The essence of the trajectory of a brute finds its Cromagnon perception in this iteration of Hercules. Bathed in angular viciousness, this Hercules in “Herakles – Book 2” [Eduoard Ward/Lion Forge/160pgs] is one bathed in the trajectory of treasure but without say the valiant texture of Odysseus or even Jason & The Argonauts who play into the structure later in this story. Hercules here is a blunt instrument. While his idea of retribution is a hard hit in the face, the more interesting trajectories happen when he needs to think a little but or has a sliver of emotion. Most of the times you can feel the impact of one of his hits but nevertheless most of the time there is no meaning. when he comes upon Atlas who is holding the sky up, Hercules is simply searching for the Golden Apples but his simple reasoning is because they are there. However when he agrees to hold up the sky, it is a simple slight of hand that gives him the upper advantage. Similarly when he heads into Hades and has to pass over the river Styx per se, he is searching for one of his friends to bust him out to say nothing of a female allure that draws him. One of the better bits of humor happens when the sirens come out of the water and he refuses them saying that he has other things to deal with but maybe later. The only joy it seems comes when he sees his brother but even that is short lived as the draw of conflicts draws him. However like “Godzilla” in many ways, he is smash and grab despite some of his actions do good. The journey although raucous and fun in this book is sometimes devoid of purpose.
By Tim Wassberg
The intention of perception is relegated, at least in narrative, the way the characters perceive their existence or, by extension, their purpose in our mind’s eye. In “Orphans: Volume 2 – Lies” [Robert Recchioni/Lion Forge/352pgs], the ideal is based in the idea that in a post apocalyptic world, like that of “The Darkest Minds”, the decisions of the characters become based out of survival and not necessarily good judgement. The way “Orphans” approaches this ideal is by a couple different artists approaching the similar story line and progression at the get go. In the post discussion, the artists speak about how the necessity of body language especially when dealing with YA stories tends to precipitate on a certain mental structure and thereby intention of character. Looking at the different lead characters in Ringo, Sam, Rey and Saul (by extension), their different strengths and weaknesses are built in the early frames. But when the war shifts a decade or more the comparison of how the characters grow in certain ways shows how the different artists truly see them. The later chapters show the actual plot progression a bit more including the mutation testing and ultimate brainwashing of these children to make them the killers they grow up to be. The training in the forest where their trainers set them against death row inmates also shows the psychological breakdown of the team. Ringo & Sam are the focal point of the team with her being the more powerful but undisciplined. This creates a unique situation when she beats Rey within an inch of his life in the first story. Ringo is the one who tries to save Sam by talking and fighting his way back into her heart and soul. This is a very telling scene which makes a later scene where Ringo has already died and Sam is reaching out to Saul that much more heartbreaking. These kids have much to lose but the question is why. Saul questions his motivation and yet Doctor Puric engages the point in that this is why they were created. In the final perception of this volume, Ringo sees the mission for what it is while Rey sees it for what it has become. “Orphans: Volume 2 – Lies” is a good exercise in the perception of psychological crafting if story through physical traits where the artist and their angle through the writing allows for different read each way it is seen.
By Tim Wassberg
The idea of real life told in a hyper-real way has marked some of the best aspect of graphic novel lore. This reflects in the idea that skewed faces can represent the inner working of a character’s brain or soul. The key is that the art needs to be just different enough from that which surrounds it. “Curtain Call” [Wilfred Lupano/Lion Forge/128pgs] has a very simple story at its core. A guy, down on his luck, just needs a break to get back to the person and place that makes him happy. The problem is that he ran away in the first place. The lead character Marco, like the passive protagonist in “Fight Club”, knows what is right but also what needs to be done although he might have a skewed vision of how he justifies that. Marco is a simple man but knows the wrong people. He also is not exactly the most confident person despite that he knows when he needs to do the right thing. His biggest misjudgment has to do in his choice of friends specifically Gaby Rocket. Gaby is an awesome character. He is boisterous, an asshole and seemingly doesn’t give a shit but he surprises you in the 9th hour. One sequence in particular after he and Marco are staking out a bar where a family dispute goes horribly wrong, he, despite his own best interests of being a bad guy, turns into a good guy without a sense of bias. It only hits him afterwards. This is a story of human foibles and fact that human nature is undeniable. One can dream of redemption but unfortunately time cannot be turned back. “Curtain Call” shows that this is not necessarily a bad thing but one has to come to terms with it. In this instance this graphic novel in both its voice, mannerisms and visuals, despite its simplicity, works with a degree of genius.
By Tim Wassberg