Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Wednesday Review: Moebius in the Year of Chaykin

Powers: Bureau 7, Daredevil 31. Please judge these books by their covers.
Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming's Powers is often wildly uneven. The series often falters when Bendis and Oeming go into world-building or epic all-out event-style superhero spaff, and it works best when it embraces its procedural, street level roots. (Coming out regularly helps, too.) Powers: Bureau 7 is a one-shot focusing on a Madrox (or, sure, Dupli-Kate) style multiplier whose dupes keep on ending up dead. Bendis doesn't get (too) out of control with his dialog and Oeming reins in his often unnecessary blank space; the story plows forward a little too quickly, but that doesn't take away from the overall quality in what is the best issue of this series in many years. 

Mark Waid and Chris Samnee's Daredevil has been consistently superb, thus the mild shock from the colossal missteps in this week's issue 31. After a hamfisted Foggy/cancer sequence, the issue quickly cuts to Matt and associates watching the news for a controversial verdict. See, a racist white woman killed an unarmed black teen and the case has been the center of a media firestorm. The verdict comes down as not guilty. (This is a transparent ripped-from-the-headlines mirror of the Trevon Martin case.) Things take a turn when The Jester (of all people) hacks the live feed of the post-trial press conference of the (black) District Attorney to make it appear as if the D.A. wants everyone in New York to hunt down the jurors who miscarriaged justice. And of course the city erupts in violence and riot. Waid assumes the worst of New Yorkers of all races, here, and of humanity in general. The solution to the riots, involving Daredevil getting Ant-Man to seed the clouds to make it rain, is as as dumb as the entire setup is offensive. Samnee's usually delightful art is dragged into the gutters by Waid's almost obscenely stupid story. The issue is clunky and exploitave, an unnecessary excersise in misplaced topicality, and a pretty bad comic by any measure.

Zero 1's three covers.
I'm still warming up to Ales Kot's comics, I guess. Wild Children was a little too explicitly Grant Morrisonesque and I couldn't stick with Change beyond the incomprehensible first issue. Thankfully, today's new Zero #1 with artist Michael Walsh is much more approachable while being no less high-concept than his earlier stuff. After a killer opening sequence we flash back to 2018 where the eponymous Agent Zero is in Gaza neck-deep in the middle of all-out war between Israel and Hamas. Each side has unexpectedly developed supersoldiers and each side's soldier is beating the holy living hell out of the other. Zero's mission is to grab the tech for (apparently) England before anyone else gets their hands on it (and without anyone noticing). What ensues is a brutal and dirty fight between the supersoldiers with Zero on their tails caring only about achieving his objective. Walsh's art is completely in the vein of the expressive, minimalist, Mazzucchellian trend spearheaded elsewhere by Aja, Samnee, Pulido, Leon and the like, which is helped even more by Jordie Belaire's superb, muted color pallete. Zero is Kot's best comic yet, down and dirty high sci-fi war and badass spycraft.

I've been saying for a while that this is the year of Gilbert Hernandez, but it might also be fair to say its the year of Howard Chaykin. Satellite Sam is one of the year's best books, he's also doing an out-of-the-blue Buck Rogers series (the first issue of which was entertaining in the Ennis reboot mold), and today Image released Century West, his western graphic novella originally produced for the European comic market. The year of Chaykin, perhaps?

But the biggest release this week/month is Madwoman of the Sacred Heart by Moebius and Alejandro Jodorowsky. This isn't one of the Jodoverse sci-fi works like Incal but a good ole fashioned Eurocomic erotic thriller. This is one of the few Moebius works now available in English, and each time any of his work comes back into print there should be parades down Fifth Avenue and exhibitions at The Met. This is MOEBIUS. Madwoman reprints all three albums of the 1990s Crowned Heart stories in yet another gorgeous hardcover presentation from Humanoids.

Also good this week is the still-pretty-amazing Infinity by Hickman and his talented crew of top flight artists (in New Avengers 10 and Infinity 3). I'm loving this damn comic event thing, and Hickman is blowing up everyone's spot showing the mainstream superhero world how an event should be done. Meanwhile Bendis over-Bendises on Battle of the Atom (in Uncanny X-Men 12), but thankfully there's Chris Bachalo on art. And DC continues to put out more pointless plastic trash than the Pacific garbage gyre.

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