While an entertaining enough Japanese crime story, I felt it lacked the over-the-top insanity of the first book. It was nice to see Jiro's background,While an entertaining enough Japanese crime story, I felt it lacked the over-the-top insanity of the first book. It was nice to see Jiro's background, but without the combat sushi techniques, it pales in comparison....more
Masks collects the Dynamite comics series bringing together a ton of pulp heroes, including the Shadow, the Green Hornet, the Spider, Miss Fury, the BMasks collects the Dynamite comics series bringing together a ton of pulp heroes, including the Shadow, the Green Hornet, the Spider, Miss Fury, the Black Terror, and many others. The story, by Chris Roberson, gives us the state of New York under the grip of the fascist Justice Party. This is a corrupt political party, essentially run by gangsters, meting out terror and oppression under the name of the law. The notion that a state government could be so easily subverted, and the streets of New York start being patrolled by an army of masked, armored thugs feels very pulpy, in the spirit of the characters it teams up.
Unfortunately, the story ultimately feels so busy and crowded that nobody really gets much of a chance to do anything. The Shadow gets his best lines, with his “Why don’t you all quit screwing around,” attitude. Others, like Miss Fury and the Green Lama, end up making token appearances. We get the origins of the Black Bat and a new Zorro, but ultimately, their roles could have been played by anybody, and that makes the story feel kind of pointless.
For that matter, the revelation of the villain behind everything, and his motivation, seems very perfunctory and rushed. It’s a character we’re supposed to know, but we never see him out of the context of being a villain. He ascribes more complex motivations for his plan than we see on the surface, but it’s difficult to believe him when we only ever see him doing anything besides masterminding this fascist organization. Also, things get wrapped up so easily it’s hard to imagine how they got so bad in the first place.
Fortunately, it’s got great art by Alex Ross on the first chapter, and Dennis Calero through the rest of the book. While I hadn’t thought of Calero’s pen-and-ink work with its heavy use of shadow as particularly similar to Alex Ross’s painted pages, they share a lot in terms of layout and character acting. So the whole thing feels like a cohesive whole, despite what, on the surface, are two very similar styles.
As a huge fan of the Shadow, it’s hard for me to pass up any story featuring him. And this is a very pretty one, but also very slight....more
Telling the story of a young, female Parisian thief, Bandette oozes charm from every page, every panel, every line. It's like if Catwoman had been creTelling the story of a young, female Parisian thief, Bandette oozes charm from every page, every panel, every line. It's like if Catwoman had been created by the creators of Amelie. She rides around on a Vespa, has exciting fights and capers, and proclaims that she possesses the power of Presto! The art, by Colleen Coover, feels very strongly European without slavishly imitating any single creator. It's bright and entertaining and funny without feeling like a parody of something. It's the kind of story where a costumed supervillain can ride a bus or subway to a fight, and it feels perfectly natural. I love Bandette, and I love this collection of stories, including a number of short strips by guest artists fleshing out the supporting cast. In terms of book design, in terms of writing, in terms of art, in terms of tone, Bandette is a thing of charm and beauty, and reading it will make your day seem that little bit brighter....more
Prolific comics writer tries something new with his Thief of Thieves series: instead of a single writer writing the comic, he and a group of colleagueProlific comics writer tries something new with his Thief of Thieves series: instead of a single writer writing the comic, he and a group of colleagues are developing the story like a TV series. Together, under the direction of Kirkman, they determine the overall direction and story beats of the series. Then each writer writes a story arc, like an episode of a TV series. This first story, written by Nick Spencer, introduces the character of Conrad Poulson, or Redmond, a master thief who--ostensibly--wants to get out of the business. But, thanks to obsessed FBI agent Elizabeth Cohen, his retirement isn't going to be as easy as he'd like.
While other characters are introduced in this story, the focus is very much on Poulson/Redmond and his background. We learn who he is, who he used to be, and who the major figures are in his life. We don't learn everything about him, nor do we get too much information on the other characters besides Cohen and Poulson's family, but this is only the first installment of an ongoing story. Already, in the currently-being-serialized second story, we're getting more of a focus on Poulson's son. Presumably, we'll learn more about the other characters, like the members of Redmond's crew, as time goes on.
In the meantime, the way the story is told is almost the star here. The story switches seamlessly between the present and the past, giving us information through flashbacks at what feels like completely appropriate moments. Like the best heist stories, the twists and turns are kept hidden until it's time to reveal them, but it doesn't feel like the creators have artificially kept information from us. (By that, I mean that it doesn't feel like plot holes have been created because information is left deliberately out.)
The tone of the story is a bit seedy and down to earth, sort of Ocean's Eleven or USA's White Collar by way of The Rockford Files or FX's late, lamented series Terriers. Comparing it to television shows seems natural, since the subject matter is usually the stuff of television or movies, not comics. However, the way the story is told is very much dependent on the comics format. Artist Shawn Martinborough uses the same layout on almost every page, creating a steady rhythm carrying the reader through the story. When he changes that layout, whether creating smaller or larger images, he really changes the focus of the page, catching the reader by surprise.
The book has a very deliberate pace, but still allows the reader to take as much or as little time on each panel, studying the subtle character expressions on each page. Told entirely through images and dialogue, it's a deceptively cinematic feel, except that unlike with film, the reader controls the timing of everything. It's all very well done.
While this series has already been optioned as a TV series, I plan on continuing to read it in its original form. It's got style and charm, and I am completely hooked....more