The Comic Queen

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Single-Panel Reviews: Marlene, Tails, Jeremiah Harm, Super Spy

SLG $3.95; Mature Readers
By Peter Snejbjerg
I love reading books and comics from Scandinavians. Most American literature feels the need to equate sex only with life, love, happiness, and titillation. Though sex isn’t that simple, we Americans have trouble acknowledging that fact. Not so with other countries’ literature, and I’ve found this especially true in Scandinavia. In “Marlene,” Denmark’s Snejbjerg writes a horror-mystery story in which a key element is the connection of sex as death. I’ve seen this comic described as an “erotic thriller,” but there’s nothing erotic about it. Sex isn’t always erotic, and that’s a key element to reading this one-shot comic. The comic opens with the murder of a stalker, and Detective Inspector Michael Joergensen is sent to investigate. Joergensen finds this isn’t a simple murder case, however; the supernatural is involved. The tone reminded me in some ways of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s Martin Beck police mysteries (if you haven’t read any, do yourself a favor and read one) or the movie “Insomnia” (the Norwegian version). Artistically, Snejbjerg’s work on “Marlene” is similar to Paul Chadwick’s “Concrete.” This is an excellent comic, and I’m glad SLG did English-speaking readers a favor by publishing this translation.
Bottom line: A-

Tails: Chapter One
By Ethan Young
Reading comics by creators I’ve never heard of is one of the things I enjoy most about reading small publisher and “alternative” comics. Here with the comic “Tails,” to my delight, I find another talented creator. Young writes and illustrates what looks to be an autobiographical story about working in NYC at an animal shelter while essentially running his own cat haven at home (living with his parents to boot), with the moral support of his girlfriend Cynthia, or “Sin.” Chapter One is an introduction to who Ethan is, his daily life, and the people who constitute his world. His ink work is wonderful and his use of panels and the page is truly creative – something I don’t see as much as I’d like to in comics as a whole. Young’s creativity and humor also come out to play when he illustrates a point through exaggerated artwork or showing readers what the cats must be thinking. I would suggest this comic to just about anyone, but especially if you like Tom Beland’s “True Story Swear to God” series. I’m looking forward to reading Chapter Two, which comes out this month.
Bottom line: B+

Jeremiah Harm
Boom! Studios $3.99
Plot: Keith Giffen; Script: Alan Grant; Artist: Rael Lyra; Digital Inker: Joe Prado; Colorist: Imaginary Friends Studio
Set in outerspace, this comic is a sci-fi tale about the incarcerated and hardened Jeremiah Harm, who is let out only to track down Dak Moira and his two cohorts who have recently escaped their prison ship. Harm finds out that Dak, Ayoma Skiver, and Brune S’Maze have take a “bump portal” to his homeworld -- an outlying and primitive world known as Earth. This is a pretty familiar plot in many ways, but Giffen and Grant show that there’s promise for a good story to be told here. Certainly the characters are intriguing, the art is nice, so the groundwork is laid for a solid sci-fi story.
Bottom Line: B

Super Spy Weekly
Top Shelf Web Comic
By Matt Kindt
Though this comic “Super Spy” is a web comic with a new installment each week, I received a mini-comic compilation in the mail to promote the new “web comix” section on Top Shelf’s website. Matt Kindt’s Super Spy is well worth checking out. Being more of a strip than a comic book, the stories are told succinctly and very effectively – all little snippets of a life in espionage. Both Kindt’s art and storytelling are top notch. I only wish on the website, they printed more than one small strip per page – it hampers the pace to continually have to click to get to the next short part. This is minor, though, and definitely nothing to do with Kindt’s work. Along with “Super Spy” there are several other artists featured on the Top Shelf’s web comix site. I sure know where I’ll be surfing on my lunch breaks from now on.
Bottom line: A-


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