I have comics, and you know what that means?

April 13, 2008 at 11:47 pm (Comic Books)


Omega the Unknown #7 (of 10)

This is Lethem’s latest entry in a series spanning the Marvel Universe and high school classrooms while oozing out style from the latter’s constriction of the former. It’s quite good for a mainline Marvel comic, and this issue features Panter, the Panter with friendly advice to not rip pages out of library books, on an innertextual* story!

*inner-sequential-art? Surely comics can pilfer from novels on some terms.

And Panter is very well suited to visualize Omega’s story. It’s full of foreboding origins (was the Omega made from happy-alien killing corporate monsters?) to foreboding implications (How are the nano-robots related to Omega?), and all signed with Panter’s paraph, a charming and thick line with simple expressions just bursting with rage. I can believe that Omega is drawing like this when exhausted and imprisoned, but more than extending my suspension of disbelief, it just looks alien, even if Panter doesn’t change his style too much (more symptomatic than donative), he was the perfect artist for the job. It’s also in creepy black, sepia, and red, all murky colors, and behind a similarly earnest cover

Lies this

I can’t imagine many Marvel comics looking like this, but if its visual aesthetic distances itself from other Marvel comics, Lethem cannot bring his plot closer to modern audience-inveigling plotting techniques. The Minx has been dangling Omega to catch a bigger conspiracy, the Watcher has revealed a greater stake in the game at hand, colleges are even more explicitly undermined as franchises, and laying glibly atop this are four other enticing developments!

But here’s the key difference between House of M and Omega: All of these machinations are compelling! Excitement has replaced the revisionist languor of the first issues!

And here’s the other key difference: Darymple has started playing with his panel compositions. As Omega is lost in the labyrinth, panels shrink and whiteness envelops the page before the Watcher appears a page later, and when a man runs screaming through New York, three diagonal panel swaths overtake the traditional grid, and, this is the really cool part, the panel’s camera view switches, having the frightened man running in a different direction each time. Both are (relatively) surprising page compositions from its more conventional grid pattern.

As Darymple reaches more with his art, Lethem leads him to much more fertile ground on which to work. While the comic’s manic escalation these past couple issues cannot continue, it’s a very exciting place to be right now, watching a superhero struggle through a labyrinth surrounded by corruption and youth.


1 Comment

  1. Sometimes, God is Just « Psychopomp & Circumstance said,

    […] I’m quick to grab “innertextual”, I wary about loaded, mostly incomprehensible terms such as “deconstructive reconstruction”, […]

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