Saturday, August 27, 2011

Comic Quickies: Big Names

Rachel Rising #1: I was so excited when I saw the solicits for Rachel Rising.  I've never read a thing by Terry Moore, but I've heard lots of good things about his work on Strangers in Paradise and Echo and I had a good feeling about this comic as soon as I laid eyes on some of Moore's interior art.

The comic begins with nine wordless, art filled pages which take place in the woods with a mysterious woman watching on from a distance as another woman literally digs herself out of a shallow dirt grave.

The buried woman is the title character, Rachel Beck, who can't remember what the hell happened to her last night. As the reader, we are as clueless as Rachel, and can only search for clues in the art, and try to make meaning out of the small things she discovers.  The first issue offers up a scant amount of information: a strangely bruised neck, three missing days since she last remembers a thing....and there's something wrong with her eyes.

Not a lot to go on, but I was completely sucked in by this comic.  Moore's art, which completely carries the story for the first few pages is lush and gorgeous.  The mystery element of what the hell happened hooked me, and there are a lot of things that happen or are seen in through the course of the issue that left me with some seriously burning questions.  Like: who the fuck was that lady watching Rachel dig herself out of a shallow grave?

Awesome stuff, and easily the best comic I've read all month.

Gotham Noir One-Shot: Before I even flipped open the cover, this comic had all the hallmarks of greatness: A Gotham City/Batman story set in the 40's featuring Jim Gordon as a down on his luck P.I., a noir-style crime story, and the creative team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, which has been a money combo for me in the past.

Unfortunately, this comic failed to impress me.  I was pretty underwhelmed by the story, I found that I couldn't make myself care about what was going on.  It was sort of interesting to see how Brubaker placed classic Batman characters like Catwoman, and the Joker into the mid-century narrative, but the whole time I sort of felt like I was reading a What If? type story, that was lacking in authenticity.

I can't say that this was a bad comic, it just didn't strike me as the quality I've come to expect from Brubaker and Phillips.  It's so sad when things don't live up to expectations.

The Red Wing #2: This four issue mini-series started out incredibly well, and I had high hopes that the second issue would live up to the quality of the first.

It did...for the most part.  In terms of writing, the story took a much appreciated leap forward. This issue developed characters, delivered some important back story, moved the plot along nicely, and delivered a sweet twist at the end.  All in all, an epic win for any piece of writing.  Hickman is clearly a top-level writer working at the peak of his game.  So, yeah, in that regard, this was a great issue.

The art was a slightly different story.  Nick Pitarra was a complete unknown prior to this comic, and then he came out the gates strong with a brilliant looking first issue.  The dude set the bar pretty damn high for himself, and I felt like he didn't quite nail it on this issue.  Though most of the time Pitarra did manage to recapture the artistic glory of the first issue, there were a few times the art looked flat to me.  There also weren't any mind-blowing art sequences here like there were in the first issue.  That might sound pretty nit-picky but I guess I just have damn high expectations from the previous issue.

My petty complaints aside, this is still a great comic, and one that I'm very much looking forward to reading for the next couple months.

Sweet Tooth #24: This comic gets continual mentions here on the Comic Quickies feature because Jeff Lemire continues to not only write an amazingly captivating and emotionally gripping story, but he also continuously experiments and push the boundaries of his art.

In this issue, for the first time ever, Lemire handled some of the coloring duties.  Why? Especially when he's got Eisner Award winning colorist Jose Villarrubia on colors?  Well, it worked out perfectly on this issue as Lemire's colored pages matched up with a particular character's journey between the worlds of the living and the dead.  Lemire used watercolors, and they gave a very creepy, other-worldly feel to the pages he worked on.  Obviously, the other-worldly feel was perfect for a story that took place on err...other worlds.

This isn't the first time Lemire has tried some new things artistically with Sweet Tooth.  He's done a story-book style issue, and even an issue where three different guest artists tell the back story of three different characters.   Each time, the unique approach has made for a great comic reading experience.  This isn't the end of the art experimenting either...Matt Kindt is a guest artist for three straight issues coming out in the very near future.

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