10.22.2009

The Brave & The Bold #28, And Another Look at Joss Whedon's Sugarshock

Reviews by Jason Crowe
Contributing Writer

The Brave & The Bold #28 (DC): When J. Michael Straczynski took over writing The Brave & The Bold, he stated that he wanted to feature characters that have rarely teamed up before. This issue pairs Blackhawk and the Flash. The Flash participates in a Belgian scientific experiment that throws him back in time for a harrowing World War Two encounter with Blackhawk and his pilot squadron.

One of JMS’ strengths as a comic writer is his ability to describe a character’s philosophy through actions and internal dialogue. The Flash’s commentary during the experiment is a nice nod to his optimistic scientific roots, which is contrasted by the grim pragmatism of Blackhawk and his besieged team.

With his powers diminished by a broken leg, the Flash is forced into a moral dilemma; can he use a gun to lethally defend himself during the Battle of the Bulge? I don’t agree with Barry Allen’s ultimate answer, but the internal discussion is well-reasoned and thought provoking.

Jesus Saiz draws the book in a clearly-defined, basic style that works well to tell the story and capture the emotions on the character’s faces. I did notice some inconsistent elements to the art, such a lack of depth on certain military uniform and vehicle details, but they are minor distractions. JMS has grounded the story with solid historical and scientific research. I felt that the attention to historical detail and context was slightly undermined by two different German soldiers speaking German and English in an interchangeable fashion.

This story does its job well and is a pleasant reminder of comics with a message, a point of view and a complete tale in one issue. Grade B.

Sugarshock: One Shot (Dark Horse): When I read Sugarshock, I was acutely aware of Joss Whedon’s penchant for snappy banter. Sugarshock unleashes a torrent of wordplay that almost crowds out the characters. Dandelion the singer and Wade the drummer are the unchecked, playful members of the comic’s titular band; while Robot Phil the bassist and L’Lihdra the guitarist are the slightly more reserved members, slipping in dry observations on the random antics of their bandmates.

The book is a compilation of three story segments from the online anthology MySpace Dark Horse Presents. While the plot involves the group mistaking an intergalactic battle arena for a battle of the bands, the main focus is on the character’s personalities ricocheting off each other. Much like the sarcastic dynamic between the dog and rabbit detectives from Sam & Max, the Sugarshock band is shown to perform more for each other in the car between gigs than on the stage.

The clever, quirky characters are well-defined by the art of Fabio Moon. Moon’s style here is reminiscent of Paul Pope’s work, with a mix of thick and thin flowing lines surrounding brushed ink shadows and textures.

Moon’s art is strongly supported by subtle, luminous colors from Dave Stewart. Nate Piekos’s lettering contributes to the whimsical flavor of the book, with robotic speech balloons and literal sound effects such as “EXPLODE!”

This is a well-crafted comic in Dark Horse’s series of one-shots featuring a complete story in each single issue. Grade: B

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