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Comics Reviewlution: Defiance, Hawkman, Exiles
Reviewed by Kenn McCracken, ©

Format: Comics
Review Date:  

"I'm gay."

"You're extremely happy?"

"Yes, but not the definition I'm referring to."

-Exiles #11

Oh, me, oh my. Another week, another batch of pounds added to my comic collection.

Defiance #1 (Image Comics, $2.95) I'm not gonna swear on it, but this may very well be the next big thing to come out in comics. It certainly has that Violent Messiahs/Red Star kind of feel to it -- maybe with a little Cry For Dawn influence?

If that doesn't pique your curiosity, then I'm not getting paid enough to come up with anything catchier, but in all seriousness, this book is worth a look, if only for the art. Kanno Kang and Zach Suh are the responsible parties, and they've done a very nice job with what appears to be a mix of painting and computer graphic work. The cover sets the tone, but it's what's inside that really makes me want more. There's a lot of Joe Linsner in the look -- definitely a good thing from where I sit -- but it's not a rip-off at all.

Of course, being that the story deals heavily in the Judeo-Christian mythos of Hell, and has a lot of demons running throughout, it might be hard to avoid a Linsner feel. The story is decidedly more in the horror/action vein, though, a lot like a Japanese action flick processed through Guillermo del Toro's eyes. Douglass Barre does a fine job handling the dialogue, keeping it loose enough that the tone stays at a mature level, and the story looks intriguing -- what if there were rebellious forces in Hell? And what effect would that have on the impending war between Hell and Earth?

You may be kicking yourself in a few months if you miss this and the price skyrockets (remember The Red Star?), but even if not, it's still very definitely worth picking up.. (9 out of 10)

Hawkman #1 (DC Comics, $2.50) Anyone that's been reading comics for more than a few years knows that Hawkman is the character that helps exemplify continuity problems. As many times as the character has been revived, he always get dragged back into the grave by his own history. The last morass was so bad that I swore off the character forever.

That, unfortunately, was before Geoff Johns hit the scene with JSA, bringing Hawkman back with a renewed clarity that I really didn't think was possible -- and he did it without completely rebooting the character. He does a pretty good job of keeping that feeling going with the debut issue of the new solo series, and sets the stage for stories to come as well.

What really makes this issue good -- and what will keep me coming back for at least a few more issues, to see if the momentum keeps up -- is Rags Morales. His pencils in this issue are some of his best yet, possibly because of Michael Bair's inks. It's simply a great looking book, and well written as well.

Johns (and co-writer James Robinson) seem to be finally doing what a lot of thought impossible -- making Hawkman a success. Future issues will tell, but it's certainly off on the right foot. (8 out of 10)

Strange Killings #1 (Avatar Press, $3.50) This is one of those books that really makes me think hard about the purchase. The cover price is a bit high, especially given that there are less pages than your usual book, but on the flip side, I've become somewhat of a Warren Ellis completist. Turns out that I wish I had waited for the trade.

The story is more in the Strange line -- that is, a melange of secret service action, horror, and magic, all woven nicely into tales that clip along. Warren's got a brilliant sense of pacing, and a great touch for dialogue, and his ideas tend to the really outside; you can never be certain what you're going to get out of an Ellis story, but you can bet that it'll be a little off somehow. The problem, though, is the art -- not that Jacen Burrows is bad (not at all), but the stories call for a little more detail, and many times, color (the book is black and white). Burrow's figures come across as two dimensional, flat, although he's obviously capable of more as evidenced by the occasional panel. It gets particularly messy, though, in the prison riot scenes, where even after a reread it's hard to tell exactly what's going on.

Odds are good that the story itself will be worthwhile -- Warren writes about things that scare him, and that tends to translate into the story well -- but you're probably just as well waiting for the trade, as much as I hate to push you away from the monthly. (5 out of 10)

Unquantified, shameless mark rant of the week: Exiles #11 (Marvel Comics, $2.25) When you want a writer with a human touch, Judd Winick is the go-to guy. And with artists like Jim Calafiore and Eric Cannon on his side, you know you've got a winner. This book has steadily improved, and I'm glad to see that happen. (10 out of 10)

Also out this week:

No list was available this week, and I'm too damned underpaid to scour the Internet right now. Want to know what came out? Go visit your local comic book store. You'll thank me.

Kenn McCracken is comics editor for RevolutionSF.

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