Sunday, December 20, 2015

Rant-Reviews: An Assortment of Image Comics

Why Image?
You may be asking why I'm doing some rant-reviews focused on Image comics. Well, I'm reading a lot of Image comics these days, so it makes sense to discuss some of them, I feel.

The Image of Comics...The Comics of Image...Some Kind of Pun
Citizen Jack #2
I am just so unsure with this book. I see some amazing potential and love the jokes in it, but other times it seems so ham-fisted in its metaphors and lack of clear motivation for certain characters that I'm left scratching my head. The basic idea is our protagonist, Jack Northworthy, has sold his soul (or something of value) to a devil (of sorts, maybe not the Devil, maybe he's meant more as a metaphor for special interests?) in order to be guaranteed the Presidency of the United States. 

This is clearly a comedy (with some horror-overtones) but you would wonder if even with the help of the devil a character like Jack would stand a chance in our political climate. I mean, the character is a loud-mouth, an idiot, and oh dear God this is basically a comic about someone a lot like Donald Trump but maybe less evil. Well, taking that into account and wondering where things could go next I would rate this a solid...
3.5 out of 5 stars.

We Stand on Guard #6
Huh. I really liked this book, but find the ending to be little too neat. In this story about Canada and America at war the Canadians win a big battle, and the U.S. actually kind of hangs back. The book makes it clear Canada still has a long way to go but kind of ends more hopefully than I would have expected, even if a main character dies in the process (but then she gets a happy denouement, so again, oddly positive). For a comic that has been so rough, cruel, and shocking in its showing of the United States as bad-guys it maybe just threw me off for it to end with a tone of warmth.

The political cleverness is still there in that we are witnessing the U.S. do everything to Canada we've done in foreign countries, with the comic asking the reader, "Why does this upset you, yet what's happening today doesn't?" with the obvious answer being of course it is much harder for resders to stomach the idea of invading and being cruel to people who look and think like, "Us," in terms of race and religious beliefs. That message is still there, but I guess I'm just shocked that they went with less of a downer conclusion. I'd be interested in further exploration of this world, so that means the comic was a success in that way too. All-in-all a solid mini-series even if it almost would have been more effective and shocking in its ending were it to have just suddenly stopped after an intense 5th issue.
3 out of 5 stars.

Trees #13
Aw, come on Warren Ellis. You give us a crazy cliffhanger at the end of one issue with those dangerous black flowers and then shut-down any danger right at the start of this one by saying, "Oh, it's just a regular flower!" That is just too much of a bait-and-switch and something I can picture a lesser writer doing, but not you, man, you're too crafty for that. My annoyance with that aside this was an issue that is clearly more in the process of setting-up some big events than it is one paying-off as marvelously as the series did at the end of its last arc. 

The fact it was so intense and effective when it last wrapped some plot-lines makes me think we are building to something good, but having to do a bit of a slog beforehand. There is at least some impressive action at the end of the issue when the mayor of NYC (who has his own twisty agenda) has the base of some former associates assaulted. I am intrigued in where that is going. Still, I just felt let-down by this issue a bit. It feels so average in terms of my enjoyment, hence getting an average...
2.5 out of 5 stars.

The Goddamned #2
I would not have thought a take on the bible that happens between the Fall of Eden and before the Flood would be so interesting. Then again, perhaps I didn't realize that a writer like Jason Aaron who knows how to tell a violent yarn (just look at, "Southern Batasrds) and artist R.M. Guéra could make something so--if you'll pardon my pun--Goddamned good! We've taken the story of Cain and Noah and kind of put them together and flipped aspects on their head with Cain being a sort of good-guy in this story who is possibly looking for redemption and Noah kind of looking like a man with noble-ish intentions, but really bad ways of going about them.

This is indeed one fallen world, full of terrible violence and cruel actions. That God would want to wash this planet clean is understandable, but seeing someone like Cain (forced to wander the world, unable to die) showing kindness to the few potentially non-evil others makes a reader wonder if maybe God's going too far and Noah is little better than the people he harms in his effort to build an Ark and gather the animals. I suppose time will tell as this series continues, and I am without a doubt interested in seeing where this goes!
4 out of 5 stars.

The Humans #10
The fantastic mini-series reaches its conclusion--but with promises of future tales on the way, which keeps me from feeling as sad as I would be if this were completely the end. This series by Keenan Marshall and Tom Neely has been equal parts horrendously violent, gratuitously sexual, and deeply introspective on the affect of war on the human psyche. Yes, a comic about humanoid apes who drink, have sex, and fight also turned out to be one of the smartest meditations on how our veterans feel and are treated when they return from the horrors of war only to be expected to live, "Normal," lives. 

Clearly Johnny realizes a life of happiness will be unobtainable for him, because once the biker gang known as The Humans finds it has been betrayed, Johnny and the surviving members have set out for vengeance. This issue shows us the conclusion of their efforts to get revenge and is mostly brutal, bloody, violent action. Thanks to the art of Tom Neely it is incredible-looking and with Marshall having made us really care about these characters it impacts the reader's emotions greatly to see these ape-people we care about dying...or maybe, just maybe, some of them will survive and return for a new mini-series as is mentioned at the end of the comic--I guess we will ahve to wait and see! This still stands solidly alone as its own story however, and I can without a doubt say this is a superb...
5 out of 5 stars.

Imaging Complete...That's An Even Worse Pun
As can be seen, there are an assortment of interesting titles coming out from Image. Some are starting out, others have just ended. Some are really good and others are working at figuring themselves out. The main thing worth noting is that I am pleased that such a wide variety of titles come out via Image, and I'd recommend you give some a read too!

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