Friday, August 1, 2008
One series that I was initially excited by was Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp's Black Summer. It has finally finished and I'm going to review the entire series for you.
Black Summer is the explicitly political story of a superhero killing the president and his staff because in the superhero's opinion, the president is a criminal, guilty of numerous crimes. The superhero takes justice in his own hands and executes the lot of them. The world freaks out and the military sends everything against him and against his former teammates. The result is an epic battle across the States as the nation attempts to make sense of the execution and its implications.
This could have been the best thing ever. Juan Jose Ryp's pencils are extremely detailed, down to some of the smallest details, including dust and cigarette butts, and Warren Ellis' writing has almost always made me happy.
What went wrong?
It starts off very strong. Ellis makes us question the position of the costumed vigilante. The world applauds when a crook or a mugger or a supervillain is taken out, but what if that superhero takes out an elected official? Who is the vigilante to make the decision to judge the president? What makes him qualified? What makes him qualified to protect the streets from regular crooks even? These are all great questions that are posed in the first two issues.
But they are rarely looked at again until the last issue, when things are clumsily resolved. Ellis revisits the themes through flashbacks and wordy monologues from the main characters who espouse their own theories on truth, justice and the American Way. It's all very pedantic and dry.
The action is fairly impressive, as the superheroes take on ridiculous amounts of military personnel and tanks and airplanes. Thanks to Ryp's amazing pencils, the reader has to carefully look at every panel to get all the detail in. It makes the action flow very well.
It's just a shame that Ellis became bored with telling a political superhero story and ran with a bunch of John Woo action scenes. That's not to say it isn't political the entire way through; it's just the politics of the middle parts are juvenile and monochromatic.
I wanted Black Summer to be more awesome. It was good, but it could have been great.