Saturday, September 17, 2005

DEATH JR. #3

And so concludes one of the most delightful miniseries of the year.

A rollicking good time like the first two installments, this issue is the one that most clearly ties the book into the forthcoming video game. For the most part it's not really a problem and this never reads like a commercial; there's a bit of a shift of focus to a more actiony story, but it largely works. It certainly helps that writer Gary Whitta has decided not to treat the video game imperative with any seriousness, keeping it relevant without making it the primum mobile. Ted Naifeh handles the shift smoothly and with more dynamism than I expected he would.

Way back when I reviewed the first issue, I brought up how pleasingly subversive this story actually is. Like The Incredibles, Death Jr. is ultimately a wholesome, positive story about family, friends, and growing up. It just promotes ideals like family love, self-esteem, loyalty, friendship, and courage in a fashion that manages to be entertaining instead of corny, sneaking the good stuff past the post-modern and the cynical by simply being funny and smart and appealing to all ages groups.

Whitta and Naifeh have proven a fantastic team, the former's razor-sharp (and never mean spirited) wit being well matched with the latter's endless vocabulary of facial expressions and body posture. The result is a story that is clever both visually and textually. A little like when Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev are really cruising on Daredevil, except without the reliance on realism and that makes it a bit more of a challenge. Any future collaborations will be looked for most eagerly.

Image Comics being Image Comics, whether this will be collected into a trade paperback is anyone's guess. This is a series worth paying back issue markup to have, though.

As for the actual video game... The Shrew is among the video game inept and probably won't be picking it up because of that. Those of you who are gamers, I expect a report.

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