Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chronic "Cut To The Chase" Reviews!

Undying Love # 1
Image Comics
Tomm Coker/Daniel Freedman

Undying Love promised to be a very simple Raymond Chandleresque hard boiler about killing vampires until the tough guy can be with his girl.  And it almost made it.

If you like Maleev, I can't see you not liking the art in this book, and there are a couple of fun twists.  I particularly enjoyed the scene where the unnamed anti-hero feeds Mei with blood like a junkie.

Coker ends up jamming a deeper mystery about "the balance" into the mix, and I don't know why.  Does he not trust his hook enough?  I don't know.  It reminds me of the Pitch Black sequel that made Riddick about 93.7% less interesting by turning him into a universal scale messianic Furion.  I would have preferred to see the story stripped down to bare lust and vengeance. But maybe that's just me.

The balancing stuff was irritating to me, but not a deal-breaker.  My larger issue was the fact that I didn't buy the romance even a little.  In order for this story to really work, that love has to resonate.  This is all territory well trodden - in order for the action feel right and justified, you have to feel that intoxicating obsession that occurs when a woman really "gets" you.  None of that is even attempted in the first issue.  Undying Love is noticeably bereft of love.

Caligula # 1
Avatar Comics
David Lapham/German Nobile

It's hard for me to review this objectively, (if such a phenomenon actually exists) because I love Lapham's work on Crossed so much, and my tendency is to internally shriek "enough already"!

Caligula is four color depravity taken about as far as it can go.  Just like Crossed.  And hes so good at it, is Lapham.  On the one hand, I have to rationally give Lapham his due in creating a character that is undeniably disturbing.  That's the guy, historically.  And that's Lapham's job, so mission accomplished.  But when I take Crossed and Caligula together, I just want him to stop for both of us.  Which is my problem, really, and not even a potential issue if your only exposure to Lapham is say, Deadpool Max.  Which is also depraved, but about 7 shades more subtle than this.

Caligula very much considered himself a god.  The twist on history in this book is that he might well be.  And that's extra scary!  Not for the feint of heart, but if your stomach isn't turned enough by Crossed, maybe Caligula will satisfy your need for nausea.  Incidentally, if Avatar had a Dungeons & Dragons alignment, it would be Lawful Evil.  And that's why I love it so.

Scarlet # 5
Brian Bendis/Alex Maleev

Scarlet book one ends with a decompressed whimper, unfortunately.  I'm not giving up on the series, not even close.  But essentially this issue consists of Angela Going getting back in the game, and Scarlet shouts empty platitudes at a crowd, and then begins to wonder if she's bitten off more than she can masticate.  And there's a grenade thrown in there somewhere.  Whatever.

When Scarlet launched it was shooting energy sparks, and I caught fire with it.  Obviously this comic book wasn't going to solve the issue of justice for humanity.  But the attempt seemed interesting, and Scarlet engaging us directly seemed interesting, and the promise of interactivity seemed positively ground breaking.

What we have in issue # 5 is a young girl shouting to the Powers That Be that they can't hide any more.  How she means to suss out this corruption is unknown.  She wisely concludes that not all the police are rotten, and that wide scale violence is probably not the answer. Fine.

So what now?  Is she going to wait to be a victim again and then really start shooting folks?  Is she going to start a network of tipsters and take their word for it?

I don't know.  Maybe that's the point Bendis is trying to make.  That as much as we want justice, even if you worked aggressively outside the broken system it would be too messy.  I guess I would prefer that she had a more focused plan, even if it was a bad one.  I still have faith, and I'm still moving on with the team for book two.  I'm done evangelizing for Scarlet until she proves herself worthy, though.  

- Ryan

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