For the record, the New York Comic Con/Anime Festival has the toughest foot traffic of any convention I’ve gone to. Hands down. I attend about eight conventions a year and I’ll never, ever complain about the crowds - - I just love to soak up the chaos - - but every one of this show’s aisles felt like a gauntlet. It’ll take you a good twenty minutes just to leave the con from any given point and there are no estimates for how long it’ll take to get to a booth or a panel. As such, while I had high hopes of doing coverage of the show in addition to my signing obligations and comics-related business, the double duty proved utterly impossible. I wasn’t even able to get through half of my “to-do list” - - so now you lunatics know why the updates haven’t been coming as regularly over the past few days
These are both urban fantasies about the seedy, supernatural underbellies of the big city, but they don’t actually share any other apparent links. I’m committed to getting through every title in the recent batch of suggestions, though, so that’s why I’m covering such seemingly-unrelated shows as SPEED GRAPHER and DURARARA!! together in one post. Think of it as a double-feature.
I actually watched the pilot episode of DURARARA!! already in the earliest incarnation of this column but, hey, it’s been more than a year. It might even be close to two, now. That’s enough time to warrant another look. I’d like to think my perspective has changed significantly since then.
Certainly, the introduction of the supernatural element with the headless rider feels a lot less jarring this time around. The portions about the small-town kid marveling at the fast pace of big city living do still like they’ve been edited in from a CW show, of course. And I still don’t have much inkling of how these two threads are going to tie together outside of the (obvious?) possibility that the masked biker is going to rescue the kid from a mugging or some such at some point.
Actually, while we’re talking about how my associations have changed, I do think it’s worth saying that I can’t separate the headless rider from a cosplayer I saw at AX. "She" looked like a curvy, well-endowed chick in skin-tight leather until “she” took off her kitty helmet and showed the world the face of a balding, mustached dude. I don’t even want to speculate on how those “breasts” got there.
As for SPEED GRAPHER, I was getting ready to bash the show for being disjointed because, good lord, the dance master with the gimp suit and Plastic Man powers doesn’t fit anywhere in this world. For once, though, I don’t feel like dismissing a show for not totally grabbing me with its first episode. If there’s an identifiable taste to the different flavors of mature, urban fantasy, this definitely felt like something that would come out of Vertigo Comics’ stable. There’s intrigue and satire here that doesn’t necessarily need to grab you by the throat just as it’s pouncing out of the gate and - - at the risk of contradicting myself - - I am intrigued to see how things unfold without necessarily being jazzed about what I’ve seen already.
As a small nitpick, though, I’ve got to say that our grim and cynical photographer has a lapse in judgment that tests credibility. He breaks his big camera out right in the middle of the secret society’s ceremonial chamber? If the guy’s really so worldly, you’d figure he might sneak off to a more hidden vantage point, or maybe even grab a snapshot with something a little less conspicuous (like a camera phone.) Then again, it’s been rather blatantly established that he gets at least some sexual gratification out of his work, so maybe he just couldn’t resist the ol’ pleasure principle.
See? When we start talking about the psycho-fetishistic drives, that’s when you know we’re dealing with something just a tad more sophisticated than usual.
Watch these episodes “Depravity City” and “Exit 1/First Words” below and decide for yourself.