It may be St. Patrick’s Day, but this installment of my capsule reviews doesn’t seem to boast any Irish content. Instead, I offer thoughts on the latest issues of Eternity Girl, Ghostbusters: Crossing Over, Mister Miracle and Postal: Laura.
by Magdalene Visaggio & Sonny Liew
I was intrigued by the meta-qualities of the Eternity Girl backup stories in the various “Milk Wars” one-shots and knew I’d have to read the new series. The title character exhibits an odd amalgam of influences. The title suggests a link to DC’s Kid Eternity character, but the design evokes comparison to Element Girl and Ultra the Multi-Alien, another couple of obscure DC-owned properties. Like other Young Animal titles, this is an intellectual foray into the fringes of the super-hero genre and its more surreal leanings; there’s a strong existential bent to the protagonist’s journey here. But what impressed me the most about the book is how easy it is to relate to Caroline. She’s lost and isolated, spurned by the employer to whom she’s dedicated her life. She’s immersed in depression and ennui. She’s at a low point in her impossible life, and who can’t see something of themselves in that?
Sonny Liew’s distorted style suits the bizarre physical qualities of the title character, and despite the simplicity of his linework and designs, he conveys the incredible and even disturbing nature of Caroline’s form and powers convincingly. But again, what grabbed me about the art, like the script, was the humanity Liew instills in Caroline. Her sullen, sunken eyes speak to her pain. We’ve seen those eyes in the mirror, so the reader can empathize with her with ease. 8/10
by Erik Burnham & Dan Schoening
I think a lot of people gave the female-led reboot of Ghostbusters too hard a time; my wife and I had an absolutely blast at the movies when we watched it. So imagine my surprise when I decided to check out one of IDW’s licensed Ghostbusters comics and found one of the characters — arguably, the best of those Ghostbusters — in the same world as the originals. I love the concept of Ghostbusters from other dimensions, and Erik Burnham’s detailing of how the original Ghostbusters “franchise” has evolved — with the involvement of Walter Peck, to boot! — worked pretty well. Now, one needs to have seen the various Ghostbusters flicks to follow along here, but who’s reading this comic without having seen the movies? However, there’s still an accessibility problem here. I don’t really get the roles of Ghostbuster engineer Ron and his pal Jimmy; I have no attachment to these characters, as they’re key in this story. Holtzmann’s obviously been hanging around these guys for a bit, and I felt out of the loop. This is billed as a first issue, but it doesn’t read as such.
Dan Schoening’s exaggerated cartooning works pretty well with these over-the-top characters, though he doesn’t exactly ape the house style of the 1980s Real Ghostbusters cartoon here. I love his interpretation of Holtzmann, but his take on Egon Spengler is pretty much unrecognizable. The artist certainly captures the wild hijinks and chaos of the Ghostbusters in action with a classic ghost-catching job. The colors are sharp but not overly bright, and the letters are crisp. Solid visuals overall. 6/10
by Tom King & Mitch Gerads
I think this may be the best issue of this highly hailed series thus far — it’s definitely my favorite — and I think any parent who’s been through the ordeal of child labor at a hospital will agree. Despite the chaos that can whirl around the birthing process, there’s a lot of downtime. Frustration and fear seem ever-present. King’s script here rings true, but it’s also incredibly funny. The notion that Barda’s “family” would show up at the hospital when she’s in labor is ludicrous but wonderful. I love how these twisted creatures put aside their enmity and evil to be there for someone that means so much to them. Furthermore, the idea that some of the weirder branches of one’s family tree would show up uninvited to such an intimate and vulnerable moment in a couple’s life is thoroughly believable (even “relatives” as extreme as those who turn up here). The baby-name exchanges are fantastic, and I love how King uses them to juxtaposes the brutal, impossible background of these characters with the everyday reality of the experience they’re having.
Gerads captures labor and birth events just as adeptly as King’s script. He captures the cramped and crowded quality of a delivery room, the antiseptic, colorless rooms and the discomfort of impending motherhood. I was particularly impressed with the unsettlingly grey color he uses for the new baby, because newborns are often that bleak color at the start. Gerads’ depictions of Barda’s “family” are probably my favorite of his interpretations of the New Gods in this series thus far, but perhaps that stems from his adherence to the classic Kirby designs in the mundane setting of a hospital waiting room. 9/10
by Bryan Hill & Isaac Goodhart
After being blown away the strength and dark intensity of the Postal: Mark one-shot last month, I was eagerly anticipating this followup, and it didn’t disappoint. Events in the criminal haven of Eden have lurched forward in time. Laura Shiffron is no longer the mayor of the town, and her son, Mark, has ascended to the role (rendering the “Postal” part of the title a bit moot). The focus here isn’t on conflict with the town’s corrupt founder (Mark’s father), but rather than chaos that arises when one populates an entire community with unstable or unsavory elements. But the plot is ultimately about order being brought to that chaos, and that Mark’s and Maggie’s roles in imposing that order appears to reward them with the order they seek, with the sense of normalcy they desire. Eden is the quaint little town that isn’t what it actually appears to be, so the reasons for the new management in the community aren’t what they seem to be either. The ending is a surprisingly soothing response to the harshness of what comes before it. Again, I’m fascinated by Eden, despite not having read the series that gave rise to these one-shots. Maggie stands out as the most compelling and admirable of the characters, given her strength, acceptance and determination to carve out the sort of life she wants.
Isaac Goodhart’s realistic approach to comic art is a great fit for this title. For the horror that lurks within Eden and within the lives of Mark and Maggie to be convincing, it has to look fairly real. Goodhart’s art is a bit more exaggerated in the ugliest of the scenes, but that bolsters the madness and monstrousness of that moment. 8/10