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The Cross Bronx
posted May 15, 2007
 

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Creators: Michael Avon Oeming, Ivan Brandon
Publishing Information: Image, paperback, 128 pages, April 2007, $14.99
Ordering Numbers: 1582406901 (ISBN10), 9781582406909 (ISBN13)

imageUnlike many of the comics in the recent mini-trend toward crime from bigger, more mainstream publishers, The Cross Bronx features an artist, Michael Avon Oeming, who employs a highly stylized form of cartoon art, with an animator's liveliness shining out from his figures and most scenes in general drenched in shadow. This makes for some lovely scene work, particular establishing shots where Oeming captures the mood across several moments in a series of individual gestures and poses. The downside is that it may take the reader an extra effort to become grounded enough in the world he and Ivan Brandon give the reader so that the narrative's fantastic element seems like a harrowing disruption of the reality they present. It takes some skill to find a level of immersion at which the story moves the way it should, to take it at an honest point of engagement.

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Much of the creators' skill is on display throughout. The story of a cop featuring a crisis of malaise confronted with events so far beyond his conception of faith and justice that he's forced to scramble to safer mental ground, The Cross Bronx provides a great deal of dramatic interest by having a hero that constantly questions the ongoing acts of vengeance that pace the narrative. The text touches on interesting notions of comparative faith and the nature of partnership in the time-honored way of comparing relationships and incidents right within the story, allowing the reader to draw her own inferences. While it might please fans of the crime-influenced mainstream works done by Ed Brubaker, say, or some of Brian Bendis' work (Oeming worked on the similarly toned Powers), it fails to transcend its genre to become a book of compelling general interest. There are too many scenes and moments that feel like they exist not as a logical outcome of the world the artists create, but because they're expected of a crime drama. There are scenes between our man Detective Aponte and a family survivor of two horrific crimes, Mrs. Ortiz, that feel staged in a way that entertains within the scene but kind of kills the momentum of the story in general. Detective Aponte and his wife talk in such broad generalities it's almost like they knew people would be listening in so they rid their dialog of complexities and specific elements of history ahead of time. So while The Cross Bronx may provide the appeal of a crime paperback, you'll never forget that's what you're reading.

updated to change names around, because I'm a dumbass