Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Popgun Vol. 4

Popgun Vol. 4
Ed. by D.J. Kirkbride, Anthony Wu, Adam P. Knave

Image Comics, 2010

How to define the compilers of this anthology, «Popgun» is a mixtape. Completely different styles, different stories, different characters. If we continue to compare the book with music, something there sounds out of tune, something is too loud, somewhere there is nice vocals (art), but the music (the plot) is so-so. 500-plus pages of colors and you can’t like all of that.

To start, there is too much escapism in the book. People from our world are faced with another world, and the parallel world, however beautiful or dangerous it was, is always better than our world. Sci-fi here is in all its forms, from fantasy to neocyberpunk mystery. And if art is most often very good, the stories are always too flighty, with no internal logic. Almost always there is interesting complication of the plot, but not a solution. However, a number of works in «Popgun» proved to be equally successful in terms of art and in terms of plot.

A realistic story of Stephanie Ramirez «Thinking Out Cloud» reads like a YA fantasy. In the «Agent Orange» by Darren Rawlings robot private detective exposes dishonest businessman, knocks-out a few robots and saves the world from an ancient curse. «Family Reunion» by David Brenion and Joe Flood tells about what happened to the heroes of cartoons and books after they lost their former glory. Authors create a funny satire on Superhero stamps. «The Eye» by Jeremy Tinder starts as a typical story about a private eye with a big eye instead of a head, but later the story turns into something bigger (and with large portions of the black humor). «Rusted: Faded Signal» by Nick Tapalansky and Alex Eckman-Lawn attracts the attention first of all with a wonderful art, you get the impression as if you read the yellowed parchment. The story unfolds in a desert, where, after some catastrophe, a girl tries to find a radio tower to get the help. Completely insane is «Sasquatch» by Nick Edwards. Children go into the woods for a picnic, and one of the boys, bespectacled Nigel, becomes so teased that he runs away to the river, looking for solitude, but instead meets sasquatch. They become friends, and here you can begin to laugh. Hilarious story.

One of the few realistic graphic stories here is «Hamburgers for One» by Frank Stockton, it is also one of the best in the book. Plump clumsy young man takes out the trash, feeds rat with a candy and goes to fast food cafe. In there his attention is attracted by a pretty brunette cashier. Stockton is unhurried, attentive to details; sometimes the artist achieves photographic autenticity in panels.

We should also mention a number of single-page strips by Erik Larsen «Reggie the Veggie». First and foremost this is a very clever and funny comics, as comic strip about a legless cripple can be funny.

Graphically «Popgun» is an almost ideal anthology, bright, bold, diverse, but it lacks good storytelling.

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