Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
Yes, I’m hitting the road for the long haul across the desert to that place that was discovered by the Germans in 1904, but I thought I’d squeeze in a review before I left. Won’t that be fun?
I was kind of hoping that the fourth issue of The Life and Times of Savior 28 wouldn’t come out this week, because J. M. DeMatteis was awfully swell in sending me the issue a while back and I knew I’d want to get a review up the day before it came out, and of course it comes out this week, when I ought to be getting my affairs in order (no, I’m not dying, but I am taking the wife and children to the “whale’s vagina” this weekend, so we have a bit to do), but I’d feel like a jerk if I didn’t write a review when he was nice enough to get it to me early. Man, that was a long sentence. Oh well.
As you may recall, I’ve been enjoying DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro’s tale of a fallen superhero (well, “fallen” in the sense that he decides one day that maybe beating everyone up isn’t the answer, which causes some consternation among his fellows and his government) and there’s nothing in this issue that changes my mind. Cavallaro gets to draw some different superheroes in this issue, and he also gets to give us an impressive page with a gigantic tidal wave, but he manages to keep the art grounded as he’s done the entire series. It’s definitely not art that shows “superheroes in the real world,” but Cavallaro does a good job balancing the fantastic with the horrific, and as a good deal of the issue shows Savior 28 getting tortured in a device that shows only his face, Cavallaro conveys many emotions with just facial expressions, and there’s nothing bad about that.
DeMatteis continues the theme of the first three issues, exploring what happens when a superhero becomes a pacifist. He makes many good points about superhero comics in general, as his peers believe he’s been replaced (as has happened several times before in his life, apparently). He also references his own 1980s work, including “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” which is a nice touch. DeMatteis continues to add new levels to the relationship between James and Dennis, his former sidekick (and the man who killed our hero in issue #1), which keeps this from being a banal recitation of why we should all get along. It’s not surprising that a good writer like DeMatteis can explore this kind of theme over and over (as he has) but continually find fresh angles to it, and he’s done that here.
I certainly don’t expect anyone who hasn’t bought the first three issues to pick this one up, but it’s interesting how someone coming to this cold with this issue could easily figure things out. Yes, there are a lot of narrative captions, but DeMatteis makes sure we get a lot of new information along with the old, and this blend makes it the kind of issue you could understand without reading the first three. And if you’re waiting for the trade on this, I can assure you that it’s still a good comic, and it’s getting better. So that’s nice.
I’d like to thank J. M. DeMatteis once again for sending this over to me (in .pdf format, so no scans for you!). And if I can get Internet access in San Diego, I’ll write stuff about the con. I don’t know why Chad Nevett pities me – SDCC is kind of awesome. Maybe I’m just not jaded and bitter like he is!
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