25 February 2010

Daily Breakdowns 066 - Mothersquiggle

ZVR Adventure #1
Writer - Chris Ryall
Artists - Menton Matthews III, Paul McCaffrey, Gabriel Hernandez
Publisher - IDW Publishing. $3.99 USD

Aside from the cover, Ashley Wood doesn't provide any art in this spinoff from the Zombies vs. Robots miniseries. If you recall IDW's Bloodsucker Tales, an anthology spinoff from the Steve Niles/Ben Templesmith 30 Days of Night books, this is kind of the same idea, but with original writer Ryall continuing with three serials here.

The first, "Kampf," deals with a particularly steadfast soldier in the war on zombies. He has to abandon his wife and child, in order to hopefully keep them safe by killing a lot of what might eat them. To aid in the war effort are a fresh batch of indefatigable robot soldiers. Matthews gives them a simple, perversely appealing design, and the rest of the art is pretty dramatic, and quite similar to lots of videogame cutscenes in the Photoshop faces, but with more of a painterly approach to the scenery and skyline. I'm not convinced he's synthesized the two effectively yet, but it's striking.

"Masques," with art by McCaffrey, is the cute story of the book, about a regular guy finding a bunch of adaptable work robots who will obey his commands, as well as blueprints for an Iron Man style armored suit, which he has now instructed the 'bots to build at the end of this chapter. McCaffrey's style is the most traditional, but with very good computer coloring. I got a little bit of a Moebius feel from it.

Gabriel Hernandez brings an interesting blend of Ash Wood, Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz to "Zuvembies vs. Robots," a perhaps unfortunately timed story set in Haiti, featuring a witch doctor who's going to raise his own army of zuvembies to go up against these viral zombies. There's a big, simply designed robot who's right in line with a Wood design, and some decent humor in his gentle embarrassing of a skeptical Haitian.

I like the premise of the book fine, to show the kind of silly ZVR world as richer and possessed of other tones and types of stories. However, I do think there could have been a little more meat to the book. "Kampf" especially suffered--three double pages spreads on a nine page story seems awfully luxurious, especially when there was more room for story if the inconsequential sketchbook section had been dropped. Not bad, just hope it moves along at a brisker pace next issue.

Milestone Forever #1 (of 2)
Writer - Dwayne McDuffie
Pencilers - John Paul Leon, Mark D. Bright
Inkers - John Paul Leon, Romeo Tanghal
Publisher - DC Comics. $4.99 USD

Look, we all have some hard-to-justify attachments to bad comics from our youth, certain creators, whatever. If Milestone was your thing back in the late '80s, I don't mean to take a dump on it. But I never read any of it, and while I like McDuffie's writing on cartoons like Justice League Unlimited and Static Shock, I just can't overlook how bad this reunion effort is.

I'm not sure what this was originally planned as, but what we have here is a curious first issue that's more of a one-shot and doesn't seem to lead into a second and concluding issue very well. Some hooded, mystical character sees portents of doom and destiny and whatnot in a framing sequence, really nicely drawn by Leon, and then we're treated to a bad after school special about staying out of gangs. Well, more accurately, various Milestone characters are reintroduced and they team up to stop a Jheri-curled villain who leads a superpowered gang with laughable (and very '80s to early '90s) names like Tech-9, Brickhouse (essentially Ben Grimm in a wig), Dogg (a talking bulldog) and Bubbasaur (don't ask). To toughen things up, there's a nice cover with cool stencils and creator credits done like graffiti tags, plus a ilberal use of "bitch" and a squiggle sign where variations of "fuck" would go. As in, "I'm strong as a mothersquiggle," and "I'm standing up to your bullsquiggle." The bad guy blows up real good, and most of the good guys stay together to help keep Dakota City blah blah blah. It's kind of sad because aside from Leon, who has grown as an artist, McDuffie and Bright are very static, no pun intended. Bright's style is stuck in the past, and McDuffie's dialogue wavers between dull and self-parody. Avoid.

Sparta, U.S.A. #1
Writer - David Lapham
Artist - Johnny Timmins
Publisher - Wildstorm. $2.99 USD

The thing I like about Lapham is he goes all out on pretty much every project. Maybe you didn't like Young Liars, but you remembered it, and you could tell he was putting his heart into it. Sparta throws a lot of crazy stuff at the reader right away and part of the fun is the way it challenges you to either jump on or stay behind. We learn a little about this mysterious town that's surrounded by mountains and where everyone plays football--there are over a dozen professional teams! They seem cut off from the rest of the world and seem to have been taught there are no more United States anymore. Their greatest quarterback, Godfrey McLaine, went up to the mountains years ago and disappeared, perhaps killed by a yeti. But no, he's back, in warrior garb and sporting red skin, ready to throw down with the town's blue-skinned leader, the Maestro, the one who makes the choices of which couples get the babies handed out every season.

When you have something fresh and nutty like this, you want a fresh artist, too, and Timmins throws himself into the project. It's heavily photorealistic (I think Godfrey's modeled on Colin Ferrell) but at least he picks his shots well. What Lapham is trying to do here, how deeply he wants to go into political allegory, fantasy, who knows? I'm signing on.

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