New reviews post on Sunday's.
All posts by Paul D Houston - Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Posted on August 6, 2014 at 11:40 AM||comments (0)|
Coverless Comic Book Reviews has moved to a Tumblr blog. It's just easier to use and post reviews.
Here's the address...
Lots more reviews there, check em out!
|Posted on July 22, 2014 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
The Empty Man #'s 1 & 2
By Cullen Bunn & Vanessa Del Rey
Published by Boom Studios 2014
In my opinion the most dangerous thing to mankind is not nuclear bombs, it's not war, it's disease. Every year there's the threat of a new pandemic, from influenza to AIDS to Ebola. We as humans are the most vulnerable to the smallest things, germs and bacteria and sometimes getting them under control is impossible. THE EMPTY MAN is a story about a strange new disease sweeping the world. No one knows how it's transmitted or where it came from, all anyone knows is people are dying horrifically in very strange ways. Suicides, explosive violent episodes, all out of nowhere. The main story follows two FBI agents trying to figure out what's going on. But the more they investigate the weirder it gets and the worse off it gets for them.
This is a horror story and every good horror story needs a villian or a monster, and while you might say this horrifying disease is enough of a villian for one story, writer Cullen Bunn inserts a weird alien monster who may or may not be the cause of the virus into the story quite darkly and surprisingly. While I enjoyed these two issues, I don't like how plots are inserted into the story with little obvious relation to the main story. I imagine by the end of the series we will see the plot lines tied up, but this alien monster mentioned above literally comes out of nowhere and simply disappears just as quick as he appeared with no explanation. Plus through both issues we're introduced to some preacher and his church that so far shows no ties to the main story. And while I know what foreshadowing is and appreciate it, telling a story like this sold in single episodes is bothersome if you are going to insert unrelated plots as the two I've mentioned above. I'm sure it will all come together at the end, but for now I would like a bit better episodic writing from veteran Cullen Bunn.
Artist Vanessa Del Ray does an admirable job here. She's from that sloppy school of comic art which Paul Pope started. Lots of loose heavy brush strokes for empashis, dark blacks and shadows all over the place. She's good and her style plays well to the subject matter.
By Sam Saturday
Published by Saturday Buffet 2014
Death's Door is pure non-sensical silliness in 18 pages. This couldn't be more poorly drawn, but it didn't matter. If you want to chuckle for 5 minutes at a super silly story about a crazy stupid demon named Necktie caught in a disastrous love triangle then check this out. If you are looking for the opposite of profound or the negligence of relevancy than this book is your book.
Yes I liked this.
Forest Beekeeper and The Treasure of Pushcha
By Tomasz Samojlik
Published by Centrala 2014
The setting is 18th century Poland. The Russians have annexed a part of Polish territory in which dwells an ancient sacred forest, a Pushcha. Our main characters are an old Beekeeper Ignat and a young girl Luci. Ignat is a wise old forest dwelling man, learned in all the secrets of this holy pushcha. Luci's parents were killed in the battles against Russia and now dwells with her poet uncle in the forest. But when tragedy forces Luci into the forest to hide, she finds "Grandpa" Ignat who shelters her.
After the defeat of Polish forces, Ekaterina the Great, ruler of Russia gifts this ancient forest to a favored General who wants nothing more than to raze it and make some money off it. When this General comes to the forest he is bewitched by a legend of lost treasure in the forest and forces old Ignat to take him to it. The treasure is more mystical than the General can handle and Ignat with the help of Luci and some forest friends do their best to fend of the General and his lackey's before they can completely destroy the forest which is their home.
This book is an all-ages book, easily enjoyed by grumpy old men like me and most definitely children and teens as the story is completely engaging in all kinds of ways. There's humor, drama, tragedy and features gorgeous cartoony artwork which is a joy to look at page after page after page. Artist Tomasz Samojlik has crafted a wonderful little treasure of a book, that delighted me and I have no doubt would be a delight to any and all who can get their hands on it.
By Dave Ebersole & Delia Gable
Published by Northwest Press 2014
* Available September 24th 2014 *
Dash is a Private Investigator living in Los Angeles pre-WWII. He's been hired by a mysterious lady who dabbles in antique curiosities and works at the local history museum, to exchange a package with a mysterious business partner of hers. Dash is ambivelant about the job and lets the lady know, taking his time and making sure everything is done by the numbers. Unfortunately, Dash is distracted by a person in his life who keeps getting into trouble and causes him a great deal of distress. You see, Dash is gay and has to hide it. Being a cop or private investigator is for the macho, the hardboiled or so we're supposed to believe. So he has to hide his romantic relationship with his in and out of trouble lover. Dash is a man of the law and this boyfriend of his is decidedly not. When the cops inform Dash that his lover has been found dead and the cause of death is quite mysterious, Dash's world gets turned upside down.
Despite the few eye-rolling bits of dialogue in this issue, it was a really enthralling story. It's not your typical gritty crime or private eye story, but it does have a nice sense of mystery and intrigue which pulls you along. Northwest Press is one of the better publishers of LGBT comics in America, but the fact our main character is a gay man is not the focus here, it's an aside and it's told in the manner which you would expect from a real person living in America in the 1940's. It's subtle and sad, but real.
The art meanwhile is just ok. It's a little wonky anatomically and the overall design is sub-par, particularly the cover. But it's good enough to where it's not distracting and doesn't hinder the flow of the story in any manner.
I'm very much looking forward to more of this series. For more info on this future release and how to buy, go here.
Curse #'s 1-4
By Micheal Morici, Tim Daniel, Riley Rossmo & Colin Lorimer
Published by Boom Studios 2014
Unique Werewolf stories have got to be harder than doing unique Vampire stories, even with the overloaded pathology of Vampire fiction available nowadays. In my opinion, there's only so much that can be done with the Werewolf mythology to keep it fresh. But that didn't stop Micheal Morici, Riley Rossmo and gang to try to do their best with CURSE. The plot of CURSE is about a guy who captures a werewolf and keeps him locked in his cellar trying to glean his secrets from him. Particularly his ability to stay alive century after century. The main characters son is dying from cancer and it seems hopeless. The dad in his despair comes up with the idea to steal the idea of immortality from the werewolf in some way and transfer it to his son. Unfortunately the local police are chasing after the werewolf too, thinking he's a mere serial killer, when in fact he's an actual monster. Eventually the police catch up to our main character and his captive werewolf and in this desperate hour this man willingly converts his dying son into a werewolf to save his life.
That's the plot in a nutshell, there's some other specifics and details which give the story more oomph, but for a desperate attempt to make a unique werewolf story, these guys did a pretty good job. While the werewolf aspect was decent, what I liked most was the pacing of the story and the overall feel of dread. Every page dripped with the anticipation of tragedy. This story at first didn't seem like the happy ending kind of story with death and more death draped throughout the book. But damn, in a dark way it did end up happily ever after and it didn't weaken the story one bit.
The artwork throughout the book was solid. The color work in particular, while using a muted palette was quite good, giving the story a stunning bleak look to it. The general pen and ink work while quite attractive, at times would go from a strong panel to a weak one too many times. But that's a minor quibble as taken together these four issues were very well illustrated and I'm sure these guys will only get better with time.
In the end I would recommend this to any werewolf enthusiast and/or fans of monster books in general.
By Warren Ellis & Jacen Burrows
Published by Avatar Press 2001
The early to mid-2000's were a fertile period for Warren Ellis and comic books. I'm a huge fan of Ellis's work and I've still not read everything he's done between the late 1990's and early 2000's. But I finally got my hands on a copy of DEEP BLUE for a super bargain and I have to say this is a fucking trip! The plot is wickedly strange with a cop caught in a super corrupt city and trying his best to find a serial killer. Plus our main character seems to be losing his mind as everything keeps going real strange. Hallucinations, pains about the head and body. Voices in his head and etc. We find out soon enough why everything keeps going strange for our main character as it's revealed he's been stuck in a virtual world of the CIA's making. With the use of a made up drug LD50, the CIA has been pumping our main character and others full of this drug and keeping them all alive in a shared virtual reality. Our main character, Frank, breaks the hallucination and all is revealed.
There's a lot more strangeness and darkness within this story than my above little synopsis relates, but overall this was a fascinating little gem, and I'm glad I finally got to read it. Artist, Jacen Burrows is an interesting case. His cover for this is just terrible, yet by the end of the book, his pages are quite succinct and wickedly solid. His is a style hyper-realistic, yet he's still struggling with all the details. Burrow's flaws on this book did not take away from the story at all and I recommend this highly.
Doctor Spektor #2
By Mark Waid & Neil Edwards
Published by Dynamite Entertainment 2014
I was a lot surprised by this. Dynamite Entertainment recently acquired the rights to the old Gold Key characters (Magnus Robot Fighter, Turok Son of Stone, Doctor Spektor, etc...) shook them up and has spat them out and in this particular case quite well. Writer Mark Waid is a master of the serial comic book adventure form. His script for this was equal parts bewilderment, excitement, allure, mind bending and catchy. Waid's by no means my favorite writer, but I've always respected his talents and abilities. On this particular book and issue he caught me hook-line-and sinker.
This Doctor Spektor is a super rich entertainer, stage magician and real life sorceror. Something is twisting, time, space and reality as Spektor knows it. His friends are either dead, displaced or non-existent and time is all a jumble and he has to figure it out before he himself ends up one of those ways.
The way Waid told the story is the key here. It's not the standard straightforward comic script, beginning, middle, end/hook. It's a jumble, with time all mixed up and characters either real or not coming in and out of focus. It's quite clever, actually. What I also like is Waid has up to this point, taken the superhero aspect out of the character which was pre-dominant in previous ititerations of the Doctor Spektor character, which I think is key. We've enough superheroes, and Doctor Spektor has always failed as a superhero book, why not try something different?
|Posted on July 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
Brandon Montclare is the current writer of the comic book Rocket Girl published by Image Comics. Along with artist Amy Reeder they are making a fine, fun little book. Montclare has not been shy recently detailing the financial aspects of making and publishing his book. He's made several comments at various comic news oriented blogs and sites and the latest one I read at The Comics Beat, kinda blew my mind...
"Hopefully we’ll bump sales up, post Vol 1 TPB. But with all channels, we’re banked through issue #10 where we’re making as much as a our Marvel/DC rates. We’ll be able to clear $600/page (split commeasurate with M/DC rates for script/pencils/inks/colors) for 200 pages. No small feat, considering we retain ownership of the property. Beyond that we’ll have to see."
That's an excerpt of his full comment from this thread.
Here are the latest sales numbers as reported by Diamond Comics Publishers of Rocket Girl since it's inception...
Rocket Girl (Image)
10/2013: Rocket Girl #1 - 20,287
11/2013: Rocket Girl #2 - 12,592 (-37.9%)
12/2013: Rocket Girl #3 - 10,976 (-12.8%)
03/2014: Rocket Girl #4 - 10,369 (-5.5%)
05/2014: Rocket Girl #5 - 9,630 (-7.1%)
Obviously these numbers aren't exact or complete as international orders, backorders and miscellaneous outlet orders are not taken into account, but as you can see the book's sales are falling, which is a shame as I find the book fun and gorgeous looking. It's not the best book out there, but it's definitely one of the better action/adventure books currently in the American market.
But from Montclare's comments above, even if slightly exaggerated, goes to show, through hard ass work and having some talent you can make money making comic books.
|Posted on July 10, 2014 at 4:10 PM||comments (0)|
Dog Butts And Love And Stuff Like That... And Cats
By Jim Benton
Published by NBM Publications 2014
Jim Benton is funny and he is a good artist and there's some real comedy gold to be found in this book. I especially enjoyed how his style changed throughout the book mattering on the subject matter he was focusing on. From the sketchy to the hyper detailed to the super cartoony, Benton is a master at his craft. Some of the excerpts shown above depict the funny to be found within this book. But there are some duds and there are a few cartoons which I just didn't get, but they are outweighed by the funny ones 2:1. This book is a perfect read for a lazy day or an airplane ride or even on the toilet.
While I hadn't heard of Jim Benton before this, I am super glad he's now on my radar as I will be definitely be looking for more of his work. It's silly and ridiculous and entirely enjoyable!
Department O #'s 1 & 2
By Jamie Gambell, Andrew Maclean & Heather Breckell
Published by Monkeypipe Studios 2014
If making a good comic book meant all you had to do was make it look really gorgeous and put whatever you wanted into the word balloons, these two issues would win a thousand awards. Artist Andrew Maclean and Colorist Heather Breckell give us page after page of outstanding comic book artwork. Andrew Macleans style is particularly captivating because it's clearly influenced by Mike Mignola, but it has a clear-lined cartoony style to it that makes it pop. Maclean has tremendous sense of composition and design too, while also Mignola influenced is stronger than can be expected from a relatively unknown artist like Maclean. Heather Breckell's colors add a depth and mood to Macleans line work making every page a sheer joy to look at.
But as far as story and characters go, this book needs a lot of fucking work. It's nearly unreadeable in all honesty. Writer Jamie Gambell stacks plot cut after plot cut onto each other, not giving any of the plots enough depth to take hold of the reader. I guess the guy with the beard is the main character and has something seriously to do with the story, but what exactly? All these creepy supernatural goonies scattered throughout these two issues, are they important? Do we need to remember who they are? Nothing about the story in these two issues sticks with me. Writer Jamie Gambell is super lucky to have the art team he has on this book, otherwise I can't imagine it ever getting published.
Having said that, yeah I will be looking for issue three because that's how much I liked the artwork, I need to see more of Andrew Macneal's work.
Dead Letters #1
By Christopher Sebela, Chris Visions & Ruth Redmond
Published by Boom Studios 2014
A man wakes up with no memory of who he is, how he get where he is and why some ugly thugs are shooting at him. But instinct takes over and this anonymous guy figures out pretty quickly he's got some amazing skills. This guy eventually finds out his name is Sam and he's being recruited by two rival gangs. Why, he doesn't know yet, but even after killing a bunch of these gangsters, answers aren't found until a gorgeous redhead coincidentally saves his bacon. She fills Sam in on his background and reveals a hellacious twist at the end of this issue which I never saw coming. I honestly thought this was going to be another weird take on superhumans, but nope, we get something different and I like it.
Christopher Sebela's story is fast paced and action filled from page one, only slowing down at the end for the big reveal. Chris Visions artwork, meanwhile is a frenetic mess of good looking panels and pages. Ruth Redmonds colors really add an otherworldly look to the pen and ink artwork, giving it a blurry, dark and eye catching glow to the pages.
I'm looking forward to the next issue.
Bad Ass #'s 1-4
By Herik Hanna and Bruno Bessadi
Published by Dynamite Entertainment 2014
This much too short series will go alongside Garth Ennis and Amanda Conner's "The Pro" as one of the craziest and most fun books about superheroes and supervillians ever. The main character is a guy with the power of luck or something like that. He's a supervillian of the worst kind, he just likes to do bad things. With his luck power he seems able to accomplish almost anything he wants and never suffers any serious repercussions. These four issues were a stream of rotten villiany told in an absurd and darkly humorous way and I loved every single page! But, there's a problem with this series. It's literally an open ended story without any kind of digestable beginning or ending, it's literally a stream of events that only end because the book has run out of pages. Which was a problem to me. I loved this story, but without any real conclusion or insinuation that we will see the rest of the story, this felt unfinished and left me unsatisfied.
After saying all that, if you are a fan of superhero comics and just want to read some good rotten fun about a super awesome bad guy and don't care about a discernible story as we normally understand them, then I recommend getting this comic.
|Posted on July 9, 2014 at 12:50 AM||comments (0)|
The Mt. Rushmore of Comics
by Paul D. Houston
(This is of course entirely subjective, but in my mind these four men are what made comic books what they are today. - Mt. Rushmore is of course the monument in South Dakota, USA dedicated to the four "greatest" presidents of American History.)
There would be no Marvel Comics without this guy. Along with Stan Lee he built an empire. Couple that with his work before Marvel Comics (Monsters, Romance, War and etc.) and then add his DC work on Jimmy Olsen, his "Fourth World" comics and the dozen or so self-created properties and you have one of the most awesome comic book creators ever.
Sometimes I wonder though, say Kirby was working in comics currently, would Marvel or DC give this guy a chance? His later style was so "alternative" with it's wonky anatomy, spectral composition and delirious linework that I have a feeling he'd never get a whiff of a chance at the Big Two American comic publishers.
Sometimes I think of Tezuka as a Japanese amalgam of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. He has all the artistic talents of a Kirby, but the storytelling chops and promotional wherewithal of a Stan Lee. Tezuka was the first super popular Japanese comics artist, getting his start after WWII. Initially his work was very childlike and kid friendly, but once he had established a fanbase, his stories quickly developed into grandiose epics that have no compare. Tezuka was a rare artist, one of those few who continued to peak, with no obvious lag in quality or quantity of work in his entire career. He was known in the Japanese manga industry as one of the hardest workers at his craft and literally worked on his comics till the day he died.
European comics were never the same once Moebius came onto the stage. His intricate and finely detailed work on Blueberry spawned dozens of imitators. His sci-fi works with Jodorowsky transformed the genre the world over. His most famous stories were exotic, surreal and psychedelic, crafting world after world on an LSD trip that never seemed to end. The number of famous artists influenced by Moebius number in the dozens.
Moore began his illustrious career in English comics, but it was his work for American comic publishers where he gained the most notoriety. His stories were of a level never seen before in comic books. His love and reverence for the comics that had come before him, infused his work as he brought it into a new stratosphere. Moore took comics out of the adolescent gutter they were largely confined to at the time and brought them to national attention with his work on Swamp Thing, Watchmen and others. His effect on comics still lingers with the plethora of "mature" and outlandish copycat efforts. Without Moore's groundbreaking works comics may still linger in the gutters of adolescence.
|Posted on July 1, 2014 at 11:15 AM||comments (0)|
A Waste of Time Vol. 2 #1
By Rick Worley
Published by Northwest Press 2014
This is a hard comic to review. Basically this is an auto-bio comic with stuffed animal stand-ins for presumably real characters or at least for the artist, Rick Worley. The first dozen pages of this issue were a whining rant where the main character, Rick the Rabbit bemoaned his struggles as a comic book artist. Honestly, it was a chore to get through these pages. It's a rant comic fans have heard a dozen times over, yeah it's hard to be a comics artist, we get it, fuck off already. But when Rick introduces, Persimmon the Octopus in an attempt to liven up the story, it does exactly that. Things get a little weird (see image above) and voila! Interesting! From there we get a little break in that action to set up the other characters of the story, Rickets and Prester, who are in a relationship, but Prester is in a confused state battling between conservative Christian values and his own human desire for love and a way to get high.
There are a few other tidbits to the drama which I found quite interesting and obviously Rick Worley knows what he's doing. Despite the poor opening to this comic, I'm interested in seeing more as Rick is a good cartoony comics artist and I like his abrupt breaks in scenes and situations which kept this reader involved.
For more information and to buy if your local comic shop doesn't carry it, go here!
The Great Disappointment: Everything Dies Volume 1
By Box Brown
Box Brown is a unique comics creator. His subject matter is largely of a mature quality, dealing with weighty matters, both philosophical and graphic. His art meanwhile is very cartoony giving it a childish and humourous manner. The dichotomy of his style though is appealing to me. The cartoony manner of his art takes the edge of the sometimes super serious nature of his stories. If his style was more serious and lifelike it may not be as interesting. Everything Dies volume 1 deals with a very deep and philosophical subject - religion, particularly Box Brown's take on it. Well, actually the book is a bit sloppy on it's point, in the manner that it is about Box Brown's impressions of religion, but the book also features real life accounts of how religion has affected society in small and large ways. And then there's other stuff too.
What I like about this book is it's depth, every story is well thought out and has a moving meaning behind it. From Box Brown's own personal relationship to religion, growing up catholic to losing his religion as he grew older. To stories of religious figures of the past and present who predict of Jesus coming back and changing the world. To little personal stories of people who've affected Box in intimate personal and slightly religious ways. But then there are also stories in the book which have no relationship to the overall religion aspect of the book. Which kinda seems odd, but then you realize it's a good story, so whatever. At 230 some pages this was a hefty and solid read despite it's off the rails, rambling manner.
Tank Girl: The Gifting #'s 1-4
By Alan Martin, Rufus Dayglo and Ashley Wood
Published by IDW Comics 2007
I've always enjoyed the raucous criminally insane antics of Tank Girl and her boyfriend Booga, so to finally get my hands on this gorgeous mini-series is a true delight. The combination of Rufus Dayglo's trademark Tank Girl art style, with Ashley Wood's sketchy painterly embellishments make this one of the craziest and best looking set of Tank Girl stories ever!
These 4 issues are basically just an anthology of mis-adventures Tank Girl and her crew get involved in. From accidentally killing Tank Girl's favorite musical groups to battling redneck yokels to recruiting a new member to the gang, Boat Girl, these stories are delightfully wicked as all the best Tank Girl Stories are. Writer Alan Martin's wickedly charming dialogue is so fucking raucous and fun that despite the obvious paper thin plots, every one of these short Tank Girl stories hits home. Garth Ennis' got nothing on Alan Martin when it comes to dark humour. The only drawback to this series was the fact, Ashley Wood exited the stories early in issue 4. Of course Rufus Dayglo is an excellent artist in his own right, but Ashley Woods wacky style added a uniqueness to the stories that I completely adored.
I don't know what it is exactly about this character and her crew, but every now and again I crave this kind of comic book entertainment. No holds barred, evilly fun, laugh out loud antics only possible in a comic book, Tank Girl is and forever will be the shit.
|Posted on June 24, 2014 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
Blue Estate #'s 1-12
By Victor Kalvachev, Andrew Osborne, Toby Cypress, Nathan Fox and many others
Published by Image Comics 2011-12
Some people would say they could get basically the same kind of plot and concept in a tv show or movie. And yeah, sure there are tons of TV shows and movies about gangsters, shoot-em-ups/damsels in distress and the like, but the unique thing about comics is, there is no bad acting or set errors. And you can read the story at your pace rather than the directors. Plus, this gangster epic featured the artistic talent of about a dozen top notch super-star talented comic book artists. That's what makes comics so special. Fine art on every page, telling a story. The art on this book is what I found the most appealing and unique thing about it because usually when a comic is split up amongst different artists, the differing art styles clash with each other, making the book read terribly. But not in Blue Estate (the name of the Italian mob leader's horse by the way). Each artist brought his own unique talents to the table and passed it off to the next with almost no disruption in reading enjoyment. Sure there were a few quibbles when it came to main characters appearances changing slightly per artist, but not too much as to confuse who is who. While I could go on and on about the artists that contributed here, I will let these few preview pages stand as an example of the excellent quality of work we got throughout these 12 issues. It's a stunning conglameration of work that I enjoyed immensely. This is truly a gorgeous book.
The main plot without all the sub details that fill this story is that, Rachel Maddox, failed actress,married to Steven Seagal analogue Bruce Maddox gets involved in her husbands soiree's with the Russian Mob. Her involvement inadvertantly triggers a gang war between the Russians and the Italians which leaves almost everyone dead by the end of the story. Characters come and go, but it's Rachel upon whom this story balances. She's not a nice person per se, but she's not a killer or a gangbanger like all the others seemingly focused on in this story, thus she lands the heroine spotlight by default.
These sprawling 12 issues were filled with subplots and twists and turns, but every single one of them landed home by the end. I applaud this, because sometimes when this many sub-plots are throw into a story, usually the writer fails to land the ending. Not here though, this delivered. Despite all the death and torture in this story, it's almost funny in a way. Many of the characters are terrible stereotype riff-offs and the joking nature of many of the deaths moved this story along in an almost lighthearted way.
I highly recommend giving this a read.
Moose Kid Comics #1
By Jamie Smart and lots and lots of other people
Published by Fumboo LTD 2014
Whoa, this is an awesomely weird comic book. Aimed at kids, it's surely enjoyable by the adult crowd though with it's page after page of gorgeous artwork. It's filled with one or two page humor comics densely packed into one unique little attractive package. But the real gem and why I picked this up is the tale of Young Tank Girl. I'm not sure how many Tank Girl origins are out there, but this one is pretty tight even if it's only a two pager.
The humor overall is decidedly softcore and kid friendly, but there's a lotta sweet little gems to be found herein even though I'm a grumpy old guy. Particular favorites of mine were, "Last One Out" by Will Kirby, "Beelzababy" by T. Reverson and "Scrambles" by Chris Garbutt, but there are plenty more of high quality little tales herein. Plus you can get issue one for free! Go here and get Moose Kid Comics #1 now!
Blue is the Warmest Color
By Julie Maroh
Published in France by Glenat 2011 in the USA by Arsenal Pulp Press 2013
I'm not necessarily a fan of love stories, but I'd read so many good things about this book, I figured I would give it a try. And holy shit...this was a powerful story. My next task is to track down the movie adaptation and see how it holds up in comparison. This story is a coming of age story for our main character Clementine, a young French girl coming to terms with who she is and her budding sexuality. As it turns out and at first to Clementine's horror, is that she's gay. At first she refuses to believe it to be true, but her desires for one girl in particular, the pretty dyke with the crazy blue hair, Emma proves to be too much and Clementine gives into her natural base instincts.
Emma and Clementine's romance grows, despite the ordeals of being silly humans with our jealousies and prejudices and Clementine comes to realize she is finally happy. Clem's parents meanwhile are homophobes and disown her. Clementines adult years are a struggle and she turns to drugs and her and Emma's realtionship struggles. The two break up, but when they reunite, Clementine experiences a heart attack which she is unable to recover from to Emma's great chagrin.
Yes, this book is depressing, but in that rare beautiful way some things can be. Clementine's struggle with her sexuality is not that uncommon really, but being raised as she was it's the greatest ordeal of her life. Writer/Artist Julie Maroh's depiction of this romance is so full of nuance and detail, that no trite little synopsis I type here will do it justice. It's a filling and captivating story of two women falling in love, despite society's bias and aggression towards them. This is the kind of story that all teens should know about in case they too are dealing with something similar. It's not an instruction manual per se, but it's a story that could surely inspire or motivate. Maybe I'm wrong, in the end it's a beautiful tragedy and I enjoyed it immensely.
|Posted on June 19, 2014 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
Sweet! I'm hardly an Adventure TIme fan, but this is gonna be too good to pass up!
Just announced from Boom Studios....
June 19, 2014 - Los Angeles, CA - KaBOOM!, an award-winning imprint of publisher BOOM! Studios, and Cartoon Network Enterprises, the licensing and merchandising arm of the network, are pleased to announce that July’s ADVENTURE TIME #30 will be a special stand-alone issue that honors the thriving DIY (“Do It Yourself”;), mini-comics culture, printed on uncoated paper and made to look like a homemade zine from the citizens of Ooo. This issue features a cavalcade of indie creators, including longtime ADVENTURE TIME writer Ryan North and artists Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb; plus artists Liz Prince (Alone Forever), Carey Pietsch, Rebecca Tobin, Kat Philbin, T. Zysk (ADVENTURE TIME), Missy Pena (BRAVEST WARRIORS), Jesse Tise, Ian McGinty (ADVENTURE TIME, BRAVEST WARRIORS), David Cutler, and Yumi Sakugawa (I Think I Am in Friend-Love with You).
“We love do-it-yourself zines and minicomics here at BOOM!, and some of us actually make them on our own time,” said BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon. “It’s so much fun to see all of these artists, who have their own styles and POV making zines, bringing those talents to this unique issue.”
ADVENTURE TIME #30 is available for pre-order now through comic shops under Diamond Order Code MAY141187 with a cover price of $3.99. It goes on sale July 16th. The main cover is illustrated by Mike Holmes (ADVENTURE TIME), with a fan subscription cover by Nick Iluzada, and a retailer incentive cover by Luke Pearson. Not sure where to find your nearest comic retailer? Use comicshoplocator.com or findacomicshop.com to find one!
|Posted on May 1, 2014 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
Blood Queen #1
By Troy Brownfield, Fritz Casas & others
Published by Dynamite Entertainment 2014
Despite the often times weak artwork by Fritz Casas, this was a decently intriguing story. Writer Troy Brownfield's script does a wonderful job in overcoming Fritz Casas mundane, overhatched, poorly composed artwork. Troy Brownfields script is about a beautiful woman who happens to be a healer witch employed by some anonymous king to heal his baby. She does so, but finds out about a wicked magick that's infested the castle and kingdom and plans to put a stop to it. The main character, Elizabeth is a terrible combo of popular female stereotypes - - saucy vixen, warrior, pin-up girl, but again, Troy Brownfields script overcomes this terrible characterization to deliver a sneakily intriguing story.
Despite these minor accolades, I do feel this story will come off it's wheels in issue two. It has all the signs, the poor main character, the cheesy romance angle, and plots that need tangled explanations in later issues which resolve things very poorly. Nonetheless, for what it is, I enjoyed this and will pick up the next issue.
Dan the Unharmable #'s 1-12
By David Lapham and Rafael Ortiz
Published by Avatar Press 2013-24
Well now this was an odd one. It's a story equally intriguing and yet unfulfilling. Main character Dan is a superpowered dude, with super strength and invulnerability and super amnesia. He's unable to remember anything beyond maybe 5 years ago and has trouble hanging onto even the most recent events surrounding him. But he's not troubled by any of this, he goes with the flow, mostly living like a bum or when so inclined doing investigation work or enforcer work. Whatever suits his fancy at that moment in time. Shit goes wrong for Dan when a young girl finds him and tells him that she's his daughter. This leads into a chain of events which goes terribly wrong on so many levels only ending when Dan's memories suddenly come back at the very end of the story and only after a great many people have died and/or severely psychologically messed up.
For the first six issues this was a nearly pitch perfect gripping tale. Freaky as can be, but enthralling. Our main man Dan decides rescuing his kids from the clutches of a fucked up scam artist isn't such a bad thing all things considered and does this in a gore-ifficly manner. What a good guy. But from issue seven on, writer David Lapham seemed to struggle to find a place to go with the main characters. He throws in a bunch of plot points over the next few issues and then only hastily ties some of them up in the last issue. Unfortunately the last few issues were so chaotic and full of plot holes that one final issue is not enough to tie them all up. I felt quite cheated by the ending to this story. There may have been behind the scenes publishing issues which caused all this, but in the end it's a poor product overall. They should have stopped after issue 6.
Artist Rafael Ortiz though is quite an interesting talent. His style is odd for an Avatar Press book, definitely not house style. He has a really good ability at displaying human emotion and human horror in an exaggerated realistic way that I found quite appealing. He was strong on his details and backgrounds. And his overall ability to keep the story flowing is quite good. I'd like to see more work from him.
By Chad Kultgen & Piotr Kowalski
Published by Archaia Press 2014
This is a somewhat ambitious and definitly sprawling sci-fi epic of universe shattering proportions. The setting is grand, it's the far far future and humans have lived and spread across the universe. They've thrived and discovered a great many new things. But the discoveries come to an end when their studies find that the universe is dying, petering out, no new stars are birthing and matter is literally dissolving all around them. But the humans in their epic desire to live, with the help of two warring alien intelligences figure out a way to possibly halt their universes death. But nothing is ever simple and the method in which they want to save the universe actually brings about a final great war and all looks bleak. It's up to a crew of humans and aliens to find another way to save the universe and stop this great war from being the last thing anyone ever does.
What I liked most about this story is the laymans science. There are huge holes in the science, but it's wonderfully ambitious in it's naivety. The off the wall physics lend to the story a great many plots and character building moments. The main characters are well thought out even if not enough time is given to fleshing them out as I would have liked. Writer Chad Kultgen really does a good job on the fast paced, edge of our seat storytelling. His abstract science theories he pumps into this story really made my imagination race and jump at the possibilities. The ideas are unique and fun even if hugely unrealistic.
Artist Piotr Kowalski does a pretty good job here, he's helped tremendously by colorist Vladimir Popow, giving us a good solid art style that grounds us to the story. It's sci-fi fantastical when it needs to be and old school nuts and bolts comic book style in other ways. Not a bad job by these two artists.
Clockwork Angels #'s 1 & 2
By Kevin J. Anderson, Neil Peart & Nick Robles
Published by Boom Studios 2014
Yeah, Neil Peart, drummer for rock group Rush, has a comic book made based on one of his stories. Lead writer on this comic book, Kevin J. Anderson is a veteran comic book and novel writer so he knows what he's doing when it comes to crafting an interesting read. And Clockwork Angels issues 1 & 2 are indeed a good read. The basic story is that a man named the Watchmaker has recreated a land called Albion and set up a society there based on order and of a principle of law in which he is the lord and master of. He's a benevelont master, but one of punctuality and strict adhesion to his rule of law. This order has made of Albion a land of peace and joy, even though most ideas of true freedom are restricted. Our main character is a young man whom dreams of other places, bigger, brighter places, places of legend and lore and so he hitchhikes a train out of his small suburban town into the bright lights of the capital city. There he plans to chase his dreams. But the Watchmaker has a mischievious adversary in a man, named the Anarchist. The Anarchist disrupts the Watchmaker's finely tuned rythyms of order and balance in the name of true freedom, as he so believes. Our main character inadvertantly gets involved with the Anarchist and surely crazy things are bound to happen over the course of the next few issues.
This is an interesting two issues, what I like most is that writer Kevin J. Anderson is constantly folding in new mysteries with subtle plot twists, keeping us guessing so to speak. The overall story reads splendidly and actually feels like in the end this story will end up being just someone's dream, as the narrative is coincidentally odd in that sort of dreamlike manner. Artist Nick Robles overall style also lends itself to an odd dreamy, almost blurry interpretation. He's a talented guy and technically he's quite gifted, even though the style is not something I'm crazy about. Something about it seems too digital, too glossy, too unreal. Nonetheless this is a good couple of issues and I'm curious to see what happens next.
Snaked #'s 1-3
By Clifford Meth, Rufus Dayglo & Christian Krank
Published by IDW Comics 2008
This was originally panned to be a 5 issue mini-series, but it never got past issue three. I'm not sure why, it's an extraordinary story, filled with crazy ideas and gorgeously strange art. I guess there was a bit of controversy surrounding it as the core of the story is based on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in NYC and Washington D.C. But I mean theories on the why's and how's and who's of 9/11/01 is old hat now, I can't imagine that alone would skuttle the realease of the last two issues of this series? Nonetheless, even at an unfinished three issues, this story was fascinating. As mentioned above we get a hypothesis on who or what cause 9/11, but interweaved into the story is a plot involving meta-humans of the snake variety. It seems according to this story that meta-humans have long existed in the world, but have been hunted to near extinction or pushed into hiding by us regular folk. Now the US government in it's faulty omniscience has known about these snake meta-humans for awhile and utilize them when necessary. This here story is based on the latest snake meta-human, Bill Timmons, who actually held a normal desk job working for the government, only to be framed for downfall, which unleashes Bill Timmons sense of revenge and causes him to flip and go on a killing spree the world's not seen in a while.
Now there's some other conspiracies involved with Timmons, his family and their connection to the government and 9/11 which is both tantalizing and confusing and with the whole story not explained, we are left in the dark and guessing at the connections. It's disappointing that IDW did not finish this story, but supposedly it was optioned for film, so maybe in another format we will see this story to it's conclusion. Despite this major bummer, what we have is a beautifully strange set of comic books that I highly recommend. Artists Rufus Dayglo and Christian Krank give us an exposition on every page on how to stretch the comic form to it's limits. The tones and colors and scratchy quality of the art brings to the story a sense of horror and insanity that punches you in the face at every turn.
This comic is a sadly overlooked gem, I hope it does make it to the big screen, I'd like to someday see the whole story to it's wicked conclusion.
D4VE #'s 1-3
By Ryan Ferrier & Valentin Ramon
Published by Monkeybrain Comics 2014
On an Earth populated by Robots, an invasion of big, brown and highly organic aliens from another planet has unexpectedly brought this robotic Earth into a sort of chaos. Even though the aliens largely profess a liturgy of peace, there's something about their motives which don't quite seem right. Our main character, D4VE is an ex soldier bot, really one of the more celebrated of the bunch from days gone by, unfortunately, this Earth thought their bashing and killing days were done and bots like D4VE were retired, shoved into menial day jobs which didn't quite suit their programming. So D4VE succumbed to a menial job and fell into a deep dark depression. Despite the good job, loving wife and progeny, D4VE could not put it all together. His life was falling apart. But now with these new alien beasties come to town, D4VE feels the old drive to bust heads rise up again. He's not felt this alive in a long time. Unfortunately, the rest of his world has basically given up to the aliens rather than fight, they don't have it in em anymore. Well, D4VE isn't going to give up that easily and his drive to live and be free comes back in full form. He's going to save the world!
To be honest, this series did not really get good until this latest third issue. The first two were funny, but a bit dull to be honest. But there was a spark amidst the story detriments struggling to get free and I stayed with the series. Lo and Behold, issue three was funny and had a great power flow to it that was missing from the first two issues. Plus artist Valentin Ramon stepped it up big time on the art. I think he's found his groove, the level of detail and intricacy has skyrocketed since the first issue. Way to go guys! I'm on this book till the end now.
Brass Sun #1
By Ian Edginton & INJ Culbard
Published by Rebellion Publications 2014
I know I just read a comic book, but I couldn't put the thought aside that this reads like a science-fiction novel with pictures. At first it's indeed a bit dense, but once you've captured all the intricacies and oddities, digested them and let your mind believe, this was one hell of an opening sequence. Wow! What writer Ian Edginton and I. Culbard have designed for us is a system of planets literally connected by a great machine in space, all on their own spindles and connected to a central magnificent cog. Physics be damned, the idea sets the pace for the story in such an odd way, at first it's hard to wrap your mind around, but once you've done so, the science-fiction setting is so cool, it's entrancing in it's uniqueness.
The plot is that the main world on which this story takes place is growing cold, millions of people are dying, but the ruling elite will not admit that The Great Cog on which their planet runs may be going bad. All the scientific experts have been terminated and only the leaders who hold fast to their faith in the Great Cog hold sway. Unfortunately one surviving scientific leader, attended by his granddaughter begins a quest to save their world and it's inhabitants by staging a scheme to get the granddaughter into the machinery of the great machine that runs the planetary system itself.
This story being so oddly dense and wonderful is a bit hard to explain, really in a plain manner. All I know is I can't fucking wait till the next issue comes out!
Bee and Puppycat #'s 1 & 2
By Natasha Allegri
Published by Boom Studios 2014
This is what sweetness, cuteness and charming looks like in comic book form. Unfortunately, there's no real story substance to these first two outings. It seems like, we're supposed to know all about these characters automatically and just on their cuteness alone we should like them? Unfortunately, putting appearances aside, this book is about as vacant as one can make.
Natasha Allegri is a super talented artist, her style is so awesome and colorful and unique, that I adore her work. This is a gorgeous looking couple of comic books, but a comic book needs to have a narrative of some sort and these two issues mostly do not. Issue 1 and 2 are so vapid they are boring. I mean, who cares? Why is this series a big deal? Is it a big deal? Maybe not, it won't be once enough people have read it.
Burn the Orphanage: Reign of Terror #'s 1 & 2
By Sina Grace, Daniel Freedman & others
Published by Image Comix 2014
Woof, these two issues are a major downer. I thoroughly enjoyed the first volume of Burn the Orphanage starring Rock the brawler as he bashed heads through an extraordinary set of ordeals, but this volume 2 is off to a slow and boring start. As unique as volume one was, volume two is as much not. Main character, Rock comes back to town after his interdimensional travels of the last volume to find his city and friends under siege from a maniacal corporation bent on oppression and control. Rock, having been gone for the past few months doesn't know how this all came to be and no one is interested in telling him or us the audience how this came to be.
These first two issues are basically filled with just our main characters punching a bunch of robots. There's a slightly menancing plot somewhat connected to the previous volume lazily dangling over the storyline, but it's so untantalizing, I could care less. So far these first two issues are weak, boring and just a mess. The art contributes to the messy quality. For some reason the artwork has lost all the luster from the first volume. Sina Grace's work is sub-par here compared to the fresh and furious work he produced in volume one. Also the coloring on this new volume is atrocious. Imagine phosphorent lights trying to shine through a dark muddy lake. That's what the coloring looks like on these two issues. A mish mash of bright highlights and muddy textures, simply awful.
I don't think I will be reading the next issue.
A Bag of Marbles
By Kris & Vincent Bailly
Published by Graphic Universe 2013
This was based on the real life memoirs of Joseph Joffo and his families journey and ordeals to escape persecution from the Nazi's after they'd taken over France in early 1940. The accounts of the struggles of the Jewish people in Europe during this time alway fascinate me. The depths they had to go to survive, if they were even able to, the triumphs, the tragedies and the sheer danger of this time grips me almost every time. This story written by a guy named Kris and illustrated by the talented Vincent Bailley is a sprawling real life adventure tale.
Young brothers Jo and Maurice are sent from Paris by their parents to escape the oncoming German forces who want to round up all the Jewish people. Through a length of harrowing ordeals the two boys find their older brothers already established in the southern city of Marseilles. Yet as the war progresses and the German rule spreads, the brothers must stay on the move. Fortunately for them, they are able to stay just one step ahead of the Germans everywhere they go. This real life account is utterly fascinating in it's exposition and for it to actually end on a relatively happy note is refreshing in a way. Although one member of the family doesn't make it to the end, for them to remain largely intact despite the odds is astonishing.
Artist Vincent Bailly's style reminds me a lot of Tim Sale's. The sloppy yet powerful watercolors, the wavy lines melding and morphing into fantastic depictions of drama and tragedy were a joy to look at. This was a gorgeous book and one helluva read.
Bestiarium Nocturna #1
By Abraham Martinez, Milton Sobriero & Filipe Sobriero
Published by Ruptura Comics 2014
This wonderful little comic contains two pleasantly surprising tales of magic, monsters and men. The first tale, "Ghanem, Dragonslayer" was my particular favorite, telling us the lovelorn tale of a man and his lost love and the magic of dragons. It had a wonderfully odd twist at the end. The other story, "The Monster of Yuma Desert" was also very strong, telling us the tale set in the old west and how a hunter with his Native American aide hunt down a large flying beast that is threatening the area. While the twist at the end was not as strong as the first tale, all in all it was almost equally captivating as the first story in this book.
For fans of odd stories about monsters and subtle twists of story, this is well worth your money. I personally hope to see more from these fellows.
Doop #'s 1 & 2
By Peter Milligan, David LaFuenta and others
Published by Marvel Comics
Doop is one of Peter Milligan's oddest creations and one of my favorite Marvel characters. Unfortunately Peter Milligan is no longer as good of a writer as he used to be and these first two issues are largely dull and boring. Doop "learns" english in the first issue and proclaims his love for Kitty Pryde, the Shadowcat of the X-Men. What else sucks about these two issues is that they tie into the current goings on of the X-Men comics. I'm not an avid reader of the X-Men comics so I'm largely unfamiliar with what's going on over there. Something about the future and past X-Men teaming up and causing chaos. So these two issues are set amongst that chaos and the overall story of these two issues struggle because of it.
Doop is kinda the Batmite of the Marvel Universe, except uglier in a cute way and with a lot less of a nefarious side to him, although he's plenty mischievous enough. I've always liked the just plain oddness and silliness of the character. He seemed so out of place, yet the perfect foil to be surreal for no reason. I always thought there's a lot of potential for the character, but what we have in these two issues is just not doing it for me. I like the fact that Doop shows he's a lot odder than let on and a lot more intelligent than he at first seems, but having him in love with Kitty Pryde seems a lot silly.
David LaFuente's art on this is just so-so. I enjoyed his work immensely when he was doing Ultimate Spider-Man, but here it's rushed looking, the inking is thick and muddy, the angles and composition seem off, and his depictions of Doop aren't doing it for me. Now the covers by Mike Allred are awesome and I really wish he was doing the interior art, the story even now that I think about it. Alas, this will obviously be the last we see of Doop in the spotlight. Too bad, I guess.
BPRD: Hell on Earth #'s 115-119 (Reign of the Black Flame)
By Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, James Harren & Dave Stewart
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2014
The BPRD comics have been taking a lot of flak for just meandering around in this apocalyptic Earth scenario that's been created, seemingly content with the status quo of a sorts. And I agree. Yes they are milking the fuck out of the whole thing and I do wish we'd get on with the show a lot faster already, but I have to give it up to the folks who are orchestrating this line of books for this latest 5 issue arc. This arc kicked so much ass. Liz Sherman came out like nobody's business becoming an extreme hardcore badass, displaying a power set which could set the whole world on fire.
The plot is basically an intel search in the now destroyed New York City. Two groups featuring all our favorite characters come at the mission from different angles. NYC is a fucking hole it turns out. Overrun by nasty beasties of all kinds and almost completely vacant of human life. Our two gangs do eventually find a few survivors and add them to the group as they get what they need and do their best to get the fuck out of there. Except there's a twist, it seems the mighty Black Flame, a villianous character of a dozen or so issues back has returned to life enhanced beyond belief. Liz Sherman, not having any of it, takes him on. It's an awesome spectacle of a battle to say the least. Writers Mignola and Arcudi are making Liz Sherman into a character which is on par with Hellboy in stature and popularity. This girl is the shit. While, yes no definitive conclusions to the overall story are enacted, nor is the big baddie necessarily eliminated, this whole story arc was just so intensely tragic and dark and awesome, that I loved every single page of it.
Artist James Harren came out of nowhere for me, I've never seen his work before, but what he accomplished in these five issues is astonishing to say the least. Harren has an amazing penchant for facial expressions and hyper-violent action scenes. But he's also got the ability to create beautifully composed images of poignant nightmarish proportions. This guy's talent box is full of good stuff. I was blown away by how good this James Harren is. Putting Dave Stewart's ever awesome colors on top of this gorgeous art creates scene after scene of ghoulish wonder. My faith in the BPRD line of comics is restored after this story arc. I can't wait for the next issue.
Baltimore: The Infernal Train #'s 1-3
By Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Ben Stenbeck
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2013
Lord Baltimore is a former British soldier turned monster hunter. After losing everything to one of the most powerful and most ancient of Vampires, named Haigus, Baltimore sets out on on a personal crusade to end this vampire's life no matter what. His vendetta against Haigus has propelled all of these Baltimore mini-series and the more we discover about Baltimore the more we come to discover that he may be an immortal of some sort. He's definitely more than human, but of what sort it's not been made clear yet.
This latest series of stories, "The Infernal Train", involves a witch who's crafted a train engine which captures evil. The witch plans to use this collected evil as a signal to awaken the dreaded Red King, lord of all Vampires. Our main character stumbles upon this scheme in his search for his arch-nemesis and does battle with a horde of vampires. Needless to say, Baltimore survives this latest chicanery proving once again, despite only having one good leg, he's one hardcore badass.
The Baltimore stories are always creepily dark and full of monsters and gore, but "The Infernal Train" has an intensity which recent series hadn't, in my opinion. The main plot which drives this series while very comic book-ish is to just a way to put Baltimore once again into an almost unwinnable situation and show us this is just a tough muthafucker. As mysterious as Baltimore's powers are, he's worthy of being part of the Hellboy/BPRD universe, he can definitively stand side by side with the great heroes of this universe like a Hellboy or a Liz Sherman or a Lobster Johnson. Baltimore is the shit.
Plus artist Ben Stenbeck is possibly only second to Mike Mignola as the best artist in the Hellboy universe of books. He's that good. At first his work seems sedated compared to say a Mike Mignola or a Max Fiumara, but as you delve into the story, Stenbeck's work just captures you and I'm constantly finding myself lingering on a panel, an angle and even sometimes just a single brushstroke or pen line. His talent is that scrumptious.
Bad Blood #'s 1-5
By Jonathan Maberry and Tyler Crook
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2014
So what if all this pollution in our air, water and earth was intentional? What if this unending battle called "The War on Drugs" was carefully orchestrated for certain heroic ends? In this vampire story, the vampires need pure blood, untainted. Yet when the vampire clans awake from a century's long slumber, they find their prey, their feed tainted by pollutions, drugs and other contaminants, which is sure death for the vampires. Once upon a time the vampires were a feared bunch, now they face certain extinction by the simplest of means.
Our two main characters, Trick and Lolly are on the frontlines of this new war against the vampires. Trick watches as two close friends of his are killed by a vampire only to have the chemo drugs in his veins save him from the same fate. Trick finds Lolly who also almost faced the same fate except for the copius amounts of heroin in her veins. These two characters meet Jonathan Vale, renowed vampire hunter who trains them and prepares them for a final assault on the vampire boss. Things don't go as planned, due to a huge, yet kinda foreshadowed twist. One of our main characters doesn't make it out alive and yet we still get a happy ending of sorts. That's the simplest of plot summaries, but if I go deeper I might give the big hook away.
As a vampire story, this was kinda fresh, kinda new. The logic while a bit hackneyed and flimsy, doesn't necessarily wreck the story. Writer Jonathan Maberry does a great job with characterization and pacing. While issue one was probably the weakest of the five issues, due to it being the setup issue, the whole story reads rather fierce and fast. Honestly, I would like more explanation at the end, as the fierce and fast pacing kinda punches us in the face with the end and leaves us stunned, grasping for a better conclusion. But it is what it is and really it's a good enough conclusion all in all.
Artist Tyler Crook's work is polarizing to me. He's saturated the pages here with muted watercolors, pouring the dour colors all over the place. It's actually rather attractive in an odd way. What I don't like, from time to time, is the inconsistencies of effort. One panel will be exquistely detailed, the next as bare as can be, a following one looking very hastily drawn, then back again to a gorgeously rendered page. Crook is a talented artist, but his faults are many and I find his work a struggle sometimes to follow. Despite my foibles over the artwork, this was a damn good story.
Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Search
By Gene Yuen Lang & Gurihiru
Published by Nickelodeon/Dark Horse Comics 2014
The Last Airbender cartoon ended, but the adventures didn't stop there. Like the previous volume, "The Promise", "The Search" follows the adventures of Aang, Katara, Zuko, Toph, Sokka and the others in the world where Aang as Avatar saved the world. "The Search" is all about Zuko and his evil sister Azula finding their long lost mother. This story is about family, the good, the bad and the ugly. Azula as twisted as she is has a brother that simply won't give up on her. The gang (Aang, Katara, Zuko, Sokka) let Azula come along as she has particular knowledge on where her and Zuko's mom is. Unfortunately the trail is frought with all kinds of dangers and pitting them against a wide variety of spiritual enemies. Not to mention that Azula tries to sabotage the gang at every turn.
Eventually the gang finds Zuko and Azula's mom and it's not the kind of reunion they thought it would be. The twists and turns in this story are magnificent. This is not just a kids story. Just like the cartoon, this is packed with deep emotional punch. Writer Gene Yuen Lang is terrific in his characterization, capturing all the greatness of each character and putting them in settings that seem so familiar if you were a fan of the cartoon like I was. Artist Gurihiru also does an amazing job in his depiction of these characters. They look like they did on the cartoon, plus he captures the feel of the show perfectly in the backgrounds and special effects.
"The Search" was an all around amazingly powerful story. I can't recommend it enough, to fans of the show and those who've know nothing about The Avatar, The Last Airbender. I can not wait for the next chapter. Thank you Nickelodeon and Dark Horse Comics for keeping this universe alive.
The Cigar That Fell in Love With a Pipe
By David Camus & Nick Abadzis
Published by Self Made Hero 2014
If you like cigars, Orson Welles and sappy love stories, give this book a try, it's quite entertainingly goofy. In the end, technically this entire story seems to be just a hypothesis on why Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth split up way back when, with a silly love story about cigars and pipes inbetween.
Conchita Marquez, is the most sought after cigar maker in all of Cuba. Cigar afficiandoes the world over adore her work. Conchita loves making cigars, her skills have made her a star in the cigar world, but it's this world she loves so much that brings her to despair. Conchita develops a nicotine allergy which will eventually take her life. She seeks help in Switzerland for her condition, on the way there she falls in love with an American sailor due to the Cuban tobacco which he smokes in his pipe. Unfortunately for Conchita her love goes unrequited as the sailor seems more interested in carving his wood pipes than Conchita's affections. This combined with her stubborn refusal to keep away from tobacco proves Conchita's undoing.
Orson Welles is given a gift of cigars, which prove to be some of Conchita Marquez's last made. Coincidentally he also stumbles upon the sailor's masterpiece wooden pipe of whom Conchita Marquez loved so much. The souls of Conchita Marquez and the sailor inhabit these items Orson Welles has possession of and only now in this form does their love finally sprout. Orson Welles while a witness to this supernatural occurence doesn't know the tragedy that will soon become of Conchita and her sailor love once Rita Hayworth gets involved.
Artist, Nick Abadzis is a known commodity in the comic book world and does a manageable job on this book. His style is pleasantly cartoony here and told the story very well. While technically Abadzis style is quite rough in some areas, at no point in the story were his flaws distracting. His work if anything, has an easy going flowing quality to it, leading the eye from point to point, allowing us to absorb the story through his work splendidly.
For more info about this book and how to puchase, go here.
Asgard vol. #'s 1 & 2
By Ralph Meyer & Xavier Dorison
Published by Dargaurd Publishing 2013
Asgard is the name of our main character. A brave monster hunter who's overcome his lack of a left leg. In old Viking times, a cripple was the worst of shames and when one was born they were usually killed. Asgard's father could not do the deed and raised his son to be a brave Viking warrior, overcoming all obstacles with the help of a specially crafted iron foot to help him walk. In his youth, Asgard was a brave fighter, but then tragedy struck and he left his duties to lament and transform his life from brave viking warrior to fabled surly monster hunter.
The main story in these two volumes involves Asgard being hired to hunt down a monster who's patrolling certain Viking waters and destroying all sea-faring vessels making life a complete hell for villages for miles around. Asgard accepts the task and is reluctanly paired with three local villagers, two of them women, as they know the waters best. It doesn't take long for the crew to find their target, a huge mutated eel. Vikings, being who they are, their superstitions make the eel into something even worse. This eel is dubbed Jormungand, the World Serpent, the terror of Midgard. Judging by his size and ferocity, this eel is indeed a monster of mythical proportions. While this hunt surely didn't seem easy to begin with, it turns out to be worse than anyone could imagine. Over these two volumes, Asgard/Iron Foot and crew hunt and escape from Jormungand repeatedly. Jormungand is no ordinary monster and proves to be more than a match for Asgard and his legendary prowess.
Putting aside the simple fantastical comic book type of plot, what writer Ralph Meyer and artist Xavier Dorison give us is an astounding, gripping, powerful tale of adventure and tragedy. Yes, this is a story of Vikings hunting down a magical beast, but it's also a deep character drama. Asgard or Iron Foot as he is nicknamed, is a sullen, but heroic figure. The underdog who has survived many of life's tragedies only to come out stronger. Sieglind, the other main character who Ironfoot reluctantly takes under his wing, is a former slave girl, who's a lot stronger and crafty then she appears to be. While other characters come and go tragically, this is the story of Asgard and Sieglind and them overcoming the most horrific and trying of tragedies making writer, Ralph Meyer's intricate script a captivating spectacular read. Artist, Xavier Dorison's artwork meanwhile is immensely, amazingly gorgeous. His penchant for detail, the hatches and lines on the figures and scenery are mesmerizing. This is a master at work, stunning us with every single page. As a package these two gave us a wonderful comic book gift. Because as an adventure story, this is just about as good as it gets comic book wise. Now it is an English language translated version of a French comic, so it immediately becomes obscure here in the America markets, but if you are serious about reading comic books, you will make it a point to find this someday. This is the kind of comic book you reread and keep forever in your collection. It's the kind of comic that merits studying time and time again. The best of the best.
Angelica Tomorrow #1
By David Liss & Allen Byrnes
Published by 215ink 2014
A fully functional android with a kick ass artificial intelligence and a dual personality meets small town cripple in a bizarre situation and things get crazy. Despite the weak Ben Templesmith imitation art by Allen Byrnes, this was a really good comic. After that last page, I can't wait to read the next issue.
Angelica Tomorrow is an android with issues. In one case she's an out of control psychotic killing machine, but when her batteries run down, she turns into an imitation of a sweet and clever high school age girl. The story begins with Angelica having violently escaping her government holdings then stumbling upon our main character, George. Fortunately for George, Angelica's power supply runs down and George escapes a horrifying death. So when Angelica goes into power save mode, she's a seemingly normal young girl who is completely unaware of her other nature. She befriends George, who is crippled from the waist down, which changes his once depressing life. The story ends with Angelica performing back surgery on George rather gruesomely much to his surprise.
This read really well, even the poor art couldn't dissuade my enjoyment of this creepy and disturbing tale of robotics out of control. Very eager to see what happens next!
Aku No Hana (Flowers of Evil) Volumes 1-10
By Oshimi Shuuzou
Published by Kodansha in Japan and Vertical in America 2009 - 2013
Over the past three days I've read all ten volumes of this comic here for free.
Plainly and simply, this is the most powerful story I've read in a loooong time. This is relentless, bizarre and transformative. It's a story I did not want to stop reading. It haunts me now and will for a while.
The plot involves four main characters, Sawa Nakamura, Takao Kasuga, Nanako Seiki and Aya Tokiwa, but it's largely focused on Sawa and Takao's relationship. These two, Sawa and Takao are profoundly damaged. When they find each other crazy shit comes naturally and it comes pouring down on all those around. Tearing apart families, friendships, even the small town they live in. Living in this small town these two feel like they need to be somewhere else. All they want to do is get out. It's a common feeling for many teens all over the world, especially those born and raised in boring small towns. These two to alleviate their inner turmoil begin to do bizarre stuff, stealing female schoolmates underwear, destroying their classroom and etc. Which is all just a prelude to their final bizarre performance. Sawa as it turns out is possibly the more fucked up of the two. She takes on a dominatrix/mentor position to Takao, forcing, guilting him into doing whatever she says. Takao, being fucked up himself, falls in love with Sawa, despite the fact that the hottest girl in his class, Nanako, has an unhealthy fixation on him. This extremely bizarre love triangle takes a turn for the absolute worst, ending in rape and near suicide.
The three of them and thier families are pretty much ostracized from town after their bizarre antics and the years pass. They meet again, but Takao, Sawa and Nanako are still damaged. Fortunately for Takao he meets an amazing girl, Aya Tokiwa whom helps him heal. That's the plot in a nutshell, but there are so many tiny details I had to leave out of the plot summary, otherwise I would be here all day. There are so many things I liked about this story. From the characters, Sawa, Takao, Nanako and Aya, to the hyper bizarre pace to the stunningly gorgeous artwork. This had it all for me. This story has left a mark on my brain for the rest of my life.
By Scott Chitwood, Danny Luckert & Ivan Plascencia
Published by Red 5 Comics 2014
Although the entire plot of this comic is based on silly and sloppy scientific superstitions, I still found this thoroughly engaging. Sometime in the future a radical experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland tears a hole between our reality and that of Hell itself, releasing an untold amount of demons and evil spirits into our world. These spirits quickly destroy the world and decimate much of the human population. It's an apocalyptic world with very little hope left for humanity. Until our main character, Sarah meets a scientist and a priest whom have created devices based on esoteric electro-magnetic technology that can beat back the spirits and demons. With Sarah's help these two men try to reach another experimental collider in upstate New York state as the scientist has a plan on how to rid the world of these wicked spirits, but needs the appropriate tech.
As a plot, it's very meh, especially the science aspect of it, but as a whole, as a story, it's very entertaining. As a comic book reader, you need to be very forgiving when it comes to scientific logic and theorems. Most comic book writers are not scientists. Their grasp of actual tangible scientific data is tenuous at the best of times, but writers are dreamers and no amount of real data can dispell a writers ideas of the fantastic. "Haunted" writer Scott Chitwood gives a good involving and action filled story, despite the weak conceptual idea which he's based his story upon. Artists Danny Luckert and Ivan Plascencia do a very hauntingly good job. Despite Luckert's obvious flaws, Plascencia's sense of atmosphere in the color art really doesn't let you dwell to long on the negative aspects of Luckert's art.
This is a good looking book and darkly entertaining for what it is. I look forward to the next issue. For more info about this book and how to order, go here.
By Garth Ennis, Facundo Percio & others
Published by Avatar Press 2014
Oh, to have the career of Garth Ennis... He's just so damn good and consistent. "Caliban" is his latest work of fiction and this first issue is a mysteriously creepy science-fiction tale. It's the far future and Earthlings have mastered the art of space travel in search of company and resources. The ship called Caliban is home to a handful of men and women who are experienced at travelling long strange journeys through space. But this latest mission goes awry. While in warp space, they hit another vessel, an alien vessel and fuse with it. Because no one really knows what kind of physics operate in warp space, so it seems the Caliban and this alien ship occupied the same moment in space and time while traveling through warp space and have caused a great travesty. This is how first contact with life outside of Earth happens? As to what happens next is anyone's guess, but I can't wait to read the next issue!
While Ennis has the reputation of being a snarly, comedically dark writer, he shows with this story that he can go outside that stereotype and just write some good straightforward sci-fi. There's not an ounce of snark or deadpan comedy in this at all. No one dies for anyone's amusement, no sick jokes or odd-timed sexual innuendoes, nothing that you might usually find in some of Ennis' more well known works. I hope the rest of the story is engaging as this, cause this was a good read.
Artists Facundo Percio and Sebastian Cabrol were decent. They will in no way be confused with the modern greats of comic book artistry, but they give us clear, focused and purposeful storytelling that doesn't hinder Ennis script in any way. Their covers are actually quite nice and hint at the creepy sci-fi mystery to be found inside this story.
By Jesse Lonergan
Published by NBM Publishing 2014
This was so good. So damn good. I don't care for baseball at all, but this isn't necessarily about baseball. It's about being someone who is willing to take a stand for what they think is important. At least that is if you're a popular high school sports star. Fortunately main character, Carl Carter is a good hearted individual not really interested in the perks of being a popular high school sports star. Being good at baseball comes easy for Carl, it's really not that important to him. He takes everything in stride, baseball, high school, even life itself. We've all met people like this. Many of us have had our hearts broken by people like this. We all wish we could be like this.
Everything is going great for Carl. Even his lacksadaisacle attitude to school work gets brushed aside, especially since everyone is counting on him to carry the baseball team to the state championship. So when Carl and his best friend make a stupid drunken decision a few nights before graduation, by busting into their small town's convenience store late at night for shits and giggles, everything changes for Carl. He and his best friend Edsen get arrested, but being the local all star baseball player Carl gets only a slap on the wrist, while his best friend is expelled from school entirely. This case in inequality shows Carl a different side to life. His charmed little life comes crashing down around him and will never be the same.
It's a classic story, as an America you hear about this kind of thing every now and then. This isn't necessarily the most unique of stories, but what Jesse Lonergan accomplishes here is truly an enjoyable thing. Especially the bittersweet, but fitting ending. This reads so smooth and all the characters are vibrant and alive. This is award winning stuff or at least every library in America shelvable. While I can continue to heap praise upon the story, I feel I have to mention the art which is also equally praisable and completely gorgeous. Long thick brush strokes of ink make this such an expressive piece of work. Lonergans style harkens back to comic art masters of yore, yet is totally modern indy comix style. I love it. Jesse Lonergan is an artist worth following closer, his should be a career worth watching. To view more info about this book and buy it go here.
Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers
By Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2014
I simply love this series. While I would love to have an ongoing comic, I realize producing watercolor work like this from Jill Thompson would be hard to do on a monthly or bi-monthly schedule. So for now I am satisfied with these random mini-series and one-shots. This latest story called "Hunters and Gatherers" is a short 24 page comic, but it's an enticing action and humor filled story that I enjoyed very much. We are immediately thrust into the action as the gang takes down a huge invisible mammal eating ghost lizard. After saving the town of Burden Hill once again from a supernatural menace we are treated to what I find the most enjoyable thing about this series, the interactions and characterizations of all the members of this comic. My favorite is the leader, Dymphina, the witch cat, while some of the dogs in the group have a problem with a cat leading them, they all respect her abilities. Plus, I love her orneriness and the way Jill Thompson paints her.
I don't know if you have to be an animal lover to enjoy this series or not, but being one myself I revel in Evan Dorkin's excellent characterization of each cat and dog. It's fucking adorable! From Rex the Rottweiler to Orphan the street cat, Dorkin's knack for excellent dialogue and full characterization to these adorable illustrated animals makes this one of the best comics out there today!
Anne Bonnie #1
By Tim Yates, Lelan Estes & Tony Vassallo
Published by Blue Juice Comics 2014
Anne Bonnie is a years dead Pirate Queen, yet her memory haunts the land and all seagoers still. This is a tale of a young orphan girl accidentally finding out she's related to this Pirate Queen and fulfilling her magical purpose. Something like that. It's quite a fun little all ages read. Ariana, the main character is a mischievious little girl who grows up to be a thrill seeking teen, thwarting and causing trouble for her caregivers. When she finds a magic pirate ship she sets off a chain reaction of trouble which she was definitely not prepared for.
I like this a lot because it's a silly and fun read. The characters are well thought out, the plot is straightforward and there's an uncanny sense of intrigue that I find very catchy. Tim Yates is both the writer and artist here, but where he really shines is in his coloring ability. While his art is manga-ish and rough in spots, his deft touch at coloring really shines. The cover alone is extraordinary, look at the subtle textures and tones on the main figure. Beautiful stuff.
I like how we have a lot of indy comics taking the plunge with female lead characters and making great stories almost with ease. As a long time comic reader, I've never had problems reading comics with female leads, I don't know why the big two of Marvel and DC struggle with the concept? Anne Bonnie is the type of comic that has appeal for male and female audiences (and everything between and beyond) and for all ages. It's a comic worthy of more attention. I hope it gets it.
Amelia Cole and the Enemy Unleashed #'s 1 & 2
By Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride, Nick Brokenshire and others
Published by Monkeybrain Comics 2014
Damn, this is a good mystery adventure story. This is an exemplary example of everything comic books have ever been about. Mystery, adventure, heroics, intrigue and imminent doom! The plot as it is pertains to our heroine Amelia Cole who is quite the adept mage. In this world, magic is everywhere from the low to the profound. And the authorities are those who are the most wise and experienced of magic users. Amelia Cole is young, but powerful and serves as her hometown's superhero protector type.
Unfortunately, as there always is in a comic book story, there are bad guys who plot to take control of the world. In our story there's a council of old wicked mages who want all the magic to themselves and are secretly stealing away all the magic they can. But Amelia Cole has been on their tracks for awhile now and by the end of issue two she comes face to face with them. But it seems despite her great powers, against these dark mages, she's far overmatched.
Many comic readers complain about the lack of female leads or heroines. Others complain that some of the female leads we do have are placeholders, cardboard, merely there to be politically correct. Well, for those people I present Amelia Cole. 'Nuff said.
Alex + Ada #'s 1-5
By Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
Published by Image Comics 2014
|Posted on February 1, 2014 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Swamp Thing #'s 26 & 27
By Charles Soule & Jesus Saiz
Published by DC Comics 2014
Damn Jesus Saiz is amazing! Holy hell, this is some gorgeous artwork! And writer Charles Soule isn't doing too bad a job on the story front either. But without this stunning work by Saiz, this probably wouldn't deserve much attention. The work being done here by Saiz is some of the most gorgeous mainstream comic art I'm seeing today. It's fitting considering that the Swamp Thing comic has largely featured only top notch comic artists. The guy who started this new series when DC rebooted was great too, I forget his name right now, but he was as excellent as Saiz. The artists between that guy and Saiz, though were mediocre, acceptable, but didn't grab my attention at all.
I don't know where the story is going, and honestly I'm not really caring, but I think I have to pick up every issue Saiz continues to illustrate, it's just that good looking of a book. Plus the colorist, Mathew Wilson is complimenting Saiz' art expertly. I'm not a big fan of modern digital over-coloring, but Wilson is adding just the right touches here to the art, that's its subtle, modern and brings out just the right moods in the art. Right now, it's as perfect looking a comic book can be in my opinion.
The plot about Swamp Thing being deposed as the Green's avatar on Earth, by a new evil guy, is marginally interesting. There's some intrigue, the new Jason Woodrue is wickedly evil in a new way compared to the old Floronic Man he was in the previous DC continuity. I will keep reading, but not for the story.
Superior Spider-Man #'s 16, 17 & 26, 27
By Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos & others
Published by Marvel Comics 2013 and 2014
Ok, there's a lot of buzz about Doctor Octopus taking over Peter Parker's mind and becoming Spider-Man. I read about it, thought it was silly and figured it would pass in a few issues. It didn't, Doc Ock is still Spider-Man and fans are raving about the book. So I figured I better take a peak to see what everyone is talking about.
Four issues later, yeah, ok, it's pretty cool. In a way. We all know Peter Parker is coming back, but I have to hand it to writer Dan Slott, he's working really well within the framework of Marvel Comics status quo style of watered down mainstream comics. He's built a really interesting new character comprised of bits and pieces of the old Doc Ock and Spider-Man and made it work. We all know it's going to come crumbling down, but the fun is seeing how it will happen. What's so great to me about this story is all the new ways Dan Slott has been able to use Spider-Man. From gadgets, to settings, to how he fights crime. Why did we never see the old Spidey do similar things? It's fresh, or as fresh as you can get on a 60 year old comic character. I do like it. I don't love it, because it's still got issues of typical hero vs. villian stuff. The dialogue at times is as cheesy as ever. Every villian talks the same way and the pacing is just too slow for this ADD patient. I realize they have to sell books month in and month out, so I will give them a break, but goddamn I just can't read comics like this anymore. The most interesting part to me is Spider-Man's interactions with the Avengers. They know something's up, but can't pinpoint it. Spidey Ock is staying one step ahead of them, but eventually it's going to come to a head. What I wonder is how they deal with the fallout? Another reboot to wipe away everything Spider Ock has accomplished?
And Humberto Ramos is doing a really nice job on this series. I'm not a fan of his artwork and never will be, but he's got an energy to his work which a Spider-Man comic needs. Plus I like his redesign on the Spider-man costume a lot. It blends old and new in a great way and I kinda hope they would keep this costume around after Doc Ock splits.
Cataclysm: The Ultimates Last Stand #'s 1-5
By Brian M. Bendis, Mark Bagley and others
Published by Marvel Comics 2014
I loved the first two issues of this series. It was exciting, kinda fresh, bold and Mark Bagley was firing on all cylinders with the art. His two page spreads were in your face and featured just absolutely gorgeous superhero artwork. Galactus was here and he was hungry! The Marvel heroes of this universe were just inadequately prepared for such a huge cosmic threat like this. It looked really bad for the Ultimate Universe. I'm not going to get into the why's and how's of the making of this series, as I'm sure everyone knows the background, so whatever, look up the plot if you feel like somewhere else.
So while I really liked the first two issues, issue three and four seemed to just tread water, kinding holding everything in place, putting a hero plot together. All the excitement sorta draining away down some plot hole of don't give a fuck really. So while it looked bad for the Ultimate Universe in the beginning it now looked like, yep, Galactus was going down again. Seriously, what is this guy's win/loss record these days? How do we keep taking him so seriously if he keeps getting beat?
Anyway so issue five wraps up yet another Galactus goes down scenario, good guys win the day and the status quo remains. Hurray! This is the kind of stuff I expect from Bendis and Marvel comics these days. Every beginning of a story promises bold things, then the middle act waters it all down and by the end, bleh, same old shit we've always known. It was the same with the recent "Infinity" crossover Marvel did last year. That's why I can only read so many Marvel or DC Comics before I just get sick of em.
Furious #'s 1 & 2
By Bryan J. Glass & Victor Santos
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2014
So Furious is a superhero comic about a celebrity in disguise. She's a rich and troubled celebrity in one part of her life and an out of control superhero in the other. Bryan is doing his damndest to do something different with superheroes, but he's missing the most important part of doing something like this. The making it interesting part.
That's possibly a little too harsh, as there are moments of ingenuity to be found in these two issues, but these brief bright moments are surrounded and smothered under layers of boring-ness and cheeseball writing. I mean, I guess there's possibility here, Dark Horse Comics sure is banking on that possibility, but I'm just not sure you've got anything permanently good here.
But that's not entirely true though either. What is good here is Victor Santos' artwork. Good goddamn, this dude can draw! Santos style is a blend of Darwyn Cooke, Bruce Timm and Michael Avon Oeming, three artists I call favorites of mine. While at times the influences are obvious, he does display enough unique talent that he can add me to his fan club from here on out. The covers on these two issues are eye catchers, and the interior pages are all knockouts. This is some gorgeous comic art here.
For me though, I have a really hard time just picking up comics for the art alone, I need a story that's appealing to me. I'm not finding it here. While I would have no problem continuing to drop money into Victor Santos' pocket for his dynamite work, I just can't force myself to continue reading this shlocky story.
The Double Life of Miranda Turner #'s 1 & 2
By Jamie S. Rich & George Kambadais
Published by Monkeybrain Comics 2013
Here's a simple and light-hearted all ages kind of comic that's very pretty to look at. This won't move the medium forward in any manner, it won't challenge you in any way, but it's a worthwhile comic in the sense that it's trying it's best to be a little different. Not too different, it's not trying to make your brain hurt or anything. Its about a young girl who's trying to be a super hero in a hero and villain filled world. The first issue involved our star character taking down a couple guys whose power was to create lego's. Yeah, totally vanilla stuff here. The second issue was about some friends of hers getting some creepy virus and she doing her best to stay alive.
Look, I don't necessarily recommend this comic, I have no interest in reading this any further, but I like that it exists. For all the shit that's out there, for all the ugly, overly violent, sexist material that we as readers have to wade through, there needs to be a place for a comic like this. Just because personally I don't really like it doesn't mean there aren't other people who will like it. If anything the artist George Kambadais is quite the artist. He has a simple cartoony, clean style, which is very appealing.
Dead Run #'s 1-4
By Andrew Crosby, Michael Alan Nelson & Francesco Biagini
Published by Boom Studios! 2009
i don't know if anything of significance was accomplished with this particular 4 issue comic series, but damn this was a fun read. Why have I not heard of artist Francesco Biagini before this? This guy is amazing. Despite the simplicity of this story, Biagini brought this to amazing gritty life.
The plot is Mad Max-ian, in that it's a post nuclear war world. The cities that are still around are walled off and the only way to get goods and packages between these cities is through courier. Between the big walled off cities is wasteland filled with goons and mutants of all varieties. Couriers are big game for these hunters. Our main character is a courier and must deliver a package from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two days or shit goes crazy. Things happen, our courier is a bad ass hero, etc, lalala and we get a happy ending. Like I said the story is nothing extraordinary, but it was a fun, fast thrillride that was a joy to read because artist Francesco Biagini is so freaking good.
If all you want is a fun good looking read, then you can't do much better than this right here.
Carbon Grey Vol. 3
By Paul Gardner, Hoang Nguyen, Kinsun Loh & others
Published by Image Comics 2013
Holy shit, what a beautiful mess this was. I did not read volume two, I did read a few issues of volume one, and now that I've finished volume three, I am still not impressed by the storyline about a group of sisters linked to some sort of power stone, their destiny's to rule the world and yadda yadda yadda. Volume three I guess wraps up the mess from the previous volume because right away we're in the middle of some war, plot lines dangling everywhere and characters thrown at us left and right. I had a really hard time making heads or tails of what exactly the deal was and why everything is so serious. I guess in the end it doesn't matter, because goddamn this was a good looking piece of mess. Artists Hoang Nguyen and Kinsun Loh did an amazing job on this combining tried and true manga techniques with top of the line digital coloring. Every panel was gorgeousness personified, but the intricately confusing storyline was just too much to handle.
The ending where one of the supporting characters just says, hey this is the end and reality crumbles and starts over is not the most confusing thing either. But that is how it ends. What?! Ah, fuck it.
City: Mind in the Machine #1
By Eric Garcia & Javier Fernandez
Published by IDW Comics 2014
This is one ingenius modern comic book idea. Take one part Homeland Security, one part Big Brother/Eye in the Sky/Camera on every street corner kinda thing and add a dash of crazy Phillip K. Dick-ian style fantasy/sci-fi and you get this melange of a story. There's these two guys, contracted by the US Government to help the fight against terrorism for the city of San Francisco, they create a computer program which taps into all the electronic surveillance systems in the whole city. The computer program is supposed to make a judgement call immediately when there's a situation. Except as we all know, computers get glitches and screw everything up.
So one of the main characters gets his eyes burned out in a terrorist situation, his buddy and business partner inserts new electronically linked sensor diodes in his eye sockets which connects to their surveillance program allowing this guy to make judgement calls on how, where and when to react to a given emergency situation. And la la la, etc. etc. Good stuff.
Artist Javier Fernandez does a solid job on this, nothing extraordinary, but he's got a good feel for the nature of the story, kind of how Darick Robertson was on Transmetropolitan. You were never impressed by Robertson's skills, but for sure he seemed to tell the story superbly. That's Javier Fernandez here on this story. Not great, but good. And that's sometimes all we need.
Too Fast: The Story of Blood Billin
By Michael Lariccia
Published by One Time Press 2011
Imagine someone taking LSD and making a Conan the Barbarian comic story about Conan on LSD and this is what you get. Awesomeness. Blood Billin is a psychotic barbarian warrior who after a life of killing and pain gets captured and thrown violently ashore the coast of Africa. After battling African demons he goes through some sort of soul searching tirade rendering him a shell of what he once was.
This is one hell of a fun read. Michael Lariccia as an artist is super dynamic and puts a tremendous amount of energy into almost every page. His style is loose and raw, intricate and unique. His color work in particular is phenomenal. I highly recommend this. A very fun comic to read and look at.
World War Mob #1
By Vito Delsante, Giancarlo Caracuzzo & others
Published by New Paradigm Studios 2014
During WWII 5 ex-mafia guys now US army soldiers are drafted into offing Mussolini when the war begins to come to a close. I like this plot in a way because there's some reality to it. There actually were plenty of gang members drafted into service for the US army during WWII and there were things the major American mobsters did for the US during the war. It's an interesting footnote to the war and this comic "World War Mob" is taking that footnote and running with it.
Artist Giancarlo Caracuzzo did an amazing job on this book. His watercolor washes were superb. When an artist can still use old school techniques in this modern world of comics dominated by digital tools, I have to applaud them. Especially when an artist like Caracuzzo turns in as excellent of a job as this. His work is the star of this book. Why he didn't do the cover is a mystery to me. An artist of his caliber couldn't do a better cover than the quite boring one that was used?
Overall this first issue reads well, it's a nice enough intro and sparked this WWII enthusiast's interest. The only thing I wonder about is the fact that we all know what happened to Mussolini in the end, so how will this story play out when we know the central plot to this story has no pay off? I imagine one of the other plots is what will end up being more important, but at this point I think it's a negative to the overall story. There's no urgent excitement to this story, because we know this group of guys already won't finish the objective of the central plot and we are given no other reason to be excited about this story.
Day Men #'s 1 & 2
By Matt Gagnon, Michael Alan Nelson & Brian Stelfreeze
Published by Boom Studios 2014
Good goddamn. This shit is good! Now it comes to me as no surprise why this was almost immediately optioned to Hollywood after it's initial release. I keep thinking there's no way to do new stuff with the whole vampire lore, but these guys just did.
Day Men refers to humans who do "protection" work for vampires while they sleep it all off during the day. 50 families of vampire are at an uneven state of truce throughout the world and have need of Day Men to do their dirty work during the day. This story follows one such Day Man who works for the #2 biggest vampire family in the world, the Virgo's. David, is a newbie, slowly learning the ropes and doing his best to keep his neck. What he quickly learns is that a vampire war is coming and he's on the frontlines.
That's a rough summary of the goings on in this story, but the suspenseful way in which this story is told kept me on the edge of my seat from page one to page last. Plus, Brian Stelfreeze's art on these two issues is masterful. Every single panel is a thing of beauty. The guy is doing the best work of his career on this story.
I can't wait till the next issue, this is soooo good.
Black is the Color
By Julia Gfrorer
Published by Fantagraphics Books 2013
Is there a word even more extreme than haunting? Because that's what this book is. This is a creepy, dark, but beautiful story about a sailor adrift at sea and a bunch of mermaids waxing darkly about sailors and general life as a mermaid. At 74 pages I was expecting this to take longer to read, but I finished it in roughly 5 or so minutes. Which would be a travesty at this price tag if the story were not of this quality. As a story it's haphazard, but it has such brilliant moments, that collectively it's something so good and enjoyable that I hated that it all ended so quickly.
Julia's art is not your standard "good", but what it is, is lyrical and of a style so unique, that it's dark scratchy roughness is hard to describe. It's fitting for stories of this fantastical darkness. I like it. A lot.
By Nate Cosby & Evan Shaner
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2013
Ugh! I hate myself for taking this long to finally read this. What a fucking awesome book! Goddamn, I can not adequately describe the sheer amazing-ness that Nate Cosby and Evan Shaner have created here. Rather I will post the two greatest pages from this book which adequately sum it all up. If you do not find these two pages interesting then you suck and will not like the rest of this book. And I don't like you. So stop reading my blog.
By Jee Chang
Published by Lucha Comics
Despite the terrible ending/no ending and the way Lucha Comics handled the translation/lettering, this still ranks as one of the most awesome comics I've ever read! Lucha Comics in it's translation of the original Korean material left the original Korean dialogue on the page and lettered the english translation around the word balloons. At first this move seemed almost innovative. Until it got annoying. Despite these two qualms I have regarding this comic, It has just the right balance when it comes to telling a story and being wonderfully experimental. This simple story about an ugly old man being rejected by a much younger beautiful woman and then taking out his frustration on a dude in the street is simple, yet creatively outrageous!
If you are a lover of comics as a medium, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't find a way to read this. This is the kind of once in a lifetime comic that you hardly ever see. It's not going to win any awards, it's not going to be universally recognized for it's uniqueness and most definitely it won't make a lot of money for it's creator or publisher. But none of these things matter in the realm this kind of comic book habitates. This is the kind of comic that spurts out bringing bafflement and joy to the few that can get ahold of it and then quickly dies away because it's so different.
And the saddest part of this tale is that the creator is in semi-retirement mode, having to serve time in his countries military. Who knows when or if we will ever see another comic book from this supremely talented individual.
Black Science #'s 1-3
By Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Dean White
Published by Image Comics 2014
These 3 issues have to rank as some of the most beautiful books I've seen from Image Comics in the past couple years. The awe inspiring artwork Matteo Scalera and Dean White are producing here is mind-numbing. Page after page of absolute gorgeousness. How did Rick Remender hook these two guys into working for him on this really lackluster story?
Remender to me has always been great at concepts, it's his technical storytelling skill that always and repeatedly disappoints me. I mean he'll pop out a complete well done story every now and then and I imagine that's what keeps him employed, but his hit rate is very low, in my opinion. Issue one was one of these swing and miss type stories, but the concept introduced was just so insane, I had to try issue 2. And then Remender goes and hits it out of the park with that issue, a complete well told story, enticing us to continue reading. Then issue 3 turns out to be a complete dud and I'm back to wondering why I should continue reading this?
Black Science at it's heart is a wacky inspired concept blending sci-fi nonsense with metaphysical pot head fantasies. The kind of stuff I tend to like, and I do like this concept, but I need something more than just an idea. I need execution, I need to be drawn in. "Black Science" is about a bunch of people on a reluctant ride through the "Eververse" on one traumatic adventure after the other, really just wanting to return home, but unable to find the way back. It's cool, but without Scalera and White's art, this would be a very dull book.
Black Dynamite #1
By Brian Ash, Ron Wimberly & Sal Buscema
Published by IDW 2013
I was never too into the blax-ploitation stuff in the 70's and 80's nor it's retro-comeback in the late 90's. But for some reason I had to give this a try and powbambiff this was some crazy jive that really powdered my keg! (Sorry) This was so cheesily good, every silly pun was spot on and even the retro-throwback art and coloring was just right. For some reason I didn't know that Black Dynamite has been around for a few years. It having now only come onto my radar makes that a sad thing for me. I will be hunting down the previous comics for sure after reading this.
Writer Brian Ash uses the medium and genre style so well balancing his story between the funny and straight-forward storytelling expertly. Artists Ron Wimberly and Sal Buscema make a good team. While the art isn't anything too extraordinary, it's clear, frenetic and fitting. The coloring in particular was nice, especially when the color was off frame reminiscent of the old printing errors you had to deal with from comics of yesteryear.
For a silly good 10 minutes, this is worth your time jive-turkey!
Bad Dreams #'s 1 & 2
By Gary Winnick
Published by Red 5 Comics 2014
This comic does not come out till April of 2014, but Red 5 Comics was kind enough to send me a couple of advance review copies to get my opinions before it's release.
"Bad Dreams" is a very cute comic. It's decidedly adolescent, not in a bad way, but in the way that it's obviously intended for kids. Not being a kid maybe I shouldn't be reviewing this comic, but since Red 5 made the effort to send this along, I feel obligated to do my best review for them. So, from this adults point of view, the first two issues were very cute. It's a fun little adventure story reminding me very much of "Abadazad" by JM DeMatties and Mike Ploog or something like a Jim Henson "Dark Crystal" type of story. It's simple and straightforward with a little bit of dark mystery to it.
Here's the plot directly from the Red 5 press release...
Bad Dreams chronicles the adventures of an odd group of Dreamworld characters: Mary, Nimrod, Sir Spanks (a Night Mouse Knight), Spide, and Shroom. Mary wakes to discover both her memory and Night have gone missing from the land. Mother Night’s absence is causing havoc as everyone slowly goes insane from lack of sleep. The friends must pool their resources, working together to uncover the strange secret of their past and exactly who’s behind it all.
It's decently illustrated by author Gary Winnick. His work isn't awesome, but it's clever in ways that make it very nice to look at, especially his colors. He really does his best work on the covers (check out issue two's cover above!). With covers like these, I imagine these books will get a lot of second looks. And while we definitely need more comics for kids as somehow we've got to get kids reading again, I have to imagine if I were a kid, I would definitely be interested in finishing this 5 issue series out. But as an adult, this kind of comic doesn't work for me, to tell the truth.
I do love to see publishers trying to make comics for kids and I'm all for checking them out, as I have a 9 year old boy who loves science fiction and adventure stories. But comic books are a hard sell for him outside of James Kochalka's work and a Star Wars comic here or there. But I keep trying to introduce him to comics, and I will probably show him "Bad Dreams" too. I actually believe Red 5 Comics produced a great all ages comic in, "Bodie the Troll". That was the kind of crossover comic which I think will have a long shelf life. My 9 year old read the first issue and thought it was all right. If my goofy 9 year old boy thought it was just all right, I gotta imagine there's other adolescent and tweens out there who would think it was totally awesome.
"Bad Dreams #1" can be pre-ordered at your local comic shop now!
Bad Blood #1
By Jonathan Maberry and Tyler Crook
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2014
So this turned out to be a vampire comic. I didn't realize that upon originally picking it up. I guess all the clues were there, but, er... well I missed em. Anyway I'm really not interested in the vampire genre so much anymore, but this story really wasn't that bad. It's actually pretty damn entertaining. Artist Tyler Crook is a good artist. He's a terrible B.P.R.D. artist, but on everything else he's pretty good. His work on this book, is watercolor and ink and it's full of sloppy colorful goodness. The story meanwhile does a pretty good and somewhat original take on the vampire milieu, except for the thing where when the vampire guy bites the main character who has cancer and starts burning from it. Umm, that little plot point stretches the logic of things a bit too much for me. I mean, by now vampires would be aware of cancer and how do cancer cells affect the undead considering in large part vampires are not functioning "living" organisms like regular humans. And since when did cancer feed on dead cells and tissue? Isn't that cancer's whole point, feeding only on living cells and tissue...? That's kinda the only way they survive...oh, heh, now I see the analog. Vampires feed on the living... Cancer feeds on the living... der...
Ah well, whatever, this is a good comic and I'm definitely going to read the second issue when it's available as the end of issue one was a good enough hook to keep my interest high.
By Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel, Riley Rossmo & Colin Lorimer
Published by Boom Studios 2014
I do like good looking comic books and this book is darkly gorgeous. Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer do an amazing job here on the art depicting a subtly mysterious Werewolf story unlike most werewolf stories. Of all the creepy creatures of folklore, werewolves are my least favorite. But I couldn't turn away from this well done book despite my personal curiousities.
The plot is clever in that werewolves are haunting and hunting a small rural american town and no one as yet can stop the slaughter until a local man, haunted by his past and his son's struggle with disease, captures the werewolf and begins taking out his pain on the werewolf. Or something like that, the story is still a bit hazy on why this guy is keeping a werewolf trapped in his basement, but I'm sure they will get to that point next issue. The thing is that I like being surprised by good comics. And this one took ahold of me at page one with the gorgeous artwork. Then flipping to the next to see this werewolf dude strung up ready for torture is gonna keep me reading this story probably till the end, whenever that is.
By Robert M. Ball & Warwick Caldwell-Johnson
Published by Great Beast Comics 2013
Gorgeousness! Wotta super fun book this was! Super silly, totally goofy and off the wall! But damn, it was a good looking thing and a helluva blast to read! Robert M. Ball & Warwick Caldwell-Johnson bring the goods on this collaborative comic. These guys trade pages and panels back and forth to complete this story about Derek Danger getting in the way of a group of crazy ninjas at the local gas station. There really is no atypical story or plot here, just one disco-ginger bad ass fighting off a bunch of ghastly ninjas (and rescuing the pretty girl!). Story doesn't matter here, as it's all about bringing the fun. Each artist has his own style and it's vastly different from his co-collaborator, but for whatever reason they meshed. Musta been fun as a creator to make this.
At the end of this book they hint at a follow up issue, and if there is one, I am going to be all over it. Please guys make another one! The publisher of this, Great Beast Comics is a U.K. publisher and so far only one of their books has been a disappointment, in my opinion. Otherwise these guys are top notch and bring the quality goods when it comes to comic book material. Praise the Great Beast!
So in conclusion, pick this shit up if you call yourself a comic book fan, it doesn't get much better than this right here!
Cryptozoic Man #1
By Bryan Johnson & Walter Flanagan
Published by Dynamite Comics 2013
I'm surprised it's taken me this long to get around to reading this as I'm a huge fan of the show "Comic Book Men" starring the creative duo of this comic. Unfortunately while I love the show, I didn't love this comic. It was parts wretched, parts poorly executed (especially the lettering) and parts confusing and just boring. The concept as a separate thing is decent. A man is afflicted with a strange monster body, a body made up of various monster-like appendages. It's gross, but cool. The villian is a mysterious pig man/demon and the whole setup really is kinda mysteriously interesting. But a good concept alone does not sell a book. The execution is important if you want people to actually read your book. And because of the poor execution on this, I'm just not interested in reading anymore of this story.
Walter Flanagan, the artist on this effort, comes off as a complete dork on TV, but as part of the group on the show he's indispensable. His work here is not great, but not terrible either. He's definitely good enough to be published and his love of the horror genre is obvious and he seems made to draw that type of stuff.
In conclusion, no I will not read anymore of this comic, but yes I will continue watching the TV show despite these guys' lack of goodness as comic book creators.
25 to Life #'s 1-3
By Eriq LaSalle, Doug Wagner & Tony Shasteen
Published by 12 Gauge Comics 2010
This was an intense read. As good as any crime story I've ever read. The only problem I had was the ending, which was wrapped up a little too quickly and a little too neatly. Real life crime stories hardly ever wrap up so easily. But despite that, this was a hell of a read and I was hooked from page one of issue one.
The plot goes like this, someone is killing black cops in a racially charged area. The local police call in the feds when they've drawn a dead end. The group of Feds who get assigned this case are hardcases with a bad reputation. They need to solve this case as their careers are on the line. As the case goes along, our main characters have to use extraordinary means to get to their objective, one method is by enlisting a known criminal who is doing time in jail, to help them out. While the hook was somewhat predictable, as the clues laid out in this story were a bit too obvious, it was still a thrill to get to the resolution.
Artist Tony Shasteen does a hell of a job here too. 12 Gauge comics are known for their line-up of very talented artists. Yes, their "house style" can be annoying after awhile, but you can't dismis their ability to enlist quality artists.
This book comes with my highest recommendations.
Bad Ass #1
By Herik Hanna & Bruno Bessadi
Published by Dynamite Comics 2014
I honestly didn't know that Dynamite Comics made good comics. Everything I've ever read from them before has been mediocre to just awful. I honestly don't know why I keep trying their books, but I'm glad I did as this was quite a surprise. I mean, this was fucking good. Real good. The set-up is typical, I've seen this idea about a dozen times, from Deadpool at Marvel to Deathstroke at DC, etc. The story of the "Bad Guy". Not entirely original, but writer Herik Hanna delivers the goods with this first issue.
Main character, Dead End is a freak in a ski mask, who wants to only do bad. From causing the deaths of a family for no particular reason except to put him in a good mood to killing some nasty super-villian for the shiny gems he has in his possession. This is the kind of bad guy that Deadpool wishes he could be. The only problem I had with this story and I don't believe it's the fault of the writers, rather it's the publisher, is that this story is clearly written for a larger volume. The first issue ends literally in the middle of a sequence. It's amateur and it's obvious.
The art by Bruno Bessadi while nothing terribly awesome, is fitting in that it's ridiculously comic bookish, yet heavily detailed when needed. Honestly it's what got me to give this book a try. Herik Hanna's excellent writing on this was the real surprise. Dynamite Comics needs to publish more books like this.
After the Cape volumes 1 and 2
By Howard Wong, Jim Valentino & Sergio Carrera
Published by Image Comics 2007-2008
Here's another one of those realistic takes on superheroes kind of tales. It's about a former great superhero who becomes a drunk. The heavy drinking ruins his life as a man and as a superhero. To make ends meet he begins robbing to make money. He eventually graduates to full on super villain status, but this only makes things worse. His drinking and lies suck the rest of the good things from his life, leaving him a pitiful husk of the man he once was. More things happen and it doesn't get better for him.
This was really pretty good. Sure it had its weak spots, particularly the poor ending of volume one. The little leaps of logic where his identity is quite well known, but he's able to walk around town getting drunk without hassle. Other things, but all in all this was a decent book.
Sergio Carrerra's art got better as the book continued. It too was strong in some places, weak in others. The drastic high contrast black and white style was a refreshing break from the overcolored comics we see on most superhero books. But there were times, when a dash of color could've played better than some of the simple and stark stylings made by Carerra.
All Star Western #27
By Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray & Moritat
Published by DC Comics 2014
I've been reading this comic for the past handful of issues and I'm constantly impressed more and more with every issue. I was reading the previous incarnation of this book when it was called "Jonah Hex" and loved it for the most part too. When DC had it's most recent mid-life crisis and restarted all their comics, I wasn't too interested in picking up a Jonah Hex comic where he was placed rather firmly amongst the rest of DC continuity characters. But the good reviews for All Star Western kept coming in and I finally gave it a try. At first it was a little odd seeing him dealing with guys like Booster Gold or Batman and Gotham City and such, but when writers Palmiotti and Gray kept infusing the storylines with the same wonder and suspense they had in the previous volume, I kept reading.
This latest issue has Hex meeting Superman. While I enjoyed their encounter, Hex's penchant for harsh realism makes him Superman's direct opposite in a lot of ways. But we've seen that before when it comes to writers trying to add some grit to the legend of Superman, doesn't mean it wasn't thought provoking this time either, but what really adds enjoyment to this story is just the way the writers have a hold of Hex's surly character. Especially when his current girlfriend takes him to a Jonah Hex historical exhibit and he comes face to face with his destiny.
Moritat while not the most delicate of artists, brings such a flair to this book, that I hope he stays a good long time on this. So while I realize this book is not lighting up the sales charts, creatively and quality wise it's off the scale on the charts that really matter. Read this book!
|Posted on January 16, 2014 at 12:15 AM||comments (0)|
While I mightily enjoy reading comic books, I'm really quite fond of the act of collecting them too. I'm also a bargain hunter and most times refuse to pay full price for a comic book or graphic novel. I don't care about release dates or staying current with what's happening this week, so many times I will buy a comic strictly because it's priced down, even though my interest in it is little. Even when I'm filing through quarter bins I will pick up awful looking stuff purely because it's a quarter. Therefore, I've currently got a pile of comics about 14 inches high and a hard drive with nearly 4 gigs of comic books that have yet to be read (love comixology and their $.99 price thresholds!). My piles of joy as I call them. Collecting comics is much easier than reading and just about as fun.
Onto the reviews!
By Mike Kennedy and many others
Published by Archaia Comics 2011
Not till the end did I know this was really one of those graphic novels intended to add story background to a video game. I hate those kinds of comics. Bleedout though, is an interesting comic in that the artists involved are all top notch quality guys. Illustrating segments of this graphic novel are artistic luminaries such as Glenn Fabry, Gary Erskine, Zach Howard, Trevor Hairsine and Ben Templesmith. And these guys brought their A-game to this project, making this a truly handsome book.
Storywise this book starts out really strong. The concept is a future world where the oil has run out. The whole world, dependent on this black muck goes into chaos when it's gone. Writer Mike Kennedy then begins to introduce us to some of the nefarious characters who control things. But about 75% of the way through another odd plot point drives the storyline somewhere completely different. From a world without oil, we are suddenly reading a story about super soldiers and immortals. Mike Kennedy does his best to keep the plot points together, but the veer into normal comic book territory with superhumans and the like derails the story so much, that the ending is so unimportant, I actually regretted wasting time reading this. The way this is written you can tell, Kennedy had his hands tied as to it's actual outcome. Some editor or editors decided the story wasn't to their liking halfway through and fucked the whole thing up.
By Xavier Morell & Sergi San Julian
Published by Amigo Comics 2013
Sometimes and for some people just publishing good looking comics is enough. Lunita #1 is illustrated by Sergi San Julian and I really enjoyed his artwork. He's an accomplished guy with a cartoony and expressively detailed style. He does a great job on this comic from page 1 till the end and I heap my praise on him. But a comic does not survive on good art alone. Lunita #1 is a convoluted comic book. Full of plots, light on story. I imagine if I were to read the first 5 issues of this series it might read better, but I have to make a judgement on this one issue I have read.
Lunita is a witch in the employ of the special services. I guess she hunts down supernatural threats of one kind or another. Going by the dialogue in this issue, I have to assume she's had other comic series, because this is no introductory or origin story. What we get is a pile full of plots about some new drug derived from Mermaid tears, a lesbian friend of Lunita who's itching to score with whomever she comes across, Lunita losing her job and some other stuff which will be more fleshed out in further stories, I guess.
I don't like this kind of comic. Give me a story, you have 18-22 pages to do so. Sure you can have it be part of a longer story, no problem, but I don't want to feel bad for wasting my money and time on an something so vacant as this.
By Victor Kalvachev, Patrick Baggata & Jim Sink
Published by Image Comics 2011
I don't know if this was a big deal in 2011 or not, but I believe it ought to have been. This book was gorgeous! Artist and main story guy behind this book, Victor Kalvachev produced one of the best looking graphic novels of all time here, in my opinion. Sure the story was a bit thin, particularly towards the end and sure Victors heavy use of black made some panels look awfully confusing. And, yes many pages were absent of background detail, but from an illustrative perspective what Victor achieved overall with this book ranks high in my books. Just look at these sample pages I've included in this review. Victors playful coloring technique, switching between full color/black and white/muted palettes was ingenious and played to the mood of the story so well.
The plot is about a secret agent in United States employ, who's given a super-soldier/memory blocker formula against her will and unleashed first against enemies of the state and then against the personal enemies of her corrupt boss. The story builds quite nicely, suspenseful, fast-moving and impactful. When the origins or details behind our main character and side characters are unveiled the story boggs down a bit and leaves more questions than answers. Nonetheless, a book this good looking only needs a decent story to get good grades from me.
Anyone who has an eye for fresh comic art styles needs to take a look at this book. Victor Kalvachev's work is a keen blend of Eduardo Risso and Mike Mignola formulating into something new and outstanding. His coloring work alone is out of this world. I believe, if Victor Kalvachev did more comics he'd be an international superstar. I realize though, the money is in the illustration field, video games and animation and a man needs to pay his bills and fill his belly, so while I wish I could see more comic work from Mr. Kalvachev, I understand I probably won't.
Anonymous Nancy #1
By Brendan Hykes & Roy D Stiffy jr.
The story here is simple, straight forward and flows like a charm. Main character Nancy has a dark and mysterious past, judging by her attitude and bodily scars. She seems to have moved past that time and is trying to live a normal life. A sense of darkness protrudes this story and I imagine nothing good will happen to this character despite her best efforts. Even though this comic only gives us a partial chunk of a story, something about the main character intrigued me. I don't know how many comics Brendan Hykes has written, but for an introductory story he nails it. I like this. My only advice for Brendan Hykes and I strongly advise this, get a better artist to finish this story. While I don't necessarily like to be mean, I have to be honest and many times honesty can hurt the most. Artist Roy D Stiffy jr's work on this is wretched. It's not good. But what happens is that Hykes skill as a writer is so good it is able to transcend his partners work on this book. I'm curious to see where this story goes.
Nova Phase #'s 1 & 2
By Mathew Ritter & Adam Elbahtimy
Published by Slave Labor Graphics 2013
These were great! The artwork is done in a pseudo-8 bit style, reminiscent of those old Nintendo/Sega videos you got with Metroid or Super Mario bros. games etc. I honestly wasn't sure this style of art would work for me after the first few pages, but when the story kept me involved the art seemed much less of an impasse than I originally thought. As it turns out these two comics are actually a really fun book.
The story involves main character, Veronica Darkwater, bounty hunter on the prowl catching criminals to pay her bills. She gets involved with an even more rascally character than herself, which sets off the main intrigue of the story. A really bad inter-galactic villian wants this dude dead, and Veronica has volunteered to help this guy despite not knowing all the details. The second issue ends as Veronica and her new pal meet his gang and rocket into space for further adventures. That's a simplified plot synopsis, sorry, but all in all this was some good fresh new stuff. I hope this book succeeds. Order it here!
By Jimmy Palmiotti & Artiz Eigueren
Published by Image Comics 2012
I will check out just about anything Jimmy Palmiotti does. 90% of his stuff is quality, if not top notch stuff. I did not hear about this 2012 release until just recently, so it was quite a joy to find and peruse this oddball graphic novel. "Queen Crab" is about a young woman from Brooklyn who's new husband tries to murder her by throwing her overboard on a cruise ship, except instead of dying she gets her arms mysteriously turned into crab claws by some mysterious occurence under the sea. Of course her life is changed completely from that point on. It's an interesting read, if anything Palmiotti knows how to bring characters to life. The main character is a regular NYC girl, someone I've probably met a few times in my life. The point is she's relateable. Good characterization is essential, especially for such an oddball concept like this. The only problem I had with this book, and it's a big one, is it's never explained how she got crab claws or why. The story ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, as some mysterious light approaches our main character, it possibly being the reason behind her claws. But we never find out. So while I enjoyed this story, it felt entirely incomplete. Which is definitely a negative. If I were to grade this book, I give it a B+. But for an enjoyable, weird read, I do recommend this one.
Moth City: Season 1
By Tim Gibson
Published by Thrillbent Comics 2013
Holy Shit! This is good, real good. This is strictly a digital comic. You can find it at Comixology, probably some other places, maybe someday in print. But don't wait for the print comic, find it in digital as the "native-view" technology available for this works so well, it's a step above your normal printed comic.
In a fictional city, post WWII, the Cold War rages. China is a battleground between Communist forces and American interests. Moth City is run by an American who wants the best armaments for his side of this underground war and will do anything to get them. The citizens of Moth City are near to breaking, treachery and intrigue abound. The little lives of the people of Moth City are being overrun by the greater battle between oppression and pseudo-freedom.
That synopsis kinda sucks, as there's so much more to this story, the characterization is extremely well done, the pace is breakneck and flourishing and the little plot points that add to the greater story are so important that I don't think I can adequately describe this comic.
Tim Gibson's art is also a major plus. It's sloppy, but technically well done. It's sketchy, but detailed. His sense of mood and ability to set the tone with his coloring is a real draw.
Night of a Thousand Wolves
By Bobby Curnow & Dave Wachter
Published by IDW Comics 2012
In some fabled medieval-esque past when pagan dieties and spirits roamed the lands unhindered, a small family builds a home on sacred ground. Sacred to a Wolf Goddess, an angry goddess at that. The Wolf Goddess returns after some 30 odd years since she last set foot on this world to settle a deal made decades past with mischeivous humans. Preceding her arrival on this earthly plane, she sets loose her wolf children on all those in the valley. A small family, our main characters, have to fend off the onslaught of wolves in search of freedom and the continuation of their lives. It turns out one of our main characters descendants had made a deal with the Wolf Goddess for favor and a few decades of prosperity in this lush valley. Now the time has come for the Wolf Goddess to get her returns.
This story is suspenseful as all hell and moves at a fast clip. The art by Dave Wachter is surprisingly awesome. At each page the art sucks you in more and more. A beautifully done book from an artistic standpoint. The story by Bobby Curnow is so well done and captivating, that the ending while fitting was vastly underwhelming. I understand you have to end it somehow, a darker ending seemed more appropriate to me, but oh well, this is what we got. But a great 99% of a story is still mightily satisfying especially accompanied by fantastic painted art by Dave Wachter.
The Doorman #1
By J.M.C. & Lucas Dumstra
Published by Smoking Monkey Comics 2014
The one thing I liked about this comic, the only thing I liked about this comic is the idea that only a crazy person would dress up in a costume and pretend to be a crimefighter or superhero. If writer Jeremy Castiel spent more time on that idea, I might've liked this comic more. Especially when a super dimensional cigar smoking monkey comes into the story out of nowhere to tell the main character he's the chosen one. That little nugget made the story crazier and almost entertaining. Unfortunately, this comic lacked a lot of things. Execution, flow, appealing artwork, and most importantly... a point. The plot as far as I could tell is this - a crazy guy who likes comic books dresses up in a superhero costume, somehow finds a kidnapper, beats him to death, sees his therapist, meets a super dimensional talking cigar chomping monkey, meets an old girlfriend and thats about it. Plus what is the Doorman? No mention at all about doors or door men at all in the entire story.
I could give these guys a break because obviously they're young/new comic book creators, but I've seen other young/new comic creators bring it better than this. So get to work boys, this is not good enough.
The ILL #1
By Maurice Watkins
This comic is a good example of the future of super small press comics. Available only on the web, and probably put up there for free ( http://theill.webcomic.ws/ ). About 10 years ago this kinda comic would be printed up as a mini-comic at the local Kinko's and distributed for free or for super cheap. Nowadays creators like Maurice Watkins can put it online for anyone and everyone in the world to take a look at.
Right off the bat it's obvious Maurice Watkins knows how to write. He's done his work in this regard. His art meanwhile is god-awful. He needs to do a lot more work in that area. Maybe he's not interested in drawing per se, and I would suggest he follow his strengths, because awful art like this does not leave a good impression on someone wanting to read his comic. But, you won't win over any new fans forcing them to view images of this rate just to get a good story. No one has that kind of temarity. But being a reviewer, I forced myself to barrel through the awful artwork and lo and behold I found a decent storyteller. Maurice Watkins is hung up on superhero tropes, which is a negative for me, but if he were to ever get past them, I could see him being quite successful.
The ILL is a story about a group of superheroes trying to save the world. Once upon a time the world was overrun by heroes and villians, so the most powerful of them all, mindwiped the entire world. Erasing the memories of these heroes and villians. Fast forward, the mind wipe is coming undone and theres confusion all over the place. A new group of heroes must step up to counter the oncoming crisis before the bad guys take control. Or something like that. I can't recommend this comic at this point, because the art is so atrocious, but if Maurice Watkins could find an accomplished artist to team with, I could see some really good work coming out of that brain of his.
Noah: Because of the Wickedness of Men #1
By Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel
Published by Le Lombard 2012
Aronofsky is a venerated movie director, think Black Swan, Fountain, etc, but has also written some comic books before and is a self-proclaimed comic fan. I've always found his movies challenging and entertaining. He's a fave of mine. So of course upon hearing he's done another comic (soon to be a major motion picture starring Russel Crowe), albeit two years ago, published in Belgium, now translated into English, I would be on it. And I wasn't disappointed. Putting aside Ari Handel's really fine painterly artwork, this story is Aronofsky weird and tragic. What is clever about this story is, Aronofsky takes the classic Noah and the ark story and combines it with a sci-fi setting on a post apocalyptic earth like world. He adds his own twists and darkly weird moments as only he can which heightens our enjoyment of this fine ass book. European publishers publish serialized hardback volumes of 50-80 some page books as their standard model and while I like that it's a huge fulfilling chunk of story, it's knowing that not only do I have to wait for the next European volume to be published, I have to wait yet more time for the English translation to come out, if it ever does. Sure it's a shorter time, than trying to teach myself how to read French, but for a book this good, it's frustrating. Ah, the life of a fan...poor me.
By Johanna Stokes, Andrew Cosby and Axel Medellin
Published by Boom! Studios 2008
Dr. Wong hides a super secret, super powerful artificial intelligence program in the back of an animatronic teddy bear toy as he escapes from a cabal of evil men. The A.I. program takes control of the bear toy and turns it into the most lethal super soldier that ever existed. It's first priority is to protect his kid owner from all harm. The kid and toy get into some silly hijinks with parents, at school and etc. before evil cabal get wind of where the A.I. program is and descend on the kid and bear toy. All hell breaks loose. Toy and bear eventually win the day and voila, happy ending.
A cute, entertaining story with decent art by Axel Medellin. The plot is full of holes, it doesn't know if it wants to go Toy Story ridiculous or stay in a James Bond sort of pseudo-realism. What bothered me the most was, the teddy bear punching through glass and reinforced plastic, plus knocking jokers out with one punch. Every teddy bear I've ever come across has soft paws. There were other comic book logic moments, which you've just got to roll with to enjoy the story, but the paws thing was one of those that just bothered me throughout. As I read this I also wondered, would Boom Studios publish this now considering how successful they are? In 2008 they were still small and just throwing stuff out there. Much of their back catalog is very weak. Just a thought.
Oily Comix Pack
Published by Oily Comix 2013
I've heard nothing but good things about the almost DIY alternative comics publisher Oily Comix. From the artists being published by them all the way to their price point. Well I finally took the plunge and ordered a bunch of books by them. This is what I got, "Missy" by Daryl Seitchik - "Noise" by Billy Burkert - "Dumpling King" by Alex Kim - "Cut-Away-Comics" by Dan Zettwock - "Training" by Josh Simmons - "Blood Visions" by Zach Worton - "Teen Creeps" by Chuck Forsman. When ordering I did not know they would be mini-comix. Literally 4.25 inches by 5.5 inches. I guess I didn't pay enough attention to the website when ordering. Now, the comics are well done for what they are, all the artists are superb. Excellent looking little books. But...I feel like I wasted my money on them. These are all 12 page comics. Plenty of room to provide some sort of story. But only one of these comics actually produces anything consumable or enjoyable as a good read. "Missy" by Daryl Seitchik is this. Each page is really a super short story and enjoyable at that. Good job Daryl Seitchik. I really liked this comic. The rest were a complete waste of time, paper and money. These are bits of story, they are not stories of themselves.
Super lame. I will not be buying anymore Oily Comix.
By Nicholas Jarry & Erwan Seure-Le-Bihan
Published by Ehape 2011
I will admit I have a passion and a great love for good looking European published comics. I just love the publishing models European publishers use. I think the 50-100 page books they regularly publish is the ideal format for serialized comic stories. Plus I think Euro artists take the medium much more seriously and value the craft a lot higher than most American artists. That's my opinion.
This book, ODIN, by writer N. Jarry and artist E. Seure-Le-Bihan is not the best European comic I've ever read, but what it is, a highly intelligent and fantastical take on the Norse myths starring the oft overlooked King of the Gods is pretty good in it's own right. In America we love Thor and Loki and Odin is often times an afterthought. In the Norse myths, the real bad ass, wasn't Thor necessarily, but Odin. Odin slayed beasts, created worlds and bedded the hottest chicks in the universe. This story is all that plus many a clever fantastical take on those stories and characters. Writer Nicholas Jarry immediately sets up Ragnarok in this story, Odin and his army vs. Loki and his at the end of time and the universe at stake. Odin is tired of battle, Loki wants his glory and the armies of warriors want to fight.
It's pretty good stuff, if I can get ahold of the next volume, I will be very happy.
By Paul Pope
First Second 2013
Praise and acclaim has already been effused from everywhere on the internet for this and now I understand why. This book was awesome! I won't bother with a long review on this as I'm sure you've heard enough about it, but real quick, I'm not the biggest Paul Pope fan, but this book was so much bad ass, that I can not deny it's impact on the industry. It combines the best of comic books, nostalgia, superheroes, adventure stories and weird alternative comic books.
I can't wait for the follow up volume!
By Sabrina Childress - Miller & Alfred Miller
As young comic creators we have to push forward through many artistic obstacles, most of all our own innate obstacle of learning the trade. Some people flip the switch almost immediately and come roaring out of the gates doing outstanding work. Many more of us though have to work hard on our craft for a long time. Which means we have to do a lot of crappy looking work before we can achieve anything that looks generally acceptable. As a kid I began printing self-published comics at my local copy shop and handing them out for free wherever I could. At the time I was proud of them as I put a lot of work into them. Looking back I realize how shitty they really were. They were awful looking things, and I'm embarrased now that I took the time to make them and even give them out. Eventually though I started producing comics that actually started to look like professional looking comics, but it took years to get to that point. I still suck, but at least now I can trick somebody into paying me actual money from time to time to do a couple of pages of comic book art.
I relate this story now as this comic "Katana" by S. Childress-Miller and A. Miller is obviously a beginners book. A lot of hard work was put into this I'm sure, but it's nowhere near a good comic book. The story is much too simple, two men in ancient times, one Japanese, the other Greek fight over a woman who's a bit of both. There's no hook, no characterization, very little background, etc. It seems like it was written by a 12 year old, and it may have been, I don't know. Alfred Miller's artwork is done completely in a computer modeling program and done not very well at that. The cover to this is atrocious, the interior pages are almost painful to look at, the fakeness of computer modelling for comic books is overwhelmingly a bad choice, especially if done to this poor of a degree. Al needs to work on his skill with this computer program or pick up a pencil and learn to draw. Making a comic book doesn't necessarily mean you have to be a super skilled artist or an amazing writer, but you have to give us something to like somewhere.
So in conclusion, Sabrina Childress-Miller and Alfred Miller, work on yo shit, this is not acceptable.
A Sickness in the Family
By Denise Mina & Antonio Fuso
DC Comics 2010
Look straight up this plot has some holes in it, but it's such an entertaining story that it's easy to look past them, in my opinion. Denise Mina has done some novels, had a run on the Wonder Woman comic book and knows what she's doing. This graphic novel is about a dysfunctional family in England. Dad runs a business, has made some money, wife is cheating on him, two of his kids are spoiled brats and the third is adopted. The grandma is sick and moves in with them. The story is narrated in large part by the adopted kid, the outcast as it plays out. Nobody in the family really wanted him, but he does his best to be part of the family, even taking care of sick old grandma when no one else will.
They start to remodel their home, when problems arise. First they think it's haunted when accidents start to happen. But as it turns out one of the family members is twisted and is out to kill the others. The twist at the end is both predicatable and unexpected. While the twist relies on the holes in the plot, there's a suspense there that really hammers the story home.
I genuinely enjoyed this story. It had a great rythm and tempo and featured outstanding artwork by Antonio Fuso. My personal tastes do bend towards odd or alternative style of artists and Fuso is definitely that. His art reminds me of a blend of Kent Williams, Sean Phillips and Mike Mignola. It's weird and definitely fits this story.
Absolution: Happy Kitty #1
By Christos Gage & Paul Duffield
By Avatar Press 2013
It looks like Absolution is some sort of series of semi-superpowered people stories, not sure, don't care, but I did pick this one up 'cause I like Paul Duffield's work. I was quite surprised at how good this comic was. It's nothing spectacular or award winning, but it's really fucking good and Duffield does the best work of his career here.
Happy Kitty is a girl with some kind of ninja super powers. She's autistic or something like that and hardly ever talks. She's taken from her scumbag parents and trained by scumbag gangsters into an enforcer extraordinare. She's given the name Happy Kitty because no one knows what her real name is. So she kills and kills and kills till until she's forced to kill kids. She doesn't and retaliates on her bosses. Bam, end of story. See, nothing spectacular, but a really fun read nonetheless.
Body Count #'s 1-4
By Barry Blair & Dave Cooper
Published by Aircel 1990
Me love some Dave Cooper art! And to not know this existed and to find it at a bargain price in some quarter bins, holy shit! Treasure! And to top it all off this was a decently entertaining silly monster humor story. The writer of this epic is Barry Blair, most famously known for some sort of Elf book in the 1980's or '90's, which I can't remember the title of right now, but he delivers a decent story here all the way up to the end where it just stops to a dead halt. But so what, for me the story was a far second compared to the art by Dave Cooper. His work here in his early days is so fucking good. While I do enjoy his recent painterly work, his pen and ink work I've always loved the most. His work here is so fluid, bubbly, grotesque and beautiful all at the same time. While this book was published in 1990, Dave's work here stands the test of time and looks as fresh now as it did then.
This is one of those lost alternative comic gems that has slipped into the folds of time, but I really wish some modern publisher would get the rights to this and republish it in a nice new collected version. This is the good shit people.
Burn the Orphanage: Born to Lose #'s 1 & 2
By Sina Grace and Daniel Freedman
Published by Image Comics 2013
I avoided the first issue when it came out because of the stupid title and weak ass cover, but I took the time to peruse the second issue upon publication and was impressed by Sina Grace's interior artwork. So I gave it a read and... wow what a book! I went back and got the first issue and bam! Again an impressive comic. Main character Rock is an orphan, a rebel, a street urchin lost in the 1980's, but not so secretly he's also an inter-dimensional bad ass fighter. No one on Earth and in many a dimension can beat him. He's recruited into a fighting tournament by a sexy evil queen and forced to fight for his life. Rock proves to be the baddest dude there, but instead of fighting for the overall championship, he turns the tide against the wicked queen and her mate and causes a rebellion in this kingdom.
Yeah, the story isn't anything too groundbreaking necessarily, but the charm is in the delivery. Plus the fantatically appealing artwork by Sina Grace really hooked me. Grace's style is expressive, rough and packed with energy. Having never seen his work before, I'm impressed. Can't wait for the next issue!
Catalyst Comix #'s 1-7
By Joe Casey and others
Published by Dark Horse Comics 2013
I love the idea behind this series. I don't know who's it was, maybe it was a collective idea, don't know, but it's a cool one and I like it. The bad thing is the uneven art. The artists involved (Dan McDaid, Paul Mayberry & Ulysess Farinas) are not awesome. But they're good. I enjoy them in that they're not your typical superhero style of artists, which is the point here. This is not your typical superhero comic book even though it's all about people in tights and colorful costumes duking it out with the world at stake.
I was 18 when the original World's Greatest Superheroes line, of which this comic is based upon, came out. It was a bit of fresh air for '90's era superhero comics. A lot of quality writers and artists worked on that line of books. In the end though they grew stagnant and ugly, but for about a year there, these were pretty awesome books. Now with Catalyst Comix, Joe Casey has brought the best characters from that line of books (except for Barb Wire!) forward and done something pretty cool with them. Unfortunately the at times ugly art makes this comic not the most exciting, even though Casey with his effusive and overly abundant use of flashy dialogue tries his best to keep it pow and in your face.
But despite the drawbacks of this comic, I'm hanging in there, because I really dig the Amazing Grace and Ballad of Frank Wells stories. This is a superhero comic book for old eccentric stoners. And yep that's me.
By Dan Berry
Published by Great Beast Comics 2013
I like Dan Berry's skritchy scratchy, sketchy flowy art. This silent story meanwhile was odd in a good way. Something about a dad and his daughter getting beat up by some rabid dog/werebeast while walking in the woods, ageing and death and possibly something else metaphorically over my head. For $.99 this was satisfying.
Curse of the Vessel #1
By Michael's Leel, Wilson & McElveen
Published by Danger Entertainment 2013
Three different dudes all named Michael contribute to this comic. I wonder how that happened? Anyway this comic is about a gangster who gets caught up with some evil wizard who takes over his body to get revenge and do other half crazy shit. The story is rough to read in places, very dry in others, somewhat interesting in the rest. The art is so-so, nothing spectacular, so all together this comic was not interesting enough to keep my interest. A for effort, D- for final product.
The Grove Nymph #'s 1 & 2
Gotta love the accessibility of Comixology. I don't know if I woulda ever heard about this comic otherwise. Writer/artist Jecaro is superb. His work is simple, subtle, but very persuasive. At times you might think he was an amateur, but then he gives you a page of sheer gorgeousness and wonder. The colors work very well here too. They're simple, bright when they need to be and dark when called for. There's something magical about this comic. The Grove Nymph is literally some odd magical female palling around with her fairy plant creature friend. Adventures happen and the Grove Nymph has to get herself and her friend out of trouble. That's a simplified recap, but there's actually a lot more depth to this story when you peel the layers.
I like this kind of comic, a lot, while I would ideally like to read only this quality kind of comic, I know it's better when they're few and far between making the enjoyment in finding a book like this all the more wonderful.
|Posted on September 29, 2013 at 7:35 AM||comments (0)|
I Wish I Had Orgasms This Colorful
Sex Criminals #1
By Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
This is a beautiful book. Chip Zdarsky creates a wonderful looking comic book...but the plot... Cheesy as fuck. Two people, a man and a woman have time stopping powers after achieving orgasm. It's not until the last page do we find out the twist of the story. And it ties in to the whole criminal part in the title. Yeah, so despite the very pretty artwork, this story lost me with the "twist". Stupid.
I'll Wait for the Movie
Kick-Ass 3 #'s 1-3
By Mark Millar, John Romita and others
I liked issue one of volume 3 a lot. Hit Girl getting captured and taken to prison was kinda intense. But issues two and three which focus more on the title character and his other costumed compatriots didn't do much for me. I only want Hit-Girl. She's the most interesting character of this comic, possibly the ONLY interesting charcter in this comic and I would like more of her ordeals in prison than reading about the love life of Kick-Ass and how his superhero group is doing.
I did not read volume two of this series, because I wasn't all that impressed with volume one. I actually enjoyed the first Kick-Ass movie far more than I did the comic it was based on. I have not seen Kick-Ass 2, but I know I will eventually. The comics by Mark Millar and John Romita jr. are just not that interesting to me. There are moments of excitement, but then followed by an ungodly amount of dumbness. That is Mark Millar to me. 10% interesting, 90% dumb.
Down Pat Repetoir
Red Team #5
By Garth Ennis & Craig Cermak
Jumping mid way into a Garth Ennis story is not the best thing to do. It took me just about the whole comic to get caught up on the general story, but I got it at the end and it's ugly. Garth Ennis works in a certain genre and does it good, so you know what to expect from a Garth Ennis story. RED TEAM #5 is no different from the past handful of Ennis comics I've checked out genre wise. It's a cop procedural drama with some extreme ugliness and hardcore violence. This story resonates around a special crimes unit dubbed Red Team as they have to deal with the worse the world has to offer and internal corruption.
Jumping in on issue 5 is not the ideal thing to do, but I did it and this was a solid read. I'm sure reading this from issue one would be more satisfying, but I didn't do that. This type of book will further endear Garth Ennis fans to their beloved creator, but if anyone who's not read an Ennis comic and is looking for a hardcore brutal police drama, this is a good book to pick up.
Ghosts Can Kill!
The Last Lonely Saturday
By Jordan Crane
This was first published in the year 2000, but I just picked up it up for a nice little bargain and gave it a read. Jordan Crane is by now a household name in the indy comics field with a dozen or more well known comics published by a variety of publishers. The Last Lonely Saturday is one of Crane's first long form works and is a cute easy breezy read about an old man reminiscing about his now deceased wife whom he seems to have loved a lot. So on one final visit to her grave, he's visited by her ghost and she fucking kills him so they can spend eternity together as otherworldy spirits.
This was a weird little story, but Crane's cute simple art style is awesome, so I enjoyed this little nugget of a book very much.
|Posted on September 15, 2013 at 8:55 AM||comments (0)|
We Like Strange, Yes We Do!
By Brandon Graham, James Stokoe, Simon Roy and others
I never ever read a copy of Youngblood that comic by Rob Liefeld, but I do know the names of some of it's characters due to the fact I read way too much about comics in general. So I was surprised to see that this excellent issue was basically a far future reunion of some of Youngblood's most popular characters. I guess reunion is not the right term, as this issue is basically all about the character Diehard and how he's lived for thousands and thousands of years meeting and re-meeting members of the group he once belonged to. Through the thousands of years Diehard goes through a myriad of permutations to his character. Fighting, building families, pondering, meeting old friends in new forms, that's the life of this semi-robotic character. Eventually by the end of the issue, thousands and thousands of years in the future, the star of this comic appears, but in yet another confusing and future form.The only constants I've noticed from the issues I've read is that Prophet can be regenerated over and over again and is in constant battle with some evil empire. I don't really understand the concept yet or the relation to this character Diehard or why we are focusing this entire issue on him, but it was a cool ride nonetheless!
Fortunately the strangeness of this comic, it's balls to the wall bizareness is so freaking enjoyable and helped by strange and beautiful artwork, that I can't stop loving this comic.
The First American Produced Judge Dredd Comic I've Ever Enjoyed
Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #1
By Al Ewing, Simon McCrea and others
Technically the writer and artist are British and have produced a couple dozen Dredd stories amongst themselves in the past so their familiarity with the character is established. And while I've enjoyed plenty of 2000 A.D. Dredd stories, never has an American publisher been able to produce an original Dredd story that has interested me till now. While this is nothing near groundbreaking or award winning, it's an easy to read, throwaway cheesy fun adventure horror story starring Judge Dredd taking on those pesky Martians from Mars Attacks.
Ideally this comic wouldn't have costed me $3.99, because it's the kind of comic in yore's past that you would read then toss somewhere in your house never to be seen again. It's never going to be a valuable collector's item, but for what it was, it did it's job.
Way Too Much
By Adam Egypt Mortimer & Darick Robertson
Black Mask Studios
I've never been a big fan of Darick Robertson's art, but I've noticed how he's constantly involved with cool comics projects. From, "The Boys" with Garth Ennis most recently, and all the way back to "Transmetropolitan" with Warren Ellis. This Ballistic, his latest project, is another odd and somehow interesting project. The basis of it, set in some distant Earth future where the world's gone to fuck. Technology has warped everything, from food, to porn, to houses and more. Our main character is a crook with a good heart and he's involved in all kinds of weird shit, and has as a companion a weird living gun that a lot of nefarious sorts want for an as yet unknown reason.
Basically it's a buddy story between a man and his gun, except the setting is completely bizarre and honestly nearly impenetrable. The writer is pummelling us with information and story background that it's dizzying in it's comprehension. There's multiple layers here and figuring out what is what and how the story and our main character relates is confusing, to say the least. Yet despite all this detritus of story, it's somehow cooly interesting. I don't know if I can stand to read all 5 issues of this mini-series before being frustrated at all the little warblings of story and technology caveats introduced by the writer, but I have a feeling that any book called "My Favorite Book of 2013" by Grant Morrison will require a full re-read by me in time.
Herobear and the Kid #1
by Mike Kunkle
I realize this comic is not aimed at adults like myself, but after repeatedly seeing other adults rave about this comic, I figured it would be at least worthwhile to familiarize myself with it. So upon reading, I realize yeah, this is definitely aimed at that tweener audience as the story matter about a boy dealing with a new school and bully's is not for the average adult. But looking over the story in general I do notice that this is not original story matter. How many childrens stories involve new school and bully's? Way too many.
The art is nice in it's simplicity, but isn't too appealing to me. I imagine Kunkel does well in the animation field, as the art here is decidely quick sketch animation style. Having the book done in largely a black and white style is odd considering it's aimed at kids.
So while I appreciate the effort in making comics for kids, I personally don't think this comic is all that unique or appealing. I've seen better.
Clean Cut Bad Ass?
Justice League 23.2/Lobo #1
By Margurite Bennet, Ben Oliver and others
I'm largely giving up on reading DC comics for the near future, but I knew I had to check out this remake of the classic DC character of Lobo. I was once upon a time a big fan of the Simon Bisley designed Lobo when he originally appeared 20 some years ago. Upon hearing about the controversy around the new redesign of Lobo in this new DC universe, I knew I had to give it a read. So what we get is a lean, clean cut, glowing face tattoo's distilled down version of Lobo. His dialogue is not as obtuse or adverse or delivered in as macho or gutteral style as we've come to know Lobo. Obviously this is something different.
This story wasn't terrible, it wasn't great either. This new Lobo isn't any different though from your average anti-hero either. He's not unique at all. If this is what we have to look forward to for this character, he's quickly going to be forgettable. What this story does set up is that there are two Lobo's in the universe, this new one and the old one, whom is supposedly an imposter. Knowing comic books as I do, the story is about to get ridiculous and I could give a shit really what happens. The classic Lobo just has the stayng power and the more unique look. This new guy is just a story plot to get fans interested again.
|Posted on September 1, 2013 at 8:10 AM||comments (0)|
A Diamond in the Rough
All Star Western #23
by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Moritat
Finding a good comic out of the current stable of DC Comics is a hard thing to do week to week, but I'll be gol-darned if this comic wasn't a pleasant surprise (written with a cheesy southern drawl in mind)! I feel like an idiot for missing out on the previous 22 issues, because this issue #23 was one fine ass comic. I did read the Jonah Hex comic Palmiotti and Gray did under the previous DC hierarchy and while it was often times great, I gave this, basically, fresher version a pass, because I assumed it would be awful like everything else DC was publishing.
What we got in this issue, and I guess, has been going on for the past handful of issues is that Booster Gold travelled back in time and nabbed Jonah Hex, bringing him forward in time to our 21st century. The dichotomy of such an awkward old school bad ass like Jonah Hex caught in the webs and intrigue of our confusing modern world works like a charm. While to me, at first that seemed like an awful idea, but hell if Palmiotti and Gray haven't made it into something really interesting. The concept being what it is has given a chance to the writers to make some serious commentary on common occurences of our modern world as seen through the eyes of a man from long ago. To Jonah Hex, the polarizing nature of gay marriage, women's rights and gun control, show us just how far we've progressed and regressed at the same time.
The only problem I have with the concept is that they have Jonah Hex operating in Gotham City and Batman is slowly becoming heavily involved in the plot. I get why you would do something like this from a sales point of view and the idea of old school Jonah Hex meeting folks in pervert suits does seem like an interesting phenomenon, I would think Jonah Hex on his own without the involvement of the DC's favorite heroes and villians would be best. I could be wrong and I am willing to let Palmiotti and Gray show me how wrong I am, because these guys know how to write a comic book story.
The art by Moritat was a bit of a letdown though. I enjoyed his work on Elephantmen, but in this issue, he's obviously in a hurry and just throwing lines down on the paper either because he's behind deadline or just not into the story. I was expecting better from an artist whom I once regarded as very talented. Maybe he'll make up for it on a future issue, I'm not sure, but I will be picking up the next issue and probably the one after that if this series stays as good as this particular issue #23.
Bad Guys vs. Bad Guys
Thief of Thieves #16
By Andy Diggle, Shawn Martinbrough and others
I've been reading a lot of good things about this comic, but was wary of picking it up because the overall concept didn't excite me much, but this was a slow week collecting comics, so I weakened and grabbed this issue off the stands. And what do you know? Yeah, it's not my thing. The lead character of this comic is a criminal with a crew. A crew that likes to be bold and bad and steal what's thought to be unstealable. This issue, they want to steal a bunch of drugs right from under the noses of the biggest crime family in Italy.
I don't know, for me there's nothing to get invested in character wise. Maybe to see how these guys fail or succeed? Either way, they're not likeable characters. I guess for the same reason I'm not into the uber hip, uber popular show "Breaking Bad", I'm not into this comic. I can't root for bad guys being bad guys. Even if it is bold and brash and the writing and art is good. The writing on this by Andy Diggle is solid and I'm sure he has a lot of fans because of it. Well good for him. The art by Shawn Martinbrough is completely awesome. Many times I wish this was black and white, because Martinbrough is that kind of artist that is excellent with using shadows and heavy blacks in his work. At times the coloring was distracting and made the art worse for it's sake.
So while this was a well done comic, it's not my thing.
A Pretty and Ruthless Adventure
Amala's Blade #'s 1-4
By Steve Horton and Michael Dialynas
Dark Horse Comics
This was a mini that finished up a month or so ago and while it's never going to win awards for breakthrough comic or whatnot, it was a really gorgeous comic from a couple of gents I've never heard of. Michael Dialynas' artwork in particular is fucking gorgeous. From the sketchy, raw, flush and expressive line work, to the expert and moody coloring. This story really came to life with Michael Dialynas' work. If handled by someone less talented, I don't think Dark Horse would ever have published this.
The story involves a confused young woman who's become an assassin through some hard turns in life. But as the story plays out, she's aided by the ghosts of all the people whom she's killed for reasons unknown at first. The mystery as it turns out is that Amala is destined to stop all the war in the land and bring about peace. So the ghosts aid Amala in having this happen, even though it means she has to confront and kill her own mother.
So while the story is nothing entirely special, it was a fun read, especially with the gorgeous art from Michael Dialynas. Supposedly there will be more adventures of Amala soon enough, and as long as Michael Dialynas is on board with the art, I'll be picking it up.
|Posted on August 18, 2013 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
I'm Getting Tired of End of the World Scenario's
By Jonathan Hickman, Jim Cheung & others
Infinity: Against the Tide Infinite #1
By Jason LaTour, Agustun Alesso & Others
So the next great Marvel Comics event rolls out with two very interesting debuts. Infinity #1 is the flagship, while Against the Tide Infinite #1, starring the Silver Surfur is a digital only release. The main story is about Thanos attacking Earth yet again, while the Avengers go to space to battle The Builders who were introduced in Hickman's Avengers run. These Builders it seems are razing planet after planet mysteriously and eventually plan on coming to Earth. So the Avengers form a pre-emptive strike to stop the Builders before they come anywhere close to Earth. The main twist is that Thanos will attack Earth while it's greatest defenders are out in space far off planet.
Plus you've got some intrigue with the Inhumans which is only hinted at. Supposedly Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans holds deep in his head the secret thing which Thanos really wants. Whatever that thing is, Thanos is willing to once again battle all of Earth for it.
And possibly the most important thing to happen in this issue brings sad news to any fans who ever hoped for a return of Rom the Spaceknight. These evil Builder characters the Avengers want to fight, completely destroyed the remaining Spaceknights and their entire planet of Galador. We got to see a handful of familiar Spaceknights, even one Spaceknight who had the box shape torso reminiscent of Rom himself. Rom the Spaceknight was one of my first comics I ever bought, so while I realize now what a lame character he was, I still have a fondness for him and his Spaceknight continuity. So to see it all go down in flames in this issue made me kinda sad.
As for Against the Tide Infinite #1 starring the Silver Surfer, I knew I would pick it up as soon as I saw Jason LaTour's name attached to it. While he doesn't do any art on this issue, his story is solid. The Silver Surfer battles these evil Builder robots on a Skrull outpost planet and does some serious damage. There wasn't much else to the story, but I will pick up the next to see what happens.
So all in all this was a good beginning to yet another major Marvel crossover event. While I'm sure it's gonna get stupid soon enough, I liked how it began and can see myself picking up the next few issues for the hell of it.
What is the Target Audience for This?
The Reason For Dragons
By Chris Northrop & Jeff Stokely
This is one of those very pretty, but very shallow stories. Jeff Stokely's art is a mash-up of Mark Crilley and Sean Murphy in my opinion. He's good, very good and this is a good looking book, but the story is nothing. I mean it tries to be deep with a kid and his step-father angle, but it's so inconsequential to the story it blows right over.
The plot is silly also. A boy meets a crazy guy who thinks he's a real knight after some brain trauma. They end up battling a real weird ass dragon who comes from some other realm. No explanation on how or why that happens, it just does. When the crazy knight guy and little kid destroy the dragon it opens a portal into a dimension from medieval times. The knight passes through and end of story.
I mean if this was squarely aimed at the 5-8 year old crowd, I can kinda understand. But this is an Archaia Comics, handsomely bound graphic novel. Maybe it's aimed at teens...maybe? I don't know, nonetheless, beyond the pretty art, it did nothing for me. Maybe because I'm a jaded near 40 year old man who's read way too many comics?
A Long Journey Inside Creativity
The Long Journey
This has been making the rounds of late, but I took my time getting to it as the previews didn't catch my interest in any particular way. But it's a free webcomic of the down scroll variety, which in my mind is the best way to read a webcomic, and I knew I was going to read it eventually since it's been recommended and hyped so highly all over the internet.
And well, it's not bad. I liked it. Not as much as many out there who hyped it up. It's definitely creative and a fun read. It's a silly rambling state of conscious type of comic where literally the artist is falling through a myriad of realms, worlds and states of unconscious. It's illustrated in that currently trendy retro-pixelated style made popular by games like Minecraft, which is fun. There's no deep plot or moral to the story, it's more rather whatever popped into the artists head at the time of creation. So while it starts with Nazi's living below the Earth, we end up visiting a variety of realms with mermaids, aliens, dinosaurs, glowing mushrooms and even the Devil himself.
I've seen other work by Boulet which I've liked much more, but I have to give it up to him on this webcomic idea. It's heads and above more creative than a vast majority of other webcomics. I would recommend this comic for sure, especially on a lazy day when you have a few minutes to waste sitting in front of a computer.
|Posted on August 13, 2013 at 12:10 AM||comments (0)|
The Original script for Star Wars by George Lucas is being turned into a comic book. At first glance it looks pretty good. It's decidedly different from the Star Wars we all know and love/hate.
|Posted on July 21, 2013 at 7:10 AM||comments (0)|
Confusion is Sex
Anything That Loves
Edited By Christian Zan Anderson
Contributors: Roberta Gregory, Ellen Forney, Erica Moen, Kate Leth, Maurice Vellekoop, Sam Saturday and more.
Published by Northwest Press
This is a huge anthology style graphic novel filled with real life stories about and dealing with bi-sexuality. Some people say bi-sexuals are just confused and not able to admit to being gay. One of my best friends in the world calls herself bi-sexual and I know her well enough to believe that indeed that is exactly what she is. It is a confusing thing, especially to people with a closed mind, people who need to label things. There's nothing clear and straight-forward about it. Just because we don't understand it, doesn't mean it isn't real.
This anthology I think was created to shed some light into the confusion for both people who identify as bi-sexual and those who would like more information or are curious. Although I have to say after reading all 160 some pages of this book, as fascinating as it was, the confusion surrounding bi-sexuality is not exactly dispelled. Even many of the contributors themselves admitted to their own confusion regarding their own sexuality. I think it just is what it is and we have to accept it at that. Despite not finding any real answers to the question of what is bi-sexuality in this book, I don't think anyone will be able to say this isn't an interesting read.
There were some fabulous contributions from a wide variety of creators. Some well known, some not at all. Agnes Czaja's tale of figuring out her own bi-sexuality, Lena Chandhok's tale of comics influencing her realization, Erika Moen's coming to terms with her sexual identity, Leanne Franson's frustrations of being accepted & Margreet DeHeer's comics about her relationships were among my favorites. There were others which I found awesome too, but don't take my word for it, pick this up.
The Great Game
The Killer: Vol. 4
By Matz & Luc Jacamon
I read volume one of this series years back and was extremely impressed. It won all kinds of awards so I realize I wasn't the only one impressed. But I had not realized there had been more volumes past the first. Well, fuck me as volume four was even better than volume one. Now I have to go find volumes 2 and 3 asap. While volume four didn't have as much outright balls to the wall action as vol. one, the thickening intrigue and espionage in it's place was way more enthralling. I literally did not put this down till I finished with all 120 pages of it. Matz is an incredibly interesting and smart author. The kind of story he tells is captivating, but also the knowledge he imparts is intriguing to say the least. Learning stuff while reading an extremely interesting story is what I like best. The Killer: vol. 4 is heady shit and I loved every single page of it.
The plot, loosely, is about our main character foraying into legitimate business endeavors of a sort. He teams with a couple partners to form an oil compnay off the coast of Cuba. This of course draws the ire of the good ole USA and the plot riffs off on all the dirty ugly political dealings therein. Again this is heady shit, not your normal comic book escapist material. While Matz does a great job of endearing us to his main characters, he repeatedly reminds us not to get too involved as these are bad guys and there's no doubt about it. The Killer of course does what he does best, but the whole espionage angle of this kind of scenario is wild, to say the least.
Luc Jacamon's work also is amazing. His colors and storytelling are captivating. His backgrounds, while obviously photo referenced and even just photoshopped over at times are spectacular. This book was just a beauty to look at and is one of the best books I've read all year, plain and simple.
Totally Lost and Loving it
By Giannis Milonogiannis
It took me literally 4 minutes to read this comic. But what a bad ass 4 minute comic this was! Milonogiannis gives us a very sparse story, with only minimal dialogue and narration. One guy helps another "guy" into a bad ass battle robot suit all the while defending himself from some evil space ships defense systems. The battle robot suit with the "guy" inside blasts off into outer space supposedly to rendezvous with other like minded folk, an empire of some sort. I don't know, but that's the entire story this issue. I hadn't been reading this comic the past bunch of issues, so I'm not sure who is who and what is what, but that's ok as this was a really interesting quick high paced issue. Milonogiannis style of art is a beautiful mesh of manga and european styles. It's high tempo and energetic. Scratchy and expressive. Audacious and fresh. And the cover by artist Fil Barlow is a stunner too. My god, it's awesome. Zoom in on that shit. Look at that.
I guess originally this was a Rob Liefeld creation and I only very vaguely remember anything about it. But I know for a fact that this new Prophet comic is 99% different from Liefeld's. We can all thank the comic book gods for that. I'm on board for the next issue for sure.
The Soft Revolution in Brian Bendis' Head
By Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev
I know I should never read a Bendis single issue comic all by itself as all his stories are told in 5 and 6 issue "arcs", but I went and did anyhow. And yep, once again you're getting only one-fifth of a story here in this Scarlet #7. I did read all previous six issues in collected form and for what it' worth, it was ok. I am more an Alex Maleev fan than a Brian Bendis fan and I will usually check out anything Maleev illustrates. Even if its commonly in service to annoying Brian Bendis comic stories.
Now if you've not read this comic, it's basically about a girl standing up for her rights, gathering disciples/militia members to hunt down corrupt policemen in the city of Portland after she was screwed over by members of the same police force. Her actions which she broadcasts online has drawn the attention of thousands of people in the city who like to hold demonstrations in her name. All this happens in the city of Portland, Oregon. I lived in Portland for a few years and Portland is a progressive city, way more citizen friendly than any American city I've ever been in. I'm sure there's some corruption in it's police force, but if you want to make a statement about citizens rights, activism, police corruption and revolution, why not put it in a city where something like this would really happen? Say like Detroit or L.A. or Dallas, New Orleans or the ever popular NYC? Is it because Bendis lives in Portland and finds it just easier to write about? I'm not sure, but Portland is soft. There's a rosy glow to that city. The police there won't bug you unless you're being a dick. Once while I lived there, cops were called to my house because me and my roomates were playing our music too loud. We were the kind of guys who smoked weed morning till night and always had our paraphenalia laying around. The cops came to our door, asked us to turn it down and left. I'm sure our place smelled like sin and in almost any other city, my roomates and I woulda been arrested. So the shit that is happening in this comic is laughable to me. Therefore to me, Bendis' point is soft and maybe his writing is too.
Plus what's happened to Alex Maleev? Look at this panel...
When manipulating photos in photoshop for his work in the past, Maleev was far less obvious than this. The panel above is something anyone can do with the threshold tool. Oh Alex...
Definitely One of the Weirdest
By Michael DeForge
This originally ran as a periodically updated webcomic on Michael DeForge's blog, then collected into print form in March I believe. I got ahold of this in March, but I could not read it in one sitting. For all it's weirdness and beauty, I found it a bit of a chore to read. Michael DeForge is a comics pioneer of a sort, balancing pure weirdness with a humor and an artistic skill unlike any other. His comics are always interesting no matter what. Even this Ant Comic which took months for me to finish, was interesting in its myriad of ways.
It's kind of hard to describe this comic exactly because it fits no mold or form or stereotype. We basically follow around a few ant characters from an ant colony. The thing is that these characters are not exactly ant like looking. Which is brilliant, actually, because the bizareness of the characters are what makes this story so oddly captivating. You have ants with semi-human faces. Bodies that might be see-through. Spiders with wolf heads. Centipedes in the shape of extremely long stretch limos... This kind of odd touch is what makes Michael DeForge who he is as an artist. I mean, who thinks like this except DeForge? It's fucking bizarre shit.
Safe, but Not Boring
Family Pets #1
By Patrick Shand & Sarah Dill
Silver Dragon Publishing
At first glance this comic looks like your atypical all ages comic book. And it's not that it isn't, but as it turns out, it's a vehicle for an amazingly adept artist. While the story about a parentless kid who has a fondness for animals has to suddenly take care of some magical pets isn't anything terribly mind-blowing, what we are treated to mainly in this comic is artist Sarah Dill's outstandingly simple smoothline work.
I don't know what else Sarah has done before this, but her work here is as solid and strong as any modern alternative style cartoonist in the biz right now. Her subtley on the gray tones in this black and white book is remarkable. Her easy free flowing line work on the characters and figures is reminiscent of a cross between Jessica Able and Bruce Timm.
The cover, while ok in that it sets the theme for this kid friendly book, doesn't do a good job in showcasing how good of an artist Sarah Dill is. If there's any comic art afficiando's reading this review, I recommend picking this book up solely for her work. It's fresh and exciting and I can't wait to see more of her work.
|Posted on June 30, 2013 at 9:30 AM||comments (0)|
One of the Stupidest Comics I've Ever Seen...
Clown Fight #1
by Rob Harrington, Ger Curti & Lara Maruca
This is a ridiculous, but eye catching comic. It's only 15 pages, entirely silent and has no real plot. I'm sure there are stupider comics out there, but it's the stupidest one I've ever seen. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it though. Actually I wish there was more than just 15 pages. They coulda kept this going at least another 15 or so pages. Honestly I could see an entire mini-series of just these clowns fighting.
In the show Family Guy there's a semi re-occuring scene where main character Peter gets in a fight with a giant chicken. And they fight and fight and fight... I could see this comic, Clown Fight, taking that scenario with their clown characters and just running with it for 3 or 4 issues. No plot, no words, just mayhem.
If I was willing to drop a dollar for this first issue I would definitely do so for more.
It's Getting Harder and Harder to Imagine the World of the Future
As a Place of Hope
By Greg Rucka & Michael Lark
Greg Rucka and Michael Lark are two comics creators whom I've been fans of for a while now. I've been following their comic careers seperately since their beginnings. Rucka's at DC and Lark's at Caliber Press. While they've worked together once before on Gotham Central from DC, this is the first time they've worked together on a creator owned project.
The basis of this comic or how I look at it is, imagine a world in the future, a retro world, where kingdoms and fiefdoms have returned and only royalty and the elites have any money or power. Their servants are deemed worthwhile and tolerated, while the rest, the peasants are cattle to be used, abused, ignored or just plain slaughtered. This is the world of LAZARUS by Rucka and Lark and it's not dissimilar to the medieval world that existed once upon a time here on Earth. What's really interesting about this comic is how it's told and illustrated and the unavoidable fact that our for real reality could end up just like this very very soon. I sure hope we won't be looking upon this comic in the future as somehow prophetic. Because the world in LAZARUS is a very dire and sad place.
Yes, Rucka is again making the lead character a woman like he does in almost every single piece of literature he's ever done. In this first issue it doesn't matter whether the main character is a male or a female though, she's just a point of reference at this point. A point of reference in a story that is darkly dystopian, yet amazingly interesting. To me that is. I am tired of the dark and depressing stories about the future, but for a variety of reasons I liked this comic. I will for sure pick up the next issue.
It's Always Been Just a Problem of Availability
Tyranny of the Muse #1
By Eddie Wright & Jesse Balmer
Comics like this are what I hunger for. Strange, weird, dark and amazingly creative comics. These types of writers, artists, stories are still hard to find even in these oversaturated times. Just because there's more doesn't make it any easier to find the really good ones. Tyranny of the Muse #1 is about a young artist who's become addicted to a drug only possibly real in a fictional story. The main characters drug of choice is pure inspiration. It's given to him straight into the brain by injection.
Every creative individual at some time or another experiences a lull in their endeavors. Writer's block, dissatisfaction with their drawings or music, that sort of thing. There are a variety of ways that creative people overcome these obstacles, but in this story, Eddie Wright and Jesse Balmer wrap it all up into one easy solution. An injectable drug. The main character struggles like any junkie would without his fix. While issue one of this comic deals mainly with introducing the two main characters, the addicted artist and his dealer whom is also the artist's love interest, the spastic paranoia of the storytelling is infectious. The art by Jesse Balmer is loose, free, messy and unhindered, but beautiful all the same.
The comic is 50 pages long, but is a fast paced comic. A real page turner. I was done with this a lot faster than I thought. I only hope the second issue arrives soon enough, I'm hooked.
If I Was a Teenager I Would Probably Like This
Young Avengers #'s 5 & 6
By Kieron Gillen & others
Issue 5 was the ending of one particular story and #6 the beginning of another which gave me the feeling I needed to have been reading this for awhile or at least know who these characters are to fully enjoy these two comics. Since I've never read a Young Avengers comic before, I knew only who the Young Hulk was and the Young Loki from other Marvel comics. So as a reading experience these two issues weren't very interesting back to back to me, but that doesn't matter really as what stuck with me about these two comics is that, I think I found one of those bizarre comics that is unabashedly made for actual teenagers. Not the plethora of comics that are made for 30+ year olds, but come off as made for teens.
No I think this is one of those for real comics created for a teen demographic. Which I applaud because there's not enough of those in America. And honestly If I was a 13 year old I just might love this comic. With it's heavy characterization and cheesy overwrought emphasis on silly teenage turmoils, I can almost visualize dozens of lonely teen boys emotionally involved in every issue of this book. The characters are likeable in their way and the writer Kieron Gillen (with however much editorial influence) has built a solid book for a newer generation of readers.
The art by Jamie Mckelvie in issue 5 was really nice. He has a smooth, fluid line that is super polished and unique. In issue 6 he's outdone in my opinion by artist Kate Brown, who brings an even more unique flair to the art in a story that is largely a talky exposition type of story delving into two of the main characters backstories.
While I might not have any interest in picking up any more of this comic, as I'm a ornery 30 something dude well over the problems dwelled upon in this kind of comic, I will make sure to keep an eye out for artists Jamie McKelvie and Kate Brown's work.
Creativeness in Mainstream Comics. Please, More.
By Matt Fraction & David Aja
I picked this up off of good word of mouth and noticing how sales for this book keep going up every month according to those monthly Diamond Comics Distributors sales list. After giving it a quick read, I find myself pleasantely surprised by this comic. I have not read any of the previous issues, so finding a single issue/complete story about Hawkeye's dog told in a weird use of symbolism and faux canine senses, really left me with a positive feeling about this comic which is essentially about a mainstream superhero from a mainstream superhero publishing company. A genre and publisher I am automatically biased against on mere principle. Their usual amount of schlock they push out is sickening, so when I do find enjoyment from one comic in their monthly barrage, I am genuinly shocked.
I imagine not all the issues have been this inventive, but that won't stop me from picking up the next issue and maybe some of the previous issues. Good job Mr. Fraction, Mr. Aja and Marvel Comics editors.
When You Aren't Allowed to Write Superman, You Write This
By Jay Faerber, Nate Stockman & Paul Little
What if Superman were down on his luck? Getting kicked out of his house by Lois. At the Daily Planet he's hanging on to his job by a thread. Then some shmuck accidentally figures out your secret identity and demands you work for him or else he outs your secret identity. That's this comic in a nutshell.
It's almost appealing. If it were an actual Superman comic, it'd be even more appealing as it would put Superman in storytelling territory DC's never let him enter. If you think too hard about this story, it's completely silly, but whatever. Jay Faerber has some clout from publishing a few semi-successful comic books from Image comics, so he gets a publishing deal telling this mediocre superhero story.
The art by Nate Stockman is good, it's solid and the colors by Paul Little are pretty good too. Overall it's not a bad looking book, but it's squarely in that mediocrity territory which for me just isn't going to work.
So This is the Buffyverse
Angel & Faith: What You Want, Not What You Need #3
By Christos Gage, Rebekah Isaacs & Dan Jackson
Dark Horse Comics
I honestly picked this up not realizing that this was a Buffyverse comic. Perusing through the pages, none of the characters were immediately recognizable. I just saw some really nice art and coloring and thought I would give it a try. It was until I actually sat down to read it that it became obvious that this stars the character Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and his own show, whatever it was called. I almost put it down when I realized what it was, but I kept looking at the attractive art by Rebekah Isaacs and the jump off the page coloring by Dan Jackson that I decided to give it a read nonetheless.
I've never watched an episode of Buffy or it's spin-offs, nor read any of the comics that Dark Horse has recently started publishing, so I was a little wary of getting involved in a fictional universe that from the outside seems even more corny than the Star Trek universe. As it turns out this is an entertaining, very silly melo-dramatics aside, comic story. Even though I wasn't familiar with the whole backstory of this storyline or it's characters, it still made for an enjoyable read. That's a good sign for any comic, when a new reader can burst in at any point and still find enjoyment. Many modern comics fail at this task.
A lot of my enjoyment can be attributed to Rebekah Isaac's very strong artwork. Her style is slightly reminiscent of Mike Allred's, but she's still got her own thing going on. The artwork was aided by fantastic coloring by Dan Jackson. There's times when an overabundance of computer coloring effects can be too much, but if done in a way that is obviously not trying to imitate realism, then it comes off as it's own creative beast. That's what Dan Jackson has done here with the colors.
The story meanwhile was a typical end of the world situation where our heroes must stop the bad guys from destroying the world. The bad guys in this story have created some sort of magic plague energy ball which when released will turn all the normal humans into beasties and ghoulies. The story is nothing too terribly unique, but it was ably assisted by fantastic artwork and coloring and made into an enjoyable 18 pages of comic book entertainment.
I Want To, But I Can't
By Becky Cloonan
Becky Cloonan has quickly become one of my favorite artists in comics. Her latest comic, Demeter, like her other recent self-published works are plainly gorgeous. I really think she's able to put a little something extra in her own creations compared to her work for hire projects. She works in black and white and gray tones only in these self-published books and I believe it works better than if these were in full color. I love her artwork on this, but...
I just didn't get this comic. Some lady conjures up some dude from the ocean and then some witch takes him away? The guy was some sort of sea ghost whom this witch entranced to keep her company? This was all a dream? I don't know. I don't know what this story was about. Am I stupid? Her previous self-published works, The Mire and Wolves also had problems in the story department, but they were comprehendable. Demeter, I guess was just beyond me.
Despite my dislike of the story, the art alone is enough to keep me hungering for more of Becky Cloonan's work.
Great Art Can Not Carry a Comic
Dial H #13
By China Mieville, Alberto Ponticelli & others
This comic is officially cancelled, but I saw a preview of this particular issue and had to read it. I'm partially glad I did because the art, colors and letters are spectacular. Alberto Ponticelli's art on this is sketchy in places, darkly weird in places and just a little odder than what I'm used to seeing on recent DC superhero comics. The coloring by Tanya & Richard Horie is sublime. Their use of textures and lighting for this particular issue with a lot of stone and concrete as a strong part of the story is really captivating. Sometimes texture in the colors can be an eyesore, but not here. The lettering by Taylor Esposito is also sublime. The story involves a chalk drawn animated figure with particularly unique word balloons and Taylor Esposito pulls it off with a unique font and style of lettering that blends with the art and colors perfectly.
Beyond the art, the story by China Mieville, is almost good. It starts off strong, but meanders some and sputters to an ending. It almost made a deep point, but then it all sorta just ran flat. With stories like this, I'm not surprised that this got cancelled.
Every Now and Again a Comic Takes Me By Surprise
The original English printing of this came out in 2008 I believe, but I just now got ahold of a newer printing. "Hey, Wait..." I guess was one of Jason's first books translated into English and published by Fantagraphics. So I'm jumping on this bandwagon a bit late. After all, he's recieved a ton of accolades for this publication. You've probably heard all about this book already, but just in case you haven't, here's my review...
While I've enjoyed Jason's other books published by Fantagraphics, I was never "wowed" by any of them either. That's all changed with "Hey, Wait...". This book took me completely by surprise. I was literally on the toilet when reading this and usually my toilet reading is for easy breezy type of reads. The kind of books I've pegged Jason for in the past. To my surprise this book caught my attention in a deep deep way. So when I got off the toilet finally, I kept on reading.
The book opens with two young boys doing normal kid stuff for the first few pages. Then the one kid dies and the story takes a darker turn. The kid left alive turns into a man who leads a dull boring life, a life forever changed by losing his best friend as a kid. That doesn't sound like an exciting summation exactly, but Jason's storytelling on this is what hooks ya. The jump cuts in the narrative and the flashbacks are all part of the style of storytelling in this book. The unique way of using the comic book medium is what provides it's emotional resonance. It's inventively deep shit for a 64 page comic book. I don't know if another book by Jason will ever move me like this one did, but I'll have a deeper appreciation of his work from this point on.
|Posted on June 23, 2013 at 7:25 AM||comments (0)|
The Little Legendary Comic That Keeps On Going
Legends of the Guard Vol. 2 #1
By David Peterson, Stan Sakai, Ben Caldwell and others
This actually debuts next week, but I'm reviewing it now as I recommend that you make sure to pick this up next week because it's quite good! This is basically a compilation type of series where a bunch of comics greatest and most talented creators come in and tell tales about characters from the famous hit comic book series Mouse Guard by David Peterson. It's sort of an in-betweener type of series as we wait for the release of the next full volume of Mouse Guard.
Volume one of Legends of the Guard was released a few years ago and while this type of thing is a great idea, volume one was hit or miss for me. Some of the stories were really good, others pretty forgettable. This latest volume though starts off with three all around great tales, beginning with Stan Sakai's thoughtful entry (sort of a trademark with Sakai though isn't? That thoughtful deep stuff?). Alex Eckman and Nick Tapalansky's story about a mouse of yore meeting with the mysterious Whale Guard of the sea was my favorite though. The book was finished up with a cutesy story by Ben Caldwell told in his familiar cartoony/goofy style. And David Peterson the creator of Mouse Guard provides wrap around art and story for the three main stories. A super solid comic in my opinion, well worth the money.
For All Us Kids at Heart
Batman - Li'l Gotham #'s 9-11
By Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolf's
This series has to be the best current Batman comic being published by DC comics. I know it's aimed at a younger crowd then the one I'm a part of, but after seeing a handful of comics critics whom I admire give the thumbs up on this series, I knew I would have to try it out even if I am a cranky aging eternally immature boy-man. The stories are simplified here, but that doesn't mean they're not powerful. Dustin Nguyen is really doing a hell of a job on this book. Besides his stories, his art on this is amazing. The watercolor splashy free spirited cartoony look of this book is really eye catching.
These books are quick reads which I guess is good considering that they want children to read them, although selling this series as a digital release only I think hinders that, but each issue is packed with a great story. From Mr. Freeze trying to freeze a perfect world for his dead wife, to all Batman's Bat-mite sidekicks trying to team up to stop Bane, to Batman, Damien and his mom all sharing a moment on Mother's day. Each one of these stories was about as light-heartedly perfect as a comic book can get.
I can't stand any of the other Batman books currently being published, but this is one book I will definitely continue to pick up each issue. I just hope DC doesn't cancel it like it seems to be doing with most of their other books.
Patrick Zircher Makes Anything Better
Suicide Squad #'s 20-21
By Ales Kot (gotta be a psuedonym) & Patrick Zircher
While I've largely been doing my best to avoid DC comics, when I noticed that Patrick Zircher was doing this series I had to pick up a few issues. Besides awesome art from Patrick Zircher, the story is pretty entertaining. I've long been a fan of Patrick Zircher and do my best to pick up whatever he's working on, but sometimes the projects he's assigned to are awful and I can only stand so many awful stories even if he's doing a hell of a job on the art side of things. But after reading two issues of this comic which I had honestly no idea even existed, I'm going to keep reading till Zircher's off the book.
I know the premise behind the Suicide Squad well, villians working with the government to handle hard cases to reduce their prison terms, but I had no idea that this comic would be so good. The writer, someone going by the name Ales Kot (Who could that really be? That is not a real name.), gives us a very interesting prison break story in these two issues and re-introduces readers to the villianous James Gordon jr. the son of Commissioner Gordon introduced in the Batman comics a bit back.
While issue 21 the promised second and ending part of a two parter doesn't really give us an ending, but more of a to be continued, I'm not going to get picky on the details as anything this good being produced by DC comics right now is a godsend. So yeah, this is highly recommended.
|Posted on June 11, 2013 at 9:35 AM||comments (0)|
I read on average 10 comics a week (print, digital, whatever), unfortunately many of them are not that good. Sure one or two of the contributors does an excellent job, the artist does an amazing job for a terrible script. Or the art is terrible, but the colorist did such an amazing job, things like that. I'm tired of that kind of comic. I want the whole thing. Maybe I just need to make better choices in my reading? Or cut down my reading total to only the comics know I will enjoy month in and month out? I don't know.
But in an attempt to refresh my palette for reading comics I asked a handful of my comic book reading friends what they've been excited about when it comes to comics. Maybe their recommendations will ease my despair.
This is what I got in response...
Comic Book Writer - Curse of the Black Terror
I've really been digging Think Tank.
It's a fresh and original comic that tackles unique subject matter. Also it deals with real questions facing us in the very near future, while maintaining a quirky, kind of humorous edge.
Comic Book Writer - Reynard City
Must admit recently moved so money is a bit tight but the last one I read was Gail Simone's Wonder Woman comic The Circle. Really enjoyed it, captured the character well and a smart reinvention of the character.
Frankie B Washington
Comic Book Artist/Illustrator- Robotics Enthusiast - Here's his Gallery
Well I'm a trade guy. So the best comic book I've just read is IDW Godzilla : The Half Century War. Story and Art by James Stokoe.
The reason I enjoyed it was because he accomplished what me and James are doing with Robot God Akamatsu. A wonderful fusion of western storytelling but applying an understanding of Eastern (manga) art to sculpt an amazing reading experience. His use of color hearkens back to the days of the 70's & 80's, whereas dyes were the tools for colorist. His sequential paneling is well executed and flows evenly. The story chronicles the Godzilla movie series well and doesn't lose a beat. I really hope that he considers doing more Godzilla work in the future.
Professional Comic Book Colorist - Color Art Gallery
I enjoyed Saga, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thor God of Thunder, because i liked story and art a lot on these series. Oh yeah, and Hawkeye, and The Wake #1 that came out last week or so.