Action Comics #893 - Paul Cornell (w), Sean Chen (a)
Tweeview:- "ActionComics893: great, quirky issue, story is coming along in an interesting way. Sean Chen does a great job with the art"
So this is the next part of Cornell's 'Black Ring' arc, following the exploits of dastardly Lex Luthor instead of the usual adventures of the comics usual hero, Supes.
It's a great little arc, and quite a departure for Lex's usual portrayal too, whilst still somehow remaining loyal to all that's come before.
It's quirky, offbeat and bizarre,often filled with comedy moments (Gorilla Grodd attacking people with a giant spoon stands out). And yet it's a tale of the same obsessive, manipulative and intelligent man we've seen before. It's like looking at the world through a peculiar lens: everything is a little warped, but essentially the same.
Sadly, we don't learn much about the mysterious energy signatures that Lex is following, and that remains a big mystery about the book. In fact, I worry that if we don't learn something significant and soon, the book could fall prey to the mistakes of TV shows like LOST and FLASH FORWARD; i.e. you have to reveal a little each episode, or people get frustrated.
However, we're far from there yet, and the arc is still proving to be loads of fun. And the surprise last page guest appearance is a winner (yes, I knew she was coming, but I thought that was next issue).
We get a new artist this issue too, as Sean Chen takes over. Not sure if it's just as a fill in, or as a new regular artist, but I'm kinda hoping the latter. Chen's work is a lot more interesting and dynamic, and isn't as sparse looking.
That being said, a couple of panels do suffer from being a little...vague. It took me a while to figure out with one panel who the extreme close-up was of, and that ain't great. But it by no means harms the book greatly.
This weird road trip is still a lot of fun.
Marvelous Land of Oz GN - L. Frank Baum/Eric Shanower (w), Skottie Young (a)
Tweeview:- "MarvellousLandofOz: sweet wonderful story, brilliant adaptation. The art is truly lovely too, always suiting the mood."
I've never really read the books. In fact, prior to the graphic novels, my only knowledge of the land of Oz has been from the films. So getting to read these wonderful, sweet stories is a joy, especially in a medium I am especially fond of.
Whilst I am not familiar with the source material, the adaptation seems loyal. Character's and dialogue feel directly lifted from a book, and yet scripted to work in this more graphic medium. As such, there are moments where the dialogue feels a little quaint, as it's so old a series of books.
That being said, I was personally amazed at how progressive and 'modern' the stories are; from pseudo-feminist revolts to transgender modifications, some of the ideas are a genuine surprise considering when they came from. However, there's always something in the story that ground it in the time it was made, and that just serves to make the fairy tale all the more sweet.
The art from Skottie Young is, as with the first novel, brilliant. The man is at the top of his game, and clearly loves drawing these stories, so it makes it even more of a pleasure to read them. In fact, all in all, this wonderfully presented package makes me eagerly await the next one.
X-Men Legacy #240 - Mike Carey (w), Clay Mann (a)
Tweeview: "X-MenLegacy240: Art has been better but does show some inspired storytelling. Story itself great but mostly for wedding scene"
This is a pretty competent and strong middle issue plot wise, however it feels that most of the plot is designed to get us to and through a wedding scene unlike many others seen in American comics.
It's a nice presentation. It's done in such a way as to not cast any judgement on the ceremonies and practices of another culture that may seem alien and wrong to some readers (whose voices are reflected by the opinions of certain characters), but shows respect to this culture. It does feel a little out of place given the situation; the situation is dire, and it seems anyone truly concerned about friends wouldn't care who was in their way to go save them, so it seems odd that the remaining characters go through with the wedding quicker. Also, given the revelation towards the end of the scene, that one character's motivations do seem odd. Why bother? When they suggest moving the wedding forward, why wouldn't they just reveal the truth of the situation then?
(If this doesn't make any sense, it's because I'm trying to avoid spoilers. This arc has been really good so far, so I hope everyone is reading it).
The main downfall of this issue is the art. It's by no means bad. In fact, I'm really enjoying Clay Mann's work, he has a wonderful sense of drama and positioning in his panels, and his action sequences are movie-like. However, in this issue a couple of pages looked rushed; slightly edgier and rougher than usual, and in some cases lines looked blurry as though they were badly copied or enlarged digitally. Maybe I have a funky print of the issue, but it didn't seem like a one off thing.
Otherwise it's great fun to read, and Magneto still has some brilliant characterisation from Carey, and some fun lines. Also, there's a sequence with a brilliant panel structure that moves along dual plot lines with ease, and almost works better than having a caption saying 'Meanwhile...'
RED - Warren Ellis (w), Cully Hamner (a)
Tweeview:- "RED: Fantastic use of panels to convey speed and urgency, and a neat little thriller story. Wish it was longer though"
So, yes, I seem to be a little late in discovering this, but what with the upcoming film, I decided I should read it. Which is odd, because if the trailers are anything to go by, the book is completely different.
In fact, it comes across that the book is the germ of an idea that someone went wild with for the film. I just hope the film will turn out half as good.
Anyway, RED is a fantastic, if typical Warren Ellis book. Nothing new here if you're a fan of Ellis' work (which I most assuredly am), so if you're a fan who like me has missed this one, you must get it. If for whatever insane reason (brain weasels?) you are not a fan of Ellis, then you may not dig RED for anything other than the art.
That's a thing see. The art in this book is so fantastic and slick that it's impossible to not like it. It's some of Hamner's best work, and this is from a couple of years ago now. Also, he uses panels with a deft knowledge of conventions, managing to emphasise the speed and frantic sense of the action sequences through subtle changes in panel layout and style.
Story wise, as I mentioned, it's pretty typical. A damn fine thriller, but perhaps a little obvious at times if you've read a lot of Ellis' other work. It is sadly also far too short. I would have loved to see more of the character's, even the spineless ones, and learned more about them and their personalities. Sadly, we feel like we're only just getting to really know them by the time this ends. However, we certainly give a damn about them, which given how short this is damn fine work.
If the film manages to keep some of the same beats and themes of the book, then it will be good watching indeed.