Aside from that, the characters are amazingly human. Moore blends drama and unexpected humor perfectly. He has managed to make what should be a wacky tale about about a magic suit of liquid metal and a sinister government conspiracy feel entirely believable. Echo is simply one of the best series I've ever read. Here's hoping for a strong finish.
Julie and Pam go to Ivy's, where Julie uses the Beta suit to help Ivy's sick daughter. Dillon and Dan get the backstory on HENRI and the suit from Will. Cain continues to leave a trail of death and carnage in his wake as he tracks Julie. And HENRI racks up a body count trying to cover its tracks.
As I'm normally a big fan of Brubaker/Phillips, I was quite surprised to find that Fatale wasn't really working for me. I had an unusual amount of difficulty keeping the characters straight and had to keep hunting through earlier chapters just to keep up with the story.
But I think the big issue is that Fatale has Lost syndrome. It raises question after mystery after enigma, with not an answer to be found. I found it tiring.
But everything is relative. Brubaker and Phillips are masters of their craft, and a poor effort by them is still pretty darned good by most standards.
The Griff reads like someone took a novel and illustrated random pages. There's a marked lack of continuity between panels. It feels poorly researched; little thought was put into the alien biologies or the military hardware or the logistics of interstate travel while under constant assault by giant flying alien carnivores.
Moore's trademark humor appears in brilliant bursts, and I laughed out loud a few times. Rosero's art occasionally looks wonderful but his (her?) characters are inconsistent, facial features are different from one panel to the next. The characters themselves are a lot of fun: schwag whore, soldier/makeup artist(!), video game-designer babe.
Moore wrote in his preface that this story was just too visual to be a text novel and would fare better as a movie or graphic novel. He was wrong.
Plotwise, I found Midnight Nation to be hit-and-miss. The dialogue is solid and it opens with a hell of a hook. The bad guy's monologue at the climax is pretty cool, visiting True-History-of-God-and-Satan "To Reign in Hell" territory. I thought it was a reasonably novel take. But there are constant references to a set of "rules" that must be followed, forms that must be observed, and they don't make a lot of sense. The book ultimately takes the shape of a year-long ritual that fails to justify its own existence.
There were bits of contrivance that constantly annoyed me. Laurel, Grey's guide and road-trip partner, first appeared sporting an absurdly-out-of-character whale tail. An early character, Laurel's apparent superior, lays down the law for Grey; but by the end of the book there's not only no reason for him to be handing out explanations, it's clear that if he just had to be shoehorned in, he should have been Laurel's subordinate at most. It's obvious that Straczynski didn't know where he was going when he got started.
Infrequent nudity is handled with clumsily placed shadows and dialogue boxes. I hate that shit...if you have to dance around it, the nakedness probably wasn't story-authentic in the first place. But aside from that misstep, I loved the art. The ubiquitous green demons are weirdly beautiful. The art team knocked it out of the park.
Polyp is an architecture professor. He's extremely smart and very, very impressed with himself. No matter the topic, he takes over the conversation, expounding and opining at great length. Somehow he finds a woman who will tolerate him and marries her. When the story begins, she's already gone, but we don't know how or why.
Mazzucchelli milks the medium for all it's worth. Characters are periodically drawn in ways that accentuate their differences: Polyp is a construct of cylinders and cones and boxes; his wife Hana is composed of textured shading. An imaginary spotlight is used to illustrate how Polyp makes everything about him, up to and including Hana's artistic successes. Even the shapes of the word balloons are representative of the characters they belong to. It's all masterfully done.
While the writing is weird at times--the book is narrated by his twin who died in infancy, for example, and the story constantly seems to veer off on irrelevant tangents--it's also extremely effective. (One tangent turns out to be a HUGE bit of foreshadowing). The blowhards are pompous, the intelligentsia are articulate, the salt-of-the-earth types sound, well, genuinely salty. Polyp's personal growth in his wife's absence is handled deftly and delicately; Mazzucchelli lets you absorb the change without hitting you over the head with it.
The weirdness initially made it hard for me to pick up any momentum but Asterios Polyp was very easy to finish. In fact it had one of the best endings I've ever seen in a graphic novel (YMMV, my wife thought it was bizarre).