The Killer #5 (Archaia Studios Press): One of the many strengths that The Killer has as a title is the ability to illuminate these hidden little truths about the human struggle. Lines like "You can be alone and together at the same time" are really the deceptively simple, effective prose, reminiscent of Hemingway's short, declarative sentences, that all great noir is built upon. On the art side of the house, Luc Jacamon is particularly clever with lighting. Notice how as our protagonist descends into this world of the Colombian cartel, his face is almost completely hidden in darkness. I also really enjoyed The Killer's morally flexible femme companion, whose silent acquiescence is a powerful testament to the old adage that "all it takes for bad men to succeed, is for good men to do nothing." All in all, The Killer remains a powerful and crisp look into the psyche of the modern criminal mind. I'm reminded of an interview I saw with Martin Scorsese on the making of Goodfellas. He essentially said that the true sin is not the sin, or the act, itself. The true sin is a person committing the sin, even repenting and feeling remorse, but ultimately... wanting to do it all over again. Grade A+.
Note: The cover image you see is from the first collected edition, not issues 5 or 6. It would be really cool if ASP would publish cover shots of this book on their web-site; the English language translations are exceptionally difficult to find on the web!
Casanova #10 (Image): The devil, as they say, is in the details. Or, as my boss Charles likes to quip, "detail wags the dog." This is perhaps the most well rounded and consistently themed issue of Casanova to date. The collage cover that has the film strips, carnival mask, and vaguely represenational camera, the details of which all sort of collectively smack of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut to me. How Fraction can create a script/arc out of one solid high concept: "I'm not afraid I'm being watched, I'm afraid I'm being laughed at." Random Digressive Aside: I want to pitch high concepts to Matt Fraction and have him write issues of Casanova around them. Hey Matt! Ever hear of a "Black Box Room?" Send ravenously horny people into a pitch black room one by one, unaware of the others participating. There are no lights, no talking, and no clothes. Go! The origin of Asa Nisi Masa. I love how young Izzy Benday looks remarkably like Logan/Wolverine. The origin of Kubark. The lamb recipe. The way Zeph's naked breast looks simultaneously like the top cover of a slurpee cup on top of the spent ice cream container, as she lies spent amid the sweet cream, the decadent dichotomy of images. And, as usual, the strength of the bonus back matter - it all conspires to be greater than the sum of its parts. Grade A.
The Lone Ranger #9 (Dynamite Entertainment): On the plus side, this reads like a good old fashioned Western, with base motivations, attempts at rugged nobility, and even offers a cliffhanger that is a proud homage to the genre serials that spawned it. On the down side, the sparse dialogue reads incredibly fast, and Cariello's open flowing panels are much too easy to speed through, both making it feel like the $2.99 price tag is high and makes for a fleeting experience. I dig this book, but it's one that I wish I could sit longer with if there was something more weighty to digest on the page. Grade B.
Fear Agent: The Last Goodbye #4 (Dark Horse): The Heath Huston origin arc wraps up nicely with some character explanation and a very well played Samuel Clemens quote. Tonally, it's not necessarily the light-hearted, space-faring, humorous adventure we've come to love, but these bitter lows only make the sweeter highs that much more profound and enjoyable by comparison. I'll be glad to see Jerome Opena back on art chores for the next arc, as Tony Moore's panels were beginning to feel a bit crowded and claustrophobic for me, as if I always wanted the camera to zoom out just a tad, especially during the action sequences. Perhaps it was a conscious decision to highlight the disorienting feeling of battle, but there was a touch of Michael Bay direction making me feel a little dizzy and unfocused. Grade B.