Thursday, September 13, 2007

Snap Judgments - Batman Confidential #9, Parade (With Fireworks) #1, Welcome To Tranquility #10

Geekanerd's Snap Judgments gives you Triple-S comic reviews: short, sweet, and spoiler-free.

O What Fools These Heroes Be - Batman Confidential #9

Another great issue in this Joker-origin arc by Heroes producer/writer Michael Green. The parallels to Christopher Nolan's movie Batverse continue as B-man visits Prof. Jonathan Crane in his pre-Scarecrow days, just so Crane can give him the classic "there's evil in this world" speech. Green's writing for the Pre-Joker is at top form here - without the overarching koo-koo crazyness that many Bat-authors tend to let the Joker run on, Green's Not-Yet-The-Joker comes off as the smartest guy in the room, a little bored with how simple everything is, and only interested in his new best friend, Batman.

Artist Denys Cowan plays a little fast and loose with character's faces, occasionally venturing a bit too far into Quasimodo territory for my tastes, but for the most part his compositions match the wit and grit of the writing. One particular scene that finds a character examining his new battle scars made me think I shouldn't leave this book lying around my apartment, lest someone flip it open to wrong page and be permanently scared off comic books.

Wit + Grit + Fun With Disfigurement - Drifting Face Planes = B+

The reviews roll on with Parade With Fireworks #1 and Welcome To Tranquility #10...

Don't Reign On My Parade - Parade (With Fireworks) #1

A few months ago, I had occasion to interview several members of Act-i-Vate, an online collective of writer-artists who produce serialized web comics for free public consumption. I asked the gang what Act-i-Vate comic they were currently most enjoying, and the title that came up again and again was Parade With Fireworks. No longer confined to the web, Parade With Fireworks is now available as a two-issue miniseries from Image.

You can immediately see what makes this a comic artist's kinda comic. The art is lush, with fluid line work and what seems like an effortless sense of movement. The issue's highlight is the opening prologue, which spans decades in a few deft pages, each panel boldly conveying an iconic moment in time. The body of the story is more subtle. Set in 1923 Italy, author Mike Cavallaro uses a parade in a small town as a microcosm for looking at the clash between the Communist and Fascist parties. Those not up on your 20th century Italian history (I found Wikipedia helpful) may find the significance of the events a bit hard to grasp, but the art is masterful enough to convey what counts.

Outstanding Art + Great Prologue + Political Unrest = A-

Check In Time - Welcome To Tranquility #10

Ten issues into this series by Gail Simone, I've noticed a trend. When an issue centers around a character and their backstory, it's golden. After all, this is a series about retired superheroes and their families - everyone has got loads of exciting history, and learning it slowly through era-stylized flashbacks is one of this book's most unique and appealing features. But when the book focuses on the events of the present-day plot, things tend to lag. The plots themselves are interesting, but with so many characters to keep track of, a present-day issue has the feel of checking in on a bunch of different locations, and just getting enough information from each group of characters to keep the story straight.

But no matter, this issue is worth buying for the back-up "Tranquili-Teens" story, which comes in the form of an awesome Scooby-Doo parody, and includes the canine exclamation, "Oh my bones and foodbowls!". I can't stay mad at a book after a line like that.

Mystic Exposition - Killing Time With Zombies + Bones and Foodbowls = B-

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