Monday, August 15, 2016

Collected Reading

I've been reading down the stacks of graphic novels and collected comics trades. Some go back aways; others are fairly recent.

Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1
Silly me. I thought this was a western. It's not, although it is set in what looks like the American West sometime in the past, during the frontier years. But what it really is is a fairy tale, told to a butterfly by a rabbit, a story about life and death, about hell and some other things, and it's utterly fascinating. An old man and a young girl are traveling with a band of gunmen, telling a story as a carnival style performance for whatever people wish to pay. But the story is true and only a portion of what actually transpired. It's that story and the story of how the man and child became traveling companions that forms the heart of the tale. Kelly Sue DeConnick has crafted a realm worth spending time in and Emma Rios's art is perfectly suited for this gritty myth in the making. I'm looking forward to more.

Paper Girls, Vol. 1
Brian K. Vaughan has a very creative mind and his imagination is in full force here. In 1988, during the early hours of November 1st, four pre-teen newspaper delivery girls run into strange beings and creatures while everyone else seems to have vanished. The world seems to be in danger, and they certainly are at risk as they try to figure out the mystery and stay alive. The girls are snarky and fiercely independent and each one is a three-dimensional, fully realized character, something else Vaughan excels in. Chiang's art style is perfect for this book, bringing these girls to life with well drawn expressions and body language. I can't wait to find out what happens next.

By Si Spencer, with 4 artists. Ostensibly a mystery, this story covers four time periods: 1890, 1940, 2014, and 2050, with each time period illustrated by a different artist, which helps the reader keep track. Detectives in each era discover a body of a naked man curled in the same position in the same alleyway in London. Each detective has a secret except for DS Hasan in 2014 who is dealing with being a female Muslim police detective at a time when Muslims come under suspicion. How these cases are connected forms the heart of the story and it wasn't what I expected. While things could be clearer, the story does take some interesting turns, and I found it entertaining.

Desolation Jones: Made in England
By Warren Ellis. I've had this sitting here for a few years and I suppose if I'd read it back then, it would've had more of a wow factor or impact on me. This is noir with a twist. Mike Jones was a British agent who was subjected to an experiment that left him a changed man. Now he's stuck in Los Angeles with a lot of other former spooks who can't leave, and doing the typical gumshoe work that you'd expect in a noir story, except investigating really isn't in his skill set. Killing people is more up his alley. His current job has him looking for some Hitler porn film stolen from an old geezer who's now being extorted over it, but of course, there's more to the case, much more, and Jones is soon up to his eyeballs in it. Warren Ellis set up an intriguing world and JH Williams III's art is, uh, to die for. I haven't read much of Ellis' work, but I couldn't help wondering what my favorite comics noir writer, Ed Brubaker, would have done with this setup. It has a proper noirish ending, but the experiment Jones had suffered -- being kept awake via drugs for a year -- while a factor in the story, via flashbacks and how Jones is now somewhat less than human, seems underdeveloped. It's just a character trait with him; I wanted to see it used more in the story as it was, to me, the most interesting thing about the book. Without it, this is just another crime story.

As for the art, as wonderful as it is, seems almost primitive next to the work Williams has done in more recent year. The page layouts are great, but the story was hard to follow in places because I never knew if two pages were to be read as two pages or as one very wide one. Both options were used and in a few places, I ended up needing to reread those pages. Overall, this was a decent effort, but it could have been so much more.

By Nathan Edmondson. This is a graphic novella about creation and artistic impulses. I had to read other reviews to get a better idea of what I'd read because this felt more like an outline than an actual story. Ideas get thrown at the reader, but we don't get to dwell on or absorb them. The art is lovely, but feels a bit static even with its dreamlike quality. An architect attempts suicide -- why? Because he can't change the world the way he thought he should be able? His motive seems so nebulous. But instead of dying, he gains the power to create through thought and it doesn't work all that well. There's a talking bear. Maybe. Or maybe he's just imagining the bear. I bought this because it got good reviews, but I won't be keeping it.

No comments:

Post a Comment