I continue to feel that graphic novels have a grammar I don't quite grasp. I find it quite difficult to switch between words and pictures and the put the two together to make the whole story. I found the Wisdom graph novel/comic mini-series easier to get to grips with than a lot of the stories in Flight
but I still had a feeling I was only getting the surface gloss of the stories because I wasn't really prepared to give the pictures my full attention. In particular everything seemed to rush along rather and I'd reached the tragic denouement before I really felt I'd got to know the characters, leaving me, as a result, largely unmoved.
Pete Wisdom is a British Mutant from the Marvel Universe who can shoot energy beams from his fingers (though I didn't actually realise that until towards the end of the book). He is head of a special investigations team for MI-13 which, as far as I can make out, consists of Tink (a punk fairy), John Lennon (actually an invading Martian in disguise), Captain Midlands (a geriatric superhero) and Maureen (an empath/telepath). You can probably guess the general tone of the stories from that line-up. Paul Cornell reuses some of his previous ideas, in particular the idea that fairy land is the collective sub-conscious of the British isles, to weave a playful but ultimately tragic tale reminiscent in many ways of the League of Extra-ordinary Gentlemen
. Cornell draws his references widely from pop-culture rather than specifically Victorian/Edwardian novels, as the League does, but the two works appear to me to be trying to achieve something similar.
The artwork was very pretty but there was a strange jump about half-way through - possibly because of a change of artist (I couldn't tell) and Wisdom switched from being a scrawny, under-fed looking man to a rather solid looking rugby-player type. I had to re-read a couple of times to convince myself it was the same person. Presumably Maureen and Tink had been feeding him up. There was a distinct sense of time moving on between each of the stories which again, I think, contributed to the rushed feeling I got from the book as a whole. I'd turn a page and not only had the lead character suddenly filled out but whole relationship dynamics would have shifted.
I like Cornell's work, and this is no exception, but I don't think I'm really all that enamoured of the comic book form.