Sunday, December 19, 2004

Quick comics reviews!

Madrox #4 (of 5)
This X-Men spinoff miniseries has managed to be the second-best of the 328 X-titles currently going (Joss Whedon's "Astonishing X-Men" being the best). Peter David picked fifth-tier mutant Jamie Madrox to focus on here, and his unusual power to create duplicates of himself. This noir-tinged miniseries has a most offbeat murder mystery -- one of Madrox's own "dupes" is killed, and he has to find the killer -- and the hook of it really is a man who can be in two, or ten, places at once. David's done a great job exploring Madrox's unusual power, which is going off the rails as his dupes develop distinct, conflicting personalities (one of his dupes tries to kill him this issue). Moody, dry humor and a really interesting take on superpowers; I don't know if Madrox could sustain an ongoing series but this mini has been a great read. Grade: A-

Shaolin Cowboy #1
Boy, this is weird. I picked this up on the recommendation of my comic shop guy and because I love the insanely detailed artwork of Geoff Darrow (his influence can be seen in "The Matrix" movies). But this comic really is more of a portfolio of Darrow's awesome art and ultraviolence rather than a real story or anything. I can sum it up in one sentence -- mysterious loner cowboy monk rides into canyon, is attacked by a zillion bad guys, killing most of them in immensely gory ways. End of issue. No real explanation for anything. What little dialogue is mostly riffing and jokes. The main character never talks. Kind of zen, ain't it? But wow, that art. You know Darrow's kind of goofing when there's an amazing, impudent ten-page single panel of art, an unbelievably long pan across a gallery of bad guys, each rendered in astounding detail. Courtesy of Jog's Blog, check out the first few pages of it here and marvel at the purty pictures. The craft here is undeniable, but being more of a story man than an art man, I don't know if I'll pick up a second issue, though, unless there was more to it for my $3.50. But you have to marvel at Darrow's chutzpah with this comic. Grade: D for story, A+ for art

Ocean #3
Am still enjoying this latest Warren Ellis sci-fi miniseries, about a mission to Europa and a mysterious long-asleep civilization buried under the ice, although I still feel like not a lot has really happened with the main plot halfway through. Great technobabble and a really intriguing point here, where workers for a corporation voluntarily give up their free will to receive "downloaded" programming and work instructions, in exchange for a huge paycheck at the end of their service. Notions like these are what keep me coming back to Warren Ellis, comics' own Harlan Ellison. Grade: B+

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