Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What I Bought 12/16/2013

As I alluded to in Monday's post, my comics did arrive sometime while I was away. Not quite everything, but enough to keep busy for awhile. Especially considering I grabbed a bunch of books while I was at my dad's, so expect lots of reviews of espionage thrillers and the like worked in there. Ought to be able to carry me through to at least January.

Avengers Arena #17, 18, by Dennis Hopeless (writer), Kev Walker (penciler, inker), Jason Gorder (inker), Jean-Francois Beaulieu (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - It's nice Walker was able to draw each of the last two issues. It'd be nicer if they'd slow the pace on the next series so they wouldn't have to use fill-in artists. No hope of that, though.

So everything on the surface has gone to hell. X-23's nearly finished gutting Hazmat in a berserker fury, only to get attacked by a seriously angry Anachronism, who then gets attacked by Reptil. Nico's trying to kill Bloodstone (and he's encouraging her), and Chase isn't going to do anything to stop it. So Cammi does, after she kicks Chase's ass, which he makes very easy by dint of being a moron. During all this, Arcade has made his escape from Katy/Tim, Deathlocket, and Chris Powell, only to contact Katy and make her an offer. If she kills the others, he'll help her spin it so she's just a tragic lone survivor. If not, everyone will see her for the unrepentant murderer she is. I guess the assumption was she kept Tim locked up in her head for years, she can do it again. So she goes for it, getting control of Deathlocket again (who immediately shoots Chris, nooo!), and unleashing everything Arcade had stored up but hadn't used yet. The side effect of that - along with Reptil maybe dying to keep everyone else safe when Hazmat goes nuclear - is it gets everyone back on the same side again. Not that it's much use, except Tim exerts enough control to free Deathlocket, and she ends Katy. And Tim. Which leaves the survivors to decide what they're going to tell everyone. Which may be moot, because Arcade's still on the loose, and he has all the footage. Which probably explains the next series, if everyone knows what the kids did.

Let's talk about Kev Walker, because he's done a really good job on this book. For these two issues, all the calm panels are done with nice neat straight line borders, and all the fighting panels are these jagged, sketched-looking borders. The calm panels are usually neat rectangles or squares, the action ones are uneven, sometimes coming to a point, or a jagged end, like the end of the panel was broken off. It gives the action this erratic, urgent feel to it. Like the time is jumping a bit. It contrasts nicely with those clean, panels in the run up to the action, the ones that feel calm. The action panels are wild, overlapping in places, leaning in others. Everything's gone crazy, out of control. It drives my eyes ahead, to the next panel, but the thicker borders also help to make me focus, especially in the case of overlapping panels. My eyes are panning across, I hit that black border, and it's like it freezes me for a second, and I just take the panel in. It really impresses the whole thing on my mind. Bealieu's colors help, too, since the calm panels (mostly underground) and in cool blues, but the sky up above has turned red and angry.

I understand why a lot of people were against this series from the start. Nobody likes to see favorite characters killed off, especially if they get a cheap send-off (though it's worth noting I think Juston and Mettle were the only two pre-existing characters that died, unless that Red Raven was already around. No consolation for fans of those two/three, but it's more restrained than I think a lot of people were expecting). For some reason, it didn't bug me. I guess, like I said last year, I figured if anyone I cared about died, they'll just come back the next time some other writer wants to use them. I'm glad Darkhawk and Cammi didn't die, because now there doesn't have to be the hassle of devising a way to bring them back, but if Hopeless and Walker did it right, I could have worked with it. I wasn't annoyed Abnett and Lanning killed of Richard Rider at the end of Thanos Imperative, so much as I was annoyed by some of the other stuff they did in the run up to it, which seemed nonsensical and pointless.

That was something key here. Even if I didn't like a decision a character made, I understood it. Hopeless wrote in such a way that I could see why they would reach that conclusion. It was important I didn't spend a lot of time going, "Why would you do that? That's just stupid." There were a few things that came close (I thought Katy tipped her hand using Deathlocket against Nara too quickly), but even there, I could see what led to the mistake. I thought there was a good momentum to the series, a nice rise and fall of hopes, a few twists, but not too many, and some solid character work. I enjoyed AVENGERS ARENA a lot, and I'm going to try the follow-up series (the fact Marvel actually priced it at $2.99 instead of $3.99 doesn't hurt).
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