Friday, September 10, 2010

What I've Been Reading - Comics of July, Part Two

And I'm back with the look the comics I picked up from July. Are the rest of the comics that I picked up as good as the first group? Hit the jump to find out!


Written by Joe Casey
Art by Chris Burnham

To call this comic "over the top" would be an absurd understatement. The issue centers around the titular Officer Downe as he goes around Los Angeles taking on the city's criminal element in the most excessively brutal, violent, and occasionally hilarious, way possible. Burnham's art is the perfect match for Casey's script and his art is gory without ever being gross.

Generally, I'm not a huge fan of excessive violence as end in and of itself but, aside from being well done, there is a lot of absurdity to balance it out in the issue. Examples include Downe being constantly killed and then brought back to life by 100 telekinetics using the Resurrection Equation. Downe also narrates his action at one point and reads the criminals the Miranda rights while beating and killing them, not to mention occasionally rephrasing in vulgar ways. These are just the tip though. Like Grant Morrison tends to do, Casey introduces a bunch of ideas, some of which could fill their own issue, but never does anything with them and leaves to the readers imagination, which makes the issue all the more interesting. The combination of over-the-top violence and absurd yet amusing ideas make Officer Downe a fun comic to read.

Verdict - Buy It.


Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Peter Snejbjerg

The Hellboy comics are always something I've wanted to get into but I'm one of those kind of readers who has to start at the beginning if at all possible. Since Hellboy does have such a deep back catalog and I prefer to keep up with current releases rather than collect older classics I've never read any of the series. Luckily, Dark Horse has been releasing some Hellboy one-shots recently that people who have only watched the movies, like me, can enjoy.

The Abyssal Plain is basically a day-in-the-life story featuring Abe Sapien as he goes to investigate some paranormal activity. The Abyssal Plain is not an action story by any means and focuses on the characters, the weird world they inhabit and how they intersect. In addition to being a nice change of pace from similar comics, it's also something a lot of comics don't tend to focus on. Don't get me wrong, I tend to prefer fantastic stories over the more mundane kind but I do enjoy the occasion comic that explores the mundanities of a fantastic world. These are a nice change of pace because they tend to emphasis world building and character work rather than action and plot. It may be that I'm some kind of massive nerd, but I do appreciate and enjoy these kinds of stories.

Verdict - Check It.


Written by Mark Crilley
Art by Mark Crilley

This was just okay. Competently done with occasionally nice flourishes but nothing you haven't seen before. Honestly, I don't particularly have much to say about this one because it defines "average" for me but there was one thing that stood out that I wanted to mention.

On occasion Crilley will do a couple of wordless scenes where the art has to completely carry the story and I really liked them. Partially because comics are visual medium so having a scene that completely relies on the visuals is something that could be done more often. Yeah, they are not the greatest scenes in the history of comics but Crilley does a wonderful job with them because the art imparts everything that the reader needs to know. The best example of this that I think of off the top of my head is the opening sequence of Parker: The Hunter. Darwyn Cooke manages to convey so much about the lead character in those pages with almost no narration or dialog and without showing the Parker's face until the end of the sequence.

If you were paying attention to the previous paragraph you will notice that both artists listed, Crilley and Cooke, are also writer/artists. Now, I am aware that writers will do use wordless scenes on occasion but they mostly seem to used to set the stage rather try and convey any kind of characterization or narrative point and I kind of wonder why that is. Do they not trust their artist? Do they not know how to do it? Do they not want to do because they like their writing too much? What ever the reason, it would be nice to see more comics that take into account that they are visual medium and be created accordingly, which is one of the few things that Brody's Ghost does that you average comic doesn't seem to do.

Verdict - Check It.

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Randallw said...

Crilley does some very useful how to draw videos on youtube.

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