2.22.06 Reviews Cont'd
Apparently I left all the good stuff on the bottom of my "to read" pile, because these were excellent;
Kabuki #6 (Marvel/ICON): Just when I think I'm ready to forego single issue installments of David Mack's grand opus about identity, art, and culture, and wait for the occassional trade, he goes and does this. He drops some major knowledge that is timed to hit me just right in my own life. This book usually contains so many nuggets of information about personal style, life, perception, and point of view, that it has the ability to resonate strongly with an ever growing readership despite major time delays in between issues. This issue has a sequence that discusses rule breaking being a basic method for problem solving. The Scott Thorpe quote "rules are integrated patterns of thinking that we mistake for truth" was powerful. Mack goes on to explain that "rules are not necessarily bad things. They are like railroad tracks. If you want to go where the track goes, they are perfect. But if you want to find a solution that is not on the rail line... Not on the scheduled stops... The only way to get there is to leave the tracks." One quibble is that this issue had a heaping dose of critique on the war on terror and some oil dependency riffs that really felt out of place, so I downgraded to Grade A-.
Solo #9 (DC): Scott Hampton's work was unfamiliar to me, but this issue provides a good sampling. The anonymous letter housing a type face with the letter "g" being two circles connected by a stray line was superb. His amazing, realistic line with just a tad of caricature thrown in, looks good colored, just inked, or inked heavily with shadows and negative space influenced by Frank Miller. Hampton has a good eye for camera placement and is a very competent storyteller, a master of pacing. His retro sci-fi monster tale is an admitted nod to US horror comics from the 1950's but has the finesse of a very modern European line to dress it up. Regardless of the creator chosen, it's just impossible not to like this title. The concept itself, despite the strength of the execution is beyond reproach. This is one example that disproves the rule where the whole is equally as great as the sum of the individual parts. Grade A.
Ordinary Victories (NBM/ComicsLit): This book was not released this week, but I picked it up this week based on a recommendation from buddy Mike Allen, Manager of Spacecat Comics & Editor at Hidden Agenda Press, which spun out of a conversation about The Rabbi's Cat and a few other books that have "blown us away" recently. Thanks Mike!
This impressive solo project from Manu Larcenet focuses on the life of a photographer and his relationships with his colleagues, parents, girlfriend, and brother. In other words, elements of an ordinary life. He grows through some small victories professionally and in those social relationships. Thus the title "Ordinary Victories" referring to him being stretched to overcome those challenges. There's also an interesting thematic question posed about excluding people from your life on moral grounds even if they have deep regrets over past transgressions. On the surface, this book reads a bit depressing and introspective. But like a lot of NBM works and fellow Jury Prize Winner at the Angouleme Festival, The Rabbi's Cat, there is a lot to be found in subtlety here. I actually found the joys and heartaches found in these small ordinary moments to be quite uplifting and life affirming. These small events or ordinary victories often become overlooked and trivialized by big empty events. This book argues that the most important moments may be the small, ordinary, subtle ones that we miss in our frenzied attempts at the spectacle of greatness. Grade A.