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The Aviatrix #1
posted January 12, 2010
Buenaventura Press, comic book, 32 pages, 2009, $4.95
Something recently happened to the way we process visual information that changed 1940s herky-jerky, dull-as-dirt comic books to windows of witness into horror, madness and awe. Okay, that's a bit over-the-top and portentous, but I'm convinced that we look at comics differently than we did 20 years ago, that Stardust and Fantomah timed their re-entries into our sub-culture's consciousness to perfect effect, that the hours we comics fan sometime spend looking at horror or humor from 60 years ago would have been an excursion of minutes in the '80s or '90s. It may be that the last thing we find alarming is one of the first things that comics did well: confronting scale, the intrusion of the massive and unreal into wider perspectives, the sideways slip into matter-of-fact fantasy. Eric Haven understands this effect better than most, and many of the best pages in his Aviatrix
are simply juxtapositions of the dull and ordinary with the monstrous and wrong.
Haven's other gift is a stop-and-start rhythm applied to narrative that provided an amusement park ride would immediately close it down for the debilitating effect it would have on spinal columns. The work on evidence in Aviatrix
#1 exudes a "I will let things progress as I damn well please" charm, even as it tosses its readers right out of the narrative and invites it back in. Certain events unfold through a several-page sequence like a child rolling down a grassy hill and then, suddenly, the next page is its own, crystalline unit, harsh and almost proud in its self-containment and static qualities. Haven's displayed confidence on the page significantly outpaces his skill in doing something with it, at least for now. I've read the comic three times now and I'm not certain if it's best understood as a clash of the mundane with the fantastic or a sly deconstruction of a hero's origin where pride in a job well done and education take the place of a mission embraced and inspiration, which is then wrapped up and compared whole hog to a life of quiet desperation where a transcendent moment involves finding that perfect buzz. It could be both things; it's probably neither. Comics being what they are right now I'm not 100 percent certain we'll see another issue, and it may be better art that way.