Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Infestation V.1 (comics)

Writers: Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Mike Raicht
Artists: David Messina, Nick Roche, Giovanni Timpano
Collects: Infestation #1, Transformers: Infestation #1-2, GI Joe Infestation #1-2

Event comics are often dogshit. This is an unavoidable fact. Sometimes DC will pump out a pretty good one (while Marvel fails every damn time, it seems), but overall it feels like they never work. As usual I got wrapped up in something based on general concept - I can't help it, this one hit all my nerd buttons - and hoped for the best. Maybe IDW could pull off what the other two didn't.

After reading this, all I can say is that while this doesn't necessarily hit the bullseye dead center, this first volume shows promise.

The concept is simple; a zombie virus - controlled by a hive mind - is let loose in one universe. The supernatural special forces of that dimension, the CVO, cannot contain the threat and the zombies gain access to a dimensional portal. From there, they try to take over four others, while the heroes of those universes - the Transformers and GI Joe in this volume, with the other two collected in the second - try to fight them off and keep the problem contained.

The opening issue of the event, Infestation, centers on the CVO, whom are apparently one of IDW's own intellectual properties. I haven't read a damn thing with them before, so it's a testament to DnA's abilities as writers that I was swept up in things - and even finding interest in the characters - fairly quickly. It's a good start to the event and easily sells the stakes.

The Transformers part, however, is definitely a speedbump. It accomplishes absolutely nothing and is essentially the Autobots and Decepticons bickering for two issues when they should be working together against the threat. To tell the truth, the Autobots are the ones that come off badly here. Sure, Megatron is pulling his dickish "surrender control of your forces to me to fight this" heel tactic, but the Autobots are way, way too quick to judge and fight the Decepticons rather than the zombie threat. At least the Decepticons were smart enough - and willing - to put the grudges aside to stop the shit from hitting the fan worse than it already had.

I've read worse comics, for sure, but the only real boon to this section is the art, which is simple and colorful.

The GI Joe section fares much better. Essentially, a few Joes are caught while trying to get rid of a severed robot arm that I just assume was the Terminators for shits and giggles. See, it carries that whole zombie virus thing. Of course, Cobra immediately decides it would be a great idea to ignore the Joes warnings. Soon, the underwater base is riddled with zombies and flooding.

This one kind of hit me in a weird way. It's not that it's bad - it's fairly good - or that there's a learning curve. There aren't any recognizable Joes, after all, and the only recognizable Cobra agent is the Baroness. The problem is... well, it's all played completely straight without even a tinge of ridiculous, which is not something GI Joe has ever done very often.

I mean, Baroness is ramped up to eleven and is relatively bloodthirsty now, killing her own people for the most minor of things. There are no flashy, eccentric characters. They're more competent and not even half as likable. It's a shock to the system. Cobra to me is the organization led by a dude who carves his damn face into the moon. It's the team with a goddamn serpent-man that takes over because of course, along with magic spores and underground snake cults. It's the terrorist organization with ridiculous schemes who never win against ridiculous special forces agents.

It does not feel like GI Joe. I'd heard IDW's GI Joe went for a more serious take on the whole thing, but I'm not sure I necessarily expected experiments on animals and Baroness straight up killing her men just for looking at her the wrong way. I'm not sure how I feel about it; maybe I'd be more convinced if I read some of IDW's recent Joe material. After all, this is probably an odd place to be trying a property overhaul for the first time.

Take away your expectations - and ignore the few Joe trappings that remain - and you've got a pretty good story of some terrorists fighting to survive, throwing their own men to the wolves if necessary.

The Score: 7.5 out of 10

Despite some hiccups - and an entirely underwhelming section of the story - this is a decent start to a rare non-Big Two event. I'm not sure it's as good as I'd hoped, but to tell the truth I had pretty high expectations given the concept, so that's not a slam against it. Hopefully the second half is better, but as it is this is a fairly strong event. Considering events usually suck, that's the equivalent of a thumbs up.

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