09th Aug2013

Panel Discussion #016 with Mark, not Jack

by Mark Allen

I’m sort of technically on holiday this week after moving house and starting a new job (y’know, one that doesn’t involve free comics and lets me buy luxuries like bread and loo roll) last week, which is why things have been a little behind with this column. My contribution’s a round-up session for the most part, though as you’ll see I got a bit carried away with The Wake. Why aren’t you reading that book yet, btw?

No-Jack-Comics

July 31st

X-Men Legacy is still great, and while issue #14’s reality-bending, terrorism-baiting shenanigans do little to endear MI13’s Pete Wisdom to our lovable anti-hero David, it makes for some pretty damn inventive comics.

FF #10 turns last issue’s structure on its head, with the book’s younger cast driving the plot forward in as cathartically angsty a fashion as that book’s cover would suggest while the adult members of the Future Foundation go on an incredibly nudge-winking PR adventure with the comic’s creators and is a hair’s breadth away from getting too cute for its own good, but Fraction and the Allreds pull it off yet again.

X-Men #3 concludes the highly hyped all-girl X-book’s first arc with a bang that to me came a little too soon. From how the series began I was hoping for a bit more of a character study rather than the in-and-out proceduralism that we get from Wood’s plotting in this issue that seems more in keeping with something like Warren Ellis’ Global Frequency – which is by no means an unfavourable comparison, but I think with firmly established characters like Storm, Kitty Pryde and Rogue we can let them breathe a little rather than relying on the unstoppable juggernaut of high-stakes plotting to keep us invested. That said, I’m about to totally contradict myself by saying there’s a lovely moment between Jubilee and her infant charge that near-enough had me welling up, and Olivier Coipel deserves every accolade for giving said baby – what is usually more or less a human prop – all the charisma and expressiveness of a fully-realised character. Which is more than Lost could do with a real-life baby.

The Wake #3, Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy, Vertigo

Boy, this book really throws you in at the deep end, if you’ll excuse the pun. I love its use of unexplained flashbacks to far-flung times and places – in issue #1, a waterlogged Earth some 100 years hence; in this, Mars 3.8 billion years ago. Few have a clear relationship to the main present-day story (which is more or less Alien with a merman, at least until the end of this issue, when it gets a bit more Aliens) but are made so tantalising by Snyder and Murphy that they feel more like uncovered pieces of a gigantic puzzle rather than irritating teases.

One other thing: The Wake is a master of exposition. There’s a hell of a lot of talk about the frequencies of whale songs and the backstory of certain key plot elements but it’s simply presented in captions over panels that move the story and the characters forward figuratively and physically – which is exactly what’s needed to keep up the pace of this issue. It’s pretty well chock-full of action and shocking moments, and even two or three pages of the lead monologuing to a room of silent witnesses would have brought that train crashing to a halt, so I tip my hat to Messrs Snyder and Murphy.

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