Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America #4
Written by Jeph Loeb
Art by David Finch
Marvel Comics, 2007
Using the five stages of grief as the five chapters in a series mourning the passing of Captain America probably seemed like a great idea at the time. Problems arise when you’re stuck writing a book revolving around the theme of “depression”. So what do you do? Jeph Loeb’s answer is to have Spider-Man stand in a graveyard thinking about all the bad things that have happened to him and wonder if it’s all worth it. This might’ve been good, if it weren’t for the narrow focus on the theme. We get Spidey making irrational decisions (Rhino is in a trenchcoat standing by a gravestone! He must be up to no good! I’d better punch him!) and conversations that brush the surface of a lot of interesting ideas but are forced back to the topic of – you guessed it – depression. I would’ve preferred to explore how Spidey screwed up with Rhino rather than have lines like, “Wanna know why it’s called ‘depression’? Because it IS depressing.” Ouch.
The artwork is pretty, although for an issue dealing with Spider-Man’s depression it would’ve been nice to see his face a little more (we only got two panels). After all, it’s not like he has to worry about his secret identity anymore. And while it was neat to see some brighter pages in contrast to the dark graveyard, the flashbacks felt rather unnecessary (did we really have to flash back to Gwen AGAIN? In a death of Cap issue?)
But in the end, this is a rather sub-par mourning issue. For some far superior books dealing with the death of Captain America, I’d recommend the issues in Cap’s own series. Ed Brubaker is dealing with it in an interesting and less forced manner. I suspect that if Loeb hadn’t drawn himself into the corner of “depression” with this issue he would’ve had a lot more room to explore how Spidey was handling Cap’s death and come up with something really special. Too bad that’s not the case.
Madame Mirage #1
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Kenneth Rocafort
Top Cow, 2007
When I drew Madame Mirage from the random number generator I was excited because writer Paul Dini was executive producer on the much-loved-by-me animated Batman and Batman Beyond shows of my youth (and mid-teens but let’s not go there). I hadn’t read any of his comic work before, so this was a great excuse, and I’m impressed.
This is a very good first issue: the world is introduced quickly, characters do interesting/awesome things, and at the end I want more. The universe isn’t the most original one I’ve ever read about, but that’s not what this comic is about — it’s about a mysterious woman in a big hat taking down a crime syndicate. What more could you want?
Well, knowing you, the gaping maw of pop culture, you’ll want more.
Luckily, you get more. Namely, some very exciting action sequences courtesy of new-to-me Kenneth Rocafort. His paneling work is compelling and unique, with unusual shapes and a good narrative flow.
However, I think Rocafort’s style isn’t completely suited to this story. He reminds me of a less crazy Leinil Francis Yu, which is good, but I feel that an artist more comfortable with heavy blacks would be better than his thin, textured lines. Maybe Pablo Raimondi, I’m in love with his artwork at the moment. I think Rocafort is good, I just think that when you have a crime story like this, it should look a little more like a crime story.
I’ll return for the second installment of this saga; I’m intrigued by the mysterious Madame Mirage and her associates. So far MM has only been shown in complete control of the situation and the bad guys around her, but I’d like to see what she’s like when she’s pushed around and less sure about what to do.
Plus, that hat is sexy.