Not so much a review as a revisiting.

*Just putting off necessary work a while longer, don’t you all worry about me.


Concrete: The Human Dilemma #4 (of 6)

Ocean #5 (of 6), Astonishing X-Men #9

God the Dyslexic doG #2 (of 4), Meat Cake #14 (oh c'mon, you want to read more about that first title, c'mon)

Dune #1-3 (of 3) (the Marvel Comics adaptation of the David Lynch picture, with a grab-bag of quick comics impressions tossed in for free)

So few words, so indistinct. I’m on the cusp, but my hands…

Jimbo #3-4

Yeah, Zack, you got me to break down. And of course I’m glad.

Here’s my review of the first two books of this series, with plenty of background and assorted vague guesses as to aesthetic motive that I could have easily clarified by pulling out a copy of “The Comics Journal”. I’m referring here to the big fat issue #250, with a cover interview with Panter himself. Having reviewed the text, I can now say with certainty that yes, Panter was intentionally starting out his run on the title as sloppily and simply as possible in order to gradually ramp up the detail and tightness as the story progresses. Also, it seems that “Jimbo in Purgatory” acts as a direct sequel to this series, a veritable “Jimbo” #8 (albeit giant-sized and hardcover and expensive). But those sent running for shelter by the bombardment of literary references and quotations as contained in the latter work need not fear these comics; the Dante exploration doesn’t begin until issue #7, and even that is supposedly less intensive than the high and low culture textual/visual past-present strand tying rigor that marked the territories of Panter’s Purgatory.

No, these books are awash with authoritarian shark-boys piloting giant robots for little purpose other than to annoy homeless punkers. It’s about the strange journey of a pair of hillbillies and their blood-crazed psychopath cousin as they flee both the FBI and an undead ax-wielding giant rooster. It’s about government agents spitting out lines like “Oh my god, look! It’s Agent Timothy Helix, in twain, beheaded.” And it’s about Jimbo, decidedly uncertain as to whether or not to leave his futuristic bourgeois prison, filled with the hottest fashion and delightful foods. And while there’s still some bits of plot sitting around, the fourth issue even concludes on a natural break point, as if the book is ready to get on with the next arc, next issue. Hell, there’s even a climactic battle scene, True Believers.

But it’s best if you purchase all four of these issues together, if at all possible (looks like I cleared out the last issues #3-4 from the link above - thanks again Zack!). I stand by my previous observations that Panter really did himself no favors on the accessibility front with these stories, loading the first issue with the wobbliest visuals and only the sketchiest beginnings of a plot, guaranteeing that only the hardiest of fans would stick around for upcoming installments. Which isn’t to say that the final product wasn’t worth sticking around for; it’s frankly amazing how easily Panter can push my buttons with the simplest dialogue, mere exclamations of where things are going. I think the unwavering six-panel grids help the pacing in this way; having read enough of them in a row, the reader becomes psychologically prepared for quick, consistent transitions, like a steady backbeat. And this sort of conditioning lends power and authority to even random bursts of shouting, the expected scene transition lending an emphasis to “Jesus!” or “Run Songy! Quick!” that mere punctuation can’t manage.

Did I mention the fun world-building touches, like the tiny robots that accompany folks out of prison to offer them investment tips and other great advice to aid their newly productive outlook on the world? Or how colorful all of the cover look when you spread them all out? The cover of issue #4 promises “Vague hallucinations, blind forgetfulness, tears, crime and madness.” What more, I ask of ye, can we demand from our artcomics saints, their arms open and their halos not nearly blindingly hot enough to drive us back down to earth, though the prophecies of some may claim to the contrary?

*Also, “The Goon” is back, and it’s nice. Eric Powell is now rendering the whole thing in the thick-outline/soft-color style he used to reserve for only selected scenes of background noise, which I’m a little torn on; spreading this style across the entirety of the book gives the characters a rubbery texture, less distinct than they’ve seemed in prior issues. It almost puts me at arm’s length, so to speak, acting as a distancing device. Maybe I just need to let it grow on me. There’s a lengthy sequence this issue where a trip to a strange dimension causes the environment to break out into garish primary colors with the characters reduced to charcoal-look black and white, which works pretty well. Kudos to the writer/artist and color assistant Robin Powell. Unfortunately, the book also didn’t seem quite as funny as usual, even though this time it’s plainly trying to be funny; another consequence of my resistance to the new look, I’m afraid. Maybe next issue will be different.

*Ha ha, look at that stuff at the top of this post. It all looks so funny after hours of separation, courtesy of Blogger being fussy. ‘I’m on the cusp’… haw.