Saturday, March 05, 2011

Reviews of some review copies I've been meaning to review

Fraggle Rock #1-#2 (Archaia) I’m not entirely sure why these comics aren’t actually numbered #4 and #5, since there’s nothing to this second volume of Fraggle Rock comics that distinguishes them from the three issues of last year’s first volume (And isn’t three issues make for a rather short “volume” anyway?)

Well, whatever Archaia’s reasoning, these two issues are two more anthology issues featuring various talented creators working on short Fraggle comics, in the square Mouse Guard format.

The first issue leads with a story by Grace Randolph and art by Caravan Studio (Kids today; they have the craziest names!) in which Wembley enters into the dreams of his friends (I didn’t know Fraggles had that ability), although the real highlight is probably Cory Godbey’s art in “Brave Sir Wembley;” his designs are highly individualized, to the point that while the characters are all recognizable, they’re a bit off-model in an unusual way. It also has a painted look, and is dark and murky around the edges, with brighter light emanating from the characters.

The second issue has all-different creators. My favorite of these was “The Fraggle Who Cried Monster,” in small part because it features my favorite Fraggle (and the one I have the most in common with), and in large part because Chandra Free’s art is so distinct from that of many of the other artists who have worked on Archaia’s Fraggle comics (like Godbey’s, her designs are highly individualized, and her use of light seems particularly well-suited for kid-friendly stories set underground).

The biggest surprise in either issue is the name Ross Campbell in the credits (of #2). The Wet Moon, The Abandoned and Shadoweyes artist’s Fraggles are…well, theey’re not his human beings, which made them somewhat weird to consider his.

That is, the art is nice—he uses very thick lines, and the surfaces of the characters seem a little slick and plasticy—but because they are drawings of a half-dozen or so Muppets, it’s sort of unrecognizable as Campbell’s art.

Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #1 (Archaia) The newest David Petersen miniseries set in his fantasy medieval mouse world keeps all of the expected charms completely in tact.

On the very first page, there’s a picture of a cute little mouse rowing to shore on a cute little pinecone raft. (Aw!)

Other modes of conveyance include a crow and a duck, and the mice find themselves being stalked by much bigger, scarier (and also anthropomorphic) Fishers.

The plot is pretty simple: A wise, elder lady mouse named Em has sought out reclusive Guardmouse Celanawe to join her on a quest for The Black Axe.

It’s completely straightforward and earnest and surprisingly dramatic (The Fisher scenes were actually pretty thrilling, perhaps in large part because they kill an animal almost as soon as they appear).

Also, it’s beautifully illustrated.

So cute, serious and effective drama, beautiful art—this David Petersen Mouse Guard comic is a David Petersen Mouse Guard comic, all right.

Time Bomb #3 (Radical Comics) This has been sitting on my To Review pile for a long time now. How long? Well, the trade collecting all three issues of the miniseries is due out in a week or two, according to Amazon.

So I suppose this isn’t too terribly timely a review. But I highly recommend the collection.

This is Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Paul Gulacy’s tale sci-fi action adventure story in which an apocalyptic, Nazi-era superweapon is accidentally activated in the present, and the only way to stop it is to send agents George Clooney, Kanye West, Brad Pitt and Lucy Liu back in time in an experimental, bomb-powered time machine.

They overshoot their target and end up in World War II, and begin interfering with the time stream pretty hardcore.

As the final issue, this is of course the climax, and things get incredibly intense, as the quartet are taken prisoner deep within the secret Nazi fortress city. Will they save the day? (Yes) Will the Lucy Liu-looking lady have to do her part while totally naked? (Yes). Will Hitler be involved? (Yes). Is there an even more unusual and inspired twist than the one in the last issue, which saw them liberating a concentration camp because, Jesus, who wouldn’t? (Yes). You’ll have to read this issue (or my parenthetical answers) to find out!

This was probably my favorite Radical miniseries to date, edging out the Hotwires, which were also pretty great. It’s hard to beat Radical’s format—all three of these issues were $5 for 50, ad-free, full-color pages in a “prestige,” totally-has-a-spine format.

As such, it read great as a serially published series, but ought to read pretty great as a collection as well.

Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #716 (Boom Kids) This comic is comprised of a couple of Carl Barks comics, both featuring Donald and his nephews. Despite what Don Rosa’s cool cover might imply, Uncle Scrooge and Mickey don’t appear within.

The first, “A Day in a Duck’s Life,” is written by Barks, but drawn by Daan Jippes. In it, Donald is pouring all of his time and money into his muscle car, and driving his neighbors and nephews crazy in the process. A series of unlikely events follow.

The second, “Rival Beachcombers,” is both written and drawn by Barks. It features Donald and his nephews in a beachcomb-off against cousin Gladstone Gander, in search of a ruby they suspect was lost there.

I’m not sure what the exact vintage of these stories is, but since they’re from Barks, they’re obviously old. The first story features a character menacing Donald with a rug-beater, and features coins covered in quicklime. Do kids know what rug-beaters are? Or quicklime? (I don’t know what quicklime is, exactly).

I’d be kind of curious as to how some elements of these stories therefore read to little kids—are they aware of their oldness? Do they think it weird that Donald’s TV has rabbit ear antennae on it?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. I grew up watching Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry cartoons from the ‘40s without much in the way of cognitive dissonance. In fact, I suppose it was educational.

Anyway—these are pretty good comics.

1 comment:

mordicai said...

"...this David Petersen Mouse Guard comic is a David Petersen Mouse Guard comic, all right."

YAY. That is woooonderful to hear.