05th Nov2013

Panel Discussion #26

by Jack Kirby


16th and 23rd October

A double bill of comic talk this week kicks off with Image’s Rocket Girl #1 by Brandon Montclare with art by Amy Reeder. 15 year old Dayoung Johansson, a member of the New York Teen Police Department who travels back in time from a futuristic 2013 to 1986 to rectify ‘crimes against time’ made in the past, centring around a group of scientists’ tinkering with ‘quintum mechanics’. That’s the plot at least. In reality, it’s a framework for some whimsical story-telling featuring a sassy time-travelling teen with a jetpack. And that’s fine with me. There’s wit in the writing, nice eighties references, some cracking artwork, cool sound effects and pleasing panel distribution. The emphasis here is on style, rather than substance and that’s okay. I can see the time travel plot getting a little predictable (I’m betting right now that Dayoung’s presence in the past contributes to the wacky future she’s from) but the fun factor here is all that really matters.

For the next few issues, the comic formerly known as Batman and Robin will be going under the title Batman and Two-Face as Peter J Tomasi defines Harvey Dent’s role in the New 52 continuity, with art by Patrick Gleason. Two-Face has always been my favourite member of Batman’s rogues gallery and I’ve really enjoyed the odd issue of Tomasi’s run on the book so I’m looking forward to this arc. It starts strongly. We see Dent’s mutilation in flashback (an event I thought might have been held back a little) which is retconned as an act of revenge by Irish gang boss Erin McKillen. Her return to Gotham in the present provokes a response from both Dent and Batman. The story’s morbid opening – Dent awakes to flip a coin deciding whether or not to shoot himself in the head, which you get the impression is a well-worn routine – and the decision to focus on Gotham’s criminal families rather than super-villains bodes well for this run of issues.

The Battle of the Atom enters its penultimate issues with Uncanny X-Men #13 (Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo) and Wolverine and the X-Men #37 (Jason Aaron, Giuseppe Camuncoli). It’s getting hairier by the issue in this plot with the general points being that the space-time continuum has been so messed up, that the original X-Men can’t travel back to their own time and the Brotherhood from the future figure that by having a massive fight at the Cape Citadel Military Base – where the X-Men first fought Magneto – will in some way sort this out. The denouement at the latter book’s conclusion suggests the potential for a slightly old hat conclusion (we may be covering ground that I feel – even as a not particularly well-read X-Men fan – has been fairly well trodden). On the other hand, it looks ridiculously overblown, with the confusion and muddled plot threads eking into the character’s dialogue. I did think there’d been a huge continuity error in the latter book, but it turns out I’d just got confused between a past and present version of a character. I was also somewhat unimpressed with the artwork in Wolverine, though the enormous two-page splash of the climactic battle is good.

My other picks from Image this fortnight include Sheltered #4 (Ed Brisson, Johnnie Christmas), Pretty Deadly #1 (Kelly Sue Deconnick, Emma Rios) and the long-awaited (at least by me) return of Nowhere Men #6 (Eric Stephenson, Nate Bellegarde). Sheltered’s tale of kids who’ve violently taken control of the prepper’s camp where they live continues to impress and please. Conspiracies begin to build against Lucas, the enigmatic leader of the group and the book concludes with an act of cruelty that, amusingly, we can see being discussed over texts between Brisson and Christmas in the letters page.

Pretty Deadly is a western-set story of Sissy and Fox, a young girl and an old man travelling around telling tales to frontier towns. It turns out, however, that the main character from the story they tell, Ginny, the offspring of Death and a beautiful woman, seems to be on their trail for reasons as yet unknown. It was a fairly intriguing, well-illustrated read, though perhaps a little too knowingly ‘arty’. There seems to be a lot of thematic similarities between this and East of West, which you imagine would make for an interesting double-bill.

Finally, Nowhere Men, which is probably the best-looking and designed comic on shelves today. If Pretty Deadly makes for a companion piece with East of West, then Nowhere Men’s stable mate The Manhattan Projects would seem to be the logical accompanying book. Nowhere Men imagines a world where scientists are viewed with the same reverence and adulation as rock or film stars are in real life and invention and creativity runs amok between fierce former colleagues and competitors. After a long break between issues, it’s great to have the book back. It’s a great example of the creative possibilities of the comics medium in terms of narrative presentation and world-building and is well worth picking up.


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