The New York Four

Being a Brian Wood / Ryan Kelly collab about a girl adjusting to college life in New York City. The sheltered teen learning to socialize plot should appeal to me of all people, and yet... it is just a little... flat. Something is not quite... there. I'm left feeling a bit... bored.

Demo leaves me with the same unfulfilled feeling, season two even more than season one. Northlanders, on the other hand, does not. Neither does DMZ. And Supermarket -- Wood's team-up with the incomparable Kristian Donaldson -- just blew me away.

All very intriguing. Wagwan Brian?

The New York Four helped me figure out the reason behind these reactions. Although the comic tries to evoke a (very rosy) sense of the Big City, it mostly remains a straight-up soap. The stress is on character, not world-building. And Wood's characters feel a bit run-of-the-mill. They are a lot less interesting than they appear. They LOOK like they SHOULD dazzle, but they don't. I think the source of my ennui probably comes down to Wood's complete aversion to humour. There is no ENERGY in the dialogue. The lack of wit makes everyone seem remarkably straight-laced, despite all the personal problems they are dealing with. The unremitting earnestness just ends up feeling dry. There is no BLOOD in the melodrama.

Wood's background (according to his wiki) is in illustration and design, and I think it shows. He gets phenomenal work out of his artists. You are never going to find an ugly Brian Wood comic. And when those comics are about the world the characters live in (Northlanders, DMZ, Supermarket), it works. You are seeing something new, and the rush can feel incredible. But when there is no world to hide behind, Wood's characters emerge as rather anemic and unexiting. He should focus on the political rather than the personal. If he wants to keep ME happy, that is. Everyone else seems to like what he's doing just fine...

[Admin note: oh blogger, you just get more and more beautiful!]

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