Sunday, May 01, 2005

ATOMIKA #2

When reviews don't come out the week of the book, it's usually because I didn't have the book or because I haven't come up with anything interesting to say. This one is a first, however. Purchased the day it came out, Atomika #2 came home in a plain white paper bag and somehow got filed away with a stack of tax-related documents and printouts. Considering what this story is about, I am hesitant to say it was a coincidence.

Atomika continues to get it mostly right. They have pulled off another striking cover -- last month's was by Alex Ross, this month's is from Glenn Fabry -- and a worthwhile story. The art's got a sort of melting wax feel that isn't really my thing, but seems to suit the story and is appealing in its own way. However, the book continues to get... not quite sabotaged, but at least undercut by layout choices.

Some writers are fanatics about where the word bubbles go -- Bendis, for instance. Some... perhaps need to be a little more thoughtful. Atomika is as much illustrated tale as sequential art and the speech bubbles and narrative boxes carry the entire weight of the story. Placement is crucial, especially in crowded scenes where it could be one of many speaking and the voice must be determined from context. Last month, apart from some unintentional funnies, the layout and placement weren't so bad. This month they interrupted the flow because I had to pause and figure out who was saying what and in what order.

The story itself is enjoyable and while it doesn't have the rhythmic lyricism of the last issue, it's still a cut above. This is a fight between gods and their creators and it isn't light or fluffy or full of action. It's quasi-historical, specifically ethnic, and trades in themes more common with classical myths than, say, the latest issue of Uncanny X-Men. I think it's a lot of fun, if not necessarily a quick read.

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