I’ve been catching up on my readings a little lately, but now I have a lot of reviews to catch up with. Here we go, thematically: this week, Robots.
“Halo And Sprocket: Welcome To Humanity” (Kerry Callen)
Thoroughly charming and utterly hilarious. I don’t remember the last time I laughed out loud so often reading something (wait, I do — probably when I read the Get Fuzzy collection over a year ago). Writer/artist Callen takes the simple (and wonderfully inexplicable) premise of “an extremely powerful angel, a socially inexperienced robot and a young, simple woman sharing a house”, and spins genuinely funny tales of human insight. Highly, highly recommended, and for all ages too.
Too bad it’s the only collection out now, but the Halo and Sprocket home page has a bit more material and some sample strips.
“Clockwork Thugs, Yo (Livewires, Vol. 1)” (Adam Warren, Rick Mays)
Adam Warren brings his frenetic style to Marvel’s newest digest-format sci-fi action drama title, Livewires. Warren handles writing and does layouts for penciller Rick Mays — a fact that escaped my notice until now, because the art just looked tremendously Warren-esque, with a generous helping of speed-lines and anime-style puffy-eyed characters. Nonetheless, the art’s great to look at, and the colouring (even on the lower-quality digest format paper) gives the book a vibrant and exciting feel.
The Livewires are a group of “nanobuilt humanform combat mecha” (basically, kick-ass cyborgs) designed by a secret government agency to seek out and destroy other secret government agencies. The plot’s pretty generic (basic tale from the eyes of the newbie joining the supergroup), save for the ending, but the action’s fast-paced and little plot elements are smart and original, making for quite a page-turner with what I felt was quite a refreshing ending. Good stuff.
“NYC Mech Volume 1: Let’s Electrify” (Ivan Brandon, Miles Gunter, Andy MacDonaldn)
Unfortunately, this little piece of pointlessness ruins an otherwise perfect record of robot comics this week. I picked this up during one of Kinokuniya’s 20% sale weekends based on all the strong recommendations on the back cover from the likes of J.G. Jones, John Cassaday, Brian Azzarello, David Mack and Robert Kirkman, all thoroughly respectable and talented comicbook creators. “Intense and stylish”, they said. “Hip, inventive, and utterly charming”, piling on with the praise they go, “Pure robot genius.” “NYC MECH is at the top of my pull list”, apparently.
What. The fuck. Were you guys. Smoking?
The book follows the lives of robots in some alternate reality of New York City, where everyone is a robot. Wait, no — where everybody looks like a robot. That is all. They eat regular human food, have regular human jobs, and get physically injured the same way humans do, just that they look like robots, and that’s the entire premise to this comicbook. I’m not sure I see the point of even making this a robot comic at all, save for how NYC Humanflesh would have been a poor title.
Alright, fine, useless premise. Not that big a deal. However, writers Brandon and Gunter saw fit to torture us with their version of cyberpunk poetry overlaid on the (admittedly capable) art. Here, judge for yourself:
Am I inside or out?
Shapes move about and I remember where I used to be / I remember being anywhere but here
Ice cubes melt on my tongue and it feels like a thousand tiny drops of sound fill my head / This moment here… every second is on hold… / …it’s like forever all over again. / Everyone this [sic] tiny little vortex… / …swirling away until I can’t really see them in any way that counts. / Now there’s only the light and the sound of the bass
Every… / …single… / …note / Explodes inside my head. / Faster… / Maybe more than I can handle.
Those lines, from the first four pages of the book, are juxtaposed with images of robots having sex in an alley, someone at a concert, two robots smoking up (or something), and two robots beating another up in a toilet. None of the images make sense, nothing is resolved, the words could easily have been “oogly-boogly-oogly-boogly-oogly” and would have been equally (if not more) poetic. What the fuck?! Thankfully, the “poetry” stops after a few more pages, and the first of two story arcs begins. Unfortunately, it looks like the reader gets stuck with the same rambling narrator from the “poem”, who poses many questions of blinding insight, such as “Am I outside or in?” (ooh!), “Am I lost inside my head?” (ahh!) and “When’s enough, if nothing ever stops?” (PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP), while hanging out with his deadbeat armed robber friends.
Gritting my teeth and ignoring the narration, I struggled to the end of the first chapter, hoping to see some plot. Uh… no luck there. The first chapter ends on a cliffhanger where the group of friends are faced with… get this… a pack of snarling dogs (and ends with another brilliantly insightful metaphysically nonsensical question from our dear narrator!). Aargh! Thankfully, everyone dies in the first story arc, including the narrator. The second story arc was slightly better (not saying much), but also pointless.
Overall, a complete waste of time and a gut-wrenching exercise in frustrated reading. Damn you, Image Comics, for publishing this shit and getting your friends to say good things about it. I want my $18 back. Aaaargh.
Tags: comics, reviews