Single-Panel Reviews: Intimidators, Styx Taxi, Tomorrow Stories, Syncopated
Creator: Jim Valentino; Writer: Neil Kleid; Penciller: Miguel Montenegro; Inker: Waki; Colorist: Angel Marin
The Intimidators is a light-hearted look at the super-hero genre, poking a bit of fun at the common conventions while still employing them. This is a tough sub-genre to successfully tell a narrative with, and Kleid does his job pretty well. The group of heroes is presented, each with their own superpowers and quirks, of course. The premise is that this motley crew of “heroes” has been retained by the U.S. government in case of emergency, and lo and behold just such an emergency situation develops in Detroit, where evil guy Al Minetti is threatening to unleash a nuke. The really intriguing turn of plot comes right at the end when the predictable “get rid of the nuke by flinging it in space” drops an unexpected result on them. This series has promise, and while I’m just getting around to reading the first issue, the second issue is also available, and the third comes out this week. If the comic sounds interesting, Image has the first issue up at their website to read in its entirety for free. Check it out at Image’s website under the section “online comics.”
Bottom line: B
Styx Taxi: As Above So Below & Counting Time
Styx Taxi stories written by Steven Goldman with art by Rami Efal
Counting Time short prose stories written by Steven Goldman
Styx Taxi is back for two episodes in this comic “As Above So Below.” The idea behind Styx Taxi is that just after you die, but before you move on to the next life, the Styx Taxi service picks you up for a two-hour trip to anywhere your heart desires. It’s a good concept, one that piques your interest and has unlimited possibilities. These two particular stories are ultimately positive but tinged with a certain sadness. In the first, “Rosa,” the main character simply wants a quite place to finish her book, and, like us all, keep a few last illusions. In the second story, “Dinner Date Number 9,” the taxi driver gets a rare treat – a home-cooked meal – as the last wish of his fare. The second half of the comic, called “Counting Time,” contains two prose short stories with the preface that these are part of a novel in progress. The concept takes place in a future New York City, in which the homeless population is 12% and the currency on the street is the telling of a good story. Much like Styx Taxi, we’ve got a good idea, and good execution, but just not enough of it! I hope Goodman can keep some more coming – in both comics and prose, he’s got a somber, but hopeful tone for humanity, and that’s a big reason why his work is worth reading.
Bottom line: B+
Tomorrow Stories Special #1 (of 2)
America’s Best Comics (Wildstorm) $6.99; 64 pgs.
Writers: Alan Moore, Steve Moore; Artists: Kevin Nowlan, Hilary Barta, Melinda Gebbie, Cameron Stewart, Rich Veitch; Colorists: Michelle Madsen, Tony Avina, Randy Mayor
Tomorrow Stories is a compilation of five very different (and I mean that in more ways than one) comics. If you grew up on Mad Magazine like I did, then you’ll want to give this comic a look. It’s got that same irreverent tone, a good dose of silliness, and pinch of the nonsensical. The first two comics were my personal favorites of the bunch. “Jack B. Quick: Boy Inventor” follows, you guessed it, Jack B. Quick a boy genius – sort of -- who invents things. He lives in an impossibly stupid farm community, and creates a legion of robots who “take over” their idiotic human counterparts. The story is somewhere in between Mad Magazine and The Goon, but definitely has a distinct style of its own. The other story I particularly enjoyed was “The Big Seep” a marathon of the silliest puns and word play that you may ever encounter, featuring Splash Brannigan: indelible investigator, who isn’t just merely a private eye, but also a puddle of ink. My love of the pun stems from my Midwest upbringing, so it’s truly difficult to explain why you should read this comic -- just do. The artwork in Tomorrow Stories varies as much as the story themselves, all skilled and all excellently colored, too.
Bottom Line: A-
Syncopated Volume 2
Creators: Brendan Burford, Jim Campbell, Rina Piccolo, Brian Haimes, Glenn Mott, Sara Rosenbaum, Micah Spivak, Trish Vandenbergh, Sherwin Dunner
Here’s another comic I let languish at the bottom of my to-read pile. One which after reading I put on the biggest boot I could find and kicked my own ass for not reading earlier. In a world full of mediocre compilation comics, here’s an excellent one sitting in my own stack of comics. Jeesh. Don’t let this happen to you, go buy this one and read it right away. If you like Kevin Huizenga’s Glenn Ganges work or Joshua Cotter’s “Skyscrapers of the Midwest,” this is a good comic to give a try. The content varies in style and substance, but not wildly. Most of the comics are short vignettes that focus on people or places dear to the creator. “The Orange Girls” by Rina Piccolo was a highlight for sure. I’ve never seen any of Piccolo’s work before. It’s instantly engaging and personable with an easy pace and artwork with Dr. Seuss sensibilities. The editor, Brendan Burford, has a few comics included, which are also some of the best. Accompanying the comics were two prose non-fiction articles – both interesting -- and a section “Syncopated Remembers Comics that Time Forgot,” that showcases political cartoons from 1913 and 1914 on the Women’s suffrage movement. Man, those are eye openers. So, do yourself a favor and get this comic before I have to come after you with my boot. ‘Cuz I’ll do it – I’m tricky that way.
Bottom Line: A-