Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Canterbury Cricket #1 review


It's the world of Flashpoint and in England super-powered resistance fighters Etrigan the Demon, Godiva, Mrs Hyde and Wicked Jinny Greenteeth are in battle with the Amazon invaders. They're in trouble until a new combatant enters the fray, a man-sized, metallic insect whose chittering sonic boom turns the tide. As they lick their wounds, the Canterbury Cricket tells his - what else? - tale, a story of youthful folly, saintly relics and exploding cathedrals.

Oh boy. I'm not entirely sure how far in its cheek this comic has its tongue. On the one hand, the razing - and indeed, raising - of the UK is a serious matter. We see the Cricket, teamed with a familiar band of Ambush Bugs, breaking into Amazon Central just as they use earthmoving teen Terra to put the British Isles out of reach of Atlantean tidal waves.

On the other, we have characters who take dialogue cues from ancient Errol Flynn movies.

'I assure you I was a vile and heinous human'

'Fate had something completely different in mind for the future of the Jolly Olde'

'It's the only thing of beauty we've encountered on this accursed mission'

and the frankly bamboozling:

'Anyone born in the kingdom owes his very existence to her sovereign future'

You don't have to be British to find dialogue of this quality painful. The sad thing is, there really is no excuse: DC has enough British freelancers that it could easily whiz the script past one or two. That would also mean catching such errors as the borderline offensive 'England and her United Kingdom'. And someone, at some stage, might have blue pencilled the Cricket's real name, the Pinocchio-esque Jeramey Chriqui, because the surname is winking, while the forename is just strange - Jeremy, maybe ...

There are things to enjoy in the script by Mike Carlin. The inclusion of the hair-raising Godiva from the old Super Friends is fun, and Carlin's not at all bad on the Demon's rhymes. Mrs Hyde is an intriguing soul, but Wicked Jinny Greenteeth outmonsters her while having a certain charm (I wondered if this was someone having a cheeky pop at cliched notions of British dental hygiene until Mr Internet revealed that she's a 'real' river hag!). The little character legends on the splash spread are clever, making me want to know more about the Resistance members, and the Amazon attacks are suitably dreadful.

The biggest problem I have is the Canterbury Cricket himself. He comes across as a 'silly arse', a throwback to a world of toffee-nosed twits which bore little resemblance to the UK - sorry, England - in the first place. On this showing, I'd be happy for a passing Amazon or Atlantean to squish him.

The pencils by Rags Morales are full of life - big, brash and well-suited to the story. He's great at conveying emotion, excels at action and shows an affinity for collapsing cathedrals. Inking him is Rick Bryant, someone whose byline I've not seen for many a year; it's good to have his lush blacks back. Adding the non-blacks is talented colourist Nei Ruffino, while Rob Leigh provides wonderfully Chaucerian title lettering for The Scoundrel's Tale.

This one-shot is useful in filling in a bit more of the Flashpoint backstory, and spotlighting the Resistance, but I can't see it launching young Jeramey (it hurts just to type it) as a breakout character. He's too stupid. And that's just not cricket.



6 comments:

  1. I CANNOT WAIT to read this! When I originally heard there was going to be a Flashpoint tie-in called the Canterbury Cricket I thought Paul Cornell would be a shoo-in to write it, given his sterling work on Knight & Squire.

    Unfortnately that wasn't the case, but the fact that Rags Morales is pencilling made it a must-buy.

    Great to hear that Godiva makes an appearance. I love the Global Guardians charactes and have done since their Superfriends and DC Comics Presents appearances.

    Just had to say how much I'm enjoying Too Dangerous For a Girl. I'm very new to this whole Blog thing, but am glad to have discovered this one. Keep up the good work!

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  2. Nice review, but sorry Martin, that you had to read through so many stereotypes. Don't worry sometimes mark Millar does the same thing to us.

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  3. I thought it came off as pretty boring. Could have been so much more. Even Rags Morales' pencils seem to have been fairly rushed. I wanted this book to be so good!

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  4. It's odd -- I know Morales was pencilling it, but at times it looked more to me like Butch Guice. (Tho neither is anything to sneeze at!)

    But yeah, the Cricket himself is kind of annoying, and even as a Yank I winced at some of the dialogue. The other members of the resistance -- might we see Jenny Greenteeth in Demon Knights? -- are really intriguing, though. Pity we didn't see them get to *do* something.

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  5. It made me wonder if these characters would become Cornell's Demon Knights post-Flushpoint. Why else give the Cricket an origin issue?

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  6. Thanks for the kind words, Mr Oddly. Have you read the CC yet? I'd love to know what you thought.

    Dale, I don't doubt it! Only Mark Millar?

    Jeff, every review I've seen agrees that this was a poor book.

    Rob, I want Jenny Greenteeth to, she's wonderfully creepy.

    Siskoid, why else indeed. I heard Mike Carlin tell iFanboy Don't Miss that the Cricket was a one-line idea from Geoff Johns. Sounds about right.

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