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5. Mind MGMT #10 (Dark Horse): Matt Kindt manages the impossible–with a twist of Lyme.  His artwork is incomparably kinetic.  His use of the margins–especially in the first half of this issue–is brilliantly thoughtful.  He is in total control: every mark on the page serves its master and, in that, is played “for the greater good.”  Nothing is left to chance, even as Meru rolls the dice in order to undo Duncan’s predictable advantage.  Sure, Mind MGMT has been solid of late; and for most titles that’d be a label to celebrate.  But for this book, solid is pretty much a euphemism for I expected more.  With #10, however, Dark Horse’s thoroughbred leaves a rather pedestrian solid in the dust and sprints toward utterly transcendent as it most assuredly must. (SC)

Mind MGMT #10

Mind MGMT #10

4. Adventure Time # 15 (kaboom!): Far from being a mere comic simulacrum of Pendleton Ward’s lauded TV series, this title has emerged as a monthly laboratory of formalistic innovation. Wry self-commentary, plots that collapse inwards, playing with the comic book format itself; one truly never knows what to expect. The semiotic experimentation in this particular issue does have precedent (specifically in Andy Runton’s adorable Owly) but, man, do Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb and (series letterer) Steve Wands run with it! (DM)

Adventure Time #15

3. Saga #12 (Image): Rocking out with its whatchamacallit out–in more ways than one.  I mean, sure, there’s a one-eyed monster that Prince Robot IV jerks around for most of the issue; but that monster is D. Oswald Heist, author of the inflammatory “piece of s—” A Nighttime Smoke, which, Prince suspects, had a page in bringing Alana and Marko together.  All the talk leading up to this in-your-face–and cleverly self-aware–release, by the sagacious Brian K. Vaughn and the sagalicious Fiona Staples, probably “only boost[ed its] sales,” and left everyone thinking of this terrific treatise on the weight of images and words. (SC)

Saga #12

Saga #12

2. Fury: My War Gone By #11 (Marvel Max):  Garth Ennis’ revisionist examination of Marvel’s famous super-spy is the best exploration of the intersection of pop culture and real-world violence since Joshua Dysart’s late, lamented Unknown Soldier. Or is it exploitation? By removing the title character from his familiar milieu of superheroes and inserting him into some of the darkest corners of American military history, the story inherently raises questions about the boundaries between tragedy and entertainment (in much the way the recent Zero Dark Thirty did). Ennis navigates this terrain (illustrated with appropriate ruthlessness by Goran Parlov) partially by taking the core of the character – grizzled war hero – at his word. To his credit, as he shines a light on the all-too-real atrocities committed in the name of God and Country (as in the last, devastating panel in the book) neither Nick nor Ennis look away. (DM)

Fury: My War Gone By #11

Fury: My War Gone By #11

1. The Manhattan Projects #11 (Image): Then: I held The Manhattan Projects #1 in my hands.  Hmm.  Hickman?  Thumbed through.  Art: Pitarra?  Who?  Seemed, I don’t know, shaky.  Said to self, No, as I returned it to the shelf, so…  Now: Two trades and a single issue in, I’m completely sold on the project–particularly on the twists, both brutal and risible.  This issue, “Building,” while not as tied to the twist as previous issues, is a masterclass in storytelling on par with what Vaughn and Staples have been constructing over on Saga.  Hickman, Pitarra, and Bellaire–whose colors are indispensable in the development of the narrative–balance the past and present with remarkable ease; and, in doing so, they build the relationship between Enrico and Harry in such a heartwarming manner that it’d take exposure to plutonium to warm the heart any more.  Also at play here is the Cold War between the simple and the complex, highlighted by Enrico and Harry’s initial conversation–which culminates in a sweetly incomplex “I just wanted some ice cream”– and then hammered home by the juxtaposition of Oppenheimer’s three–“I think he means…four!”–terribly complicated plans for conquering the heavens and the natural simplicity of being someone’s friend.  As close to perfect as can be. (SC)

The Manhattan Projects #11

The Manhattan Projects #11

The Biggest Dis(appointment): Jupiter’s Legacy #1 (Image). The title, which manages to be both portentous and pretentious, pretty much sums up the whole book. The latest entry in Mark Millar’s self-christened Millarworld, this books seems like a stab at seriousness after the bawdiness of Kick-Ass and Secret Service (both coming soon to a theatre near you!) The set-up: the larger-than-life heroes of yesteryear now have children who are forced to exist in their sizable shadow. This is a theme that has been explored, at different levels, in such books as Infinity Inc., Runaways, hell, even Watchmen. But so what? Any concept is only as strong as what the writer bring to it. No, what really rankles here is how the characters feel the need to immediately announce their motivation, instead of having it arise naturally from the narrative. The elders, bearing a strong resemblance to the Justice Society of America, go on and on about the meaning of the American Dream. They debate their place in a democratic society: should they be servants to the will of the people, or should they be running the show? (yes, that old chestnut) They exist only as avatars of differing opinion. Pres. Obama is even name-dropped in an eye-rolling attempt at real-world relevance. The ungrateful youngsters, meanwhile, whine about the pressures of their privileged existence, whilst knee-deep in sex, drugs and publicists, natch (ooh, edgy!) The forced dialogue even seeps into the incidental characters, as when one proclaims of the elder group “Well, there’s no denying you’re a colorful bunch and you’ve certainly piqued my curiosity here.” This is in the first panel of the second page – before we’ve gotten to know any of them! It’s as though he’s stating what Millar wants the reader to think. Well, I’m sorry, but this colorful bunch has piqued in me only the regret of being separated from my $2.99. (DM)

Jupiter’s Legacy #1

So what made your list?

Turning Pages,

Scott & Derek

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