Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Graphic Novel mini-reviews #26

Guardians of the Galaxy: War of Kings Book 2 (Volume 3)

Written by: Dan Abnett; Illustrated by: Andy Lanning, Brad Walker

Published: 2010

My Thoughts: At first I wasn't completely sold on this volume of GotG. The elements I love were all there, the group dynamic, the cosmic messiness and the writing but the initial premise didn't excite me. The Shi'Ar and Kree have declared war on each other and this war threatens to destroy the very weakened universe. As the Guardians are lacking the scope of the two armies they decide to try and appeal to each side's reason - if you continue with this war, the universe will cease to exist. Both sides are so blinded by their anger and warmongering etc etc that they can't or won't see the bigger picture. I don't know if it's just that this basic storyline has been done before or if it's because it seems so unrealistic but I groaned every time Starlord tried to reason with the Inhumans who are leading the Kree. I liked witnessing the haphazard team trying to hold things together, I just wish the reason for the war/why they won't step back was better set up. Once that initial hurdle is passed I felt like the volume hit the heights I expect from it. There's time travel and shifts between realities and countless battles and some devastating events that round it out to be a really hefty volume of comics. So a little meh to start but a winner by the end.

Hellblazer: Original Sins (Volume 1)

Written by: Jame Delano; Illustrated by: Rick Veitch, John Ridgeway, Alfred Alcala, Tom Mandrake

Published: 1988

My Thoughts: Hellblazer is one of Tom's top comics and even though I know I started this last year, it was only at his instance after watching the Constantine pilot that I decided to pick it up again. Constantine is a brash London magician who refuses to pick a side between heaven and hell. It's dark and dank and surprisingly political but since it's both written and set in the late 1980s there are also some awkward moments, specifically ones involving a gay character, which depict some incredibly outdated views. But since Constantine is meant to be morally-ambiguous at best, I don't feel like it detracts from the overall comic - squicky as it might be. There are more than a few similarities between Hellblazer and TV's Supernatural, which is to be expected since Supernatural wouldn't exist without Constantine taking those first sarcasm-laden, demon-hunting, sex-having steps. But Constantine isn't just a pulpy monster-of-the-week comic. The first 6 issues have an almost short-story feel to them, separately setting up the character while also leading us towards the narrative that'll finish of this volume and lead into the next. To jump back to the Supernatural comparison, Constantine is the man I'd expect if you smooshed Dean, Sam and Castiel into the one body, made him bisexual, English and post-punk who reminds me of a celebrity I can't quite place - am I thinking Billy Idol? David Bowie? Someone else entirely?

Wonder Woman: War (Volume 4)

Written by: Brian Azzarello; Illustrated by: Cliff Chiang, Goran Sud┼żuka, Tony Akins, Dan Green

Published: 2014

My Thoughts: This volumes ends the first arc of New 52 Wonder Woman and I really, really enjoyed it. I loved the warring gods angle, I love WW's determination to protect her half-brother, I love how smart and compassionate and killer WW is. But most of all, I love the ensemble nature of this run. WW started her life as an Amazon, and while she wasn't entirely accepted by her sisters that overarching group dynamic led her life. When she left the Island she wanted to work alone, partly because her family was gone and partly because she'd never been able to have any real independence before. But as with the best of friends, characters like Hermes and Zola and Strife and Lennox pushed their way through her barriers and now stand firmly by her side. It's their interactions and role in the ongoing narrative that helps me push through the occasional plot failing or pacing issue. I have a lot of comics on the go that I read issue-by-issue but Wonder Woman isn't one of them. So for now I have to hold out and wait for the next volume of issues to be released, which hopefully won't take too long.


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