Thursday, March 3, 2011

One-paragraph reviews: Axe Cop, Sweet Tooth, Astonishing Thor, Captain America and the Falcon

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #1
Written by Malachai Nicolle; art by Ethan Nicolle; Dark Horse

The story here is pretty much what you might expect from a comic written by a six-year-old: the plot is disjointed, occasionally surreal, every character is either a "bad guy" or a "good guy," and there are lots of dinosaurs involved. All of which is both part of this book's appeal, but also part of its limitation. The randomness of the ideas doesn't bother me at all, and it's always a pleasure to witness the unrestrained imagination that could only come from a child's mind. I do wish, however, that Ethan wouldn't feel the need to stick to his six-year-old brother's narration style. Often, it feels like the captions are basically telling the story, and the drawings merely illustrate the information that has already been conveyed in words. For example, the caption says: "Axe Cop then pushed the rocket button," and the panel shows a close-up of Axe Cop pushing a big butter with a rocket on it. This kind of redundancy between words and images is usually considered a sign of a bad comic book, but here I guess we're supposed to forgive it because it adds to the six-year-old narrative voice which is part of the book's gimmick. It doesn't quite work for me. Not only is it a little bit condescending to the reader ("I'm telling you what happens and I'm showing you at the same time, just to make sure you understand..."), but it also does the writer a disservice. It's not necessary to draw attention to the fact that it's a kid writing the book. We already know and accept this, because it's mentioned right at the top of the cover above the title. I think the book would benefit from having less narration and from letting the images tell the story. Nevertheless, this is a very enjoyable book. Some of the scenes are very funny, the art is always fantastic, and the colours (by Dirk Erik Schulz) are absolutely gorgeous.


Sweet Tooth #19
Written and drawn by Jeff Lemire, Nate Powell, Emi Lenox and Matt Kindt; Vertigo

This is a special issue of Sweet Tooth (but then again, they're all special, aren't they?) featuring short stories from three guest writers/artists. Jeff Lemire handles the framing narrative and allows each guest to tell a flashback or mini-origin story for one of of the supporting characters. It's handled quite nicely, giving us a lot of new insight into the characters, while also setting up the stage for the next big story arc. The different styles used by all the artist work well together, since they all represent a different point of view. Of the three guest artists, I was only familiar with Matt Kindt's work, but all three of them are quite good. Emi Lenox was the one who surprised me the most, as based on what little I'd seen of her work online, I wasn't sure how well her more "cartoony" style would mesh with Lemire's bleak post-apocalyptic world. But it was perfect for her short story. Her layouts were great and Jose Villarubia's vibrant colours really helped to establish the tone of that section as well. Another excellent issue.


Astonishing Thor #3
Written by Robert Rodi; art by Mike Choi; Marvel

For whatever reason, I'm not really into this book as much as I was when it started. The art in the first couple of issues really impressed me, but now I'm growing weary of it. And the story... I don't know. It's just not doing much for me. I'm sorry, this is the lamest review I've ever written. I can't pinpoint anything wrong with this book. I'm just kind of indifferent toward it. In any case, there's only one issue left, so I'll stick with it. I am kind of curious to find out what happens when these two living planets finally meet each other.


Captain America and the Falcon (one-shot)
Written by Rob Williams; art by Rebekah Isaacs; Marvel

This is one of those stories about a character returning to his roots (i.e., poor neighbourhood), which he'd previously turned his back on and lost touch with. The character then realizes that this is still an important part of who he is and that he should do everything he can to help the people he left behind. In this case, that character is Falcon. To be honest, that's not terribly original or even very interesting. Maybe it would be if this was the start of an ongoing series which would then explore that further. I would read a story about Falcon protecting and helping the people of his old neighbourhood, while also dealing with "bigger" or "more important" missions with the Avengers or Captain America. Especially if Rebekah Isaacs was the regular artist on it, because she's fantastic. But as a one-shot, I can't help but wonder what's the point? Not because this is a bad comic, but because I feel like it's not going to go anywhere. This whole idea of Falcon returning to his roots is just going to be abandoned, unless someone is working on an ongoing title for him in the near future. Which doesn't seem all that likely to happen. Then again... there's a "Fear Itself" logo on the cover of this book, so maybe this is setting up something that's going to tie into that event.



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