Art Ops has always been one of those series where I wish I came up with the idea. It’s so simple, yet genius at the same time: An art superhero team who specializes in safety art and to stop art from committing crimes! Plus, the series gets the added bonus of trippy covers by Mike Allred.
Is the latest issue any good?
Art Ops #11 (Vertigo)
So what’s it about? The Vertigo Summary reads:
In this stand-alone issue, Reggie and the Art Ops crew face off against a painted atrocity from a centuries past by an artist so skilled, he captured not only death’s likeness but its essence! Featuring guest art by multi-Eisner Award nominee Rob Davis, you won’t want to miss “The Boy Who Painted Death.”
Why does this book matter?
If you’re like me it was tough to get into this series during the last few issues due to the length of the storyline. Thankfully this is a one-shot, which makes it easier to give it a chance! It also allows the reader to get a full story in one single issue which is a rare thing these days.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Swirl it for me baby.
The story in this issue is titled “The Boy Who Painted Death”. Shaun Simon writes quite a good yarn here as it’s a perfect balance of creepy, inventive, and clever. The key is the boy in the title, who the Art Ops must locate as people are being found dead in New York City and he’s their only hope to solve the crime. Simon writes strong flashbacks that reveal the boy’s backstory and allow the story to cut away and tell a story within the story. In some ways this issue was not unlike the fantastic Storytellers as it whisks you away and reveals details at a perfect pace.
The art by Rob Davis is good in a very indie sort of way, featuring a simplistic look and feel. The colors by Kelby Allred gives everything a nice pop, including Reggie Riot’s painterly powers. The best work is done when it comes to the monster, which may not be a monster exactly though (but to avoid spoilers we’ll call it that). We see it in two forms which helps define its evolution. Davis also gives an old man quite a gross interaction that involves goopy entrails. Davis’ art is also less scary and unnerving than it could be, which gives the issue lighter and all ages feel…
It can’t be perfect can it?
…which is unfortunate! The premise is so primed for freaky carnage and scary scenes I wish it went all the way. This issue feels like it holds back a bit, though the story is still sound. Davis’ art is good, it’s just that it’s hard to feel unnerved by it.
As a one-shot, this issue doesn’t do enough to make the members of Art Ops feel equal and relevant to the team. I’m speaking specifically about The Body, who does help solve the crimes, but doesn’t do much beyond float around and give people attitude. I suppose he’s like the Xavier of the team (giving support and “guidance”?), but it would have been nice to see more from the character.
Is It Good?
Art Ops continues to be that gem of a series always bringing in fresh, new ideas. Like art, it’s inspired.