Monday, April 4, 2011

One-paragraph reviews: Jimmy Olsen, American Vampire, Butcher Baker and Godzilla

Jimmy Olsen #1
"Jimmy Olsen's Big Week"
Written by Nick Spencer; art by RB Silva; DC.

Everything about this is fabulous. I'm not even going to spoil this review by mentioning how annoying it was that I had to pay for half the content in this book twice... Oh, wait, I guess I just did. Well, that is annoying, but let's focus on the positive. Nick Spencer's script is brilliant. I've read quite a few of his recent work (Morning Glories, THUNDER Agents, Infinite Vacation, that one issue of Supergirl) and I think it's pretty safe to say that this is by far the best thing I've read by him. He gets the characters' voices so right it's uncanny. The remarkable thing about his take on Jimmy Olsen is that he manages to update him and make him really cool, while somehow staying true to the character's wacky origins, which in theory almost sounds impossible and yet here it is all perfectly realized in comic book form! Grant Morrison did something similar in All-Star Superman, but his reinvention of the character was a little more radical. This is closer to home, and therefore doubly impressive that it works. RB Silva's art is also just perfect. Where did this artist come from!? And please, DC, don't let him get away. Put him on another book ASAP. Everything about the art is excellent, from the layouts to the facial expressions. The only complaint I have is that the quality of the art dips a little on the last two chapters, as Silva gets help first on ink and then on pencils as well. There are a few panels in the last chapter that you can really tell were pencilled by someone else, and that's a bit of a shame. But it doesn't greatly harm the overall quality of the book. (Also worth mentioning: excellent cover by Amanda Conners and great colours by Dave McCaig.)



American Vampire #13
"Ghost War part 1"
Written by Scott Snyder; art by Rafael Albuquerque; Vertigo.

Apparently everything that Scott Snyder writes is gold. He's been blowing my mind on Detective Comics, but it's this his series that first brought him to everyone's attention. I regret not jumping onboard earlier, but can you really blame me for being sick of vampires? Thing is, though, this is a really original take on vampires, quite unlike anything else I've ever encountered. This issue starts a new story arc set during WWII. It's only the second issue I read and the last one was a done-in-one with a (pretty good) fill-in artist. Regular artist Rafael Albuquerque is back on this one and it makes a big difference. I'm hooked, and I'm definitely going to have to get the first year of the series in trades. This is worth catching up on.



Butcher Baker: The Righteous Maker #1
Written by Joe Casey; art by Mike Huddleston; Image.

This book is out of control. It's also filthy. It's also a lot of fun. Needs more cock, though, to balance out all the tits and ass. I'll give this series a few more issues before I come up with something intelligent to say about it. Just let it be known for now that I'm enjoying the ride.



Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1
Written by Eric Powell and Tracy Marsh; art by Phil Hester and Bruce McCorkindale; IDW.

It's a book about a giant monster who comes out of the sea, smashes things, causes mayhem. There isn't much set up for it either. A couple of kids are playing on the beach at the beginning, then the monster shows up and apparently eats them. There's a shot of their father, who's on a boat and yells out "My children are on that beach!" I assumed the story would focus on these characters, with the father trying to get to his children to save them. Seemed like a classic way to add a human element to the story. But except for those two panels on page 6, we never see the father again or find out what happened to him or his children. Presumably they are among the dead, but for a the havoc Godzilla is wreaking, it feels oddly like there are no victims. We're told by military officials that hundreds are dead and bodies are still being recovered, but we don't see any of them. There's no gore, no blood, no on-panel death. There's one panel where you see people on the street and the shadow of Godzilla's foot, then the next panel the foot slams down on the street, sending cars out flying, but I wasn't sure if the people got squished or not. I'm not saying the book would have been better if it was filled with gory details. But it seemed too clean and unsatisfying in the same way that a horror movie rated PG-13 would be. Phil Hester's art is nice, although I find some of his layouts a little confusing - not in the sense that I can't figure out what's going on, but in the sense that it requires me to stop and think and realize that what looks like a single splash page is actually showing me three different moments in time from different angles, without the use of panels or clear borders. I've been sort of obsessing over layouts and panelization lately, so this is actually a pretty interesting example of a non-conventional style. I'll probably write more about it in the future. I'll leave it at that for now. There's enough going on here for me to give the stick with the book for a few more issues and see where this is going.



matkirk April 13, 2011 at 1:42 PM  

Got to agree with you on the Jimmy Olsen comments - he's so much cooler this time round.

What's the score with having to pay twice?


Yan Basque April 13, 2011 at 2:14 PM  

Oh, I just meant that the first four chapters of the story were previously included as a back-up feature in issues of Action Comics, which I previously purchased. These issues were priced $3.99 instead of the usual $2.99. So if you do the math, I already paid $4 dollars for those four chapters.

But when DC decided to "hold the line at $2.99," they cancelled all back-up features. This left three unpublished chapters. I would have happily paid an extra dollar on Action Comics each month to get them. But instead, I had to buy this $6 comic book in order to read the conclusion.

It's just very bad planning from DC. They make a big deal out of cutting back prices to reward their customers, but did I actually save money in the end? No. I paid ended up paying $10 for this story, whereas I would have only paid $7 for it if it had continued to appear in Action Comics.

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