Friday, August 28, 2015

Rant-Reviews: Good Comics and Ones That Tried

At Least An Effort Was Made
Today would have been Jack Kirby's 98th birthday, and he was someone whom you felt gave 100% to almost any work he did. With that in mind, sometimes there are good comics and at other points we see ones where it is clear the creators tried but couldn't quite give us something great. Here is a mixture of those comics:

Ready, Set, Try!
Loki: Agent of Asgard #17
The final issue written by the talented Al Ewing is perfectly fine, but just a bit of a let-down, even going so far as to get a bit meta and acknowledge it is ending on a cliffhanger of, "Just wait till after 'Secret Wars', then you'll see what might be next!" by having Loki literally stand in front of a door he drew on a blank canvas that says, "Next." Yeah, I told you it gets a bit meta. After a solid start to this series and then kind of meandering into and out of various events in cross-overs we get some resolution to Loki trying to stop his evil future self, discovering a bit about what kind of God he is, and otherwise as Ewing says in the comic's epilogue, "End with warmth," as opposed to a big battle.

I feel like Ewing is really trying to subvert superhero tropes here and succeeds a bit, but when a comic ends with us feeling such a small amount of resolution, it just kind of stings. It was a good run, and it sadly ends pretty quietly. Still, for such a quirky book that almost is fitting.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Boy-1 #1
This is a hard one to review negatively. I can sense all the effort and love put into this comic and making its world an intriguing near-future. The thing is, it just doesn't all gel together that well and results in a comic that has some interesting ideas but doesn't know what it is. Are we reading about technology taken too far? A missing-father conspiracy? Multiple plots that all seem a tad undercooked? I just am unsure. Also, the artwork that is supposed to look futuristic just seems a bit muddy and tinted way too dark, with even scenes in the brightly-lit labs looking 5 shades darker than they should be. Nothing in this comic really, "Grabbed," me and without a solid hook to catch my attention, I probably shan't be inspecting future issues.
2 out of 5 stars.

Injection #4
I just don't know what Warren Ellis is trying to say here. He has his usual affectations of wise British men who know the country's ancient history, a tough scientist who happens to be a woman, government intrigue, and the like. The thing is, I'm not sure what is going on as pieces start to not fit together so much as float in each other's general vicinity, making a picture kind of apparent but still infuriatingly unclear. Is this a comic about ancient forces come to wreak havoc in the present day? Is it another parable warning us about how our desire to create artificial intelligence could result in something that brings humankind's downfall? I just don't know.

So yeah, we have a comic that is annoyingly obtuse but which contains the amazing art of Declan Shalvey--who also collaborated with Ellis on a superb six issues of "Moon Knight". Basically some incredible artwork is helping save this comic from seeming like nigh-incomprehensible gibberish, but I feel like if Ellis is given a bit more time by me things will start to make sense. After all, "Supreme: Blue Rose" actually all came together in the end.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Rise of the Anti-Christ #4
I've been enjoying this comic so far, and the latest issue introduces an interesting shift in perspective. Our main character, Michael, actually takes a backseat to a wider-ranging plot that brings in the idea of other folk with potentially ancient powers being around and touches on the concept of genetics and the question of if its okay to change genes or, "Play God." We meet a female scientist named Noa who is a part of this effort--the "Genesis Project"--and witness her displeasure at it being cancelled. We also learn more about a doctor named Adam who may hold some special secrets of his own. The comic's writer, Betvìn, clearly isn't just simply telling the tale of one man, but is in the process of creating quite the wide-ranging story. You can see the care he's put into slowly and carefully setting-up story-elements and I am intrigued to see how it all relates. It's a digital comic and can be found here.
4 out of 5 stars.

Crossed +100 #7
Alan Moore is a tough act to follow. Si Spurrier is a writer who has made some stuff I absolutely adore, but also can make stuff I don't acre for. "Crossed +100" had an intriguing first six issues under the pen of Moore showing a world where the Crossed have evolved to a point they can make plans and pose a solid risk to humanity again. Si Spurrier continues this but it just feels less impressive.

The future-speak is still there along with discussing now-ancient literature, but it all feels a little different, a bit, "Off." I can't quite put my finger on it but I can tell Spurrier wants to do a great job following after Moore and just isn't quite pulling it off as much. Perhaps it annoys me how the literary references do feel more ham-fisted and obvious, with one book-title itself forming as the name of this chapter, or how the aforementioned future-talk seems to just not, "Flow," as well. I honestly don't know, but I can say I'll probably stop following the series at this point. I'm just not, "Feeling it," anymore.
2 out of 5 stars.

Material #3
Ales Kot is an amazing writer. I talk about his stuff a fair amount on this blog and while not everything he makes is incredible, a lot of stuff is. "Material" has proven especially fascinating with its four so far unrelated tales of various individuals all dealing with difficult aspects of life. It engages in doing a fascinating thing where there are footnotes on each page, sometimes explaining how something can elaborate on the comic, other times providing a link to further stimulate thought. "Material" is a hard comic to describe in any form other than that it seems to have a heavy focus on how injustice impacts us all. A stellar series I'm eager to continue reading.
5 out of 5 stars.

The Attempts Have Concluded
As these reviews make evident, a lot of the time creators are trying very hard to make a good comic. Sometimes they succeed, and sometimes they don't, but at least it is encouraging when it appears people made an effort.

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