Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Civil War #6; Strange Girl # 12; Battle Pope # 12

Civil War # 6
Mark Millar-Steve McNiven

If this isn't the most maligned good book out there I don't know what is. It's the book everyone buys to complain about to the smallest of details and I just plain don't understand it. I love Civil War. Not so much the exterior books, I've mostly stuck to the main book, and for my money it's wonderful. Politcal commentary on the state of america and civil liberties and how those things have been dictated by history, just flies off the pages of this book to gobsmack the reader in the face. So many readers are truly upset because the book is not supposed to take sides, but they feel it's slanted against Tony Stark's authoratian regime, which is a stand-in really for Dubya's Neo-Con vision of america and the world. Not to pull their cards, but I imagine most of them are closet republicans, and they deserve to feel a little uncomfortable, a little guilty, a little embarrassed by what's taken place in this country the last several years.

I'd say that's beside the point, and it's time to discuss the comic, but really that's the point of this book. Like Millar's The Ultimates this is not a book to stand idly by on the sideline of. The ad campaign says very directly Choose a Side. You're either for freedom and all the dangers that implies, or you're against it and all the baggage that carries.

My main complaint with Civil War is that in spite of the overly complained about delays, the book is going by too fast. This is a year long story really, like The Ultimates. I just don't see how this can come to a reasonable conclusion in 7 issues. The major battles are condensed to good looking skirmishes because of this. It's a 12 issue book that feels crammed into 7(which I believe is an extension of the original size the series was supposed to run). But aside from that, the writing is terrific--there's a line in here about the Punisher by Spider-man comparing him to Captain America that may be the best line of the whole series to this point--and the art--the art is amazing. So much of this book is being carried in the expressions and body language of the heroes, and McNiven has yet to disapoint. If you got rid of the words, the story would still make perfect sense, which is a testament to Millar-McNiven as a storytelling team.

Only one issue left on this series, so it's hard to say get out and read this right now if you aren't already, but this is basically shaping the Marvel 616 for the next year, and if you want to understand Marvel comics this year, it's a series you need to find time for.

*As good as this is, Millar's The Ultimates is this times better.

Strange Girl
Rick Remender-Nick Stakal

I am really becoming quite the Rick Remender fan. Last week I gave a thumbs up to Fear Agent this week Strange Girl gets the same reccomendation. Granted I don't know much of what's going on with the series, beyond we seem to have this girl, with possibly sorcerous powers, going into hell, to rescue someone she loves, that old tale, with nice little bits cribbed from Dante, it's good stuff.

The art is pretty striking and does a really good job of depeciting the blob of hell that our hero is going into. Narratively speaking, the story is kind of on a loop, which sets a nice tension that underscores all of the interactions. You really do fall into doubt with our hero Bethany.

The book is actually quite diffrent from Fear Agent. It really doesn't have the kind of ascerbic biting tone, and is definitely more gothic in flavor. The mood is entirely diffrent, which is something I like to see, because there's a lot of writers out there who seem to be writing the same wolf in diffrent skins.

But yeah if you're looking for something a little off the beaten path, kind of in that Hellboy type of mold, then this is a good book to check out.

Battle Pope
Robert Kirkman-Tony Moore

Yeah so you can't accuse me of not giving Kirkman every chance to hit me with something I like. For an author I wasn't initially enamored with, I've ended up picking up a lot of his titles, and I've finally found one(well two if you count Ultimate X-Men, though I'm still waiting to see on that) I really like. It's name is Battle Pope. And it's everything you could imagine a book called that would be.

The Pope basically rolls around town, punching people, having sex with loose women--basically the Pope for all intents and purposes is Project Pat. I don't really know the circumstances of the world he lives in, but it's very fascinating, with very incompetent demons running around trying to cause trouble. Santa Claus and Jesus as the Pope's useless deputies. It's a very fun enjoyable book, and really shows off Kirkman's wit, which he also put on display in Marvel Zombies to great effect.

The art by Tony Moore is very nice as well. It's very crisp. The coloring by Staples is really well done as well, in so far as I can judge things like that. But yeah, another really quality image book. There's a lot of them.

Styx Taxi: A little Twilight Music

Styx Taxi is an indie book put out by FWDbooks about a taxi company that picks up the recently deceased and drives them around for two hours before they go to their final resting place.

This collection is a series of short stories that have as their central theme the influence of music. Unfortunately the bulk of the stories seem like they would have done better without the constriction. There is definitely quality work here though and if you're in the mood for a more existential meditative book this is definitely something to look into.

"Sing Along"
Steve Goldman-Dan Goldman

I really enjoyed the art of this short. The concept of kind of a collage of people the drivers deal with is a plenty good one, and it's carried off pretty well. Though the captions with the song verse kind of impeded my ability to feel the weight of the story as a whole. It was hard to see through them to the page narratively speaking, I know they were working in concert with the panels, but I guess I'm not much for reading lyrics in text, and as a central narrative voice for the story, it didn't seem to work as well as you'd want something like that to work.

The little snippets of each person's story worked really well though, and I thought ignoring the captions yielded a more powerful and immediate story, which I enjoyed more.

"A Vita Coda"
Elizabeth Genco-Leland Purvis

This story about the driver Charon's love for a girl who plays the violin in the park has many of the same strengths and weaknesses of the earlier piece, though the art doesn't seem to be as consistently strong. Dom's interaction with Charon seems strange, and the way that he seems to throw a block in front of Charon that directly corresponds to what Charon is desiring is one of those things that you either buy or don't buy, and part of the reason that you don't buy it here is because the issue isn't really masked in anything, because of the compression that this story was put under, there wasn't a lot of room to beat around the bush, yet this is a story that is very much about a mood, and could use more space to stretch out in.

"Encore for My Babies"
Steve Goldman-Rami Efal

The best story of the book, really fantastic art. The lyrics on top of the first person captions on the first page were very difficult to read, and I was glad when it stopped. The dialouge was good, but lacked the succinct brilliance of the first story in the collection. But all in all, definitely the most satisfying story of the collection.

1 comment:

Pat! said...

i really have to agree with ya about Civil War

i've yet to fill let down with a single issue and i think marvel made the right call in delaying the book so we could have a complete run of that amazing McNiven art

i would have liked it to be longer too, but i have a feeling issue #7 is gonna be double-sized anyway