VACATION -- ALL I EVER WANTED
I took a couple of days' vacation last week, and so had plenty of time to catch up on my reading, amongst other things. So this week's column is devoted to some of the stuff from my "Read Me" pile that's been sitting around lo these many months.
The first book was LEGENDS OF THE DC UNIVERSE #14. This is the one written by Mark Evanier and drawn by Steve Rude and Bill Reinhold. As you'd expect, this issue is a complete throwback to the Kirby tradition at DC. Rude's art is, indeed, gorgeous. I'd love to see Kevin Nowlan ink over his stuff someday. I think they would match up better than Rude does here with Reinhold. Nothing against Reinhold, but his inking is a bit rougher than the smooth pencils that Rude provides. I think Rude's stuff looks best with a smoother line. If not Nowlan, try Mark Farmer. I think they're all in the same class.
I know I'm going to get into trouble with this review, so I'll just come out and say it: Those Kirby stories from the 60s are not my style. Too overwritten. Often too 2-dimensional. And that's what you get here. It's a story you have to labor to read through. Rude's art is not so incomprehensible that you need to explain everything. And Evanier's plot is not so bewildering that everything has to be hammered home so darn much.
Like I said, this isn't my typical stuff. It's beautiful to look at, but. . .
Just to balance things out just a bit, though: Mark Evanier's weekly column in the pages of the COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE is the highlight of every issue. I think it's even better than the much lauded "But I Digress" column that Peter David writes.
Next: Look at the cover on the left to SECRET ORIGINS 80 PAGE GIANT #1. First, why does Spoiler look like a cute alien Smurf?!? The funny thing is I think it looks really cool. I just don't think that's the proper rendition for Spoiler. Second, to anyone who complains about the females in comics having supermodel-length legs, take a look at Robin there. His legs are longer than anything I've seen Rob Liefeld draw on a woman lately. (Although admittedly, I haven't seen much from Liefeld lately. What happened to the ROB comic he was so hyped about?!?) Finally, if the cover of the comic says "Spoiler," should I not read the inside for fear of being spoiler?
The insides of the book are pretty good. I had forgotten a lot of the details on some of these origins, so it was a nice refresher course. It's also REALLY nice to see Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos back together on Impulse again, if only for one short story. Ethan Van Sciver, who deserves some sort of award for "Breakout Artist of the Year," draws wonder Girl's origin. I've been really impressed by his Impulse stuff, and this is just as good. He combines some of the less annoying bits of manga influence with the fine linework I used to enjoy so much from Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane. He's even started to lay out his pages a little more cleanly from this story's time.
But now back to our weekly haul:
ERIK LARSEN PRESENTS
This week the writing output of Erik Larsen includes WOLVERINE #141 and SAVAGE DRAGON #62.
We go first to our favorite Canucklehead mutie, Wolvie. As explained previously, Larsen is writing a more moody and emotional Wolverine since the saga in outer space. This issue is really no exception, but there's one great additional bit: Jubilee's in here! Whoo-hoo! I admit it: I like Jubilee. Always have. It probably comes from that same part of me that likes Jar Jar. Anyone who annoys people in such an irrational manner clearly endears his or herself to me.
Aside from the moodiness and introspection, we have some excellent art (as usual) from Leinel Francis Yu and a couple of pointless fight scenes. It's the latter part that is starting to worry me. We've seen countless fight scenes since Larsen has taken over this book, with the promise that there's something more going on just under the surface of them. I don't know if that indicates some sort of grand conspiracy to get under Wolverine's skin or what, but I'm hoping we get to some sort of point with all of this soon, too. It might start to wear thin.
SAVAGE DRAGON #62, on the other hand, is Larsen at his finest. Larsen is best when he draws what he writes, whether an editor is looking over his shoulder or not. He's a very visual storyteller and sometimes that doesn't translate well when another person enters the equation. But DRAGON #62 shows off some of the best art we've seen from Larsen, as well as featuring a story so full of twists that I can't really talk about it all that much. You see, Pipeline Commentary and Review is a spoiler-free zone. I've violated that on a few sparse occasions with accompanying spoiler space, but I try not to. And I won't here.
The wedding itself is done darn well. The pacing is superb, as we go from two 12-panel pages in a row, nearly completely silent, to the grand money shot on the following two-page spread. It's got all the impact you'd want. Later on, the issue takes on some X-FILES-ish tones in a scene with Dragon and Powerhouse. There's some great use of shadows in there, and it evokes just as much moodiness and tension as we are seeing in WOLVERINE.
A lot of things are set to wrap up in the next issue, and a lot more are yet to come. DRAGON is a superhero soap opera in many ways. There are storylines running in this book still that began in the first year of the series, but you don't need to go back quite that far to understand it all. It's fairly episodic in nature. Read one of the current issues of the Dragon (#60 is a good jumping-on point) and if you like what you see, go back and pick up one of the trade paperbacks.
Another nice thing about the series is that Larsen is committed to collecting the series in trade paperback form for all time. They're nice editions with added pages and sometime sketchbook excerpts. They look good on the shelf, and they'll help you catch up if you feel the need to.