Looking back at my previous reviews, it has been quite a while since I looked at this title. In fact, it was way back in April 2015 . Having read this latest issue, I am not sure anything has really progressed within the last 20 months.
Very much like the annual from early last year, this book is split story-wise, although here there is only two stories rather than four. Also like the previous review, this book seems to focus on the past, specifically how Iris became the Executive Assistant to Mr. Ching.
The first story, “First Assignment” is written by co-creator David Wohl and shows part of Iris’s origin again. I am sure that for some people, the past can be entertaining, but for me, the past only serves as a means of reference when coupled with the present. Admittedly, counting this book, I have only read six Iris stories each having similar elements. Still, part one is entertaining, with a level of uncertainty adding to the frisson on the situations that Iris finds herself thrust into. Wohl delivers a story that is question after question, building into a mythos that amazingly doesn’t collapse under the weight of no answers.
Giuseppe Cafaro, an Aspen veteran, provides the art and inks for the first story. Elegant lines, with an element of less is more, highlight the characters throughout the first part. The art has an almost cinematic feel, adding to the opulence that is hinted at in the dialogue. Camera angles are used to great effect, with panels having a mix of detail and non descript backgrounds, emphasizing the characters giving the book a character first point of view. If there is complaint about the art, it could be that somehow a rather flat chested, slim school teen can somehow be transformed into a curvaceous bigger breasted woman with a change in outfit. It’s as if Cafaro is appealing to the lowest common denominator with this element, which unfortunately detracts from the rather mature feel of the story.
Part two, “Pain Drops” is written by Vince Hernandez, who again is working on the past of Iris. This time there is a confrontation with a colleague who may or may not be friend or foe. It is a pretty stand fare, which is disappointing considering who the first chapter reads. Rather than show the relationship between Iris and Mr Ching, we get to Iris in action. This allows artist Randy Green to have the female protagonists and antagonist square off. Green’s art here, feels like catering to a specific group of fans, which I have to say I probably don’t fall into. In addition, Iris looks very little like her first part incarnation, other than being slightly oriental with dark hair. Looking at Green’s work here, you would be forgiven for thinking you were reading a Zenescope book.
For the most part, I am not sure if I am the target audience for an Aspen book. At times, I think that the maturity of the story is somewhat hindered by the needs of showing the characters in a certain light. Art style not withstanding, coming back to the book, I had hoped for a growth from the previous book. As it is, more of the same might have been good enough if the whole book had the quality of the first part.
|First Assignment||Pain Drops|
|Writing- 3.5 Stars||Writing – 2.5 Stars|
|Art – 4 Stars||Art – 2.5 Stars|
|Colors – 4 Stars||Colors – 3.5 Stars|
|Overall – 3.5 Stars||Overall – 2.5 Stars|
David Wohl ; Vince Hernandez – Story / Randy Green ; Giuseppe Cafaro – Art