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Thoughts From The Land of Frost:
Review City By Alexander Ness
Welcome to my column. Along with new reviews and commentary, this column includes a number of responses to my reviews. I am not suggesting that I have changed my mind (although I am able to do that) with regards to the comics or points of view responded to, but I want my readers to understand that I respect their views, if I do not necessarily agree.
RAWHIDE KID COMES OUT but it ain't with guns a-blazin'
A number of folks suggested I cover the "event" of Marvel's character the Rawhide Kid being portrayed in his recent mini-series as being Gay. OK, he is gay. In itself it is fine. Certainly any medium which does not portray the world in which we live as being diverse and full of difference is garbage. But, unfortunately, rather than tell a story using an important character who will have an impact upon the comic universe in question, Marvel has chosen to take a character out of mothballs, take him out of the closet as it were, and announce "Oh, by the way, the character some of you have enjoyed and read the tales of? Well, that character, Rawhide Kid, is gay."
It has no real importance; it has no long-lasting effect. To me, if not others, sexual orientation is a private matter anyway. It just doesn't matter to me. I do not hate others for sexual matters, I do not try to think about their behavior unless it is vital to the story. I have no thoughts in any regard about another person's sexual behavior, so to sell me an issue of this comic because a character is gay...well, I do not care.
Beyond this, and more importantly, I thought that the story was poorly told, the dialogue was remarkably bad, and the art, while good enough, was rather lifeless and disappointing. One of Marvel's spokespersons said that the Western is dead and or soon to die as a genre. Making the Old West politically correct retroactively isn't going to revive the Western either.
I would give this a book a very low grade if I were to use my standard four stars system; one star out of four, but if you enjoyed it, I am glad. Marvel took my money and is high-tailin' it into the hills. Now if only Rawhide Kid could catch them varmints and git back me money.
From IDW Publishing
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation #1 Written by Max Allan Collins, with an assist by Matthew Clemens, art by Gabriel Rodriguez. Color, $3.99
Investigators are called to the scene of a horrible series of murders, each scene with tell-tale clues and an offender who has a goal to both copy a famous slaying, and taunt the CSI crew.
If you are a fan of the television show CSI this will likely be a comic you enjoy. The look of the art, down to close on facial images of the show's actors, all remind the viewer/reader of the source material this is drawn from. The story telling clips along at a television program like pace and the dialogue is true.
Max Collins is perfect for this story and he gives the story some depth outside of a first issue introductory bit. The art is as good as the writing.
The issues I do have are about the cost per comic here for a five issue series is twenty dollars. It is a bit expensive for what it delivers. But economics aside I think this book is nearly perfect.
*** & 1/2
From Slave Labor Graphics
GLOOMCOOKIE collection Trade Paperback (collects #1-6) Written by Serena Valentino and art by Ted Naifeh. Black/White $18.95.
Having no real experiences in Goth culture I was worried. I do not need to be involved with something to understand what is part of that culture, but occasionally works are written with a goal to offend, or confuse. GLOOMCOOKIE did neither.
The story follows the dark world that the characters live within. They love, argue, hate and think. Mostly through their own vulnerabilities exposed they deal with one another through a Goth club culture that values a certain type of acceptance along with a personally important need for love.
Love is what they seek. Do they know how to find it? That is why you need to read the work.
The writing is excellent. The art is great.
*** & 1/2
From DARK HORSE
REVEAL - a compilation of numerous authors and artists. Varied media, $6.95.
This work is special. The various modern stories are OK, with variable success, but this volume does something for me that I cannot imagine finding elsewhere: a comic strip authentically from the Artist of the Twentieth Century, Pablo Picasso. This work is a gift for me because I am in awe of Picasso's work. To discover this has enhanced my life.
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Response to JTHM reviewed in column 6.1
Comment by Phil, from Duluth MN.
I love JTHM, and I was a fan at it's first printing. If I was reviewing it, I would happily have given it the maximum star rating, as it is awesome. I remember reading the "Crossing Guards" strip and going into bouts of uncontrollable laughter all by myself, chuckles returning even hours after reading it. Silliness. And happy noodle boy is incredibly profound. He hits the funny bone deeply.
There was a really well done skin of JTHM made for the Half Life video game. I had everyone download it to their computers just so they could see NNY (me) kill them over and over again. Jhonen's style has a nice simplicity to it, yet it has an unmistakable style that other comic artist couldn't emulate well if they tried. JTHM is one of the greatest comics I have ever seen and read. I haven't read them in years... and talking about it is making me want to dig up my old copies and read them all over again.
My comments and review of this book were not ever meant to denigrate the work only to emphasize that however much I respected the artist's talent that this was a work so different from me and my tastes that I could not fairly grade it. Perhaps a clue for me was that the work is often spoken of as being of dark humor, yet I was not the least bit amused, even darkly.
I print your reply to give an entirely different perspective of the work.
Response to MAGE KNIGHT # 1 reviewed in column 5.4
Comment by Zack, from Saint Cloud MN
I read Mage Knight and play it and while I think your review was fair, I do not think that you understand that MAGE KNIGHT's audience would particularly enjoy the work. I realize that a comic is a comic and a game a game but all my friends play Mage Knight and this comic seems well suited for we who game.
I think you mistake my review. I say directly in it that I do not play this game and it would be different if I did. I think this work is great for those gamers who also read comics. The whole product just didn't really draw me in. I suspect longtime players of the game would be. Your comments seem to be proof of that.
Response to my review of MAGE KNIGHT #1
Comment from TMW, address unknown
Why are you crapping on Todd Dezago? Do you have a brain? Your writing is 1/10th of the quality of Todd's. Screw you.
This letter is like the fifteen or so I received at my home e-mail address in response to my review. I accept that my reviews do not make everyone happy. But that is the nature of the beast. I do have a brain incidentally.
Response to my comic review policy:
Comment from Igor, from Prague, Czech Republic
I do not understand why you do not review more Marvel products. I am sure that the vast majority of your readers who are comic readers read Marvel. In every issue of PREVIEWS there is a chart of bestselling comics. Marvel is at the top. Always.
Igor is a very enthusiastic reader of this column and I appreciate his many e-mails regarding reviewing Marvel product. But however much I am willing to review Marvel, they have not sent anything for review. I will happily review any product that isn't pornographic and Marvel as well as anyone else is welcome to submit product for review upon this column's "pages".
Thanks for the comments.
Billy Tucci for bringing Crusade Entertainment product to this column. I thank also Brian Jacks for giving to me a great boost of confidence.
If you produce comics books or games and wish me to review your product send it to:
Alexander Ness Land Of Frost Box 142 Rockford MN 55373-0142