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Good Comics – Part 2

September 8, 2008

Echo and Criminal

Echo – Issue 5 – This issue ties up the first part of the story, in
Terry Moore’s new ongoing monthly series from Abstract Studios, his own
publishing company. Because this title is brand new, and because of his
new Marvel work (Spider-man Loves Mary Jane and Runaways), I suspect it
will get lot more attention than Strangers in Paradise. Echo is a very
different series than SiP in a number of ways. It still has all of
Terry’s strengths, fantastic artwork that looks so simple and clean, and
yet is elegant and deceptive for its simplicity, three dimensional
characters that feel like real people and eye-catching covers. Echo is a
much tighter series, in that it is an action/ sci-fi drama, and is
written more like a TV series for its episodic format. The pace is fast
and full of tension, but there are also character moments to flesh out
the main protagonists. I may be wrong but I believe this series is only
going to be about 18-24 issues, so the pacing is critical and it is a
much more focused story.

If you’ve not read Echo yet then the first trade which collects issues 1
through 5 has just come out. A very brief summary of the story without
spoiling it is – there is an explosion over the desert caused by a
cutting-edge military test gone wrong. The repercussions have some
unusual results on a couple of locals, including the main character, a
photographer called Julie Martin, and a Park Ranger called Dillon. Each
is trying to understand what has happened whilst the Powers That Be want
it buried and covered up before the truth gets out about what they were
doing. Suspicious characters and dodgy men in suits, unusual objects
raining from the sky and conspiracy theories are abound.

5 word summary – Intriguing, conspiracies, fast-paced, tense.

Criminal (volume 2) – Issue 4 – This issue marks the start of a new four
part story about a character we’ve seen before who appeared in an
earlier story, Lawless. Despite his previous appearance it isn’t
necessary to read Lawless to follow the story and you don’t feel as if
you’ve missed out on anything. Weaving the fate of characters together
and intertwining their stories gives the city a more realistic feel and
long term readers are rewarded for their loyalty.

Jacob writes and draws the Frank Kafka cartoon strips, a piece of
meta-fiction the characters often discuss themselves, but Jacob wasn’t
always a cartoonist. We learn that he used to be a forger who has gone
straight, mostly, but it seems as fate has something else in mind for
him and a random meeting in a diner lands him into trouble and personal
danger he’s not seen before. Jacob isn’t a fighter or top of the food
chain. He’s just a low-level crook who wants to be left alone and yet
somehow trouble always seems to find him, even when he’s doing a good
deed. Once again Brubaker hooks you from the first issue, by creating a
character who isn’t particularly likeable and yet you care about him and
want to see him succeed. This is crime fiction at its best.

5 word summary – Moody, unpredictable, violent, femme-fatale.

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