Electropolis, Star Wars: Knights Of The Republic Vol. 7, Turok Vol. 4 & McKean: Pictures That Tick Vol. 1 – Graphic Novel Review

Dark Horse always creates a diversity of vision using popular icons of pop culture like Star Wars but also straddling both aspects of classic art culture as respect like Turok to more fusion integrated perceptions of mystery and technology like Electropolis. However the inference of artist motivated philosophy as with shows a dexterity of psychology and vision that continues to evolve.

Electropolis The aspect of retro-futuristic gumshoes carries a bit of inventiveness with it. Like the odes of “Highlander II” and “I, Robot”, the essence of detective stories and lost era sexual politics works well within this skewed gangster saga. In much the way that “Blade Runner” might see the 30s, the ideal here is “more human than human”. Menlo, the robot dick, who actually attained sentience because of the electromagnetic breakdown of the shield around the city continues to take cases but is drawn to investigate the death of his partner/owner who died on top of a massive electrostatic beacon overlooking the city. While alot of the narrative takes place in the crevices around the city, the old world mentality of the arena takes on an almost clean/dirty quality. The art specifically is shadowy and non-descript like the smoke coming out of Menlo’s cigars. Some of the more sideways odes highlighted in the last quarter of the story as the heroes of the story attempt to reach the top of the beacon. Storywise, the resolution, if that, ends very abruptly with an essence that all is dark in the bright city, even at night.

Star Wars: Knights Of The Republic Vol. 7 – Dueling Ambitions The aspect of a rogue Jedi who has some of the intentions of Anakin but is not kept in check as much for lack of Padewan ambitions makes for a good “Dirty Dozen” mentality  here and actually gives more of a vision to the rough edges of the Star Wars universe. The first story involves an auction ring where the mineral rights to far-off world,s which may or may not be inhabited, are given away in the ring for abnormal amounts of credits. Like certain ideas behind “The 5th Element” the subtlety of games of the mind (without Jedi influence) has more pertinence here. The aspect of a Mandelorian (along the lines of Boba Fett) as the guardian of a silver hair beauty who may or may not have a force background, is interesting. Everyone in the team gets a cut which is ultimately the name of the game. The second story follows a salvage mission in a lost part of space. It turns out that it is a small passenger aboard the ship appearing as a small but helpless creature (with the appearance of a fox nonetheless) that has the powers of a Sith. Ultimately it is his droid companion who is programmed to protect him that protects him from himself. The final story “Dueling Ambitions” tells of a gladiator school lost within the aspects of politics and greed which is not unlike a Hutts perception. Everyone else including former Jedi Currick wants to play and have fun, unaware of the dangers of the race. The feeling hovers between “5th Element” and “Speed Racer” with a bit of darkness…slightly unusual for the “Star Wars” universe and more indicative of say “Lobo”. The aspect of archetypes here plays its game in a balanced style with some exceptional art especially in terms of the racing captures. Ultimately the irony wins out with the Mandelorian winning the game despite his obvious disguise. The creatures they save are afraid of the Force powerful Jagdael since she is holding a secret. She used to be slaver. The stories within the volume are diversified enough but niche in many of their views.

Turok: Son Of Stone Vol. 4 This hardcover represents a different era of art highlighted by Dell Comics which specifically represented by an edict to provide quality comics with acceptable material. The world of these adventures is a lost valley where two Indians (one of them Turok, the other Andar) try to avoid the viciousness of warring tribes of cavemen and avoid vicious dinosaurs (whom they all call “honkers”). The essence of not giving away secrets such as fire and poison arrows play into the ideals almost like “Star Trek” and its use of the prime directive, though here it seems more of a means of survival than intelligence. Still the two men try to broker peace whenever possible giving the stories a bit of a diplomatic bent. Certain adventures like one where a trench is built to create water flow to avert war is quite ingenious and teaches problem solving methods while another one, which exposes the chicanery of a medicine man who banishes them through lecherous ways to a sand flats wastelands, shows the elements and importance of trust. The art work and story progression are basic but clear and sound through and though indicative of its age. For students of comics, one has to look here to the beginnings in terms of structured storytelling before committing to multi-layered narrative.

Dave McKean: Pictures That Tick – Book One Dave McKean has always been instinctual, if not eclectic, in mixing the elements of work and image. While more abstract in theme, the balance of his comic, commercial and film work do necessitate an interesting cross section. With a film like “Mirrormask”, his concept of mixed media hit and missed and yet, like the doll scene in the middle, there are sheer moments of brilliance that come forth. Within this book, poems and collages react back and forth with different degrees of success but those that connect are quite poignant. “Bitten & Bruised”, a black and white perception of a man in a box who becomes the scorpion of his wife’s love has just such a ring because the art is simple and yet forces your perspective. The same can be said of the story of the man crow who is but a fleeting image of sorrow to the woman that still loves him. These two short stories show the minimalism with which McKean can work in and allow metaphor to seep through but not overcome. “Ash” builds on that style but uses a more guttural persuasion of a girl pierced by a tree through and through but must live her life trying to figure out what is happening while “Black Water” has the reincarnation motif threatened by real world sorrow which is an interesting angle. Alot of the other permeations are odes on the author’s life that while intrinisic are not broad enough despite their bold undertaking.

Posted on December 29, 2009, in Other Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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