Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Quick Critiques – Oct. 26, 2006

Posted by Don MacPherson on October 26th, 2006

7 Brothers #1 (Virgin Comics)
by John Woo, Garth Ennis & Jeevan Kang

I couldn’t resist — though I’m not as taken with his recent works, writer Garth Ennis’s name on a comic book always gets me to pause and take a glance. I’m pleased I did so in this case. This introductory issue is pure setup, but there’s enough going on and enough character elements to pique my interest. This debut issue comes off as a cross between a standard super-hero group gathering plot and a Quentin Tarantino crime script. There’s an emphasis on a much more multicultural cast of characters, and despite space constraints, Ennis’s script allows us to get to know a bit about each of them. What really hooked me on the book is the sense of history and mystery established in the opening scene, flashing back to centuries ago in China. The script and art converge perfectly in that opening sequence. The art puts me in mind of Denys (The Question) Cowan’s art, to a certain degree. The colors help to reinforce the dark, gritty qualities in the main part of the book, but they are outstanding in that opening sequence, really driving home an ancient and historical atmosphere. 7/10

Impaler #1 (Image Comics)
by William Harms, Nick Postic & Nick Marinkovich

Writer William (Abel) Harms crafts a story about a vampire king running rampant through New York City. My initial reaction was, “Oh, another vampire comic.” After reading the issue, my feelings shifted ever so slightly, as I thought, “Oh, another vampire comic with some interesting artwork.” There’s nothing particularly flawed with the story; it’s just that it’s rather familiar. And it’s not just the vampire elements that are cliched. The apparent protagonist of the book is a recently widowed, disheartened cop on the cusp of retirement. I appreciate that Harms is trying to blend the classic vampire horror story with a crime noir sensibility, and he succeeds to a certain extent. But the story in this initial issue is hindered by the lack of fresh ideas. Postic and Marinkovich’s art is a different story. The opening flashback scene features stylized yet convincing art that reminds me a little of Tony Harris’s work from Starman years ago. And the New York scenes with their inky, eerie darkness demonstrate a strong Jae (Inhumans) Lee influence. The depiction of the vampire’s power in the form of a black mist is effectively creepy. 5/10

New Avengers #24 (Marvel Comics)
by Brian Michael Bendis & Pasqual Ferry

Pasqual Ferry was the ideal artist for this issue, as his flowing style and eye for unusual, exotic character design suit the world of the Inhumans perfectly. Though the script’s focus is on the Sentry, visually, the Inhumans steal the show. Ferry’s interpretations of these odd characters not only emphasize the genetic diversity and mutation that are inherent in the concept, but it drives home the completely alien culture of the Moon-dwelling race. The airy, dreamlike look of the art — thanks in part to Dean White’s lovely, ghostly colors — further enhances the god-like qualities of the Inhumans. Where the issue falls short is in the plot. The Sentry’s thoughts about and role in the Super-Hero Civil War seem unnecessary. Bendis sets out to deal with questions that weren’t exactly begging for answers to begin with, and the Sentry’s unusual background and premise, along with the Inhumans’ beef with humanity (thanks to the events of Son of M) get in the way of the plotline that’s crossing over into this title. Furthermore, it’s difficult to accept the Sentry’s decision in the latter part of the issue. His arguments are sound, and Iron Man’s debate points just don’t ring true. 5/10

The Perhapanauts: First Blood trade paperback (Dark Horse Comics)
by Todd DeZago & Craig Rousseau

A new Perhapanauts limited series — Second Chances — debuts this week, so it seems to be a fitting time to check out the first series, collected and released in trade-paperback format earlier this year. DeZago’s premise of a group of supernatural individuals gathered as a government task force is a familiar one; Mike Mignola established the same thing with the B.P.R.D in Hellboy (which spun off into its own series of mini-series). The Perhapanauts is much lighter in tone, focused more on the diverse personalities of the team members than mysteries and unnatural conspiracies. MG, a worldwalker who keeps his past to himself, brings an entertaining and charming degree of mystery to the lineup. Like DeZago’s premise, Rousseau’s artwork demonstrates a strong Mignola influence as well. I was also put in mind of the styles such comic artists as Cory (Invincible) Walker and Paul (Jack Staff) Grist. The character designs are simple but striking, and the design for Choopie captures the mischievous chupacabra’s imp-like nature and energy perfectly. 7/10

Planetary #26 (DC Comics/Wildstorm Productions)
by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday

Ellis and Cassaday’s ambitious exploration of pop culture and comics icons comes to a close with this issue, and the conclusion is somewhat anti-climactic. It’s both clever in the context of the story and somewhat disappointing, given the immense and dazzling ideas that have characterized this series from the start. The downfall of the series antagonist is almost commonplace, but it’s in keeping with Elijah Snow’s perspective and strategy in the story. The story is a little on the inaccessible side, even for those of us who have read every issue, but that’s due in part to the title’s extremely staggered publishing schedule. I suspect this conclusion would read better as part of the final trade paperback of the series. Still, Elijah’s deviousness and supreme yet laid-back confidence prove to be thoroughly entertaining. Cassaday’s artwork is stunning, and it’s easy to see a much stronger level of detail in this book as compared to his contribution to Astonishing X-Men. I don’t mean to say that he works harder on Planetary; it’s just that the nature of the title calls for a slightly different approach, a more mature, convincing and realistic look. 7/10

2 Responses to “Quick Critiques – Oct. 26, 2006”

  1. RadioSilence Says:

    Hey Don, Glad to see that you’re still posting reviews. I think I stumbled across what might’ve been your first website with Randy way back when Thunderbolts #1 first came out. Been enjoying the reviews ever since. Since I don’t read as many comics now as I used to it was always good to get turned onto some titles I might not’ve without your sites over the years.

    As for Planetary I was very underwhelmed with how easy the villains of the piece’s overreaching arc were dispatched. That, and the frequency of the titles publishing, which seemed to come out with less frequency that I got some in high school and college, had me scratching me head about what I had read over the years and how it had call come to a head at the end. That being said, once its fully collected in one of those hardcover absolute editions I’ll gladly go through it all again and probably love it as much as I did when it came out almost monthly.

    Keep up the good work Don.


  2. Don MacPherson Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Omar. I hope you’re aware of Randy’s latest online home, http://www.comicpants.com.