Friday, August 31, 2012

CBNAH Interview: Mahmud Asrar

Mahmud Asrar currently illustrates DC Comics’ ‘Supergirl’ and after honing his trade in the 90s in Turkey’s Hacettepe University, Asrar has become one of the industry’s most elegant yet unheralded artists.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dark Horse: Reasons Why You Shouldn't be Reading the Goon!


Renaldo's Reviews: Debris, Grim Leaper, Star Wars and MORE!

Debris #2 –
I struggled with the first issue from Kurt Wiebe, and despite the enthrallingly simplistic art of Riley Rossmo, there was an urge to drop the title. But a second issue in, and our heroine, Maya, journeys through perilous landscape in hope of finding valuable resources and commodities for her tribe in these dystopian times. Given the robotic threats ravaging her surroundings, her partnership with Kessel, who seems to have a grand intuition of the world today, fits well with the story and while the pace doesn’t pick up too much, it balances the story well and offsets that frenetic and jumbled attempt of a debut. The story remains linear, precise and is as compact as it now needs to be. It’s now I can empathize with the characters’ struggles and agony to prevail. (8/10)
Grim Leaper #4 –
Wiebe’s culmination here with our body-swapping lovers kind of fizzles here and the underwhelming feel ricochets from page to page. It’s a disappointing reverberation for a book that started so well and it felt like a Millar title with a rushed ending. The mire that perpetuated in this dysfunctional romance and the comedy of errors that was manipulated into the book didn’t manifest into that grand a finale to me. However, don’t discount Santos’ art…it’s as pristine as ever. I must add that Ed Brisson’s totally non-related script and artist, Jonnie Christmas’ backup teenage love story is highly entertaining in its own dark way. I’d love to see this expanded as it’s twisted and encompasses that alluring dementia we all have in our inner selves. Quite lovely! (6/10)
Star Wars: Darth Maul Death Sentence #2 –
Tom Taylor’s dialogue is iffy but he makes up for it with a stunning story about Darth Maul and his brother Savage Oppress as they use their wiles and rage to go after those who wronged them. This lands them in hot water as they end with their backs to the wall as the Jedi join the race to take the brothers down. Maul’s revival now comes at another loss but what transpires is a deft turn of events that just may give Maul the upper hand to revenge. Bruno Redondo’s art conspires to maintain an instilled confidence in a book that keeps flowing at a good pace with strong momentum. It’s times like these were the cunning Maul is well-placed in the spotlight. (9/10)
Star Wars and the Ghost Prison #4 –
Haden Blackman’s story focuses on Thom as he evolves from a lieutenant to a confidant and trusted ally of Vader. Agustin Alessio extrapolates the power and scourge of Vader with his magnificent art while Blackman carves out a fresh take on Vader’s recruitment to protect Palpatine from insurgence in the ranks. This dissidence truly makes Tohm shine out with a sincerity and profound clamour for vengeance when Blackman puts pen to paper. Tohm finds solace in another new recruit that also adds a new dimension to the book as it redefines terrorism and political undertones where one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Blackman dissects these railings and rantings pretty well without raving like a stark mad lunatic…and his story is subtle yet extravagantly powerful and telling. (10/10)
Higher Earth #4 –
The previous issues showed the woe of a renegade soldier jumping through the multiverse to rescue a young girl whose destiny lies upon greatness. When the concept of Higher Earth and its ‘subsidiaries’ unfolds in this issue, and there’s much clarity gained, it’s apparent what the girl is meant for…and this builds well on the foundation of the renegade soldier and the alternate Earths that bear repercussions on each inhabitant. There are alternate versions of the soldier on the hunt and again, there’s a lot of Cable and Hope mixed in by Sam Humphries as he weaves some intricacy to the tale a la Grant Morrison. It’s a story of flair with some spice added in by the multitude of covers from Phil Noto, Garry Brown and Frazer Irving among others. It sparkles further with Francesco Biagini’s interiors and adorning Humprhries’ story really proves the icing on the cake from a creative duo that seem brilliantly in sync. (8/10)

Steven's Reviews: Morning Glories, Bionic Woman, X-0 Manowar and MORE!

Debris #2
Alright so we open with a fight scene with a new kind of Umbral.  A very aggressive human/dog hybrid, think Egyptian God and you’ve pretty much got the idea.  They are kinda cool I have to admit Riley did a nice job designing them.
            So when last we left her she had trained a group of people from her tribe to defend it, her mentor had passed away and she left in search of a new clean water source.  And that brings us pretty much up to date on her going ons.
            After the battle with the Umbrals a sand storm is approaching quickly and she needs to find shelter.  She finds herself inside a building with an actual working light bulb.  I loved her reaction to it too I mean she’s never seen this kind of technology before and the dialogue was actually really good here.  She also meets a new player in the game, Kestrel. 
            We get a good deal of information about Kestrel here too and that I appreciate greatly.  I still no next to nothing about this world they live in and that is driving me crazy so it is nice that we get this kind of background on him.  He was excommunicated though the tribe says he fled in disgrace, I love how two parties have two totally different views on the same event.  He even dated and was in love with her mentor. 
            That love I think led him to actually help on her quest to find the fabled city.  I like that she isn’t going to be traveling alone and that a companion is good for talking and revealing a characters persona.  The fact that he knew her as a small child doesn’t hurt either.  So whether she thinks so or not there is a connection there which begs to be explored.
            Umbra are something special and I’d like to know how they are created.  The pair are followed by a pack of these more aggressive ones we saw though they leave rather unexpectedly around a lake.  Okay now I have a question no one passed down knowledge on how to purify water or boil it in copper to remove impurities?  Kestrel knows about electricity apparently but can’t make drinking water?  This seems more than a little strange to me and hopefully will be made clear as things continue on.  Though I do rather think that they found another Colossus rather quickly all things considered.
            I will grudgingly admit that this issue was better than the first and this is the reason why we continue to read stories by those with good track records because inevitably they do impress.  
Morning Glories #21
Image Comics 2010
Nick Spencer: Words
Joe Eisma: Art
Alex Sollazzo: Colours
            Four years ago the first group of kids heads off to the Academy.  This is important not only for Jun/Hisao’s boyfriend is among them but also because it gives valuable background information on the one who killed Zoe.
            Hunter is scared and he should be because the girl who killed Zoe grazes his leg with a bullet to stop him from running away.  This is craziness people I mean child soldiers fighting a war that we don’t know anything about.  Which by the way is one of the more intriguing aspects of this book as well. 
            In one issue Nick manages to give some absolutely fantastic back story to these new characters while simultaneously continuing the story in the present seemingly uninterrupted.  It is issues such as this one that show just why this man has been able to garner so much attention in his career.  Just the sheer amount of information given and delivered in such a way that you don’t realize just how much is being given is hard to do and so few pages as well.  It really is rather impressive when you go through and catalog like I have what is being given.
            Even more impressive is that I’m still almost completely in the dark with what this faction’s purpose is.  I have no idea what the Academy is grooming the kids for what role our featured class really plays or why Abraham started his own faction to counteract what is being done here.  Yet I’m still glued to each issue as it comes out eagerly soaking it up and looking for any clues given.
              Irina is certainly hardcore and it seems that the Academy has only hardened her more.  I think having Hisao and the others around her will allow for her to soften up a bit and become more of a relatable character.  I have to say that her experience downstairs in the cellar was almost the polar opposite of Casey’s and that in itself really showed what this girl is made of and I have to say I’m mightily impressed.
            So the ceremony was a double edged event.  Something to keep Hisao from but to motivate him to help the others and it is also something that is meant to happen apparently.  Thankfully from the looks of things the sacrifice will be a goat from the looks of things.
            We are almost at the end of the two year mark for this book and I have to say it’s just as exciting today as I found it when it debuted and that is a pretty rare feat these days.  While it may be a tad more violent than anticipated I’d love to see someone take a crack at putting this on the small screen as weekly series I wonder if FX or AMC would be up for such a challenge. 
Prophecy #3
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Ron Marz: Writer
Walter Giovani: Artist
Adriano Lucas: Colourist
            Any book that can open with Sherlock Holmes solving a crime is going to be a good book and this is no exception.  How do you make it even better you have Sherlock discover that Alan Quartermain isn’t dead and has the Mayan Dagger from the first issue that’s how.  I mean he’s going to be a nice part of this story without even having to interact with all the characters while they are in the midst of battle and it freakin works!
            Ron is telling the story his way and it’s a way that he’s proven works time and time again.  The man is a master story teller and he’s managing to weave all these seemingly unconnected characters into a story that seems as natural as can be.
            Back to that dagger, which seems to be a key player in this story another interesting aspect you probably weren’t expecting.  Kulan has the dagger in the present (2012) and is using it call forth Mayan Avatars of destruction to be his servants.  Red Sonja of course is the first to leap into battle; her mortal enemy is behind all this.  What I found interesting is that these warriors given time could indeed take these avatars.  Though at this point in time that wouldn’t do for story telling purposes I mean this is a seven issue series after all.
            Kulan and his avatars disappear and the team must find a way to find them and stop them.  Who came up with the goods this time around, Herbert West did.  Yes the re-animator with his copy of the Necronomicon has found a way, working alongside Athena to get where each of them needs to go.  This process is kind of you find yourself where you are, you don’t get to pick whom you face, but it works.  Go on ahead West you are finally proving you are player in this drama and that is lovely.
            There are plenty of wonderful moments here that unexpected, expected and still things that you now want to see happen.  It’s the mark of a good story teller that after reading this issue you wish you were able to read more of it right away.  It doesn’t hurt that the artwork is pretty stellar to boot, both together could definitely push this into mini-series of the year contention.
The Bionic Woman #3
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Paul Tobin: Writer
Leno Carvalho: Artist
Mark Roberts: Colourist
            Jamie Summers isn’t playing around, when she wants information she damn well gets it come hell or high water.  She isn’t afraid, timid, shy or any of that she’s an extremely competent operative who loves her new role in life and thrives in it as well.  The opening sequences has some of the most incredibly fun dialogue I’ve seen or imagined we’d get in this title and more importantly it brought a huge smile to my face.
            Jamie and Nora can easily put Thelma and Louise to shame my friends to shame!  They are two bored old housewives compared to these two.  Holy Jumpin Jehosephat are these two women so darn much fun to see operate.  I also love how this series seems to be making them out to be more agents in the field than say the Bionic Man is.  It really gets to have more of a that Bourne kind of feel to it where they do their thing and you know something big is coming but you still enjoy seeing how it all unfolds.
            This story was simply stunningly told.  Paul just reveals so many things in such wonderful ways.  Both with the dialogue and in the actions they take really do define this version of Jamie.  Not only is she as far from a school teacher as she can possibly get but she’s portrayed as the incredibly strong confident more than capable woman.  So we do learn that during her bionic replacements she lost much of her memory of who she was so this really is a clean slate and her actions are well her own at this stage in her life and I love that she is willing to do what she needs to, to accomplish her goals. 
            Leno is doing some incredibly good work here, I’m sorry to say this is my introduction to his work, as far as I know.  Still it compliments the words incredibly well and the action sequences as well as the stagnant ones are all very strong and powerful as she is now.
            Also I have to admit that much like the original television shows this book is so much better than his.  I have no idea why this trend is continuing but it is and I have to say I’m not upset by in the least.
Hellraiser #17
Boom Studios 2010
Written by Clive Barker & Mark Miller
Art by Janusz Ordon, Marcio Henrique & Giovanni P. Timpano
Colours by Vladimir Popov
            Okay uhm well hello there Captain Elliott Spencer with your nice hard hairy body and that nice uncut weewee.  Seriously he is portrayed as a seriously handsome man here, yes he’s depraved but wow and kudos to Boom for going the extra mile and making this tastefully sensual.  I wasn’t expecting nudity and really wasn’t expecting to see him but I applaud this I mean men get the short straw when it comes to being shown full frontal and wow I just can’t say how much I appreciated what you’ve done here.
            Unfortunately my preview copy was only ten pages but I’ll give ya this I am so ready to read the rest of the story.  This was one of the most perfect teasers I’ve had the pleasure of seeing to date. 
            So let’s get to what was in those ten pages shall we.  See we left with Elliott ready to turn the world into his playground and the world’s governments aren’t capable of stopping him.  We open however with what looks like Kirsty with a baby in arms coming too in his dreams and then finds herself in his bedroom as he wakes up.  So we don’t for sure if this is a dream within a dream kind of thing but you sure as hell want to know.  See this is why I am in love with this series because what you see is so seriously messed up it’s like that train wreck you can’t turn away from because you are just too captivated.  Only this is that way because you have no idea what is going to happen next and while some things are incredibly odd and off or really rather sadistic you still have to know what is going on.
            This is like comic book crack for me.  Everything about this book works in such harmony and unison that overall it continues to be a must read title each and every month.
Higher Earth #4
Boom Studios 2012
Created & Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Francesco Bagini
Colours by Andrew Crossley
            After the crazy ending last issue I wondered if things could any more bizarre.  Naturalmont it could and predictably it did and I loved every single minute of it!
            To be honest I wasn’t expecting to get such a comprehensive lesson on how the Earths all work together with Higher Earth being the center of it all.  It really helped and fit so naturally into the story at this time that I shouldn’t have been surprised by it but I still was.  I kind of expected to slowly unravel some things about how it all worked in relation to all the Earths but this was awesome. 
            I guess it helped that Rex lost an arm and was bleeding out profusely and on the verge of death.  In that condition if you are wondering how he was able to give Hiedi the history lesson then read the issue cause I ain’t telling ya.  I will say this it involves Koothka the Raven, who knew a massive computer could be in such a little body, and implants that apparently everyone has.
            Seriously I was amazed all the information that just seemed to keep coming this issue.  It almost felt like a faucet was leaking and we were getting more than we bargained for here, oh I’m not going to complain because the information all flowed incredibly well.  We got to see the Queen, who has a past with Rex and the new Queen who if you paid attention you’ll understand who she is. 
            Heidi got a visit from someone that Rex knew.  See at first I thought this was going to be her mother but no it was her from an alternate Earth, all grown up and as she put it closer than sisters.  This was one of those rare emotional scenes that just made you swell up close to tears and you knew it would be the turning point in young Heidi’s life or at least till for now.  I’ll say this it sure lit a fire under her so if you want to see what was so effective—read the book.
            I was a tad surprised that the med-kit Rex has didn’t regrow the arm for him.  Okay so he’s kind of damaged goods but he’s alive and well and that is all you really need to know.  If I had to sum up this issue with one work it would be impressive and it was in every sense of the word too.  The reasons for being where they are, are made clearer and Rex’s devotion comes into focus and it is almost as if the story will really start from here on out.  Oh yes and the artwork is very good at bringing the words and the worlds to life. 
X-O Manowar #4
Valiant Entertainment 2012
Robert Venditti: Writer
Cary Nord: Penciler
Stefano Gaudiano: Inker
Moose Baumann: Colourist
            We get to see the amount of destruction Aric inflicted the Vine craft, which had been his prison, upon his escape.  What I really liked about this though, besides seeing the blame game being tossed around, was that we get a tad bit more information about the Vine this way.  There are factions within the Vine that don’t trust each other and could very well sabotage the others to get their way which just opens up a realm of possibilities for future story arcs.  Oh and the dialogue on the ship between them was fabulous!
            Meanwhile back on Earth Aric is discovering this isn’t the Rome he knew.  In a pretty incredible battle, both visually and the direction it took, which demonstrated just how dang powerful the suit really is, he learns the truth of the situation.  Somehow the suit is able to show him Rome’s history and it lets him know he’s lost sixteen centuries aboard the Vine vessel.  How that is possible we haven’t learned yet but I’m sure over time that will also be explored.
            What happens next is pleasantly surprising as we meet Alexander as he’s told to turn on Fox News, not the good news channel fyi, to witness the armor in action.  This news prompts him to kick two women out if his bed.  As he tells the rest of them to leave we are left to wonder just how powerful his sexual prowess is and it’s nice to see there were men among the crowd as well.  Now that is progressive. 
            Why do we meet him well it turns out he’s part of a consortium of Vine agents that are on Earth.  They consider themselves to be Earth’s caretakers, my arse they are.  Still they are going to find the suit and get it back before the Invasion, the ship he escaped from wants to come in barrel’s blazing.  At least they are going to try and Alexander has volunteered to lead the mission on Shanhara.  Plus I like that he’s kind just in his pajama bottoms most of the time we see him.
            Valiant’s return isn’t just a return is a resurgence of excellence in the medium.  This is so today, now, relevant and easy to jump on board without having to have read any of the past adventures.  I wish the big two would sit up and take notice this is how you redo your line people and it can’t get any better than this, or can it?  This is the Summer of Valiant and I can’t wait for their Fall and Winter too.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Renaldo's Reviews: Dragon Age, Spike and Planetoid!

Dragon Age #1-
If you like mages, pirates and are hopped up on the slithery and swashbuckling Conan by Brian Wood, then you’re in for a treat here. Game of Thrones you say? Well come hither because there are alliances, kingdom transgressions, kings and naysayers…all at each other’s throats here and the regal yet majestic gore subtly slipped in by artist Chad Hardin makes for a royal time. King Alistair embarks on a mission to find his missing father, rumoured alive, and with his trusty and wily aide and confidante, Isabela, there’s a lot of action and glorious battling swamped onto the story by David Gaider and Alexander Freed. There’s a cavalier notion in this book that needs to hit your eyes as Alistair finds that this age of terror never fails to send new threats his way. It’s a remarkable opener and puts some medieval joy back into comics. (9/10)
Spike: A Dark Place #1-
As implied in the title, our titular hero, Spike, endures the heartache of that fallout with Buffy…yet again…where he retreats to nurse and mend his broken heart…doused in extraterrestrial R & R. This really baffled me. It’s a bit odd but then again, it’s hard to get a good story once the series ended on TV to me. Paul Lee’s pencils are grainy, rough and work nicely as Spike’s remedial actions are quirky, surly and brooding. Vic Gischler, Marvel’s Vampire-lover and scribe, got a nice handle on the Brit here…but sadly, the story of Spike’s drunken anecdotes as he recovers…falls a bit by the wayside as alien frogs, spaceships and cockroaches seem to show that maybe there’s no real idea pitched for the vamp. It’s mundane at times and ends pretty underwhelming and obvious. It’s hard to watch him piss away with this supporting cast in space, where the only kicks you catch are Manchester United references. (5/10)
Planetoid #1-3

If Cable met A.I. which met Terminator: Rise of the Machines…which melded with the Bermuda Triangle…you’d get this. Silas finds himself bound to a planet where machinery rules man until he finds himself a savior leading a tribe to a hopeful salvation. He elevates the encampment into a society with no political undertones and moral upheavals in one of the simplest yet profound comic I’ve read in a while. There’s strength in this simplicity by Ken Garing who writes and sketches the book. It’s a pretty formidable tale of the plans to ascend into something more while trapped on the planet…and it’s clear Silas is eyeing an exodus off the rock. But at what price? It’s a book for the intellect and the hopeful…great art and a potent plot…can’t ask for more! (10/10)

Steven's Reviews: Youngblood, Dark Horse Presents, Dragon Age and More!

The Bionic Man #12
Alright to start off this issue with one of those crazy white supremacist type groups during the campaigning months was really rather ballsy.  I give that idea two thumbs up!

Steve arrives and rescues a girl from this group, her father had basically kidnapped her and took her with him.  It was well done, I liked the dialogue and how everything was executed.  Also it was a nice way to start things off.  Having the girl be a student of his fiancée Jamie was also a good touch.  Though let’s talk for a minute about Jamie’s hair colour it was just way too brown people that isn’t the woman who will become the Bionic Woman I mean seriously someone should have caught that.
            The interlude where we see them at OSI headquarters and we see Max the Bionic Dog, which works well with Jaime, was positively delightful!  Though when someone finds out that during his “off-time” Steve is being monitored like someone’s pet project well that will be something that can be addressed later on and hopefully it will be.
            Alright one of the things that I really am enjoying about this series is the references and ties to the NBC television show.  This time around we get Bigfoot and I fondly remember that episode, though for the life of me I can’t remember details so for me this is wonderful.  Also incredibly impressive is the amount of background we get on Bigfoot and how being in such close proximity to Steve causes him problems. 
            This is one of those stories that can hold its own whether you are a long time fan or if you are new to the character.  That is important too since you don’t want to alienate anyone or scare them away thinking they have to know the entire history before being able to enjoy it.  So bravo to Dynamite and company for making this new reader friendly as well as long time fans squee with joy.
Dark Horse Presents #15
Dark Horse Comics 2011
Writers: Various
Artists: Various
            The anthology series isn’t dead and Dark Horse is doing it their way and they are doing it quite well too.  Some of these stories seem to be almost like try outs, using creators to tell their stories to see if the work they do will be well up to standards.  Some really are too and then some well for me personally aren’t.  Then we’ve got stories that are continuations of previous mini-series or series that have produced in the past.
            For me I though that seeing Rex Mundi again by Arvid and Juan was a highlight o of not only this issue but possibly of the month.  They did wonderful work together back in the day and I really felt like a kid in the candy store seeing this short story.  It had the effect that I wanted to immediately pull out my trades are re-read the story and to evoke that kind of response is pretty spectacular.
            Also some of these stories are springboards for new and upcoming series.  For example the reintroduction to Ghost has been absolutely spectacular.  Getting a feel for what the upcoming series is going to be has me very excited for that book to start.  Since the creative team doing this mini story is the same that will be launching the series just makes me giddy with anticipation. 
            Plus there are times when creators just want to visit their past and tell a short story without having to worry about stretching it or what have you into a mini.  Concrete is a great example of that for me. 
            Sometimes too you get exposed to people you normally wouldn’t and that can be a hit or miss situation.  I am not a huge fan of nudity for nudity’s sake and those stories tend to turn me off.  But I’ve also found some that would have passed on that I found incredibly charming and different and glad I have the opportunity to experience things by surprise. 
            Overall there is a lot to experience in this book and I applaud Dark Horse for taking the initiative to do a larger anthology book.  It’s very easy to see why it won and Eisner award.  This is one of those projects that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Dragon Age #1 (of 3)
Dark Horse Comics 2012
Story: David Gaider
Script: Alexander Freed
Art: Chad Hardin
Colours: Michael Atiyeh
            First off Anthony Palumbo’s cover is absolutely gorgeous.  Painted covers can be great and it is nice to be introduced to a new talent like his.  I can only imagine that seeing on the stand is going to make it stand out and draw people to look inside and they really should.
            With the popularity of Game of Thrones it should come as no surprise that more stories in the genre should be popping up.  What sets this apart though is that it is also an AE Games adaptation as well.  So we get this classic Dungeons & Dragons feel in the mixture of races and abilities with the high drama that comes with following a King around looking for vengeance.
            King Alistair and Captain Isabella, both humans, take center stage here and it seems that this will focus around their lives as they intertwine with each others and quite honestly so far so good.  This book wasn’t remotely on my radar and I’m almost ashamed of that because this really is worth a look.  Combining so many elements into a successful story isn’t always easy but they make it work.
            By centring the story on revenge it becomes a more focused story that can be told in three issues.  So in my opinion that means the story will be fast and furious and should it flow like this first issue did it will be one hell of a ride.  Least I forget to mention Chad and Michael’s interiors are pretty freakin good too.  Expressive and emotive they really capture the story and take it to that next level.
Youngblood #73
Image Comics 2012
John McLaughlin: Story
Jon Malin: Art
Ross Hughes: Colours
            I cannot believe that I am becoming such a huge diehard fan of this book in just a few short issues.  I am rather enjoying Rob’s covers immensely and it really does seem that he’s grown as an artist and has stayed true to who he is at the same time.  John’s story telling ability is wonderful and as we get to know these characters, again as the case may be or for the first time for others, they come across as modern, relevant characters and as somewhat surprising as that is it really is wonderful. 
            I also have to say this story surprised me.  I liked how the issue starts and then gets violently real, without showing anything other than the outcome.  Diehard is able to trace the energy signature easily enough which being what he is, is believable. 
            What impresses me most however is the interaction between the characters we get in this issue.  Lady Photon’s explanation how and why she switched genders yeah that was good stuff!  It was also pretty vital in fleshing these characters out showing us where they are in life and I liked that.  Though so far I am not seeing how effective Gail is at making the team less of a laughing stock and taken more seriously.
            Still when they get to where they are going and what happens next shocked me, in a good way.  I mean I wouldn’t have thought that they would have taken things to the level they did but somehow it works.  That is another thing that is working very well for this series and that is the unexpected factor.  Things you wouldn’t normally expect show up and happen and you as a reader are left with this sense of amazement that you saw what you just did. 
            Then there is the stuff you expect to see as well.  There is a new Shaft leading the team and the old Shaft has gone to work for the FBI and doesn’t want to wear spandex or be in the spotlight anymore but his story isn’t over yet, not by a longshot.   One way or another he’s going to be involved whether he likes it or not.  It will be interesting to see if he rejoins the team as Shaft or not and if his replacement well let’s be honest survives.
            I really do appreciate that while staying true to the original this series is progressing in ways that show this creative team means business.  They really are taking something of a joke and making awesome and cool again.

New Episode of School of Bettter Comics!

Lesson 8 of school of Better Comics is here! I discuss what good comic artists do to create good characters. Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Renaldo's Reviews: Revival, the Victories, Saga and More!

68 Scars #1,2 –
Mark Kidwell’s one-shot about the zombie apocalypse that ravages innocent bystanders as well as war-torn soldiers with their sins and a gut-instinct for survival spans the globe from Vietnam to New York and it’s a decent enough book. Sadly, despite the impressive Nat Jones’ artwork, there’s just not enough to keep me reeled in. It looks a good premise but isn’t as exhilarating as once offered. There are nice layers of grit with the war in Vietnam topped off by zombies infesting the scenery but for me, ‘Platoon’ meets ‘Walking Dead’ just isn’t my cup of team at the moment. (6/10)
Saga #6 –
Fiona Staples is as elegant as ever while Brian Wood folds up the expository template of previous issues and just cuts loose with plain hardcore fun here. Seeing Marko usher his family, albeit with ghostly aid, into escapades of protection bodes well as they endure evasive action from the numerous threats tracking…but it’s his group’s camaraderie, chemistry and buoyant interaction that sizzle off the pages. Throw in a bumper last page that’s sure to add new meaning to the ‘extended family’ and you continue being thoroughly pleased with this miniseries. It’s endearing and profane…and boatloads of fun. (9/10)
Victories #1 –
Mike Oeming scraps ‘Powers’ and really lets it all hang out here…unadulterated…and unfiltered. You can feel he wants to kick ass on this title. It’s raw and cuts past the edge…as he scripts and draws a unique story which pits…characters similar to the Batman and Joker…in that proverbial Frank Castle antihero and Wayne-esque vigilante-mode. Oeming takes issue with the adage of the justice-seeker doing so by murderous means. It’s a compelling story of anarchy and vengeance versus the triumph over evil done according to the law. It’s still an argument that never will be settled but it was fun watching Oeming carve and etch his 2 cents. Still, there’s not that riveting feel that keeps me lured in so I’m giving it one more issue before I decide. (6/10)
Revival #2 –

Mike Norton’s art and Tim Seeley’s script add up well here as usual, and while not as stellar as the debut issue, there’s less progress on the plot but amazing insight and character development into the main cast. There’s a human quality brought in and a sense of anguish burrowing aside from the resurrections of the townsfolk. It paints a lovely canvas of that eerie sinful depreciation of society which wants to mask its decadence with these ghastly aberrations now coming to life. If you can empathize with the devil, then you can surely justify God’s existence and I think the team is alluding to this in the title while still making it clear that humanity is digging their own grave and was doomed from the time they mapped out that little thing called intelligence. I love how the title does this in simplicity without sounding pretentious and preachy. Complete win! (10/10)

Oliver's Reviews: Saga, Fatale, Invincible and More!

68 scars #2
Nice concept. Zombies used as WMD's during the Vietnam war.  Thing is, the execution is what bothers me.  Truth to tell, I didn’t really like this issue at all.  There’s just no oomph to hold my attention.  The pacing, the characters and the action were all....boring.  I was slogging through most of the issue.  There’s none of the freakish fun that comes along when you read any zombie material.  There was no sign of any dark comedy anywhere.  The art, for me was the only saving grace and even that was not all that.  It sort of reminded me of Scott Kolins, whom I don't really consider as one of the top tier artists.  Also, it would have been better had they not chosen to stereotype Asians when it came to the dialogue.   I don’t really know what the writer was
going for in that gaffe when he could have easily used the tried and tested captionized translation technique in comics.  I'm sure this comic has its fans but it just didn't do it for me.  Like I said, it has potential.  But it could be better.

Alabaster Wolves #5
When I saw the cover, I was blown away.  It was really beautiful and it had me pumped up to start reading the comic.  Unfortunately, my interest dwindled considerably the further i went along with the book.  For one, the dialogue was too wordy, worthy of a Claremont or a Byrne.  Second, the interior art was too different from the cover and it jarred my interest significantly. I'm never really much of a fan when it comes to horror but there’s the odd thing or there that usually makes an exception and I was hoping this would be one of those times....but no.  The visuals and designs were not interesting enough and from what I observed could be quite bland.  The action scenes near the end was somewhat interesting but not nearly enough to keep on capturing my attention.  I wanted to give Dark Horse a boost because most of their Buffy and  Star Wars books are a joy to read, but so far, outside those lines, no Dark Horse book has ever truly captured my attention.

Fatale #7
I was so pumped to read this one because I've heard from word of mouth, message boards and internet hype that this was a very good comic.  I know its from Brubaker, a fan favorite, perhaps that’s where all the hype actually comes from, but....I'm sorry to say, this book greatly disappointed me.  My expectations were not met.  It was pretty average in my eyes, storywise.  Too ordinary.  But the art though, was great. Its the one thing that held my attention. Perhaps a few issues more, my tone would change.  But for now, I am  not as invested in this series as much as the rest of the comic book population is.

Revival #2
I was surprised by this book.  Its a completely new take on zombies and i'm loving it.  Now this is what being creative is like.  We need to see more ideas like this explored in the comic book business. I was seriously surprised at how much I enjoyed this issue.  The flow of the story is seamless.  Built heavily on the books premise, (which is, a huge number of dead people coming back to life)it stands on solid footing.  And the characters that we have explored so far are interesting and not boring.  They have personalities.  The issue was evenly paced with drama, a bit of action, humor and an overall air of mystery that hangs in the air.  Solid effort.  Truth to tell, I would not be surprised if this book lands a movie deal somewhere down the road.  

One of its greatest strengths of course, is the art.  Its dynamic and engaging and doesn't distract from the story.  Good start to a good book.

Saga #6
I have heaped so much praise into this book time in and time out whenever i do my reviews and i sure ain't stopping now.  This issue, we encounter a bit of a downtime for our heroes (and villains) and yet, the story is still as exciting as exciting can be.  We are introduced to new characters, new concepts that I have never thought I would see anywhere in my life.  I don't want to spoil it, but my favorite part of this issue was when they were trying to figure out how to get off planet.  The solution that they arrived in was something really creative.  You can tell with the way that he is writing this series that BKV really spends a lot of time and effort and putting in as much love as he can into the book.  And as always, Fiona Staples has been doing excellent defining work I might add.  Her character and concept designs are flawless and the same with the way that she tells a story.  Overall, very satisfactory output from the creative team.  The ending in particular, leaves me wanting more.  Looking forward to the next issue!

Victories #1
Michael Oeming's art is an acquired taste almost similar in tone to Phil Hester and Scott McDaniel.  While I may not be such a big fan of said style, I do realize that it is beautiful and is in a class of its own.  

Having said that about the art, I actually have problems with this book.  Yes problems.  Plural.  
For one, the design work.  I do not know if it was done intentionally, but The main protagonist, Faustus looks almost exactly like, and packaged like Batman and  has the attitude of Spider Man.

You'd think that that could have been avoided since this is creator owned work and you have carte blanche authority  on what you could come up with.
Unless, of course, as I said earlier, unless this was done intentionally. To probably catch the eye of fans of both heroes so that they would snatch the comic up.

Another problem that I have is the very graphic way that the story was told. I have said before, numerous times, that I am against such violence shown in comic books as you can tell a story or have your point across without having to resort to such a brutal manner.  I have mentioned Carte Blanche so I hope authors of Independent books would show some more discretion in the future.  Also, I do not see any warning on the cover.  The art style and the previously mentioned similarity to established characters might attract kids.  Although, I am looking at a preview copy and not the final book so if that is addressed in the finished product, I do apologize.

The story is good enough as the hero villain relationship between Faustus and the Jackal is established.  Same with conflict as our hero gets to struggle with his failures and shortcomings in this issue.  The pacing is brilliant and the story flows quite nicely.  A little bit standard super hero fare. Overall though, aside from the weaknesses I stated above, this issue is pretty decent enough for you to pick up.

Invincible #94
Alas, a pretty stellar effort from Kirkman and co.  Invincible rarely, if ever, disappoints.  Its a comfort book outside of the big two thats  for sure.  The whole gang is here, not only with the characters populating the Invincible-verse as they suffer yet another beatdown from a much more superior force, Hmmm, I guess I do have a minor quibble.  This happens so much, so often, that it has been routine for this comic.  Kirkman should refrain from using it at least for awhile as most of the supporting characters are appearing more and more useless as the issues go by.  Heck, the new Invincible, Bulletproof, was not really very impressive in this issue.  I'm hoping for a breakout moment for him so that he would not be regarded only as a cliche token replacement character and that he would stand on his own.

Sorry, I got distracted there for a moment.  I also meant to say that the entire gang, the creative team involved for much of this titles evolution, are out in full force here.  Kirkman, Walker, Ottley.  and your in for a treat when that happens.  
Of course, art-wise, no problem as we have often gotten used to with both artists.  Story-wise, I love the use of Flashback to move the story forward.  The momentum builds up and just about explodes on the final page.  I am so looking forward to what happens next.

I mentioned the use of background characters above, but this issue, two of my favorite supporting characters get to shine significantly. I hope that Kirkman makes this a regular thing as Robot and Monster Girl are two excellent characters that shouldn't just  be relegated  in the side.  Spin them off to their own title I say!

Steven's reviews: Harbinger, Pathfinder, 68 Scars

Harbinger #3
After the turbulent events of the last two issues Peter agrees to settle down at Harada Global Conglomerates, Harbinger Foundation.  Personally I’m not sure this is a terribly good idea for either party but okay lets see how this goes before passing judgment and if it means he gets to meet the teammates he’s had in the previous incarnation than I’m by all means lets get that ball rolling.
            First impression of Amanda McKee is that she’s one cold fish.  I should have recognized that this would be the standard for employees at the Foundation.  I didn’t like that she stood there listening to the conversation either that really was none of her business.  Oh yes and let’s talk about Harada and Peter’s conversation for a moment shall we.  This was an intense talk they had with questions and answers of an alarming nature.  Seriously this threw up all kinds of warning signs to me, on both sides mind you which only intensified once Harada met with the Bleeding Monk.
            A self fulfilling prophecy that is kind of what I see happening here.  The Monk has said that Peter is the destroyer so Harada goes and pulls him into the Foundation.  Yet the Monk’s vision concerning Peter doesn’t change perhaps this is what was meant to happen all along and Peter is Harada’s downfall.  One way or another the ego that Harada possess doesn’t allow for someone like Peter to exist without him having control over him.  A plan that will literally blow up in his face sooner or later because control such what he attempting is but an illusion.
            Hidden Moon thought to teach him a lesson and set about the training he will receive wasn’t the smartest move he’s made.  Let’s face it Peter is a loose cannon whose power came on its own and didn’t need prodding.  To a level none of them understand he’s been able to master hiding his true potential.  Making him feel welcome would have perhaps lowered his guard and instead you pushed hard and the opposite happened.  You’ve let loose a tiger among prey here and he’ll learn alright but if only to have his revenge on those who wrong him.
            I don’t think anyone could possibly understand just how powerful he is not even Harada. 
            Harada might not be public enemy number one yet but these people work for him and they’ve already made an enemy out of Peter, on his first day.  That wasn’t smart by any stretch of the imagination.  Now I look forward to the day he topples this supposed empire.
            Wow Joshua really has managed to pack a lot of wallop into such a short span of time.  He’s setting the stage and introducing the actors and so far it’s all going splendidly.  You really couldn’t ask for much more out of him, well realistically anyway.  This is a strong and powerful story re-introducing us to a world which we’d forgotten we’d missed this much.  Valiant is back baby and better than ever.
’68 Scars #2 (of 4)
Image Comics 2012
Story by Mark Kidwell
Pen & Inks by Nat Jones
Colours by Jay Fotos
            Chinatown, New York City, USA, the soldiers not overseas in Vietnam are there to clean out some Zombies and rescue any citizens still alive and unaffected.
            Meanwhile back in Vietnam, Saigon to be exact Kuen Yam finally awakens after three days of much needed sleep.  As his memory returns his concern for his unit catches up with him and he’s ready to head back to Aries, the base they were stationed at.  However thanks to Henry J. Watson who also stationed there he learns that the base is no more and that the survivors have been transferred to this makeshift hospital.
            Over in the Mekong Delta we see a boy with his skipper meet up with a couple of Seals and we learn how the navy boys traveling on the river got to where they are.  I liked that the kid is as green as the leaves on the tree too it makes for I dunno a more realistic encounter and he needs to be saved that much more.  The kid tells his tale which we get to relive with him and let me tell you it’s a whopper of a tale.
            Back in Saigon at the makeshift hospital we get to see an interesting conversation take place.  Our scarred Major and his Injin pal Samson talk about what they could/should do once a call to retreat is given and what the plan until that time comes.
            Alright so how do they manage to make this not just simply another zombie tale?  Aside from putting this in the Vietnam era they’ve managed to show the Cong using the zombies as weapons and using them effectively too I might add.  We’ve not seen what caused the dead to rise again so that mystery still remains though in all honesty I don’t think they need to be explained just that they are is good enough.
            They say war is hell and well this one truly is, even if it is technically nothing more than a conflict.  I am curious to know how the disease spread from the battlefields of Vietnam to the streets of New York.  This mini is the first we see of its spread so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how that happened. 
            The artwork is pretty darn good too.  I like how it doesn’t get grotesque but there is still plenty of creepy happening.  It just proves you can do horror without having to go to the extreme with gore.  It relies heavily on the readers imagination as well as the visuals we get working in unison to really push the horror factor over the edge in its effectiveness. 
Pathfinder #1
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by Jim Zub
Illustrated by Andrew Huerta
Coloured by Ross Campbell
            Based on Paizo’s successful role playing games comes this fantasy adventure series. 
            As we meet three of the main players they are up against a small horde of Goblins.  Which don’t seem to be playing by the rules and they have these strange markings on them as well.  It’s a nice segue into the series as we get to see personalities and familiarity among them.  It is also nice that we see each person using their abilities so we don’t have to have unnecessary boxes of words to tell us what each one can do.  It really is more fun and interesting to learn about them this way, in battle, interacting with each other and their opponents.
            Thinking these aren’t normal Goblins they take one with them so the person they are meeting up with can examine it.  They meet easily enough and before they can tell of their adventure on the outskirts of town they are informed about the local Goblin problem.  Having already encountered them they agree to stay and help them out and solve this little problem.
            Ah fun and revelry are on the menu and as such the morning brings a hangover for the human fighter.  His morning activities bring him into conflict with a cleric; he has disturbed her morning prayers putting it nicely.  I have a feeling this cleric will be playing a larger role in this book as the story progresses.   
            They all meet up with a local guide, a Dwarven Woodsman who adds yet another dimension to this little group.    I’ll be honest I am really impressed with the way that the characters are being introduced it is very natural and seamless and yet feels like they are meant to be together.  Plus it’s a gradual addition I mean the Dwarf is their guide when they all come across the marauding horde of Goblins and the Cleric well she’s still peripheral.  
            The artwork is pretty spectacular as well.  The art is detailed and doesn’t shy away from the Barbarian Sorceress’ tattoo’s, which are coloured delightfully, and yet it can also be suggestive and leave stuff up to the imagination to fill in some details. 
            It is a group book that goes about having adventures together in brightly or scantily clad clothing using powers and weapons at their disposal.  It is intelligently written and easily captures the readers imagination as the story unfolds. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Renaldo's Reviews: Conan, Massive, Star Wars, Creep, Dancer and MORE!

Dancer #4 –
Issue 3 left us with a predicament where the main character decides to go all out to rescue his lover from his clone, who has a vendetta and wants to exact terrible revenge…for an unknown reason. It reminds me a lot about Phone Booth…no main or real, tangible reasoning…just action. It’s a frenetic pace but I’d like to know by know why things and clones are going about their duties in this manner. The CIA comes in, so to speak, to incur the wrath of this despotic clone…and while the protagonist’s death wish seems a bit far-fetched and not heartfelt as the writer intended, it’s safe to say Nathan Edmondson has the chops to cook up a better script next issue with Nic Klein remaining consistent on the pencils. There’s hope left here…it’s just taking a bit long to process. (6/10)
Hoax Hunters #2 –
This title is really on thin ice as the group finds itself meshed into the wrong corners of a cult bent on demonic rapture and well…more freaky creatures. There’s little to no character development and a rushed and murky feel to the plot. A little time could be taken to flesh out some backdrop and insight into the hunters but Mike Morecci and Steve Seeley somehow stick to an underwhelming advent for each issue. Axel Medellin’s art is spunky but doesn’t suit this title so I need a drastic change of translating this story if I’m to stay in. (5/10)
Creep #0 –
John Arcudi’s story tackling an average teen suicide is well-drawn out with a lot of emotional and gut-wrenching investment of realism into the tale. It hits home as it’s an issue we see everyday. Oxel is hired by a grieving mother to investigate and while Oxel has his own personal problems, his past ties and curiousity into a setting he once knew draws him into the scene of the suicide…and he struggles with how attached he should be to the case. It’s an endearing and dramatic tale that’s perfectly fit for a cold night and a cup of coffee…I don’t say that often…and with John Case’s rough yet touching sense of pragmatism in his pencils, this book definitely has the makings of a winner. (10/10)
Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith: Spiral #1 –
John Miller’s intriguing tale of an old Sith tribe that fell and avoided perishing on a desolate planet by unifying with humans to form a society that’s a bit derelict and contradictory to Sith standards…yet some contemporary new-age form of the Dark Lords. Andrea Mutti’s pencils are elegant enough to paint the tale of two youngsters on different sides of the lightsaber as they stowaway on an exploratory mission to find and prove themselves to the Sith hierarchy in the modern era. Caste comes into play as the theme here but all politics and cavorting are quickly wiped aside as the yougnsters’ dalliances are thwarted by an interesting final page that does not beckon well for the origins and history of this society. Not bad at all. (8/10)
Conan: The Barbarian #7 –
While Brian Wood throws in the least action here, it’s a welcomed respite as Conan and Belit return to Cimmeria to meet a constant bickering, ridicule and toil…at the hands of Conan’s mother. She proves eloquent yet cold and harsh…and makes Belit look like a walk in the park. The intimidation factor is quite high here but it’s all put to bed as we see Conan’s lands ravaged by an impersonator. His love and requests of endearment from Belit add a lot of humanity to the story as their chemistry and love is felt more than ever…amid his bitchy mother. Harsh but true. Conan’s quest to find this impersonator looks daunting but with Cloonan’s amazing art back…you can’t go wrong with this series. It’s that brilliant. (10/10)
It Girl #1 –
Mike Norton’s art…top-notch here. Jaime Rich’s story…not so much. It’s hard to keep abreast or should I say interested as it’s just too nonchalant and trippy even for my tastes. It Girl finds herself linked with past acquaintances and dispenses altruism and quirkiness at almost all junctures, but her exuberance and annoying nature gets wrapped up in pretty boring story seeds, monotone plot threads…and a cast that seems so scientific yet so dull and dreary. There’s little to keep me personally invested. (4/10)
No Place Like Home # 4 –
This spin on Oz’s weird creatures comes even more horrific here as Dee finds her world rocked by the scariest flying monkey ever. Angelo Tirotto’s story pans out like ‘It’ meets ‘Jeepers Creatures’…and Richard Jordan’s definitely impressing with his illustrations of stark horror and grave tension. This book is better by the issue as we see past ties and future seeds sown in darkness while said monkey hatches a demonic plot. The mystery here is most powerful in its anonymity and I can’t wait for the next issue. (10/10)
The Massive #3 –
Brian Wood’s plots Callum Israel’s search for the title-ship and it’s intricate and pure intelligence. Kristian Donaldson’s art compliments Wood’s scrit well while Dave Stewart’s coloring job remains the usual top-class stuff. While I advise this story as a TPB, it can’t be dispelled how powerful and interesting the tale unwinds here. It’s boring at times but it unravels with components of drama and intrigue. Can’t ask for much more in a book of shrewd class, right? (8/10)

The Strain #7 -
God awful. Ignore this...I'm dropping.

Star Wars Knight Errant: Escape - gonna read now as a wasnt that good also...too crappy for me :(

Oliver's Reviews: Artifacts #20 Blood Strike #29 & Star Wars: Knights Errant #3!

Artifacts #20
Surprisingly, I didn't fall asleep with this one. I'm sorry, I didn't mean that to come out as harsh as it did. It's just that me and Ron Marz have a rather unique history.

You see, he's probably near the top of my least favorite writer list. I've tackled this in a past review and expounding on the reasons would take away from this particular issues review.

I came in this book knowing absolutely nothing about the history of the cast and the totems of power that feature prominently in the series. With the exception of little to nothing, just passing knowledge of Witchblade.

Having said all that, I'm actually happy with this particular issue. Marz skillfully balances pacing and character development in the rather short space that he was given. Using much of his veteran smarts there. My interest was absorbed early on in the game without looking back. I like the concept of this series which was the reason why I decided to try it. And I'm glad that I wasn't disappointed.

I was intrigued with this mysterious heart shaped artifact and the things that it allowed its wearer to do. Something awesome happens in the issues first act which propels the development of both character and story to the next. Bit of smart dialogue and character interplay and use of "Horror" as a story bit that I have not seen in quite awhile. It's rather rare that I get scared when reading a comic book but this issue really gave me chills. It made my hair stand up. Good job, Mr Marz.

And of course, I could not end this review, and do it justice, if I did not mention how beautiful the art is for this issue. Stephan should definitely get more high profile work. He deserves it.
This issue is reader friendly, has interesting concept with good writing and great art, so for the comic guy in me to the comic guy in you, I give a high recommendation.

Blood strike #29
Now this comic....well, I kinda dig what they were going for here. The concept is interesting. People given a second shot at life but as assassins, but... The execution was rather sub par. I got a "been there done that" vibe when I read it...and sorry to say, this one actually put me to sleep.
I just couldn't get myself into the characters (names & designs. I know nothing about blood strike's history, FYI) I felt that it was so tired and cliche that...I just lost interest.

Sadly, Rob Liefeld doesn't do much to deter his detractors here. It's the same old output from him which kinda added to the distraction. The plot, dialogue and it's execution are rather formulaic. Which translated to boring after a while.  I really wanted to give a good review for Rob as I feel that the criticisms that he's gotten over the years has gotten way out of hand, but no such luck. This issue is pretty weak. As a new reader, didn't really totally got me.  Sorry.

Knight Errant and Lost Tribe of The Sith #3

I have combined reviews for both books as they are from the same writer and because they pretty much run in the same formula: high octane adventure.

In this age of comics with multiple complex subplots that intertwine each other and serve as prologues for next months events, these books are a breath of fresh air. 

It's rather rare that you find books that ate self contained within their own universes and are just concerned with telling a good, fun story.

I do understand that these are minis within a licensed universe but still, my argument remains.

Knight errant tells the tale of a lone Jedi who had infiltrated the ranks of the Sith while Lost Tribe is about a young, ambitious, headstrong Sith that is determined to carve out her own

It's quite funny but errant is at issue three and lost tribe in its first but they almost exactly read the same way to me. And I don't even mean that in a bad way! I really liked both issues! The plots aren't too complicated to analyze nor is it dumb. The characters are easily relatable and interesting and there's a good balance of character development and action for both books. Everyone will leave satisfied. The Star Wars franchise has been pretty strong this year, I hope it continues in the next! These two books won't disappoint and it would really look good as an added jewel to your collection.

Steven's Reviews: The Massive, Fanboys vs Zombies, The Strain plus MORE!

Archer & Armstrong #1
I’m excited for this series and thankfully we don’t have a long wait before it hits the stands too.  When I saw Fred and Clayton were working on this book I immediately thought of their collaboration on the Incredible Hercules and how spectacular that run was.  These guys are the perfect combination to resurrect this series.
I like the tweaking to their origin here.  It keeps true to the feel of the original but Fred has managed to update it in a modern way and make it totally believable.  So gone is the time spent in Monastery for Obadiah which in this day and age makes perfect sense.  Plus the opening sequence where we see how Armstrong becomes an immortal was fun, interesting and leaves so much more characterization and story to be told. 
            Adams County, Ohio.  Interesting choice of locale and for those interested it is East of Cincinnati I’d say probably an hours drive or so.  Perfect place to put a large amusement park based on the bible I mean we’ve already got the creation museum nearby so why not this too?  Oh and it makes for a wonderful business for a Reverend and his Congresswoman wife who have more foster kids than you can shake a stick at.  While not a Monk or anything close to it this time around Obadiah’s folks to play a rather important role in his life. 
            These people are very “old school” religious and I’m not talking just the bible belief’s either.  I am talking belief in a god that ruled before religion was even recorded and what some would call fanatical as well as conspiracy theorists.  It all stems from crazy beliefs that make people do strange things like give their children training that would put the armed forces boot camps to shame.  Believing they have a destiny to fulfill and that their chosen one will do just that. 
            I do like that in one issue we get both Archer and Armstrong’s origins as well has them meeting for the first time.  And what a meeting that is too, friends, enemies and well perhaps his only hope in the matter of pages!   Nothing felt rushed, over crowded or over loaded the pacing was perfect and the amount of information given flowed incredibly smooth.  To be honest I don’t want to wait another month for this to come out it was that good.  In fact of all the Valiant books this has been the most anticipated, along with Ninjak.  By landing such an accomplished team to work on it was such a major coup and they do not disappoint in the slightest. 
            So much more happens in this issue that you’ll have to read because I don’t want to spoil things here but suffice it say this is THE title of the year this year mark my words.

Artifacts #20
Image/ Top Cow 2010
Writer Ron Marz
Artist Stjepan Sejic

The gathering of thirteen mystical artifacts destroyed the world and created another in its image. Ex-Priest and current FBI profiler Tom Judge discovered the truth of this new universe. Now he monitors the artifacts, including the Heart Stone, in the possession of Dr. Rachel Harrison. Rachel’s meeting with Tom was interrupted by the arrival of a patient whose aura she saw as black and foreboding. At her apartment, Rachel had a frightening experience with the spirits of the dead. Meanwhile the patient, Alton Forsyth, recovered thanks to Rachel having saved his life.

Thanks to the Heart Stone Rachel knows the kind of man Alton is and somehow with the tones help he dies. I don’t think she did the deed by hand but somehow managed to use the stone to do it for her though it all happened of panel so it’s left up to the readers’ imagination which is creepy and nice.

So after all this Rachel decides to move back to her hometown. The hospital she applies to has a history that may not be that conducive to someone wearing the Heart Stone. I mean this place would make any ghost hunting team ecstatic with being able to investigate it. Read the issue and see what kind of stuff that could be around still after all these years, oh and lets not forget what the administrator says about working third shift.

Rachel’s chat with her mother about the necklace was a lot more interesting than I was expecting. So go on ahead Ron with what you managed to do there. Enough history and yet no answers really given all at the same time making the mystery surrounding it all the more well mysterious.

Stjepan’s work is always mind blowing and I have to admit that Smitty, the cat, was one of my more favorite pieces of work he’s done in quite some time. It looks like some kind of royal feline that shouldn’t be in someone’s house but out in the wild, almost lynx or ocelot like.

Ron knows his business and he’s creating this world from the ground up and his narrative of this world is just incredible. The excitement and horror and everything else that is going on here has such a wonderful balance to it that I cannot help but to enjoy it. Plus Stjepan’s art just makes this world both beautiful and haunting at the same time.

Fanboys vs. Zombies #7
Boom Studios 2012
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Jerry Gaylord
Ink assists by Penelope Gaylord & Bryan Turner
Colours by Mirka Andolfo

Okay having made it outside the convention space the group doesn’t exactly find themselves any better off. Now instead of finding a respite or someone coming to the rescue they find themselves facing a zombie horde. This unfortunately brings us to the first real victim, J-Mac. Ugh being eaten alive by a zombie horde has got to be the worst way to go.

J-Mac’s death while gruesome isn’t the only tragedy to befall the group at this time as Rob and Burger find themselves separated from the rest.

Somehow it’s a month later and the changes in San Diego and the group are clearly evident. Missy is now some kind of flighty soothe seer type of character which is utterly ironic I suppose. Though she has claimed to see the missing boys and that they are alive and well as well as seeing the zombie’s behavior change as well. This is all dismissed because they think she’s cray cray.

Then we’ve also got Brendan who is a welcome addition to the group. Seriously though I could have done without all the black stuff, i.e. minorities in comics etc. and to use that as his reason for not officially joining them yeah well please.

It’s been a month and there has been no attempt by anyone to come and rescue any survivors so Jenna has an idea. She wants the group to leave San Diego and head east looking for others who have survived. Now this causes a commotion and really doesn’t sit will with Kyle. I mean he was just coming out to his longtime crush and now he’s missing there is no way he’s leaving them behind without knowing what happened to them.

His actions kind of surprised me, albeit in a good way. Still I liked the unexpected turn this took. That and the revelation from Missy yeah I can’t see the group getting out anytime soon and for that I’m kind of thankful. Sam is making this not only fun but he’s managing to take it out of the tongue and cheek genre and make it a tad more thinking man’s fun. A move I wholeheartedly support by the way. Plus there was some great characterization here too. I still think the art is a tad too Saturday morning cartoonish but it’s not terrible nor does it stop me from enjoying the book. Though the characters do seem to look a tad more serious than before and that is nice to notice.

Pantha #3
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by Brandon Jerwa
Art by Pow Podrix
Colours by Thiago Dal Bello

Pantha agrees to fight for the forces of order in the upcoming war. Only she isn’t terribly sure just what it is she agreeing to and that is kind of nice. Why because I am not quite sure what she is agreeing to either so I suppose we will learn alongside her.

Upon agreeing to this she does need some answers and here the conversation takes an interesting turn. Pantha opens her mind to learn more about her mysterious destiny. I say interesting because Vampirella is mentioned as well as how her allies will be playing an important role in this war. Now unless I am mistaken she only meets Vampirella and what looked like some of those allies in the Prophecy crossover so that means it’s a part of her history now.

During this we also see her very one Rogues gallery where we see both Mamba and the Blood Red Queen of Hearts, both of whom have made their presence known in the first two issues. Though we do learn that the girl she just saved, who knew her, isn’t out of the woods yet.

With that revelation the group is ready to go re-rescue Mayra Brutos alerts Pendragon to the fact that there is a serpent in the Castle. If you remember it hitched a ride with them after the warehouse encounter. Thus dividing their forces leaving just Pantha to go and rescue the girl.

So meanwhile Mayra and Flynn are being escorted to some jail cells, at the homeland security holding facility. Oh and Flynn’s boss and his wife, whom if you recall is the Queen, are trying to get him out. Well all hell breaks loose, literally, as Mamba attacks killing the guard and allowing the Queen to kill the detective and rip her husband’s heart out. Then the two women have a cute little banter of dialogue. At the same time Flynn is attacking his guards and the two make a break for it.

As all the players in this little drama show up of in the same area, Pantha included, the real fight begins. This will lead directly into the next issue and we’ll see if Flynn can help Pendragon and company come to the rescue.

This really is a better book than I was anticipating and though I’d like to see more of her being a part of Sekhmet explored more I can wait. I’ll even concede that while she is scantily clad she doesn’t come across excessively sluttish. Brandon is creating a world that is interesting, fun, frightening and ultimately fascinating where and ancient culture can directly influence the modern one. The art manages to keep up the stories pace and helps set the mood and the emotions necessary to effective feel what they are conveying.

The Massive #3
Dark Horse Comics 2012
Written by Brian Wood
Art by Kristian Donaldson
Colours by Dave Stewart

One of the things I am enjoying here are the tidbits about the world they live in now. The Icelandic volcano is a great example of this ever changing environment they live in. Then of course comes the raining of dead birds falling in Firenz, Italy. Of course this leads up to the power outage of the eastern seaboard of the United States.

The Kapital has company trying to come aboard. Siberian Pirates, which means they have to leave the area as quickly as they can to avoid being taken. Even if that means leaving crew members behind.

I also rather enjoy these background information boxes on specific crew members. Today we got a focus on Mag, who he was and is all tied up into a neat little summary. This also explains Callum’s calling upon him while the pirates were trying to attack.

Idealism versus pragmatics’ it’s an interesting debate going on here. I can see where both sides are coming from and while Callum wants to keep true to their pacifist nature this is a new world they’ve entered one where they will be at a distinct disadvantage. I’m not sure the compromise is a good one; I’d rather keep a small armory on board with a small say five person security detail just in case they encounter something that can’t be solved with words or flares.

There is a lot of learning about the world around them this issue. From the Strait of Magellan to the fresh water problem on the African continent it is all necessary information to understand just how dangerous this new landscape really is. This makes the stance Isreal Callum is taking that much nobler in its scope. His reasons for starting the Ninth Wave haven’t changed and if anything this new world means the oceans need a protector more than ever before. So their mission remains the same it’s just a much more dangerous world in which they live.

Plus they are out looking for their sister ship at the same time; the Massive hasn’t been seen since the U.S. Military saw around Guam.

This is interesting to say the least I mean this world is coming more and more into focus with each issue as we learn just how devastating things have become. The characterization has been phenomenal and you find yourself kind of rooting for Isreal and his crew to succeed in their mission.

The Strain #7
Dark Horse Comics 2011
Story by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Script by David Lapham
Art by Mike Huddleston
Colours by Dan Jackson

There is a new player in town, Vasiliy, one of if not the best rat man in the five Burroughs. See a little girl got bit on the mouth by a rat and he was called in to see what is what. Vasiliy knows rats and he knows the one he caught, who’s pregnant, aren’t the normal ones found in buildings, no this isn’t a weak one it’s a strong one, the size of cats or small dogs, the kind found underground and it wouldn’t come up unless something scared it away.

Oh yeah Ephriam is being arrested, he’s going to lose everything because of his recent actions. This doesn’t sound right does it? I mean he’s been above board all the way both of them have been. So how are they on the wrong side of things? Well if you take a good listen to the dialogue being used here you’ll understand what is going on. It’s a slight tell but it’s there and you have to pay attention or you’ll miss it. That is one of the things I am loving about Lapham’s writing! Who could have seen Abraham coming to the rescue the way he did too? Of course now the three of them are on the run and cut off from their agencies and considered dangerous.

As Vasiliy investigates this rat problem it brings him to where the Towers fell and are being rebuilt. Interestingly enough they’ve had workings quitting left and right and have seen the rats leaving the tunnels in a mass exodus which has scared off some of the workers. If you’ve ever seen the city rats you’ll know it takes a lot to scare these creatures I mean they are huge and nasty creatures. If I had to bet I’d say Vasiliy is built of sturdy Russian stock and so far in such a short time I like him and want him to make our trio a quartet. Being down in those tunnels, seeing that shack and that trio of eyes can scare Vasility then wow.

I’m really enjoying the rate that these reveals are coming at us now. The story seems to be picking up it’s pace and moving along faster and faster. Both sides are figuring out what the other seems to be up to all the while they are both oblivious to how the plague is spreading unchecked.

I don’t think this series could have had a better man to adapt it to comic book form than David Lapham. This genre is right up his alley and he’s managing to keep all the right information flowing while keeping us on the edge of our seats with frightening developments. The mixture or blending is really astounding. Then of course the artwork really keeps the right feel, tone and emotion going and that just heightens the reading experience.

Thun’Da #1
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by Robert Place Napton
Illustrated by Cliff Richards
Coloured by Esther Sanz

This starts off almost with a land that time forgot kind of feel to it. For a first issue I would have liked a tad more, possibly where this helicopter was supposed to be heading when it went down or perhaps where it was coming from. Either way a tad more background to clarify who these guys are would have been appreciated.

So he’s military that much is obvious as is his training which comes automatically, no thinking required which is a good thing considering he has no idea who he even is at the moment. As he is heading back to the downed helicopter for rescue and retrieval he’s surprised by the local wildlife. However was in that copter with him doesn’t survive that encounter.

Now here is where I have a slight issue, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Wooly Mammoths and Sabre Tooth Tigers all living at the same time in the same area just doesn’t seem right.

Well after seeing and encountering some of these animals he actually manages to fall asleep and here he has dreams or rather memories. I do question though if these are real or mission based, he doesn’t remember who he is but his training is intact so who’s to say the memories aren’t from an undercover operation?

I will say this, this could have gone horribly wrong here by asking so many questions while giving so few answers but it didn’t. I am curious to learn who this man is, where he came from and where exactly he is. If the series is going to progress like this, keeping us on the edge wondering how, what, why and when then I’ll be along for the ride because these are all questions we crave the answers to and here and now this is no different.

The artwork throughout is pretty darn good as well. Nice detail work and our lead character is handsome without appearing to be overly drawn. The dinosaurs are as well depicted as one can get with the ever changing opinion of how they should look this is the classic version which will serve them well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

CBNAH Interview: Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith, creator of the award winning epic fantasy comic Bone, released the last issue of his latest series this past week. RASL is a much smaller, but no less engaging, sci-fi epic, and I had the great pleasure to interview him about the series, his reflections on Bone and the current state of the industry. Check it out after the jump.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Oliver's Reviews: Harvest #1, Think Tank #1

Harvest #1

First issue of a very dark comic. It tackles the very sensitive issue of the illegal body parts trade. What I liked about it: The art. It's very moody, detailed and it fits the tone of the book perfectly. The pacing. A lot actually happens in this issue without sacrificing a good amount of character development....which is another good thing. We get introduced to our protagonist by using the flashback technique to delve into his recent past. To see the evolution of events that led to the beginning prologue of the story.
What I didn't like about it: the graphic violence. I say it every time, you can tell a dark story without being explicitly graphic about it. Every time extreme violence is used to move a story forward (probably except for zombie stories), I cannot help but think that it reeks of b-movie ism in my eyes. Other than that, I think this first issue effort was not so bad. It knows it's target audience. It doesn't decompress. And we are given enough compelling reasons to go and pick up the second instalment. If you are into noir, then definitely, this book is for you.

Think tank #1

This issue, delivers with a very lighthearted tone. It's fun and easily accessible with protagonists that are easily relatable. 
It's the flip side of the manhattan project series. Almost it's reverse mirror image or spiritual cousin. 
It's also very fast paced as we get a lot of history and details from our characters in the short span of this issue.  It also works that a lot of the concepts and or technology used in this issue, are grounded in reality as explained in the book's bonus content.
One problem that i have....well, actually, Not that I have any problem with books done in black and white, as sometimes I feel that it is necessary, it's just that, I feel that this book would have benefitted better with color. As the writer infused his characters with life and dynamism it feels lacking or missing an "oomph" because it's devoid of color. But that's just me.
All in all, a good effort. A good clean book with a good starting point. If you are looking to get a break from superheroes, vigilantes, horror or your usual retinue, I highly recommend this one.

Steven's Reviews: Beasts of Burden, The Boys, Mind the Gap and more!

The Boys #69

Last issue we saw Butcher kill Mother’s Milk. Now Frenchie, the Female and Hughie must soldier on, figure out what Butcher is up to and put a stop to it before another of them falls.

Poor Wee Hughie, while he’s a lot tougher than he thinks he is right now he’s rattled to his core and it gets worse when Butcher calls him. Still Hughie’s learned more than enough in his time with Butcher so if anyone can actually stop his mad plan to kill everyone on the planet it’s him.

Butcher is a sick son of a bitch. The only way to wipe out the Supes is to kill everyone on the planet. After all anyone can give birth to a Supe right? He’s also scaring the beejeesus outta Hughie. Hughie is putting the pieces together by himself here, sure he’s in phone contact with not only Butcher but Frenchie as well. Still he’s doing the legwork and putting the pieces together and I’m surprised he hasn’t wet himself yet, see there is more to him than even he thought.

Butcher planted a bomb after killing Mother’s Milk. He set it off as Hughie was approaching the building and both Frenchie and the Female knew they were done for. The blast knocks Hughie onto the hood of a car and it’s here everything becomes crystal clear to him. It’s always been meant for the two of them to go face to face with each other. With all the conversations they’ve had Hughie is the little brother Butcher never had. It took that one moment to crystallize his thoughts and realize that he’s in this alone from here on out.

I can’t believe that this story in comic book time has only taken two years to tell while we’ve been reading it for six. Still I love that this has a clear cut beginning and a definite ending there will be no team coming back after this to pick up the pieces and soldier on this is the end. Granted the Supes could have one shots here and there but I doubt that will happen once this is over the franchise shouldn’t be resurrected. It is so darn good and so surprisingly done, gratuitous language, sex and violence aside. When it first came out those aspects were new to the industry but they soon became so common it was blasé. Ennis went on with his style of writing and kept turning up the heat and you wondered where exactly is all this going?

Well were almost at the end and we see the finish line but that doesn’t mean that anything has slowed down at all. This really is a groundbreaking series from start to finish.

The Shadow #4
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Aaron Campbell
Colours by Carlos Lopez

As the General, Kondo and Wong sit around we learn the story of Kent Allard. A man who showed up in Hong Kong, learned what he needed to about everyone, all the players on the waterfront, cut out the poison and the waterfront thrived. He really knew it all, allies, lovers, secrets, you name it he knew then one day he disappeared.

Someone came back, someone that had all of Allard’s knowledge of everyone, secrets and all. Only this man wasn’t nice or on their side he killed people in the triple digits sending the waterfront into complete chaos and disarray. There were rumors about this new man, who wasn’t a man at all; he seemed to be everywhere all at once more like the devil than a man.

Kondo missed this culling as he was in America on business, Long Island to be precise. He was doing business with some Italians when the Shadow struck and he remembered that laughter and Allard’s warped sense of humor. He also saw a picture in the paper of Lamont Cranston and knew that man as Allard. It wasn’t that big a leap to put the pieces together and come to the conclusion that Cranston is the Shadow. Does this conversation serve a purpose we’ll see I don’t know yet but it sets up the story and fleshes more of the man Cranston than expected.

Mister Finnegan, who doesn’t like Cranston one little bit, is having words with him on deck. Things are getting heated when Miss Lane comes and intervenes. You start to see more of the coldness described by Kondo here. This is where that narration pays dividends when looking at the main character, quite impressive actually.

I love the Generals story and how he justifies his actions, his view of Imperial Japan and its mission to unite Eastern Asia under its rule, as being completely normal and will his job without hesitation or question. It’s really no wonder they didn’t do well in the war.

Well they see a village where they know their enemies have stopped and Cranston really schools everyone, and quite harshly too. This alone was enough to make me believe he was Allard, his intimate knowledge of what had happened without having to see and yet making sure everyone with him knew what they were up against in a hard, almost callous way.

I like how the issue ended too, proving once and for all Finnegan should never be in charge of anything. The man is a moron and doesn’t think things through but in typical American fashion blusters his way along. Nice cliffhanger though and I await next month’s issue to see how things go from here.

The Spider #4
Dynamite Entertainment 2012
Written by David Liss
Art by Colton Worley

We pick things up at Citi Field where Anput has infected tens of thousands and turned them into mindless zombies from a formulae based on something created at his father’s company. We still don’t know if the process can be reversed.

I really am super impressed by the artwork here. After leaving Citi Field when Richard takes his mask off, page nine, it just hits you just how talented Colton is. His faces throughout this book are just simply amazing and at times they almost haunt you.

Richard’s blind hatred of his father really clouds his rational judgment. Sure his rival, his father’s rival, was hit with the zombie gas and his father’s company came out unscathed but I think that was done on purpose to act like a red herring from the real culprit. This keeps Richard focusing his attention one way while Anput works from a completely different angle.

That ridiculous Detective Hilt is going to cut off his nose to spite his face at this rate. I mean its one thing to want to go after the Spider for operating outside the law it’s another thing entirely to ignore your job and ignore the good he does just to make yourself feel better. While he is so blinded by this obsession with the Spider and his hatred for him, are you sensing a theme yet, he’s willing to risk his job to achieve his goal making him no better than the man he’s chasing. Oh and the fact he’s convinced Richard is the Spider, while correct, is almost funny considering he can’t come close to proving it. I do want to see a spotlight on Hilt so we can learn just how this animosity started.

The Mayor will see that Anput’s demands, concerning the police department anyway are met. So it will be up to Wentworth and company to stop her plans. I like that he’s enlisted Ram and Professor Brownlee in this endeavor. It’s just too bad that he’s a few steps behind Anput as it is. Classic misdirection and lead him straight into a trap to end the issue.

I have to admit this updating of the character works on so many different levels. I mean in a world with social media as prevalent as it is and cell phones that can record movies it’s amazing he’s able to operate at all as the Spider. Still David manages to flesh out an incredibly believable and likable character here. Not to mention a supporting cast that rivals anything else out there.

I raved about Colton’s ability earlier but I have to do so again. He really has his pulse on this book and makes the emotions that the characters feel leap off the page and into the reader. Plus the amazing job on colours at times really pops in ways that you don’t expect. Overall this really is one of those books that people should sit and take notice of.

Deadworld: War of the Dead #1
IDW Publishing 2012
Written by Gary Reed
Art by Sami Makkonen

A supernatural plague has been unleashed on the world. The dead return to walk the Earth, but this is no standard zombie story—here there are intelligent zombies such as the King Zombie. Deadworld is the story of horror, of survival, of hope and despair. It is a saga of modern man facing his darkest side… where science and technology are no longer his allies. Where power of reasoning is no longer his weapon alone. Deadworld is death…yet life.

Alright I like how this is painted. It allows for the feeling of death and decay and yet lightness and hope also. Granted the details are bit murky in this style but the overall mood shines through nicely and you don’t miss a thing.

Safe Haven at one point in time was neither safe or a haven. Today is has the promise of hope about it. Where a group of Lepers whose flesh falls off in decay don’t die because of the virus live and help keep the monsters at bay while allowing the remaining humans a place to live safely, for now.

There are five Wednesdays in August. And this series will come on each of those Wednesdays. Telling the story in five weeks so as not having to wait for five months. It’s a gimmick yes but it’s also a good one as we don’t have that excruciating wait between issues. This has the promise to be on par with 30 Days of Night and 28 Days later so here’s hoping that it is.

Infected #1
IDW Publishing 2012
Original Novel by Scott Sigler
Adapted by Scott Sigler & Chad Minshew

Okay colour me intrigued. All I got was a seven page preview to review and I can honestly say this will be the first thing I read to completion when I get home from the store on Wednesday. It hooked me in that quick and is really just that darn interesting.

We start with this woman who’s been on the run from the I.N.S. ever since arriving in the United States. She starts itching and scratching herself and knows something isn’t right. Getting her boyfriend/husband’s gun she shoots him and their baby and a stranger and then hops on a train and goes north. She’s lost it and she seems desperate to go north that is all she can think about.

On that train she’s bleeding, through her eyes, throwing up blood. It isn’t nasty gross but creepy gross and that is the important difference here. She hops off the train at one point and is wandering around the snowed in woods till she finds a specific spot where she lays down and shoots herself.

The F.B.I., Homeland Security or one of those organizations is monitoring emails, phones etc for keywords such as Triangles. Yeah the hear one and off they go. So I want to know which organization this is and what the triangles mean.

There is some strong language here so if you are easily offended this isn’t going to be for you. If you love conspiracy theories though this will be for you. It has all the aspects of a good thriller, a pathogen, government agencies and the unknown all racing towards the same conclusion. I cannot wait for the book to hit the stands.

Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch
Dark Horse Comics 2012
Script by Evan Dorkin
Art by Jill Thompson

A heroic gang of dogs and cats serve as paranormal investigators in the outwardly picturesque town of Burden Hill. Unknown to most of the human residents, Burden Hill is plagued by sinister forces that these shaggy sleuths have been charged with fighting.

Oh my god the chickens are stupid, I love it! Okay the writing is fun, witty, and intelligent and will make you smile, guaranteed. So the reason we’re at the chicken coop is because something is stealing and killing them. We see it’s like some kind of goblinesque type creature who talks funny but is really a nasty piece of work.

Rex and Orphan are chasing him and when it looks like they’ve finally caught him Rex’s owner shows up and hauls him away. See in order to protect the town Rex has to “escape” from the house and his owner isn’t really a nice man, unless he’s just frustrated because Rex keeps running off.

Orphan leads the goblin on a merry chase that ends with it being beaten pretty badly by another dog. This was a wonderful introduction to this if this is your first introduction to these characters. For this is my introduction and I have to say I’m glad I decided to give this a chance because these characters, while animals, are just plain delightful.

The second tale is a lesson in behavior. An old dog tells this tale from long ago where this dog fights this basilisk and becomes a statue. Then claims he had to take his own eye to fight the infection and shows the pups, all three, and the scamper off afraid but they won’t be leaving home to follow the others into action anytime soon. Again what a delightful tale this was I mean it was so dang cute.

Then we’ve got the sheep story. We should have known something was up immediately when they couldn’t pick the sheep’s scent. Poor Jack could see them for what they were, and besides dead which okay they looked normal, except to Jack. See we learn how they died including their herding dog and that they like the live now, walking and talking and enjoying the scenery and the breeze on their face, which they remember. They died in a barn fire and couldn’t get out, their dog well died trying to save them, so Jack sees them as they should be, burned up. It’s pretty gross and thankfully we only one panel of that.

It was surprising to see something that dark and disturbing at the back of the issue. I mean everything else up until then was kid friendly in my opinion. That however was not by any stretch of the imagination, it was horrific. Which explains why Jack has retreated into himself for now.

I’ll get the next adventure that comes out. This was enough that I thought that both Evan and Jill did a wonderful job bringing these animals and their world to life and I’d happily revisit them again.

Mind the Gap #3
Image Comics 2012
Written by Jim McCann
Art by Rodin Esquejo & Sonia Oback

Our good shrink, who was put in the room next to Elle, has shown up in the Garden startling Elle. She doesn’t remember him and in all fairness I am not sure he remembers very much right now either. Somehow violence on this scale seems to render them with some amnesia. Still she’s freaked out because of him appearing so he needed to leave.

She needed to be alone, it’s only been two days but it seems like so much longer for her considering what she is going through. So her mind has managed to recreate her house for her, in the Garden, where she can relax or at least try to. Her wall turns into something of a memory wall where she can see her best friend Jo’s dream happening. She is actually able to interact with her to a degree and it all centers around Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Interesting choice of movies and for giving a shout out to TCM, the station you’re more likely to find it playing on these days.

This sets off a chain reaction. Jo sets up a vigil in her room where she encounters Doctor Geller and her nurse Frankie who are there to draw Elle’s blood, well Frankie is. See Doctor Hammond has cock blocked Dr. Geller from doing anything to these patients but he hasn’t banned her nurse. While trying to explain things to Jo, about oxygen in the room and her use of candles, Hammond shows up with Elle’s brother who is the family member present when she’s being examined. Oh and the boyfriend shows up too now almost everyone is here for the impromptu party.

See now we get some killer, pun intended, characterization and exposure. No we don’t come any closer to actually seeing the person in the hoodie but we do get more motives from people. Even though Elle’s dad wasn’t there he did go to work where his secretary warned him not to ignore her needs too long. And that geeky assistant who blew up the office of the shrink, who is probably secretly in love with Elle, was talking to the hoodie person!

I’m no closer to really figuring out who it is but I’m having a blast learning the secrets these people are trying to hide. I’m also started to think I know who did it, why and how and all that but I’m keep quiet for now till I get more clues. I love this story it’s interactive, fun, witty, intelligent and just down right interesting. The characters are wonderfully not who they seem to be and I just find this charming from start to finish, including the very nice artwork. Said artwork does a very nice job of bringing this world to life by the way.

Soulfire vol.4 #1
Aspen Comics 2012
Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Mike DeBalfo
Colours by Nei Ruffino

The search for the light has ended. Malikai, the Samusara—bearer of the light—has returned from the endless oblivion of chaos. However, all is not well in the magical kingdom of Anantia. Faye, the Queen of the Rahtumi and caretaker of the union between her people and long-rivaled Sehoru, finds herself at odds with her betrothed king, the brash yet dangerous Sarin. While the strain between the two continues to threaten the sanctity of the realm altogether, Grace holds the darkest secret of all—one that could alter the course of both her mind and body forever.

Something wicked this way comes and her name was Grace. When she went into the realm of chaos something entered her, festered within her, and infected her if you will and now has finally taken hold and transformed her into something else entirely. As if that weren’t bad enough she’s managed to spread that infection to the Dragons who soon attack everything in sight.

Now can all the people from the Light mini-series band together to not only save Grace but their world as well? That is going to be the story for volume four and it’s one that should be exciting.

J.T. does a great job here taking what they’ve done in the mini-series and kind of tying it all into this issue and making you feel like if you haven’t read it then it’s no big deal. I mean we haven’t had an explanation yet as to what, why and how Grace as changed so that is still to come, we just know that it was something that happened while in her own issue. So it doesn’t happen there and will be told in this series which is definitely something to look forward too.

This book is off to a very strong start both story wise, which seems to be have started off with a huge bang, and the art which is simply beautiful, including the colouring which in this story is extremely important to how we view these magical beings. I look forward to this seeing how this volumes plays out it promises to be better than a roller coaster ride.