…you can soothe your fevered brow by downloading free PDFs of the first two volumes of Ed Piskor’s excellent ode to the early days of computer hackery, Wizzywig. Here’s what I wrote about the first volume and here’s a brief mention of the second.
Sort of a dogpile here, since I’ve been neglecting these for the past couple of weeks.
The second installment of Ed Piskor’s Wizzywig series of graphic novels, Hacker, is just as entertaining as the first volume. Piskor’s cartooning gets sharper every time I see it and he manages to ride a fine line with the script, giving readers enough information to understand the finer points of what his protagonist is doing without ever making the book feel like a series of lectures. In addition to the material itself, I quite like the formalist four-panel grid approach he’s taken in this work; it suits the faux-documentary style very well. As with the first book, Piskor provides an extended preview to get readers interested.
John Kerchbaum’s Petey & Pussy features a foul-mouthed dog and cat duo (you can probably figure who gets what moniker,) both of whom have heads belonging to middle-aged white men. No explanation is given for this, nor do you really need one, as it seems to perfectly fit the world they inhabit, where ZAP!-style grotesqueness collides with a polished, midcentury illustration style. Between snake attacks, a suicidal parrot, visits to the bar, bottles of “twat-ka,” and an argument over who gets a shit-covered cigar, there’s something for everyone in the family, sort of a Chuck Jones retelling of The Aristocrats.
Ed Brubaker seems to be on autopilot for a large part of Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand, a very by-the-numbers duo of parallel stories about one part of the multi-titled team in the wake of Messiah Complex‘s over-the-top crossover and subsequent disappearance of Charles Xavier’s gravely-wounded body. It’s mutant-suffering-as-comfort-food, with Wolverine, Colossus, and Nightcrawler getting captured in Russia while Cyclops and Emma Frost shake down some dirty hippies in San Francisco. The character work is strong, but it’s very much an extended version of those “vignette” issues that Claremont would do between storylines in which the sum totality of someone’s psychic powers would need to be used and there was a lot of fretting and angst. Mike Choi’s art may be one reason I’m a bit blase about this comic: it’s a touch too clean and when combined with computer coloring, it makes the entire affair look more like a model shoot than a comic where people, you know, get persecuted for their genetic code.
Setting aside the clunky title and a silly number of panels featuring people standing around an incapacitated Chuck X lying on a slab with big bullet hole in his forehead in the first two chapters of X-Men Legacy: Divided He Stands (oh, I get it, trust me,) there’s a few really nicely-handled bits here, mostly involving Professor X recovering from his wounds and beginning to deal with his legacy of being kind of a shithead to the people who looked up to him. Sure, it’s melodramatic and handles its themes will all the subtlety of an Axewulf solo, but X-Men comics have never been nuanced examinations of mutant versus mankind, no matter how many times really dodgy MLK vs Malcolm X metaphors tumbled out of characters’ mouths. The art’s a bit of a mixed bag: Scot Eaton handles the main story while the flashbacks are covered by Romita Jr, Greg Land, and others. Again, coloring plays heavily into my perception of the title, creating a too-rendered dullness makes the book’s “present day” look nearly exactly like Captain America and about a dozen other Marvel titles, all Vertigo browns and greens. Brandon Peterson did draw the heck out of a naked Jean Grey, but that goofy high was quickly destroyed thanks to the re-appearance of the Worst Character in Comics in the final chapter.