Image's Recent Number Ones Part the Second

Okay, on to the second half of my reviews of Image series that saw the light of day in the Fall. The company's commitment to creator-owned material is certainly proving to be fertile ground, though I can't claim to like the entire output. As you'll see. If we have similar tastes, you might find out where to spend that dollar burning a hole in your pocket.
The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. It seems that every time Brubaker and Phillips come out with a new series, I sample it, think it superlative, and then promptly trade-wait it. I don't know what it is about The Fade Out, but I'm up to issue 3 already, and feel no such compulsion. Well, I guess I'm enough of a cinephile to find stories about early Hollywood's underbelly inherently interesting. Certainly, this murder mystery wrapped in corruption and conspiracy, has managed to keep me coming back for more. After Fatale, I was surprised, by pleasantly so, that the series didn't dovetail into fantasy/horror stylings; the setting is more than enough to generate story content without having to cross genres. The protagonists, a scriptwriting team, are interesting and memorable, and how they are connected to the murder has just the right dash of ambiguity. To give readers interested in the subject matter more bang for their buck, each issue also includes text pages and illustrations discussing real Hollywood tragedies. Extra content is something Image is trying to do with a number of its titles. Even without that content, this creative team has another hit on its hands.
Keep reading? Yes, and I don't even think I'll wait for trades this time.
ODY-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward. This whacked-out adaptation of the Odyssey retains a certain formal, Homeric language, but where its exoticism came from ancient words, ODY-C's come from neologistic inventions. It's a space opera with its own alienating distance, forward rather than back, and most of the characters have been turned into women to boot. It started out as Matt Fraction's take on Barbarella, but evolved well beyond that into a most unusual story. It might scare you, or seem a little pretentious, but it's cheeky enough that it lets you know its tongue is squarely in its cheek. Is it emotionally engaging? Not really. Is it clever and interesting? Definitely. And Ward's psychedelic artwork is certainly up to the challenge of creating something you've never seen before.
Keep reading? Remember Ulysses-31? Yes? Well, it isn't really like that ;-). I AM going to keep reading, because I can't just let my favorite chapters of the Odyssey go by without seeing what Fraction and Ward have done with it.
Rasputin by Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo. Cutting back and forth between the Mad Monk's youth and the day of his many-times-killed death, Rasputin is a very attractive book, but a rather short read. He's played as a man with magical healing powers - the supernatural is alive and well in this world - a man haunted by the evils practiced on and by him. Rossmo's art is the real star, crafting a number of crystal clear sequences despite the lack of dialog. But that's the thing, while the medium is well suited wordless action, it sometimes seems like you're not getting your money's worth if you get to the end too quickly. And the first two issues of Rasputin went by very fast. And yet, there's something there. Rasputin's story in inherently intriguing and I can't say it's not well told.
Keep reading? On the fence. The frequent silences would make this a less frustrating project to read as a trade, but someone needs to support it so it gets completed satisfactorily.
Wayward by Jim Zub and Steve Cummings. We already know Jim Zub knows a little something about Japanese culture - he shows it in his Samurai Jack comics - and Wayward is a good distillation of that. Rori Lane is half-Irish, half-Japanese, just moves to Tokyo to stay with her mother, but it's a Tokyo where the supernatural - and I must hasten to add, several anime tropes - is very real and accessible to her. Cummings' pleasant anime style certainly fits the subject matter. Where it shines, I think, is in the exploration of Japan from an outsider's point of view. And I'd have read that comic. Just a girl trying to integrate into Japanese culture, a new city, the school system (and there are some nice text pieces giving more details about that aspect of it too). It's when it gets into animal people, and spirits and Tuxedo Mask action that I lose interest. It's not that it's badly done, it's just that I'm not a big anime fan, you know?
Keep reading? I probably won't, no, but if you like those ingredients, I do recommend it.
Tooth and Claw by Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey. As of the second issue, The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw (copyright shenanigans, obviously), this is an epic fantasy series featuring a world of anthropomorphic animals (I don't know if it's the success of Planet of the Apes or what, but there sure are a lot of these right now) who use magic as an economy. But the sum total of magic is mysteriously diminishing - call it an allegory, if you like - and the wizards want to call up the fabled Champion that opened the flood gates of magic in the first place. Guess what species HE might be. It's Busiek, so you're right to expect a good story. He's good at weaving believable politics into his tale and I especially like the involved nomenclature of the spells everyone uses. Dewey's art is a big part of its success as well, great character designs and environments.
Keep reading? I don't care what they call it, yes, it's definitely worth it.
Drifter by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein. Like Copperhead, this is a sci-fi western, and it's got a lot in common with that series, including a female sheriff (okay, marshal) and a grungy frontier town. It doesn't have its charm however. It's a more traditional story, about a hard man falling from orbit and getting into fights and gunplay. We're not sure what his story is, and his panicked killing of local aliens remains frustratingly unanswered. I don't dislike the writing style, good narration and dialog. And Klein's art is a good mix of line art and painting. It just doesn't have enough meat on it for me to say YES.
Keep reading? So I won't. I'll keep my ears peeled though. Other readers might bring me 'round.
Intersect by Ray Fawkes. So last time I came out in favor of experimental comics. Which is not to say intelligible comics. Unfortunately, Intersect falls in that category for me. Fawkes, on both writing and art, has created a watercolor nightmare about... I don't know what. People sharing the same skin? Is it meant to literally be a dream? Neither the words nor the pictures off a clear picture. I'll agree the book looks like nothing else, though Fawkes reminds me of Sam Keith in places, but since I don't always know what I'm looking at, the book is a mystery too frustrating to  solve.
Keep reading? This one lost me, sorry.

Next week, I've got quite a few more new Fall books I want to look at, from a wide range of comic book companies. I hope you'll join me. And if you have any thoughts on THESE comics, make sure to share them in the comments section!



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