Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Canterbury Cricket - How not to write a one-shot

So, not really interested in the Flashpoint event overall, but I thought the Canterbury Cricket looked pretty cool and it's a one-shot so I thought it would be a safe purchase. I was wrong.

The story starts off as a small crew of UK Resistance fighters are fighting against the Amazons. The crew consisting of Godiva, the Demon, a Ms. Hyde and a green ghoul girl are in over their heads until they are rescued by the strange Canterbury Cricket. While waiting for the leader of the resistance that they are supposed to meet, the Cricket regales them with his origin story. Even this extended flashback hinges on the plot of the Amazons vs. Atlantis storyline of other Flashpoint minis. It's a somewhat comic tragic origin of an aspiring conman and hustler who gets caught up in an attack by the Amazons as they invade England. Everyone he knows quickly dies as he runs away, seeking refuge in Canterbury Cathedral. A cricket chirping leads him to the skull of a saint interred there. When the church is destroyed, the boy somehow finds himself a humanoid cricket. Thinking he's been given a second chance and a holy mission, he joins up with some other bug themed characters (Jaimie Reyes Blue Beetle, Firefly, Queen Bee and a new one to me, Cockroach) to fight the Amazons. They are quickly killed and he's again fleeing for his life. Then he meets up with this new band and just as a character seems to get close to him, she's skeletonized by attacking Amazons. This is where it ends, with a blurb to get more of the story, get the Flashpoint Lois Lane comic.

This is what doesn't give me much hope for the future reboot. Even going into it, we have the same storytelling philosophies of past events and such. A one-shot should be largely self-contained. This one is not, it's barely a teaser, spending all the time explaining the character's origin and motivation and establishing the backdrop of the Amazon-Atlantis War as it pertains to England. It tells us what the story should and could be, but it's really just delivering background information via exposition. The origin story could be interesting but it's presentation as a flashback tale robs it of power and any real conflict. It tells us who the character is and what he's about, but with no conflict there's no actual story there.  There's something comically tragic in a scoundrel and coward who seems to want to be a hero but has everyone around him continually getting killed and him just barely surviving each time by running away. One would almost think that his whole thinking of a Holy Mission could be delusion or simple desire on his part to see meaning and redemption of the events. Except, of course, that Etrigan smells the stink of holiness about him, suggesting that he's indeed the victim of some holy intervention and not just a weird Kafka turn in a world already gone insane. The ultimate effect is that the comic is mostly a non-story by itself, more of a side chapter introducing characters that will play a role in a larger story that's being told in other books.


Chuck Wells said...

Thanks for the tip, Cash!

For the most part, I think that Marvel's current event, Fear Itself, is way better - overall - than "Flashpoint".

Canterbury Cricket looked like something that would be interesting to me, based on the cover image alone, so I'm happy that you warned me that the front cover art was all that it really had going for it. Sorry to see that Mike Carlin is responsible for writing this mess too.

cash_gorman said...

I've not picked up any "Fear Itself" titles. The ones that strike me as interesting or feature characters I like tend to have artwork I cannot stand. I hope someday comics get back to being chiefly line-art and not trying for photo-realism.

For some reason bug characters interest me, though not a fan of bugs in real life. But, yeah, a ONE-SHOT shouldn't spend most of the issue detailing an origin and background info in a passive manner as if there's an issue #2!