëlle Jones, that somehow equals Dani Moonstar. Given the images conjured by that "If They Mated," probably for the best.

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