Monday, January 10, 2011

Capsule reviews: Comics from 1/5

(a short week this time around - picked up a TPB to help stretch things out)

Jonah Hex #63 (DC, $2.99, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti) - Anyone familiar with Jonah Hex knows he's a hard-nosed, cynical S.O.B., who often only seems to be out for himself.  That said, every once in a while we see that he does have something of a soft spot for children, and that shows up this issue, as Jonah is hired to track down and kill someone whose cruelty exceeds that of the usual criminal that Hex has to deal with.  We also see a bit of Jonah's childhood, and how that relates to the matter at hand.  The story plays out pretty much how you would expect, but how we get there is as important as the ending for a story like this.

Gray's writing is tight and harsh, but if you're familiar with the current run of the book that you know what sort of story you're in for.  Palmiotti's art is rough while also being slightly cartoony - it's not my first choice for such a book, to be honest, but it meshes fairly well with Grey's writing.    

Transmetropolitan vol 7: Spider's Thrash (DC/Vertigo, $14.99, Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson) - collecting together issues 37-42 of the original run, where we some of the repercussions of Spider Jerusalem's ongoing battle with President Callahan, a.k.a. the Smiler.  Spider has been cut loose from The Word, but that has only served to give him even more freedom in what he writes.  Going underground with his two female assistants (excuse me... 'filthy assistants'), he begins to work for free for a small newsfeed, telling of all the City's uncomfortable truths.

Of course, the Smiler hasn't forgotten about Spider, and at one point sends some assassins after him, although it's more of an attempt at intimidation than actual execution.   Meanwhile, the Smiler is slowly chipping away at various freedoms and liberties, journalistic and otherwise.  For his part, Spider seems even more cocky and arrogant than usual, freed of what few limitations he had on himself, but by the end of the book an actual sense of mortality has pierced through his normal haze of drugs and ego.

We get to see more of the dirty side of the city, most notably with stories concentrating on child prostitution and the mentally ill homeless, but we also see bits and pieces of the general insanity that exists on the streets of the City.  We also see Ellis play with the idea that the inhabitants of the City have lost much of their sense of history, as nobody knows what year it exactly is, no one can refer to past events in regards to a certain year, but rather only in terms of a certain amount of time passed.   As a result, the citizens of the City live, even more than would be normal, very much in the day-to-day present... and only memories preserves any remnants of the past.

Ellis is probably my favorite writer in the field today.  His stories are consistently entertaining, and often thought-provoking.  It doesn't hurt that he is one of the few writers in comics with an actual knowledge of, and interest in, science and the effects it can and will have on day-to-day life.  Robertson's art compliments Ellis's story wonderfully, detailing all the mad and dirty aspects of the City in all of its perverse glory.

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