Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday's Loot - 20 September 2006

52 Week 20
John Henry Irons is back to heroics but is given some tantalizing information. Hopefully this leads to lots of punching with Lex's evil heroes. Then we're back in space to see some Animal Man action and is that Brainiac's ship? I'm not up on my DC character history, sorry.
I rate this comic: Another solid, if slow issue of 52.

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Astronauts of the Future and Dungeon Zenith Vol 1: Duck Heart

More French collections that have been translated and involve Lewis Trondheim (and Joann Sfar on Dungeon).

I'll start with Astronauts. Again, I don't know if it's just French cultural stylings or translation issues but this felt like it was a kid's book but had some problematic language at points. Not poor translation but swear words. I think the story is perfect for kids who are ready to move beyond kids stuff but not totally ready for adult books. But I think some parents wouldn't let their kids read this book because someone uses the word "ass."

That being said, I did love this story. It's about a couple of kids who are picked on in school and are generally geeky, but in a "I know I'm geeky and don't give a damn" way. While you know they'll sort of get along later, they do spend time playing off one another and thinking the other is "icky." It's about a boy and a girl who are sure that their parents, and everyone else in the world, is either a robot or an alien.

Then the plot takes a twist I didn't see coming. It was fairly traumatic and it actually did upset me. Forget Spiderman unmasking or Jason Todd rising from the dead, this was an actual shock. I kept waiting for the explination to be that these kids couldn't deal with the trauma of what happened but it never came. After this twist, the rest of the action seems fresh and exciting even if it has been done a lot.

I refuse to give away the twist because it really adds to the story.

Now after reading Duck Heart, that volume of Dungeon: The Early Years makes more sense. I was right in a lot of my guess work. A lot of the characters introduced in that volume make an appearance here. The young idealist has apparently become a jaded old man with hints of Uncle Scrooge aside from the fact both characters are fowl. He's crafty as much as he is ingenius, not to mention being rich and paranoid.

What follows in this volume is an in some ways a reintroduction to the world of Dungeon (only now with an actual dungeon I assume the magic elves dug). There is a moment of mistaken identity when a hapless duck gets a barbarian killed but doesn't want to lose his job so fakes the barbarian's identity. The duck is sent to destroy some Lovecraftian evil things and is accompanied by a vegetarian Dragon warrior.

Again, this is a fantasy world that doesn't take itself too seriously which I find quite refreshing in a genre known for melodrama and unpronouncable names. The duck is stuck with a magic sword that can't be drawn unless the duck does three brave deeds with his bare hands (or is killed). If someone tries to take the sword from him the duck reverts to a former sword-bearer. This is used to hilarious effect in a cage full of warrior potentials as they want to see the trick again and again.

There are essentially two stories here. The war against the unnamed evil beings who are tired of their dreary skull decorated underground meeting places and the story of the duck trying to become a warrior in a kung-fu movie master/apprentice way. I have to admit that the master who has sewn himself into a sack because he already knows the world was an idea I appreciated.

I would have to say that although there was two distinct stories in this volume I did like it better than the Early Years volume. I do feel like I was missing a volume in between though so I'll try to find it at the library as that may explain things a bit more.

I think anyone who needs a break from World of Warcraft or anything D&D should give the Dungeon books a flip through. You'll probably appreciate it more than me, and I love them.


The Fortress Keeper said...

Actually, that was the first appearance of Ekron - who I guess is the source for the "Emerald Eye of Ekron" that we've seen for so many years in Legion of Super-Heroes mags.

joncormier said...

Oh, yeah, the Giant's Eye used as a crystal ball...