Saturday, July 11, 2015

Graphic Novel review #34

Cinema Panopticum

Written and illustrated by: Thomas Ott

Published: 2005

My Thoughts: I first came across Thomas Ott through his illustrated cover for Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I love his scratchboard art style, it adds an enormous amount of visual complexity to his stories, which is necessary since they are entirely wordless. Cinema Panopticum follows a girl at a fair who can't take part in any of the activities on offer because she doesn't have enough money. She finally finds the Cinema Panopticum tent, which has 5 movie boxes that are cheap enough for her to afford. Each movie is another short chapter, and the stories are all fairly dark and foreboding, although some are laced with a wicked wit while others are just downright heartbreaking. It's only a short little book but it packs one hell of a wallop.

Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle (volume 2)

Written by: Gail Simone; Illustrated by: Adrian Syaf

Published: 2011

My Thoughts: I picked this up thinking it was the first volume (I hate when they don't number the spine!) but even so, it clearly sets out all of the major players and recent events at the start of each issue, so that presented no real issue. The story is interesting enough, Oracle (Barbara Gordon, now in a wheelchair) has garnered a little too much attention as a tech-genius and her enemies are now doubling-down on trying to eliminate her. Not only is Oracle a credible threat in her own right, but as Oracle she monitors and supports countless of other heroes so any threat on her life has a knock on effect. The rest of the Birds of Prey are tasked with trying to save Oracle while also having to come to grips with their own dark pasts. This is my, to my knowledge, first Gail Simone and ... I didn't love it? It's a solid story and the characters are well-developed but it didn't wow me. But an (almost) all female team of heroes, some of whom began as anti-heroes or dabbled with villainy, is too good a concept for me to give up on after one middling edition. I'll give it at least one more edition and make my mind up then.

Lady Justice (volume 1)

Written and illustrated by: C.J Henderson; Fred Harper; Daniel Brereton

Published: 2008 (though the collected comics are from the 90s)

My Thoughts: Ugh, this is a good example of making sure you read the fine print. In case you can't see in the cover image, Neil Gaiman's name is written above the title. Awesome!, I thought. Turns out it's not written by Gaiman but merely based on a character of his, and loosely, so very loosely. The concept itself is kinda awesome (kudos to Gaiman). Lady Justice appears to women who have been wronged and implants them with her powers, making them her physical avatar. They then have the power to gain justice for the wrongs they've experienced. The first issue is very violent and very bloody, but when Lady Justice leaves her avatar and the woman cries for her to stay saying she "did everything L.J asked of her," Lady Justice replies that she didn't say how the justice should be meted out and that "the blood and violence was entirely her choice, and she should beware that she isn't revisted in the future by another Lady Justice avatar"*. This I actually really dug, but this story was completely destroyed by the following two or three stories which were equally as bloody and equally as violent. What happened to choosing how to deliver justice? Or that the justice should be proportionate to the crime? I think there was one which actually had the bad guys going to jail instead of dying, but plenty of other people had died by this point. It's just all so pointless. The art is also very '90s pornographic superhero style. Huge gravity defying boobs, tiny waists and the women are always walking on tip-toes. Pass if you ever see this guys, HARD pass.

*my paraphrasing


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