Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Unexpected #1

Written by Dave Gibbons, G. Willow Wilson, Alex Grecian, Josh Dysart, Jeffrey Rotter, Mat Johnson, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Brian Wood, and Selwyn Seyfu Hinds
Art by Dave Gibbons, Robbi Rodgriguez, Jill Thompson, Farel Dalrymple, Lelio Bonaccorso, David Lapham, Rahsan Ekedal, Emily Carroll, and Denys Cowan

I really like that Vertigo has started putting out these random, slightly thematically-linked anthology books every few months, even if they are pretty expensive.  Like the last one, Strange Adventures, The Unexpected is a nice mix of stories by established Vertigo stars, and some up-and-comers.  This collection has a supernatural theme, but it's not one that is used in every story.

There is a lot to like in this book, but my favourite story is the one by Joshua Dysart and Farel Dalrymple, which tells the story of a Mexican laborer in 1950s or 60s Texas, who is accused of murdering the grandchild of his employer, although he knows the boy was killed by an ancient Aztec monster.  As with his Unknown Soldier series, Dysart makes good use of a particular culture's fears and legends, and Dalrymple's art is perfect.

I also quite enjoyed Alex Grecian (from Proof fame) and Jill Thompson's story about a female zombie who has retained enough of her faculties to use her feminine wiles as a way of attracting prey.  Dave Gibbons tells a great story of an escape artist who cheats on his wife, and Mat Johnson and David Lapham give us a deliciously twisted tale of a brother and sister trying to survive in post-apocalyptic America.

Joshua Hale Fialkov reunites with his Echoes collaborator Rahsan Ekedal for a story about a man who is recently deceased and finds himself haunting his wife.  Ekedal makes good use of layout in this story, and uses a pixelated approach to imply ghostliness.

Brian Wood and newcomer (to me) artist Emily Carrol contribute a nice short story about a woman who is raised in a post-governmental United States.  It's a similar vision to the one we've seen in Wood's DMZ, but this time he takes a nicer, gentler approach to the disintegration of a country.  It's pretty interesting, even if it ends a little abruptly.

I wanted to like G. Willow Wilson's story about dogs taking over a town, but Robbi Rodriguez's dogs were just a little too creepy and odd-looking for me.  To be fair, I think that dogs are among the hardest things to draw (check out how Dan Jurgens draws them if you need a laugh), which is why I have so much respect for Beasts of Burden.  The story 'A Most Delicate Monster' by Jeffrey Rotter and Lelio Bonaccorso (neither of whom I'm familiar with) was just a little too obvious to be successful.

Finally, Selwyn Seyfu Hinds and Denys Cowan provide a prelude to the upcoming Voodoo Child series, which really didn't work for me.  I'm not sure what it is, but I feel like they were trying to cram too much into too few pages, with the effect that I wasn't drawn into the story at all.  I'll probably give the new series a try still, because I like reading about New Orleans.

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