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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Comic Reviews -- Week of June 2nd


Philip K. Dick's Electric Ant #3: Ok Electric Ant. Now I'm just confused. No, no, not about the story; I've read enough "mind-bending" science fiction to keep up. What is really throwing me is the roller-coaster quality of this comic. I swear, I go from interested to totally bored on a page to page basis. However, this was probably the best issue in the series so far. It finally went moved the story in an interesting and unique direction, as writer David Mack and artist Pascal Alixe finally start to take advantage of the comic book's inherent and individual possibilities for telling a Dick-ian story about (among other things) disassembling objective reality. We're now more than halfway through this limited series, and I honestly still don't know how I feel about it, other than I know the Paul Pope covers might be too pretty for such a inconsistent read.

Franken-Castle #17: IT. IS. ALIVE! Punisher is now Franken-Castle (albeit temporarily). I've been an outspoken supporter of Remender's run on the Punisher ever since he turned Frank into a re-assembled killer carcass, and with issue #17 it's clear that despite this drastic transformation, Remender is actually going to tie the story back into the events of the his opening "Living in Darkness" arc. It's been widely publicized, but basically the next step is a newly supernatural Punisher going after a list of villains who tried to kill him, and the one who actually pulled it off. I'd be much more excited if I thought there was a chance any of these villains would actually die, but here's holding that at least one gets it. After reading lots of criticisms that the series has felt disjointed since Frank was disemboweled, I'm happy to see that Remender is working towards creating a cohesive story across the Punisher's death and after-life. On an unrelated note, I really loved the cover to this issue. Frankencastle so alone.


The Bulletproof Coffin #1: This was amazing. If you didn't buy this comic, slap yourself across the face with a frozen steak and then run back to the rack and grab a copy.


The Killer: Modius Vivendi #2 (ARCHAIA, Matz, Luc Jacamon): If it weren't for the fact that The Killer was originally published about 10 years ago, I would look at this comic as a French version of the best American crime books, i.e. Criminal or Scalped. Instead, I have to look at it as another example of European comics being ahead of the American curve. Although each of the aforementioned titles has its own criminal ethics and distinct style, they are all written and drawn with the same level of gritty gravitas; The Killer, however, handles itself with a much cooler, and at times more disturbing, existential attitude toward murder, death, and morality. It's French, what did you expect? The Killer himself is an incredibly fascinating character, one who is fully realized yet still still has the capacity to surprise. The narrative logic of this issue, and how the killer weaves together his general discontent with modern life to his code of ethics and back again is the stuff of truly heady (and wordy) comic book scripting. I think I said it last time, but it deserves being said again; the Killer is a book that takes a seemingly tired story (nameless assassin ponders his morality and life) and proves that a skillful writer/artist team can open up new avenues through even the most familiar stories. If you can put up with a lot of text and some unsettling ethical conclusions, I highly recommend you read this book.


The Bulletproof Coffin (IMAGE, David Hine, Shaky Kane): Big surprise right? This book is unlike anything I've read in awhile, and I mean that in the best way possible. Veteran comic book creators David Hine and Shaky Kane have made a truly worthwhile comic, one that wriggles into your brain like a bad Silver Age hangover. From the looks of this first issue, Hine is writing a love letter to the horror/suspense comics of yesteryear through the lens of oddball meta-horror. After just one issue, I'm entirely impressed. Shaky Kane might not be as big a deal in the US as he is in the UK, which is a shame. His art conveys a sense of the distinctly disturbed atmosphere inherent in even the most outwardly banal setting. Kane is yet another example of why serious comic book fans absolutely need to pay attention to comics from across the pond. In summary, if I had to describe Bulletproof Coffin in an easy, referential way, I'd say "Blotto Jack Kirby got in a fight and passed out in the Twilight Zone." If that doesn't sell you, I don't know what will.

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