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Friday, March 12, 2004

So I'm out all day. 

Turns out that I've been doing manual labor all day, so I really haven't had time to actually update this blog with comics-relevant stuff. The least I can do, however, is review Spooked and Street Angel for ya, in a flash.

After that, be sure to check out some of the very best blogs on the internet. They'll do ya right.

Spooked - Young artist Emily Spook is on the rise in the art scene in London, inspired in secret by ghosts that take up residence in her head for various lengths of time. Then, for whatever reason that's never explained, the ghosts simply stop coming; that is, until the victim of an occult murder pops into her head. And then the ghost's murderers catch wind of Emily, and decide to pay her a visit...

That's a gross oversimplification, I'll grant, but it'll tell you what you need to know to get into the book. Now I was pretty excited that the back cover had a blurb from Alan Moore of all people talking about how great it was, until I read the author bio and found out ol' Anthony Johnston's done "sequential conversion" for many of Moore's prose works.

So.

Rock solid concept. Excellent execution (I especially liked how the murder victim, Simon, is only visualized by rather unique thought balloons that Emily converses with). Genuine chills and thrills, in the creeping-dread-not-flashy-gore fashion. And a thoroughly unsatisfying climax shoved into the last five or six pages that tosses in some previously untouched nonsense about conformity. All the same, it's a good ride. If you can pick this book up used or something (even though it just came out), do so. Otherwise, read it first, purchase later if you like it.

Rating: Noble effort.

Street Angel #1 - Okay, so I'm a Johnny-come-lately. Everyone's already said their piece about Angel, and there's probably very little I can say one way or another to sway your opinion by now.

But goddamn this was a great book. 8th grader Jesse Sanchez is Street Angel, "armed only with her phat skateboarding skills, martial artistry and tricked out deck." She beats people up. She throws swords at people. She infiltrates ninja basketball games.

And, okay. Being a lifelong Tick fan, the ninja parts were a bit tired (though still funny.) And that right there is the sum total of my complaints. The art is simple, clear-line black and white, cartoony without being simplistic. This book is fast, fun, inventive, endlessly energetic and by-the-gods funny. You'll see what I mean when you get to the bullhorn scene. Also pay close attention to what happens to the bowl of lollipops in that same scene.

The villain in this issue, Dr. Pangea, is described as such: "The deadliest geologist of the last 1000 years is on the loose and only dumb luck saved us from his last plot..." (I like the implication that in the previous millenium there was an even more dangerous geologist at large.)

If that quote doesn't get you to buy this book all by itself, go fall on a sword or something. We don't need your genes.

Rating: Awwww yeah.

SPECIAL FEATURE: Read These Books or Die (Choose Wisely)

1. Hitman collected series. The first TPB, simply titled Hitman, has a couple strikes against it. One, artist John McCrea (who pencilled the last arc of the Punisher Marvel Knights series, "Confederacy of Dunces") was still finding his groove in the more demanding detail-work of working for a major publisher. Two, when Hitman started, it was a collection of shorts rather than a coherent metaplot tying multiple stories together. The series really finds its groove in the second TPB, a thin little thing called "10,000 Bullets." By series' end at issue 60 (not yet collected in TPB, so go digging), Ennis and McCrea have achieved something very like art. This work as a whole easily stands up to the achievements of Preacher and Ennis and Dillon's time on Punisher

2. The Losers. Have I talked to you in the last ten minutes about how great this book is? Sales are abysmal, and dammit, it's not too late for you to get in. The first TPB just came out a couple-few weeks ago and cost a mere $10, and goddamn if it isn't an utterly satisfying story. The TPB collects issues #1-6, and we're only up to #9 now. GET IN! Join the revolution as these two have.

3. 100 Bullets. There's no reason not to. It's got 6 TPBs out now and has gone to bimonthly status since Azzarello and Risso, the bona fide fucking geniuses behind this series, have done an equally stunning turn on Batman (have you ever seen a more haunting Gotham?). So now's a good time to get in. From what I understand, the series plans to last (naturally) 100 issues, and is only now just hitting #49... so we still got a ways to go. I hope it never ends.

P.S. - Something that came to mind while reading Warren Ellis's Scars. Can we go ahead and put a moratorium on the usage of the name "Cain" in any way, shape, or spelling for characters in fiction? It's been done. To death. Every time a character rolls onto the screen named Caine something or something Kane I just kind of roll my eyes. We know death's coming before the comic book/movie/book/whatever has even fucking started, and after that we just sit numbly, waiting for the tiresome inevitability of that unfortunately named character to kill/be killed.

We have taken one of the most powerful and evocative stories of Western civilization and turned it into a fucking cliché. That, my friends, is sad.

Holler at ya later.

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