This week I had two dates - I had to! Two of my "steadies" were available - Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #2 and American Vampire #4 -- and I'm still interested in both. I sort of felt like I did the thing where you meet one date for coffee, and as soon as that date is over, you stay at the same coffee shop and then have a second date. No shame. Just back-to-back dates, like any good player.
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard # 2
Written by Alex Kain, Terry Moore, Lowell Francis & David Petersen
Art by Sean Rubin, Gene Ha, Terry Moore & David Petersen
Published by Archaia
I felt like that was the right choice in this case because Mouse Guard, my first date, didn't really do it for me. I'll admit I wasn't in the greatest mood when I picked it up, and initially, that was working out well for old Mousey. I was feeling kind of crappy and wrapped up in my own thoughts, I opened the book and felt instantly transported to that lovely world of Mouse Guard. Honestly, it was a lot like a post-office cocktail. I'm immediately jumping off the hamster wheel (sorry, I'm not really trying to keep to metaphors in the realm of rodents, that just happened) in my head, and into this Old World setting with rich colors, the chit chat of an Inn of Olde, and hey, cute mice. Look at 'em.
But this time, Mouse Guard fell short for me. We're in the midst of the storytelling contest - the winner's tab will be forgiven -- and the stories this time were incredibly brief and not that interesting. They were cute, sure. But I was getting the same feeling from it as I did/do when I tune into my favorite TV show only to find out that it's "Clip Show" night. A night when two people get locked in an elevator and start doing the, "hey....remember the time...." routine, and we are treated to a series of flashbacks. It's kind of cheap. I mean, we get to see our favorite characters, etc., but there's no plot movement, all the jokes and stories get truncated. It's basically a break for the creators. Hopefully, because they are in the midst of creating something else that is going to amaze us, but isn't finished - so in the meantime: clip show teaser!
That's how this issue of Mouse Guard felt. Here's your setting, your cute little mice dressed in Medieval gear, the whole vibe - and some stories of heroics and bravery....kind of? It just wets your whistle until things can get back around to the main story. I'll still read #3 & #4 of this series, just to see how it plays out. But I'd prefer some "real" Mouse Guard as soon as you can.
As I watch Mouse Guard's tail narrowly escape the closing door as it exits, American Vampire pulls up a chair. Hello, Lover.
American Vampire # 4
Written by Scott Snyder & Stephen King
Art by Rafael Aluquerque & Dave McCaig
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics
American Vampire is a little schizophrenic. It's got too separate stories going on - and although related, the stories have yet to integrate. Will they ever? And that being said, I actually like one much more than the other. How does that work when you're dating? Can I just read the part I like? Or by not liking a full half of something, does that put it into the "un-datable" category?
Okay, okay - I hear you! Which part do I like? Why don't I like the other part?
I love the first party, which is the story about Pearl. It's fascinating for some many reasons:
1. The back story of who she is and why she's in Los Angeles, alone, in 1925.
2. I'm fascinated by what a single woman in 1925 Los Angeles was like - this was not a time of independent women, really. And she has a tatoo! What?!?
3. The way the European Vampires are drawn is creepy in a way I never feel prepared for. They really are unsettling and scary.
4. The fighting! The way it's drawn! The super strength! It's amazing!!
5. Pearl kicks ASS!!
6. The love story!!! I can't remember her boyfriend's name - but Oh! He arrives in the nick of time! They team up together! And then, his total acceptance of her new nature as he asks her to bite him. (Maybe last issues cover was supposed to have been this issues. Oh well.)
7. AND MORE Love story! She can't deal with what she's become, she doesn't want to get him hurt. And he breaks out the ol' "I'm a soldier" thing. Dog tags and everything. And he says, "And frankly, I can't think of a better cause than sending that bunch of blood-suckers back to whatever shit-hole they crawled out of. And if you are everything you say you are, then you're the one to lead the charge." WhoooooYeah! Team up! Romantic Bonnie & Clyde style Vampire ass-kickin' team up! Bring it!!
But then there's party two. Oy. Here we are, and here it is, STILL being told the Story of the Legend of Skinner Sweet from the point of view of Mister Whiny-pants. Honestly, I can't tell what's going on. It feels like the art is muddied or hurried or something, and yet its the same person doing both parts, and I never have any confusion when I'm reading about Pearl. But when I get to part two, I have to sit there scrutinizing between pictures saying to myself, "Is that supposed to be the same guy as in the other picture? I the Sweet? What did he just do? Bang two heads together? Was that the other guy? wait...what?" I can't get a real momentum going here.
I'm not even sure why it's so unclear to me, but that was my experience. I know that it's the Stephen King part and all, he's a big deal, okay. But I just don't care what happens. Maybe it's because there's no real tension, the end having been spoiled by Skinner being so available in the 1925 stories. We KNOW he survives. There's no suspense to that aspect of his story, and it seems like that's the only kind of suspense it's trying to achieve. Honestly, none of these other characters are as well developed as Pearl has been, and I don't really care about them.
In a way, I had three dates, I guess - and only one really sparked me. But since my favorite story is a part of another, I'm not sure what to do. I suppose I'll see them all again.
But man, am I glad I've got some other "friends" to see in the meantime.
-Nina Stone, 2010