The Books I Think You Should Buy:
by Jon Evans and Andrea Mutti; Vertigo, $12.99
Lately it seems like every two weeks another Vertigo Crime book is being published in softcover. Here’s what I thought of The Executor when I read it back at the end of the summer:
I’m of two minds when it comes to this graphic novel. The Executor is about an ex-NHL goon who retired early due to a knee injury. He gets a phone call telling him that his old high-school girlfriend had died, and that she unexpectedly named him the executor of her estate, which forces him to return to Elora New York, the small town where he grew up, and where he is still seen by many as a local hero.
Shortly upon arriving in town, he begins to expect that the girl’s death wasn’t an accident, and he begins digging around for some facts. Elora is a typical small upstate New York town, with a Mohawk Reserve on its border. It seems that the ex-girlfriend was dating a member of the band, and was helping the tribe with some land claims thing (which is never elucidated upon). As Joe, our hero, distributes her meager funds to her inheritors, he meets with Dia, a local Mohawk crime boss who lives in a guarded estate on Reserve property, and apparently smuggles stuff to and from Canada. Dia had a little brother who was killed a long time ago, and Joe seems to know something about it.
From there, the book becomes quite intriguing, as Joe’s secrets are cast into new light by other information, and the plot thickens to involve a missing man accused of kidnapping his daughter, a pedophile ring, an abandoned mine, and years of lying. It’s maybe more than the book can support, and there are many places where the writing feels illogical or the pacing is off.
Not helping matters is the art of Andrea Mutti. He’s very good at drawing figures, but I often found his storytelling to be a little confusing and unclear. I know that Vertigo is increasingly relying on artists from Italy to draw their books (I always assume it’s an economic thing), but I think that Mutti should have perhaps spent a little more time researching or referencing the things he’s drawing. The hockey players appear to be playing with field hockey sticks at times, and there’s a scene where much is made about how good a pumpkin pie is, yet the pie shown has a layer of crust on top. These are all minor quibbles, but they were enough to toss me out of the story a couple of times.
Still, this is a decent read. I found that I got pretty absorbed in the story, and didn’t want to stop reading until I knew the ending. This is Evans’s first comic from what I can tell, and it’s always good to see a local writer get some attention.
Stuff of Legend Vol. 2: The Jungle
by Mike Raicht, Brian Smith, and Charles Paul Wilson III; Th3rd World Studios, $16.99
The Stuff of Legend is going to turn out to be one of those comic series that people will be figuring out down the road, and wishing they’d followed from the jump-off. It has a quality to it that allows it to appeal to kids and adults alike, and inhabits a similar place as books like Mouseguard.
In The Stuff of Legend, a group of toys travel into The Dark in an effort to rescue their owner from the Bogeyman. It sounds like pretty basic stuff, but the writers have used a few neat tricks to make the story fresh. Surprisingly, for a book like this, there is a lot of strong characterization, and the story is as much character driven as it is dictated by the necessities of plot. The toys have very human personalities, and their interactions with one another are pretty interesting.
In this second volume, the toys are on the run from the Bogeyman’s forces (made up of other toys that the boy had discarded or forgotten about over the years. They end up seeking refuge in a jungle, only to learn that it is inhabited by a group of animal toys that are at war with all humans. The group of friends get torn apart when some important secrets are revealed. While this is going on, we also get to see what has been happening with the boy.
The art in this series, by Charles Paul Wilson, is pretty amazing, although I wish they hadn’t stuck with the washed out sepia tones that they use, as it makes the book look kind of bland at times. Still, it’s some pretty good stuff.
So, what would you buy Were Money No Object?
Tags: Stuff of Legend, Th3rd World Studios, Vertigo