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 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