In this edition of the column, Eric talks about two books from acclaimed Planet Hulk writer Greg Pak, including Dead Man's Run #0 and Vision Machine!
A few years back, my comic guy talked me into checking out Planet Hulk. I was never a big Hulk reader, as he was probably one of my least favorite characters at Marvel. Greg Pak changed all that in just the opening pages of Planet Hulk and I have been a Hulk reader ever since. Why bring that up? Well the two books I'm reviewing in this column are from that very writer.
Dead Man's Run #0 from Aspen is a very interesting preview book. We follow an ex-military guy named Romero who obviously has a very cloudy and mysterious past. He actually reminds me a bit of Bruce Willis from the first Die Hard movie. He works as a security guard at a correctional facility which seems to house a very dark secret underneath the top lair.
The price itself is a selling point, the first time I've seen a comic for $2.50 in quite some time. And while the story is short, it definitely is a strong lead-in and prologue to the series. We get a really interesting introduction to a character that I'm assuming will be our lead throughout the series, as well as several background players who are all interesting enough to warrant thinking: "What exactly drives this person? Who are they?"
Tony Parker's art is beyond amazing here. His portrayal of the characters is fully formed and there are moments where I feel as though I'm looking at work from Frank Quitely. I also really love the backgrounds throughout the #0 issue, but I'm not sure if that's fully Parker or if some of that is Peter Steigerwald's amazing coloring adding a lot to Parker's penciling. The art team is one of the strongest I've seen on a debut in a long time. Also, I'm forgetting to mention Josh Reed's lettering, which in my opinion is some really unique stuff. The demonic looking words coming from certain characters was a nice touch and I haven't seen someone really play with lettering like this since Alex Grecian did in Proof.
I'm really interested to see just where they take this series starting in January, especially with that ending. The book has a strong art team, one of the best writers in comics right now and a really interesting premise. It will be interesting to see if they can pay off on this #0 issue come January, definitely recommend picking it up.
The other Pak book I read recently was Vision Machine, a book that honestly I really think people need to give more attention to and read. Vision Machine follows three twenty-something aspiring filmmakers who are best friends but have extremely different viewpoints. Jane is the crazy imaginative dreamer, Buddy wants to change the world and Dave just wants his message heard.
The other lead we have throughout the story is the woman behind the newest piece of technology that changes the way the world works, Liz Evers. The iEye is the piece of technology in question - and basically if you can think it, you can show it/upload it to the world. It's only limit is your own imagination. But like any good piece of technology it comes with a downside, as politicians and businessmen alike are able to corrupt and change what it was meant for.
Pak is able to put in some terrifying and all too real ideas, from charging someone fifteen cents for just humming a song while wearing their iEye to actually earning money from whatever you upload (basically similar to the way a YouTube sponsorship works, not all the ideas Pak presents in the book are bad). I really enjoy the subtleties of technology that Pak plays with throughout the three issues.
I really like the idea of a world that has become too reliant on technology and what happens when we go too far into one direction. The fact that Buddy and a few hackers do their best to fight back against the new world order is extremely interesting to me, and a definite highlight throughout the book. There's even a very small love story between two friends throughout the book that feels like something so minor you don't even have to pay attention to it.
The feel of the book to me is Runaways meets the early 90's Hackers flick. There are plenty of underlying messages you can get from the book, and at the end you can walk away with something that truly resonates in your brain.
R.B. Silva's artwork reminds me a lot of Skott Kollins in an extremely positive way, with a little of Adrian Alphona mixed in. It fits perfectly with the story and each character is represented in a unique and original way where no two characters look the same. The scenes we see through the glasses are just beautiful, the action never feels stilted or lame and the backgrounds are incredibly packed through the story.
To end with, if you don't believe me on how good this book is.... go check it out for yourself, for free. www.visionmachine.net has the full book for free (though obviously credit the creators if you end up talking about it yourself).
Pak is one of those writers who can change up their style completely and make something to feel totally different than any of his previous work. (On a sidenote, after reading two books like these now I am really excited about his run on Astonishing X-men.) He's a writer I look up to and I really think people need to check out both Dead Man's Run and Vision Machine!
Next time.... I have reviews coming up for The Bulletproof Coffin, Feeding Ground, The Key of Z and War of the independents! See you next time for another edition of Conversations With Yourself!
Written or Contributed by: Doombug
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About the Author - Eric Ratcliffe
Eric Ratcliffe is the host of The Why I Love Comics podcast, as well as the writer of the long running and award winning webcomic New Comic Day! When not interviewing the biggest names in geek culture, Eric writes the occasional column about something he is enjoying or informing people about webseries, podcasts, gadgets or many other cool things. You can also find Eric on Email/twitter/facebook/youtube/steam/x-box live and many other social media avenues on the internet.
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