COMING SOON TO IMAGE COMICS: WAHOO MORRIS
Image will start off by reprinting the first three issues of the series that were originally self-published by Too Hip Gotta Go Graphics before getting to new material. I happened to come upon copies of the first three issues, so I gave them a look. And now I'm kicking myself because I'm going to have to wait six months before I get to read anything new. This is a really terrific book.
Set in Canada, it's a story of four bandmates. There's a bunch of romantic tension in there, some mystical elements, and a whole lot of fun. Creator and writer/artist Craig A Taillefer does an excellent job with the storytelling, not skimping on a thing. Most pages have 6 or more panels, with plenty of detail in both the characters and the backgrounds. His strength lies in his character drawing, where each has their own look, dresses their own way, and has clothes that fit them and look natural. This is about the "real world" and the people that inhabit it. Taillefer doesn't rely on one or two ciphers for his characters. There are two women leads in the book: One's a petite (waifish) lead-singer. Another is a more solidly built, taller, more butch guitarist. The drummer is, er, "African-Canadian" and looks it without resorting to any sort of odd or obvious techniques. His hair and facial features are enough to convey the fact. It's not the oft relied upon white guy with a darker tint to color him in. The second male, the other guitarist, looks like one of those early-20s rock star wannabes. He's a little grungy, I suppose, but also bears something of a resemblance to a blond James Dean.
The only real complaint I'd have of the three issues so far is that there hasn't been a whole lot of development for the characters of Arnie or Chas.
That, and the fact that Bash is a comics inker. That part seems a bit much. It's a topic talked about in the third letters column - about the linkage in the creative mind between art and music. Maybe so, but it just seems to me a bit much. It's not quite as bad as Captain America's artistic tendencies, but still… The scene in the third issue revolving around Bash's latest inking assignment is pretty funny. Since the payoff is good, I'll go with the premise.
The first issue has a two-issue fantasy dream sequence thing in the back with some female nudity, but it's not gratuitous. And it's a rarity in comics - the woman's breasts aren't floating high and aren't drawn with a compass. That's the only real "adult material" in the first three issues that I've seen.
Another interesting thing: The pages are numbered sequentially. The second issue's first page isn't page #1. It's page #25. This book is meant to be a serialized novel of some sort. The on-going plotline has to do with some sort of mystical thing, so I'll be interested in seeing how that works out. But the strength of the book lies in its characterizations and more human elements.
Oh, the lettering is done by hand, looks a little uneven, but fits perfectly. It helps give the book a "homemade" feeling.
I don't know what compels me to say this, but what the heck - the book looks like a Canadian comic. I can't really explain that comment much. Maybe it just reminds me of THE COPYBOOK TALES in some way. I don't know. It just screams Canada at me. Is it the hairstyles and clothing choices of the characters? Maybe… Is there some Canadian School of Comics I'm noticing subliminally that I should be more conscious of?
In any case, I would really recommend WAHOO MORRISwhen Image starts publishing it this month. It's easy to read. It's compelling. It's a great example of a small press book doing well. I really want to see this one succeed and not look like "another Image non-line failure."
HERE COME DE JUDGE
Of all the words I can have for J.U.D.G.E. #1, the kindest are that I've read worse first issues.
First, as much as I've tried to keep an open mind about this, it is a T&A book. Any book which features as its lead character some sort of secret agent type person who wears 6 inch heels, tight leather pants, and what can only charitably be called a half-bustier would be kidding itself to think otherwise. And for all the gratuitous butt shots and shots of the character leaning over so the reader can get a good look -- well, it's a bit much to take. She's not alone, mind you. There is a pair of other similarly good-looking females on the team in this book that have had their clothes painted on.
So what's the book about? Said lead female is the head honcho of a team of agents of some sort sent to kill some guy in a car for some reason. It turns into a witch-hunt for some monster in a mausoleum. People die. The team is composed of two apparent veterans and a group of witless winy angst-ridden twenty-somethings. There's also three pages' worth of subplot in Tibet that may or may not factor into the story somewhere.
Just to top it all off, the inside back cover of this very first issue contains a "Story so far…" summary. Yes, that's right, for a book published without a previous "Making of…" or ½ or #0 issue, there's still back story to the first issue. This, generally speaking, could be considered poor storytelling. The only things we should know about the characters in the book is what they tell us through their actions and dialogue inside the story. An inside back-cover summary might be OK, particularly in a book with a lot of characters such as this. But to divulge more info about the characters and the book as a whole in a text piece at the end than in the actual story is a bit scary.
In the end, I'd rather see more of Greg Horn's pen and ink work. And I'd rather see someone else writing.
A SMATTERING OF REVIEWS
GENERATION X #63 starts off slowly. This is the start of COUNTER-X, written by Warren Ellis with Brian Wood, pencilled by Steve Pugh, and inked by Sandu Florea. It basically sets up a situation elsewhere and re-introduces us to the characters. The characters act like a bunch of teenagers, I'm happy to say. It's great to see Jubilee again, and I hope that the creative team has an idea of what they're doing with her, past the "annoying former X-men mall rat" thing that usually goes on. She's dressing like I imagine a rebellious teenager in the year 2000 might, and she looks Asian again! (You'd be amazed at how many previous artists forgot about that.)
Paige looks to be playing the catalyst in this story. Emma Frost appears to be the enabler, and a bit of a catty one at that. Sean is the teacher, using his years of experience in the X-Men and Interpol to his advantage. Jubilee and Jono so far have no role other than a bit of comic relief. Monet is the fragile one. Angelo is the brash cocky member. Seems like a good mix.
Ellis and Wood don't use codenames at all throughout the story. There seems to be a conscious effort to recognize the characters as teenagers and people rather than ciphers in spandex with distinguishing powers.
We haven't seen much yet, but there's more coming. This is part one of four.
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #578 leads off with a Terry Dodson cover. Now there's someone I'd love to see draw a Superman title. Ironically, Dodson used to draw GENERATION X back when I cared so little for it that I didn't bother reading it.
Unfortunately, Pablo Raimondi and Jose Marzan Jr handle the art chores. It's not ugly. It's just not terribly pretty to look at. The faces all seem rather blah, and often pin-headed. Most of the page layouts are all over the place. No two panels line up. Lois Lane gets stuck in a god-awful green one-piece jumpsuit suitable for extra-planetary travel and just looks hideous. Heck, she looks naked with a layer of green painted on.
This is the first issue of J.M. DeMatteis' run on the book. The story itself is a bit redundant - Superman has been known to call for a time out and go talk to Lois about their problems in some far-off spot before. It's also terribly dopey and metaphysical. Nothing happens. Nothing changes. DeMatteis only gains strong points for the elements of humor injected in the book when the Martian Manhunter shows up. The Oreos are back! Hilarious.
The book's other redeeming characteristic: There's a letter in there from me. =)
TOP 10 #7 is a more light-hearted issue than previous efforts. It's still the most creative and interesting series being published today, with wonderful detailed art from Zander Cannon and Gene Ha. Alan Moore outdoes himself every month, introducing some frustrating politics into the mix this month.
TRANSMETROPOLITAN #33 is a great issue. The filthy assistants have a day on the town without Spider. What follows is a wonderful piece of characterization, fitting perfectly into the overall plot arc of the series. There are some great one-liners, including the show-stopper on the last panel of the story. And, yes, Lola has a cameo. (See the movie RUN LOLA RUN. It's on DVD and it's pretty good. Very bright and colorful, set up as a video game kind of thing, and occurs in real time. Sort of.)
I just hope someday in the future of this series Steve Chung gets freed…
USA TODAY - BAM! POW! THIS
I picked up the USA TODAY on Monday to take a look at the NCAA tournament coverage. I'm particularly excited this year since the team I root for - St. Johns - is a number two seed, and has a chance to go all the way, I think.
But imagine my surprise at the bonus coverage of comics!
The LIFE section contained a front-page headline story on Devin Grayson's RELATIVE HEROES series. The headline? Get ready to groan. We've been here before:
"BAM! ZAP! Comics book kids clobber the forces of old."
The article itself isn't that bad, once you get past the stereotyping in the opening paragraphs, although I assume that's a large part of the story here. It still grates on me.
It was just a month ago or so that I asked what had happened to the Squiddies, the awards given out by those wacky denizens of rec.arts.comics.*. It's my old haunting grounds and the place where this column originated. I even got three votes one year for Usenet Poster of the Year.
In any case, check out the Comic Wire from yesterday for the results of this year's awards. ComicBookResources.com won for web site. Whoo-hoo! Thanks, Usenetters!
Be sure to check back in on Friday for a Very Special Pipeline2.