Friday, December 24, 2010

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance (comics)

Writer: Joe Casey
Artists: ChrisCross, Eduardo Pansica
Collects: Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #1-6

Of the four aftermath miniseries, this was actually the one I gave a damn about prior to release. The other ones sounded okay, but Grant Morrison characters? Actually being used? That had my attention; if this was Marvel they would have faded to the background for years or have been retconned out with the majority of Morrisons work*.

The Super Young Team really are something else. Pop culture superhero wannabe's one and all, the group is like an amplified form of Booster Gold from his glory hog days. Always seeking fame, fortune and fabulousness, they're far from typical superheroes, initially doing it for more self absorbed reasons. Even their costumes are different, acting like a manner of cosplay gone horribly wrong, mostly mashing together ideas born of the American superheroes of DC.

Picking up from Final Crisis, the team seems to want to take superheroics seriously. Unfortunately for them, their fame is becoming something of a nuisance. Their publicist has them pushed from one flashy media event to another, often keeping them from the opportunity for real heroics, and there's literally no news whatsoever about the state of Japan after the crisis. They obviously need to find out what's going on, but make no mistake, they want to be fabulous while they do it.

Joe Casey does some interesting things here. One part I liked was how he relayed Most Excellent Superbats thoughts through a twitter feed. It makes a lot of sense, really; these heroes are on top of all trends and immersed in pop culture. That and the young tend to fancy themselves invincible and don't put too much thought into their actions online.

The writer also has the story staged as an opportunity for the team to prove themselves, in a way. We often see throughout the story that, despite their celebrity status, the Super Young Team aren't exactly taken seriously, even by their supposed fans. An older Japanese hero berates them, calling them a shame of their hero community, some partygoers more or less call them a bunch of nobodies. The Super Young Team actually want to be heroes now, but they're at a point where no one takes them seriously. It's a pretty good underdog setup mixed in with a bit of generational conflict.

Also of note is how the miniseries is structured. Casey decides to take a different route, making about half the mini almost like standalone adventures. Sure, there's the overarching plot that runs through the whole thing, but each of the first several issues introduces a new conflict, setting and villain to be taken care of by the end of it. The last two more or less wrap up the bigger plotlines that had been simmering in the background.

It's an interesting direction to take a mini. Comics have been slowly moving away from strictly "writing for the trade" - we've recently seen the return of three to four issue arcs instead of six all the time - but mini's, especially six issue ones, traditionally tell one overall story. Run did this - to stick with an example within the same grouping of minis - and while the titles of the issues tried to give the impression of two issue arcs within the six issues, Escape was really just one long confusing mess. I appreciated it's structure and wouldn't mind seeing more of it.

So storywise, the book does rather well. It's the art that's a problem. Chriscross seems to flitter from decent, workable art to odd stuff that doesn't quite feel right. I'm not a fan. But that would be tolerable if he did the whole thing; a story can save a book from lackluster art. Sadly, he had a fill-in artist.

Unlike Escape, the art just doesn't pull together. There, the three issue pencilers managed to settle on a relatively consistent style among them, to the point where if you weren't really looking, you might not notice too much difference between them at first glance. Dance doesn't fare as well. Chriscross and Pansicas work look nothing alike, making for jarring shifts in the midst of the mini. I didn't like what I was seeing to begin with, then they decide they're going to throw in another artist who doesn't fare a lot better.

The story manages to pull through, but the art hurdles actively work against it. I'm generally more forgiving if the work is particularly good, but I genuinely did not feel like what I was looking at was either artists best. I really didn't care for what I saw. Perhaps deadline troubles brought this about? Either way it's a problem.

The Score: 6.5 out of 10

I'm genuinely intrigued by the Super Young Team and I wouldn't mind seeing more. Only next time, I'd prefer it if the art held up it's end of the bargain. What's here is a decent story, but the art really does bring it down. It might be worth a look if, like me, you want to see more of Super Young Team. I can't really recommend it with art troubles like this, however.

* Why yes, I am bitter about New X-Men. Why do you ask?

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