Thursday, March 31, 2011

Week of 3/30/11 Reviews: Echoes, Green Lantern, and more!

Week of 2/28/2011

Good O'l Reviews are regular long-form reviews that I will do from time to time on noteable books in addtion to my regular, shorter Reviews in 140.

Butcher Baker (#1) 

He’s pig-headed and he likes women. So what?

Written by Joe Casey
Art by Mike Huddleston

Butcher Baker is a patriotic-looking, lewd-mouthed sex fiend that comes perilously close to being a cheap imitation of Alan Moore’s Comedian from Watchmen. If a panel does not depict him drinking booze, doing drugs, or getting down with several women, it’s because he’s too busy discussing a black ops mission with a government agent and, of all people, Jay Leno. He is shown punching Osama Bin Laden in the head, too.

When all of this comes together, it makes for a rushed first issue that tries too hard to rest on the laurels of past satirical comics that did a good job of being entertaining, pertinent, and funny. The writing seems to focus on Baker being pitched a mission to blow up a super villain prison, but then quickly jumps into a messy montage - Baker being chased by a police officer while driving a red, white, and blue truck that would make Optimus Prime jealous - and quickly loses coherence.

Artist Huddleston cannot be blamed for the mess, as his stylized action scenes are a high point of the issue. His attention to detail is admirable when it matters, but he also knows when to pull back and show the scale of the Baker’s whereabouts as he approaches the prison. With such quality art, it is a shame that Casey does not make Baker seem interesting until an unexpected revelation on the last page.

Score: 6.5/10  

Caligula (#1)

A peasant wants to kill an emperor, and he just might get his way.

Written by David Lapham (
Art by German Nobile

Roman Emperor Caligula is best known for his brutality, lavishness, and sexual depravity, which are all shown in full gory detail in this first issue by Lapham, who is no stranger to writing about men disemboweling each other in his gruesome yet successful Crossed series.

Lapham takes his time to set up the motivation for young peasant Junius to exact revenge on Caligula, who raped and murdered every member of his family, but not always in that order. While the imagery by Nobile shows highly detailed decapitated bodies and gutted corpses, it is the narration deftly written by Lapham that keeps the focus not on the violent acts, but on the insanity of the man behind them. Junius is the everyman who has it out for a madman, and it is this stark opposition that makes the story feel like an insider report of what it was like to be under a lunatic Emperor’s rule.

The writing is rich with Roman terminology that might seem pretentious in another writer’s hands, but here it adds a subtle flavor to the proceedings that sell it as a period piece. With such a realistic setting, the supernatural twist at the end might startle some, but the adept storytelling is bound to make them come back for more.

Score: 8 out of 10

Echoes (#4)

A schizophrenic uncovers a startling truth, but is it all in his head?

Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by Rashan Ekedal

Fialkov again proves his mastery of writing an unreliable narrator that the reader desperately wants to believe. Main protagonist Brian has been led to think that his father is a murderer who cuts up small girls and sews them back together; he also thinks that he has inherited this horrendous trait.

The tension is constantly on the rise as Brain sees visions of murdered children and feels the sidewalk turn to a pit of stitched-up hands ready to pull him under, but it is quickly shown in Ekedal’s haunting pencils that this is all in his head. Brain suffers from schizophrenia, a trait also inherited from his father, and every interaction he has with a character must be second-guessed by the reader to whether it is reality, a mirage, or something in between. But that is where the fun is in reading a story where the main character could be a horrible murderer or an innocent victim.

It is Fialkov’s intimate knowledge of mental disorders and their side effects that allows him to craft an ingenious, unexpected, delightful twist at the end that makes one wish this was not a limited series with one issue left to go.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Reviews in 140 are comic reviews in 140 characters or less; done this way to satisfy a world of Twitter-fied readers who want a quick overview of a comic and a rating so they can decide if it’s worth buying at the store each week.

Green Lantern (#64) - 7/10
An exciting start with some startling imagery, despite the overuse of Parallax.

Green Lantern Corps (#58) - 7/10
The Parallax gimmick is already old, but Kyle's constructs make for some dazzling art.

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors (#8) - 8/10
An intimate rivalry gives this issue heart, but Hal is drawn hollow and wooden. 

No comments:

Post a Comment