Thursday, January 22, 2015

Graphic Novel Mini-Review #29

Fatale: The Devil's Business (2)

Written by: Ed Brubaker; illustrated by: Sean Phillips

Published: 2013

My Thoughts: Ah Brubaker, you've done it again. Volume 2 of Fatale takes place in the late 1970s so it isn't quite as noir-ish as the first volume, nor is it quite as mysterious. This volume gives us a much closer look at Jo, our ageless captivating fatale, although she's still as much of a closed book as she was in volume 1. She finds herself caught in a seedy situation when an actor and his ex (now dealer) sneak into her backyard after running away from a crime scene. It turns out that Jo has a past connection to the Mason-esque cult church that the two are running from and as the volume continues it gets messier and murkier and hints at Jo's mysterious past. I loved having a bit more of her perspective this volume even if there is still so much to learn before the series ends. Just as she entrances every man she comes into contact with, I found myself captivated in the sadness that surrounds her. Where has she been? What has she seen? The art beautifully compliments the mood of the comic, although there are times where secondary characters are hard to distinguish from one another.

My Friend Dahmer

Written and Illustrated by: Derf Backderf

Published: 2012

My Thoughts: I think this might be the first non-comic series comic I've read in awhile. Tom's brother bought it for us for Christmas and I eagerly read through a couple of days later. The subject of the comic is fascinating for a couple of reasons. First and most obviously, it's a look at Jeffrey Dahmer before he was the Jeffrey Dahmer who murdered and raped and ate people. Second, it's fascinating in its complete dullness. Dahmer is a strange guy, for sure, but what high school didn't have the guy who put on weird voices or seemed to be dealing with his own hidden demons? As much as Backderf exclaims over his disbelief that no teachers ever took Dahmer aside or spoke to his parents, I'm not sure there was ever enough, judging off this comic, to really write home about. While Backderf paints a sad tale of a boy who grew up without much love or attention in a tiny town of few distractions and old-fashioned morals which made it difficult to come out as gay, what really hit me was that Dahmer could have been so many people I knew growing up. I knew people who smoked too much pot and drank themselves into comas every weekend. I saw people walk around our high school campus without ever really seeming to fit in or even wanting to. I knew people who struggled with coming out as gay, who battled with their parents or who were hurt by their parents disapproval or oblivion. This comic really hit home that anyone could be a serial killer. Most people won't be, but it's not like they're walking around with a giant sign reading "danger danger, future murderer" while slaughtering kittens in front of you. The book does get a little armchair psychologist-y at times and I think Backderf could have benefited from a little more inward examination but he's done a great deal of work to combine his personal anecdotes from high school with evidence that has since come out about Dahmer's first dalliances with animal mutilation, sexual identity and his first murder. It's sensational without being sensationalist.

Hawkeye: L.A Woman (3)

Written by: Matt Fraction; Illustrated by: Annie Wu, Javier Pulido

Published: 2014

My Thoughts: L.A. Woman is the collection of Hawkeye issues that focus on the lady Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. After being well and truly fed up with Clint/Hawkeye's self-destructive bullshit she decides to make her way to L.A to start fresh and a P.I. Kate felt a little less together in this collection than the previous two and I can't work out if it's just because she doesn't have the human wreck known as Clint Barton to be compared to or if she's actually more of a disaster in these pages. There definitely does seem to be a great deal more of the "she's grown up rich and hasn't ever really had to consider paying for accommodation or food or life" stuff than I think I remember from volumes 1 or 2. These were problems I battled with while reading the volume, but I also fell pretty hard for her almost instantly. Maybe her messy life is a condescending way to make a female superhero appeal more to general readers, but she also felt a bit like a grown up Veronica Mars or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (what with the ass-kicking) which is always okay in my books. David Aja is off art duty this volume, and while I missed his stunning art I quite enjoyed Wu's take on the character. There was a lot more experimentation in terms of the different art styles, and I found the switches into the almost-chibi anime style a nice representation of Kate's arrested development. I am also totally on board for an Elliot Gould look-alike and stories that poke fun at the Hollywood persuit for eternal youth any day of the week.


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