Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dylan's Sequential Theology 10.24.2012

Dynamite has the bulk of my picks this week, but Dark Horse has the always excellent Dark Horse Presents which is full of content to the point that it's almost sensory overload. So in a way, it's a tie.

Chosen #1
Story by Chuck Dixon & Gotham Chopra, art by Diego Latorre
I tend to be a bit skeptical about books with covers that look like they were left-over art from Hot-Topic t-shirts, but this book worked quite well for me. A teenager in Detroit discovers he is the latest incarnation of the Buddha... well, possibly. An order of monks show up at his house when he is a baby and explain to his parents that he is the chosen one and destined for greatness. The parents send the monks away saying they are crazy bald headed freaks and their kid needs to enjoy the fruits of the Detroit public school education. The monks need their savior and return a few years later to kidnap the child and all goes horribly wrong. Flash forward again to the teenage Chosen One, and he is constantly getting into fights and doing poorly in school. He has the wisdom and steadfastness of the Buddha, but the inner rage of Ananda. He is vicious and does not know how to control his temper.
If this sounds familiar, it probably is. It's kind of like Little Buddha on steroids with a twinge of Fight Club. And to be honest, that's what I would expect from a Western reincarnation of the Buddha. Lots of pent up hostility, and a skepticism of authority. Chuck Dixon & Gotham Chopra actually do a great job of bringing the prophecy of the next Buddha to comics. It's been done before by Jodorowsky in his series White Lama, but this is much more of an urban machismo comic than a contemplative comic discussing the nature of reality. If you want a Punk Rock Lama, this will do nicely in your pull list. It will be interesting if it's somewhat over-the-top storylines ever balance, or if they continue to seem oddly comical, but it's still a fun ride all the same.

Dark Horse Presents #17
 This magazine is excellent. Getting this every month is such a treat. It's 80 pages of varied and excellent content for $8. You get to try out new series from creators before Dark Horse publishes them individually, and it also as reprints of old masters at an affordable price. This time around I wanted to highlight two stories I'm really enjoying.

Aliens: Inhuman Condition
Art by Sam Keith Story by John Layman
I put Sam Keith ahead of John Layman on this one because he is the star of this tale. Layman's story is excellent, and quite terrifying. It might be a little overcomplicated, and certain elements are impossible to resolve, bit it's quite chilling. All of this is amazingly augmented by Sam Keith's art. If you've never read the Maxx, here's a quick way to see the art of one of the greatest artists of "the Image revolution." His work is atmospheric and drippy, scratchy and frenetic. It hits you in young-primal part of your brain and feeds those pieces that barely understand what the human form looks like. And this tale of a woman shaken by a traumatic experience into a state child-like regression is the perfect place for his work. It should be collected in a hardcover sometime next year, and you should take a look at it.

The Deep Sea 
Story by Palmiotti & Gray, Art by Tony Akins, Paul Mounts
Palmiotti and Gray are doing an interesting take on the Fantastic Four in this story... or at least four people have had an accident while testing a bathysphere and wound up traveling fifty years into the future. The character moments in this story are incredibly touching. And the art has a similar look to the sentimental sequences in Creep. A little hazy, pastel pallet, but clean. Definitely a story that's worth your time.

Mind MGMT #6 
Mise en Scene by Matt Kindt
This ends the first arc of Mind MGMT. If you aren't reading this series, you should be. The further down the rabbit hole you go, the more you question everything. Are the Immortals even real? If Lyme can make anyone around him feel anything he wants them to, could they actually be a manifestation of his self-aspect that he doesn't want to deal with? I'm probably reaching, but when your main character has the subconscious drive to influence the thoughts and feelings of those around you to the extent that he doesn't know he's doing it, all bets are off to begin with.

Shadow #6
Story by Garth Ennis, Art by Aaron Campbell
Normally I'm not a fan of Alex Ross covers, but his cover for this issue is excellent. A great riff on the old pulp covers of George Rozen.
Until the past two issues, this series hasn't really done much for me. Margot Lane has been a non-entity, Cranston isn't likable in the slightest, and everyone walks around explaining their plan, and how their plan suddenly won't work because someone has ruined it. But Garth Ennis now seemed to be at a place where he knew what he was trying to do, instead of just paddling out to sea hoping he'd find land eventually. And the beach his boat lands on, is pretty exploitative. Ennis makes The Shadow's visit to the Orient the major turning point that gives the Allies the tools they need to fuel the atomic bomb. It's a clever piece of misdirection on his part. He sells you on the idea that the Japanese have built a hokey death ray a-la a Republic Serial, but in fact, their invention can be used for something more terrifying. Who knew? THE SHADOW KNOWS!!!
But I shouldn't be shocked by this somewhat blunt use of history. It's expected not only of Ennis, but the Shadow as well. Fans of the Helfer series from the 80s may remember the first annual (drawn by the great Joe Orlando) which featured a woman having sex with her radiation poisoned husband, who survived a brush with the atomic bomb, because she thought their child would become the Atomic Jesus. Say it with me, "Atomic Jesus!"
Ennis doesn't shy away from the blood and guts of the pulps either. Instead of being theatrical with his powers as he is often portrayed. The Shadow shows up and mows down everyone, laughing while he does it. A quirk that Ennis pins on his psychopathic distance from humanity, instead of an affectation designed to scare his opponents. There's more going on under the surface in this series, but it's rather decompressed. Considering this is Ennis' last issue before Victor Gischler takes over next month, it's an epic ending, but might have been a lot better if his story had been plotted a little stronger.

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

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