Thursday, August 6, 2015


I've recently finished reading the first six issues of three new titles, all from separate publishers, and have a few brief thoughts to share about each of them.

ANNIHILATOR #1-6 (Legendary, $3.99) ~ Originally billed as a six-part miniseries from writer Grant Morrison and artist Frazer Irving, publishers Legendary Comics dropped a tiny bombshell on readers in the sixth issue, proclaiming that no, this wasn't a stand-alone series, but only a prelude to an ongoing, unlimited comic series to come. That might have been welcome news had this tale of washed-up Hollywood screenwriter Ray Spass coming into contact with cosmic supervillain Max Nomax, who's recently escaped from a jail orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy (the Great Annihilator), had any sort of payoff. Instead, all six issues felt thin and stretched out, with one chase scene dragging on for almost three issues. The same dialogue gets spoken again and again throughout these six issues, with Oscar Wilde-lookalike Nomax spouting off ever more grandiose rhetoric without much of consequence ever really happening. The art is fantastic though... almost worth the price of admission in and of itself. You'll have to decide for yourself if that's enough. Personally, I won't be picking up any subsequent series.

CROSSED + ONE HUNDRED #1-6 (Avatar, $3.99) ~ Another title, another publisher, another last minute switcheroo. Originally billed as a 12-part mini by Alan Moore set one hundred years after "the Surprise" of the hyper-sadistic Garth Ennis-created "Crossed" universe, with the sixth issue it was revealed that Moore would not be writing the rest of the series, which would no longer be limited to 12 issues. Well... that's certainly a twist, isn't it? And not a good one, if you ask me, except for the fact that I've been looking for a reason to drop this title, and this gives me as good a reason as any. Why have I been meaning to drop it? Well, a few reasons, chief among them being a) the Riddley Walker, Clockwork Orange style invented language continues to be a cumbersome and unwieldy device even after six issues. With verbs as nouns and nouns as verbs, for me, it felt like a noble experiment that just didn't pan out. Also, b) the snail's pace storytelling has been grating on my nerves, with it taking a full six freaking issues for ANYTHING of consequence to happen (although to be fair, when it does, it's pretty fucking devastating). Finally, c) I'm not a fan of the artwork, much preferring the clean lines and vivid emotional expressivity of the original series' artist Jacen Burrows. I guess if you like brutal, horrific, dystopian science fiction, the six issues might be worth reading in one shot as a collected work. It might work as a whole, but the first five issues in themselves might end up boring you to tears and leaving you feeling ripped off. And, again, I don't like being lied to about creative teams and series lengths. If Moore was going to go on writing the last six issues, I might have stuck with. But not now.

IMPERIUM #1-6 (Valiant, $3.99) ~ Finally, an unmitigated winner of a title! This is the story of super-powered "Psiot" Toyo Harada, and his efforts to bring about a future Paradise on Earth, whether the inhabitants of said planet agree with his plans or not. In these first six issues, the art is very good, but the writing is absolutely fantastic, with one beautifully visionary scene from the first issue literally bringing me to tears with its power, poignancy, and subtle grace. Meanwhile, subsequent issues have featured scenes of breath-taking action, sinister subterfuge, unbelievable corporate evil, otherworldly woo and, ultimately, the ethics of (super)empowerment, all written with equal skill, wit and power. The characters, their motivations, the plot twists, all are absolute first rant. Simply put, Valiant's Imperium is easily the best science-fiction / super-hero style comic being published today. Now, with the first six issues being bundled into an affordable trade paperback edition, there's never been a better time to jump aboard the Imperium bandwagon.

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