DV8: Gods & Monsters #5 (DC/Wildstorm): It’s remarkable what a brilliant framing device the debriefing with Gem aboard The Carrier is. If you can imagine this tale being told without it, it would play almost painfully straightforward. Gem’s narration provides an anchor for the audience, a POV character to recount what happened. I keep thinking of Keyser Soze sitting in Agent Kujan’s office in The Usual Suspects. Before I go off talking more about the writing, Rebekah Isaacs deserves some praise. I’m impressed by how versatile her art can be. It runs the gamut from tender to fierce, full of heart when it needs to be and full of raw intensity when the tension needs ratcheting, but always clean and clear, so many effortless panels without any text whatsoever. While Wood focuses this issue on Rachel as a princess and Michael as an animal, he keeps begging this question: is the world better off with or without super-powered beings? Does the mere existence of powers make the crazies come out? Does, say, Batman’s existence, actually create someone like The Joker? The powered beings not only impact society at large, but also each other. Gem makes the observation that their recognition as “post-humans” is a bit misleading. That implies human perfection, plus. But, in reality it is simply human, plus power. They’re not advanced humans, they’re simply fallible humans with powers laid on top of that. And the cruel joke is that the powers don’t always ensure positive quality, as Evo actually devolves. Fallible humans with powers is a dangerous paradigm. Gem says “we all smell like death.” Out here in the real world, it’s easy to follow the tendency to select from the existing noble role models and say wouldn’t it be great if someone like Superman was President? But, that’s not how it works. In reality, you have to flip-flop the argument and ask, what if someone like Dubya had superpowers? In the comics, Rachel can dish out Divine Punishment as a God; out here in the real world, you’d simply risk The Divine Right of The Irrational. Wood is sublimating this genre and in the process entering a pantheon of revered writers like Alan Moore and Warren Ellis, joining his voice to the chorus and proving what a flawed paradigm the superhero ideal is. Grade A.
Sweets #2 (Image): Hey, I’ve got a degree from the #2 ranked Criminal Justice school in the country, I worked in federal law enforcement, and I’m telling you, Kody Chamberlain has the power to surprise me with the creative crime shit he comes up with. Printing the coins in the meter? Heck, I’ve never ever seen that before, and it’s just this throwaway little line, but it’s brilliant. The realism once again drips off the page here and it’s evident in the world-weary truth of lines like “I got a shitload of grandkids and a nice camera. I stay busy.” Palmer is always a joy when he’s on the page, his curmudgeonly demeanor endlessly entertaining. The flashbacks continue to be interesting diversions and it’s becoming clear that, like Jason Aaron on Scalped, the seemingly unrelated scenes will all begin to intertwine as time goes on. I did catch one typo, “prostutution,” (the easiest way to remember the proper spelling is that there’s always a “tit” in prostitution), but that’s easy to overlook when a book has this much thought and precision poured into every aspect of it. That cliffhanger about spotting the camera is pretty juicy and I’m definitely on board for more. If you could combine the procedural writing of Greg Rucka with the moody art of Sean Phillips, throw in a dash of the Jonathan Hickman aesthetic, oh, and some Pecan Pralines(!), then you’d have the creative mindset of Kody Chamberlain. Grade A.