Friday, June 26, 2009

I Bought Comics: Dark Reign: Zodiac #1 Review plus Two Quick Ones

[Trying something different: doing proper reviews for some books I buy. Not quite proper, but done in the CBR format. If I feel like it. Other books get the quick treatment, I suppose. Only because I don't feel like reviewing them properly. Or at all. That's the way it goes. Yay. Enjoy.

Title: Dark Reign: Zodiac #1
Story by: Joe Casey
Art by: Nathan Fox
Colours by: Jose Villarrubia
Letters by: Albert Deschesne
Cover by: Nathan Fox
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover price: $3.99 (USD)
Release Date: June 24th, 2009
Rating: 4
Blurb: Guess who’s back. Back again. Casey’s back. Back again.

Along with Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance, I think it’s safe to say that Joe Casey’s back. Okay, he wasn’t really gone, but, aside from Gødland, he hadn’t really been writing anything that great for a while now. Charlatan Ball, Youngblood, and The Death-Defying ‘Devil were all... well, they invented words like ‘mediocre’ and ‘lacklustre’ for works like those. But not Dark Reign: Zodiac #1 where Casey places the work clearly within his own little private Marvel continuity that includes his runs on Cable, The Incredible Hulk, Deathlok, and even his Heroes Reborn: Masters of Evil one-shot despite this being a different Whirlwind technically.

Joe Casey does free-wheeling, off-the-wall dialogue better than almost anyone and his Zodiac talks circles around people. There’s an obvious hint of Ledger’s Joker here, but also Nickelhead from Gødland... in a recent interview regarding that supervillain series he’s doing for Dynamite relating to that Project Superpowers thing, Casey discusses how he likes his villains to have a nihilistic feel about them — that they embrace their villainous lifestyle and that’s what this book is about. People like to say that no one sees himself as a villain, but Casey calls that bullshit... because it is. Some people would, but in that glorious rebellious way where it’s less of a genuine evil motivation and more of a cultural identity one. Zodiac declares himself a villain, partly because he’s a bad guy, but more because he likes the idea of being a bad guy, the way that someone likes being a punk or a goth... being a villain is just an identity that this guy has embraced.

He’s joined by various ancillary characters from the Marvel universe to make up his little group, Casey once again showing that he knows his stuff. Remember, Wizard once called Casey the next Kurt Busiek because of his use of old characters no one remembers. I find this third appearance of the Clown in a Casey book an interesting one since he resembles the Clown that appeared in Casey’s Hulk run instead of the one from Deathlok. It’s the same character, but, visually, the two are distinct and I’m kind of surprised that Nathan Fox (perhaps at Casey’s urging, perhaps not) went with this one. This version is small, fat, comedic... whereas the thinner, more punk-ish Clown from Deathlok seems more appropriate for this tone of this book. It’s an interesting choice.

Nathan Fox fits this book perfectly. His frantic energy matches Casey’s so damn well. I love the way Fox draws Johnny Storm — almost the way that Zodiac views the character. The colouring is a bit too dark and muddled for my taste at times, but it’s also appropriate. I dunno. Otherwise, he really brings life to these characters, even Zodiac, who could fall flat given his mask. I love his inclusion of sound effects throughout the issue, too.

The revelation of Zodiac’s real face at the end... is that supposed to be someone we know? He looks familiar, but he’s not ringing any bells. But, yeah, this is a pretty good book and I’m looking forward to the next two issues. Along with The Last Defenders, Casey shows again that he can take the overlying plot of the Marvel universe and give a different perspective on it. In that case, it was a different view of Stark’s Initiative program, here’s it’s Osborn’s ‘Dark Reign.’

Detective Comics #854

What can I say that Jog hasn't already? Gorgeous fucking comic. I got this issue to see if I'd bother with future ones and I think I will. Rucka's writing is in top form here, coupled with Williams's art... AND the bonus of Cully Hamner? Well, how can you say no?

New Avengers #54

Billy Tan is done! Stuart Immonen is coming! Keep on rockin' in the free world!