Friday, February 27, 2009

Comics Reading List

Rex Mundi v.2 #16 (Dark Horse)
Writer: Arvid Nelson
Artist: Juan Ferreyra

To make one thing clear up front, this is not a jumping in point, especially considering that the book is ending in a couple issues. But for those who've been following Rex Mundi since back in the day when it was still at Image, there's quite a bit of plot progression, and multiple surprise deaths. Apparently, the solicitations stupidly gave one of them away, but this book still packs its fair share of "holy shit!" moments. The last few pages left me wondering how the Duke of Lorraine will be stopped absent God Himself intervening.

Ferreyra's art is fairly typical for mainstream American comics, but he does very nice facial expressions, and the colors seem to enhance the pencil work rather than muddle it.

Hack/Slash #20 (Devil's Due Publishing)
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Kevin Mellon

Another title that merits a warning that this is not a jumping in point. Seeley continues to explore several ongoing subplots, including the relationship tensions between Cassie, Georgia, and Vlad. Cassie also faces trouble with the law, because she's been wrongly accused of murdering multiple slasher victims, thanks to the machinations of a certain slasher who can manipulate people's dreams. This issue also introduces a new group of villains known as the Black Lamp Society. Altogether a busy issue that sets up some interesting new directions for the comic.

But there is one big problem with this book: Mellon's artwork is simply terrible. Ugly faces, unappealing cheesecake, confusing layouts, washed-out colors. The writing in a comic should never have to struggle to rise above the art. The wildly uneven quality of the art from one issue to the next has been a major drawback of this title.

Dynamo 5 #20 (Image)
Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist: Mahmud A. Asrar

This issue works well as one of those filler stories where the superhero team takes some downtime while the writer sets up future plotlines. However, Faerber is savvy enough to throw in a some nice character moments and plenty of action. Visionary, the youngest member of the team, gets a date with the cute heroine Firebird, while the other team members are either re-settling or dealing with their own romantic problems. In the B-plot, a ditzy super-villain couple gets into a lover's spat that tears up downtown Tower City, and Dynamo 5 intervenes. In yet another plot, an old enemy of team (but not that old, since the team hasn't exactly been around that long) is ready to get some payback. None of this is going to revolutionize comics or the superhero genre, but Dynamo 5 remains consistently solid entertainment, and that's all too rare in the comics industry.

Asrar's traditional, superheroic art goes well with Faerber's scripts, and he adds some nice touches like amusing facial expressions and cheesecake that's actually fun to look at.

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