Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What I Read – Dec 13

Every week I say that I didn’t read anything and my post is going to be short. That never seems to happen. I tend to babble on and on and … I mean provide lots of insightful commentary. BUT, this week I think I really am going to end up being fairly succinct. As Jim noted it’s a lot easier to be positive and since I only read 2 books and I liked both it’s got to be short. Well let’s find out.

I started the week with Casanova: Gula, (w) Matt Fraction, (a) Fabio Moon, published by Marvel Icon.

Fraction wrote the first Casanova series back in 2006 which was part of the Image reduced price/reduced page count experiment. Fraction and Moon then brought their creation to the Marvel Icon line and the latest story has finally been collected for people like me. It’s been a really long time since I read the initial series but Fraction doesn’t skip a beat and launches right into the new stuff. Casanova Quinn, our hero, is lost and his companions spend several issues asking not ‘where is Casanova Quinn?’ but ‘when is Casanova Quinn?’. I can’t actually summarize the story better than that because it’s that convoluted but I can tell you it’s one of the best time travel/alternate reality stories I have read in a long, long time.

Fraction’s work on Marvel has been very hit or miss with me, but his creator owned stuff has always shone. Casanova is no exception as he creates a tongue in cheek version of James Bond and Nick Fury. The action comes fast and furious with lots of over the top ideas. The characters aren’t fully developed but it doesn’t matter because you always want to see what’s going to happen next.  One thing that was great reading it in trade was the fact that I couldn't tell where each individual comic ended.  Fraction obviously wrote this is such a way that it worked as both a monthly and a long form comic. 

The only things that kept me from totally loving this was the excessive sex.  I'm not a prude by any stretch but it seemed that Fraction just amped up the sex factor because he could. The first series had it's fair share of innuendo and smut but it wasn’t as blatant as this one. I’m not a prude by any stretch but it seemed like Fraction was forcing it in just because he could instead of making all the ‘action’ part of the story. With the story, because it is a time travel story Fraction does reference events that occurred in the first series. If you haven’t read the first series you can figure it out but it tends to muddle the overall effect. 

Moon’s art, as you would expect, is just fabulous. If you enjoyed the first Casanova series, then you will love this. If you didn’t read the first one, then start there and join the rest of us for a great ride.

The second book I read this week was Rodd Racer, (w/a) Toby Cypress, published by Image Comics.

Rodd Racer is a short (~70 pg) graphic novel that reads like a book half that size. And I don’t mean that as an insult. This is the story of Rodd, a race car driver trying to win the big one to pay off the mob and escape to a life of anonymity.

The story is brisk, quick, and immensely enjoyable. It’s noir with a touch of science fiction and a whole lot of race cars. Car chases/races are incredibly hard to make exciting in comic books but Cypress does it with flying colors by alternating between the race in the present and the events that lead up to the action. While Cypress pushes the plot and the action at breakneck speed, his dialogue tended to be weak. The dialogue was more b-movie cliché than anything else. It worked because it fit the tone of the story but at points you can’t help but groan at the cheesiness of the lines.

Cypress’s art is in the same vein as Paul Pope and Nathan Fox. It’s a loose, free line style that appears to be scribbles if you don’t look closely. It’s so smooth and, for lack of another word, flowy, that it will blow your mind. Cypress also changes his inking style depending on the situation. For the racing portions, he darkens his art considerably. For the personal, quiet moments he opens the art up with light lines.  Overall, it's the same price as 2 comics with a couple of extra pages thrown in.  It's a fun read if you like cars and don't mind some bad dialogue.

That’s it for this week and good or bad, it seems I'm just long winded.

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