Saturday, September 11, 2004

I'm finally set to begin commenting on the books I received from Mad Yak Press (exactly why is the poor yak so angry, anyway?), and I'll begin with Texarkana. Tex, I think, can be summed up as Mad Max meets NYPD Blue meets Big Trouble In Little China (sans supernatural stuff, of course)- it's a violent, dystopian-future type premise, which also incorporates the police procedural in the process. In Tex, there's been a big civil war in North America, and has been re-divided into new territories, one of which provides us with the series title. We are introduced to a five-person group of mobile Adjuciators, who essentialy act as arresting officer, counsel, judge and jury whenever crimes are committed in Texarkana. I don't recall if this system is used in the other territories, but their presence is recognized in neighboring New Asia, so it may be the case. We first meet our particular group if Adjuciators as they break up a drug deal in an alleyway, and in the process one is killed. His replacement, fresh from Dallas Adjudciation Academy (try saying that real fast three times) is an idealistic rookie (aren't they always?) named Simon Hills. His first assignment with his new teammates is a venture into New Asia, to apprehend potential terrorist "Ped Xing" (ouch). Of course, there's more than meets the eye to this assignment, and complications soon ensue.

I'll say this for Texarkana: it's ambitious. Writer Patrick Neighly has conceived an complicated, and mostly well-thought-out world for his characters to run around in. It's fast-paced, rarely dull, but often a bit hard to follow. The characters are well-defined- each has a distinctive look and personality, and that's important. Hills is introduced, and one expects an "Alice in Wonderland"-type perspective, seeing all this from his unfamiliar viewpoint, from his character...but we really don't get that. Instead, he falls right in to the events in New Asia and while we get some "fish-out-of-water" situations, he takes more of a back seat to Masters, the big cowboy-looking fellow with a weakness for Chinese cabaret singers (an admittedly endearing trait) and the oddest of the group, the judge (sorry, don't have her character's name handy)- a person of small stature but a big deceitful streak. Of course, this being the debut series, he doesn't want to lay all his cards out on the table so I'm sure more will be revealed. The art, by someone named Donny Hadiwidjaja, betrays a strong Humberto Ramos-Joe Madureira influence and overall is fine, but I think sometimes his reach exceeds his grasp and some sequences are a little confusing- nothing time and experience won't solve.

Texarkana isn't perfect, but it's an involving read with interesting characters, and that goes a long way these days. Combined with the outstanding production values of the Mad Yak books- nice paper, embossed elements on the covers, strong graphic design- it's worth your time and money. There's going to be an ongoing series coming out soon, which presumably will expand on everything introduced in this graphic novel. B+

Next up: Subatomic.

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