Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Art Discussion Month 2010: Global Frequency #7 by Simon Bisley

[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 #7 ("Detonation"). Written by Warren Ellis. Drawn by Simon Bisley. Coloured by David Baron.

Some group is going to kill some spy-type folk. The Global Frequency needs to stop that from happening. So, they fake some cars and catch some of the would-be killers. But, the top guy has a phone that will send a signal to a plane that has a nuclear device on it. He's bleeding from a gut wound and the GF agent on the other side of the room is bleeding from a shoulder wound. He's got a pistol; she's got a shotgun.

Simon Bisley draws this in such an over-the-top manner that it comes off as a mad caper romp. Sure, there's death and pain, but it's kind of fun. Was that the intent? Other issues of Global Frequency have some playful moments, but this one is so out there visually that it's hard to take it seriously.

All of the characters look like weirdos, for one thing. He plays with the contrast of the two main GF agents, a small Chinese woman and a large, scary-looking Russian who looks like he's been cut out of white wood. They're a humorous-looking duo. But, most of the other characters display odd looks or mannerisms. A bodyguard holsters his gun, while giving this cockeyed snooty look to Miranda Zero. A bald, fat cop with a squiggle of hair on the very top of his head. Miranda Zero even dresses a little bit fancier/stranger with an odd fur-lined coat. The Chinese woman wears a pin-stripe suit.

The violence is insane in it's kinetic movements. A shot of rockets being launched from rocket launchers (yes, I know, that sentence is fucked) over three panels conveys the uneasy movement of the rocket through the air as it joins with two others and they hit their target. The Chinese GF agent shoots the top half of one of the terrorist's head off. Lower jar and up? Gone. In three straight panels, she isn't touching the ground. She runs up the stairs, hunched over, shotgun in one hand, phone in the other, feet well above the steps. Next panel, she kicks the door down with a jump kick. Next panel, she shoots the head off while diving toward the terrorist. All movement, all insane.

The Russian, a hulking monster with pale skin and white hair, odd scars, looks like wood. Wears these glasses with small, rectangular frames. His weapon of choice is an axe. He's nothing but over-the-top scary violence. So, yeah, perhaps that was the point of this issue.

Crazed action that is told in extremes is the visual style and Bisley nails it. With him on the art, it almost reads as a parody of an issue of Global Frequency, exactly the sort of you need at this point to break the tension of these big life-or-death stories. Plus, things get very fucked up in a few issues.

David Baron's colours come across wonderfully in this trade. The paper is glossier, higher grade, and it displays the colours especially well. He uses some of his usual tricks, but also embraces the over-the-top nature of the story. The Russian is an unearthly white, including his hair. Lots of bright red blood. Too bright and contrasted with pale greyish blue or black backgrounds often. He makes the kinetic violent nature of the art stand out.

(Minor critique: the end of this issue is very similar to that of issue four's end. Except for an added scene. Involving an axe. Ha ha ha.)

Tomorrow, we go in the opposite direction almost with Chris Sprouse and Global Frequency #8.