Thursday, December 22, 2011

Records of warfare: Some dinosaurs

This is Lutz again. Over on my art blog, I've written a post on paintings of monkeys and dinosaurs and their respective fitness for the evolution of comics, which some of you possibly might find interesting. Here are some appetizing pics from that. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Daredevil #6 (Marvel) – Matt Murdock is still smug/grimly smiling at the end of this, so despite a teasing announcement in the intro that this time he’ll suffer, he’s still having fun. Looking back, the first “arc” (too all over the place storywise to really call it that) clearly falls into two very separate parts: first the new, carefree Matt is introduced and fleshed out by Mark Waid with artist Paolo Rivera, and then the story is sort of sitting around waiting for penciler Marcos Martin to do something spectacular. 

And often he obliges. Martin doesn’t much do continuous action sequences, rather he breaks fight scenes down into tableaus of decisive moments, where the immediate outcome of a move is seldom in doubt. Indeed he seems to be looking for ingenious ways to work around the action. Here’s a brilliant page where Daredevil turns the tables after being beaten to a pulp by Bruiser, a somewhat lackluster villain of artificially enhanced humanity on the lookout for sponsors. A zoom into Daredevil’s face alternates with radar (or so it is suggested) images of Bruiser’s knee, leg bones straining toward breaking point . . . then we don’t see the hit at all but only Bruiser’s shocked cry of pain framed by the letters of the transliterated sound of his bones breaking. Marvelously conceived and not a little silly (the cute knee). Thrilling as art and not (merely) because of the action. Though I wouldn’t mind if the inker were a little lighter on the colors, all the villains seem evenly distributed across the color wheel, which, while it seems a nice nod toward classic comics, works against an atmosphere. There’s not much to grip the emotions. So however marvelous the pages are, I do get a feeling that Martin is still working from the empathy we’ve built up with Matt Murdock over the first three issues, and is not adding much to the character himself.

But maybe that’s the writing, not the art, and it gets pretty thin when Daredevil has to talk himself out of a spot explaining to the mean guys that their five gangs wouldn’t get along afterward if first they’d kill him anyway, and nobody does him in for the heck of it. Whatever happened to the villains? So with Martin leaving the boat, not sure if this series can keep it up, but with sheer beauties like the panels below, him getting a creator-owned project can only be a good thing. (Though I’m not sure the boat’s moving in exactly the right direction here?)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Supergirl #3 (DC) – Koff koff. This is Lutz, suddenly transferred to the main body of the blog from the comments section. Who went on record saying that, after Animal Man, Supergirl was the only series from the DC reboot that still grabbed his interest. So he had something at stake here reading this.

I was half-expecting the thing to crash-land anyway, since the first two issues have just been prolonged fight scenes and my liking for them depended on the lack of drama, of a deeper purpose, no winners or losers, just a state of general pissed-offness at being thrown into this world. She saw no way to express herself except through sweet violence.

But something has to happen at some point, and as it turned out this was the point, and over the first half dozen pages my heart sank deeply. Awful dialogue (why can’t they just keep stuff in the original Kryptonian), even awfuller posing and subtly inconsistent art, culminating in one panel that in its overloaded oiliness cries for an Alex Ross guest spot: behind Supercousin’s shoulder a panorama of his heroics, catching a burning passenger plane, blowing out a burning mansion, and, worst of all, fullbreastedly taking shots from an anonymous hand at close range, pumping his fist, receiving the bullets that can’t harm him with a look of religious ardor. Ugh.

I gave up on the series there and then and did not even notice how it happened that two jarring transitions later this was an awesome comic again. It helped that the villain is a kind of hi-end scrap merchant who collects whatever strands in privatized space around Earth (where no nation can afford space travel anymore), to make a nice profit. His methods to test the worth of his new bounty are beautifully eccentric: heated metal butterflies and, even better, The Brain, in a body of jellyfish flesh clothed around a skeleton of neural pathways. The brain sucks up everything thrown at him and doesn’t let go again (so it’s no relation to mine), and the battle between the two is the highpoint of the issue, five marvelous pages.

Storywise that’s actually a very clever development, since Supergirl’s reaction to the shock of waking up on another world without a clue as to what it all means—to hit everything that talks to her—now is exactly the trait of character demanded from her, a figure in a sort of video game situation. Lots of potential here, and artist Mahmud Asrar has sort of promised more consistently great art after next issue, but I’m not going to trust this beyond the page in front of me anymore.

(Lutz blogs here courtesy of his pod.)