Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book of the Week 10: Air #7

[Sometimes, a book that I don't review for CBR warrants its own discussion beyond a couple of barely strung-together sentences. Sometimes, a comic costs $1 and, therefore, gets purchased by me. Sometimes, today is sometimes. (And, sometimes, I'm very, very lame.)] So, Vertigo is offering new ongoing series' first issues at $1 (USD) and they've even been kind enough to extend that to Air #7. Me being me, I figured I'd give any and all $1 Vertigo books a look, mostly because I'm usually tempted to give any and all Vertigo books a look, so offering them at 1/3 the price really gives me no excuse.

I'd read mixed things regarding Air. Some praised it, others called it mediocre, few outright damned it. The worst comments were usually along the lines of "interesting, but not well executed," which, honestly, is the sort of comment that will make me pick up a book. It's no secret that I love works with ambition even that ambtion leads to horrible failure. Fuck it, I support ambition, because even if it only truly succeeds 1 time out of 50, it's worth it--and much better than supporting safe, spineless works that succeed because the bar is set so low that a blind monkey scripting and a deformed, stillborn tadpole drawing could still leap over it with kilometres to spare. But, I didn't pick up Air because of intuition. It didn't call to me. I know, that makes little to no sense, but a big part of what I decide to buy is based on what "feels" right. Why did I pick up Young Liars #1, but not Air #1? I honestly can't say, beyond I had a feeling that Young Liars would be my sort of thing and Air wouldn't. It's not any more or less complicated than that. And, you know what, my intuition is rarely wrong. I am damn good at walking into a comic, book or music store, browsing, and buying things sight unread/listened, and they turn out to be awesome. Sometimes, it's the description, sometimes it's the cover, sometimes it's the title... there's no logic or reason behind it, but it works for me. (And, obviously, it works for me, so I'm not suggesting anyone else adopt my odd methods. Even I don't really want to use my odd methods, but I sort of have to.)

Air #7 is a puzzler as I'm not sure it proved my instincts wrong. But I'm also not sure it didn't.

Before getting into that, I want to commend Vertigo and G. Willow Wilson on the way this issue is presented: the price in large print on the cover, a page of quotes from various sources praising the book and, then, an introduction from Wilson that recaps the first six issues in an interesting, non-recap manner. While I'm all in favour of direct recaps with headshots and character bios, I also never read those, because they're fucking awful, so good on Wilson for trying to make the recap interesting and more like an introduction you would find in a trade paperback or book.

The actual comic itself leaves me questioning the wisdom, while also not. In many ways, this is completely new reader friendly, mostly in relating to plot. I followed the plot perfectly fine: Blythe is in Zayn and lives through his life starting at ten, both aware of her situation and unable to deviate from what happened, slowly forgetting that she's not really him... until we reach a recent event involving Zayn and herself, and she snaps out it. Zayn's life is of a Saudi sent to the US for schooling and what happens there. It's an intriguing story, one that's not entirely original but still got me interested in the character and, as things progressed, the world he lives in. So, plot-wise, things are solid.

Where it fails is emotionally: the climax of the issue, at the end, as we see Zayn's perspective on the recent event with Blythe, giving her insight into what he was thinking, it's obvious that this scene would work if I'd read the first six issues. As it is, it reads like an in joke between a couple where you can tell that what's being said has meaning, but you just don't get it. You could ask about it, but you don't really want to. I know that this explicit lack of meaning is meant to make me want to read the first six issues and then keep on reading the book, but it doesn't quite.

I've been thinking about this on and off since reading the issue yesterday, and I'm sure I'll keep on thinking about it right up until seeing issue eight on the stands next month, but I'm honestly not sure if I'll keep reading Air. I can see how some would love this. I can see how it's meant to be more ambitious and interesting, but can't really express those ideas fully yet. The book has potential--and I really like MK Perker's art, but... I don't know.

But, I am closer to buying this series than I was on Tuesday and that's an improvement.