Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Quick Critiques – Jan. 8, 2010

Posted by Don MacPherson on January 8th, 2010

Variant coverBlackest Night #6 (DC Comics)
by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert & Joe Prado

This stands out as the strongest issue of the series thus far, and the reason is that it’s the most fun issue of the series to date. The assembly of the leaders of the various color corps is fun enough as it is, but by the end of the issue, Johns introduces us to new members of each of the various corps. It’s the sort of concept we’ve been waiting for ever since Johns first dabbled in the notion of Lanterns of Many Colors. I was also pleased that while this event is, at its core, a Green Lantern story, Johns still makes plenty of room for the diverse array of colorful characters of the DC Universe. The only problem with his script is the Atom/Mera/Jean Loring scene. That scene first got underway in a Blackest Night tie-in comic (Adventure Comics #5), and picking up on that thread here is bound to confuse those who didn’t peruse that tangential comic. Furthermore, I really don’t see how that subatomic trip into a Black Lantern ring added much to the story in the first place.

Ivan Reis offers up some strong designs throughout this issue. The Black Lantern looks for some of the more iconic DC heroes are quite striking, especially those for Wonder Woman and Green Arrow, as are those for the new lanterns that arise at the end of the issue. I also enjoyed how Reis shifts the Atom from his classic, Silver Age look to something more akin to his barbarian mode from the 1980s. The action also unfolds nicely; the art conveys the hectic and urgent quality of the plot but it’s never confusing either. Colorist Alex Sinclair also maintains a nice balance between the dark tone inherent in the undead antagonists and the colorful energy of the various lanterns. 8/10

Dingo #1 coversDingo #s 1 & 2 (Boom! Studios)
by Michael Alan Nelson & Francesco Biagini

Before I sat down to read these two comics, I had no idea what the premise was. Judging from the title and the cover artwork for the first issue, I had thought I was in for some kind of post-apocalyptic adventure story featuring yet another cliched, bad-ass protagonist. That wasn’t the case, and I was drawn in by the originality of the premise and moreso by the mysterious way in which the writer slowly reveals what the story is really about. Dingo is an action movie crossed with a soap opera crossed with classic mythology (or least a convincing facsimile thereof). The title is only the central hero’s nickname and really doesn’t seem to have much to do with the plot or the behemoth dog that he befriends along his quest. And now that I’ve typed that last sentence, I see what Dingo is meant to be: a classic quest story set in the context of Americana.Dingo #2 covers

I definitely enjoyed the first issue more, as it introduces a number of mysteries. What’s in the box? What happened in Indiana? Why is Dingo’s family seemingly blessed? And what is Dingo’s ex-wife meant to be feared so? Just about every character is an enigma, and that’s definitely part of the fun and appeal of Nelson’s plot.

Biagini’s artwork serves the story pretty well. There’s a slightly gritty edge, but overall, the linework is crisp, bright and clear. His work here reminds me a bit of the style of Norm (Anarky, Prime) Breyfogle, but only subtly. The most captivating visual is Dingo’s canine companion, Cerberus, and the reason is clear. Sure, he’s a huge, imposing presence when he appears, but how the artist really sets the dog apart is by drenching him in darkness. He’s a walking shadow in an otherwise brightly “lit” book. Biagini’s design for Cerberus reminds me of the sort of fare we saw from Kelley Jones in his classic run on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (the “Season of Mists” story arc). 7/10

Tokyopop Presents: King City #4 (Image Comics)
by Brandon Graham

I continue to be amazed that there’s not a greater outpouring of love among comics readers online for Graham’s King City, but my hope is that once this series starts offering new material (instead of reprinted chapters from the King City Vol. 1 graphic novel of 2007 (which earned praise aplenty), people will start paying attention and talking about it again. To be honest, it’s been so long since I read that original graphic novel, this all felt new and fresh to me. Even so, I appreciate that he offers new material in the form of a two-page backup strip for those of us who’ve read this stuff before. The soft, smooth edges of Graham’s cartoony linework nevertheless manage to convey a world that’s both exotic and dangerous while instilling every corner, no matter how dark, with a sense of wonder and fantasy. His female figures are tremendous attractive, even if they are exaggerated. His ability to infuse them with sexuality and sensuality is remarkable, and more importantly, he makes them seem truly beautiful rather than simply titillating. His urban landscapes are quite edgy, and despite the futuristic setting, they’ve thoroughly convincing.

My favorite scene in this issue is Pete’s struggle with his own predicament. He’s falling for the mysterious merwoman he’s supposed to deliver to likely nefarious men, and he’s torn as to what to do. What I enjoyed about this element of the story the most was the fact that Pete is fully aware of why he’s drawn to this creature. He’s aware of his emotions, but he also doesn’t ignore them. He’s both intellectual about his situation and sentimental at the same time.

Reading King City and following characters such as our slacker-kid cat master and the masked Pete as they embark upon their capers remind me of my youth, as I followed a friend into weird and intimidating places that opened my eyes to the existence of a whole other world lying underneath the one I knew. It’s like that visit to an after-hours club where you don’t really belong, but in which you manage to have an incredible night that serves as the fodder for a story you’ll be telling for the rest of your life. King City takes its readers to that place, where one’s wide-eyed wonderment is mixed with a sense of intimidation. 10/10

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6 Responses to “Quick Critiques – Jan. 8, 2010”

  1. Botch the Crab Says:

    Personally, I think it might not have been the best decision for King City to start a new series by reprinting the old stuff… because as much as I enjoyed the old stuff, I have no incentive to pick it up a second time. And I don’t know for sure when new material will start. And if other existing fans of the first King City releases are like me, it means this new series lost out on its built-in audience right off the bat.

  2. Don MacPherson Says:

    Botch wrote:
    I don’t know for sure when new material will start.

    I’m told it begins with issue #7.

  3. Tim Says:

    Okay, now I’m regretting not getting into King City earlier. I have to wait for the trade now.

  4. Don MacPherson Says:

    You could always track down a copy of the Tokyopop graphic novel, Tim. I know copies are for sale on Amazon.

  5. Dave Lynch Says:

    Don, I would to know your opinion on Marvel offering one free Siege #3 Deadpool Variant for every 50 striped titles (those titles being specific Blackest Night tie-ins that came with those plastic rings). Is it a genius move by Marvel since it finds out how much DC actually sold with those titles or is it rather mean-spirited. If DC said they sold a lot of those titles, I suppose they shouldn’t worry.

  6. Don MacPherson Says:

    Though it’s not really on topic, my reaction to the Marvel variant offering for excess BN tie-ins comics was that it was a stupid move. Sure, it creates ill will in the industry and among readers, but more importantly, Marvel is basically ensuring that a a potentially risky investment in a number of DC titles proves to be profitable for retailers. By linking its promotion to DC’s product, Marvel is essentially supporting its biggest competitor, in my view.