Still Making the Wrong Choices, I Sit Down and Write About Comic Books Again

San Diego Comic Con happened recently. I remember reading the reports out of it, but none of it stuck. I’m sure some nice comics, movies, or something or other will be coming towards people.

Velvet #6
Art by Steve Epting and Elizabeth Breitweiser
Writing by Ed Brubaker
Published by Image

velvet-6

I’m not sure if Velvet is considered the B-title for Ed Brubaker’s Image run, but that would be an accurate assessment. Where his horror noir Fatale continually pushed and prodded against the structure it laid down from the first issue, Velvet has settled into an ordinary rhythm, like Saga or any number of other Image ongoing series. The directional flip of panels from the first issue–where action followed a right-to-left progression which opposed the left-to-right reading format it operated in, creating tension–has been filed off while the comic goes with the usual paranoid thriller trappings (this issue, Velvet Templeton goes to black ops allies hidden in the porn shops and sex parties of London’s Soho district). This becomes largely a showcase for Elizabeth Breitweiser’s coloring, her favorite red/blue combination oozing into the rainy nightlife as Velvet walks amongst a crowd of punks and perverts. She carries Steve Epting, who’s traded in compositional tension for a more rote stylization (circular inset panels detailing Velvet’s list of suspected double agents). It also means she’s carrying the series, since Brubaker’s scripting is leaning solely on genre savviness.

Teen Titans #1
Art by Kenneth Rocafort and Dan Brown
Writing by Will Pfeifer
Published by DC

teen-titans-1

While this is yet another reboot, Teen Titans #1 dispenses with proper introductions. Instead, Will Pfeifer and Kenneth Rocafort deliver a single action scene to show off the abilities of the Teens–Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Raven, and Bunker–as they battle techno-terrorists who have hijacked a bus full of kids on their way to a military-industrial complex lab. This should be a great way to start a series. Rocafort even has a couple nifty sequences (such as a collage piece detailing a terrorist shoving a child to the back of the bus, then out the door), but there’s little here that’s surprising or captivating. The lead terrorist is a faceless anarchist, a collection of stock ideals masking a who-gives-a-shit mystery. There’s no establishing shots to show how close the bus is to its hijacker’s intended destination, so tension is zilch, even while Rocafort’s wide panels and herky-jerky layouts continually stress forward movement. For a spotlight issue, it’s also surprisingly disinterested in process, the Titans doing little more than showing up and throwing bad guys off the bus (Pfeifer’s underrated Aquaman run found creative uses for the underwater superhero’s powers). Red Robin coordinates the rescue from a laptop, then swoops in to save a hostage, and another Titan is sent ahead for the finale, yet there’s no sense of purpose, thought, or even the spontaneity associated with teenagers. Instead we get drab heroics and villainy. Something which just exists.

Also: Wonder Girl’s tube top outfit is ridiculous.

Ragnarok #1
Art Walter Simonson and Laura Martin
Writing by Simonson
Published by IDW

ragnarok-1

Open the comic, watch Vikings get slaughtered by trolls and a wolf the size of an office block. Turn the page and see a lone god, Thor, standing above this fray on a hilltop being obliterated by lightning, as he stares down a serpent which spans two pages. The next spread, the panels get narrower, the lightning grows dimmer, until finally there is a long strip of black. Welcome to the end.

Simonson’s return to Norse mythology goes to the place his acclaimed run on Marvel’s Thor comics never could. Humanity’s gone and the gods are dead, leaving behind a barren, blue landscape dotted with the occasional ruin, the world a flicker of a shadow of its former glory. The remaining populace consists of elves and monsters, cutthroats scrabbling for immortality and pleasure at the end of history. The Road Warrior by way of a Fumito Ueda videogame. We’re introduced to elf assassin Brynja, tasked by a metallic demon with killing a god again before he can be reborn–in exchange for her daughter’s eternal life. Simonson’s linework is loose, often sketchy, Brynja’s traveling party becoming part of scenery which is fading into mist. What “countless” casualty Avengers comics could ever hope to top this?

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