Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nikolai Dante: The Beast of Rudinshtein

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded. This time, a review of Nikolai Dante: The Beast of Rudinshtein (volume 8) (Rebellion, 2009).

The eighth Nikolai Dante collection was released a few months ago. This compiles all of the episodes that originally appeared in 2000 AD # 1518-1580 - 31 in total, all written by Robbie Morrison, with art by Simon Fraser and John Burns.

Maybe the old reviewing circuits are needing a little juice, because I can't come up with much better of a reason for anyone to own this other than "it's freaking Nikolai Dante, people, come on!" By this stage of the series, Dante is working as Tsar Vladimir's principal envoy and blunt instrument. We catch up with several cast members from previous installments, seeing what terrorism Dante's half-sister Lulu has been committing in the name of the Romanovs, crossing paths with his old criminal sparring partner the Countessa de Winter, and making a swath of new enemies while quietly working out some scheme of his own to get back at the tsar.

This set of episodes from what I term the fourth phase of the Dante epic (it is entering its fifth and probably final stage in current installments) is completely terrific. I think there are a few episodes where John Burns' painting is not as detailed as would be preferred, but his work on "The Tsar's Daughter," which looks into the strange death of Jena Makarov's mother many years previously, is truly remarkable. Simon Fraser is as fantastic as ever. He's teamed with colorist Gary Caldwell and the "Thieves' World" story, in particular, is vibrant and exciting. With the expected excellent reproduction from Rebellion, nice binding, gorgeous paper and matte cover, it's a far better-looking collection than practically anybody else in the industry. One of the best comics of the last decade in a package this gorgeous? Surely everybody is reading this, right?

(Excerpted from Thrillpowered Thursday.)

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