Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wednesday Is Magical For All I Care #144

Ragemoor #1
Saga #1
Smoke And Mirrors #1

Ragemoor #1 (Dark Horse, 2012, $3.50)
Jan Strnad and Richard Corben have been working together forever, but I never really followed them as a team or individually. They seem to compliment one another here, unsurprisingly. This is your basic Hammer horror haunted house action, except with a way bigger CGI budget toward the end. The story is solid for what it is, and ends well enough that I'm satisfied with it as a single serving with no burning desire to read three issues of continuation. The art is fucking sweet though, even/especially in black & white.

Saga #1 (Image, 2012, $2.99)
People have been lining up to suck Brian K. Vaughan's dick for years, but I've rarely made it past a single trade (Ex Machina, Y: The Last Man.) I guess I got through his Runaways, but only because I was getting the books for free and they were breezy reads. The only thing that really blew me away was Pride of Baghdad, which had tons of heart and was thoroughly compelling.

Saga #1 offered 44 pages of story for just $3, and is easily the closest thing I've read to meeting the quality of Pride. There are four splash pages, a spread, and several half-splashes that are all essential to the effectiveness of the presentation and are balanced by other panels heavy with content. The leads are immediately likeable and sympathetic. The story starts mise-en-scène, beginning an express train of plot while filling in the necessary background as the reader moves through the pages. The basic premise seems to be a galactic war between magic and science, but it isn't as simple or hacky as that sounds. There's nudity, cursing and sexual situations within the context of a mature title, meaning that it targets intelligent adult audiences rather than pandering to prurient interests. There's nothing new here, but where is this fountain of originality you speak of? I just want tales well told, and this book is off to a spectacular start. Fiona Staples' art is easy on the eyes and perfectly suited to the material. Her painted cover is instantly iconic, and I could see this being the next Walking Dead. With talent like this firing on all cylinders, I look forward to buying the first trade, and hopefully progressing from there. For me, Vaughan may finally be living up to the hype.

Smoke And Mirrors #1 (IDW, 2012, $3.99)
This book is kind of like the anti-Saga. It depicts a world virtually identical to our own, but runs on magical energy instead of electricity. There's still iPods and cars and security guards in button-up tees, but they just require crystals and chakras and shit. It's 22 pages for four bucks that ends just as things start to pick up. The characters are totally functional, but uninspired and not especially lifelike. There's some fairly dense tracts of dialogue to plow through that belabor points rather than adding value. The art by Ryan Browne is serviceable, and writer Mike Costa seems really into his concept, but it doesn't translate into any high water mark for reading enjoyment. This book is resoundingly okay, it was fine while I was reading it, and I will never buy another issue.

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