Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Three 8/17 Books That I Read So That You Did Not Have To

As always, I tell you about three comics that I did not hear a lot about this week, and then I ask you all to fill me in on comics that I did not read this week.

Special "No DC or Marvel" Edition!

Sabrina #69, Witchblade #88 and Godland #2 spoilers ahead!

Sabrina #69

This is yet another strong, strong issue from writer/artist Tania Del Rio.

In this issue, Sabrina is given the lead in a play about the famous rebellion called "The Four Blades" in the magic realm twelve years earlier, where, supposedly, a greedy guard of the queen decided to take power for himself, so, along with his wife and two of their friends, they tried to stage a coup.

It is a joyous day, much like how Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated in England.

However, Sabrina's friend, Shinji, is not a big fan of this day, which puzzles Sabrina, as he has a Four Blades tattoo on his chest, although it appears as though he has been severely cut down the middle of the tattoo.

Here brings up an interesting question...at what level are we expected to read this comic book?

This is a problem that often bedevils people trying to critique a book meant for a younger audience...is a plot point weak, or is it good for a younger reader?

Because, reading the comic, I am amazed at how dumb Sabrina is around Shinji, as though she cannot possibly understand why he is not a fan of Four Blades day. The girl is just being wonderfully obtuse, so much so that I think it just does not work.

However, I understand that perhaps it is not as obvious as I make it out to be...or is it? I personally cannot say for sure. I would be interested in hearing what others think.

In any event, the queen herself asks Sabrina to star in a play about the events, and, in a wonderful idea by Del Rio, she presents the play alongside the ACTUAL events, showing how something sinister is definitely going on around the queen, and how the Four Blade terrorists were actually just innocent people caught up in a situation over their heads.

While none of the plot is TOO mature (I mean, it is no deeper than, say, Star Wars), it is still a BIT like reading a Wizard of Oz comic where you find out that, like, Glinda the Good Witch is really a bad person.

It's not a BAD idea, but it a bit of a shake-up.

Still, I have to give Del Rio credit for presenting a wonderfully detailed and nuanced work while working in a enough broadly appealing stuff so as to appeal to a mass audience (so there are plenty of comic moments and situations, and a nice soap opera-esque subplot from last issue, where Sabrina saved Shinji's life without him knowing it was her, and he is dreaming about the girl who saved his life, who HE thinks was a mermaid).

It is a hard thing for a writer to do (while still doing a good job drawing the book as well, which she does, with able inks from Jim Amash).

By the by, I am irked that Archie's promos department spoiled the ending LAST MONTH (when they talked about how, in Sabrina #70, Sabrina has to deal with her boyfriend, Harvey, breaking up with her!!! TOO annoying!!).

THAT's annoying, but the comic?


Witchblade #88

There was really one drawback to this issue, and that is penciller Michael Choi, but I feel that eventually he will not be one.

Ron Marz wrote a very nice "down to Earth" issue of Witchblade here.

Sara (the cop who is bonded with the mystical artifact called the Witchblade) is asked by the cleaning woman at her old department to find the woman's granddaughter, missing a day or so.

The rest of the issue is Sara and her partner, Patrick Gleason, investigating the disappearance.

Throughout the issue, Sara never takes her clothes off (when she is in full Witchblade-mode, that often means she is wearing less than a bikini), and the Witchblade is used generally just as a swiss army knife (opening a gate, etc.).

In fact, the story is non-fantasy, that the reader is as surprised as Gleason when we are reminded that, duh, you don't need to find something to break the lock, Sara has a freakin' arsenal on her wrist!

The ending of the issue was basically one of those "coin flip" endings, where the reader knows it is going to have one of two endings, bad or good.

The reason why Choi is a drawback for me is that, while he is a capable draftsmen, and it is great that he does not go overboard on the "sexiness" of Sara, he also does not do as well of a job in his depiction of down-to-Earth things. This reminds me of a concern I had with Mark Brooks on the Ultimate Spider-Man Annual.

Both men can handle the fantastic, but when it comes to (in Brooks' case, something like drawing a french fry, in Choi's case, a variet of "street" characters) the mundane, they are not as effective.

However, his layouts are quite nice, in particular the ending (which I presume, though, was dictated by Marz).

Still, it was a good enough one-off issue that I would say...


Godland #2 (I originally posted this here, but I think this book is cool enough to give it an extra mention)

The one thing that I do not like about this comic is the packaging.

To do a comic in the style of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's classic comics is fine.

To present the comic itself in the same style, I think, is crossing the line into kitsch.

The story and art strike me as natural.

The letter column, the ads and the pin-ups strike me as affected.

However, that is an extremely minor gripe in light of the fact that this is a well-illustrated, well-written comic, and really, when it comes down to it, that is all any of us really want.

A GOOD comic.

Tom Scioli's art is quite nice throughout the story, and he excels at the bold, dynamic story aspects that Joe Casey provides for him in the comic.

Casey, meanwhile, crafts a very enjoyable comic.

The supporting cast of Adam Archer's sisters are quite interesting, and their character interaction was nice.

The working in of the origin was handled deftly, and I especially enjoyed the banter between the two villains.

Meanwhile, the main villain, Basil Cronus, is a real delight. A villain motivated by his desire to drain the blood from an alien dog-like creature to basically give him a brain high?

That is awesome.

In addition, Casey has a beautiful bit where Cronus brags to the other rival villain, Nickelhead (who is also wonderfully over the top), that he did not get caught in the trap of gloating over the hero while giving the hero a chance to escape death. No, no...he just locked him up in a tomb at the bottom of the ocean.

LOVED that.

And the closing cliffhanger?

Very cool.


Now on to the books that I did not read, so I was hoping you might have read them and could tell me what I missed out on:

Devil's Rejects #1

Gloom #2

Genie #2

Rocketo #1


Read More


Blogger Bill Reed said...

Hmm. I bought Godland #1 today (decided to play it safe and pass on #2 for the moment), and it was... okay. I'm undecided if I'll stick with it, but chances are I probably won't... Maybe I'll get #2 anyway.

And the shop had no Rocketo, Rex Libris, or Tales Designed to Thrizzle. Le sigh.

8/24/2005 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

I picked Godland 1 and 2 up this weekend and read them in about fifteen minutes. I liked the humor and the story. I'll buy it and see if ti goes anywhere.

The only hesitation I have is with the art. it is very easy to ape Kirby's stylistic tics. And the artists does this very well. But where this, and almost all, Kirby homages fall short is in the line. Kirby had a masterful control of his line. Every pencil stroke was in service to the image. I think when people go to do Kirby-style work they forget that. And so things look half-finished.

8/24/2005 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Definitely a fair criticism of Tom Scioli's art, Chad.

And Bill, I think Godland #2 was better than #1.

8/24/2005 08:46:00 PM  

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