A Train Called Love

A Train Called Love 10 (July 2016)

A Train Called Love #10What is this lovely comic? It’s not just lovely in terms of Ennis basically doing an extended happy ending, exaggerated as much as he can, it’s lovely in terms of the pacing. He resolves story threads and then gets things moved along as the reader gets to enjoy the result of all the trauma. And it’s love.

It’s so… nice. And positive. And hopeful. It’s not just slightly hopeful like one thing goes all right, it’s a happy ending where pretty much everything works out all right. It’s comedic, sure, but it’s all really sincere. Ennis has a real affection for these characters.

And the bunny. He and Dos Santos have the cute little bunny in the issue a lot. It’s weird. What the heck is this comic? Ten issues of A Train Called Love and I can’t figure it out. But I hope Ennis and Dos Santos have something else planned. Nothing with zombies or monsters though.

I really hope Dynamite collects this series well because I can’t wait to give it a single sitting read someday. It’s delightful. It’s got a lot of gross-out humor and ultra-violence, but it’s heart is in a nice place. Train’s a wonderful comic. Ennis’s writing is on, Dos Santos’s art is on. The gimmick is the sincerity. They apparently wanted to do a great comedic, ultra-violent, gross-out humor romance comic.

Success.

CREDITS

Else the Puck A Liar Call; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Kevin Ketner, Anthony Marques, Rachel Pinnelas and Matt Idelson; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 9 (June 2016)

A Train Called Love #9There’s so much action, so much ultra-violence–Ennis looses his Nazi contractor (who’s working for the black guy villain, because–come on–it’s Ennis) in a shopping mall. It’s blood, guts and severed heads everywhere. And it’s glorious. Dos Santos goes crazy with it. There’s so much action, so much physical comedy. Oh, yeah. The four dumb guys are all running around naked. Because Ennis.

And it turns out Train Called Love is only ten issues. So it’s all over soon, which is tragic. Ennis has created such a fantastic cast of characters, with Dos Santos able to make them downright loveable through their absurdity. I wanted three more issues. Alas, poor me, just one more.

It does make sense, however. The way Ennis paces this issue, I should’ve guessed it wasn’t going to twelve. There’s a bit of character stuff in the background–none with the four doofuses because they’re doofuses–but Marv’s girlfriend (Penny?) gets to build towards something and then there’s the romance between the spy and Penny’s sister.

The comic’s hectic but never too hectic. It’s never jumbled. It’s Dos Santos’s best art in the book, just because there’s so much for him to keep in motion.

I just wish it wasn’t ending so soon.

CREDITS

Never Mind the Bollocks; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Kevin Ketner, Anthony Marques, Rachel Pinnelas and Matt Idelson; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 8 (May 2016)

A Train Called Love #8Train Called Love is approaching the finish, which might be why Ennis takes something of a breather here. Following the transportation analogy, this issue is mostly talking heads. Characters are summing up, thinking through their decisions, having introspective moments. The comic–I almost called it “the film,” following through on my suspicions it’s Ennis’s attempt at writing outside comics returned to comics–the comic is gearing up, but also winding down. It’s a bridging issue in a series where bridging means character work. Ennis loves this character work.

There’s a lot of humor, of course. Ennis also loves the absurdist humor. Maybe even moreso than usual because Train takes place in the “real” world. Dos Santos’s cartoon-influenced style just highlights the desperate reality of it all.

I do wish I better remembered the characters’ names. Maybe in a single sitting, they’ll stick through. But regardless of them having memorable names, there are some great moments for these characters. Marv’s suffering lady friend, for example. Ennis gives her so much quiet sadness, punctuated by so much ugliness in the world around her. Ennis is daring the reader to hope for the characters. It’s always a dare in this kind of comic.

It’s a mellow issue. There’s no flash, just deliberate writing, deliberate art.

CREDITS

All the Burning Bridges That Have Fallen After Me; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Anthony Marques, Rachel Pinnelas and Matt Idelson; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 7 (April 2016)

A Train Called Love #7It’s not a bridging issue. I can’t believe it, but Ennis actually does just an issue in a limited series. Will the wonders of A Train Called Love never cease. I mean, Dos Santos manages to the lame bro leads sympathetic in their plight. He’s working against Ennis, who’s trying to make them hilarious in their desperation; it’s a reluctant sympathy and it works out. It’s a very neat touch in what’s becoming an indescribable book.

Each issue of Train has the things Ennis takes very seriously amid the gross out humor and absurdities. This issue it’s the unrequited love between a couple characters and Where Eagles Dare. There’s an action movie sight reference, then Ennis turns it into this whole rumination on Mary Ure and empowerment. A couple panels of rumination, yes, but serious rumination and careful exposition. He’s got reasons for what his characters are doing.

I just wish I remembered all their names. There are at least twelve characters to track. It’s a lot. Ennis is going crazy, but in this extremely contained, extremely precise manner. I’ve even gotten over how strange it is to see Dos Santos’s amiable, animated style against Ennis’s absurd black comedy. Dos Santos excels at the Where Eagles Dare moment, which sort of makes him an Ennis artist.

I’m eagerly awaiting the next issue.

CREDITS

Known As The Rat; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Anthony Marques, Rachel Pinnelas and Matt Idelson; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 6 (March 2016)

A Train Called Love #6And, lo it was with the sixth issue of A Train Called Love did the Ennis awaken. Or something of that nature.

Wow. Wow. How did I forget how gross Ennis could get? I mean, he excels at it. And in this issue, he and Dos Santos excel at it through horrific sight gags. It’s awesome. Dos Santos impresses all over the place this issue. His faces have so much expression, so much humor. It’s like Dos Santos’s job is to make sure there’s no question about Ennis’s jokes.

But it’s not just this gross out Ennis book with a Nazi villain–because of course there’s going to be a Nazi villain, it’s Garth Ennis. It really does feel like a Preacher-era Garth Ennis thing done later on. What if it’s City Lights? It would be hilarious if Train Called Love was City Lights.

It can’t be.

Anyway. It’s still Train Called Love, it’s still these great characters having these absurd and awful and hilarious conversations. It just has a supervillain in it now. One with a Nazi sidekick.

I love it.

CREDITS

Mein Fuhrer, I Can Walk; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 5 (February 2016)

A Train Called Love #5It would be interesting–and I’m a little sorry I’ve never done such a thing–but it would be interesting to look at Ennis’s best series each year, best story arcs if he’s doing an on-going. He writes a lot, he actually writes a lot of different genres, but I really do think A Thing Called Love is going to be Ennis’s 2016 highlight.

It’s his sitcom. It’s a Garth Ennis comic populated by all the great supporting characters from his other books given free reign. Dos Santos’s art gives it this absurd distance. It’s a gritty, but peppily animated New York City, which is why I always wonder if Train started as Ennis trying a TV show or film script. It’s so intricate, so precisely paced; a lot of work went into it.

This issue has quite a few funny scenes, which gives Dos Santos a lot of great expressions to draw. He gets through the outlandish to the final (also absurd) talking heads sequence and shows he can do the serious character development too.

If there is such a thing as serious character development in A Train Called Love.

It’s excellent again.

CREDITS

We Can’t Rewind, We’ve Gone Too Far; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 4 (December 2015)

A Train Called Love 4

It’s so funny. How can it be so funny? Ennis isn’t even trying this issue. He’s gotten through two bombshell reveals in the previous issue and here he sort of takes a break from comic narrative and instead goes for easy laughs.

And it works. Something about Ennis’s style, something about Dos Santos’s artwork–Train Called Love is this leisurely, self-indulgent, cheaply funny (in a smart way) fun (big) little comic. Ennis enjoys the scenes. He drags them out; the characters are funnier the longer they’re on page, which is awesome. Dos Santos is responsible for a lot of the narrative pacing; he’s got a lot going on in, movement, expression, placement. His style’s simple (Saturday morning cartoon almost) but he knows what he’s doing with it.

Even though not all of this issue connects as much as it could–the pillow talk sequence feels forced–the conclusion is awesome. Ennis wraps up the issue’s plot (a little), moves a couple subplots forward, including a big one, and then manages to end on another surprise. If A Train Called Love manages to keep this speed and quality for all of its twelve issues, it might actually end up being one of Ennis’s most impressive limited series.

CREDITS

Everybody Knows That I Love You; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Salvatore Aiala Studios; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 3 (December 2015)

A Train Called Love #3What is this comic book? Back in the nineties, did Garth Ennis really want to write a whacked out sitcom? A Train Called Love isn’t set in the nineties, of course, but it feels like it could be. There are just some technological alterations.

It’s a strange book from Ennis because it’s the first time I’m aware of him fully embracing his knowledge of pop culture. And he’s not doing pop culture references, he’s creating something in that vein. He’s showing up Kevin Smith, for example. He’s showing you can do these stories with the pop culture reference being transparent and all encompassing.

I really hope it works out. I can’t imagine it won’t. This issue, which has two outrageous things in both subplots–though to varying level of pressure–is a combination of inventive and, to some degree, realistically acceptable because of Ennis’s skill. But he does set up some characters for big changes.

This one had better go six issues.

CREDITS

What A Lady, What A Night; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 2 (November 2015)

A Train Called Love #2Did Ennis lose a bet? Because A Train Called Love is an astoundingly weird choice for him. Once again, it reads like if all of a sudden there were really good cartoons with short runs. Dos Santos’s art has that vibe as well, but it’s really because of Ennis’s dialogue. The comic is Ennis showing off at how well he can write talking heads. And that aspect, the obvious revelry in his ability, is why I wonder if Ennis lost a bet and had to write the book. Like someone said he couldn’t do a comedy comic book to rival the “hang-out” film. And he said, “All right, read Train Called Love.”

Because it’s hard stuff he’s doing here. Ennis is getting away with extreme, obvious jokes. He’s going after the humor people don’t want to acknowledge liking, much less thinking about, and he’s excelling. That success comes from the character work. Train’s “cast,” thanks to Dos Santos and Ennis, have a lot of personality. Yes, Ennis paces the dialogue to let each person make an impression; yes, Dos Santos’s composition makes them more sympathetic. It’s the synthesis though. I really want to know if Ennis gives Dos Santos compositional instruction in the script or if it’s Dos Santos.

So good.

And then, in addition to this late twenty-something comedy at a bar, there’s this amazing action subplot with some girl and a secret agent.

It’s all so good.

CREDITS

Black Beauty; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

A Train Called Love 1 (October 2015)

A Train Called Love #1What is A Train Called Love? It’s Garth Ennis’s most original, least ambitious (in terms of setting), comedic nonsense in ages. It’s Garth having a piss (as I think the saying goes) and doing a big, multi-character story. If it weren’t Ennis, it’d seem like someone desperately chasing nineties Quentin Tarantino only it isn’t because it’s Ennis.

When Ennis does comedy–and pop culture references–he’s always very careful. Train is no different. There’s a somewhat involved Terminator 1 reference and he and artist Marc Dos Santos make it rewarding to those readers familiar enough with the material to appreciate it and, for those not familiar enough, they keep it accessible. All of Train is accessible, in no small part thanks to Dos Santos’s art.

Dos Santos does it in a cartoon-ish style (good grief, Train would make an amazing cartoon) and it draws attention to the reality in the characters’ situations. Ennis usually has some humor but Train is the first one where, thanks to the art style, it feels like he’s trying out an actual comedy.

It’s really good. Even if the cliffhanger is way too opaque.

CREDITS

Did You Wanna Be Bonnie and Clyde?; writer, Garth Ennis; artist, Marc Dos Santos; colorist, Andrew Elder; letterer, Rob Steen; editor, Rachel Pinnelas; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

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