FULL BEAR TRAP!
"You can ignore my great advice but I do not recommend it (look at my scars)!"--Summer and Eve
I'm none to concerned about whether or not the civilization we're reading about actually suffered an apocalyptic disaster in its past, as long as it has that feel to it I'm okay with it and so far Electric Warrior definitely has that feel.
Electric Warrior #2
writer: Doug Moench
art/co-plotting: Jim Baikie
letters: Annie Halfacree
colors: Tom Ziuko
editor: Doug Moench
In several respects, this second issue was even stronger than the first. The end of the last issue left me expecting all hell to break loose with the loss of power in the city, but Moench actually spent most of this issue on conversations and ideologies and, this time around, it really worked. Derek Two Shadow's debate with Quintana was truly rich, as was Quintana's inner reflections about the city's problems, presented in contrast with what the Magistrate's advisers were planning. It's surprising to learn that Quintana is actually far more sympathetic to the Primmie ideology than we'd originally suspected. It's truly beginning to feel that each character in this story might be a doorway beyond which lies a surprise. For that reason, I'm especially intrigued by the two Zigs following 9-03. I can't tell whether they view him as some sort of redeemer or just an easy target. Maybe there's a third option I haven't considered.
An excerpt from that fantastic debate between Quintana and Derek:
Quintana: So you reject progress only after a certain point. You build huts to shield against rain and sun, but you reject air filtration. You fashion spears but spurn parbeam pistols. How do you determine the point of rejection? Where do you draw the line?
Derek: As in all art. Wherever it looks right.
This issue presents our first look at the Genetrix - mutant rejects from society who are mostly cognitively retarded, though they are clearly able to organize as a nomadic society, and some appear to have technical skills (repairing an ancient car). A nice parallel is drawn between how the Primmies deal with the Genetrix (giving them what they want in order to find peace) and how the city deals with the Zigs (attempting to beat them into submission).
I wonder if Moench's exploration of these ideas isn't a little too one sided, though. Would the Genetrix truly only take what they absolutely need if there were no reprecussions for doing so? What would stop one (especially one with little cognition) from deciding that, if it's okay to take food, it must be okay to rape too? Take whatever you need. It's all good.
I'm a liberal, to be sure, but this outlook might just be a little too tree-hugger for my taste.
Of course, Moench may have more to say on the matter. Clearly, he enjoys surprising us, and Derek doesn't seem completely in love with the Primmie society. Perhaps this is an ongoing debate that isn't finished yet. After all, Moench's narration makes it clear that Quintana will get her wish -- Derek will come to the city.
Meanwhile, 9-03 still hasn't become the major focus of this book (though it's named after him; of course, calling the book "Derek Two Shadow" would probably drive away fans by the truckload). Still, he's making strides in this issue, not appearing until 14 pages into this 28 page story, but finally fully going rogue against his controllers. An explanation is finally given for his self-awareness, as well:
"Could it be that the enzymes in its bio-chips somehow mutated, bridging new wetware configurations--spontaneously generating a false "hive mind" within a single unit?
Yeah, it doesn't make too much sense to me, either. The semi-disassembled EWs shown in this issue appear to be full androids, not cyborgs, so why would 9-03 need bio-chips? What about this "hive mind" presence? Do they mean amongst his various internal systems? But the hive-mind or "net" controlling the Electric Warriors has no independent conscience, so why would 9-03's internal hive? Oh well. Like most great sci-fi, the "sci" isn't as strong as the "fi".
My one real regret with this issue is that the power is turned back on, and the chaos that ensued from the loss of power occurred off-panel, between issues. I really thought (and hoped) this would be the center of the entire series -- a fragmented society in chaos, with each faction no longer contained because, when the power blows, so does law and order. Ah well.
- Check out the graffiti on the cover. I caught "Love and Rockets," "Red Hot Chili Peppers" (I had no idea ANYONE knew who they were prior to 1990!), and "P-Funk" (Parliament Funkadelic?).
- We've learned that Rektek was named for the ideas he instituted when he became the village leader ("wreck tech"). This leaves me with several questions. If he didn't earn his name until then, was he an immigrant from the city like Derek? If so, then Derek has remained an outsider only by choice. Also, if the names they are given reflect something they are or have done, what does "Two Shadow" indicate about Derek?
- What does "the net" actually do? Is it some form of collective conscience for the electric warriors, or is it just their kill mode?
- When one of the warrens-level structures is damaged, a luxury home on the top level comes crashing down. This moment implies that there are only two levels to the city (and, by that logic, two classes). If that's the case, where do the workers we saw in the power station live? If you look closely at the luxury home before it falls, there is one building top at a lower level, but when the structure crashes down, it really doesn't look like there was anything more beneath it. The only bodies seen are ones adorned in luxurious garments. No indication of a middle level structure (nor middle level inhabitants) having been beneath them.
- Series 5 robots are sent out to stop the unstable Electric Warriors. Were the EWs we've been seeing all along from series 4?
- The EWs record their inner workings in "red boxes" that appear to work like the black box of an airplane. Is it a coincidence that 9-03's dreams occur in a "red space"?
- Who is the editor of this series? Moench's "Meanwhile" column from last issue implied that he was, this issue's credits state that he is, but in the letters column, he indicates that "Barbara Randall is the fresh-faced editor of this title."
Another strong issue. While it missed a great (if predictable) opportunity to give us some powerful conflict in a power-drained city, it took some unexpected approaches that truly worked. However, for the series to progress, we need 9-03 to develop more character, and Derek Two Shadow and his Primmie society to seem a little less perfect and self-assured. Let's get murky, Doug! Showing us a more complex portrait of Quintana was a good start!
Last edited by shaxper; 03-30-2012 at 10:17 AM.
The twist with the mutants was really fun, usually I'm good at spotting twists but I didn't see that one coming at all.
Electric Warrior #3
"Sparking the Leks"
writer: Doug Moench
art/co-plotter: Jim Baike
letters: Annie Halfacree
colors: Tom Ziuko
This was a fun issue in terms of both action and visuals, in which the main focus was on 9-03 brilliantly outsmarting both his new pursuers (The Z-Primes, who are apparently far superior to even the Series 5 Cadre we saw last issue) and their controllers. We also watched the Primmies win their war against the Genetrix without a single death, saw Quintana return to Marder, and learned of some ambiguous astronomical(?) threat facing the city that somehow triggers Marder to reinstitute the failed Synthoid Project, which will require the capture of Primmies.
However, the single most exciting surprise in this issue wasn't in the issue -- it was on the letters page, where Doug coolly and unceremoniously stated in no uncertain terms that 9-03 is not the star of the book.
It makes sense. Let's look at the evidence and then formulate a prediction:
- Derek Two Shadow has been given primary attention since the start.
- Derek is unhappy where he is.
- "Two Shadow" appears to imply that Derek, himself, is a shadow or incomplete person.
- Moench has clearly hinted that Derek will return to the city.
- Derek has made it clear that he will never do this of his own accord.
- the Synthoid Project will require the abduction of Primmies, and their stubbornness and strength makes them ideal for the project.
- Synthoid -- synthetic android, or fake artificial being? Sounds like the Primmies will be turned into Cyborg Leks, stronger because they can think for themselves and have wills.
- 9-03 was developed very quickly and without much thought for developing a rich character.
- The first issue drew a clear intended parallel between Derek and 9-03 that hasn't gone anywhere yet.
Thus my prediction -- 9-03 and Derek will somehow be combined into one Electric Warrior protagonist. As stated in my first review, I think one of Moench's intents behind this series was to create a richer Deathlok series. Perhaps all these stories have just been one elaborate origin tale leading up to the creation of the series' protagonist because, clearly, an Electric Warrior is going to take center stage at some point, and it isn't 9-03.
Also possible -- We know that they last tried the Synthoid experiment on the Zigs and that the experiment cannot be done with binded heads. Perhaps 9-03 is self-aware because he was part of that (presumed) failed program, and what he's carrying around is a piece of Derek (thus Derek's flight from the city and his being an incomplete shadow of a person that casts a shadow -- Two Shadow). It's even possible that the painting he was creating in the first issue that he hid from Brightstar was of 9-03 or the red dreams.
On a side note, I love the idea that in the future, cities are failing experiments. We've always taken as a given that technology and progress improve our lives, as well as that a future advanced civilization, barring some tragic twist of technological innovation that ends up going terribly wrong, would be better off than we are. Looking into a failed future that has only failed because it has continued to operate on the principals we now employ is stunning. I find myself often rooting with Quintana and The Minister, thinking "Stay the course! It can all work out in time!", only to realize we're this far in the future, still saying the same thing and only moving in the wrong direction. This might be the main selling point of the series for me at this point.
Still, the Primmies are too "perfect" thus far. I'm okay with a series ending with the creation of a Utopian society (because then we'd feel we were invested in its creation), but beginning with one feels too much like a lecture. I'm hoping Moench has plans to complicate this idealized vision. Certainly, surrendering the comforts of our lifestyle and the life saving medicines it offers is harder than Derek makes it out to be. I don't think I could stand to watch my 8 month old freeze to death during a particularly cold winter because we can't turn on the heat.
- First nice cover of the series. I really didn't enjoy the others.
- facts we learn about electric warriors:
* They can refuel by eating virtually anything and breaking it down into atoms. A brick in this issue provides 9-03 with six hours of energy.
* They can run for roughly 900 years without maintenance, though maintenance is recommended.
* They share experiences and information via their filial spokes. What one EW sees, all EWs see.
* Since 9-03 "broke away," he can still experience what other EWs experience, but they can no longer share his experiences.
* 9-03 was able to modify his own pulse, making him impossible for other EWs to detect.
* Still unclear as to what the "net" is other than a coordinated kill mode.
- It is once again implied through visuals and dialogue that there are only two levels in this city -- the warrens and the "Techno Sector."
- It is also, once again implied that the Primmies are expatriots from the city who have recreated tribal lifestyles, not original natives.
- A love triangle is clearly developing between Simon Soaring, Amber Brightstar, and Derek Two Shadow, but I must confess that I absolutely do not care. We've never seen Derek and Amber "work" as a couple (beyond the daily sex), so why should we care?
- 9-03 appears to actually be attracted to Kinsolving, even appearing to desire physical intimacy with her, and Moench confirms that he is actually in love with her in the letters column.
- 9-03's self aware dialogue still seems thoroughly unreal. How did he even develop a full human lexicon? Certainly, he wasn't programmed to know how to turn his thoughts into words. Anything he said before was a pre-programmed response.
- Trouble is afoot between Marder and Quintana. Like we don't know she and Derek will end up together (in one way or another, if my prediction holds true).
- Moench attempts to prove that Baikie is a full co-plotter in the letters column and actually ends up proving the opposite, indicating that the entire original premise was his, that he only used ideas from Baikie that didn't contradict his original vision, and that the full extent of those ideas were an EW's ability to recharge itself by eating anything (no big deal) and the Zig head-binding ritual (okay, that was kind of cool). It's been obvious from a number of information sources that Doug is a nice guy who is very obliging to the artists he works with, but there's no doubt from this column that Moench is the sole creator and plotter for the series.
- Moench also indicates that he had some 30 issues planned for the series at the get-go. Yet the series only runs to 18 issues and, from what I understand, achieves a real ending in the final issue. I wonder what changed.
- Moench indicates that the cover to the first issue was considered "controversial" by the DC offices. Perhaps because 9-03 (pictured) isn't the "Electric Warrior"?
- Derek Two Moon was originally going to be called Eric Red Hand, but the similarly to Arak (sometimes referred to as "Redhand") was too much for DC. Moench explains his various reasons for why Red Hand was a better name, but intentionally omits one for fear of spoiling something. There's that color "red" again. Red dreams, Red Box. Something's going on.
- Several times, Moench's writing in the letter column gives the impression that everyone isn't sold on Jim Baikie and that DC is taking a wait and see approach on his contributions to the series. Moench outright asks what we think of his art, takes a long time explaining how and why he was selected for the series, and then attempts to oversell his creative contributions to the series.
- Next issue will be the first in which Moench scripts more loosely and allows Baikie more creative control over how the issue plays out. It's still not the Marvel style (which Moench began with and clearly hasn't totally forgotten), but it will certainly be sink or swim time for Baikie and his claim for being co-plotter of the series.
Last edited by shaxper; 03-30-2012 at 12:05 PM.
Issue two was a worthy continuation of the introductory issue, and again I felt Moench really shined here. In this issue he not only managed to keep up the duel plot lines of Derek and 09-03, the exploration of the cultures of the city and the primmies, have excellent dialog but he also found a way to find a balance between all that and a heavy dose of action. It was truly impressive.
Now, I was fully impressed by the dialog in the first issue but I really felt that Moench seriously stepped up his game in this one. The debate between Quintana and Derek Two Shadow was a masterful piece of writing, it wasn't just excellent dialog for a comic book it was just a piece of writing that would be excellent no matter what medium it appeared in. Debates and arguments happen daily in our lives and though their pattern is easy for most people to fall into in those situations the fluid motion of a debate is often very difficult to translate into writing. But apparently this is not true for Moench.
Too often when reading arguments (especially in comics) instead of the fast paced, lively, fluid speech that is common to debates in real life the reader is treated to competing monolithic walls of text delivered in turns by the characters that creates either a very staged sense or makes the reader feel that the characters are just talking at each other rather than having an actual conversation. In Electric Warrior though Moench avoids those mistakes fully, the sentence structures used in the responses from Derek and Quintana are varied in length and are delivered with differing levels of emotional punch that escalate as the conversation continues, which created a flowing feel to their debate that really gave it a sense of life. However, like all things, it was not perfect; though the dialog had a real sense of movement that was refreshing to read I found that the actual views being expressed by Derek Two-Shadow and Quintana to be a little too simplistic for my liking. They just seemed too diametrically opposed to one another to fully feel real.
Other than that small quibble it was a really solid issue, so solid that I actually regret giving the last issue an A as I feel this issue was truly superior to the previous one but not superior enough to grant it an A+.
Man Shaxper, you're fast! I haven't even cracked issue three open yet.
Sorry! Believe it or not, my reviewing speed is tied directly to my current level of health. I've been sick for months now and am regularly off from work, unable to drive in (not good). On a healthy day, I might be lucky to get one review in. On a sick day, I can get 1-4 done in a single day (nearly the entire Killraven review thread was done in this way), and on extremely sick days, I can't get any reviews done because I'm literally not able to read a comic (you'll notice there haven't been many reviews from me in the past week). Today, I'm sick, but not horribly sick.Man Shaxper, you're fast! I haven't even cracked issue three open yet.
No apologies necessary, it's motivational really.
I don't know if it's because I entered into the third issue with a tentative feeling of apprehension due to Moench mentioning it was going to be a love story between 09-03 and Kinsolving or if the issue really was disappointing on it's own, but either way it seemed rather weak to me.
From the start I've found 09-03's all too human personality to be a bit of a stumbling block, and in this issue with his larger on page presence it really became a larger issue. I'm not saying I want him to be a monosyllabic tin monstrosity but I'd like to see him struggle with emotion a little more than he is currently. That he is able to grapple so easily with love just didn't jive with, its a complex emotion that even I a living and breathing human being have trouble with occasionally so it just seems unbelievable that it wouldn't cause him much confusion. On top of that is the fact that in comparison the romance between Derek Two-Shadow and Amber seems to be carried out much better, you don't have to have them talk about their feelings to know that they care for one another while the relationship with 03 and Kinsolving is telegraphed only through their dialog. I'd say that might be a failure in the art but then again I don't think I can really fault Baikie too much as I imagine it's much easier to subtly convey attraction through art when both participants have the capacity to show a full range of emotions through facial expressions than it is to convey in a couple where one is made of metal and the other's face is partially covered in the shadow of her hood.
It isn't just 09-03 emotions that bothered me in this issue though, what really brought this issue down for me was its lack of cohesion. While the previous issues were able to balance out the various plots taking place in the city, the warrens and the Primmie village and were able to transition between the locals fairly smoothly this issue lacked that sense of balance and jumped rapidly from one plot to another sometimes showcasing all three on the same page. Now this rapid movement did create a sense of chaos and severe urgency that might very well heighten the mood of the next issue with its assault on the Primmie village, but in and of it self it did not lend itself to a satisfying read.
All that negativity aside there were some elements I did enjoy; I liked the designs of the Z-Model Electric Warriors and the plots concerning an external threat from space and cyborg Leks are really promising. The idea of the cyborgs is something that especially grabbed me, I've been wondering how the parallel journeys of self discovery that 03 and Derek have been going through might eventually come to intersect one another and the cyborg Lek program seems the most likely point, so i'm excited to see how that plays out.
One element from the letters column that really floored me was the mention that originally the Zigs were not called Zigs. He didn't come out and say it, but it seemed obvious from the way he described how due to not wanting to offend anyone they went back and put in a letter Z in lieu of the first letter in their original name that they must have been called Nigs. Now, part of me is glad they got rid of a needlessly inflammatory word while the other part of me wonders what the story may have been like with the inclusion of a racial cometary. I don't know if it ever would have went there if the original name was kept but it could have been interesting.
Over all I'd say it was a B, though it may be one of those issues that reads better in conjunction with the following issue.
Well babies grasp love without a problem. His sense of love for Kinsolving seems almost comically immature. He just hugs her and wants intimacy, not understanding the complexity that confuses fully developed humans like you and I. Still, I'm also having trouble with this relationship, unsure of whether its being played for comedy or whether I'm just being an ageist.That he is able to grapple so easily with love just didn't jive with, its a complex emotion that even I a living and breathing human being have trouble with occasionally so it just seems unbelievable that it wouldn't cause him much confusion.
I haven't been getting this at all. I have no sense that their relationship is anything special beyond the nightly sex. It feels to me like that first high school relationship that seemed so important at the time but ultimately had no substance. I don't think I've ever picked up on a suggestion, either visually or in the writing, that Derek had strong feelings towards Amber. She always appears to be the one pursuing him.On top of that is the fact that in comparison the romance between Derek Two-Shadow and Amber seems to be carried out much better, you don't have to have them talk about their feelings to know that they care for one another while the relationship
Hmmm. Didn't pick up on this. It all seemed inter-related to me, so the jumping back and forth seemed appropriate. What The Magistrate learns will affect the Primmies, what Quintana learns will affect The Magistrate, and 9-03's actions could end up concerning them all.It isn't just 09-03 emotions that bothered me in this issue though, what really brought this issue down for me was its lack of cohesion. While the previous issues were able to balance out the various plots taking place in the city, the warrens and the Primmie village and were able to transition between the locals fairly smoothly this issue lacked that sense of balance and jumped rapidly from one plot to another sometimes showcasing all three on the same page. Now this rapid movement did create a sense of chaos and severe urgency that might very well heighten the mood of the next issue with its assault on the Primmie village, but in and of it self it did not lend itself to a satisfying read.
Glad to know I'm not the only one thinking all this. I was half afraid you'd tell me I was off my rocker in predicting this stuff.All that negativity aside there were some elements I did enjoy; I liked the designs of the Z-Model Electric Warriors and the plots concerning an external threat from space and cyborg Leks are really promising. The idea of the cyborgs is something that especially grabbed me, I've been wondering how the parallel journeys of self discovery that 03 and Derek have been going through might eventually come to intersect one another and the cyborg Lek program seems the most likely point, so i'm excited to see how that plays out.
Totally forgot to mention this. Thanks for going there.One element from the letters column that really floored me was the mention that originally the Zigs were not called Zigs. He didn't come out and say it, but it seemed obvious from the way he described how due to not wanting to offend anyone they went back and put in a letter Z in lieu of the first letter in their original name that they must have been called Nigs. Now, part of me is glad they got rid of a needlessly inflammatory word while the other part of me wonders what the story may have been like with the inclusion of a racial cometary. I don't know if it ever would have went there if the original name was kept but it could have been interesting.
It's certainly not a deep relationship, your high school love description feels very apt, but I think visually it's much easier to see their emotions when together(apart from the sex) than there is with 09-03 and Kinsolving, it's in the eyes mostly, which would obviously leave 03 and Kinsolving at a disadvantage artistically.
While the various scenes are still definitely interconnected I just felt like the rapid fire succession that they went through made it feel a little disjointed and took away a little of the impact that the various scenes would have had if they had been given more time to breath on their own. As I said the feelings of panic and the chaotic mood that the fast pace created way well pay off in the next issue but on it's own I just didn't really care for it.
I'm really interested in how the next issue plays out, as you mentioned its the first issue where Baikie will have the lion's share of work and I'm wondering if it will be noticeable.