Green Lantern Corps #53 (DC Comics)
by Tony Bedard, Tyler Kirkham & Batt
I have to give Tony Bedard credit here for crafting a great new Green Lantern villain and using existing elements and continuity as the foundation for him. The Weaponer has a great gimmick and a great motivation. The Weaponers of Qward have essentially served as little more than cosmic henchmen, never posing a real threat to DC’s heroes over the years. Transforming one of them into an unstoppable force works very well. Furthermore, Bedard’s script is quite accessible. Even if one hadn’t heard of the Weaponers before, one wouldn’t have any trouble following this story. Everything the reader needs to appreciate the plot is to be found in the script. I still find Kyle Rayner to be the least interesting of the Green Lanterns. He seems wholly defined by his romantic relationships these days, and his personality pales in comparison to what we see in such characters as Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner. Still, he works well in the context of this story, though really, almost any GL could’ve stood in in his place in this plot (though he definitely has more vested in the outcome).
Tyler Kirkham’s career essentially started as an artist on various Top Cow Productions books. Since the house style for those comics really doesn’t appeal to me, I wasn’t looking forward to the visual component of this comic book. Fortunately, the over-the-top nature of the antagonist and the action suit his exaggerated style quite well. Furthermore, his portrayal of the one female character in the book isn’t too gratuitously depicted (unlike the variant cover illustrated by Patrick Gleason). One could argue that her brief appearances focus on her cleavage or butt too much, but it really didn’t strike me as such when I was reading this issue. 7/10
Kick-Ass 2 #1 (Marvel Comics/Icon imprint)
by Mark Millar, John Romita Jr. & Tom Palmer
I enjoyed the first Kick-Ass. While it set out to spotlight the impracticalities of super-heroes in the real world and the excesses of the genre, it basically ended up as an enjoyable action story with some unusual characters. I was a bit disappointed in the big-screen version of Millar’s story, as I felt it abandoned the elements that made Kick-Ass unique and even ended up being the kind of story that Millar set out to satirize in the first place. Still, I enjoyed the original comic book enough to follow the sequel. It’s not a perfect comic. Like the first, its attempt to be realistic requires the reader to ignore logic to a certain degree. Still, I like the cultural elements that Millar brings into the story. Furthermore, the promise that he’s going to delve into the psyche of an impressive but clearly damaged little girl really has me hoping that the series as a whole will be something more than a bombastic romp on the edge of the genre. Conflicting themes of Dave’s quest for the extreme and Mindy’s to achieve normalcy.
John Romita Jr.’s rough but fluid style is the perfect style to bring the brutal action of this story to life. I love his portrayal of the rake-thin title character. It conveys just how vulnerable he is, especially in contrast with most of the other characters, which appear to be thick, solid and powerful. In the back of this issue, we get a look at Romita’s “breakdowns,” which are described as loose pencils over which Tom Palmer does “finishes” and ink washes. But Romita’s “loose pencils” are meticulously detailed. His version of breakdowns is much different than what one might find from other artists. That his style shines through so clearly demonstrates that the artist really isn’t taking any shortcuts, even though his schedule (he’s also the regular artist on Avengers) would certainly call for them. 8/10
7 Psychopaths trade paperback (Boom! Studios)
by Fabien Vehlmann & Sean Phillips
It’s getting harder and harder to pigeon-hole Boom! Studios as a publisher. When it debuted, it seemed to be the home of genre anthologies and what I’d describe as “movies on paper,” properties that could be easily adapted into other-media properties, often crafted by people with a background in movies and TV. Lately, it seems like it’s been home to a growing number of super-hero titles and a strong slate of kids-friend licensed comics. But it’s also publishing a number of unexpected and unconventional projects, such as this translation of a European graphic novel that’s never been available in an English-language edition. When one looks at projects such as this and Boom’s re-releases of various J.M. DeMatteis comics, the diversity of its lineup and its contributions to comics culture in general is apparent.
Why Boom! chose to reprint this book is obvious: Sean Phillips. The artist is enjoying a solid following in the North American comics market these days thanks to his collaborations with writer Ed Brubaker (Criminal, Incognito), and he brought the same strength to this absurdist World War II adventure as he did to those creator-owned projects under the Marvel banner. Phillips’ sketchy, intense style is perfectly suited for these damaged “heroes” as they embark on a literally insane mission to assassinate Hitler. Vehlmann’s plot is a lot of fun, though quite dark in its humor and irony. I love that the only real reason the mission isn’t a complete success is that no one counted on the German power structure and strategies to be even more dysfunctional than the madmen sent to bring them all to an end. The story gets a bit fractured and slightly confusing as it nears its end, but it does offer the writer a chance to deliver more than one unexpected twist. Still, the lack of cohesion and focus in the plotting by the end of the book makes it seem a little rushed and scattered. Still, 7 Psychopaths is undeniably entertaining. 7/10
Time Bomb #s 1 & 2
by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Paul Gulacy & Charles Yoakum
Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray offer up a solid action/adventure premise here. The notion that the government would use an experimental time-travel technology to prevent an apocalypse makes a lot of sense. The storytellers presentation of those end-of-the-world circumstances is quite enthralling; the notion that one of the darkest elements of our history would come back to haunt us in a thoroughly horrific manner made for some suspenseful reading. The doomsday scenario and the sci-fi elements are described with a convincing flair that put me in mind of Warren Ellis’ sharp, intelligent dialogue and plotting. Furthermore, the mix of action and archaeology is a lot of fun as well. Unfortunately, for every strength I found in this script, there was a weakness. The pacing seems to get thrown out of whack at times. The opening pages of the first issue seem padded, and the various investigations of the team members in the second issue seem redundant. In other words, it sometimes feels as though the creators are padding out the story. Furthermore, the overall bawdiness of the storytelling intrudes on the story as opposed to adding to it.
I’ve never been a big fan of Paul Gulacy’s work, so this title had that going against it from the start. I find his characters’ faces are too elongated, and that holds true with this effort as well. He certainly manages to achieve a fairly realistic look for this impossible scenario, and he and assistant inker Charles Yoakum do a solid job of establishing a tense, dark atmosphere. I was also impressed with the artist’s depiction of the doomsday virus’ physiological effects. But another problem I have with Gulacy’s art is that he really doesn’t offer much of a variety for body types and faces. Too many characters look far too much alike, and that made it especially difficult to follow all of the action. 5/10
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