Category Archives: TheOtherBluth’s Reviews

This Week’s Finest- The Wicked + Divine #3

         Wicked + Divine 3 Stephanie Hans Overview:  This week I read quite a few fantastic comics.  It  was a Wednesday full of exciting new books by established creators, but in the end the book that stuck with me the most was Wic + Div #3.  This issue picks up with Laura having snuck out to a secret and literally underground concert where one of the Pantheon has appeared to have met their end.  Then we encounter police, upset parents, a grounded teenager, and more investigating into who framed Luci.

          Gillen’s script is delightfully crass, McKelvie and Wilson once again prove they’re incapable of doing anything less than stellar art, and we’re all left to run off and Google all these new and exciting deities for clues as to what will happen next month.   So let’s dig in a bit, yeah?

Continue reading This Week’s Finest- The Wicked + Divine #3

Review: Dark Corridor #1

img014Dark Corridor #1 By Rich Tommaso

          Overview: Dark Corridor is a new series from Rich Tommaso that functions as an umbrella title for him to tell different genre stories in a monthly format. The debut issue begins the Red Circle crime saga, named for the fictional city of Red Circle and the criminal network the stories revolve around. We are treated to two interconnected tales of chance, related to a crime scene at a local residence. Both stories showcase the deft hand of creator Tommaso, in both art and writing, and worked really well to pique my interest in the future of this title. I highly recommend giving this series a chance, especially if crime books are of interest to you as a reader. I feel like this could be the beginning of a very special comic.

       Story: I was unfamiliar with Rich Tommaso before reading this issue, but I really enjoyed his style. This issue is broken up into two stories (The Red Circle and Deadly Daughters), both of which I assume are references to other works Tommaso is a fan of–Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge and Winston K. Marks’ The Deadly Daughters respectively. The narrative moves rather quickly, and that choice works well to give the story the feel of a classic crime comic. Much like its inspirational material, pulp comics and classic crime cinema. The stories revolve around some common tropes of genre fiction; in this case it is the chance score too easy to pass up, and revenge-minded progeny. The city of Red Circle itself is, and will surely develop more into, a character in its own right. Possessing elements of mid-twentieth century Los Angeles, the city is home to a large organized crime syndicate; possibly multiples, but in this first issue that fact is only insinuated and we are introduced mostly to fringe players.

          The first of those characters is Pete. We meet Pete on the first page, and he is our guide perspective through the first story. He’s a hired gun and opportunist who stumbles upon a jewel, money and guns cache by chance, and then involves some of his cohorts. It’s a pretty straight forward heist story, but like most of these types of narratives, you know there is going to be some troubles ahead for Pete and Co. Plus, how Pete gets to the score, and interactions between the characters are entertaining to read. Like all criminal protagonists, Tommaso makes sure to provide Pete with some redeeming qualities, that make us as a reader connect with him in at least some small ways. I’m not going into details, because it’s better to just read it for yourselves. Tomasso sprinkles in some references to other films, like Samuel Fuller’s White Dogand Jack Hill’s blaxploitation flick Coffystarring Pam Grier. I love it when creators do this, because noticing them is fun and it gives some insight into the tastes and inspirations of the creator.

          The second chapter is classic in its narrative structure; a man is admitted into a hospital with a suspicious injury, but before he undergoes emergency surgery, he is forced to recount the tale of how he ended up there to the police, so they can begin their investigation. What follows is an wonderful story of hit men, mysterious motorcyclists, and stolen jewels. By the end, the two chapters’ link is established, and the stage is set for an expanded journey through the bowels of criminal activity in the city of Red Circle.

          Art: Tommaso also does the art for this series and it’s fantastic. He has a style all his own, but I noticed elements reminiscent of artists like Seth, Darwyn Cooke, Herge and Dick Tracy creator Chester Gould. I know, that’s some talented company, but take a look at this book and then tell me you don’t see it. Tommaso’s style leans to the deceptively simple side of art, which I’m a big fan of. I use the term “deceptively” because this style is anything but simple. He has a wonderfully economic use of line; it is clean, but not “perfect”, and it’s not intended to be. His bold outlines, color schemes and cartoonish approach to facial features work well to establish an aesthetic and he doesn’t skimp on details. His backgrounds are simple, but in the best way; he gives you the necessary details to provide a setting, but doesn’t get lost in frivolous minutiae. It’s important for the style of stories he’s telling, that the book attains a certain look and I think he does a wonderful job achieving that.

          Conclusion: I’m excited for a book like this; in the back matter Tommaso provides info concerning the impetus and his goals for the comic and the world he’s creating. He elaborates that these stories are just the first in a series of tales he hopes to tell. Basically, he is attempting to create a hybrid of Sin City and classic EC Comics, where he can tell a multitude of stories that all take place in and around one city, but venture into different genres, like horror and sci-fi. It’s an exciting prospect and any fan of these genres should definitely check this comic out. Tommaso is a veteran of the industry who has earned, and will hopefully finally get, some wider recognition for his work. If you’re a fan of any of the referenced work I cited in this article, or maybe you enjoy Brubaker/Phillips’ Criminal and/or David Lapham’s Stray Bullets then this is exactly the kind of comic you should be checking out.

          What say you NBC! faithful? Did anyone else check this out? Please let me know your thought in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Review: Archie #1

Archie 1 Francesco Francavillaby Mark Waid and Fiona Staples

          This week saw the release of the flagship book in an all new era for Archie Comics. The success of Afterlife with Archie and Sabrina has sparked a renewed interest in the gang from Riverdale, and the publisher is taking advantage of the momentum in fantastic fashion.

          Written by Mark Waid with art from Fiona Staples, the first issue of Archie ushers the gang into the 21st century, and is re-establishing the status quo of Riverdale High’s social scene for readers new and old, in twenty-two pages–with no ads!! 🙂 . That’s no easy task, but the creative team handles it perfectly. The story is full of humor, character beats, and winks to longtime fans. The art is clean, bright, and deftly sequenced. I was expecting good things, as we all know these two are Eisner winners for a reason, but my expectations were exceeded and I can’t wait for issue two.

          Story: Archie is cool, charming, and humble. Betty is adorable, intelligent, and genuine. They are the “It” couple of Riverdale High, or at least they were. Mark Waid opens the book with Archie Andrews breaking the fourth wall a la Zack Morris, and guiding us through a quick catch-up on the necessary information needed to enter the Archieverse and enjoy the ride. This was a wonderful way to introduce new readers, like myself, and showcase his handle on the characters, especially Archie. Waid gets a lot of exposition out of the way, without it feeling like an info-dump. We get a sense of who most of the main cast is, and a little insight into their individual personalities. I don’t know who every character is by name, but we were introduced to most of them, and I’m confident in the coming issues that they will be fleshed out as individuals. Most people are familiar with the basic premise of the Archie books, but this recap was essential for the start of this new chapter in the life of the publishing line.

             Another thing Waid did really well was to pull off a complete story in one issue. We get introduced, discover a problem, and witness its solution, for now at least. This is important for two reasons; new readers need more than a cliffhanger, and decompression doesn’t work for every comic. By having the issue resolve, in a way, we as readers want to come back for the next issue even more. Knowledge that we can enjoy each issue as a relatively complete story, but also as a part of a larger narrative journey gives the book more value in my opinion. The goal of this book is to bring in a larger audience and continue to raise awareness and appreciation for this corner of comics, and I think Waid did his part to make this a reality.

          IMG_1824Art: Fiona Staples has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last three years, and she is well deserving of it. Like the book that put her on every “best of” list Saga, here she manages to make every character she draws, the coolest person in the room. Her character designs are so damn cool! She captures the essence of each individual’s style, but ups the modernity and hipness of everyone–even Dilton 🙂 –from clothing, to hairstyles. Staples also manages to avoid having the all digital art look stiff or awkward as is sometimes the case with other books containing all digital artwork.

          IMG_1822Her pages are vibrant and playful; the color choices, layouts, sequencing, it’s all done with such grace that you don’t notice the genius unless you stop and really pay attention to the level of efficiency she achieves. In a one page sequence, she establishes Betty and Archie’s entire relationship, by having flashes of then and now shots run down the page. The panels are even arranged like photos, it’s fantastic, and is a great example of showing, not telling, a story.

           The Homecoming dance was another wonderful sequence. Staples uses purples, blues, and pinks to portray the difference in lighting and shadows, and it works so well. When Archie is up on stage playing with the band, the comic explodes with energy; the panels are larger with musical bars and notes forming the backgrounds. You can feel the joy of both Fiona as a fan/creator, and Archie, it’s a superb example of why comics are such a special medium for storytelling.

          Conclusion: This issue was awesome in every way, and if it’s any indicator of the direction of Archie Comics, then I think the popularity of the publishing line is only going to continue to rise. Waid and Staples both display an obvious love for the characters, and the result is an incredibly fun comic, that does exactly what it set out to do in the best way possible. I highly recommend anyone who is mildly interested in the title to pick it up, even if it’s just to see some all-star comicbookery by two of the industry’s best talents.

So what say you NBC! faithful, how did you think this book fared? Are you new to the Archieverse like myself, or a longtime fan with some more insight? Please share your thought below, I’d love to hear them.

Review: Prez #1

Prez_Vol_2_1by Mark Russell & Ben Caldwell

Hello Friends! It’s been a while since I put up a review, and I’ve missed you all terribly. However, I’m back just in time to review one of the more intriguing books DC has rolled out in recent years. Prez #1 represents a step forward for DC, in both art and story it is a big departure from most everything published–by DC–the last four years, and it was a wonderfully refreshing thing to see. This first issue requires a lot of setup, but it is handled well, we arrive in a possible near-future version of our own world, and the political atmosphere has gone off the deep end. We meet our protagonist, some side players, and our assumed villain(s); we’re given some insight into all of their motivations and personalities, and I think we were provided a well established genesis for the series. This sounds very formulaic, but the introduction to this world and the manner with which it’s presented, combined with fantastic art to make Prez #1 a very good first issue.

       Story: I’m not familiar with Mark Russell, but my first impression is very positive–and a little research proves he’s perfect for this title. He uses humor and satire to great effect, and manages to build a world that is ridiculous and worryingly believable all at once. This satirical bend on where our society is heading conjured fond memories of Idiocracy, especially the scene concerning the welfare debate 🙂 It is a future where YouTube celebrities and social media have completely overrun the traditional political process, and the players involved in the political game have no choice but to go with the trend. Candidates are forced to appear on goofy YouTuber shows to get noticed by the voters, or traditional candidates are foregone all together, and someone like our protagonist Beth gets nominated due to a viral video resulting in her own “Failblog fame”.

           I don’t want to spoil much of the specifics, but you can surmise that Russell does a great job exploiting the Kardashian level of fame that has become all to prevalent in our modern society; in fact, the Kardashians might be too famous now to actually use their name in that equivocation–sorry ladies. The point is, in this book at least, that Twitter, Youtube, and our infatuation with social media as a society, could lead to Chris Crocker or David becoming a presidential candidate. I thought it was a creative and humorous way to poke fun at the easiest target of all, America’s ridiculous culture of celebrity. I’m happy to see DC putting something this socially aware on the shelves, and I hope to see it succeed, because it is worth your time, so please go buy it if you haven’t.

          Art: It would be a travesty to do a review without mentioning Ben Caldwell, Mark Morales, and Jeremy Lawson. I was unfamiliar with all of them when I opened this comic, but they all impressed me considerably with their work on this gorgeous issue. First off, the faces, you’ve heard me mention it before and it’s something that I always pay attention to. Ben Caldwell draws some wonderful expressions. Every page is full of multiple facial expressions and they’re all easy to read. It makes such a difference to me when I see a face and register a feeling associated with it, and then read dialogue that perfectly goes with or enhances the situation, or vice versa really; the point is Caldwell’s characters emote, and they emote properly for the situation they’re experiencing.

           Another thing I noticed right away was that every character looked distinctive, you know like in real life? No one suffered from “Same face syndrome”, there was a variety of race, age, and gender, and all were rendered beautifully. Caldwell has a charming style; his line work is tight, yet contains whimsy, it’s cartoonish, but not juvenile. Basically, it’s completely rad, and I’m a big fan. The style also goes perfectly with the story being told, the book is fun, and so is the art; I don’t know why it took DC so long to figure that out, but I’m glad they did. Morales and Lawson compliment Caldwell wonderfully, the colors are bright and expressive, and the inks are varied in weight and clean. All three work in harmony with one another, and it makes the art that much more fun to look at and soak up.

            Conclusion: I enjoyed this very much, and I confidently recommend it, especially if you’re looking for something other than super heroics . Fans of Batgirl, Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and satirical comedy should give this a shot.

        So what say you NBC! faithful? What did you all think of Prez #1? Please let me know how much you didn’t miss me, or plain forgot I existed these last several months, I can take it. You could rejoice in my return, and declare my greatness across the internet, or at least in the comments section; I’ll let you decide 🙂

Review: Rumble #1

img010              Overview: The first issue of John Arcudi and James Harren’s new creator owned series drops us right into a strange, yet somewhat familiar world.  We’re left to figure it out as we go, but the setting is interesting, and the characters are intriguing. Combine that with the always phenomenal artwork by James Harren, and you get a pretty solid debut issue that warrants your attention.

          Story: The basic premise is a mysterious figure with a mysterious weapon arrives in a city that appears to have seen better days. We meet Bobby, a local bartender, and presumably our POV character; and by the end of the issue we only learn some tidbits to chew on until next issue. This mysterious–and gigantic–sword will attract the attention of weird monsters, and the owner of this sword appears to be supernatural in some way himself.

img011           Part of me wishes we were given more context to work with, but I’ve been reading Arcudi’s stuff long enough to trust he’s taking this somewhere awesome, and the hints at something very creepy and supernatural going on are enough to hook me. What worries me, is if there was enough of a hook for the uninitiated. I was pretty smitten with this book based on the creative team alone, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I may be in the minority. A first issue really needs to grab our attention, and story wise I don’t know if Rumble was quite successful in that regard. For some readers, being left a bit in the dark is not satisfying, and figuring out the mystery $3.50 at a time, month after month just doesn’t cut it.

I really hope those new to this creative team will give it a chance, because I think this is going to be a very cool book. Though even I cannot provide an explanation for what is supposed to happen beyond the fact that there will be visceral action, creepy-rad monsters, mystery, and probably some laughs along the way.  If that’s enough or you–and it should be–then welcome to the party! If not, then at least stick around for some of the best art in comics, and the story will become more clear as we move along.

          img012Art:  For anyone not happy with the amount of story context, the artwork should more than make up for it.  James Harren has done amazing stuff in the Mignolaverse, so the excitement of getting to witness he and Arcudi’s carte blanche vision of an entirely new world is something I can barely contain.  Harren has built a name on frenetic, palpably intense action sequences, that shatter expectations of what can be done with static images. Here we get to see him showcase his equally brilliant ability to world build.

The cityscape is reminiscent of others we’ve seen in fiction, but maintains it’s own personality. I referenced 1970’s NYC meets Mad Max in my indubitable issues recommendation, but so far the Mad Max is only apparent in the dystopian-feeling spirit of the place. The streets are barren, filled with more fog than people, and it seems like a city where you’d lock your doors even when you’re home; hell, especially when your home 🙂

Harren’s character work is also given a chance to shine, each person is different, and you get a real sense of who they are, just based on their clothes and faces. Features are exaggerated, but with a fair amount of realism still intact, and his expression work is fantastic. If this is your first exposure to Mr. Harren’s work, then I’m sure this issue blew your socks off.

I have to mention Dave Stewart, who as always, colors this world to perfection. Using purples, blues, oranges, and reds to really give a pop to the mood of each scene, or paint the action with an urgent flash of bright background. He’s familiar with Harren and Arcudi from their work at Dark Horse, so the transition here is seamless.

          img013Conclusion:  Despite some concerns over it’s ability to hook new readers with the story, Rumble #1 is a solid debut from a polished and very talented team.  As a huge fan of everyone involved I sincerely hope this venture with Image attracts new readers to the brilliance of both Arcudi and Harren, and I can’t wait to learn more about this strange new world in the coming issues.

I urge anyone on the fence to check out a couple more issues, because I know the mysterious nature exists with a purpose; John Arcudi is one of the best writers working today, so if you’re looking for a wild, fantastical ride, you’ve come to the right book.  The art of James Harren, and the chance to witness this team build a world from the ground up should be enough to warrant your patience.

So what do you think NBC! faithful? Did you enjoy this issue? Was I completely wrong in my assessment? Let me know in the comments, and as always thank you for reading!


God Hates Astronauts #1


        Overview: There’s no easy way to encapsulate what happens in this issue.  The basics are that some renegade farmers turned astronauts are doing bad stuff, and it’s up to the Power Persons Five to stop the interstellar tomfoolery.  We’ll get into some of the specifics during the actual review.

        Story:  Ryan Browne is a clever dude, and this story is a crazy amalgamation of sight gags, wordplay, referential humor, and just plain old sophomoric humor.  Your mileage may vary depending on your taste in regards to humor.  I haven’t read all of the original stuff, but a fair amount, so I knew I was already on board with Browne’s sense of humor.  If you do enjoy this level of irreverence and goof than you should have a blast reading this; everything from character names, to plot, to the very literal onomatopoeia is humorous.  I did remember laughing out loud a bit more with previous material, but this is also just the first issue of–and I’m quoting here–”  a multi-part epic of the highest order resulting in five parts to read and enjoy in the bathtub or while riding an elliptical machine.”

        img151The plot does a couple of time jumps that can be a bit confusing, but the nice part is the plot is mostly ludicrous anyway, so any confusion can be filed under “oh well”.  Browne does take a tangential right turn to recap some stuff from the previous volume (that you can purchase in print HERE though if you do it on Amazon, don’t forget to use the support iFanboy link)  and for the most part it works out just fine, 3-D Cowboy was pretty funny as our guide through the past.  The only problem I found was that we got an introduction for Star Grass,  but not for all the bears or the Impossible, or Reginald VelJohnson–not that Carl Winslow needs one, but new readers might wonder who he is.

        All in all this was right about what I expected going in, it’s very funny, ridiculous, and mostly insane, but if you like all those things working in harmony, you should check this out.  Continuity and plot points that follow logic are boring, this book is here to remind us all that sometimes it’s just fun to watch super-heroes get kicked in the dick by horses.

       img149 Art:  Ryan Browne also does the art for this series, and it is fantastic.  If you’ve been reading Manhattan Projects–which you really should be–you might remember Browne was the fill-in for Nick Pitarra on the Oppenheimer Civil War issues.  His style is cartoon-esque, but also pretty well detailed, and he does some amazing versions of animals, both regular and anthropomorphic.  Colorist Jordan Boyd does a wonderful job, the book is awash in hues of orange, blue, pink, and purple but not in an expressionistic way; you almost don’t notice that it’s different until you start to pay close attention.  I mean that as a compliment in case it’s not apparent, I think it’s a hard thing to accomplish using non-local colors and not having it stick out blatantly.

       img150 Another factor that I really enjoyed, was the onomatopoeia. Browne uses it to infuse a lot of the action with humor as well.  I believe he is both poking fun and having fun with it, there is no mean-spirited nature to it, it’s done with tongue firmly in cheek.  Some examples are: SLAMB!, HAMMER TIME!, CHITTY! CHITTY! BANG! BANG! and my favorite MARITAL STRIFE!  Nearly every action is accented by some form of it, even when it is completely unnecessary–which I believe is the point.

        Conclusion:  I’m excited to read more of this series, and if the cancellation of one of your favorite literally “funny” books has you missing the laughter, you should at the very least check this book out.  It’s a wonderful ribbing/homage to super-hero books, and sometimes we all need to just relax and enjoy the insanity, instead of taking our capes and cowls so seriously. 

        So what do you think NBC! faithful? Did you take my recommendation and dislike or like the book?  Did my review force you to rethink your position?  Is this too many questions to end an article with?  Please let me know in the comments section, and as always thank you for reading!

Rachel Rising #26

          APR140797Overview: We’re an issue removed from the big showdown with Lilith, and things are looking up for our band of misfits.  The problem is, looks can be deceiving, and things in Manson are by no means improving.  For the time being however, our ladies get some respite from doom and are able to enjoy each others company.  Uncle Johnny, Rachel, and Jet are healed physically, and at this point even small victories are worth celebrating.  Meanwhile Malus is still around, and that’s never a good thing, especially when he can’t be recognized.  Also, Zoe continues to jump back and forth between adorably precocious and disturbingly creepy.

          Story:  We are definitely in a transitional phase of this book, things seem better on the surface, but Moore is sowing seeds for future problems.  The mystery of Zoe and her weapon, along with developing machinations of Malus foreshadow some epic mayhem in the battle between good and evil taking place in Manson.  There’s also the strange stiches that the creepy doctor guy–I forget his name–put in Johnny’s head, and the visions Rachel gets when she touches Zoe’s knife.  We still don’t have much information regarding either of those things, but just through context I’m certain they are not going to lead to positive outcomes.

          img110I love how much humor Moore is able to infuse this book with; scenes with Rachel and Zoe are full of one-liners that make me chuckle, yet also creep me out simultaneously.  This is a difficult thing to make work, but Moore has such a wonderful ability to write dialogue, that it doesn’t seem contrived or out of place, it’s just how these ladies react when faced with trauma.  Like wise the relationship between Johnny and Rachel is built on mutual trust and love, and you understand that just by witnessing their banter.  They’re both without any other family, and that combined with their personalities, has forged a unique bond that is a joy to witness.

          img111This is my first arc reading in singles, and it is a much different experience.  I know that this storyline will probably last four to six issues, so it’s just a matter of Moore putting the pieces together.  There is definitely an overall sense of looming danger, but like the characters, we’re at the mercy of others–and the tension leads to entertaining stories for us, so that’s awesome.

          Art: It’s no secret that I’m a huge Terry Moore fan, and I have trouble finding new ways to describe how rad his art is.  There was nothing too wild this issue save for a beautiful collage showing, on one page, the history of Zoe’s mysterious knife, and a few other hands it has been wielded by throughout history.  It is concise and affective, there is much more to the story, but this page gives you all you need as an overview for the time being.  I also really enjoy the black and white art.  It’s not very common these days, but it showcases the artist’s talent so well; you can’t hide any mistakes with the stark contrast found in these pages, and you can see more clearly how amazing Moore’s line work is.

          img112Another thing Moore does so well–and you all know how much I appreciate this–is facial expressions.  There’s never a doubt of what each character means when they speak, because their tone is–literally–written across their face.  Moore utilizes all the facets of a face as well, eye brows, mouths, and eyes all work together to provide a full picture of what each character feels at any given moment.  It’s easy to see how fantastic this all is when done by a master like Terry Moore, and the seeming ease that he pulls it off with is a testament to his talent as a storyteller.

          Conclusion:  While this chapter was largely a set-up for future events, the character work, and peek into some deeper storyline territory kept things interesting.  I wish I had the next chapter already, but that is the case with every trade and issue of this series that I’ve read; there’s never enough.  The last arc seemed to end things with Lilith, but it doesn’t appear that our girls are out of the woods yet; being an immortal soul, it’s possible that we haven’t seen the last of Lilith.  Malus is still around as well, plotting whatever evil it is he’s wont to do, so there’s plenty of room for this series to continue.  Hopefully we get some updates on Jet, Carl, and that creepy doctor–still forget his name–next month.  Last issue was a great time to jump on to the floppy train with this series, which is exactly what I did.  It really makes a difference as well, because this series is published by Moore and his wife Robyn, so if you really want to support creators directly, you can’t do much better than Rachel Rising.  Do yourself, or someone you know, a favor and start picking up these issues, I promise you won’t regret reading this chilling and amazing series by one of the all-time greats.

  So what do you think NBC! faithful? Did you pick up Rachel Rising #26? Let me know what you thought in the comments below, and as always thanks for reading!

Wicked + Divine #1

          Wic+Div1Overview:  Wow, where to start.  So, this issue we follow Laura–our narrative partner in this world–to a Amaterasu concert, where we find out that live musical performances in this world are a whole different experience.  Afterwards, we meet some of the Pop star/Gods, and are immediately thrown for a loop when an attempted assassination leads to some fantastical happenings.  The book begins with a prologue where a mysterious gathering of people in the 1920’s ends with a literal boom which I’m assuming has something to do with our modern day Pop Star/Gods, due to a finger-snapping connective thread. Got all that? Cool, because I think we just witnessed the beginning of the next book you’re going to force all your friends to borrow 🙂

          img104Art:  I come into this with a bit of a bias, because I think Jamie McKelvie’s work is fucking rad, but seriously the art in this book is fucking RAD.  This is in large part due to the wonderful combo of McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson.  McKelvie is a talented storyteller, and his character designs are always amazing.  He has a real knack for making every character in his books look like the coolest person in the room–sometimes the universe, i.e Miss America Chavez.  Wilson compliments these designs with appropriate shading and colors; whether they are bright and loud, as with the make-up of pop princess Amaterasu, or more subdued chic like the killer white pantsuit Luci rocks, it all works perfectly to make you want to know more about these characters.  As humans we are naturally drawn to what pleases us visually, so this knack that the art team has, especially on a book about Pop Stars, is crucial to the investment of the reader in the story.  It allows Kieron Gillen to withhold information, or begin a book with strange unexplained happenings, and not lose a single ounce of interest, because right away Laura is so damn beautiful and engaging that we just turn the page, and follow her no matter what.

          img105I do have one minor complaint, and it’s a tad nit-picky, but I noticed when Luci snaps her fingers, she used her index finger and too me that seemed weird. I tried it after noticing and I can’t do it, I’ve always used my middle finger, and I assumed that’s what everyone else does, am I wrong? Aside from that minor instance the rest of the book is lovely to look at; McKelvie’s style is rather static, but his facial expressions are perfection, and he understands the beats to hit when depicting action so that the static figures actually do move in our mind’s eye.  Without spoiling anything, I loved what Wilson did with the books main scenes of explicit violence, it really fit with the overall tone and established aesthetic of the issue, and was inventive in a “why haven’t we seen that before” kind of way, which is awesome to see.

         I’m sure everyone has already started to be drawn to one character or another, and for me that was Luci.  From the pompadour, to the white suit, to her attitude–which I’ll touch on later–I was smitten from the very first page she appeared; quoting Beatles songs and Phillip Larkin poems to a hopelessly ignorant teenager–admittedly, I had to look up the latter, so a bit of kettle calling the pot there, but whatever.img107  The rest of the issue only served to confirm my initial instincts–especially her being the Devil, which is right up my demonic alley–but also introduced other equally intriguing people and developments along the way.

          Story:  I’ve already touched on the story a little, but I’d like to elaborate some, because this was an excellent issue by one of my current favorite writers.  To start I’d like to discuss the choice behind using Pop Stars as modern-day deities, which is genius.  Gillen has an incredible ability to tap into the zeitgeist and use it as a basis for wonderful stories.  With The Wicked + Divine he is providing a commentary on the obsessive levels of fandom, while at the same time feeding it by being so awesome 🙂  He is one of the most accessible creators out there, and very active in reaching out to his fanbase, which just makes us all like him even more.  This book is everything a fan of the Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson team could ask for; and I’m sure it will even work to convert some who haven’t discovered them yet.

         img109 I’m very intrigued by the prologue as well, and I hope more light is shed on those happenings in issue two.  We know that it was a meeting of the 20’s versions of the gods, but which ones, we don’t know yet.  Also interesting was the apparent death of some–I’m assuming here–as evidenced by skulls representing them at the table.  I wonder if this is Gillen hinting at the publics belief and devotion having sway on the longevity of any given deity on Earth.  Maybe with trends or popularity going up and down through the years, certain gods are more “en vogue” so they are the ones who are allowed to wander the Earth amongst the living.  I’m sure the rules will be explained in the future, but this is the internet, and if I predict something before it happens, I’m automatically cooler than everyone who didn’t and I get to brag about it; so bear with me, I’m just establishing  precedence 😉

          img106So far the Gods we’ve met are Luci/Lucifer, Amaterasu, and Sakhmet.  We’re all familiar with Lucifer, so I’ll just skip her/him–I’m sure it’s ambiguous–and move on to the others.  Amaterasu is a Shinto goddess whom the Emperor of Japan is a supposed descendent.  In myth/dogma if you will, she is Goddess of the Sun and along with her sibilings created Japan.  She ruled the Sun and with it daytime, while her brother Susanoo who ruled the Moon and night.  I thought this was interesting, because that’s the opposite genders of Greek/Roman where Apollo rules the Sun and Selene/Luna the Moon; Japan being a misogynistic society in many ways, apparently is not when it comes to Shintoism.  We don’t really get an idea of Amaterasu as a person, except that she is very young–17–and is taking her fame/ascension seriously as a responsibility and destiny.  I’m guessing we’re going to get some elaboration on her next month, because it’s her face on the cover, should be very interesting and I can’t wait.

          img108We know even less about Rihanna Sakhmet.  Sakhmet, or Sekhmet, according to Wikipedia—what, you thought I just knew this shit? Thanks!–is an Egyptian goddess with a lion’s head; which explains the mentioning of her character acting like a cat.  She is the Goddess of fire, war, vengeance, menstration–more misogyny?–and medicine; apparently Egyptian deities are multi-taskers 🙂  She is a daughter of Ra–another Sun God, interesting–and is considered the arbiter of justice in the judgment hall of Osiris, the God of the underworld.  So we do see a connection with these three at least, they all have something to do with death and/or the Sun.  This could be seen as an allusion to the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, but again that might just be me trying to seem smart on the internet.  The pieces are there, so it’s fun to speculate since it’s all we can do until Gillen fills us in.

          The issue picks up towards the end when an attempt is made to assassinate all the lady-Gods we’ve met, by some masked men on a rooftop–atheists?–thankfully for the rest of them, Luci proves her awesomeness by handling it.  That does lead into the issue’s cliffhanger, where we witness some pretty graphic courtroom shenanigans, and a possible framing of our lovely She-Devil.  I found this part to be strange because Luci appeared to be overly concerned with proving herself innocent, when I was thinking she probably shouldn’t care less about our Earth-bound laws and justice system, but I don’t know the rules Gillen is playing by, so it’ll be interesting to see where this goes in subsequent issues.  Will Luci be the first incarnation of the Devil to care about humans?  Or is she just putting on a front to conceal her real identity?

          Conclusion:  Well, it’s safe to say I really enjoyed this first issue, the creative team is off to a wonderful start, and I’m more and more excited every time I start to think about the possibilities.  Beautiful art and an intriguing premise make me so happy, and I urge anyone who’s on the fence about this title to give this first–extra big–issue a shot.  It’s charming, smart, hip, and everything else you wished you were in High School 🙂  At the very least you’ll find out just how cool you really are–hint if you don’t like it, you’re less cool according to me and everyone on Tumblr 😉  So what did you all think of this first issue? Do you have a favorite character yet–Luci right?–do you have some insight that proves my predictions wrong?–of course not, that’s impossible. Let me know in the comments below. As always thanks for reading!

          Bonus  Pullist Playlist suggestions:The Flaming Lips-  Yeah Yeah Yeah Song and Do You Realize   Chvrches- Gun  The Vaccines- Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)



Abe Sapien #13

          img094Overview:  This issue we journey with Abe and his new companion Grace, whom Abe rescued from captivity last issue.  Together they meet, and join up with, a couple desperate to save their ailing son.  They all end up at a strange property, where a man is supposedly able to heal visitors with a special clay and some holistic practice.  As usual in this “Hell on Earth” things don’t always go as planned, and the harsh realities of this new world come crashing down on the group of travelers.

img095          Art:  Sebastian Fiumara is on art duties this issue, and he does a brilliant job.  The issue starts with, and contains, a few flashback sequences throughout, Fiumara takes this opportunity to differentiate them with rough, free-hand panel outlines.  It’s a subtle choice, but I really appreciate when an artist does something like this; often it’s left up to the colorist to modify things to provide a visual cue that a scene is from the past, but Fiumara proves that’s not the only creative way to get the point across and it’s the kind of choice that shows how much the artist “gets it”, which is nice to see.

img096 Sebastian’s style is all his own and I’ve become a big fan since he debuted on this title.  To me his work feels like Richard Corben, filtered through Sean Phillips, with hints of Guy Davis, and his action sequences are right up there with James Harren.  He also does a fine job channeling Mignola in his layouts and sequencing.  This issue there is a thematic constant of a mysterious bell tolling; from the cover, to various key moments during the issue it appears, often in sillhouette, and provides an ominous presence; this is a tool Mignola has nearly patented, and Fiumara uses it to great effect.  Every page of this issue has a visceral quality, you can almost feel the dread and weariness of every surface and character.  The mood will morph into a calmness, but then like a time-bomb something clicks and….BOOM! The page is awash in mayhem and violence.  It’s not often that an artist is well rounded enough that an issue can jump from such extremes without some discernible change in quality, but Fiumara has a firm grasp on both action and character, and it’s awesome to experience.

        img097 Story: This issue was interesting story wise, but for me the art really propelled the ambiance and lifted things beyond a so-so episode.  I’m still not sure what to make of Grace; it’s obvious she is deeply traumatized, but she seems to jump back and forth between catatonic and aware; often shifting only to complicate situations,  like a child who’s aware they can manipulate people with their behavior.  I’m not sure if this is done on purpose to shape her character, or if she’s becoming a plot device.  This also seems apparent when Abe describes his need to protect her, and his belief that he can do so.  I trust Allie to develop this further, because it does make sense for Abe, who’s lost control of nearly everything in his life, and is grasping for something he can help or alleviate in the face of a crumbling world.

          The parents of the ailing boy suffer from this as well, I feel like they were unnecessary, and the story could have happened without their existence.  They’re around mostly to be a device for us to feel sorry for, both before, and after their demise.  I think if you can remove a character and still achieve the same story, then you should consider removing them all together, or modifying their role; that is just my take though and it’s a minor thing in the long run, but it’s something I think Allie needs to consider for future arcs.

           I’ve enjoyed this series and it’s measured approach to dealing with the end of the world through a zoom lens.  It separates itself from BPRD, by focusing on the rest of the population, and the powerless nature of their plight.  Abe is wandering through the madness, knee-deep in tragedy and suffering, searching for answers , or at least signs, that there is something left for him in the world.  This journey is complicated by his desire to help others, and his resemblance to the very monsters infecting and destroying the world around everyone.  I believe Allie and Co. are doing an admirable job conveying the melancholy and seemingly insurmountable odds facing everyone, in the same way John Arcudi is doing with our intrepid agents of the BPRD in the main title, but on a scale that reflects the abilities-or lack thereof–of the civilian population.

          Conclusionimg098: If you’re looking for a rosy good vs. evil story, where the white knight always wins, then look elsewhere. This book is taking on the apocalypse on the ground floor, and it’s anything but rosy–unless you count the shade of all the blood.  The art by Sebastian Fiumara alone demands your attention, and I trust Scott Allie is building things that will reward us throughout the series, that is as long as you don’t mind rewards in the form of frog-monsters, mayhem, and a frightening look at the end of the world as we know it. If that’s your jam, then dig in, because there’s plenty to go around 🙂

          Just for fun here’s a Pull list Playlist suggestion for this issue: The Partisan, By Leonard Cohen If you’ve never heard this song then please give it a listen, in my opinion it’s one of Cohen’s best.

Loki: Agent of Asgard #5

          laaOverview: This issue we find our favorite liar on a mission of great importance, we just don’t know for whom.  Booby traps, secret doors, and double crosses that will make your brain wrinkle all provide for an engaging adventure.  Who in the Nine Realms is capable of tricking the ultimate trickster?

         Story: You all know I’ve really been enjoying Al Ewing’s take on Loki, and this issue continues that trend.  I think the best part of it all is that this feels like the natural evolution of the character we’ve come to love since Kid Loki first showed up in JiM.  Ewing maintains the calculated, conniving God of Mischief center, but surrounds it with a likeable, funny, and charming young man that you can’t help but root for.

          This issue Loki’s plan to steal the most valuable item hidden in the secret chambers of Asgard is the main thread.  With the help of some new and old allies, Loki and his team are successful, but through some seeds planted in earlier issues, the whole thing blows up in Loki’s face by the issue’s end.  The whole adventure is a lot of fun, with Loki and friends using magic, brain power, and misdirection to infiltrate the catacombs of Asgard.  My biggest complaint is that the mission went off without so much as a hiccup, I would’ve liked to see some improv by the team due to some unforseen obstacle, but that’s really just a nitpick.  The twist at the end was well done, I didn’t see it coming, but after the reveal I felt like I should’ve, which is a sign of good execution in my book.

          I’m bummed that we have to miss out on more Loki for the next two months for a contrived and unecessary “Original Sin” mini, but cest la vie and all that.  I’m still very much enjoying the world Ewing and Garbett are creating, and I hope this title continues.  It’s everything you could want in a comic book; fun, exciting adventure, interesting characters, and a duel protagonist/antagonist star.

          Art: I really try not to make my reviews consist solely of me heaping praise on the book, but Lee Garbett and Nolan Woodard make it hard on me.  There’s nothing spectacular artwise this issue, but every page is vibrant, and well laid out.  This issue is a great example of a workman’s comic.  It’s nothing flashy; just clear, concise storytelling and colors working together to create a wonderful book.  We get another appearance from Old Loki at the end and I like his design, it resembles his old look, but with some touch ups and improvements.  His face is appropriately evil looking, which reflects his personality in the same way that young Loki’s handsome mug reflects his fresh outlook, and genuinely good natured regenesis.

        Overview: There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about this book, except that you should be reading it if you’re not.  Ewing, Garbett, and Woodard are making great comics month after month.  Young Loki feels like he is genuinely trying to atone for past transgressions, and the fact that his future self is his own arch enemy is such a wonderfully “Loki” thing. Who else would be able to out wit the master himself, except for a more experienced trickster.  This also is a continuation of sorts from Gillen’s JiM run, but it’s next level, and it doesn’t feel contrived, because of how well it’s executed by the creative team. It all makes sense when explained, and it provides for an engaging story.

          Each issue of this run has been a one shot in essence and they’ve all worked to build the stakes up to this issue, you can’t ask for much more when reading comics; I never once felt shorted on story, or victim of a decompressed narrative.  I don’t know if I’ll follow the Original Sin tie-in or not, but I will definitely be back when the series proper returns in August.  If you haven’t jumped on yet, do yourself a favor and use this break to get on board with one of Marvel’s lesser know, but higher quality comics.