Diving into this issue got me a little misty-eyed for 52, and based on that sentiment alone I was predisposed to liking this new mini. In addition to Tony Bedard being a writer I automatically approach with high expectations, The Great Ten #1 came off my reading stack from last week with several distinct advantages.
These characters come with some of the best all-around new concepts and designs I’ve seen in any Marvel or DC book in years, and it’s good to see them getting some deserved attention. Grant Morrison created them, and now Bedard has been tasked with moving them around and building their histories. His writing carries this first issue. And though Scott McDaniel’s artwork served its purpose, it was much more effective during closeup shots than it was for full-body scenes where a few characters just seemed to be all over the place.
The issue kind of beats you over the head with the fact that these characters have histories tied to a timeline of modern China, but at the same time those fish-lens perspectives on Tibet and the Beijing Olympics anchor the larger story with popular points of reference. The story actually tackles some of the more serious issues revolving around China’s rise to power. While those plot points make it more relatable, however, the depiction of the Chinese government may run the risk of oversimplifying and making a caricature of the way they operate. Whether or not that turns out to be the case going forward, I’ll probably be picking up issue #2.
• In case you were worried that Comic-Con International might be blinking in the face of the newly christened Con War, Heidi MacDonald brought news that four-day passes for 2010 are now sold out. That means anyone who wants to send me as a freelancer next summer can email me at any point between now and next July, and I’ll consider the best offer.
I read the first Snake Oil volume a long time ago and have been admittedly lax tracking down its follow-ups, which now go up to issue #4. As Chuck Forsman, the series’ creator states inside, this was the final part of his thesis at The Center for Cartoon Studies. Understanding his work from that perspective, Snake Oil #2 comes across as a compelling scatter-shot anthology of various visual and narrative strategies whose stories read together as a meditation on expectation and plot twisting.
The first of these exercises comes with a cat story that plays with its animals dual ability to inspire comfort and terror. The end of that one left me a little flat, but most of these read as chapters extracted from broader tales, so that wasn’t necessarily a detraction. The cats have a really powerful presence similar to their use in Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, and the minimalist approach to Forsman’s storytelling just brings them out even more against the mystery at work.
The “Slow Down” story probably worked for me the most. It reminded me of some of Adrian Tomine’s subtler moments in Optic Nerve and Daniel Clowes’ penchant for dishonest, socially maladjusted characters in Eightball. This one has a relentless quality of potential deception that seems to hang above every line and makes for a real Rorschach of discernible circumstances amid the dialogue.
Little more than the World Series being on right now stands between me and issue #3, which I picked up today as well.
Why I didn’t see this premise turning into a full-on post-apocalyptic Furry drama up until this issue totally escapes me, but as of the last page of Sweet Tooth #3, I’m seeing this book with new eyes.
The Lost Boy kids were completely absent from this issue, which is almost entirely focused on Sweet Tooth and his new surrogate father Mr. Jepperd. Jeff Lemire does an extravagant job of invoking drama with the simplest elements of setting, which puts him in that same category as Harmony Korine and Cormac McCarthy, who I mentioned talking about issue #1. There was a lot less textual narrative exposition in this chapter compared to issue #2, too, which played to Lemire’s strengths and made this a better read in the end.
What I didn’t see coming, however, which is probably due to the Lost Boy gang wearing masks in the last issue, was the world that’s going to be opened up when Sweet Tooth eventually runs into a larger population. So far, that looks like it’s going to involve rebel bands of savage teenage Furries, and that does scare me a bit — but in a way a can’t wait to see play out.
• Alex Kropinak and Sean T. Collins, two of my colleagues from back the olden days, continue to do amazing work with their Marvel What The–?! episodes. Here’s their tribute to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video featuring Stan Lee.
• David Tennant’s scored an hour-long pilot for a new TV show on NBC called Rex is Not Your Lawyer. In it, he’s going to play a Chicago litigator, so I’m hoping that means some Chicago filming dates are in store.
• I spoke to Dolph Lundgren briefly last week about a few different things, primarily his new direct-to-DVD movie Command Performance. First post about that is on MTV Movies Blog. I’m actually watching it on Netflix right now, and the scene of the Russian Premier’s daughters dancing in their suite prior to the terrorist attack is pretty hilarious.
• Over on MTV’s Splash Page, we name dropped the scariest comics we’ve read. I was really astonished that there wasn’t any overlap. Great lists all.