Saturday, May 05, 2007

Be on my side or be on your side

Two issues of Ashley Wood's D'Airain Adventure have been released to date. I want to actually call it what it says on the cover: D'Airain Adventure Magasin Comique because that is much cooler. If I were publishing a comic, I would so steal "Magasin Comique" as the subtitle.

I've been a fan of Wood's work since Automatic Kafka with Joe Casey. I missed out on the Popbot stuff, but was buying Lore (which ended? What the fuck happened to Lore anyway? I've got, what, five issues--I know a second trade was released, but I can't find any info actually telling me what it contains).

In each of these issues, we're treated to three stories plus the odd piece of stand-alone art. The three stories are serials: "Les Mort 13," "Black Magick" and "Zombies Versus Robots."

"Les Mort 13" is all about a circus performer who cheats death has invaded a small town where everyone disappeared in an effort to take revenge on someone. And it may all be in his head. Or it may not be.

In "Black Magick" there's this little cul-du-sac with all but one lot developed. The empty lot has been empty for years and then, in the middle of the night, a house appears. The adults all shrug it off, thinking they didn't notice construction, while the teenagers are all "ZOMG!" And there's this guy in sunglasses who seems to know what's going on, but may just kill everyone.

"Zombies Versus Robots" has a trio of scientists who seem to hate each other working on some interdimensional portal that winds up killing one, so another gets in a giant robot suit and goes through the portal. Oh, and all three scientists hate one another.

Of the three, "Black Magick" has the most straight-forward, easy to follow art--followed quickly by "Zombies Versus Robots." Wood's art, for the most part, is quite restrained here. "ZVR" does start off with a manic two-page splash in each issue that has . . . well, zombies versus robots.

Robots pop up quite a bit in the stories and pin-ups. In issue two, there's even a two-page story called "The Robot War" or the promise at the end of issue one that coming soon is a feature called "World's Best Robots." Actually, if there are two constants in each issue (besides the serials), it's robots and women.

And why shouldn't there be? D'Airain Adventure could be title "Ashley Wood Does What the Fuck He Wants Monthly" without any change in content. Which isn't a bad thing as long as you like Wood's work--and if you don't, why the fuck are you buying this book?

My main problem is with the writing, which Wood is assisted on by TP Louise and Chris Ryall (who is also the editor of the book--which should send up flags, honestly). The serials aren't written as serials--or, not well enough to work each month. Now, I can ignore that because I know I'm going to buy every issue and have no problem waiting until each story has been fully told and then reading them that way. I imagine most buying this book are the same way, but that's sad. I'd much rather see one full story per issue or more non-serial work. Since it IS Ashley Wood doing what he wants, I'd like to see a bit more freedom. Three ongoing serials just seems to be the wrong way to put the book together.

But, that is a minor quibble.

Oh, there's also some kid who wears a hoodie, shoots at robots and is named Bambalad that shows up on the covers (well, the covers I have since there are severall per issue) and on the odd filler page/inside cover. He's kind of weird.

Fans of Ashley Wood are no doubt already buying this series, but it may be worth flipping through in the store for others. It's a fun little book where I can honestly say I'm buying it for the art.