Posted by: Graeme McMillan on January 14, 2007
The end of my two-day reviewing stint, and these are both books that aren’t out yet (I got to see them in preview PDF format; the perks of being a snarky bastard on the internet). Anyway, one’s a full-color Image book about superheroes, and the other is a black and white graphic novel about werewolves. You can work out which one’s which.
DYNAMO-5 #1: When this was first announced, I made some comment about the solicit making it sound as if it was Six Feet Under with added superpowers or something: Family dealing with the death of a father? Get Peter Krause on the phone. In reality, though, it’s something entirely different, in concept as well as tone. Jay Faerber’s one of these writers who’s always seemed to somehow miss his due on a regular basis (Sean McKeever would’ve been on that list as well if he hadn’t just been poached by DC and suddenly become an unexpected big player this week, to completely skip subjects for a second), and that’s a feeling reinforced by this first issue – The idea of a bastard of a superhero having five illegitimate children, each of whom has one of his powers, is an interesting one, and bringing those children together to take the place of a father none of them knew after his death a nice twist on the “legacy superhero” concept, but the execution is where it’s at, though, focusing less on the kids but the superhero’s widow. The dialogue that may get a little expositionary at times, but there are some nice lines throughout the book suggesting that Faerber knows when not to play it entirely straight, and an end-of-book splash-page/last line of dialogue that Mark Millar would kill for. Also worth pointing out is artist Mahmud Asrar, whose work is reminiscent of a chunkier Yanick Paquette, and just lovely, easy-on-the-eye superhero stuff. Overall, it’s not Six Feet Under at all; it’s family drama meets melodrama meets genre action – it’s the TV show Alias, if Alias had stayed Good for more than a season.
FIRST MOON: This new coming-of-age story from the same creators behind last year’s “Continuity” is an interesting take on some familiar themes. You have the horrors of adolescence redressed as a classical horror story, you have the historical epic, and you have a family drama all in one package that somehow manages to be not only coherent but surprisingly enjoyable. Jason McNamara’s got a nice way with the dialogue in the more down-to-earth family dynamic between the main characters, giving you a quicker “in” to the story than the somewhat (for me, at least) colder opening in the historical part of the story, and there’s more than a little bit of humor involved with the main character’s discovery of his secret (and even more humor in its resolution at the end of the book, making it into a bit of a shaggy dog story). Tony Talbot’s artwork has some subtle changes for the different time periods (so subtle, in fact, that I don’t know how intentional they may be; I wondered more than once whether I was making a connection between the historical art and the woodcut artwork you’d find from the period that wasn’t really there…), but overall has a pleasing similarity to the way I remember EC and Warren horror artwork, if slightly rougher around the edges. It’s not a perfect book – the climax to the story gets bogged down with unnecessary exposition between the parents and scenes that slow down the overall plot somehow (including the appearance of a couple of characters that seems unusual and an awkward set-up for a potential sequel), in particular – but it’s Very Good, and enhanced by the text piece at the back of the book, giving some background on the historical elements used in the main story. Something that I’d forgotten until the mention of “for younger readers” in a suggested reading list at the back of the book, was that this is a book intended for a audience of 8 and upwards… Re-reading it as a Young Adult book made me like it even more, and answered some of the questions I’d had on the first go-through, in a strange way. Worth checking out, anyway, and enough to make me think that McNamara, at least, is probably about to be poached by Vertigo or someone sooner rather than later.
For those who’re curious, First Moon comes out this Wednesday, I think, and Dynamo-5 is due in March. You can read other Dynamo-5 reviews here, here and here, and Ian Brill wasn’t as enthused about First Moon as I was, as you can read here. Me, I’m going to go and relax for the rest of this holiday weekend, enjoying the fact that this week only has four workdays as well. Next week: Back to reviewing things that you’ve probably all read already.