Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Felon #1

Felon #1, November 2001, Image Comics
writer: Greg Rucka
penciller: Matthew Clark
inker: Ray Snyder
colorist: Matt Nelson
letterer: Dreamer Design's Robin Spehar & Dennis Reinsler
editor: Renae Geerlings
EIC: David Wohl

Interestingly, Greg Rucka is the epitome of the phenomena I've recently explored, first in my review of New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer's new Justice League of America (found only at Geek in the City), then in yesterday's post about Dale Keown and his early work Dragonforce. Keown was a relatively unknown artist when he stormed the industry with his phenomenal work on The Incredible Hulk, and conversely, Brad Meltzer was a New York Times best-selling author before tackling the breadth of DC's ready to be exploited universe, still, each had little credibility in the comic book medium. I mock Meltzer's credential because of the way DC touts it so, like, "Look who we have!" Despite his similar status as a writer, Rucka's immersion into the comics field was a bit more subtle. When I read his Batman work toward the end of No Man's Land, I was blown away by the way he constructed a story, by the means through which he managed to slip in little moments of character development. When I found out Rucka was a novelist, I wasn't surprised, but I wasn't overwhelmed by the prestige, either. Bottom line, Rucka has the Meltzer clout and the Keown charm -- at least on paper.

That said, Felon didn't impress me. We've recently discussed the failings of A Comic A Day to grasp the true essence of an entire series, or at least a writer's or artist's comprehensive effort, through any single issue, and first issues are the worst example. Yet, first issues are the only examples that are actually accurate by this standard: without the benefit of a character's previously acknowledged history, or the context of an already established story, creators have a mere single issue's worth of material or impress . . . or dissuade. So, while picking up a series in its teen issues is an unfair singular assessment, I can confidently say that Felon #1 failed to grab me. I just don't know if Rucka is going somewhere important with this one. Following the steps of a female ex-con on her first few days out of the joint, Cassiday swipes a credit card, treats herself to a night in a swanky hotel, then pursues her former associates, any of whom may have set her up as the fallgal, to collect on her share of "the money." Yes, with Rucka's expertise on crime drama, from the guy that I once read doesn't sit with his back to the door "just in case," this issue is way too vague in its focus to be effective. Felon could continue as a linear story about underworld revenge, or an intense character study into the criminal mind. I wouldn't have wanted to drop another three bucks to find out, even though I really only spent a quarter on this one.

Artistically, Matthew Clark's characters look a little too rigid, a bit from the Phil Jiminez school, which is actually the George Perez school. Plenty of full body shots of Cassiday. I get it. She's hot, and tough. Now tell a story, already. Without narrative captions, which are often overused, mind, the visuals aren't even telling much of a story. Taking a shower? Watching TV? The stuff she couldn't do in the slammer . . . the stuff of a bored housewife's blog.

Ultimately, I wonder if Rucka is the one getting away with a crime here, using his name and impression as a crime-drama writer to tell a bland tale about an underdeveloped yet over-exploited concept. With Prison Break on hiatus this week, I thought Felon mind fill the void. It's just created another, like the empty cell Cassiday left behind. She got out, just to put us in.

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