Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dylan's Sequential Theology 10.10.2012

Welcome back to Sequential Theology. I've been away for a bit, but I have the time to write up a pick list. This Wednesday is one of those magically days when the shelves are blessed with a large selection of excellent titles... or it's a curse for your wallet if you don't have the extra cash.
This week BĂȘlit continue to conquer the harsh snows of Cimmeria, Oxel's mind is slipping as his body continues to betray him, and The Buffy-verse gets its first male slayer!

 Story by Jane Espenson and Drew Z. Greenberg, art by Karl Moline
Buffy is no stranger to tackling social issues. With past story-lines involving abortion, homosexuality, religion, and abuse it's no surprise that they would one day invert the tradition and have a gay slayer. What's surprising is that he isn't one with a grand destiny. Billy is a kid with a pretty stereotypical life for a modern fictional gay teenager. He's picked on by jocks who may or may not be dealing with their own sexuality. He hangs out with his gal pal on the hood of a car discussing hot guys while re-enacting the scene from Wayne's World where airplanes land over there heads. Naturally. 
But when he has to dust the bullies who have become zompires, and it happens to be in front of the blonde guy he's crushing on from school, things get much more interesting for Billy. His crush is apparently a huge fan of "the Slayer scene in San Francisco" and thinks with Billy's talent for killing zompires, maybe they should form a Scooby gang of their own. Billy is apprehensive because he doesn't have any special powers except his boxing skills (honed out of necessity to defend against said bullies). But zompires' lack of cunning makes it a lot easier for a person with slightly better than average fighting skills to take them down. Thus, Billy the Slayer is born!
This issue was quite fun. Buffy may not always be fine art, but the concept seems to be impervious to damage as its constant twisting only seems to make it more enjoyable... so long as it doesn't go into space.

Story by Brian Wood, art by Vasilis Lolos
Conan's adventures in the frozen North continue in the place where he is most vulnerable: the small town where he was born. The twist of Conan having the life experience of the great barbarian we all know and enjoy, but the emotional maturity of a contemporary twenty-something makes this book easily my favorite take on Conan. I don't know if I'll ever be able to enjoy another Conan story without that reflexive mirror pointing out the fact that when Conan was younger than me, he was brutally murdering people in the name of justice, and his pirate-bride was fighting packs of wolves bare-handed while suffering from snow blindness. 
Yeah, the story is highly romanticized, but at the dawn of history life had a stronger sense of survival of the fittest and law was a little more ambiguous.
Vasilis Lolos does an amazing Becky Cloonan impersonation that makes me forget there's fill-in artist. Excellent work that I continue to anticipate every month.

John Arcudi, art by Jonathan Case
For three months now I have been treated to Jonathan Case's amazing art, and John Arcudi's subtle storytelling. If you enjoyed Blacksad, but couldn't get past the talking animals, than this book needs to be on your pull-list. Private investigator Oxel is searching for something that quite possibly can't be found, closure for his ex-love and for himself. Her child committed suicide and she is searching for a motive. Some grand conspiracy has to be behind the death of her child. Not murder, but something must have driven him to take his life. While Oxel wants to lay his past with her to rest, his now grizzled visage makes him keep his distance. He only talks to her by phone and these conversations are realized with a sort of Douglas Sirk technicolor that gives her end of the line an idilic glow. I am excited for the point when their two stories meet and both of their realities are brought to sharp relief. John Arcudi is constantly playing with personal perception in this series and shows how our memories and even our reality can't always be trusted.
This series seems as though it's produced entirely digitally with it's scratchy even lines, and it's floating "water colors," but Jonathan Case manages to evoke the cold of winter with his incredible understanding of color. The cool color pallet evokes that crisp winter air every time Oxel steps outside. I am going to petition for this to be a featured book when it's finally released, I can assure you.

That's it this week. Thanks for reading. And as always, if you disagree with me then prove me wrong.

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