I got a whole bunch of new comicbooks this week, partly because nothing is being released on Christmas day so there's more earlier in the month, and partly just because it happened to be one of those weeks were a lot of stuff came out that I follow. I've written a couple of reviews of some of those issues already, but there were a handful of other more specific things that caught my eye or stuck in my mind from this week's reading, so below are the four that seemed most notable, in the order in which I read them. These aren't meant as full reviews, just some comments on the details that stood out to me.
We begin with the only negative case in the group. I'm not the world's biggest Lazarus fan, but it's a pretty solid series with a great central character, and this issue made her seem even greater through one or two key scenes. Overall, then, it was more good than bad, although there were a few pages that felt pretty wasted, most of all the whole first scene.
Whatever, the thing I really want to talk about is the inconsistency in the voice of the captions that identify the location and population of each new setting. Basically, in the world of Lazarus, there are three different classes: Family, meaning members of the five families who own all of America; Serf, meaning the middle class people who work for the families; and Waste, meaning the poor nobodys who make up most of the population but have the least power or importance in society. Every time a scene begins in a place we haven't seen before, the first panel includes a caption naming the location and breaking down how many members of each class live there. Kinda. Here's the first one from this issue:
The second of the two above examples bugs me pretty much because it has the opposite problem as the preceding one. It actually does point out that no family- or serf-level people are currently there, instead of just telling us the total waste-level population, which is all we actually need to know. If these captions were more reliable or uniform, then saying "Population [Waste]: 17" would've been enough. But because not mentioning one of the classes doesn't necessarily mean nobody from that class is present, and I guess Greg Rucka really wanted to drive home that it's all waste at Musselshell, we once again get too much data for no real reason.
I feel like these captions change arbitrarily based on...I don't even know what. Somebody's whims? I know it's a little silly to complain that these non-character captions don't have, like, a consistent personality, but I'd seriously prefer it if they did, dammit! I want them to be legitimately informative, helpful, what have you, rather than feeling like tacked-on stylistic flourishes that serve no practical storytelling purpose.
I rather enjoy Matt Kindt's approach to battle dialogue. In some ways, I guess that's a compliment for the entire issue, since pretty much all of Unity #2 is devoted to a single fight between Aric (X-O Manowar) and the rest of the cast. But I'm not going to get into all the ins and outs of what did and didn't work with that or any other scene in the comic. I just want to zero in on the way Kindt writes the in-fight smack talk as an intelligent tactical debate between the two sides of the battle. It's sort of a classic case of characters explaining what they are doing as they do it, but there's a certain aggressiveness and vocabulary Kindt gives to his characters that makes it better than usual.
Batman Black and White #4
Riley Rossmo returns for the second issue in a row to draw a few short dream sequences, and there are some stellar results. Between Rossmo's distinct style for the events in Peter's mind, and Barry Kitson's convincing made-up cartoon characters brought to life by newish character Monica, we end up with a few pages that are a bizarre mash-up of bright-and-shiny childlike visuals and grim-and-gritty horrors.
I also like how the total chaos of this issue's events are expressed so efficiently by having all these different art styles sharing page space. Often, having different artists on a single page, particularly when their work looks so different, is confusing or discomforting, if not downright ugly. Here, it's done sparingly and thoughtfully enough that it actively enhances the issue. And it only really happens at the beginning, and then Peter and Monica are both freed from captivity so the need for her cartoon friends and his dreamscape go away. They're well-used early on, but not held onto too tightly, intelligently abandoned once they've served their purpose.
So that's a summary of the bits and bobs that got me going this week. YAY comics!