My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Okay, this is definitely the volume I’ve been hearing all the hype about. From the creative use of graphics—which does extend beyond ‘Pizza Is My Business’ (aka PIZZA DOG WOO YAY)—to the inclusion of stories that aren’t entirely within the action/adventure genre, the writing is something that people who aren’t fans of superhero comics can enjoy.I think the art style has matured, too: it’s that thick, limited color palette (cool thing at the end, by the way: they show you several pages of color swatches and discuss the way they reuse colors throughout the whole thing), but it doesn’t bring “rough” to my mind as strongly as it did in the first one. Less of a newspapery feel, and more of a comic book feel, in short.
Oh, and I love the incorporation of graphic design elements. Of course the place it’s strongest is the bit where Pizza Dog is the main character—limited dialogue, and this attempt to convey information through smells that they pull off very nicely—but there’s use of it elsewhere, and that meshes with the art style.
Maybe part of what’s helping this is that, while there’s still crazy violence and all that good stuff, it’s a sideline to what is actually portrayed: screwed-up relationships, hanging with the neighbors, setting up a DVR with Tony Stark, and seriously major bow abuse.*
For instance, the major actiony-type segment has this series of romance novel covers, and the central theme is really about the way he is jacking up his life because of his non-handling of relationships (oh hey, real-people issues that don’t feel forced!). Yes, there’s the Mafia and all, which starts off in the first one with a more tradtionally presented storyline
The one thing I didn’t like about the writing was the disjointed section, which is this bit closer to the beginning that is a series of dates. The fact that they have to include the dates isn’t the best sign. Granted, the first time I read this it was about 1.30 in the morning and my brain was half sludge, but I’d rather have a little more of a consecutive sequence. Too many thematic shifts. (But I really liked the individual pages. Tony Stark helping Clint Barton figure out his DVR is, honestly, the best scene in comic book history ever. It’s just that the way it fit into the rest was like, okay, why is there violence can we go back to Mr. Stark now please.)
So yeah, good stuff. There is continuity from the previous one, and this absolutely ends on a cliffhanger, so if you’re going to invest, you will be invested.
*I did archery through university and I own a recurve bow. I keep having to tell myself that it’s a comic and they all have magic bows that work much better when depicted artistically, as opposed to realistically. …I also had issues watching ‘The Avengers.’