21 Nov 2008

Cover to Cover: RESURRECTION ANNUAL 2008

Review by Matt C

Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Art: Douglas Dabbs
Oni Press $3.50

I was coming close to dropping Resurrection. My initial enthusiasm for the series had all but petered out as the gaps between issues grew larger. The premise, the aftermath of an alien invasion, was brilliant, one of those how-come-nobody-did-this-before situations, but the momentum was lost once the delays started to become more noticeable (not helped by the fact that many Oni titles seem to arrive in the UK much later than their release date). You ask most readers of monthly books what their biggest bone of contention is and you’ll doubtless find “late books” to be the most popular answer. Waiting around for months on end for the next instalment can cause bad feelings amongst fans, which in turn leads to bad word-of-mouth, which in turn can potentially harm sales of trade paperback version, a format that is often a lifesaver for low-selling books. I’m less likely to big up a book like Gutsville or Infinite Horizon to my trade-buying friends if my interest in those titles has evaporated due to lateness and generally forgetting what happened last issue. Obviously there are exceptions – some books will overcome lateness quibbles basically because they generate a certain level of devotion almost instantly (a recent example being Pax Romana) but for a series like Resurrection which, in its serial format, requires that the reader remember what’s going on, delays don’t do it any favours.

So it’d come to the point where I almost didn’t pick up Resurrection Annual, but I'm really glad I took the plunge as it reignited my interest in the series with a superb semi-self-contained story that finishes off Book One of the title. What’s that, you say? End of Book One? Seems to be the case, but more on that later.

This tale deals revolves around the ironically named Spock, an alien who’s been kept prisoner by an uber-secret section of the CIA for a couple of decades: captured years before the invasion, he’s still in captivity when he’s people leave Earth. A drunken mishap enables him to escape, but what will happen when he stumbles across a group of survivors who would jump at any opportunity to unleash their built-up hatred of the “bugs”? As well as giving us further insight into the strange relationship between Spock and his captor, Judith McCreary (possibly the only person still aware of his existence), we get a chance to see how a group of people outside of the regular cast have coped with life under alien occupation. What Guggenheim does so well in Resurrection is give a convincing voice to a varied selection of people as it postulates their different reactions to the possible freedom of the Human Race. There are occasional bursts of histrionics but on the whole the dialogue and reactions ring true.

An aspect I’ve never been able to get behind fully is the art. Regular series illustrator David Dummer’s work often lacks the definition required to connect emotionally with the reader, rendering some scenes a bit flatly. Often, but not always, and there is a sense of an artist still developing and steadily improving. This annual brings another unfamiliar name to my attention in the form of Douglas Dabbs, and while his approach is different than Dummer’s, there’s a similarity in style in there that makes him well suited to join the team.

So what’s all this talk of an End to Book One?! Guggenheim takes the opportunity once the story’s finished to announce the conclusion of Resurrection….. for now. Seems the book will be on a short hiatus to allow the creators to sort out the scheduling so that it can finally becomes a proper monthly series. On its return the plan is that the black and white pages will be a thing of the past as it relaunches as a full-colour comic. In the meantime a trade paperback will collect the first six issues plus the annual for the bargaintastic sum of $6!! Which will convert into English pounds as….. well, who knows what shape the exchange rate will be in by the time it’s released but it’ll still be a damn sight cheaper than I paid for it!

If that last paragraph sounded like I’m trying to sell this book to you, well that’s because I am! Resurrection is a series that has the potential to take the reader into some very interesting and unexpected places as it deals with the political, social, religious and philosophical ramifications following the departure of an occupying alien force. This is a story that could run and run if given the support it needs to thrive, and even though I was wavering slightly for a minute, I’m now totally back on board with the series. Anyone tickled by the inventive premise would do well to keep their eyes peeled for when that TPB with it’s customer-friendly price is released, and snap it up as soon as they can get their hands on it. I can’t guarantee it’ll be for everybody but it’s certainly worth giving it a shot. 8/10

1 comment:

Vanja said...

Yours was the only review of the annual I could find, and a very fine critical examination it was! Resurrection is a great series that just hasn't got the buzz it deserves... yet.

Here's a link to my review of the first six issues: http://splintercomics.blogspot.com/2008/09/resurrection.html