Friday, June 29, 2012

Wednesday Is Sci-Fry For All I Care #153

Higher Earth #1
Star Trek TNG/Dr. Who #1
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #1

Higher Earth #1 (BOOM! Studios, 2012, $1.00)
Some people and a robot bear fight in a junkyard before two of them jump to a parallel Earth for the last three pages. Sigh. I waited too long to review this book. I was really fucking pissed right after I read it, so that review would have been more entertaining. This is the kind of comic where no characters are properly introduced, there's oodles of cryptic references to stuff that isn't revealed, but the "high concept" premise is laid out, by which I mean it's Sliders with swordplay. Francesco Biagini has an appealing art style, but his storytelling leaves a lot to be desired. For instance, there's an antagonist (random cannon fodder) who probably falls from some sort of height, or maybe into a pit of some kind, which is full of hotness or light or negative space or something. Colorist Andrew Crossley tries to compensate, and he has a nice enough palate, but meh. Sam Humphries has written several books in a row that I wanted to crumple up and throw away because they were so poorly crafted, so I'm thinking that I'm not going to buy anything from him again, even at this low price point. It only encourages him, like the lymphatic system encourages the spread of cancer throughout a host.

Star Trek: The Next Generation / Doctor Who: Assimilation2 #1 (IDW, 2012, $3.99)
The first seven pages of this issue were like an exceptionally violent prologue to an episode of TNG, and then the crew doesn't show up until a final page splash reveal. The rest of it was Doctor Who, and I had no problem with that. I watched a good chunk of the TNG series when it went into daily syndication, followed several further Trek series, and saw almost all of their mostly awful feature films. Those guys are pretty rigid in their formula and characterization.

Meanwhile, I've only gotten into Who fairly recently, and if only by virtue of the regular rotation of Doctors and companions, the concept seems a lot more fresh and exciting to me. To this casual fab, Scott & David Tipton seem to have a good ear for their dialogue, and the Who crew had a fun self-contained mini adventure to start things off right. The closing was also very appropriate for both series. Despite not having yet encountered them personally, I recognize the Cybermen (though I had to Google their name,) and it was cute seeing them alongside the Borg.

My one complaint is with the art of J.K. Woodward, who photo-references the TV characters to within an inch of their lives. Everything else looks like one of those Innovation comics from the '90s that tried to coast on the painted art boom by slapping it over underwhelming amateur pencils. The result was like watching a deadeyed Bob Zemeckis mo-cap feature on a washed out lo-def screen. Regardless, the quality of the book and its presentation overall lived up to the issue's price tag.

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison #1 (Dark Horse, 2012, $3.50)
I wouldn't go so far as to say it pains me, but it is disconcerting to find myself enjoying a Star Wars comic. Between the prequels and all the expanded universe junk, I wasn't sure going in if I even had the capacity to have a positive experience. It helped that this is set firmly in a time period none too far removed from A New Hope, and took advantage of familiarity with in-jokes that actually hit home and served the greater narrative. The characters and circumstances are interesting in and of themselves, without relying on encyclopedic Warsie knowledge. The art by Agustin Alessio gets everything right, offering big budget cinematic visuals with realistic detail, but not sacrificing a sense of life in motion. His style is reminiscent of Gene Ha, but more fluid and fleshed out. Haden Blackman hits all the right notes for the opening chapter in a mini-series, offering a satisfying installment that establishes his characters and ends on a sound hook.

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