Wednesday Comics Review: Astonishing Thor 3 and Carbon Grey 1

Just as last week was a week for reading comics about dead people, this week is all about warring planets. Literally the planets. Axe Cop (just reviewed) brings us Bad Guy Earth, with a planet about to smash into Earth while Astonishing Thor ups the ante by giving us two planets about to smash into Earth. Ego The Living Planet and his twin Alter Ego The Living Planet.

Of course, to get to this stage, we hav to totally retcon Ego’s origin, now a creation of The Stranger along with his brother, complicated by The Collector and now causing this alamity that Thor has to put himself in he middle of – and helped cause. But something is lacking.

Because unlike Axe Cop, this book doesn’t distract me with non sequitors and doesn’t try to create a reality where things are meant to make sense, which leaves me sitting here wanting more procedural elements in a comic about living planets wanting to smack into each other. And that can’t be right, can it? Propulsion via volcanoes should be only the start, not the finish for this kind of thing.

Also the splash page count is off the roof. Oh I mean all very pretty art and all, but this is a $3.99 22 page comic book  with  –  with an average of of two-and-a-half panels a page. And it shows, this won’t take anyone through a simple bowel motion.

Basically Axe Cop is a more complex, diverting, longer and far more an entertaining read, and it;s written by a six year old. If you want to read literal interplanetary warfare, it’s also 24 pages, with an average of five panels a page  and costs 50 cents less. So, you know.

I seem to have spent more time talking about Axe Cop than Astonishing Thor. That seems fair.

Carbon Grey is also a pretty pretty painted book but creates a very different outcome. This is your steampunk/dieselpunk, planetwide epic thing with fighter fighter planes, zeppelins, emperors, war trenches and assassins in tight leather and fascistic symbols. With our initial lead having a very James Bond attitude to life, running and shooting, dodging poorly amed bullets and leaping into the air after things she might not grab. There’s a fine scene where she jumps onto a falling bomb, takes its parachute, uses that, while the bomb destroys the enemy below, into whose blood she lands. Oh and she’s not alone in this, she appears to have a sister who’ll shag a random bloke to get his identity pass. I was just waiting for the John Barry arrangement to come flooding in.

And so it’s all browns and greys of an Industrial Age with the occasional spot of red and purple and dulled down greean – except for the lead’s eyes of course. Add some gratuitous cleavage, some awful World War One style poetry, blood splatter and a lot more insignia daubed leather and you have yourself Carbon Grey. It’s a sum of many parts, but it’s a very pretty sum, and it throws around so many characaters and locations building up the world, and it’s just so very readable and indulgent, that it’ll be pretty impossible to avoid the second issue. Consider this my brand new shiny shiny guilty pleasure in my heart.

Or maybe it’s just this kind of thing, I dunno. Your call. And hey, Image first issue, might even be worth something.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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