Into the Longbox

Will Eisner’s The Spirit #19, Aragones, Evanier, Armstrong, Amancio, Austin, Rivoche. I should probably drop this. Three short stories with different artists in which I didn’t like any of the visuals and found some of the writing both uninspired and unbelievable.

Captain America #40, Brubaker, Epting, D’Armata. Not much really happens this issue for the amount that goes on. It’s a fast-paced issue with two sets of foils going at one another concurrently. It’s nice to see Brubaker making jump cuts between the two conflicts using dialog overlaps and other bits of writing. Overall this would be a hard place to jump on, but a fun issue for those of us who’ve been playing along.

Glamourpuss #2, Dave Sim. After Cerebus ended, I didn’t think I’d be reading anything else Sim wrote; as I’ve mentioned before, he can be kind of crazy. But man alive can he draw and write about comics. A student of the medium could learn a fair bit just paging through and looking at the layouts. There are some ramblings on various other topics that are of varying quality, but Glamourpuss is worth it for the art and the discussions of art styles of middle 1900’s comic strips alone. And to be fair, the non-comics stuff has its solid moments as well. The book is remarkably original and remarkably good.

Black Summer #7, Ellis & Ryp. This ended up well enough. The series was an exploration of the envelope of vigilanteism with exercises. Unfortunately, the exercises – that is to say the mayhem – and the ideas didn’t mesh as well as they could have. I think this may be because Ryp’s faces and postures aren’t well suited for conveying subtle nuances of character. His layouts are extremely dynamic and convey the adrenalin rush of combat, but don’t convey soul-searching with any conviction. That’s a shame, because the series should have its share of both. Consequently Ellis’s writing carries the weight of the ideas in this issue. There are a lot of words, and one can see spots where I’d rather have been shown a point than told about it. Overall, the words are worth reading and considering, but the visuals aren’t holding up their end.

Madame Xanadu #2, Wagner and Hadley. These two are in synch. I don’t know if Wagner’s experience drawing is helping with the collaboration or if Hadley’s just remarkably good at doing a lot with her art. Here each page is laid out with a unified theme, usually bled to make use of every millimeter of the paper.  Each page draws out both what’s mechanically happening and what it means to the characters (and the world), and is part of the unified whole of the issue and arc. I’m slighting Wagner’s excellent writing here, but his pacing, plot, and characterization are all right where they need to be to bring out his themes. This is remarkably strong work.

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