About the Author:
Louise Simonson is married to fellow comics writer Walter Simonson.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
2 out of 5
Cable And The New Mutants
(Art by Rob Liefeld, Hilary Barta and Bob Wiacek)
The New Mutants, a group of X-youths, find themselves caught between the villainous government-sanctioned Freedom Force and the ruthless Mutant Liberation Front. Untrained and inexperienced, the arrival of the mysterious veteran Cable is the catalyst which galvanises them into a team to be reckoned with.
This book dates to a transitional phase for the New Mutants as a brand; as it opens we see them in their traditional role of mixing teen angst with mutant powers, but as the book progresses they become a much more mainstream superhero team. I can't honestly say that I particularly enjoyed that transition. I get why the teen angst angle was proving unpopular, but at least it was unique. The team as it is by the end of the book is, aside from the roster of course, pretty much the same as the X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Excalibur, Generation X and any other X-team you care to mention. By going mainstream, they lose what makes them distinctive as a group.
Then we get to Cable. I was really struggling to connect the character we see here with the Cable I've always known and it was only whilst checking online in the middle of reading that I discovered that this is Cable's first ever appearance. It's eminently clear that they hadn't yet decided what the character's backstory would be and as a result he's robbed of everything that makes him interesting. There's no hint of his psionic powers (in fact, he's pretty much depicted as having no powers at all), his robot arm is just that, without the threat of the techno-organic virus, and it's not even hinted at that he's (sort-of) from the future. What makes all this extra weird is that, if this is his first ever appearance, why do none of the characters bat an eyelid when this stranger just rocks up and declares that he's in charge of the team now? If a strange old man turned up out of the blue and demanded that a group of children come to live with him in an underground bunker, I'd definitely have questions. I'd probably start with "Who are you?"; something that no-one seems inclined to ask here.
Finally, I have to address the elephant in the room; Rob Liefeld's artwork. He has something of an infamous reputation among comics fans, but this was the first time that I really found my enjoyment of the book spoiled by the art. Put simply, the artwork in this book is bad. Liefeld does manage to give us some nicely dramatic images, but the way he draws the actual characters is unpleasantly jarring. The artist seems to have little grasp of human anatomy and rather than looking stylised, it just looks horrible. Every character in the book just looks... wrong. An example being; one panel where Wolfsbane's waist is drawn thinner than her neck. Cable in particular is ridiculous; his shoulders being about four times as wide as they should be and every inch of him covered in pouches, spikes and gunbelts.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: River Of Chaos
(Art by June Brigman and Roy Richardson)
1 ABY. Imperial piloting ace Ranulf Trommer is sent to infiltrate the Rebels on M'haeli, only to be betrayed by his Imperial superior, Governor Grigor.
This is one of my least favourite Star Wars graphic novels. Usually I applaud anyone who takes a risk and focuses on non-movie characters, but here the characters that are focused on are so irritatingly two dimensional that you soon wish for a more familiar face. Well, Simonson delivers that, in the form of Princess Leia, whose entire role in the story is to stand around looking pretty and occasionally making rousing speeches about freedom and justice, blah, blah, blah.
The truth of the matter is simply that all the elements of this book have been done elsewhere ten times better, be it the Imperial defector or the Rebel who turns out to be a princess. There's also a weird pseudo-mystical element to the book in the form of the H'drachi who can predict the future. This last wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that the 'time stream' they read looks like nothing so much as a cloud of giant flying sperm (I'm not kidding).
2 out of 5