“Once Burned, Twice Shy”
Writer: Peter David
Artists: Pablo Raimondi (p), Drew Hennessy (i)
Publisher: Marvel Knights
Plot: Turns out Jamie was in a film noir after all, he was just wrong about which one. The homage to a classic of the genre is subtly interwoven into this very modern mix of superhero, mutant angst and modern noir betrayals. All the tropes are here, just in fascinating new ways allowed for by the fantasy element.
What’s interesting: What an entertaining series this has been. Plenty of twists and turns, lots of duplicities, and the fascinating fact that all the multiple Jamies don’t always know (but sometimes do) what each of the others were up to at any given time.
David has exploded the multiple guy concept in this series, giving a former blank slate a full-on damaged good guy mentality that clicks for me. Jamie’s sort of a slacker, albeit one that can do anything he wants and has done a lot. He gets to live life over and over, to take both paths at every juncture, a pretty wacky idea that David exploits to the fullest.
Also interesting: Raimondi’s art is a bit of an acquired taste. He reminds me of Gulacy, who has a similar weird mix of stylishness and awkwardness. Hennessy’s looming blacks anchor the story in a seedy noir world, but one of the seventies or nineties more than the forties. There’s a definite whiff of the sixties American revolution in realist film, that anti-Hollywood era that changed the face of films (and pulp stories) forever. Madrox lives in a seedy but glittery world, where some criminals live in designer villas with monsters, and some mutants make adulterous gay love by psychic projection.
Most interesting: David puts the definitive spin on Madrox’s allies Rahne and Guido, yes, better than Claremont’s recent attempts. Like Jamie, they’re talented people who don’t quite fit in anywhere else. Their dialogue is funny. In fact dialogue has been a great strength of this series. As in any good film noir, everyone converses quickly and often. Things only slow down for dramatic effect, as when Jamie turns the tables on his ex-girlfriend and her mobster allies. I’ve got nothing against a femme fatale introduced for that purpose. Sheila may not stack up to Bridget O’Shaughnessy in looks or style, but Jamie does a dead-on Bogie homage as the series winds down to a typically witty, action-filled conclusion. Great pulpy cover by David Lloyd, too, which perfectly captures the goofy wittiness of the series. More please!
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