Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Comic Haul - Addendum

I realised after posting the last Comic Haul that there were a number of books that didn't get onto the list because they were sitting on a different pile at he other end of the room (for shame, I know). As a result, I thought I would add a few to the ever growing list of CH reviews, like so...

The Mummy: The Rise and Fall of Xango's Ax #1-2: "The Rise and Fall of Xango's Ax" is billed as a prequel to the new Mummy movie, but in reality it is just a story that occurs between The Mummy Returns and the new film. That little grammatical quibble aside, I really quite enjoyed the first issue of this mini. The story revolves around Alex O'Connell and his father Rick becoming embroiled in a caper involving a stolen priceless jewel, a missing archaeologist, a bunch of prehistoric baddies trying to reclaim the stolen jewel and a doomed train ride. The script by Joshua Jabcuga moves along competently and handles the reintroductions of thee characters rather nicely, while the art of Stephen Mooney captures the mood and era of the piece with enough flair to make me forgive any shortcomings either creator may otherwise show.

The second issue falls a little bit shorter than the first being more of an expository story and less of a thrill ride. You learn the background behind Xango and his ax, the plot moves from the train to the great outdoors and the villains plans are revealed. Mooney slips a bit and shows some weakness in his storytelling. The issue picks up immediately after the first but there's a confusing transition or change in point-of-view that creates some strange continuity quirks in the opening pages of the story. Jabcuga also cracks as the dialogue gets awfully wooden here and most of the conversations are done off panel in captions which takes the focus off pretty much everyone in the story.

In all fairness, they do catch their stride about halfway through and do manage to pull you through to the end, albeit with a bad taste in your mouth. I'm still looking forward to #3 but am steeling myself to be disappointed.

Wetworks #13: The art has improved, and DeMatteis (who has been writing the book solo from issue #10) is joined by long-time partner in crime Keith Giffen to give readers an all out vampire war for the Wetworks team to fight.

I've read a lot of reimaginings of these cheesy '90s super-teams that came out of the image boom, and a lot of them were really good. StormWatch was one, Wildcats was another, Casey and Donovan's Youngblood wasn't bad, you get the picture. So here I am with two of my favourite writers with carte blanche to make a crappy premise into an engaging reinvention and the whole damn thing just falls flat. DeMatteis showed some inspiration with #12's character driven star-cross'd lovers tale, but this is all hackneyed plot contrivances and cheesy dialogue. To be fair, the guys probably knew they weren't going to be around for more than a couple of issues after this, so I'll cut them some slack, but I would recommend this only for the Giffen/DeMatteis completists or truly die-hard fans of Wetworks. Otherwise, don'teven bother with this puppy in the dollar bins.

The Invincible Iron Man #2: The plot thickens. There's really not much else to say since Matt Fraction is of the Bendis school of comic book writing where obfuscation and drawn-out storylines are the order of the day. Really, not much happens in #2 that didn't happen in #1 other than Tony kicks the heinies of some A.I.M. fringe group called Advanced Genocide Mechanics and their leader, M.O.D.O.G..

What I do genuinely like about the series so far is the adherence to what Warren Ellis established in "Extremis". Tony is bleeding edge. He's a futurist. Fraction portrays him as such and has the character wrestle with these ideas constantly. I love the sequence where Iron Man is flying away from heat-seeking missiles and wonders to himself, do I need jet boots? Can I not find a new form of heatless propulsion? That's good comics, in my humble opinion.

Maybe not for everyone, but I do hope this iteration of the character and title last for a while. Enjoy itwhile it lasts, I guess.

Tank Girl: Visions of Booga #1: Ever since IDW's last Tank Girl mini I just can't get enough of Alan Martin and his crazy cast of malcontents. I would get genuine belly-laughs reading those crazy comics, so I'm thrilled that they've gone back and made more. And I totally loved the Adam Ant guest shot in the back-up story. Chynna Clugston-Major appears to not be the only one who can put the Ant Music love to paper and make an enjoyable yarn out of it.

I used to associate TG, visually, with Jamie Hewlett and Jamie Hewlett only, believing that if Jamie wasn't drawing it, what was the point? But after seeing Ashley Wood handle the characters amazingly, and now Rufus Dayglo, I'm officially a convert. Wood showed a whole new way of looking at TG which, I think, paved the way for me accepting the wonderful non-Hewlett stylings of Mr. Dayglo. They're so close to Hewlett's take on the world so as to respect the stuff that has come before, but there's just such a different kind of heartbeat to the art that works for me. I don't know, the edges are less blunt, the layouts more organic...I won't ruin it with trying to figure it out. I'll just go and grab the next issue and enjoy it some more.

Okay, that's officially all for now. Hopefully more next week.



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