Past47's Capsule Picks
What: Avignon
When: Current series
Who: Written by Che Gilson; illustrated by Jimmie Robinson; published by Image Comics

I must be crazy to recommend a comic published by Image on Laura's site, but this one is an exceptional effort that I just can't pass up.  Che Gilson's story is intriguing, though probably not as original as it may appear to some.  The idea of the clockwork creature has certainly been dealt with in comics before, as it has in science fiction literature.  So has the question, "Can an android have dreams and personality?" (for example, Andi Watson's GEISHA).  Gilson has come up with some clever concepts of her own, however, such as the talking marble lions on the stairs of the public library.

But let there be no mistake -- the real appeal of this comic for me is in Jimmie Robinson's artwork.  If you've ever dismissed claims by some independent comics creators that they didn't *want* to do their comics in color -- that they preferred black-and-white -- as a kind of reverse snobbishness, this comic may change your mind.  Like the very best black-and-white films, it actually draws its greatness from the medium.  Simply beautiful work, is about all I can say.

Two caveats:  1. The price.  $5.95 US is a lot of money to pay for a comic, even a premier edition. (Webmistress' note: And if you think that's bad, imagine the price in Canadian dollars!) 2. The editing. Didn't anyone do spell checks on the copy? How can you hope to be taken seriously when nobody cares enough to take care of the little things?

Highly Recommended

What: Jet #2
When: Current series
Who: Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; pencilled by Dustin Nguyen; inked by Derek Fridolfs; published by Wildstorm

Again, I must be crazy!  This is a bit of a "babe" book (only less so than the cover would make it seem).
Also, the main character is one of those unfortunate "gen-actives" whose powers are somewhat indistinctive: she's strong and fast and can jump really high and throw sharp objects and I-don't-know-what-else.  There's even less character development than in Marvel's Wild Thing (of which the book, for some reason, reminds me).

But I *have* to recommend it for one reason.  The writers (who also do the chores on Legion Lost, I believe) have created two villains, named Rhyme and Reason, that got my attention.  At least Rhyme did.  And I'll tell you why -- he actually makes up poetry!  So what, you ask?  Well, nine times out of ten, poems in comics  have rhyming words, but absolutely *no* meter.  Now, Rhyme's meter is not perfect by any means -- but, at least there is *some* attempt made at it.  And for that reason alone, this book gets my recommendation (if you have a little money to burn!).

Only Mildly Recommended

What: Meridian #5
When: Current series
Who: Written by Barbara Kesel; pencilled by Joshua Middleton; inked by Dexter Vines; colored by Paul Mounts; published by CrossGen

Meridian wins my vote as easily the most "beautiful" comic being put out today.  It has the added distinction of being the only CrossGen book with five issues printed and no "babes."  If you liked Joan Aiken books as a teenager, or Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy, or even The Princess Bride, my guess is you'll love this book.  It's pure fantasy, through and through, with an evil uncle and an innocent young girl -- great kid stuff.  And the artwork is phenomenal.  (This is the book artist Greg Land is supposed to take over, by the way.  Greg is great, of course, as his stints on Birds of Prey and Nightwing prove, but it's hard to imagine that he can improve on what Joshua Middleton has done on this particular book.)

This issue has a little less of Sephie than usual, and a little more of her friend Jad, as the natives prepare to leave Meridian in the hopes of returning later with a conquering force.  But, as the end of the issue reveals, Sephie has fallen all the way to the surface world after her ship was attacked by the evil Uncle Ilahn's soldiers.  She survives the fall (you knew she would) and is taken in by a mysterious female surface-dweller.   It's obvious that Sephie is going to bring great changes to the surface of the planet, whether consciously or not.  My only hope is that the writers will stay with fantasy and not go occult with all this.  I'd hate to have to abandon this ship.

Highly Recommended

What: Rose #1
When: Current series
Who: Written by Jeff Smith; illustrated by Charles Vess; published by Cartoon Books

More fantasy.  This time by the author of Bone, and starring Bone regular Grandma Rose as a teenager -- a back story that has been much in demand.  Although I'm not personally familiar with it, from what I've heard The Chronicles of Narnia would probably be a close cousin to this tale. Bone has always had very strong fantasy elements, of course, but as a reader, I'm more drawn to the everyday simplicity of Bone himself than to the fantastic parts of the story.  The character holds the story in place.  Rose, meanwhile, starts out in a way that makes you think it's going to miss that balance, but mid-way through, Rose's two pet dogs (with whom she is able to communicate in a special language) assume, at least to some degree,  the place in this story that Bone has in the regular books, and thus give the story a bit of an anchor.  Vess's artwork, while not quite as pleasing to me as Middleton's, is very nice for the purpose: suitably fantastic and reminiscent of good children's illustrated literature.  My only complaint, outside of my usual nervousness about the line between fantasy and occult, is the fact that Rose has a kind of school-girl crush on the soldier who leads her and her sister to the Old Man's Cave.  It's quite natural, but somehow a little disappointing to me -- I always hope my female characters will be "above" that kind of thing.


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