Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Graphic Lit -- 12/11

Only two reviews this week, as newspaper space was at a premium (and will likely be again this week). I'll post some older reviews (and hopefully more original material) towards the end of the week.

"Identity Crisis"
by Brad Meltzer, Rags Morales and Michael Bair
DC Comics, $24.99.

Best-selling author Meltzer attempts to inject some crime novel gravitas into the formerly sunny world of DC superheroes, with rather depressing results. Rape, murder and other unpleasantries dot the landscape of this whodunit, which, oddly enough, doesn’t carry a "mature readers only" warning.

It seems someone is going after the DC heroes’ family members and friends, and some rather ugly secrets are uncovered during the investigation.

The main problem with this book is that what makes second-banana characters like Elongated Man and Atom so enjoyable is their inherent comedic or pulpish qualities. Attempting to add a layer of "real life" grit and grime only robs them of their charm. At any rate, it’s definitely not a book for kids, despite the presence of Superman.

"Six Hundred and Seventy-Six Apparitions of Killoffer"
by Killoffer
Typocrat, $25.95

Narcissistic self-loathing reaches new heights in this oversized volume as the author finds multiple clones of himself doing unspeakable things around town and in his apartment. Ultimately, he takes matters into his own hands in a rather suitably gruesome fashion.

What pushes the book into the realm of inspired isn’t the plot or theme so much as the design. Eschewing panel borders or any sort of line breaks, Killoffer spills his images on top of one another in a dense frenzy that only gets more maddening as the story progresses. Lines that in one corner form a street turn into a car as your eye travels down the page.

The net result is a dizzying and galvanizing reading experience — one well worth taking on, assuming you’re not put off by either the subject matter or the high price.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2005

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