Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Quick Comic Reviews

Cyclone Bill & the Tall Tales; Cenozoic; Wild Girl; Ocean; Kabuki: The Alchemy

Cyclone Bill & the Tall Tales #1
by Dan Dougherty
This is the story of rock and roll sensations Cyclone Bill & the Tall Tales, telling the story of their rise and fall through the lens of a documentary filmmaker. Bill was a little known but critically loved singer/songwriter/guitarist and the Tall Tales--Dave, Dan and Kevin--were a Chicago bar band going nowhere until their fateful meeting in 2004 led to their rise to superstardom in 2005 when they released a collaborative album that shot straight up the charts. Most bands in this position face a backlash, but the Bill & the Tales's come personified in the form of Oscar Burden, a punk rock renegade who believes that everyone should be a rock star. Three years later, Bill is dead and the band is disbanded, but the documentary, haunted by the ghost of Elvis, is looking to uncover the truth. It's all fictional of course, but it has the air of authenticity even if it is at its core a rock and roll myth. This is helped greatly by Dougherty's art, a photo-realistic style that is reminiscent of Gary Spencer Millidge. It's also interesting to note that the Dan in the Tall Tales is Dan Dougherty himself--the artist has slyly inserted himself into the work, giving it yet another level of pseudo-reality. Dougherty packs a lot of story into this first of six issues, and I definitely want to see where he goes next.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Cenozoic #1
by Mark Fearing
A couple of fun stories set at the dawn of mankind. "Monkey Toruble" features Jerry: Caveman Inventor, as he tries to rid his cave-mates from being terrorized by mud-throwing monkeys. The second story features Cave Bear & Duck, two anthropomorphically modern friends dealing with the encroachment of humans. It's fun but slight, and the stories are more likely to bring a smile than out-loud laughter. Fearing's drawing seems a bit crude, but it's deceptively so; there's actually a good deal of craft and he's quite able to tell his stories effectively.
Rating: 3 (of 5)

Wild Girl #1
by Leah Moore, John Reppion, Shawn McManus, & J. H. Williams III
The art by McManus (with a two-page dream sequence by Williams) is great, but that's to be expected. Most importantly for a title like this, McManus can draw animals quite well, imbuing them here with much the same combination of realness and personality that Masashi Tanaka does in Gon. The story however, while not bad by any means, is very slight, serving as the barest introduction to Rosa, a young teenage runaway who is somehow haunted by the animal kingdom. With the great art there's enough to keep me around for a bit, but just barely; hopefully the story will pick up soon.
Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

Ocean #2
by Warren Ellis, Chris Sprouse & Karl Story
Like the first issue this second installment is told in a decompressed style, but At the same time Ellis packs it so full of information it doesn't feel like it's being stretched out needlessly. Inspector Kane has made it to the science outpost at Europa, where he gets introduced to the crew and the fantastic find that they have made beneath the ocean's surface. This has all the makings of a hard science fiction story, the kind that I like in novels but that we seldom get to see in comics. It's very typical in these sorts of stories for the first third of the book to be spent setting up the world and the story, and so far Ocean seems to be following form. Now that all of the pieces are in place, the plot kicks into gear in the closing pages of this second of six issues, right on schedule. The story is helped greatly by Sprouse's art which is quite well suited to this near-future scifi story.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Kabuki: The Alchemy #2
by David Mack
It's gorgeous, but at this point that's to be expected from Mack and Kabuki. Not much actually happens in this issue (Kabuki gets her wound patched up and acquires a false identity), but we do get an interesting meditation on the relationship between art and biotechnology, along with Mack's typical themes of memory and identity. Despite the slow-moving narrative, each page is a visual treat, packed with information. With Kabuki, it's not really about the plot anyway, it's all about the journey, and Mack doesn't disappoint.
Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

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