Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I read last week... Oct 25

Last week I managed to read a million books and this week I barely managed to read two. I don’t want to say it was quality that decreased the reading speed but that certainly had something to do with it.

Cyclops written by Matz, illustrated by Luc Jacamon and published by Archaia.

I read the trade which collected the first four issues of the series. In the future, soldiers are the new reality TV stars and their exploits are shown on the nightly news via cameras located in their helmets. Douglas Pistoia, our hero, is smart, good looking, honest, and believes he is doing what is best for the world so when he starts to suspect the company he works for of trying to instigate wars for profit his faith in the system is shaken. There’s a wee bit more to the story than that but not much. 

This book suffered from high expectations because this is the same creative team behind another series which I love, The Killer. In this book Matz takes a great idea of crossing reality tv with war and comes up with clichés and dull, listless battles. The problem is that Pistoia isn’t all that interesting. He’s something of the perfect, over achieving everyman with a heart of pure gold. And then, shockingly, he is manipulated by the big bad evil corporation. These are story lines that I have read a million times so for it to work, either the sense of danger has to feel real or the characters be full of life. Neither is the case here. 

In terms of art, Jacamon had grown tired of just drawing people in The Killer and wanted to stretch himself and his sense of design. Unfortunately, Jacamon only half succeeded. His cities, vehicle designs, and weapons all look futuristic enough to be believable. The problem comes in the design of the soldiers. The uniforms look like little more than glorified painter coveralls. It’s hard to believe that an army which can design high tech guns would design their equally high-tech uniforms to remind people of UPS delivery men. Matz provides a logical explanation for the design but it still looks bad.

I really, really wanted to love this book but I just couldn’t. It’s not bad, it’s just not good either.

The second book I read was Doomsday for Dredd, written by John Wagner, illustrated by Cam Kennedy, Simon Davis, Neil Googe, Mike McMahon, Charlie Adlard, and Colin Wilson.

This is actually a import that I picked up as part of a large Judge Dredd collection. This book collects the Dredd stories from 2000 AD progs 1141-1164 originally published in 1999.

Briefly, Dredd is captured by Orlok, the Sov assassin first seen in the Apocalypse War, and taken to face trial for crimes against humanity. Apparently Orlok is upset that Dredd annihilated the Sov Mega-City killing a billion people or something like that. In the meantime, a gangster using a robot army takes over Mega-City One. So Dredd must escape the remains of the Sov empire, return home and save the city he loves.

If the description sounds dull and paint by numbers Judge Dredd, that’s because it is. It is uninspired mess that really has no hook for the reader. Dredd is like the Punisher, he is a one dimensional character that needs a strong supporting cast to make it work. This collection just doesn’t have that. It’s good on the action but low on originality. Just to prove my point, the robots were called ‘Assassinator Droids.’ Seriously? You couldn’t think up a better name than that?

The art was was good throughout so I can’t complain about that. This is one of the books that looks really pretty but has no substance to it.

That’s it for this week. I hope I read something better next week.

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