Thursday, February 07, 2008

MODOK'S 11, CRAWL SPACE: XXXOMBIES, No. 5

Super-Villain Team-Up: MODOK'S 11

Yeah, the art slightly undermines the book. Mostly in a warmup for an X-Men comic sort of way than in a really awful way (except for the big explosion-climax that didn't make any sense).

Basically, imagine all the complaints people have about Rob Liefeld, and then imagine him changing his art in order to address those points. That's what it looks like, complete with the little loss of awesome you'd also get. There are some nice touches, though (particularly with the Spot and MODOK). And this might be the first comic where the colorist, an individual by the name of Guru eFX, works so much overtime that it's nearly impossible to see where the drawing ends and the coloring begins. Perhaps a weightier inker might've helped.

But the art isn't really all that bad for a super hero comic (it's not like Steve McNiven drew it!), and it's certainly drawn, not photoshopped into place. The biggest problem with the art is that it seems inappropriate for a comic seemingly designed to appeal to 20 bloggers. They're the only people that take MODOK seriously (it's not like he's Arnim Zola or Ego, the Living Planet!). You'd almost think that a more blogger-approved artist would've made for a more complete package. Still, it's likable, especially if you're not one of those tireless people who saw what a wrote about Liefeld above and thought "Oh, you mean everything?" Really, get a new box of soap.

Anyway, that was a lot of words to say that, like Villains United, the star of the book isn't the artist drawing these D-List characters, it's the writer turning them into engaging and interesting characters, which Van Lente pretty much does. He's mostly having fun here, and he needs his characters to move through certain plot elements and genre conventions, so there isn't a tremendous amount of room for him to add depth. But Everyone gets at least one nice little character arc, one little deceit and one little neat use of their power. The gags work (like the Infinicide reveal) and the actufal heist has some actual moments that will stick.

I am still unclear as to who the other two in the eleven are meant to be though. Once you start looking at the candidates, the candidate list blaoons to five of a hundred.

Still. Good fun.

Crawl Space: XXXombies #3

My name is Justin Fox, and I fully endorse this message. At least 85%. Big, loose, wild mark-making from Kieron Dwyer greatly elevates Remender's mobsters, rednecks and pornstars versus zombies apocalypse. The drawing is 100% aces all the way and the colors are solid and limited in palette (often monochromatic) all the way through. But the lettering. THE LETTERING!

Most of the lettering is one of those (possibly custom) fonts with the photoshop/illustrator balloons and that's fine. Whatever. It's not my thing, but I've learned to look past it in so many comics. But the screaming and yelling and the sound effects are all done in this comicraft style that is wholey at odds with the rest of the art. I'm not sure why Dwyer didn't at least do the sound effects himself. All these big, round letters with drop shadows and outlines atop Dwyer's jagged art is totally jarring. And it's even more of a shame, because I have to give letterer Rus Wooton at least some props for at least trying to make the computer lettering interesting. He's certainly trying to be a cartoonist about it, just maybe the wrong one.

HOWEVER! Pediatric Nurses versus Newborns versus Pornstars in all-out zombie carnage. So awesome. And not awesome in a, "Oh, it's a giant robot spider, why does it always have to be a giant robot spider," sort of way. It is awesome in a fully visceral, baby-brain eating, head smashing and splooshing glarpp!ing and evil zombie babies and headless babies and babies flying through the air and a fat man slipping in baby blood and smashing his fat ass in a pile of zombie babies sort of way.

Comedy gold.

No. 5.

I have one chapter left before I try to find Vol. 2, fail, and order it online.

This MIGHT BE BETTER than Tekkon Kinkreet.

The linework's even scratchier, but there's more weight to the compositions. There's a weightiness to at least two thirds of the images Matsumoto chooses that are strangely affecting. On my train ride home this evening, I had to turn off my ipod, halfway ignore (eg be a lot less creepy toward) this beautiful creature standing in front of me and just soak in the imagery. Gorgeous picture-making emotionally evocative stuff. These are the faces of impending doom. The inevitibility of death, the end of honor, the futility of tradition, the sadness of betrayal, the pointlessness of war, knowledge that your best friends will proably kill you before your Russian doll wife gives birth to your robot son... I'll make a bold declaration and call No. 5 the Once Upon a Time in the West of apocalyptic rogue robot fighting his former allies mangas.

Absolutely fantastic, beautiful, wonderful, spectacular stuff. I suspect I'll re-read this a few hundred times in a few different editions over the next few years.

Damn good week for genre comics.

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