This issue might be the most Love and Rockets influenced issue of Deadenders yet. It might even just be homage.
Brubaker follows a relatively unfamiliar member of the supporting cast–she’s so unfamiliar I thought she was someone else. Brubaker really needs a better recap system for the supporting cast. There are like two dozen characters so far.
He’s very obtuse about the structure, especially how it figures in as a resolution to the previous issue’s finale. It takes place some months later. I think Brubaker contradicts himself on the exact timing.
But the timing doesn’t matter. What matters is the sublime story he tells here, all from the perspective of a basically new character. He follows up on some developing subplots (in some ways, he’s always just reducing Deadenders main plots to someone else’s subplot).
It’s a great comic book. Even if Pleece and Case don’t differentiate characters well.
Reading Deadenders is watching Brubaker’s development as a writer. At least one hopes he’s developing and learning from the mistakes.
For example, if you’re going to write an ongoing comic book, it’s not a good idea to imply a protagonist’s death (by flashing forward ten years into the future) because why should a reader stick with a book? To find out what happens? Who cares, given Brubaker never spends enough time establishing characters in Deadenders anyway….
And another flash forward lesson? Don’t imply one of your other protagonists, who’s been entirely sympathetic, will grow up to make someone as unhappy as the guy looks at the end of this issue.
Until the flash forward, however, it’s a great issue. Brubaker’s making a lot of daring narrative decisions and they pay off. Too bad he decided to capstone it with the lame finish.
Deadenders often should be great, but just misses.
Brubaker runs into a big problem this issue; I’m a little surprised, because it’s an obvious one.
His backup episode, about one of the characters crushing on a guy, is far more effective than his lead story. The lead story is following a plot, it’s increasing tension, it’s got a decent cliffhanger, but it feels constructed.
Meanwhile the backup moves entirely on its own momentum. Pleece and Case are a lot more creative too, because it’s in a less constrained environment. There’s no agenda.
The lead story is also problematic because it requires Beezer to be both the protagonist and the antagonist. He’ll probably turn out being right about things, if only because it’ll create narrative thrust.
But the backup doesn’t need any artificial boosters.
It’s a good and interesting issue–the lead story is strong, it’s just nowhere near as strong as the backup and compares poorly to it.
Brubaker does a nice move starting out this new arc. He sets the action ahead about a month from the last issue. The reader hears, from the characters, about the time between, but it doesn’t sound like much interesting happens.
So the inciting incident for this arc is Beezer’s pissed off dealer boss finally getting ahold of Beezer and kicking the crap out of him. Fatefully, there’s someone nearby who can help and the story kicks off. Basically, Beezer’s out of it and some older guy is starting to creep on Sophie.
It’s a nice bit of work from Brubaker, Pleece and Case. Subtle, if often violent.
Then there’s a backup with the repo kids. It provides a little Deadenders texture, but it also gives Brubaker space to experiment with narrative form. The experiment isn’t particularly exciting but it is cute and it does have a nice feel about it.
I think this issue finishes Deadenders‘s first arc. Brubaker sends it off on a high point, but only because he finishes the issue with a short Archie-style story. The rest of the issue is a mess.
He follows a government scientist who interviews Beezer. Now, nothing happens in the story–we even miss the one interesting moment with the scientist, after a lot of teasing about it–except exposition and backstory.
It’s lazy, convenient writing and it brings nothing to the series. Even Pleece and Case seem to give up. The art, from the second or third page, is boring. Maybe because Brubaker’s still keeping the calamity secret–we do get a couple hints–but more likely because there’s nothing to see here. And only a little more to read.
It’s competent, through and through, but utterly pointless.
A series shouldn’t be having pointless issues only four in.
Brubaker outdoes himself this issue. He achieves a startling moments of emotion, which isn’t easy to do in a comic book, but he does it here. Obviously, Pleece and Case have a lot to do with it… but it’s Brubaker. He brings home a great moment.
That great moment comes after a rather mediocre first two thirds. It’s a very good mediocre–Brubaker’s scenes are well-written and Pleece and Case do a fine job on the art (not great as they’re drawing the nice future city and nice future cities look the same usually)–but it’s mediocre. It’s more of the linear progression of protagonist Beezer and his interchangeable comrades engineering the eventual surprise.
Brubaker does develop subplots, though I hope at least some of them are story texture and not full subplots. Deadenders‘s world feels undercooked at times.
The cliffhanger’s predictable, but it doesn’t matter. Brubaker scores big.
Brubaker works three points of view into this issue. He opens with Beezer’s girlfriend, Sophie, who’s writing in her journal about the issue’s events so she’s supposedly the primary. But Beezer runs off and he’s the protagonist for a while. Then Beezer disappears for a bit and the story shifts to an omnipotent third person.
But Beezer’s really the protagonist, especially given all the flashbacks. Brubaker’s giving the reader information he or she needed last issue… all the fantastical stuff happening to Beezer? It turns out he already knew about it, which changes how those early scenes play.
And once it becomes clear where Brubaker’s going with the plot, the issue runs into some trouble. Sophie’s adventures trying to track down a friend’s drunkard father are a lot more interesting than Beezer’s machinations. They shouldn’t be more engaging… but they are.
Brubaker’s passive writing is better than his active plotting.
Ed Brubaker opens the first Deadenders issue rather predictably. Sure, the details about the future world are a different (a little) from other dystopian future worlds, but there’s nothing glaringly original. Two rich bad guys are talking about the fate of a teenager out in one of the rough sectors.
Then Brubaker moves to the sector and to the protagonist–Beezer–and Deadenders all of a sudden becomes special. Not because any of the details are startling (a lot of it seems heavy influenced by Love and Rockets) but because Brubaker’s writing is exceptionally strong. He gives the characters thoughtful relationships and establishes them immediately. By the end of the first issue, his characters seem fully fleshed out.
The art, from Warren Pleece and Richard Case, gives Brubaker a great setting. Their destroyed future city, sometimes empty, sometimes full, always eeriely quiet, is wonderous. Especially considering it’s the first issue.
Ok, I missed the part about the cataclysmic world altering events only taking place in the West and not effecting anything else in America. Apparently, Delano doesn’t like the Huron.
Though there was that great picture of the yachts fleeing Manhattan.
It’s a confused conclusion, really more about the bad guy getting his comeuppance than anything else. I’m not even sure the ostensible lead has a part in the comic past a non-talking, one panel appearance.
He never, for example, gets reunited with his mother, which Delano has been promising since the second issue. Instead, she gets a great finish, but one where it’s now moment important to see meet her son than vice versa.
Instead, Delano goes with a far cuter ending, with the coyote guy getting the final pages.
I assume Delano was leaving the end open for another series.
Ghostdancing isn’t bad, it’s just painfully mediocre.
The Big One; writer, Jamie Delano; artist, Richard Case; colorist, Danny Vozzo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Tim Pelcher and Art Young; publisher, Vertigo.
Well, the issue I’ve been dreading, the one where Delano explains all the backstory, here it is. And is it as bad as I’d anticipated? Oh, yeah.
As the American people flock–nude–to the wilderness to become one with the land (it’s an interesting idea, the land of America is magical, whereas the rest of the world maybe not), Delano sticks the reader in a car for the bad guy to give the good guy a lengthy, false history lesson.
Then the good guy meets maybe his dad, who gives him a truer history lesson.
Then there’s a bunch of stuff about how the white man ruined America when they came and colonized. But at least there’s no real illuminati nonsense this issue.
Ghostdancing is, five issues of six completed, a good idea for a comic, but not a good comic. Delano needs lots more space.
Or maybe less.
Fifth Tremor; writer, Jamie Delano; artist, Richard Case; colorist, Danny Vozzo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Tim Pelcher and Art Young; publisher, Vertigo.
See, a cliffhanger. The bad guy is getting ready to do something bad and “to be continued.”
It’s an awkward issue, a bridging one, setting up the big conclusion. The comic takes place over a few hours, giving the reader a few pages (at least) with each member of the cast.
Unfortunately, Delano gives one of the illuminati an emphasis too and those pages, no surprise, are the worst in the issue. He just can’t make them work, not with the explanations he’s got in play already. They distract–as does keeping the most interesting thing in the issue (bones reincarnating at a museum and dancing) in dialogue instead of showing it.
After a third issue, it appears Delano has gotten back to his outline for scripting.
I’m still somewhat hopeful for the last two issues, but it’s unfounded.
Oh, and there’s some rather weak art from Case this issue.
Fourth Tremor; writer, Jamie Delano; artist, Richard Case; colorist, Danny Vozzo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Tim Pelcher and Art Young; publisher, Vertigo.
For the first time, Delano just writes an issue–meaning there’s no crazy illuminati explanations this time around. Instead, it’s just an issue. And it’s a good comic book.
The potential finally starts to be fulfilled here, with the coyote guy meeting up with the comic’s messiah figure (who just happens to get a romantic interest as well). Delano layers the issue, showing some of their adventures in the present action, then having some of them shown as others discuss them.
The comic finally feels like Delano is enjoying writing it, instead of just presenting information to the reader.
Unfortunately, the better writing made
me pay more attention to the artwork, the first time so far.
Richard Case’s work here is mediocre at best. He’s frequently lazy with proportions and his work has a cramped feel to it.
I’m a little wary as Delano has to eventually sort the book.
Third Tremor; writer, Jamie Delano; artist, Richard Case; colorist, Danny Vozzo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Tim Pelcher and Art Young; publisher, Vertigo.
The second issue has a whole bunch of problems. Some relate to the first issue, some don’t. The biggest one–Big Brother is real and has been fighting the Native American culture for five hundred years, all of Western culture is a fake, controlled by them–really annoys. Delano’s got some solid ideas, but when he tries to explain this illuminati nonsense? It flushes the book down the toilet.
For a page, it’s actually seeming like it’s going to be interesting, a bunch of unrelated stuff coming together… instead it’s all connected. The rest of the series, besides some cliffhangers (Delano introduces bad guys this issue to hunt the good guys), will undoubtedly reveal and resolve.
It fills entirely plotted and unimaginative, in the narrative sense. Delano fills it with characters and spends his time on them, instead of on the work itself.
It’s not lazy, just a bad approach.
Second Tremor; writer, Jamie Delano; artist, Richard Case; colorist, Danny Vozzo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Tim Pelcher and Art Young; publisher, Vertigo.
So far–and one issue of six isn’t far enough to judge, I know–Ghostdancing isn’t impressing me. It takes the entire issue to get to the hook–the animal gods (or something like animal gods) have lost one of their own and it turns out she was a big hippie music star in the sixties in “the real world.”
Clearly, the search for her over the rest of the series will be what makes or breaks the series.
But, what Delano does here is different. He juxtaposes a bunch of characters together, the narration boxes featuring very deliberate prose. It’s good prose too, but incomplete, since he’s letting the visuals do some of the work. But they can’t do quite enough work because the concepts he’s writing about are so abstract. So, it’s a comic where the medium fails the work.
It’s an interesting read to say the least.
First Tremor; writer, Jamie Delano; artist, Richard Case; colorist, Danny Vozzo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Tim Pelcher and Art Young; publisher, Vertigo.