Destroyer #1 (Marvel Comics/Max Comics imprint)
by Robert Kirkman & Cory Walker
I didn’t know what to expect from this limited series, but the fact that the creative force behind is the same one that gave us Invincible was all I needed to know to make the decision to pick it up. After reading the first issue, I find I’m quite torn. The over-the-top violence and the title character’s casual attitude toward it were more than a little off-putting. This sort of extreme approach to the super-hero genre can work if approached correctly; a similar depiction of violence worked well in Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s NextWave, for example. But Destroyer isn’t a satire or a comedy. It’s a drama. I found Keene Marlow’s struggle to come to terms with his mortality and what it means for the people around him to be incredibly compelling. I just couldn’t see how the reflective, sensitive man we get to know in his private life could be the man who clearly relishes violence once he dons a mask and costume. Mind you, I so much want to learn more about the man, I’m willing to put up with the monster… for now.
Walker’s artwork is crisp and slickly stylized. His efforts here remind me of the kind of energy and personality one can find in Cully (Black Lightning: Year One) Hamner’s art. He conveys Keene’s age quite well without making him seem feeble. I like that he crafts him as a stout, solid powerhouse of a man. Walker’s design for the title character’s wife represents a nice balance of ordinary and extraordinary. My one qualm about the visual side of the book (aside from the gore) is the actual design for the title’s protagonist. I know it’s in keeping with his classic look, but it’s so Skrull-like, I wonder if it might not confuse some of Marvel’s newer readers who are unfamiliar with this obscure property. 6/10
The Flash: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)
by Geoff Johns & Ethan Van Sciver
There’s a lot to like in this first issue. The murder plot that serves to open the story is intriguing. Barry Allen’s appreciation for a world that seems to move at light speed, thanks to new gadgets and more hectic lifestyles, is a nice spin on the usual reaction of the hero-back-from-the-dead. I also like the fact that Barry’s return has not only brought joy into the lives of those around him, but it’s also brought confusion and resentment. Despite the strengths in the plotting and characterization, the story suffers under the weight of all of the history that Johns wants to acknowledge here. His enthusiasm for the Flash mythology is evident, but the plot and script he’s devised as a result is too dense and complex. He tries to include as much exposition as possible, but there’s just too much ground to cover.
The overwhelming nature of the Flash’s history and the sheer numbers of his allies and enemies impacts the art as well. Ethan Van Sciver has a hyper-detailed, meticulous style, like those of George (Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds) Perez and Phil (Amazing Spider-Man) Jimenez. Every page is just too cramped with information. I also found it odd that the darker, harsher new villains that have been introduced into the Flash’s world in recent years have been elevated to the some kind of campy, colorful status as the classic Rogues in the Flash Museum scenes. It seems to me this creative team’s last landmark resurrection series — Green Lantern: Rebirth — was more straightforward than this and therefore more engaging. 6/10
Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye #1 (DC Comics/Vertigo imprint)
by Grant Morrison & Cameron Stewart
If you thought Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis was confusing, wait until you read Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye. Mind you, Morrison’s adoption of a thoroughly surreal approach for this new project is far more purposeful, and it should come as no surprise, given that the first Seaguy series was similarly dizzying. The Slaves of Mickey Eye is perplexing, disjointed and odd, and it’s also glorious. I don’t get the full meaning of everything Morrison is trying to say and accomplish here, but a big part of the message is clearly a critique of western society and how it’s allowed corporate culture to co-opt how we perceive truth and reality. Furthermore, Morrison continues to explore characters and terrain that seem to be his take on the kind of weird and wonderful commentary that the late Jack Kirby offered with his Fourth World comics from DC in the 1970s. If the New Gods lived in the Fourth World, Seaguy, She-Beard and these other characters live on the Sixty-Fourth World. (Sixty-four is four cubed. It’s junior-high math, people; try to keep up.)
The last major work we saw from Cameron Stewart was The Other Side, his Viet Name war story collaboration with writer Jason Aaron. He brought a sharper level of detail to bear on that project, and with his return to Seaguy’s world, he adapts his style once again. There’s a simpler look at play here that’s in keeping with the wide-eyed, innocent super-hero concepts that are blended with the bizarre acid-trip plotting. Stewart’s designs are fantastic. The contents of the Cabinet of the Cryptosaurs look incredibly cool, and Prof. Silvan Niltoid looks like he could have been plucked from an issue of All-Star Superman. The thick linework and weird amalgam approach to character designs are also in keeping with Kirby’s mad ideas of the ’70s. 8/10