Thin Veneers of Humanity

Original Sin #3
Art by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin
Writing by Jason Aaron
Published by Marvel

original-sin-3

As suspected, Marvel’s latest crossover has turned towards navel-gazing. Oh, the structure’s holding up (we’re still getting cosmic murder mystery rather than generic brawls, thankfully), but the various strands are beginning to show their true purpose of pimping various spinoffs and tie-ins (Spider-Man, Daredevil, other characters dropping from the narrative so readers “have” to buy the respective titles to “get the complete story”). Once again, Mike Deodato’s shadowy drawings and Frank Martin’s cold blues are well-suited to macabre depictions of Marvel monster mass graves and a murdered planet (makes sense in context!), but the artwork can’t sustain anything human. Civilians finally get a tangible presence in the series (for a panel) when they learn secrets about their lives the Watcher’s seen, but stare blankly into the ether while shouting about them. Secrets both personal and universe-shattering have been beamed into their brains and people (both trademarked and background fodder) act like they’re posing for a magazine cover. It falls on Jason Aaron’s dialogue to lend any sort of personality to the proceedings. Particularly, scenes devoted to gag villain the Orb (a man with an eyeball for a head), pulled from the writer’s Ghost Rider stint for a key(?) role, only to spend most of his appearance explaining how he can do basic things like talk while acting like he’s hot shit. It’s more fun than the previous year’s eight or nine superhero crossovers accomplished, but that ain’t high praise.

Revenge #4
Art by Ian Churchill and Arif Prianto
Writing by Jonathan Ross
Published by Image

revenge-4

Fittingly, Revenge climaxes at the Golden Globes, with its doped-up, psychotic anti-hero tearing flesh off a double’s face. So much of this mini-series–a feverish horror show where aging actor Griffin Franks seeks vengeance when his trophy wife steals his face (literally) in a plot to rob him (and the children from his previous marriages) of his millions–has been about artificiality. Ian Churchill’s 90s Image Comics house style art, with its leathery musclemen and well-endowed women sporting glossy lips kept in a permanent pout, always suggested a thin veneer of humanity barely concealing monstrous personalities. In Griffin, Churchill has found a perfectly tasteless outlet to seep from. Entering the Globes, stage right, in a hastily grafted dog face and covered in blood, Griffin is greeted by a crowd of traced-in celebrities, all with collagen smiles and vacant eyes. They think the monster before them is part of a publicity stunt for the action star’s next movie; not even realizing the Griffin sitting amongst them is an impostor with a glued-on face, despite a boyish manner underneath the wrinkles completely unlike the real deal’s glowering shitkicker posture. Everyone in the room is obsessed with appearance, even Griffin with his constant lusting after young women, yet have no eye for body language. It takes a maniacal rant, bloody skin dropped on Robert Downey Jr.’s plate, and a berserk lunge for a single celeb to finally realize, “This is real.” Who else would do this kind of raw, disgusting satire and relish it? Johnny Ryan? Pfft, whatever.

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