Thursday, 16 June 2011

Grodd of War #1 review


As Aquaman holds forth over continental Europe, and Wonder Woman bestrides the UK, Super-Gorilla Grodd rules over the entire continent of Africa. But, as the witty opening to this story makes clear, while the rest of the world cowers from Atlanteans and Amazons, few people even know his name.  

Clever as the opening is, it's also grisly, and Sean Ryan's efficient script never lets up. Whether it's Grodd feasting on wildlife he's ripped apart, eviscerating Congorilla or tearing off Catman's head, you need a strong stomach for this Flashpoint tie-in. It doesn't help that artist Ig Guara - last seen drawing Marvel's cuddly Pet Avengers - produces such realistic art. There's no hiding from the gore, the pain on these pages, which are inked by Ruy Jose. Bodies hanging by the roadside, a boy soldier being forced to kill his friends ... it's all good T for Teen 'fun'. 

A few pages establishing Grodd's cruel rule and a more sedate rest of the issue would have been fine, but we're almost in torture porn territory here. And that's a shame, as subtler aspects of the tale, such as Grodd's apparent death wish, are almost lost as the story revels in its gruesomeness. Grodd's decision to take Europe from its conquerors should make for good drama when this strand is picked up elsewhere in the Flashpoint event. I just hope he leaves his nastier appetites back home.

7 comments:

  1. Taken together with Emperor Aquaman, this take on Grodd (sure, he's a genocidal monster, but look, he's miserable) leaves me really queasy regarding DC's moral compass...

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  2. I agree with the review and the above comment. I got Grodd's sense of futility, and I can stomach violence in pulp fiction. But the torture porn was so over the top that I started to wonder about where DC is going and why. FP Legion of Doom was similar. I'm not convinced that shock is a creative alternative to characterization and substantial story-telling, something DC's been suffering the lack of for a long, long time.

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  3. The opening monologue was great, and the art was gorgeous, but I have to say I felt really let down, plot-wise. It was all brutality and gorilla ennui -- while there was action, I never felt like anything was at stake in the issue itself.. only the issues of Flashpoint to come.

    But it *was* a great opening monologue.

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  4. This tie in was absolutely insane. It was pretty over the top, but I guess they need tie-ins like this in order to show off how bad the world has become after being made in Reverse-Flash's image. We did see Batman (Thomas) kill Killer Croc with a machete to the brain. Too bad that even in Flashpoint, Africa comes across as just a savage land. Poor Catman (never thought I'd say those words).

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  5. Snell, you're right, the characters are reprehensible. Overall, though, I'm finding this event compelling. And tomorrow, Lois Lane and the Resistance!

    ToB, wise words, I've not had time to trawl online for reactions; I wonder how the Grodd issue was received.

    Rob, 'gorilla ennui'? Jealous now!

    Orange Mask, yes, it's a shame Africa can't get a break in comics. Mind, the online outrage to the Flashpoint map was over the top, apparently from readers who'd never heard of Grodd, Solovar and Gorilla City. Sometimes a gorilla is just a gorilla.

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  6. Sadly, just more of the shock theater event-runner Geoff Johns enjoys so much, but that I find disturbing.

    It's not necessary in non-"mature readers" superhero books, and makes it hard to justify gifting to your kids. All the shock value is drained out of it anyway because it's become cliché. Wouldn't the Cat-Man murder have been more effective and less stomach-churning if it was IMPLIED rather than SHOWN? But writers and artists these days too often take the blunt pen.

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  7. You're so right about the difficulty of handing comics on. I've so many I'll never read again and I love the notion of passing them on to kids I know, or hospitals, but many are so unsuitable for children that I'd have parents at my door with pitchforks. Then there's the problem of never-ending stories.

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