Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Leading Man and Love The Way You Love

"New mainstream", thy name is The Leading Man. Launching this week from Oni Press, this miniseries from the Battle Hymn team is about as high-concept as you get: dashing Hollywood A-lister makes escapist action movies while secretly being a top espionage agent. If there hasn't already been a movie or T.V. series with this hook already ... I can't imagine why. While it's not Player-level Hollywood cynicism, Moore does mine some nice comic moments from the setup: in a culture where actors' private lives are for public consumption, keeping any secret is a tricky thing. The art is snappy and clean, and is perfectly in keeping with the tone of the book. It's not about kitsch, it's not about a postmodern wink-wink-nudge-nudge, it's not about homage. This very straight-up action fun, with wit and snap to separating it from a Hart To Hart episode. It seems almost out of place in the Oni lineup - feeling much more like an AiT/Planet Lar "HBO On Paper" book - but that's probably neither here nor there. Just don't skip it because you think you know what an "Oni book" is.

If you are looking for that prototypical "Oni book", look no farther that this week's other Oni Press debut: Love The Way You Love. An amerimanga of romance and rock bands, this fits squarely in alongside Blue Monday or Scott Pilgrim. Jamie S. Rich hits all the marks, and starts to develop some interesting characters in this first volume. Rebounding off a painful breakup, budding rock superstar Tristan Scott happens to notice a beautiful girl at the airport. When she shows up at his gig that night on the arm of her fiancee who's there to sign the band, it appears to be fate. Marc Ellerby's art is wonderful, almost a streamlined Matt Groening, and he is able to swing back and forth from comedy to romance on a dime. One of my few problems is a point made in the book that all these characters are under 21, and that feels a bit off to me, like a forced point. Perhaps it's manga convention, but it rings false when set in the U.S. Excellent fun, though. I'd especially recommend this to fans of Nana, who might be looking for something else working that delicate balance of music and romance and comedy.


Marc Ellerby said...

"Streamlined Matt Groening"
Best review, ever!

Mark Fossen said...

Great! I really liked the book a lot, and I'm looking forward to more.