Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lost in the Library #7: Just pleasure, no guilt

Requiem: Vampire Knight – Dracula and The Vampires Ball
By Mills/Ledriot

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, but this is cutting it close. The Requiem: Vampire Knight series is garish and over the top and more than a bit nonsensical. The art is splashed with decadence, basic anatomy is chucked out the window and hyper-proportioned warriors go mental with the sex and violence.

But then there is a bit where the reborn Dracula is in his warship floating through the afterlife and he opens a weapon called The Doomsday Man, who turns out to be Hitler, and then stabs him through the heart, with the psychic energy of the evil man’s death powerful enough to wipe out thousands of attacking wraiths, and I realised I was enjoying the shit out of this.

It’s Pat Mills, so that’s probably why. Mills has spent decades sprinkling liberal doses of humanity and humour on outlandish concepts, and this series sees him carry on this fine tradition.

It’s big and bold and sexy and exciting in a typically French way, but it’s Mills that gives the story a proper heart. And then stakes the fucker with a giant wooden phallus.

* * *

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity
By Carey and Gross

This series: none more Vertigo.

The imprint has had its fair sheer of brilliant comics over the years, but there has always been some thoroughly average books that were readable enough and never really essential. They played up to the strengths of early Vertigo – all fairies and working class life and metafictional madness – but never really thrilled. The Books of Magic was the first to hang in there like this, publishing dozens of likeable, unessential comics, followed by Lucifer, which lasted almost as long as Sandman without anything vaguely interesting happening and Carey is back in that realm of mediocrity with The Unwritten.

It’s all painfully predictable and adhering to such a strict formula that it’s a bit un-nerving. There are mad serial killers and loads of literary in-jokes and lots of serious people making serious faces.

It would help if somebody lightened up a bit, but Tom Taylor is a bit too fucking precious about the whole thing and I have no interest in following his story much further.

Carey has carved out a respectable career by producing perfectly respectable stories like The Unwritten, but he’s never thrilled me and while this series is readable enough, it’s nothing more than that.

It would also be nice if we can have a break from main characters with daddy issues who must face up to their destiny. There are other stories to tell…..

* * *

By Brubaker and Phillips

It’s certainly an interesting read, but it doesn’t really resonate like Criminal. This may be because there really isn’t anything like Criminal out there right now, but the idea of a pulp infused superhero trying to make up for sins of the past has been done plenty of times before.

There aren’t any crime comics as tight and satisfying as Criminal, but there are plenty of similar things to Incognito. Mark waid is doing something similar – if a little bit more generic - over at Boom. And even though it’s Icon, Incognito feels a lot like the Wildstorm stuff that came out around the turn of the century – interesting takes on superheroes that were cutting edge a decade ago, but now just feel a little regressive.

Still, Brubaker remains a tight plotter with a real ear for natural dialogue that makes most other comic writers look like they’re trying too hard, while Phillips is as enjoyable and dirty as ever. The story does bounce along nicely on the nicely pulp vibe.

It doesn’t have the ice-cold fission of their other Icon book, but hardly anything else on the market does these days, so that’s no real shame. It’s a high standard to reach.

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