036) The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis, finished April 27
Hands down the best comic I've read in this burst of comics reading. (Harder to say how it compares to, say, the other books nominated for the Best Graphic Album---New Eisner, two of which I have read [The Gigantic Beard that Was Evil and Seconds] and both of which were good. Maybe tied for first with Seconds?)about five days
Anyway. This is a black-and-white and, like some of the books below, starts in the sort of schools where everyone wears a tie. But it's nothing like anything at all. I picked it off the new-shelf in the library. The back led with the line THE WEATHER CLOCK SAID KNIFE O'CLOCK. / SO I CHAINED DAD UP IN THE SHED. I assumed it was about some psychotic kid and thought why not, I've done well with such in the past.
But I misjudged the book. I should have taken it a bit more literally:
This is not the world as we know it, even if the kids wear ties and speak with British accents. This is a world where kids make their nonhuman parents, where household gods never shut up, where your death is scheduled from the very beginning, where seasons can be turned with a switch, and where lions may eat you if you try to skip school.
I admire how Davis presents us with a fully formed world, but doesn't force his characters to explain every detail. The book ends with only slightly fewer mysteries than it began. In fact, you might argue that the mysteries deepen. And I think that's why the end is so emotionally moving. We had a chance to arrive somewhere and instead we're left trapped in the mysteries. As confused as we started. And heartbroken.
035) Zero Volume 1: An Emergency by Ales Kot et al, finished April 22
If you scan down to #34 you'll note my somewhat disappointed look at a school for assassins. Only one chapter (formerly: issue) of this volume is about assassin school. And it packs more uncertainty and pain and disaster and humanity into those few pages than Deadly Class did in its entire collection.fourish days
The rest of the book is largely about this student's adult life as a superspy and skips about in time with chaotic elegance. I can't imagine picking up an issue once a month and being able to follow the story, but collected it works nicely. It does take occasional turns to the scifi that are hard to figure out and I'll probably never pick up further volumes to get it straight. Ah well. It was an ambitious book and fun to read, even if I never find out just what the heck was going on.
034) Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth by Rick Remender, finished April 19
This dark look at high school takes an orphan off the streets and puts him in a high-school for assassins beneath the bedrock of San Francisco. Much of the comic is heightened, but this succeeds more in making the horror horrific than pulling off other intended effects, such as humor. While the satire, of which there is not much, generally hits the mark, the parody, or which there is much more, generally falls flat. As if the text is purposefully not funny, then daring you not to laugh. Lest the text then slips a blade between your ribs.one evening and past midnight
The book also has some problems with clarity of chronology. It's strengths are developing secondary characters and using words and art to specific effects such as the protag's bad acid trip.
The book's postword by writer Rick Remender tells stories showing that this is a very autobiographical tale of his own violent youth.
Anyway. The book is flawed nonetheless. For instance, it spends time setting up the various divided-by-race cliques at the school, then sets off on a road trip with a black kid, an asian kid, a couple hispanic kids, and a white kid. Because diversity! Even though that would seem to contradict the original . . . . I dunno. Props for intent, I suppose. Execution though. *rimshot*
033) Animal Man Vol. 4: Splinter Species by Jeff Lemire et al, finished April 17
Animal Man, like Swamp Thing (see below), is engaged in one of those nuevo mythologies DC delights in creating. In this case of these two titles, we have the Red (animal life), the Green (plant life), and the Rot (aka the Black---I'm not sure if it represents fungal life and bacterial whatsit or just entropy). Each force chooses a human avatar to represent it on earth and is ultimately unassailable (or was until they started writing stories about 'em all, natch).one evening and past midnight
Animal Man has an interestingish sideplot where the hero moonlights (and is better known) as a movie star. And I liked the way it managed social media. Probably the best use of social media I've seen in a comic.
But ultimately, I feel like Jeff Lemire's talents are being wasted here. I like that he's making a living, but man, I liked Essex County so much more.
032) Swamp Thing Vol. 4: Seeder by Charles Soule et al, finished April 15
This was sitting in the library's NEW FICTION section. I wasn't that enthralled by earlier collections, but hey! Why not?Anyway, it skipped the previous Big Villain and is on to a new one who I think I like better but whom we don't really meet here. Till the next one appears on the NEW FICTION shelf!two days
Previously in 2014 . . . . :