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THE ART OF GREG CAPULLO
Drawn by Greg Capullo, With an Introduction by Todd McFarlane

Greg Capullo came out of the gate in the 90s as one of the best superhero artists working in the industry. Contrary to McFarlane’s introduction, his work on QUASAR was very strong (Marvel has been quietly putting more of the late mark Gruenwald’s work into trade, and it’s criminal that he and Greg’s masterwork, “Cosmos In Collision,” has not been collected yet), and garnered Capullo an instant following. Indeed, WIZARD began immediately championing him for an “X” book, something that would happen when he took on X-FORCE (which McFarlane does not mention at all) and became one of the true heavyweights on the stands. After that, he migrated to Image and became an even bigger name as he took on the penciling chores on SPAWN. From there, he also began to develop his work as a painter and cover artist.

Unfortunately, this book, which is supposed to offer up a tribute to him as an artist, falls down on the job in a couple of ways. First, it’s wrongly titled; it should be THE SPAWN ART OF GREG CAPULLO. There’s only a smidge of work printed in this book that isn’t related to his work for McFarlane books. A true retrospective of his career would have involved some cooperation between publishers and offered a look at his early Marvel work. The second major issue comes in the book’s design. Most of the book shows the original work on the left-hand page, surrounded by white space, and the right-hand page shows the work in close-up. Then at the end of the book, you get some commentary from Capullo about the various works. This is a poor design choice; at the very least, the commentary should have appeared with the actual art, instead of forcing the reader to slip back and forth. There’s plenty of white space for the text, believe me. I’d have liked to have seen commentary on each selection as well, not just a few of them; I find in instructive to see what’s in the mind of an artist and more of that is a grand thing.

There is some good stuff working here. His cover work on SAM AND TWITCH is glorious, and you can feel the love he has for painting Sam pour off of every piece presented here. The book also presents a mini-tutorial from Capullo on how he composes and completes a painting, and it’s fascinating. I could have read five more of them and never been bored. I also appreciated the sketchbook section, which takes him away from the McFarlane world a bit and shows off a bit more of his imagination and where it goes when he’s mentally lounging.

Ultimately, though, I hoped for more. I’m a fan of the man, but this left me wanting. For those more devoted to the SPAWN universe, this may be nirvana, but for me, I cannot give it a full recommendation.

Marc Mason

PROOF #1-3
Written by Alexander Grecian and Drawn by Riley Rossmo

Ginger Brown is an up and coming FBI agent with a bright future ahead of her. However, that future takes a strange detour when she’s given a new assignment in the Pacific Northwest, sent off to work at “The Lodge.” What she finds there is more than she could have ever imagined: an organization of spooks and cryptozoologists that is dedicated to tracking down the monsters that we only believe are myth. And the lead agent, her new partner, is the oddest thing of all: a sasquatch named John Prufrock, a/k/a “Proof.”

Ginger and Proof’s first case together involves a chupacabra that’s littering the hills of Minnesota with corpses. But along the way, she has to make some adjustments to this unknown world she’s been thrown into. And Proof is unhappy about the arrangement himself- in true cop-movie form, he doesn’t want a partner and would prefer to work alone, not dragging along a newbie.

PROOF is entertaining and clever, of that there is no doubt. Grecian provides some interesting back-matter that reveals that the series was born from a simple, and hilariously dumb question (“What if Bigfoot worked for the CIA?”) and the way they have expanded the concept certainly makes for better reading. At the same time, the duo is going to have to live with a LOT of comparisons to HELLBOY, as this does play a bit like the cryptozoology version of Mike Mignola’s masterwork, with The Lodge playing the role of the BPRD.

The biggest difference between the two, though, is the level of warmth that PROOF offers. You can feel how much fun the creative team is having and that goes a long way in making the book an enjoyable read. The pair was last seen in their graphic novel SEVEN SONS, and this definitely represents a step forward in their development, both artistically and on a script level. However, they still have things to learn. The pacing here is sluggish at best; at the end of issue three (only one issue has hit stands as of this writing, so I’m working from electronic copies) Proof has still yet to meet the chupacabra. In a five issue series, that’s a drag. Still, I’m onboard and enjoying.

Marc Mason

THE SWORD #1
Written and Drawn by The Luna Brothers

Dara Brighton looks like one of those college students that has zero future in front her. Why? She’s an art major. So much for a decent job or career. But she has some other issues in her life that require some attention, too. One would be the wheelchair she’s bound to. Another would be the cadre of strange people who break into her family’s house, claiming that her father is actually a man named Demetrios and that he’s hiding a sword of some sort. So when the blood starts flying, maybe career choice isn’t exactly Dara’s biggest looming obstacle after all.

The Lunas’ first book, ULTRA, was a charming hit, and it filled a niche that the market wasn’t filling at that time. However, their last effort, GIRLS, was a misanthropic disaster from start to finish. 24 issues of unpleasant characters, none of which you hoped lived past the second issue. It may have been a sales success, but it was an artistic wreck, and it leaves the Lunas in a position of needing to redeem themselves or risk turning into a flash in the pan. Fortunately, the first issue of SWORD goes a long way towards putting the talented duo back on the right track.

Dara, her friends, and her family are all people you can give a damn about. The mystery that’s set in motion is done well, and even with the horrible things that happen, you can’t really be sure the strangers are truly bad guys. The script and dialogue have some humor to them, and the art doesn’t overly sexualize Dara, her sister, or best friend. I certainly hope they’re able to keep it up for however long the book is meant to last.

Marc Mason

BRAWL #1
Written and Drawn by Dean Haspiel and Michel Fiffe

BRAWL is certainly one of the more jarring books I’ve read recently. It’s 50% “very cool” and 50% “what the fuck was that?”

 

The “very cool” part comes from Dean Haspiel’s “Billy Dogma,” a rough and tumble bruiser of a fellow. Billy loves his woman Jane, and Jane loves him, and even when they fight, they can’t stay apart for too long. But when Billy goes to jail for beating up a guy who tried to make time with her, things get a little wonky; their love is so passionate that it releases an immortal creature from its hibernation below the Earth and it begins to rampage anew. “Billy” is a hoot from start to finish, simultaneously a parody and an homage to classic tough guy movies. When he sheds a tear, he doesn’t admit it; instead he claims his “Eyes are sensitive to feelings.” You gotta love dialogue that crisp.

However, Fiffe’s “Panorama”… I don’t know what to say. Actually, I couldn’t really tell you what it’s about. There’s a young guy traveling through the city’s back alleys, and he stops to drop a dookie, offending some locals. So they decide to beat his ass, and instead, his skin melts off his face and body and he uses it to strike back. I think. Again- it isn’t clear exactly what happens. Then a local woman takes kindness on him, allows him to use her toilet to take that dump, except while he does, he vomits on his undies and ruins those. After that, the locals show up, as they know the woman, and something else weird happens with his skin or eye. Oh, and something he puked out may be alive. Honestly, this is a completely incomprehensible mess.

Haspiel=good, so I look forward to the final two issues of this mini for Dino alone. But I think I’ll be skipping the back half of the book.

Marc Mason


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