“The concept is simple. Take a blank sheet with nothing but the basic outline of a pinup girl and illustrate a unique scene around her.”
This is brilliant. All images are from Do It Yourself Doodler by David Jablow, published by Adhouse Books.
History of mankind by Milo Manara.
Going into this series I knew that Sean Murphy’s philosophical views would disagree with mine drastically. I picked up the first issue undeterred. I have no problem with a different point of view and the premise of the series intrigued me. The first three issues of this series were nigh flawless, but with issue four some cracks start to show.
Murphy’s own atheist dogma comes to the forefront, which wouldn’t be a problem as he’s stated in interviews this was the point of the series. However it’s done in a rather inartistic manner, coming off as little more than exposition. Chris turns off the filters of his holographic classroom, and is inundated with nothing but the horribleness all religion has caused. Again, if that’s what Murphy believes and this is the story he wants to use to tell it, that’s all fine and dandy, but some subtlety would be nice. Instead those pages are nothing more than an atheist tract. There’s also some exposition regarding the history of the IRA, but that is done with a little more skill.
The other part of the story which was bothersome was a bit of the plot based on coincidence. Chris escapes the J2 program and just happens to stumble on one of his favorite punk bands holding open auditions for a new lead singer. What happened to their old lead singer? He became a fundamentalist Christian and started to believe punk music was evil. The entire sequence is groan inducing.
Aside from those hiccups the fate of Chris’s mom and his eventual escape are interesting. We also continue to follow Thomas and learn more about is past.
Murphy’s art remains incredible and one the absolute highlights of this series. Stylistic and dynamic, he’s able to cram a ton of detail into each panel without sacrificing storytelling or clarity. The clerk at my LCS stated he hopes the series is one day collected in a colored edition. I actually, do not. The starkness of the black and white not only enhances Murphy’s, but also enhances the gritty violent nature of his story.
Huh!?? Now why would Marvel go to all the trouble to create guardians of the galaxy mugs with exclusive Joe Quesada artwork for New York Comicon??
Talon #0 spins out of the Court of Owls “sort of” crossover, which ran through the Bat Books earlier this year. Jumping back and forth between the present and past we’re told the origin of Calvin Rose. Rose escapes from an abusive father (the third such father this week (see also Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #14 and Mind the Gap #5)), eventually joining Haly’s Circus an escape artist. Soon he is recruited and then raised by the Court of Owls from a young age and groomed to become their go to assassin. The story reveals Rose’s reason for leaving the Owls and shows that attempting to do so is an ongoing process.
Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV script nicely plays to the themes of escape and redemption. Given his past, Talon could’ve easily been made into an anti-hero or a killer with a sense of justice, but this is luckily avoided. That’s not to say the Rose isn’t without his misdeeds while under the influence of the Owls. I’m not sure where Snyder and Tynion IV intend to take the story, but it’d be interesting to see what came of Talon’s first would be victims. More interesting if they become reoccurring cast members. The script relays heavily on first person narrative boxes, which tend to be a bit overwrought and too dense. For the most part the story flows naturally and is easy to follow, despite it’s time jumping. Rose’s connection to Haly’s Circus, the same circus that a young Dick Grayson was a part of, is a thread from the Court of Owls and serves to tie this new character into the larger Bat mythos.
This is my introduction to the art of Gullem March, and I quite like what I’ve seen. While sketchy in places, his lines are all seem deliberate and it doesn’t come across rushed. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Andy Kubert when inked by Joe Kubert. It was only while writing this review that I noticed the colors are by Tomeu Morey whose work has impressed me in the past, especially on Hawkeye: Blind Spot for Marvel. DC would do well to keep him paired with March.
DC’s plan for the Bat Books seems to be to allow Scott Snyder to come up with a multi issue story for Batman and then turn it into a “sort of” crossover. This gives any such event the feel of a cash grab or at least a bit forced. As such, I wasn’t sure if this ongoing was completely necessary, but Tynion IV and company have proven there are still stories to come out of Court of Owls. It should be interesting to watch this title progress over the coming months.
Mind the Gap has been one of the most consistent titles of the last five months of its existence. The title is an ongoing (attempted) murder mystery at heart, with elements of soap opera and the supernatural mixed in. The story focuses on Elle Peterssen and her attack in a New York subway, which has left her unconscious. Elle’s mind still exists in “The Garden,” a plane between life and death where she’s able to commute with others in the same or similar situation. In the real world we follow Elle’s friends, family, and the doctors and police involved.
This issue gives us some insight to the affluent Elle’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks boyfriend, Dane Miller. Jim McCann’s script flows smoothly from frame story to flashback and back to frame story. McCann has a good ear for dialogue and the characters’ interactions only add to their depth. While the character work done during the flashback to Dane’s past is interesting, we do run into a few clichés. Dane’s runaway mom and the drunken, abusive father left to raise his son. Hell, this isn’t the only comic I bought this week, dealing with the drunk, abusive father of a teenager (see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #14). To McCann’s credit the meet-cute between Elle and Dane was one of the best and most natural I’ve seen, almost to the point the term meet-cute doesn’t apply. There are two game changing twists to the overall story in the final few pages. The first adds a whole new layer of intrigue to an already grossing mystery. The second has been hinted at since the series began.
The frame story is handled by series regular, Rodin Esquejo, which is brilliant as usual. His covers on Morning Glories actually deterred me from picking up that title, as regardless of who did the interiors I knew they couldn’t possibly hold up. Esquejo’s figures are stiff in places, but this a common trade off with such detailed rendering and artistic realism. Even as Esquejo strives for a photo realistic style, he never forgets he’s drawing a comic book, and the art never becomes a Fumetti hybrid.
The flashback scene is handled by an erroneously uncredited, Adrian Alphona. Alphona’s work here differs fairly drastically from what I remember on Runaways. It’s nearly a cross between Frank Quitely and Skottie Young, while remaining something completely original. It perfectly suits Dane’s point of view, and the framing story and flashback is an inspired way to give the Esquejo a break. I hope this is a technique McCann continues to use any time Esquejo is in need of a breather. It benefits future collected editions and serves a story such as this, where flashbacks are integral. I’d love to see Alphona return, but McCann could also do this regularly with each character getting a flashback from a different artists.
Mind the Gap continues along its way revealing answers and inviting more questions with each issue. McCann has this serious meticulously planned out and encourages readers to follow the hints sprinkled in to try and solve the case. I for one I’m more than content to be a long for the ride, and can’t wait to be stunned by the revelations from those fina
I’m not a regular reader of Justice League, but picked up this issue to see what Geoff Johns and company would do with Captain Marvel nee Shazam. There isn’t much of a plot here, but more of a series of bullet points writer, Geoff Johns, made sure to hit.
-Billy Baston in ominous dungeon like surroundings led by voice
-Voice leads to dying wizard
-Wizard deduces Billy is a d-bag
-Wizard realizes there’s some good in Billy
-Wizard has no choice but to give him the power of Shazam
-Billy turns into Shazam and returns home committing vandalism with new powers to impress friend
-Billy/Shazam save mugging victim for $20
-Pandora nonsense serves as essentially a backup
Outside of the very lean plot, John’s script suffers a few other hiccups. There is no indication why Billy Baston is in said dungeon/castle/cave/whatever. Sure, we find out the wizard summoned him there, but did he have Billy stumble upon it, did he fall down a rabbit hole, was he beamed in? We’ll never know from the info given in this issue.
Billy states he’s fifteen, but acts like he may be eight. He touches one of a row of seven identical pedestals and is greeted by a holographic looking image of Pride. He then runs down the row, tapping each one in rapid succession, laughing. This doesn’t seem like the behavior of a fifteen year old. There are other instances of this sprinkled throughout the issue.
The wizard examines Billy’s life to see if he is “pure good,” and determines he is unworthy. Billy gives the wizard a speech about how there’s no such thing as pure good and believing in it is a good way to get trampled on. This speech feels like it’s been given a million times before by a million different characters. It makes Billy, despite his age, come across even more shallow than inteneded.
After Billy’s speech the wizard, again examines Billy to see if there’s any good in him (why this didn’t show up on his original scan in beyond me). The wizard notices some of Billy’s good deeds and say, “Eh, it’ll have to do.” I mean this whole time the wizard is going on and on about how only one of pure good can posses the power of Shazam, and how he’s been searching for years to find such a individual. Then here comes Billy Baston with his clichéd little woe-is-me speech and the wizard just gives up. Is this the first time after millennia of searching the wizard has been, like, “Eff, good enough.” This thought never crossed his mind previously?
When the wizard sees Billy good deeds one is of him feeding a tiger (unsurprisingly named Tawny) a steak through a cage. One has to assume this is a tiger at the zoo. How is this a good deed? Is the zoo starving the animal? It the wizard a member of PETA and all zoos are evil? Is it a half assed way to introduce Tawny?
The dialogue is often stilted and unnatural. I’m not sure if this is Johns attempting some sort of throwback or just poor writing. Lines, like, “Listen, Chester, that stuff might work like candy on six year-olds…” are completely jarring. Is Chester some sort of call back to previous continuity?
The one scene the truly chapped my ass, though is when Shazam witnesses a mugging, which happens to be going down right next to where he is. The woman being mugged exclaims she’s carrying presents for the children’s hospital. This is completely unnecessary. Why? Would we sympathize any less if she were just being mugged?
Gary Franks art is always very good. I think it suffers a bit going straight from pencils to colors. It looks over rendered in places. I try not to be one of those his-old-stuff-was-better sort of guys, but I do miss the smoother, wider lines of Cam Smith from back in the day.
Ultimately the story, or lack thereof, can’t be saved and as many of DC #0 were given a lackluster origin retelling crammed into far too small of a package.