Friday, April 03, 2009

Two reviews of two new-ish comics

Cars: The Rookie #1 (Boom Studios) Boom’s new kids line seems to have gotten off to a pretty great start with the universally-praised The Muppet Show #1 (seriously, did any one review that and not like it?) and the Mark Waid-written The Incredibles: Family Matters #1 last week, so I was curious to see how the next book in the line turned out.

There’s a pretty big problem with me reviewing a Cars comic though: I didn’t see the movie.

So I can only address this as a stand-alone comics reading experience. Do writer Alan J. Porter and artist Albert Carreres capture the look and spirit of the film? I don’t know.

The super-simple design of the lead character, Lightning McQueen, looks consistent with what I saw in commercials and trailers, missing only that glossy shine the computer-animated film afforded him/it (and which I was happy to see the comic didn’t attempt).

Like The Incredibles comic, I got the sense that this was very much aimed at a kids audience more than an all-ages audience, and probably isn’t something I’ll want to follow, but I could definitely see kids getting into it. It doesn’t read patronizingly or dumbed-down at all, but it doesn’t really address me at all either.

The story opens with Lightning being interviewed by another car for a TV special about his career, and he tells the story of how he got into racing, his words spinning everything quite positively, while the panels shown in the flashback reveal a very different version of events. It ends with a Mack truck named Mack rolling up and asking the reporter if he wants to know what really happened next.

This will be a four-issue miniseries, and the logo, which actually reads “The World of Cars,” seems to promise future Cars comics. It’s only $2.99 (Yeah, Boom!) but it has three different variant covers (Boo, Boom!), two by the same artist and a third photo cover, which seems impossible, given that the movie was computer animated. Unless that put big prop Mr. Potato Head-style eyes into a red racecar’s headlights and took a photo of it? Because that would actually be pretty cool.

Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead #2 (Radical Comics) Okay so in this issue, Alice Hotwire tied her “spook-evicting-gadget-” to a plank of wood, and then smacked a possessed hobo with it in order to exorcise the spirit from him. And then she goes back to police headquarters, where the ghost-possession equivalent of a suicide bomber attacks, and she fights a Chinese dragon-looking ghost. Then she learns that the near future British equivalent of a Dick Cheney death squad will attack the rioting, ghost-plagued London in order to save it if she can’t solve her case in like 30 hours.

So Steve Pugh’s doing a pretty good job of ratcheting up the suspense and stakes in this story. The art remains remarkably strong, and I generally hate this sort of over-rendered, computer-y, characters-built-around-models sort of stuff. Pugh’s apparently found a way to make it work without making me sad.

And since I’ve been harping on price points and variants so much lately, I suppose I should point out that this costs only $2.99 for 22 glossy pages, and the only ads are a half-dozen house ads all put in the back of the book, where they don’t interfere with the story. How come Radical can do this and DC and Marvel can’t? Unfortunately, the book has three different covers, so it is not completely without sin.


Hdefined said...

What kids today would possibly be interested in a Muppet Show comic, though?

LurkerWithout said...


Wicked smart and cool kids?

Sleemo said...

I read a thing from Warren Ellis one time talking about how he was sorry there were so many variants (especially on his Avatar books), but those variants help keep the smaller publishers in business. So I just accept them now, and only buy whichever one they stick in my folder.

David said...

Short summary of the movie Cars:

Take Doc Hollywood. Remove the topless scene. Add Larry the Cable Guy.

Kind of annoys me that people keep ragging on Dreamworks for just doing people movies with funny animals when Cars is a remake of Doc Hollywood, A Bugs Life is a remake of Three Amigos, and Ratattouile is Cyrano de Bergerac with a completely unlikable protagonist.

Tony said...

Hotwire was surprisingly entertaining. I'm an Ellis fanboy, but I've been feeling some Ellis fatigue, so seeing his concepts done by someone else was a nice breather.