Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Over The River and Through The (Brian) Wood(s)

2:24:12 am

Parentheticals are fun aren't they? Yeah it's the best I could come up with after I realized I had just read two Brian Wood books one after the other. As far as I know DEMO and The New York Four were actually the first of his comics that I've ever read. What did I think? You know the drill...


Written by Brian Wood

Drawn by Becky Cloonan

About two years back now (maybe more) I remember some of the more indie-minded guys at Wizard talking about DEMO, it even made its way into the mag if I remember correctly. Anyway, the recently released Vertigo trade collects the 12 original issues which were originally published by AiT/Planet Lar in all their black and white glory, though apparently not the back-up stuff that was in the original issues. Each issue has a single, self-contained story about people with powers.

For the most part, I dug this book. The individual issues are pretty quick reads, Cloonan does a good job of mixing up her art style with each issue, ranging from cartoony to real and more mainstream comics to manga. I especially liked "Bad Blood" which follows a pair of reunited step-siblings as they mourn their father and learn about their powers. I don't want to give anymore away.

I think for someone who hasn't read a lot of superhero comics, this collection will seem like a huge departure from what they think of as superhero comics. There's stories about people dealing with their powers after accidentally killing or hurting people, super powers and relationships, dealing with dead loved ones, even a girl who looks like the most beautiful girl in the world to whoever's looking at her. I gotta say, I've seen these kinds of stories, not that that takes away from them, just that it's not the first time I've seen them. Overall I liked the book, though I'm not sure if I would recommend it to everyone.


Written by Brian Wood

Drawn by Ryan Kelly

I would however, recommend The New York Four from DC's Minx line to anyone and everyone. I really dug this story about a super-shy, text-obsessed freshman at NYU who finds herself becoming social for the first time in her life, making friends and reuniting with her long lost sister just before getting into a relationship with a guy she's never met in person.

I can't quite relate to the girl as far as all the texting stuff goes (can't stand the stuff myself), but I could definitely relate to her shyness. I was pretty shy when I went to college not knowing anyone, though nowhere near as bad as Riley. Of course, I didn't go to college in New York, I'm nearly positive I would have gone insane, so it's nice of Wood to actually include little NYC 101 facts as the story progresses giving details along with his opinions on a lot of places I've heard about but still never been to.

I also really liked Ryan Kelly's art. He deftly combines the emotions of each character (quite a feet, considering Wood's populated this graphic novel with plenty of distinct, unique, yet familiar characters) with the background of a city that we've all seen in hundreds of TV shows and movies (or was that Toronto?).

The New York Four is about more than just one girl's battle with shy-ness. There's also the mystery of whether she'll actually ever meet her cyber boyfriend, why her parents disowned her older sister, what will become of the house that she told her newfound friends they can rent to get out of the dorms and why Lona keeps taking pictures of her professor. All of those are answered except the last one, though the book ends with "See You Next Semester" so hopefully Wood and Kelly will team back up to tell us the further adventures of The New York Four.

I do have to say, for the people that read the book, I called the twist ending a few pages before it happened, though that's the best place to call it, isn't it? It means that he seeded it well enough throughout the story, but that you didn't figure it out too soon. So either Wood did some very good pacing with the right hints at the right time or I'm super smart. Let's go with both.

Seriously, go buy this book, it's 152 pages of story for $10! Plus, you can hand it to a norm* and they'll enjoy it too.

*norm=non geek

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