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Friday, December 06, 2019

Comic Cuts - 6 December 2019

I mentioned last week that I was putting together a pitch for a project and that has been my focus for most of the week, with a small sideways step to do some paying research elsewhere.

The latter involved a photographer active shortly before the war, known only by his initials: S.W. Colyer. I'm happy to say that, with only the name to go on, I managed to track down a relative and had a very pleasant conversation about Colyer's career, which might see some of his work back in the public eye.

If you scroll down a bit, you'll find a review of one of the latest Illustrators specials, with articles relating to Commando library. There's a second volume out now, about Brian Bolland, which I read at the weekend. I'll be posting the review tomorrow, but I wanted to mention that the latest regular issue of Illustrators, issue #28 with a lead article on Frank Kelly Freas, is also out. I've only just received a copy, but may not be able to review it for a week or so. If you can't wait, you can find some preview pages at the Book Palace website.

Looking at the website, Book Palace have a busy schedule ahead of them in 2020. The one I'm really looking forward to is The Art of John M. Burns, as he has been one of my favourite artists since the Seventies when I first spotted his work in TV Action and Look-In. Back in the early Nineties, when I was compiling the British section of The Comic Book Price Guide for Great Britain, I often listed my favourite strips of the year in the introduction, and Burns usually got a mention (he was working for 2000AD at the time).

I'm reviewing the second season of Jack Ryan below. This is your spoiler break... if you don't like spoilers, hop to the end of the column. (Quick review: this season he's rougher, he's tougher, he can't be arsed to shave.)

The second season of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan picks up on certain elements of the first season and drops some others. One of the oddest omissions is Cathy Muller, played by Abbie Cornish. Readers of the novels will know she is Jack's long-suffering girlfriend, later wife, later First Lady. Not here. Jack is avowedly single for this series and picking up girls in hotel bars.

Mind you, it would be a thankless job for an actress, as Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) spends the show in Venezuela, with a mid-season sojourn to London. The pace never lets up, so having the action pause so Jack could phone home would not be ideal; at the same time it stands up the argument I made last time I looked at Jack Ryan that "character moments are usually the first to be dropped if a show is overrunning."

At the end of the first season, Ryan was offered a post with Jim Greer in Moscow, but has turned it down. Instead, he is sent to the politically unstable Venezuela after tracking suspicious arms movements. There he is introduced to the country's corrupt President Reyes, with whom he instantly develops an openly hostile relationship. An attack on a convoy leaves American Senator Moreno dead and Jack trying to figure out the connections between a German (former BND) assassin and the shell company importing arms into the country.

He is joined by Jim Greer (Wendell Pierce), who authorises a small team of US Special Forces to investigate a camp in the jungle. Tensions mount as one of the team's number is left behind as they scramble to escape, and President Reyes accuses the U.S. of corruptly supporting his rival, Gloria Bonalde, and landing soldiers on sovereign soil.

Jack Ryan himself is a tougher character than he was in the first season, more confident, less compassionate. Confidence does spill over into arrogant stupidity sometimes and karma is often there to kick them in the butt. When you and your team have successfully carried out a dangerous mission, killing dozens in the process, you use your exit strategy and get everyone away safely. Not Jack. He'll cheerfully put everyone's lives at risk because he can't keep a lid on his anger. Perhaps that's why he was dumped by his girlfriend? 

Overall, season two was fast-paced, action-fuelled and highly watchable. However, I worry that season three is just going to be eight episodes of Senate Intelligence Committee hearings as they investigate every single decision made by Ryan, Greer and Station Chief Mike November (Michael Kelly) that led to the death and injury of American soldiers in Venezuela and an assault on the Presidential Palace.

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