The Comic Queen

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Friday, January 21, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews 01/21/05

Human Target #18
Vertigo $2.95
Writer: Peter Milligan; Artist and Colorist: Javier Pulido
Man, oh man. I know this series is being cancelled, so perhaps you feel it’s not worth getting too attached. Please, please, I implore you: read this issue. If you don’t read this title, pick it up. If you do, lend it to a friend. This one-issue story is the best issue of the series in my humble opinion. In just one issue, Milligan manages to represent five unique perspectives on what it is to live today in America as the war in Iraq continues and fear grips people from all walks of life in different ways. Each character is presented in a way that seems predictable - you think you’re looking at a stock character; but then Milligan shows us the complexities of these characters. A young Muslim man who believes he’s been taken to Guantanamo Bay, a young white man angry at anyone who might be from the Mid-East, a young black man who seems to be sick of displays of patriotism, a middle aged man targeted because he’s thought to be Muslim, and a couple cops who think they’re chasing a threat. Each character carries so many assumptions, and so many assumptions this reveals readers to have as well. There is fear in these characters, which we understand when we learn just an iota more about them. I found this a damn moving comic especially considering its brevity and complex topic. What a shame we’re losing this series soon. I hope more people will pick up the trades; and I’m not saying this as someone hoping a comic will be saved at the last moment, I’m saying this as someone who enjoys a well-told story and hopes others will give this good writing a try.
Bottom line: A

Concrete: The Human Dilemma #1 (of 6)
Dark Horse Comics $3.50
By Paul Chadwick
I’ve never read any of the Concrete series before, so this was a completely new experience. As a newcomer, the book is easy to access. The characters’ origins are quickly summed up in a brief preface, Concrete is introduced as a character, and you’re up to speed. No doubt there is a richer backstory, but this knowledge isn’t required for a newbie. In the main storyline in this issue, a CEO of a famous pizza chain discloses to Concrete that he has set up a foundation to “stem the population explosion” through voluntary sterilization, and he wants Concrete as his spokesperson. The comic raises many questions but isn’t heavy handed or up on a soapbox. It gives both Concrete (a philosopher at heart) and the reader something to think about. I’m curious where Concrete will find himself at by the end of the story. Also included in the comic is an essay by Concrete titled “My Favorite Painting” where he examines an obscure piece of art by an obscure artist (actually Chadwick). The issue contains some art from earlier in Chadwick’s career as well. This isn’t a comic that made my jaw hit the floor, but I’m certainly looking forward to the next issue.
Bottom line: B

Flaming Carrot Comics #1
Image $2.95
By Bob Burden
Flaming Carrot is another comic I’ve never read before, but unlike Concrete, I don’t think I’ll be back for issue #2. I usually enjoy a comic based on random humor, but I guess I just didn’t really get it. I only laughed a few times, the art didn’t really stand out for me, and the characters didn’t intrigue me at all. Kind of left me with a “who cares?” feeling. I’m sure many people really dig it; it just didn’t do much for me.
Bottom line: C


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