Posted tagged ‘Jason Aaron’

Review: Scalped: the Gnawing

June 3, 2010

I’ve raved about Scalped a few times here and now I’m starting to run out of new ways to praise it.  It’s the best crime comic written today, and quite possibly the best ever.

The Gnawing is the latest tale, in which undercover agent Dash Bad Horse is tasked by Chief Red Crow to find the rat in his organization.  And if that isn’t bad enough Dash also has to attempt to keep a witness to a murder perpetrated by Red Crow alive long enough to testify.  And Red Crow has his own problems after inciting a war with his casino’s financiers.

The ensuing conflict is one of the most brutal stories I’ve ever read.  This is an epic tragedy, with no happy endings.  In fact, the saddest part of the book is the news that a character is pregnant and that the pain and suffering endured by everyone in the story is about to be extended into another generation.  It’s heartbreaking and ingenious writing that somehow made a great book get even better.

Review: Ghost Rider by Jason Aaron

March 31, 2010

Ghost Rider has a long history of being the worst, major character in comics.  He’s been around for nearly 40 years at this point, and has never had any reason to be around besides having a great visual:

Ghost Rider

Thank God Jason Aaron came along to fix that.

Turns out what the character needed was for someone to treat him as being inherently ridiculous.  And so Aaron has created a 4 volume epic (done in the finest grindhouse tradition) in which the Ghost Riders (yes plural now) discover their secret history while attempting to save Heaven from a coup led by the rogue angel Zadkiel.

But that plot doesn’t really matter.  What does is the legion of foes the Riders get to fight along the way.  Trull the living steam shovel from the stars!  The orb, a circus freak with an eyeball for a head and a penchant for suffering traumatic injuries (and bed wetting).  The Highwayman, the devil’s trucker, whose a real fan of 8-tracks deck.  And of course Skinbender, who looks like how Sailor Moon would if she existed in reality (and thank you Tony Moore for the nightmares that image is going to conjure).  Oh and I can’t forget the hordes of heavily armed nuns on both side of the war in Heaven.

If that sort of gleeful insanity doesn’t appeal to you, then this isn’t the book for you.  But if it does, this will be one of the greatest comics you’ll ever read!

Review: Wolverine Weapon X: Insane In the Brain

March 17, 2010

Wolverine doesn’t have enough super-villains.  That’s pretty much the reason for the latest volume of Weapon X to exist.  You’re typical Wolvie story ends with the bad guy getting impaled on the end of his claws you see.  And now that Sabertooth’s been killed, the number of reoccuring enemies he has can be counted on one hand.

Which brings me to Jason Aaron’s latest creation, Dr. Rott.  Rott is an insane brain surgeon who creates psychic machines and serial killers.  Not a terribly great character sadly, but he does make for a smart foil to Wolverine.  He also lets Aaron cut loose with the same sort of manic horror that he first showcased over in Ghost Rider.  

This also lets artist Yanick Paquette get out of his comfort zone for a few issues.  Now I know Paquette as primarily a cheesecake artist, albeit a very good one.  But here he’s in full on slapsticky horror mode.  People are strangled with intestines, brains are removed with enormous nutcrackers, and then there’s Charlie Chainsaws (who has chainsaws for hands).

It’s all a bit over the top, but Aaron and Paquette just manage to pull it off, largely by going out of their way to point out what a ridiculous history Wolverine already has when you stop and think about it.

As a bonus there’s a nice little single issue story in which Wolverine gets a girlfriend, but first has to check in with all the other women in his life to talk himself into it.  It’s a cute comic, although a little too stereotypically superheroy for Wolverine, being the “what if my enemies use you to get to me” conundrum.  But it is nice to see Wolverine outside of his comfort zone here, and C.P. Smith’s art is kind of fantastic.

Review: Wolverine Weapon X: Adamantium Men

January 19, 2010

If there’s one thing Marvel really didn’t need (besides another Deadpool book) it was another Wolverine book.  However, this time out it happens to be by wunderkind Jason Aaron and the great Ron Garney, so I figured it was worth a look.  And I’m glad I tried because it’s the most fun I’ve had reading a Wolverine story in ages.

There’s not really a whole lot to this story Haliburton, sorry I mean Blackguard, make themselves some Wolverine mercenaries, Logan finds out and gets revenge.  It’s a simple story, well told, that fits the character of Wolverine like a glove, and it’s got enough little flourishes (including a great little Faulkner riff) to elevate it somewhat.  For the first time, possibly ever (like the character, have never liked his own book) I’m looking forward to a future Wolverine story.

Then as a bonus this collection also includes a short story Aaron did with Adam Kubert (making his return to Marvel after some time at DC) that tries to explain why Wolverine appears in every other book the company publishes.  This one is I think the only time I’ve seen Aaron stumble to date.  The tone of the story is just a little bit off, placing Wolvie into a slightly comedic situation while trying to show that this is his way of doing penance for a few lifetimes of sins.  It’s not a bad idea, and it’s a nice little bonus story here, with some nice art to boot, but ultimately just a bit off.

So, in summary this is the book to get if you are in the market for a prototypical Wolverine story told with a great deal of skill.

Review: Scalped: High Lonesome

October 30, 2009

Well the cover blub on the latest volume of Scalped (from the Philadelphia Daily News) states that this is “one of the best comics ever created”.  I’m not sure if that’s totally true, but it’s certainly in contention, and actually might be the best crime comic to date.

Jason Aaron is just an incredibly brave writer, crafting a painfully bleak work that lacks even a single sympathetic character.  In High Lonesome he tells a series of 5 interconnected stories revealing both the motivations behind the main cast and the answers to most of the major mysteries that have driven the plot up until now.  

It’s a ballsy movie by Aaron to unmask everything all at once, but it works incredibly well, and it really feels like the right approach for him to have taken.  And even with all that out there, there still seems to be plenty of story to come.  No padding, just plenty more misery to heap upon the residents of the Prarie Rose Reservation.  I can’t wait.

Review: Scalped Vol.4: The Gravel In Your Guts

May 2, 2009

The last time I reviewed a collection of Scalped I said it was on the way to becoming Vertigo’s best book.  The release of vol. 4 clinches that.  Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera are creating the single bleakest piece of noir literature I have ever encountered, and man is it brilliant.

This volume contains two stories.  First up is the two-part Boudoir Stomp, featuring some great guest art from Davide Furno.  This tale explores the downwards spiral of a  relationship between protagonist Dash Bad Horse and his junkie lover Carol.  This is followed up by the title story in which Chief Red Crow declares war on his financial backers while strugling to live a slightly more righteous existence in order to honor the memory of the slain Gina Bad Horse.

Anyone who need proof of just how powerful a medium comics can be need look no further.

Review: Seaguy

April 2, 2009

My most anticipated comic for the year came out yesterday, I am of course speaking of Seaguy: the Slaves of Mickey Eye.  This is the second part of a planned trilogy, that began 5 years ago and has been in limbo while writer Grant Morrison worked on some more mainstream projects and spent time coercing DC into publishing the sequel.

Their caution is understandable, Seaguy was an incredibly bizarre comic, even by Morrison’s standards (a man famous for desiring a self aware DC comics universe), but it’s also perhaps the single best summation of his career to date.  All of his themes are here, all of his brilliance, and some of the best examples of his run away imagination (I particularly like the image of the moon crying for help, shedding heiroglyph encrusted bricks down on the happiest place on Earth).  Morrison is compleately unrestrained in this book, it seems like every stray thought he had during the writing process has found a way into the story, and that largely works, and even when it doesn’t it’s hard to resist the sheer joy that seems to be present on each page (despite the fact that the story is pretty much a dystopian tragedy).

A large part of that joyous impression is due to artist Cameron Stewart, one of the most versatile and underutilized people in the industry.  He gained a decent amount of attention two years back with the Other Side, Jason Aaron’s career-launching Vietnam tale, for which he traveled to the country to get the landscape right, so clearly he can handle realism.  But here he has to draw flying fish-like creatures, hordes of clockwork, Atlantian moths, and of course the unfinished portion of the Moon (and the Mummy who lives there), all so that they fit into a cohesive world.  The result is one of the most eye pleasing books Vertigo has ever produced.

So thank you DC for finally letting the story continue.

Review: Scalped Vol.3 Dead Mothers

November 1, 2008

Jason Aaron is rapidly becoming my new favorite comics writer.  He came out of nowhere a little over two years ago with the Other Side, the best war comic of the last 20 years not written by Garth Ennis.  He then went on to write one of the few Wolverine stories in recent years that has been any good, and has recently become the ongoing writer of Ghost Rider of all things.  

And then there’s Scalped, the heir apparent to 100 Bullets as Vertigo’s flagship crime book.  I can’t say much about the latest volume without giving away huge chunks of the plot.  Suffice to say that things get much worse for the book’s protagonist, Dashiell Bad Horse.  As for the quality of the book, it’s as good as ever.  Aaron’s writing feels like a punch in the gut and R.M. Guera’s art (which reminds me of Paul Pope and Richard Corben at times) fits the mood perfectly.  This is rapidly becoming Vertigo’s best book.