Friday, March 5, 2010

Two Reviews For You

Oh Wednesday. If I were a little more poetical (?) I'd write a sonnet to you. You're the perfect middle to my a double-stuffed Oreo. Instead of poetry, though, you get sad comparisons to food.

Every Wednesday I get new comics. The number usually differs, but there's always at least one, and I dread the day when there isn't even that. I'll probably end up buying a trade or graphic novel, out of the need to feel like it's actually Wednesday.

This past Wednesday - March 3 - I took home five comics, along with Absolute Sandman Volumes 3 and 4, along with the Absolute Death. I had to make two separate trips from the car to the house in order to carry all the stuff (yes, I also picked up some groceries, but nevermind that, it ruins my reminiscence).

Here are the somewhat short synopses/pseudo-reviews of the two books that hit me the hardest on this latest Wednesday.

Stephen King's "N" #1 - Written by Marc Guggenheim, penciled by Alex Maleev.


"N" started out as a short story published both in book-form ("Just After Sunset"), and on the internet as a "webisode," which might be the dumbest name for what the thing actually was, which we know as "motion comic" (itself a pretty derivative name). Now, after enough time that "N" was sort of fading from memories - or mine, anyway - Marvel presents the first issue of the comic book adaptation, which is based on the motion comic, which was itself based on the short story. Marc Guggenheim did the adaptation from short story to motion comic, and now he's doing the adaptation from motion comic to actual comic book. So he's adapting something from an adaptation he did based upon a Stephen King short story.

This sounds like a perfect way to convolute the process or miss the mark, but the comic book version of "N" arrived as a well-made piece of fiction. The story follows three story lines; that of the Ackerman family, the Bonsaint family, and the psychiatric patient known as "N." Again, this sounds very convoluted. Here is a very simple breakdown of the plot: "N" visits the site of the old Ackerman house, which was destroyed, killing some of the family, the others perishing at the end of a shotgun held by Papa Ackerman, who then sucked on that very same barrel and went on a buckshot ride. While at the site of the grisly murders/suicide/strange destruction, "N" notices that where the house stood there are seven pillars. He goes to take a picture, and through the lens of his camera realizes there are actually EIGHT pillars.

Insanity ensues, and it is King, Guggenheim, and Maleev's intent to drag the reader into the nuttiness, and so far, I'm right there with them. Issue two is definitely on my to-buy list.

"First Wave" #1 - Written by Brian Azzarello and penciled by Rags Morales

First Wave #1

This might be the week for books that seemed outrageous in concept, but delivered the promised results. "First Wave" isn't a team book, not yet, but one can certainly see the beginnings of a team. This book stars Batman, Doc Savage, the Spirit, the Blackhawks, Black Canary, and a cadre of sidekicks for each of those, not to mention the villains that we haven't really seen at this point.

That's a lot of characters to start out with. Brian Azzarello (most famous for "100 Bullets) doesn't seem daunted. He puts the pieces in place in this first issue, and delivers a book that reads exactly how it should: like a weird, alternate universe/Elseworlds tale where Batman is alive during the non-specific timeframe that looks somewhat like 1940s New York, but has some tiny modern touches as well. The reader gets crime, noir, and humor (the last compliments of the Spirit), and is left after 22 pages feeling as if they went on a very short, but very promising ride that is being built piece by piece every month.

I had to read this one twice, and am planning on a third time. The amount of characters leads to huge overlapping story lines, and is a little intimidating. If this book goes downhill in the future it will be because Azzarello cannot juggle all of the simultaneous stories, but as of now, I'm willing to watch and see if he can succeed.

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