The texture of a cop lost in the brutal paragon of what is right and wrong has always been a style of thriller since the early 70s. From Serpico to Dirty Harry, the reflectivity of what determines conscience is based on what the goal is to get it. The lead character here in “Stiletto Vol. 1” [Palle Schmidt/Lion Forge/144pgs] who is unassuming in the best Barney Miller tradition continues through his life like he just doesn’t care. The wife is looking for beach houses. His daughter is lost in her own little world. He seems to just keep his head about water. The art of this graphic novel is washed out in an almost melting kind of perspective while still keeping a sense of grittiness. The gunshots are frozen in time. The melancholy of the lead character is played well as a misdirect but it is based almost in the fact that he is basically a nihilist backed into a corner making decisions simply because that is the only option. It is the idea of the greater good or simply a sociopathic intent that really walks the line. Stiletto, as he is ultimately known, is at the beck and call of nasty people but at a certain point he thinks he is himself unredeemable and therefore commits acts that even if you were on the take seem a little severe. The funnel through which is life is purveyed gets smaller and smaller despite the f act that evil begets evil. Ultimately “Stiletto” effectively is on the point that once the knife is in, might as well turn the blade. “Stiletto” is a disciple to its own genre but plays it very well.
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of anti-heroes struggling against their powers is nothing new but the aspect of approaches to redemption can always different according to states of being. Like the upcoming “Dark Phoenix”, Jasmine in “Jasmine: Crown Of Kings” [Howard Mackie/Xenoscope/146pgs] doesn’t seem to have a full conception of her powers. However she is wracked by a sense of memory loss. She sees past pieces of her life as an immortal “jinn”, a form of genie who casts death and destruction in ancient times at the bidding of their masters. They were former slaves who now are free of those chains and want to find power on their own. The journey from slave to jinn is actually the more interesting story. The story in this volume of events is all about struggle for power but not necessarily the reason to shy away from it. The story does play on the popularity of “Game Of Thrones” while mixing in the coming of “Aladdin”. The issue is that the actual progression of the story is not deep enough with stakes to connect to make it feel meaningful. The dialogue is alright but sometimes overwrought with too much attention placed on story details in the words and not as much in simple imagery which in this form tends to work better. Also the establishment on Arcane Acre is not formed enough to give a true perception of its purpose (like say with “X-Men”). The cornerstone of the story is a battle between two would be sisters who were brought together out of threat instead of by need. The disconnection is ultimately what undoes the story because even with her betrayer Ali. Jasmine’s truth just doesn’t seem as inspired as it could be.
By Tim Wassberg
The essence of James Bond in recent years has retraced to the idea of the reluctant hero who does what he does because that is what he is good at. The recent Bond films have focus on balancing that with large set pieces that serve a bigger story whether it be the condemnation of M or a love lost. In “James Bond: The Body” [Ales Kot/Dynamite/152pgs], the story told in 5 separate progressions shows the physical toll and the quiet moments that could bring such a man back from the brink. The beginning is simply a tale of what caused 3 broken ribs and the simply fact that painkillers simply deaden the pain. In order to understand it, Bond lives by it. Another story which motivates the ideal that Bond is fallible rests when he is doing an interrogation of a female operative/scientist who may or may not be assisting a chemical attack in Britain. The idea becomes “what is good?” He can try to torture her to find out what he wants but instead takes a more civil approach with a truth serum personification but ultimately resorts to water boarding. The result tests his resolve and in many ways strains the idea of what he is trying to accomplish. The continuing story then goes by a basis of sociology as Bond poses as an arms dealer to infiltrate a business circle of Neo Nazis. A brawl ensues. A similar context occurs in another story where a local policeman seems too trigger happy with a taser before Bond can properly identify himself when he is beating someone else up. The true integral intention of “The Body” reflects in two smaller stories when Bond is saved and defends a cottage in a forest against an adversary with a female host who is both strong and suicidal. It is the most peace he has found in a while and that speaks to something bigger in terms of his psychological make up. This also reflects in the final story with his hanging out in a pub with longtime American co-operative Felix Leiter over a beer as a mark is taken out quietly via poison in the back bathroom as they drink a pint. It is these quiet moments that help give this iteration of a well known character a little more breath. In one image in the graphic novel, Bond dives with a bomb that needs to exploded underwater in the Thames and as he disappears, the muddy element of his soul becomes clear.
By Tim Wassberg