Friday, 28 May 2010

New Beginnings - The Amory Wars – In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 #1

I’ve long since given up on getting other people to appreciate my taste in music (either I’m a philistine or everybody else is and I’d rather it wasn’t me), but if you like heavy metal you should definitely give Coheed & Cambria a listen.

Heavy, rhythmic and melodic, the band not only does concept albums, but is in fact a concept band, with all their songs telling the story of two married space adventurers Coheed and Cambria. But, while the music’s good, I’m terrible at discerning the story from the lyrics. Which was why I was keen to try out Amory Wars #1, which takes the tale of the pair and puts it in a convenient comic book format. Genius.

Unfortunately, the end result is a bit of a mess. And by ‘bit of a’ I mean ‘complete and utter’. Although it’s not made especially clear anywhere but in the back matter, this title is following on from a previous maxi-series, The Second Stage Turbine. But rather than summarise that story on a text recap page, writers Claudio Sanchez (lead singer of the band and driving creative force of the whole she-bang) and Peter David try to put it all across in exposition. Terrible, ham-fisted exposition that jumps around between locations and characters without even bothering to introduce half of them properly.

The one character you do get to know fairly well is the son of the aforementioned Coheed and Cambria; Claudio. Hang on, what was the writer’s name again…?

Yes, not only is this something of an impenetrable sci-fi mess, its lead character is also a massive power fantasy for the writer. Claudio is deep, because he’s plagued by (ill-explained) hallucinations of his father! Claudio is endearing, because he’s explaining everything to a hundred year old dog he’s stopped from attacking him! Claudio is relatable, because he admits that he’s not explaining things well (and really, when you’ve built your issue around a character poorly explaining the back story and nothing else, you need to rethink your approach to the story)! But most of all Claudio is cool because he has every super power under the sun, but doesn’t use them! Grief. He’s sort of a straight edge super-hero in a way. It just happens to not be any way that is at all interesting or worth reading about.

Art is provided by Chris Burnham, whose work is just the right side of Scott Kolins – that is that his work rarely has much line depth and is desperately crying out for a distinctive inker. There’s an occasional flourish of personality in some panels, but nothing that makes you think he’s being wasted on the book.

Amory Wars is good in only one respect – it absolves me of any guilt I may have felt for not having followed the story in all those C&C albums. Otherwise, it’s one to avoid completely and quietly forget about.

Martin S Smith is an author and blogger. He’s just released his first book, The Redundancy of Flightless Birds, and reviews stuff every week over at The Taste of Rising Bile.

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