The Comic Queen

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Single-Panel Reviews 11/02/04

Some quick looks at recent comics.

Hard Time TPB
DC $9.95
Writer: Steve Gerber; Atist: Brian Hurtt; Colorist: Brian Haberlin Avalon Studios
Hard Time is about high school student Ethan Harrow, who is given a jail sentence of 50 to life for perpetrating a Columbine-type situation with a friend. Other than being a minor sent to jail, the catch is that Ethan has powers he slowly awakens to in jail. The trade collects the first six issues of the comic. Generally I liked the book. I’m a fan of Hurtt’s art and the concept is intriguing. However, I had some problems with some of Gerber’s characterizations. First of all, it is hard to buy Ethan’s character for at least the first four issues. Ethan’s method of coping is being a total smart ass, which I could buy for a teenager, except Ethan is supposed to be the bullied kid in high school, and I just can’t believe that on the bus to jail he’d be shooting off his mouth at another soon-to-be inmate. Frankly, I’d think he’d be peeing his pants. By the end of the six issues, though, Ethan’s character has been fleshed out a bit more, and he actually becomes a little less tough in some ways. Another character who I felt got pretty old by the end of the trade was “Preacher Gantry” who is an off-the-wall Christian. Maybe reading the issues one a month instead of in one sitting, his character wouldn’t have grated on me so much. But saying things like “Vengance is not yours, but only the Lord’s” and “You dare speak thus to the hand of God?!” so often became pretty tiresome. Really, I think Gerber just overused this character. This book has a lot of potential, but what it really needs is some more interesting characterization. I’d be likely to pick up the next trade, but not very likely to make a point to find the back issues and grab it each month.
Bottom line: B

The Goon #9
Dark Horse $2.99
By Eric Powell
This issue of The Goon tells the tale, or maybe that’s legend, of “The History of the Dockside Fighting Fish-Canners and the End of the Black Hand.” The story recounts the formation of the town’s football team “The Fighting Fish-Canners” as The Goon calls in his favors with other ruffians in town to form the team. Also intertwined with the team’s formation and early success is the rise and fall of certain gangs and mob families in town. Powell’s art and colors are always outstanding, but some of the most fun pages in the book are photorealistic pages that frame the story. These pages look as if you are reading the hand-typed files and paperclipped photos right on top of your desk with an ashtray nearby and bottle caps strewn around to boot.
Bottom line: A-

WE3 #2
Vertigo $2.95
Writer: Grant Morrison; Artist: Frank Quitely; Colorist and Digital Inker: Jamie Grant
I was trying to describe WE3 #2 to a friend the other day, and the best I could come up with was “vomitously gorgeous.” It is so gruesome and yet so beautifully rendered at the same time, that no matter how much my brain didn’t want to process the gore, my eyes just had to focus in on the details. The art – inking, coloring, and all -- is really beautiful, but I have mixed feelings about the book as a whole. In fact I felt this way about the last series I read by Morrison – Seaguy. I liked the art, but I just didn’t dig the story nearly as much. With one more issue to go, I’m curious how this one will end up.
Bottom line: B

Solo #1: Tim Sale
DC $4.95
Writers: Darwyn Cooke, Tim Sale, Diana Schutz, Jeph Loeb, Brian Azzarello; Artist: Tim Sale, with coloring on two stories by Dave Stewart and one by Jose Villarrubia
Now, this is just plain beautiful. Six short stories, five different writers, one artist. That’s Solo’s theme: take one artist and mix with different writers, give them free range, and see what happens. From playful, to noir, to Robert Browning-like, the stories in this book comprised a surprisingly wide range in terms of both art and subject. I highly recommend this book; it’s best seen for yourself.
Bottom line: A

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