Writer: Alan Moore, Penciller: Zander Cannon, Inker: Andrew Cannon
America’s Best Comics, 2004.
This trade paperback collects issues #1-#5 of the miniseries Smax, which was spun out of the Alan Moore created Top 10 series. The story follows the character of Jeff from the Top 10 police force, who returns to his home world/dimension to attend a funeral. Robyn accompanies him and Jeff tries to pass her off as his wife. Robyn is none too happy about this, and it is a waste because no one really believes Jeff. It seems that Jeff is a bad liar and he didn’t even go to the trouble of securing fake wedding bands. It seems that Jeff is really scared that he will hook up (sexually) with his twin sister Rexa.
Moore approaches Jeff’s home world with a humor that is reminiscent of Terry Pratchett. The series does defiantly compare with the magical realism found in the Discworld novels. The world is a spoof on the fantasy genre but Moore incorporates some real cutting satire. Jeff’s recounting of his ogre father’s abuse to him (physical) and his sister (physical and sexual) keeps the story from being a light and airy satire of Dungeon and Dragons campaign cliques though. There is a dark side to the relationship between Jeff and Rexa that involves their disturbing prior incestuous couplings.
Continue reading REVIEW: Smax
Jacques Tardi writer and artist.
Fantagraphics Books, 2011.
This is a 64 page graphic novel that collects material that Tardi originally created and released in 1972 with the French title Le Démon des glaces. It was translated and released in early 2011.
The first thing an interested reader encountering this volume in a bookstore or library will notice is the art. Tardi’s draftsmanship is truly a wonderful thing to behold and this book features his work with scratchboard. This medium allows for a woodcut effect with an added dimension of shading and depth applied to the art and allows texture and shadow to be applied to the image. The result is a classic text illustration effect that pairs well with the Jules Verne/H. G. Wells inspired story.
Continue reading REVIEW: The Arctic Marauder by Jacques Tardi
Writer: Steve Gerber, Art: Phil Winslade, Glenn Fabry.
This six issue miniseries (collected into a single trade in 2002) was one of the first things to be published under the Marvel MAX imprint, which seems tailored both to writers like Steve Gerber and characters like Howard the Duck. The loosened restraints that come with being a MAX book allowed Gerber to expand beyond the already surreal concepts and plots that he developed in his “normal” Marvel work. It also gave him an opportunity to mix a little venom in his social criticism by allowing an embrace of adult themes, mainly nudity and profanity, since we seem to think graphic violence can deserve a pass these days, because we see it as far less dangerous to show an exploding head then a female’s nipple.
But I digress…
The series begins with Howard and Beverly living in a junkyard shack. Beverly lands a job at a marketing firm that is testing boy bands for their “arousal” factor on a group of gay men. It seems that the boy bands are not just being tested, but grown in cloning vats. When the firm is revealed to be run by Dr. Bong, who hired Beverly because he is still carrying a torch for her, conflict ensues and Howard is knocked into a vat of recombinant DNA protein when he comes to save Beverly.
Continue reading REVIEW: Howard the Duck MAX Series