I like to think we do a pretty good job here at Blog@ of linkblogging to most of the important or interesting items that pop up around the Interwebs. The one thing we don’t cover with any sort of regularity, however, is reviews, which of course a lot of folks online do, even if it only amounts to someone saying “this sucks.”
With that in mind, I’d like to take a look at some of the more recent online reviews I’ve come across that tickled my fancy, starting with a number of posts that have focused on the works of Grant Morrison.
We’ll begin with Andrew Hickey, who is doing an impressive job (four lengthy posts and counting!) of examining Grant Morrison’s recent work for DC, particularily the Seven Soldiers series:
Gravity here is the life trap, a crushing force that we have to fight or die, a force that should by rights overwhelm us. In fact, much of the Seven Soldiers story involves the characters in orbit, sucked in by the gravitational pull of ‘black holes’ – absences (the missing god of the witch-people, the missing eighth soldier, Zatanna and Klarion’s absent fathers) and occasionally pulled in by each other’s force before swinging off in their own directions, their orbits perturbed by the presence of characters of whose existence they are unaware.
Okay…but this ignores a major point. The Invisibles’ artwork sucks. In fact, in virtually every title Morrison’s worked on, the artwork sucks. I know some people like Frank Quitely, and, by contemporary super-hero standards he’s not bad…which is to say, if you’re not grading on a curve, he’s pretty lousy. Moreover (with the possible exception of Arkham Asylum) Morrison hardly ever makes an effort to collaborate with his artists. You don’t get the sense with Morrison (as you do with Alan Moore) that he chooses people he wants to work with based on a particular project.
Matthias Wivel over at Metabunker, basically agrees with Berlatsky’s point:
I can’t help but wonder whether the frequently occurring, bizarre storytelling lacunae in Morrison’s work stems from his lack of visualization, rather than the individual artists’ shortcomings: I’m thinking of such things as Professor X’s unexplained escape from gang of Quentin Quire in the X-Men story ”Riot at Xavier’s”, the wierdly convoluted and muddled opening of the first Batman issue, where two Batmen are in play and the Joker is suddenly shot, or the bizarre sequence in the first issue of All-Star Superman where it appears that Clark Kent changes into Superman and saves a boy while his cup of coffee is in midair… or something like that. (Wish I could actually provide the examples here, but my comics collection is largely inaccessible, unfortunately). There’s lots of this kind of stuff in Morrison’s comics, no matter who draws them.
Moving away from Morrison, Berlatsky also has a review of Ai Yazawa’s Nana:
Great as the central drama is, it’s only a small part of what makes the volume so compelling. Yazawa’s story unfolds in a leisurely manner, but it’s filled with details, subplots, asides, and minor characters. The world she creates seem real, and new developments and emotional subcurrents have time to arise naturally out of what has come before.
I always enjoy it when a writer makes me reconsider a work I’ve long since dismissed, which is why I’ve been enjoying Jog’s My Life is Choked With Comics column over at the Savage Critics. This little bit on Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson’s Batman: The Cult, fer instance, almost made the coffee come out of my nose:
The Cult wasn’t inspired by The Dark Knight Returns. It comes off as an utterly slavish homage to it. Hell, call it a rip-off (I’m sure many have), but this book’s appropriation is a bit too comprehensive for that. If Frank Miller’s book is the big tough dog with the bowler hat in the Looney Tunes, this book is the jumpy little dog that races around and does nothing but tell it how completely fucking awesome it is. I don’t know if that was even the creative team’s intent, but that’s nonetheless how it is.
Nobody has their face impaled on a model church steeple, though. Instead, Batman faces the Deacon hand-to-hand Captain Kirk-style in an underground fighting arena, eventually handing out such a phenomenal ass-kicking that it ruins the Deacon’s entire religion. Just to put that in bold: the book climaxes with Batman beating the shit out of an entire religion. Can’t you see why I like this thing?!
Meanwhile, The Onion’s AV Club has another comics review roundup available to peruse. While I don’t always agree with their critical assessments, they’re often an effective example of how to write about comics in a succinct yet insightful manner:
Instead, Speak of the Devil is bogged down by stiff, dull dialogue—uncharacteristic of Hernandez, who seems to have slept through this issue—and populated by stock Hernandez characters like Val’s buxom lesbian buddy Patty and the equally vavoom-ish Linda, Val’s scandalously young, cocktail-waitress step-mom. Still, the Rear Window-meets-Brick premise is promising enough to warrant a revisit later in the series, and Hernandez’s art, as always, is a study in pregnant brushstrokes and pools of shadow.
Finally, I leave you with Not Blog-X, the Web site that dares to ask the question: “Were the X-Men comics in the 1990s as bad as you think?”:
The image of Cable on the cover is probably the Liefeld highlight of the comic. Not only is Cable holding a gun that appears to be over five feet long, but there’s also something going on with the bottom half of his body that I can’t even begin to describe.