The Amory Wars #1-3 (Image Comics)

amory-header.jpgCoheed and Cambria singer Claudio Sanchez tries to tell some pretty complex tales on his band’s albums. But how well do those stories translate to the comic book page?

 

 

32 pgs. ea. FC; $3.99 ea. (cardstock cover), $2.99 ea. (paper cover)

(W: Claudio Sanchez; A: Gus Vazquez, Mike Miller)

 

Oh how the tables have turned! There used to be a time when comic book geeks, sick of being outcast and shunned by society, would finally abandon their fanboy fantasies and leave the comics world of their youth behind. Sometimes they would even immerse themselves into a new world, such as music, and then years later would write about their so-called geek life in three minute pop songs — Rivers Cuomo and Stephen Malkmus I’m talking to you, sirs. The comics would fuel the music. Nowadays, the opposite can hold true: the music fuels the comics. The fastest route to comic book writing, it seems, is by forming a band, or at least this is the path that My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way and Coheed and Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez have both taken to begin their comic careers

 

(For full disclosure’s sake, I am not a fan of either Coheed and Cambria or My Chemical Romance, so I am judging the books strictly on their comic book merits or lack thereof).

 

Gerard Way went straight to Dark Horse with his first adventure, the surprisingly good Umbrella Academy. Credit must be given to artist Gabriel Ba, Casanova‘s first artist-in-crime and an Eisner Award nominee, for his part in making Umbrella Academy such a great read; plus, having covers by James Jean also helps.

 

Sanchez started his comics career by self-publishing under the name Evil Ink, first releasing two issues of the comic Second Stage Turbine Blade and then the graphic novel Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, the latter beautifully illustrated by Christopher Shy. Unfortunately, both books were a disaster in pacing and storytelling that resulted in a frustrating and convoluted five minute read for those brave enough to venture all the way through.

 

Now at Image Comics, Sanchez has decided to do Good Apollo some justice and retell the story of the mistaken murderers Coheed and Cambria, their son Claudio, and Coheed’s "brother" Inferno in a new miniseries called The Amory Wars. It’s a pity that Sanchez’s second stab at the story doesn’t fare much better than his first try, and this time Christopher Shy’s stunning artwork isn’t there to somewhat redeem him.

 

Not much can be said about The Amory Wars except that it is a very quick read. Maybe someone should be familiar with the records that deal with the same story and subject matter before they try to jump into this book. Maybe the mystery of the Keywork and Heaven’s Fence are explained elsewhere. Maybe plot movement and character development don’t matter when you sound like Rush.

 

The dialogue is worse than any late night D-movie on the Sci-Fi channel or USA, not even the great Steven Seagal would be caught dead uttering some of the things that Coheed Kilgannon says. Somehow, we are supposed to feel sympathy for some parents (Coheed and Cambria) who are about to slaughter their children because they believe that their kids will bring about the end of the world. Why do they believe this? Some evil guy called Mayo Deftinwolf who works for Supreme Tri-Mage Wilhelm Ryan told them so. Since Coheed and Cambria have been having weird dreams, they believe him so they set off to off their brood. In the Old Testament, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, God at least had the courtesy to ask him in person and not use a proxy. Abraham at least had some serious doubts about the whole thing. What does Coheed do? He goes Jonestown on the little ones and brings them some Kool-Aid before they go to sleep. While this is all happening, their daughter Josephine gets raped at school, only to come home and have daddy smash her skull with a hammer. Now, Claudio, the son who came home after curfew and barely missed being bludgeoned by dear old dad, must save the universe and avenge his wronged parents. What? Who writes this stuff?  

 

Then there is the art. The artist for the first two issues, Gus Vazquez, is halfway decent in some panels but then absolutely horrendous in others. If this were a Marvel or DC book, the editor would have surely made him redraw multiple panels throughout both issues. Great art can enhance a bad story, but bad art simply serves to show the emperor’s nakedness for all to behold. Unlike Christopher Shy, who was the saving grace on the Good Apollo graphic novel, Gus Vazquez and his slightly better replacement Mike Miller are no match for this debacle of a story.    

 

Finally, there is the matter of the cover price. It’s pretty hard to justify a $4 dollar book in today’s economy, especially when most mainstream books sell at $2.99, but a $3.99 cover sticker is exactly what you get when you purchase a copy of The Amory Wars at Hot Topic or at the Vans Warped Tour. Granted, the production values on the book are really nice, from the cardstock cover to the high gloss paper and the super sharp computer coloring, but all that leads to is a pretty packaging on a poor book. For fanboys who buy their comics at the comic book shop, you’ll be okay because those versions of the book are priced at $2.99. Regardless, what you really want from a comic when you fork over your hard earned dough is a good story with some good art. At the very least you want to be entertained, amused or entranced by the beautiful eye candy. You won’t find any of those things in The Amory Wars| Carlos Ruiz

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