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Tuesday, February 01, 2005
The Couriers 03: The Ballad of Johnny Funwrecker
Brian Wood's and Rob G's third collaboration takes us once again into the world of urban mercenary couriers Special and Moustafa. This time it's a flash-back to 1993 and the story of how Special and her junior partner met, how Special trained Moustafa to be the street warrior he is today and what exactly they did to earn their reputations.
The appeal of the Couriers graphic novels is the care which Wood takes to translate all the stupidest, most over-done cliches of the action movie genre and translate them into a funny and frantic comic book tale. To put it in short-hand, it's the latest big, dumb "things blow up" movie filtered through a "Looney Tunes" aesthetic. It's an over-the-top, absurdist cartoon. With people shooting at each other, ninjas on mopeds and helicopters flying through the Lincoln Tunnel. Reading through it, it's easy to see how someone unfamiliar with the characters could be horrified by the broad caricatures and the casual attitudes towards violence and death that every character seem to exhibit, but once you cue in to the joke it's laugh-out-loud funny. Every time I witness a scene of intense urban carnage in this book that is causally shrugged off by the witnesses because, hey, it's New York and that sort of thing happens, I crack up.
And of course, I'm thrilled with the art of Rob G. every time I see it. It has a raw edge to it I find very appealing, but without losing the expressiveness and physical characterization that is necessary to a book like this. Facial expressions and body language are fully used to communicate character and tone wordlessly, and G. does an excellent job of that. He also has a knack for capturing the energy of the action sequences while still retaining the reader's ability to see what, exactly, is going on. Which, actually, puts him a step above most of the cinematographers of actual action movies these days.
This was a fun book. That's all I really ask for these days out of my comics, some enjoyment and some fun, and Wood and G. delivered. Couriers 03: The Ballad of Johnny Funwrecker is a $12.95 soft-cover graphic novel that will be available from all good comic shops starting tomorrow (except, of course, for those stores serviced by Diamond's LA warehouse, who are apparently going to get it next week).