Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Eye on the Eisners: Flashbacks

Posted by Don MacPherson on June 1st, 2012

The 2012 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are set to be presented in about a month and a half. Earlier this month, I posted a review of one of the nominated works, having just picked it up a short while before. Of course, I’ve written about a lot of comics released in 2011, and I figured this would be a good time to reproduce some relevant comments and link back to the original reviews of what would turn out to be Eisner-nominated work.

This is but a small sample of some strong work that was done in the field in 2011, and all of the nominated works and creators are worth checking out.

On Brandon Graham’s “The Speaker” and Dark Horse Presents,
nominated for Best Short Story and Best Anthology, respectively

From a capsule review of Dark Horse Presents #7 : “… With features as strong as Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy Versus the Aztec Mummy” and Brandon Graham’s “The Speaker,” this issue of Dark Horse Presents stands out as superb. Graham’s contribution was what drew me back to the series; I think I may be transforming in a Brandon Graham completist. His work here is full of the same sort of punny, sci-fi concepts that made King City so much fun, along with the same poignant, down-to-earth commentary on the human experience that allows his semi-surreal storytelling to resonate. Mignola’s brief, opening vignette is low on plot and resonance, but the monster-fighting action and dark, gothic imagery more than make up for it.”

On Daredevil, nominated for Best Continuing Series and Best Single Issue,
written by Best Writer nominee Mark Waid,
and illustrated by Best Artist and Cover Artist nominee Marcos Martin
and Best Art Team nominees Paolo Rivera & Joe Rivera

From a review of Daredevil #1: “I have to admit I was surprised that Marvel opted to get Daredevil back in the game so quickly, but any chance to get a new Mark Waid-penned comic every month is one I welcome. Waid takes the character in a new direction, focusing on a brighter, more traditional approach to the title character that’s in keeping with his early, Silver Age adventures. On the other hand, he doesn’t ignore what’s come before. The dark, difficult elements from the Bendis, Brubaker and Diggle runs on the character in recent years are acknowledged here. Waid wisely doesn’t ignore what’s come before.”

From a review of Daredevil #6: “Martin’s artwork is deceptive in its simplicity. He brings together basic shapes to convey fantastic figures, and it’s almost like he’s assembled bits of iconography to tell the story at times. I was particularly taken with his portrayal of Daredevil’s senses underwater, his detection of his opponent’s weakness and the unusual perspectives he employs in the hero’s showdown with the representatives of the five criminal organizations with which he must contend at the end of the issue. The Steve Ditko influence in his work remains apparent, but I was also put in mind of the style of David (Batman: Year One, Asterios Polyp) Mazzuchuelli.”

On Criminal: Last of the Innocent, nominated for Best Limited Series,
illustrated by Best Cover artist nominee Sean Phillips

From a review of Last of the Innocent #1: “While (writer Ed) Brubaker entertains with his deconstruction of the classic Archie characters, what the story is really about is how one lives life. Here, Riley has opted for an easy life. While he denies it, he’s clearly in part drawn to Felix because of her money. He marries for convenience, not for love. It’s not to say that he never felt anything for her, but that she represented what he wanted to reject: his small-town life. Riley wanted out of his own past, but now, he wants back in, away from the dark place he inhabits now. The problem is that he’s using the ugliness in which he’s been immersed as a means to achieve his ends.”

On Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance, nominated for Best Limited Series

From a capsule review of Knight of Vengeance #2: “I don’t know if the next (and final) issue in this limited series will bring some kind of finality to the characters’ stories, but if the title character survives, DC would be crazy not to publish more stories featuring this incarnation of Batman (and other alternate Flashpoint heroes) in the future. Yes, I know the publisher has a line-wide relaunch coming in September, but the concepts that DC’s writers and editors have come up with for some of these characters in Flashpoint are too good to just throw away altogether. Knight of Vengeance stands out as the strongest of all of the event spinoff titles, due in no small part to the talents of the creators.”

On Who Is Jake Ellis?, nominated for Best Limited Series

From a capsule review of Jake Ellis #2: “While the book is strong visually, it’s the core premise that really draws one into the book. The series title gets to the heart of what keeps the reader engaged and interested. Sure, Jon Moore’s desperate bid to escape his pursuers, both seen and unseen, is riveting, but it’s the mystery of the nature of his invisible ally that’s truly engrossing. I like that the protagonist thinks he has it all figured out, and his suppositions are logical ones as well. But they don’t necessarily explain everything the reader sees. I love that writer Nathan Edmondson keeps us guessing, and honestly, I’m pleased to keep guessing for some time. This is a five-issue limited series, but my hope is that this is the first such series in a number of Jake Ellis stories to come. The concept is just too strong to be discarded a few months from now.”

On Ivy, nominated for Best Graphic Album – New,
by Best Writer/Artist nominee Sarah Oleksyk

From the full review of the graphic novel: “Ivy feels as though her friends have shunned her (and they have, to a certain extent), and it’s something I think we all go through at some point. I know I have, and so to me, Oleksyk’s script and plot really ring true. The pettiness and social politics of high school are also familiar — unfortunately, the same sort of dynamics can arise in many workplaces. And Ivy’s excitement over her connection with Josh — although it’s artificial, thanks to his charm and manipulations — is easily relatable as well. I’m married to a wonderful woman, and our relationship started out as a long-distance thing as well. My point is this: one needn’t connect with Ivy through one’s teens years. Though it focuses on a teenager’s coming of age, it’s an adult story too in a lot of ways. There’s a nice balance between chaos and serenity, between trivial drama and real crises.”

On Cullen Bunn, nominated for Best Writer

From a capsule review of The Sixth Gun #9: “This supernatural western adventure series continues to entertain and impress. Part of that is due to the fun and dark notion of six cursed, evil weapons of power, but one can’t underestimate the effectiveness of Bunn’s character concepts. Each character he’s introduced over the course of this series has proven to be colorful and compelling, even some of the more malevolent, gimmicky villains. … One also has to give Bunn credit for including so much exposition in the script; even if one hasn’t been following this series from the start, there’s enough information in the dialogue for a newer reader to understand and appreciate the plot in this chapter of the ongoing story.”

Voting for the Eisners ends Monday.

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