Review: Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #3

Darryll Robson Darryll Robson
Expert Contributor
July 23rd, 2017

Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.

Review: Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #3
Comics
0
Price:
Disappointing

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On July 23, 2017
Last modified:July 23, 2017

Summary:

With ups and downs in story telling and a blandness to some of the pages, the third issue of this miniseries doesn't have the impact of the previous two. However, there are some bold scenes and a moment or two where it will pull your heart strings. Still in the 'Keep reading' pile.

Price:
Disappointing

Reviewed by:
Rating:

3
On July 23, 2017
Last modified:July 23, 2017

Summary:

With ups and downs in story telling and a blandness to some of the pages, the third issue of this miniseries doesn't have the impact of the previous two. However, there are some bold scenes and a moment or two where it will pull your heart strings. Still in the 'Keep reading' pile.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

The Frankenstein retelling from Victor LaValle and Boom Studios! reaches its central point with issue 3. Our contributor, Darryll Robson, takes a look at the comic to see how far it has come and how it is holding up.

Review: Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #3

Flashbacks, sci-fi jargon, and pig farming are the name of the game in Destroyer issue 3. LaValle lays on the heartbreak and finds several ways to play with the reader’s emotions while maintaining the physical horror that branded the first two issues.

Credit: Boom Studios

Credit: Boom Studios

Synopsis

Dr Barker helps to plan her son’s, Akai, journey to his baseball game without her. She’s nervous and over protective like any parent would be but she is a busy woman and has an appointment she can’t change. Plus, Akai wouldn’t let her change it even if she could. But this scene ends with a phone call and a parent’s worst nightmare.

Montana, present day, and the two Suits are taking a scientific interest in the reanimated Akai. All they see is the scientific breakthrough, a body of nanobots but Dr Barker's frustration is growing. Akai is her son and not a property of the corporation.

Akai has some impressive powers and is able to subdue the Suits with little effort while Dr Barker prepares their escape. But will it be in time or in vain because something else is coming? Something worse. The Bride.

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Meanwhile the Monster tries to help out on a pig farm and learns an important lesson about self control.

Credit: Boom Studios

Credit: Boom Studios

Analysis

It’s a mixed bag this month with some outstanding story telling bogged down in over long flashback sequences which in turn stall the momentum of the narrative. The story has reached the middle, the half way point, and it seems that a lot of backstory is needed to explain what is going on in the present day. However, it is all painstakingly staged with set piece following set piece; the part where Dr Barker reads the Frankenstein history from a hard back, bound book is just a touch nauseating.

Which is a shame because there has been some great character work in the previous issues and even in this issue there are elements that capture the reader’s empathy. The heart-breaking opening is handled particularly well and should touch all readers, parent or not.

LaValle continues to use the narrative to reflect on major matters of the world, including racism and animal cruelty. Some of this is hard hitting and draws attention to problems within society; problems that have been around for decades but still need to be addressed. This is something that Mary Shelley did with the original novel and is reproduced here by LaValle. The tragedy that Dr Barker faces and the injustice that she is dealt leads her down the dubious path LaValle is portraying and the reader, for the most part, sympathises with her.

Unfortunately, LaValle isn’t as successful in some of his other endeavours when it comes to moralistic storytelling. The Monster, underused in this issue, faces a dilemma involving mistreated pigs and his attempt to rescue them ends up a disaster. This is extremely similar to the border crossing in the last issue except the Mexican immigrants have been exchanged for pigs and it is only now that the Monster learns that his actions can destroy. He didn’t even notice the bodies he left last issue but a dead pig makes him pause for thought.  I’m afraid that this part of the story telling doesn’t have the desired affect and becomes more of a joke than a serious sociological point.

To focus on the good points; The dramatic composition of the panels continues to keep this comic fresh, at least visually. Dietrich Smith, the artist, has a good grasp on sequential storytelling and uses the limitations of space to his advantage. Text heavy sequences are set in open landscapes allowing the words space to be digested while close ups are used to emphasis subtler portions of the script. The facial expressions of the lead characters are varied and emotive however the Suits have a blandness about them that highlights their lack of character. And the Monster loses some of his majestic presence in this issue thanks to the pig rescue attempt and one panel where the creature stares in horror at his hands with the farms destruction in the background. It is just a step on the wrong side of cheesy.

The color during the modern day setting is also grim. It has a grey wash over everything with a sparse depth of color to the shadows. In contrast the flashback sequences have a range of emotive colorings, from warming oranges to ominous reds. In this respect the artwork, colors especially by Joana Lafuente, are the opposite of the narrative; the flashback scenes are full of life and color whereas the modern day is grey and drab.

This issue of Destroyer appears to have been a difficult issue for the creative team. The focus is still there and the story has a lot going for it but there are a few missed beats. A number of decisions haven’t played out quite as planned. However, as part of a larger story, this comic hasn’t failed yet. It has reached the middle point of the journey and there is still a way to go yet with plenty of room for redemption; redemption for Dr Barker and redemption for the creators

Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he remembers his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson

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Victor LaValle's Destroyer #3

  • 3

Disappointing

With ups and downs in story telling and a blandness to some of the pages, the third issue of this miniseries doesn't have the impact of the previous two. However, there are some bold scenes and a moment or two where it will pull your heart strings. Still in the 'Keep reading' pile.

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