Saturday, October 28, 2006

Worldstorm Signal Number - - -huh?

Fessing up here. First-gen Image was,as advertised, why comics stunk in the 90s. And why the outside world thinks comic geeks are dorks for making cash cows of these bull turds. Splash page panels, gratuituous runway posing, zero storytelling skills, zero story, horrendous art ,retarded characters. Roping in writers who could actually write - - Moore, Robinson, Gaiman, Sim, Miller, Morrison, Casey - - - helped a bit. Nothing classic. Just less painful. Everybody's upgraded since then . . .except maybe for Rob Leifeld and Jim Lee. But Lee's taken his chunk of that universe over to DC and it's been spoiling for a proper revamp for ages. Here you go, then. Least it's smart enough to trot out a sound strategy from the get-go, roping industrial-stength rockstar writers - - - Grant, Gail, Garth, Azzarello, Carey ,Gage- - - and effectively banning Brandon Choi from writing anything . . . not that he ever did any. A rundown of the first four. In ascending order.

Written by Mike Carey
Drawn by Whilce Portacio

Cyberpunk with fairies. Wetworks always struck me as a shitload of eh? No-bearing "characters", beyond lame concept. Universal Monsters hotwired by Tom Clancy? Paramilitary monsters are so misguided a node of cool, eight shades of wrong not even a manga wonderboy on acid could whip into a half-life. What I said - - - cyberpunk with fairies. The slog-through's a nostalgia drip gone rancid. It's superhero comics with no brains and Whitney Houston redoing Dolly Parton all over again. And that's a bad way to live. So an "extinction level" weapon is stolen. So a rogue vampire stole it. So a werewolf cop appears. So werewolves and vampires used to be at war. So there's a guy who communes with the departed and another with golden skin. So everyone talks like a Jerry Bruckheimer action movie. So the fuck what? Granted,thing reads with a bit more zip. Carey's filling Brandon Choi's shoes and those are shoes even hacks like Brian Bendis or Chuck Austen could fill easy ,so it isn't really saying much. And this is the most faceless and pedestrian Carey's been. But this breaks my heart more because it's Portacio, at his shoddy nadir. One of mine and a guy you could trust. Alas , back in the day. Am outta here,for keeps. Sorry,Whilce. *

Written by Grant Morrison
Drawn by Jim Lee

Why nothing ticks at the prospects of Kaizen Gamorra ressurected , unholy alliances with Hellspont, Majestros in full metal makeover ,Hadrian and Voodoo in psychedelic porn mode or even the notion of corporate-funded superheroes could all come down to my not caring for any of these second-string Xmen dickwads now that Charest (or even Philips) isn't drawing them. Or to a no-show Warblade. Or to Grant on autopilot. And to Lee in progressive stages of devolution. Where's all the Steranko he said he's been channeling? Noise and color and a faint hallucinatory afterglow tiptoeing the thin line where it could just as well slide into bluster and gaudiness and a bad meth crashland. All badly drawn. And with no shiny new tropes for Morrison to trip out on. Not yet , at least , but that's probably just the wishful thinking talking. Could be massive. Could be cash-in yam. We'll see. * *

Gen 13#1
Written by Gail Simone
Drawn by Talent Caldwell

Bland posthuman teenagers. Postmodern comics' perpetual tricky gambit to pull. Long exhausted by Claremont Prime, leaving little elbow room for the odd tangents that could take it to other places where it can sing. Seen one run of Generation X and you've seen them all,honestly. And when the tweaking gets hardcore, as with Milligan's X Force , it's a thorn in the side of many fanboy wussies who want their beloved fancies to stay exactly in the same pitch. Gen 13 's a semi-guilty pleasure, though. Characters had more pulse ,I justify, but my forebrain's don't-kid-yourself centers know that's pushing it. OK, it had funny going for it. Gail has funny going for her as much as she has weird. And her ground-up reboot sidesteps one, downplays the other. You do sense that she feels for these overfamiliar misfits. A good sign. And this had me at artificial realities and megabudget snuff porn but only on a half curious/half faithful degree until whatever Gail has up her sleeve blossoms and mutates. Hopefully. * *

The Authority #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Drawn by Gene Ha

Grant's Authority zooms in , severely decompressing that blockbuster widescreen world into a claustrophobic one of ill-lit interiors and fragmented sentences and uncomfortable closeups, and dunks the hot and fast event overdrive Warren Ellis minted into a languid ocean of deep mood. Inversion over tradition any day. It's all mood-setting at this point. So nothing happens in the usual superhero comic sense of things happening. And I doubt if it will. But there is frisson in the way Ha fractures the panels to evoke salvage diver Ken's head full of static
- - - the stress, the confusion. Parallel dynamics curdle between his crippled marriage and the crippled Carrier he finds at the bottom of the ocean,portending a slow-burn build-up to something I haven't seen in an Authority book yet. You watch. My outrageous referent is the Tarkovsky of Solaris taking superheroes on and what a wonderful thing the Tarkovsky of Solaris taking superheroes on is. Give it up for Grant and stop your whining. Unexpected, right. But nobody reads Morrison expecting more of the same,anyway. Unless you count WildCATS.
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