Friday, March 12, 2010

Art Discussion Month 2010: Global Frequency #2 by Glenn Fabry

[Continuing Art Discussion Month 2010. 31 days, 31 artists, a whole lot of discussion. The explanation behind my choice of comics and the archive can be found here.]

Global Frequency #2 ("Big Wheel"). Written by Warren Ellis. Drawn by Glenn Fabry with 'additional inks' by Liam Sharp. Coloured by David Baron.

A couple of firsts with this issue regarding this month of discussion. First, this is the first issue where another artist did inking of any kind. I think the majority of the comics discussed this month were drawn by one person, but I hadn't decided how to handle inking. I'm not sure my eye is good enough to necessarily pick up good or bad inking all of the time. Obviously bad inking, yes. But mediocre? Or great? I don't know. Wanted to say that.

Second, this issue's visuals suffer in the trade a bit from the paper and printing. While the paper is the same used for the Hellblazer stuff, the printing job with this issue isn't perfect. It's a little muddled and not entirely in sync throughout. The first page of this issue, for example, looks like something wasn't quite lined up, giving the vague impression of two slightly off printings of the page. Maybe it's unique to my copy. Later in the issue, some pages aren't as clear as they could be. Figured I'd mention that bit, too, in the interest of being up front about... everything.

"Big Wheel" has a small strikeforce of GF agents sent in to a military facility to take down a 'super-soldier' gone crazy. Basically, a technologically-augmented soldier saw himself in the mirror and it drove him insane. Right there, there's a bit of pressure on Fabry to deliver a freakish-looking creature. Something mutilated and different enough to believe that seeing that it's yourself could drive you insane. I think he succeeds.

The build-up to seeing the soldier is done well with him using his tech to hear the GF operatives talking, listing everything done to him, as he see him the shadows. This mess of meat and metal. Eyes with no lids. Mouth with no lips. Big hunks of metal that take up his forehead and the top of his head, his nose, the front of his neck, his chest... His body doesn't look too bad in that respect, but his face... he's an ugly monstrous thing he is. Grotesque and horrifying. While the soldier volunteered for the proceedures, even that couldn't prepare him for the horror of seeing his altered self.

This is, really, a horror comic. GF team goes in to take down a monster. Lots of dark passageways, lots of nothing followed by intense, quick somethings. Fabry's rough, messy style works well. It's a mix of darkness and sketchy horror.

While he handles the cleaner build-up pages ably, his work shines when the soldier/monster is introduced and he does pages of the GF folks trying to kill him, while he just takes it and tries to kill them. He looks damn scary and they can't stop him. He towers over them, his flesh just hunks of fucking big muscles. He lurks in the shadows, big eyes bulging...

Even the tough GF people look scared shitless...

The panel-to-panel work is strong. The attack on the monster is quick, each character moving in and out of the fray logically. A sequence where the monster comes out is handled very well as he walks towards us in three panels, each panel getting closer, but also getting bigger somehow. In the first one, he's more skeletal, but the muscles and metal get larger, more full as he approches. Not 'realistic,' but it's good storytelling, a good way to make him getting closer even scarier. Fabry doesn't draw realistically, he deals with moods here more than anything. While most everything looks like it should, he distorts a lot to convey the tension and horror. Effective.

Baron's colours are very dark here. It's hard to give an accurate description/discussion of them since the printing job is a bit fucked. The colours are darker than the first issue, more browns and dark reds. The monster brings the reds with him, contrasting the blues of the outside world. The monster overwhelms the outside world, so, by the end, all of the colours are influenced and affected by the reds he brings.

Tomorrow, Steve Dillon. I'm not sure I'm ready for him yet.