Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Decompression Project: Cats and Kings

Something Plok wrote sort of stuck with me when I was thinking about this collection. Pay off. While reading it, I enjoyed it. While thinking about it and reflecting upon it, there’s kind of little to talk about.

It’s all about character creation, and while the characters are great while relating to one another the actual plot seems to become secondary. And I have to say that for genre fiction, plot tends to be a major player although a good balance of characters and plot is essential. When one takes over then the resulting work seems somewhat skewed and hard to talk about other than in a purely craft based manner. I don’t need to talk about why I think the dialogue is so well done seeing as anyone who picks up the book can get that as well.

In comics, obviously the character creation has a heck of a lot to do with the artwork. The emotions and positioning of the characters adds a much more solid dimension to any character dialogue. In some ways, it takes the interpretation away from the reader but on the flip side it really helps reinforce what the characters are doing, thinking and feeling. And the art is still entirely fitting here, although the amount of fake boobs is starting to get silly proportions.

Basically this is a long intro for me to say that I liked most of this story and the beginnings of the relationship between Peter and Felicia. Of course he’d be attracted to her, he’s fifteen and she’s showing more boobs than Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl. The subplots connecting the various characters together is all very neat and tidy, but somehow it feels like I should know a bit more about everyone at the end of it. There was some neat revelations about Wilson Fisk, and I like how Ultimate Elektra is used but for the most part the motivations seemed slightly missing even though the relationships all felt real. Again, great characters but little pay off.

So I’m finding it hard to put my finger on it but this stuff is good to read but hard to talk about is all I’m coming up with at the moment. It sort of frustrates me that I can’t come up with much of a reason as to why it seems so hard to talk about other than that’s simply a flaw of genre fiction that is happy to be really successful at the genre and only the genre. It really does feel like a very long single issue. That really the extra reading is an expansion of the whitespace between the panels that gets expanded in the Ultimate universe. In the end, the story is simply stretched over multiple issues with the same payoff, hooks, cliffhangers and setups of single issue storytelling.

What are we left with? In the end I think it can be something extremely positive. New readers can pick up any trade of Ultimate Spider-man and not really be lost by the story presented therein. That is a good thing. You get about six issues with no advertisements and you don't need to buy them in order - at least it doesn't feel like you need to at this point. Let's see how things develop from here.

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