The Comic Queen

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Friday, February 18, 2005

Single-Panel Reviews 02/18/05

Damn Nation #1 (of 3)
Dark Horse $2.99
Writer: Andrew Cosby; Artist: J. Alexander
Honestly, if I hadn’t remembered the solicit in Previews, I would have no idea what was going on in this issue. It starts out well enough—a ship that disappeared from Murmansk, Russia, 16 years earlier is found in the Port of Miami, and with corpses that appear to come back to life. The story and characters soon become confusing. Suddenly it’s five years later and it appears to be set in Britain; there’s a covert mission to Buffalo, New York, for some reason; and more characters back in some government office we don’t know. Maybe it’s just that there’s too much setup for a part one of three story. I felt like there could have been a few better clues in the writing about what was perhaps happening. In addition, the style of the art is really beautiful in an edgy, dark way. However, at some points the tone itself is just too dark; it’s not clear at all times what character is which. But for all the complaints I have of the book, I’m still looking forward to the second issue. This has promise, and the look of the art alone is enough to keep me interested.
Bottom line: B-

Queen & Country Declassified Vol. 2, #1 (of 3)
Oni Press $2.95
Writer: Greg Rucka; Artist: Rick Burchett
The declassified miniseries illuminate the backstory of individuals in the Queen & Country greater storyline. This volume tells how Tom Wallace joined the SIS in the mid 1990s. There were a couple unclear points in the story (for instance at the beginning when the first dateline says September 23, 1995 and the subsequent scene says April 29, 1995, yet I’m led to believe we don’t actually go back in time but forward), but other than those little quibbles, this is a solid first issue. Burchett really does nice B&W work; his illustrations remind me of some of Alex Toth’s artwork. If you haven’t read any Queen & Country before, then I suggest you start elsewhere, but for fans of the series, this is important reading.
Bottom line: B+

A Strange Day GN
Alternative Comics $3.95
Writer: Damon Hurd; Artist: Tatiana Gill
On one hand I really enjoyed this slice-of-life story about two Cure-heads meeting for the first time while waiting for the release of the newest Cure album. It was a sweet story of how letting go and finding joy in the moment can change you in ways you never thought possible. On the other hand, it seemed to rely on a few too many conventions and clichés to really make it great. Both teenagers have dealt with death – one of schoolmates, one of a father – but they each deal with it in different ways and benefit from seeing each other’s perspective. This and some other individual scenes have just been dealt with in a similar way so often that Hurd didn’t bring enough of a unique voice to this story as he could have. I think this graphic novella is best thought of as an extended minicomic and really for the price, you could do a lot worse. Oh, I’m being too hard on this comic – it’s definitely worth reading, just go into it knowing it’s not going to be groundbreaking but rather a good light read.
Bottom line: B

Ex Machina #8
Wildstorm $2.95
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan; Penciller: Tony Harris; Inker: Tom Feister; Colorist: J.D. Mettler
This issue, part three of the “Tag” storyline, just really treads water from the last issue. We learn a little more about Mayor Hundred’s “origin story,” he gets about a day closer to marrying his aide’s brother and his partner, the FBI give him a heads up on what we discovered in the last issue along with another unfortunate related event, and he goes on a date. That’s about it. For all the talking, not much progressed in this issue. Here’s looking forward to issue #9.
Bottom line: C+

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