Often the emotional impact of a story balances on a single element. This is especially true of comic book serials. It’s easy to digest the minutia of a 22 page issue, which is one of the many reasons we love the medium. We pore over the dialogue, the layouts, the pencils, the inks and the colors, and we come away either engaged and excited or apathethic and unimpressed. In all of this there is one factor that stands above all others in regards to how I feel after I turn over the final page.
Because everything, the comedy, the pathos, the suspense, relies on matching tempo with a beat that we unconsciously associate with an analogous situation or emotion. Miss the timing and you blow the joke, you spoil the scare, you rudely sever the impact from between the story’s legs with a pair of rusty garden shears.
Wolverine and Jubilee #1 is a good book. Olivier Coipel’s cover knocks it out of the park and Phil Noto follows up with art that finds a great balance between authenticity and style. While the idea of Wolverine fulfilling an avuncular role to Jubilee isn’t exactly fresh it has always been one of the most endearing aspects of the character, and it’s clear that Jubilee needs a mentor more than ever. Though the nature of her powers hadn’t been fully explored, it’s pretty clear that the world isn’t disposed to treat teenage mutant mall-rat vampires kind. All of this culminates as the springboard for a coming of age story that’s less Twilight and more Dexter.
But the pacing.
Alternatively halting and frantic and always a bit awkward, from the layout devoted entirely to sexually suggestive weight lifting to the desultory reaction panels in the climax, the pacing is jarring in a manner that seems quite calculated. My sense is that this awkward pacing aims to communicate Jubilee’s sense of detachment and disorientation. That’s great, but it has the unfortunate side effect of occasionally knocking me off the narrative flow and leaving me, agape, scrutinizing the artistic composition rather than reading the story. This isn’t something I would mind were it deft and spare, but the climax, which is otherwise rather ghastly, trips over itself just enough to lose most of its impact.
I’m going to pick up #2 this afternoon. I didn’t expect to be doing that when I filed this book in the review docket and I think that’s a positive commentary in and of itself, but I’m reserving my recommendation until Imonnen and Noto can find a cogent stride that delivers the type of impact that this team is capable of.