Friday, 30 September 2011

52 New Beginnings - The Dark

I, Vampire
reviewed by Kate Townshend

Well, after joking a couple of weeks ago that the next stage in female character outfit evolution would be Harley strutting around au naturel on a front cover, I, Vampire has made me realise that I’m already behind the times. Our protagonists are pictured looking mean and moody; him with jeans and rippling biceps, her with, well pretty much nothing at all actually (I refuse to count the ‘slightly darker shading’ that has been used to prevent the comic from being consigned to opaque plastic bags on the top shelf).

Despite this, I Vampire is exactly the sort of story I should like, focused as it is on the interpersonal dynamics between two rather striking characters. He is a tortured Angel type, wrestling with his darker impulses, while she is fearless and amoral and rather compelling actually. The artwork is pretty cool too, all flowing lines and stark blacks and whites juxtaposed against one another, and it works because this is a world where lines of good and evil are being drawn against a sense that it would be delightfully easy to just go with the flow.

And I love the fact that this first issue is fundamentally just a conversation between the two main characters... it’s an effective way of drawing us into their world and demarcating the lines that will drive the story. Some of the dialogue is a little clunky, but I can’t make up my mind whether or not this is just the awkwardness of the character or a flaw in the writing. The revolutionary parallels that Mary tries to draw are interesting if not terribly subtle, and there is a real sense of an epic narrative being set in place.

But back to the nakedness. Part of me wonders if this is just an explicit parallel being made between Mary and her animalistic side, in which case you could make an (admittedly rather tenuous) case for it as a justified part of characterisation. She is "magnificent", "free" and unfettered and maybe she’s just cooler than the rest of us with our bourgeois preferences for textiles. The less generous interpretation though, is that this is another tired attempt to link sexual women with evil ones. In which case, yawn.

Overall though, it’s fun, interesting and worth a second look. (At the contents… not just the cover!)

Justice League Dark
reviewed by D Kai Wilson-Viola

Of all the comics, bar Teen Titans, this has actually be one that I’ve been looking forward to. I live in a ‘Cartoon Network’ household, which means things like Teen Titans, Justice League and Static Shock are actually franchise sets that I recognise, so when I heard I was getting JL:D, I squeed a little.

And, of all the comics I’ve reviewed so far, this one has to be one of the better ones. Maybe it’s because I know some of the mythology they’re using for once, or perhaps I just really got the pace, the colouring and the techniques, but this one is definitely one that I’d like to continue with. It’s interesting enough that it held my attention from the outset, and I liked (and yes, recognised) some of the characters. There are some nice precedents established, plus, I was quite interested to see whom they’d dragged in from Justice League, so from the outset there is crossover and interaction. I won’t spoil that, but it’s enough to say that the overlay story and narrator works really well, while allowing the story just to unfold, which is something I think is very neat. There’s control and direction there while the story evolves, and as a writer, I love seeing that technique employed properly. In contrast to the Deadman comic last week (who, coincidentally makes a brief appearance), which swung and missed, this was perfect.

There are – kind of – styles associated with each character, though so far we haven’t seen them all in the same place, so I’m not sure if that’s going to be something that continue through the comic, which will be interesting, but mostly, I like the overall and underlying story, along with the stronger, deeper story going on. It’ll be neat to see where this one goes.

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