Wednesday, November 09, 2016

What I Bought 11/1/2016 - Part 2

That question I posed last week, if Luke Cage thinks about whether being bulletproof will wear off got a lot more relevant when I reached episode 7 a few days later.

Wynonna Earp #8, by Beau Smith (writer), Chris Evenhuis (artist), Jay Fotos (colorist), Chris Mowry (letterer) - That coat looks extremely warm and comfy.

Contrary to my expectation that we'd continue with Wynonna's vacation adventures, we instead follow her attempts to help a werewolf and his family relocate again through witness protection, before they're all killed by the dominant lycan clan, the White Wolves. This also involves the appearance of Smitty to help things along. I bought the collection of all the previous Wynonna Earp mini-series two months ago, so I was waiting to see if Beau Smith would put what I assume is his self-insert character into these stories. He's usually a tech/gun enthusiast, but now he's actually Agent Dolls' boss. So, promotion via reboot.

The story felt rushed, though. The werewolf, who everyone calls IBob because he's kind of a IT guy, makes a point of referring to Wynonna as his "friend" near the end of the issue, and Wynonna thanks him, and it feels as though this is supposed to be some big shift. But Wynonna didn't seem hostile to him previously, maybe because she'd hardly interacted with him. Smitty shoved him in a car Wynonna was already in, she took a little offense when he muttered something about her being a, 'crazy chick with a gun,' and then they were fighting off werewolves. She doesn't seem hostile as much as she doesn't know him enough to have an opinion one way or the other.

I like the visual of the member of the White Wolves that carries the Thompson with the drum clip. The way Evenhuis draws the werewolves, they have fur that forms a beard, and combined with the gun and his clothes, it makes that particular wolf look like some hillbilly bootlegger from the '30s. It's at least a little distinctive, and I can buy that supernatural creatures that are functionally immortal might find a look they like and stick with it for decades. Some might update, but others not so much. Besides that, there's a couple of panels where the shading Evenhuis (or Fotos) uses on the characters' faces (first Valdez, then Wynonna) reminds me of Tom Mandrake. That bit where the shadows obscure the lower jaw and chin, so the face has that death's head appearance? That makes for a nice visual.

Henchgirl #11, by Kristen Gudnsuk - Yep, that is certainly most of the major characters there on the cover. Not at all sure why they went with one big, 44 page issue instead of two smaller issues, but that's me wanting it wrapped up in a neat 12 issue bundle I guess.

Everything goes to hell. Consuelo has started calling herself the "Black Widow" (in Spanish) and swinging around a sword. I completely sympathize with Coco's frustration in not understanding what's being said (although I took German instead of French). In fact, Coco is so fed up she tells Sue and Tina about Mary being dosed with evil serum, and they mount an attack on the evil scientist's lab to retrieve the stuff so Sue can make an antidote. Except in the process Tina's arm is burned off by acid, and her carrot helpers go rogue. Plus, Mary is still trying to take revenge on Amelia, but only succeeds in providing the hero with her ultimate weapon (which was the Butterfly zapper thing Mary had been using). Which causes Amelia to go completely off her nut and tear down a building, putting Mary in the hospital. Then there's a time jump in the last few pages to a point where the carrots have taken over the entire city (and the federal government has washed their hands of it).

Soooo, that got kind of dark in the last few issues. People dying, people getting maimed, although we learn Mary somehow did not kill Gunpowder after all. Curious that it's OK for Amelia to have killed some people, despite having ostensibly been a hero the whole time, but Mary has to at least be innocent of that. Although she is guilty of "hooliganism", among other crimes.

The tonal shifts play up how much this was originally published one page at a time. So you get pages that end on a three-panel joke about Sue being confident she can make an antidote to the evil serum, to her moderating that statement over the succeeding two panels. But then you get a page that ends with Tina literally impaling a guard with giant carrot tentacles, with the blood spray and everything. I'm not sure if it's supposed to absurd (because carrots), or horrifying (because her arm is now made of carrots). I don't dislike this issue, there's certainly a lot happening, and Gudsnuk hits some solid emotional beats, plus there are some pretty funny moments in there. The fatalistic attitude Mary develops to try and justify killing Amelia - a series of different excuses that could almost masquerade as having some higher goal in mind - and Amelia's various arguments to rebut them cracked me up. Plus, that even when Coco is trying to be a good friend, she's still a terrible person.

Gudsnuk does have a good sense of pacing in her panel layouts. Especially when there's a two-panel combo, or even a three-panel bit. Not just in humor, but also ominous scenes. That pause to let it sink, then the punchline, or the hammer. So there's a silent panel of Coco's scorched form as Fred tries to save her with that healing cloak, and then there's one where parts of her skin crumbles and falls away. Which is a heck of a way to confirm she isn't coming back, but is also kind of dark humor? I don't know if that's what she was going for, but it makes me think of those cartoons where a character gets shot at a lot and scoffs that they weren't even scratched, then they drink something and water spurts from a dozen holes. Only this time the character falls over dead instead of shaking it off. So maybe more Mel Brooks than Looney Tunes.

I had no idea what to expect with Henchgirl when I started getting it, but I've been pleased with the results.

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