So here we are again, reviewin’ us some funnybooks. This week, we’ve got deep fun in Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern, sheer insanity courtesy of David Lapham’s Lodger, pretty pictures from Heroes in Crisis, and weird mystery in the form of Fletcher and Kerschl’s Isola. But first, here’s some good old-fashioned doom from our ol’ pal Affable Al…
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest 5
by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill
It’s taken me a while to settle into the more flippant tone of this final League volume, but this issue evidently hit a sweet spot for me, because I enjoyed it a great deal. Partially, that’s due to so many plots coming together. The big twist, that Our Heroes have been working for the wrong side all along, is becoming increasingly apparent in the wake of Prospero unleashing Faerie on the unsuspecting human world.
They started off working for British Intelligence, who are a murderous bunch of fascistic bastards. Then they slowly drifted off into Prospero’s influence, and he’s turned out to be a vengeful elitist in service to the Sidhe monarchy. And in-between, they kept up friendly relations with the Nemos, who in this issue we find out have been consorting with an assortment of international super villains. And not super villains in the sense that the original Captain Nemo was a super villain. He was a member of an oppressed minority fighting back against an imperial power, and his villainy was of a noble sort. The people his grandson is working with are mostly criminals and would-be world-conquerors.
So there really aren’t any good guys here, except maybe Our Heroes, and as it turns out, they’ve been a bit naive all along. The one time any of them may have truly been on the side of the angels is when Mina (in the guise of the invisible Vull) ran with super hero team the Seven Stars. The Stars have their own shortcomings, of course, but at least they don’t seem to be particularly invested in crushing anyone under their boot heels.
Well… maybe the Flash Avenger. But he’s an upper-class twit. More infuriating than dangerous.
At any rate. Considering how much trash Alan Moore has talked about super heroes in recent years, it’s a nice irony that they’re the only good guys in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But honestly, I think a lot of his stated distaste for the genre has stemmed from his enormous anger at the major publishers of that genre. So it’s nice to see him remembering what he loved about it, too.
I mean, no genre gets an unvarnished treatment in this series. Even the characters Moore seems most fond of have their dirty laundry trotted out. It’s kind of the book’s stock in trade. But in comparison to everyone else, the Seven Stars seem like good eggs. And that’s a cool thing to see in Moore’s farewell to funnybooks.
The Green Lantern 6
by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp
In an interesting parallel to Moore’s work on LOEG, Grant Morrison continues to walk a fine line on this book between the philosophically interesting and the patently ridiculous in this book, drawing on the craziest ideas in Green Lantern history to do so, and…
Actually, you know what? Tempting as it is to go off on another “Moore vs Morrison” spiel…
There. That’s a far better review than any I could write.
by David and Maria Lapham
The Laphams’ serial killer mini-series takes a bizarre turn this month, as Ricky’s continued online taunts finally get inside the Lodger’s head and cause him to make a mistake. That’s not the weird part, though. The weird part is this:
Seriously… What. The. Fuck?
We’ve seen the killer make some pretty serious alterations to his appearance before (like throwing his shoulder out of joint to give himself a hunch). But this is…
GAH! What the hell is this? Is he some kind of mutant or something? Is he unable to feel pain? I know that Lon Chaney could make some pretty extreme changes to his face, using a combination of make-up and appliances, and that he sometimes used some pretty painful techniques. But this… Good lord.
I would say that the extreme changes in appearance we see in this issue violate my willing suspension of disbelief, but they’re so insane, so… disturbing… that I want to accept them, anyway. Because, god help me, I am entertained.
Heroes in Crisis 7
by Tom King, Clay Mann, Travis Moore, and Jorge Fornes
So this is a plot issue, which means that…
You tell ’em, Superman! As I’ve established previously about this book, I don’t really care for the plot very much. There’s also more pages of Harley Quinn spouting annoying nursery rhymes, and that’s not helping matters much, even when King finally explains why she’s doing it. That might make it even worse, in fact. So… Not one of my favorite issues, then.
It does have its high points, though. Like this incredible two-page spread from artist Clay Mann and colorist Tomeu Moray.
That’s some beautiful work. And it’s not the only beautiful work from Mann on this issue, either. The other magnificent page is too spoilery to share, but I’ve given Mann enough crap on previous issues that I wanted to be sure I praised him here.
Travis Moore, meanwhile, turns in some solid pages of character acting with Booster, Beetle, Batgirl and Harley. None of it really set my world on fire, but it’s nice work in a sort of Kevin McGuire style. I was happier, honestly, with Jorge Fornes’ three pages featuring Batman and the Flash. Fornes has room to grow, but his Batman is strong.
And… Yeah. As I said, there’s some plot stuff here, too. I don’t know quite what to make of it, to be honest, and I find that I don’t care all that much, either. At this point, I’m just looking forward to the final character issue next time, and then the conclusion. So this thing will finally be over, and maybe we’ll get a King book I enjoy more all the way around.
In the meantime, though, I’m kinda stuck on the rating. From an enjoyment standpoint, I want to give it three stars. But it’s well-done enough that, from a pure quality standpoint, I think it might deserve four.
Eh, screw it. You don’t need no fancy graphics. That last paragraph tells you all you need.
by Brendan Fletcher and Karl Kerschl
I don’t really have a lot to say about this book, but I wanted to include it regardless, just because it’s so very good. This issue marks the beginning of the second story arc, which thus far appears to be a tale of spirits and missing children in a remote mining colony. It continues the mix of fantasy adventure and weird supernatural mystery that have defined Isola since its debut, but since it’s just the opening chapter… I don’t know what to make of it yet. It’s quite good, but things are really just getting started.
My point here, though, is that if you like weird romantic supernatural adventure stories in the vein of Hayao Miyazaki… and you’re not already reading Isola…
You should be.