I’m going to try my hand at a regular themed column. It probably won’t work, especially as I will soon be working five days a week for the first time in my life, but I’ll try it anyway. And guess what, my review of the latest 52 was the first installment; that’s right, I’m doing what I can only assumeÂ is CBSG’s thirdÂ retcon*.
The first comic I’m going to look at it is one that’s near and dear to one of our contributors named Greg’s heart; I’m going to see how coherent the latest issue of Rex Mundi is for new readers.
It’s only fitting, since I sort of ripped this whole idea off from one of his column serieses. Even if mine is going to be about new comics. Also, it wasn’t inspired by a manifesto of any kind**. Anyway, on to the judgment!
This comic went almost too far in its effort to promote accessibility. There’s a whole page of Story So Far recap that I swear almost put me in to a coma. I appreciate the attention to detail, but it did come across a bit as overkill. I’m guess I’m used to comics that can be summed up in a couple smart ass paragraphs (Casanova) or just open in media res and fill you in as they go (Ellis and Morrison), or comics where all the backstory work was done 40 years ago and all you need is a plot synopsis to get running(any long running superhero comic).
Since this book involves a lot of world building and alternative history, it’s a bit more complicated than that. More successful in recapping the story, for those of us prone to spontaneous comas when they deal with information overloads, were four short character profiles in the form of classified documents on the four main characters. That’s two pages of recap; like I said, it seemed that maybe Nelson andÂ Ferreyra went a little too farÂ with theÂ new reader friendliness, althoughÂ it’s probably better that there was TMI than not enough.Â
Was all of this back story really neccesary to follow the issue? Not really. You can figure it out for yourself pretty easily. Everything’s on the page. It’s an alternative history story (although the amount of alternative history you’re not going to appreciate unless you a) read all of that story so far recap) and b) really like history, so I can see why Greg likes this so much), there’s a war on, and in the middle of that, one man is searching for the truth about the grail.
There’s not a lot going on, plotwise, but just enough to keep the issue humming along. There’s a history lecture toward the end of the issue, but I was a history minor, so I have a tolerance for that sort of thing, and since it’s about the Holy Grail, I found it pretty interesting anyway, even if it could all be conspiracy mumbo jumbo for all I know. There’s also a menacing Albino lurking about, so I guess if you were so inclined you could make Da Vinci Code references. I won’t, because I avoided the damn thing like a plague in two mediums.
There are a lot of references to previous chapters of the story as the issue goes on. It’s almost nostalgic, really, as it takes me back to the time when superhero comics were filled with footnotes that breathlessly told you about when the last time Spider-Man fought the Vulture. These footnotes don’t mention either of those characters, andÂ they doÂ give a little background information, but mostly are just references to previous chapters in the story; in case you just want to read specific chapters instead of the whole story, I guess.
The art is solid. It tells the story well. It’s a little too shiny for my tastes; it sort of resembles the digital paint technique used in Origin in 1602 and John Cassday’s work on Astonishing X-Men. I can’t heap superlatives on it, but it does the job the script asks of it. It’s basically a talking heads issue, so it’s not like there are any real chances for Ferreyra has any chances to show off, but he does his job well, and if nothing else, should be commended for drawing and coloring his own work here. Don’t see that too often in a mainstream comic.
This comic is wholly accessible. Almost too much so, but you could follow it perfectly well if this were your first issue. Taken on its own merits, it was perfectly good, but I’m not nearly as enamored with it as the Esteemed Mr. Burgas. It’s just not my cup of tea; I find alternative history’s more interesting in the theory than practice (hell, I find real history more interesting that way, too). I’m not sure I’ll ever read another one of these comics, but the one I did read was perfectly coherent, and I’d certainlyÂ reccomend pickingÂ it up if this sort of thingÂ isÂ something you really enjoy.Â
Next time- My first issue of Usagi Yojimbo! Or maybe I make fun of Alex Ross’s new Justice League series. We’ll see.
*- The first two being retconning Joe Rice out of being a founding member of the blog and replacing him with Black Canary and making Hatcher a clone of Burgas, even though that doesn’t make any sense. At one point, Cronin was going to be a Skrull, but I think Geoff Johns retconned that retcon, so I don’t know what the hell you call that.
**- Except the Communist Manifesto, of course. That inspires everything I do, even if I’ve made it through college without ever actually reading it.
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