Thursday, December 15, 2011

Comics of the Week - Tension is Good

Storytelling, specifically horror and suspense stories, are about building and releasing tension. Even the most basic story sets up something to keep the reader turning pages in hopes of a resolution. Sometimes, the tension is subtle. Other times it's almost unbearable. Severed has pushed the tension about as far as I have ever seen without a big release. And it's great. If this book were a rubber band, Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft and Attila Futaki would be pulling at three ends, with the reader stuck in the middle hoping they don't let go, but knowing they will. . . eventually, so just do it, please, I can't take it!!! We know the main character is going to lose an arm at some point, because we saw him as an old man in the first issue. We've had several moments along the way where this could have happened. Could have, but didn't. Each issue has been another example of how it actually is possible to be invested in how things play out, even when you have a pretty good idea of what it is that will happen. Yes, this is a horror story and yes it's a period piece, taking place during the depression. But at the end of the day, it's just a well crafted story that is playing with the readers ability to bear the tension. It's like funk. James Brown's theory of funk was about holding on the first beat before going to two. So it's ONE. . . . two, three, four, ONE . . . two,three, four. I guess what I'm saying is that as far as horror comics go, this is one baaad motha. . .

On the flip side, we have a book that has built tension as well, but with this issue, released it in a beautiful climax filled with excitement, surprises and emotion. Way back, in the first arc of Uncanny X-Force, things were set up that paid off in this issue, and I, for one, didn't see it coming. If I've grown to love Fantomex through this series, this issue elevated him to another level. And then there's the whole Six Feet Under moment with Warren and Betsy that was extremely moving. My only complaint may be that the power of this scene may have been undercut a couple of pages later. Either way, this is one of the best resolutions to an arc in an ongoing series I've ever read. Remender was able to wrap it up in a true ending, even while setting up pieces for the future. That's no small accomplishment. Opena and Ribic on art blend perfectly with each other and the story. This is easily one of the best books being published right now, by anybody. I can't wait to see what Remender has planned next for this team.

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