Thursday, May 14, 2009

Trade Waiting - Wisdom: Rudiments of Wisdom

For this edition of Trade Waiting, I'll be taking a look at Paul Cornell's first work for Marvel, a solo MAX miniseries for Pete Wisdom of Excalibur fame. It is a different kind of book than that of Captain Britain and MI:13, but it still has some of the charms that made it a great book. If you enjoy Captain Britain, then this miniseries is definitely something you should check out. Hit the jump for my review.


WISDOM: RUDIMENTS OF WISDOM
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Trevor Hairsine and Manuel Garcia
Collects Wisdom #1-6

Wisdom is something of an unofficial prequel to Captain Britain and MI:13 in that it sets up a lot of the ideas and many of the characters that Cornell makes use of in CB & MI:13, but they are not intrinsically linked to the point that you must read Wisdom to understand the current series either.

Wisdom is one of those miniseries whose issues are basically stand alone yet have one or more plot threads that run through them. I actually like these types of miniseries more than the ones that are single arcs since there is generally a lot more variety in them. Cornell makes good use of this format with the first four issues being stand alones that set up the two issue finale. It does jump around a little though and can be a tad jarring in some cases because of it.

Throughout the series, MI:13 goes to war against rebel fairies in Avalon, deals with a giant in a small British town, has Shang-Chi fight a Welsh dragon and they even end up fighting a bunch of Jack the Rippers from across the multiverse. Thankfully, Cornell manages to do a good job with the pacing. All of the stories are paced for being both single issues and move the various subplots that lead to the book's finale forward.

The cast is fun, too. Wisdom is an intriguing lead character and the rest of the case is varied and entertaining as well. Tink is a renegade fairy who is just a fun character to read, but there is also some depth to her. Captain Midlands is an amusing old crank and John the Skrull, who is a member of a group of Skrulls attempting to infiltrate Earth that all look like members of the Beatles, is an interesting character, mostly because he is just a crazy hippie. Maureen Raven, a clairsentient (has clairvoyant powers), rounds out the cast. She does not have as distinct a personality as the rest of the group, but she is still a solid character.

The art is a mixed bag, though. Hairsine does the first two issues while Garcia does the last four and Hairsine is definitely the better of the two. The use of different artists in a miniseries is rather disconcerting, too. Hairsine's art is more refined and dynamic than Garcia's. Plus, Garcia's faces look 'off', for lack of a better word. Not quite sure what is wrong with them, but they're just off to me. That said, both artists do a solid job with everything that Cornell throws at us in the story.

The story is definitely the vein of an Ellis/Fraction/Morrison story were there are a bunch of ideas bouncing all over the place. Cornell does tone it down compared to those writers, keeping it to about one big idea per issue and maybe a couple of smaller ones that don't play a large role in the plot. Cornell does do a good job of balancing and focusing them and making them serve the story moreso than just throwing crap at the wall, too.

The one odd thing about the story is that there really isn't a reason why it should be a MAX book. There isn't an abnormally large amount of violence, especially compared to books like Ultimatum and Moon Knight, which are a lot more graphic yet are not MAX books. The creative team goes out of their way not to have any nudity and, while there is some suggestive language and what not, it could have been easily edited out or slipped by without a MAX label. I'm kind of baffled at all of this because the MAX label could turn people away from an otherwise great story. An all around odd decision from Marvel.

Verdict - Must Read. An out of the ordinary comic with an engaging concept and cast of characters that explores one of the under developed areas of the Marvel Universe.

Interested in this book? Like this review? Purchase Wisdom: Rudiments of Wisdom from Amazon.com and help support The Weekly Crisis.


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