Monday, October 6, 2014

The Pull List: POP #2 Review

Back when I first heard about this title, I was thoroughly excited about it: pop stars are manufactured in a factory? One of them escapes? Count me in! And the cover art by Dylan Todd was intriguing, if not somewhat disconcerting, design-wise. It's intentionally skewed, and it definitely has a sort of pulpy, newspaper serial comic look to it.
Via Dark Horse
One of my co-managers kind of wrinkled his nose at the design, but he's kinda finicky and has a huge case of the "I only like comics from before the mid-90s." To be fair, he is more than free to have that preference, as art is a very subjective sort of thing, and anyway, I usually shrug apathetically at any of his suggestions and go leaf through the most recent issue of Low*, which he also can't stand.
However, as excited as I was about POP, I agree with my co-manager and can honestly say the only part that I've enjoyed from the first two issues is the scene where two pop star hunters (in that they hunt pop stars, not that they are pop stars who hunt), modeled after Dee Snyder and a cross between Magenta and Dr. Frank-N-Furter, shoot the kneecaps of a kid named Dustin Beaver (guess who they're referencing here):
You'll have to forgive the glare.
In the first issue, we're introduced to the two main characters - Coop, a suicidal writer, and Elle, the escape pop star - in a meet cute taken directly from The Fifth Element, where Elle, having stolen Leeloo's outfit from the beginning of the movie, literally just rams right into him and immediately collapses. Then, after retrieving some lumberjack clothes for the essentially unclad Elle, she and Coop go on the run from the above-mentioned hunters. 

Other than the capping of Beaver - who dared "retire" - nothing really kept my interest. I initially felt bad that I was having such a negative reaction to POP. I kept giving excuses: 
  1. Well, it just started. I can't write it off so early.
  2. Maybe I was expecting something else, and if I let that go, then maybe I'll appreciate it for what it is. 
  3. I wonder if I'd like it more if Elle had been a pop star for a few years, wearing from all of the posing, and managed to escape, instead of being a blank slate since she was literally just born a few days prior, and prematurely at that. 
And then the second issue came out. 
Via Dark Horse
It's like the writer just thought, "Hey, fuck this genuinely good concept and JUST WRITE! THINGS! EXCITEMENT!" The bad guys - the execs, not the pop star hunter pair, who are just their agents - are all fat people who have food slovenly stuck next to their mouths; the supposedly deadly agent duo leaves a witness, when there was no reason to do so in the first place, so that a police officer could arrive just as they're about to nab Elle and Coop; Elle and Coop do drugs because ... that helps with memory in this world, apparently. I basically read this issue to its conclusion because I'd already committed to doing so, but I can't really say that skimming to that final page counts as reading. I was just so bored and unaffected by the story that I considered it an accomplishment that I looked at all the pictures.

And honestly, that's probably the only thing POP really has going for it. Jason Copland adds way more character to the one-dimensional creatures that occupy the pages. Normally, this style puts me off, but it fits well with the feel the comic is supposedly trying to go for. The colors are vivid, and the drug-induced scenes were well-executed, as far as my own drug knowledge goes - which, to be honest, is lacking, since the "worst" I've ever done is weed and all that came out of that was the brilliant idea of dressing up dinosaurs in period costumes.


There are plenty of reviews out there that are positive, but sadly, mine is as close to ambivalent as you can probably get, which is not what I wanted for this series. I'll give it 2.5 stars out of 5 and will probably only read the remaining two issues so I can say that I did. Here's hoping for a better finale.

* Okay, so I'm not really dismissive. But I wanted to sound edgy. Did I sound edgy? Just tell me that I did. 
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