Review of A Voice in the Dark #7

A Voice in the Dark 7By Larime Taylor

A Voice in the Dark #7 delivers the conclusion to the story arc Killing Game. I won’t get into too many details of the plot because I know a lot of you are going to pick up this trade when it comes out in June.  The first few pages of each issue has given us a glimpse into the moments just after Zoe has committed the murder. This issue brings it all together and we get to see how the murder unfolds. The most exciting part of any murder or heist story is always how it was done.  Zoe takes us step by step through her careful process.  The process of the murder is of course very exciting as expected but there are two scenes I wanted to focus on.

There is a scene as Zoe is on her way to commit the murders where she has a few moments of doubting.  These two pages convey a very real emotion, humanizing Zoe.  This is a hard task to accomplish, to make Zoe relatable to the reader as she is on her way to commit a murder. However it is pulled off brilliantly in these two pages. By the end of Zoe’s second guessing and reassuring scene I am totally on board. I sure am easy to convince.

The other scene I wanted to highlight is the hook at the end. Larime has done this a few times in earlier chapters.  He gives us just enough at the end so that we are not mad, but we definitely want more. Things may not have went quite as smoothly as Zoe thought.

I encourage everyone who is not reading this title to go out and buy the trade in June. If this book does not continue because you did not support it, I will hunt you down and shove a…okay perhaps I am reading a little too much of this book. The point is you should buy A Voice in the Dark, it is fantastic.

– Dean

Abe Sapien #12

23884          Overview: A stand alone issue that focuses on a pair of lost souls Abe stumbles upon in his wanderings.  Choosing prose over dialogue, Scott Allie weaves a tragic and affecting tale of the collateral damage caused by the rampant destruction of the world in the wake of the “Hell on Earth” reality. Combined with gorgeously rendered art by Max Fiumara, this issue separates itself dramatically from the previous 11 issues with it’s almost poetic approach to storytelling.

          img061Art: Max Fiumara burst onto the BPRD scene in 2012, with his debut on “The Transformation of J.H. O’Donnell”; since then he’s joined forces with brother Sebastian to rotate art duties on Abe’s solo series. Max has a surrealistic style that works very well with the monsters and mayhem that usually occur in a Mignolaverse book, but this issue he showcases a wonderful ability to depict regular people in a surreal setting.  His characters still have rather wide-set eyes and large heads, but not so much that’s it’s a distraction.  I was very impressed with Max this issue, because of how the story is structured. Every page has three page-wide panels that jump from past to present, character to character, with no specific segue narratively. This is not an easy thing to accomplish, but Fiumara pulls it off adeptly, and Dave Stewart aids this process by using distinct color palettes to differentiate time and place.

          There are really three stories taking place this issue, and they are presented in a rotating montage fashion. The first, at present, has Abe wandering upon an farmhouse inhabited by a couple of people not keen on company–especially anyone looking like Abe–and the consequences of that encounter. The other two provide an explanation of who these two new characters are, and how they ended up in their current predicaments.  The stories are anything but uplifting, and the team of Fiumara and Stewart do a magnificent job keeping with the melancholy feel of the narrative, allowing us as readers to immerse ourselves in this world.  I don’t know how many creative teams would be able to pull of a task like this with such proficiency, it shows that the trust Mignola and Alllie put in them is well placed, and bodes well for future issues.

         img062 Story: I was caught off guard at first by the choice to exclusively use narration boxes to tell this story.  It was a bold decision by Allie, but in the end I think it was a wise one.  Despite not fully absorbing it all upon first read, I was deeply moved by the story, and spellbound by the language and it’s ability to create a discomforting ambiance.  At times it felt a bit verbose and indulgent, but after reaching the last page I was overcome with an unease and sadness that made me reconsider my previous notion.  After going through it a second time I was more comfortable with the style, and therefore, was able to let it really soak in and transport me to this place. This would not be the best approach to take with multiple issues, but for a special episode it worked very well.

          Allie has definitely molded a very different kind of book for Abe than I was expecting, but I enjoy the surprise of that.  In some ways I wish we could attain more insight into what exactly Abe’s mindset is at this point in the story, but maybe he doesn’t even know himself.  To me it seems as though he is loosing more and more of the man he used to be, and slowly morphing into the beast he may have always feared he could become.

          Conclusion: This has been an interesting year for Abe so far, I know after all he has been through, adaptation is inevitable; especially with all the physical changes he has experienced.  I’m not sure where it is all leading to, but I’m intrigued, and I want to continue to see where it goes.  While the story has me pondering, the art has been phenomenal, and this issue particularly shows just how remarkable Max Fiumara’s storytelling is.  This series is not the home run BPRD has become, but it’s doing a great job of showing the other side of the coin during Hell on Earth.

Review of Starlight #3

Starlight 3This series is quickly climbing up my charts with every fantastic issue.  Issue #3 of Starlight spotlights two very important aspects of the story.  The first is the introduction of Lord Kingfisher, the leader who has taken over the planet Tantalus. His opening scene is both arrogant and menacing. He is one of those villains that has charisma so you end up loving and hating the guy.  He delivers one of the best lines in the comic while talking to a member of the resistance and torturing him with a pair of telekinesis gloves he just purchased.

“I paid for this with a year’s supply of your planet’s most precious minerals. Think about that as you die.  Because that’s what I’m spending your money on, loyal soldier…useless toys.”

Then we shift over to Duke McQueen who has arrived in Tantalus.  He seems very worried and reserved; personally I am getting a little worried for him at this point.  I am not sure how this old man is going to be able to do anything to save this planet. I understand he saved them once but he is so old now, he looks like he will barely be able to climb the castle stairs. Duke sees a statue of himself which was erected after he saved Tantalus so many years ago.  I don’t know if this fueled Duke and lit a fire within him but just a few panels later the police are beating on a helpless victim and Duke takes matters into his own hands. I was thinking, “Oh no Duke, what are you doing?  Get out of there.” But before I could even think of how badly I’m going to feel when he gets the shit beat out of him he turns it on and absolutely annihilates the first four cops and then does the same to the next four cops to show up.  This is the first we get to see of Duke kicking ass and I definitely do not have any worries anymore.  The guy may be 60 years old but he is a rock star!

This issue took the story to the next level introducing a menacing villain and then putting Duke’s toughness and skills on full display. I am really enjoying this series.  Millar and Parlov are doing some excellent work with this one!

  • Dean

Review of The Field #2

Field #2The first issue of The Field was definitely a wild ride.  Just as the main character has no idea who he is or what is going on, neither do we. All we know is that he has been “kidnapped” by a trigger happy, drug taking, religious zealot. The first few pages of this issue reapply that hook that was in my side from issue #1. The opening pages illustrate a memory from the past, but just as this series has presented, sometimes our memory can be a bit fuzzy. There is a fuzzy memory page featured in freeze frame this week and you can see how the rough dark nature of the art makes it difficult to see the details of the panels.  We get the idea of what is going on, but details are lost.  This is a very interesting representation of a memory and in a story about memory loss I am glad they made this artistic choice in the flashbacks.

We then resume the story of our forgetful protagonist and his religious zealot kidnapper, Christian.  We find out that Christian is protecting this character and that he is of great importance. The issue was getting a little more confusing and almost lost me in the middle but thank goodness for the King Kock’s Kounty Klub, it roped me back in.

In the King Klub we find out that the unknown character’s name is Grant and he is the key to time travel.  Without him time travel is not possible and that is why he is so valuable.  I was not expecting the story to be about time travel, it caught me by surprise and really won me over. The Field is a mini which spans four issues.  After two issues we still do not know exactly who Grant is and why he is so important to time travel. What I do know for sure is that with only two issues left this story is not going to let up.  It will probably speed up (if that is possible).  This series is very strange, it does not have my usual qualifications for a great book but I am enjoying it all the same. If you get into this one buckle up because you are in for one wild (and apparently time displaced) ride.

  • Dean

Review of Avengers Undercover #4

auDennis Hopeless did a fabulous job in Avengers Arena placing teenage characters in an extreme situation and writing character responses and emotions which seem genuine. The premise has changed for Avengers Undercover but all the things that make Avengers Arena great are still there.  In Avengers Undercover Hopeless is exploring what it would be like for teenage heroes to “break bad”. The previous chapters were laying out the groundwork, placing the teenage heroes in situations where they are forced to explore the difference between revenge and justice. Throughout the whole series thus far there has been a positive light shone on the life of a super villain.  Perhaps it isn’t so bad. This is the issue it was all leading up to.  The teens have been through a lot up to this point and Baron Zemo is extending the invite for them to join his gang of villains. This would seem like a lame cliff hanger as we know exactly what the heroes are going to say, but it is different this time.  The way Hopeless has set up the last four issues, he has really made villainy seem like a pretty good option for these kids. I could see this series going either way and personally I hope they decide to join Zemo and we get to read the backlash.  I would like to see if the villainous life is as glamorous as Zemo is making it seem. It is a very believable look at how this group of “damaged” heroes could actually be tempted by the likes of Baron Zemo and tempted by the life of a villain.  Just like Avengers Arena this series is more than teen drama and cool battles, this series is a deeper examination at human reactions to the curve balls life can throw. Excellent issue and series.

  • Dean

Review of The Bounce #12

Bounce 12by Joe Casey, Sonia Harris and David Messina

Even though this series started out looking like a “Spiderman as a stoner” Mark Millaresque premise The Bounce has continued taking readers expectations and flipping them on their head and the (unexpected!?!?!) finale is no different much to the credit of Joe Casey and his elevated aesthetic. Much like Godland & Catalyst Comix this was an ending focused on the theme of transcendence to a higher level of humanity and purpose. Yet par for the course with The Bounce Casey get’s to the destination on the road least expected as what was perceived to the villain turns out to be the hero and the parallel universe is actually a missing piece of our own. Battle, convergence, the cosmos, rinse, lather, repeat and all is right with the world. It’s kind of amazing how Casey keeps managing to flip the script on what’s become well worn tropes but again this series was about defying expectations more then anything. What appeared simple ended up being an experience unlike any other. I’m not sure where this sit’s in his bibliography but it was never predictable and always engrossing. Messina does some amazing work here with an assist by Sonia Harris in conveying everything from universal cosmic convergence, a fight in a laboratory or a conversation in a book store with equal parts care and vitality. After everything  The Bounce #12 is a fitting ending to an engaging and unexpected journey. Joe Casey shows again that he is one of the strongest and most unique voices in comics that continues to push the medium forward and The Bounce has proven itself as another step onward. Turns out it wasn’t what you thought it would be, it turned out to be more than we could have asked for.

Review of All New Ultimates #2

anuby Michele Fiffe and Amilcar Pinna

In All New Ultimates #2 Fiffe and Pinna take the set up from the previous issue and let the conflict explode in the opening while the aftermath continues to rebuild the world to the creators aesthetic.  In it we open up with the big Hells Kitchen rumble that was promised at the end of the previous issue and it does not disappoint as chaos ensues over the majority of the issue. Pinna improves a lot here and it becomes apparent why he was chosen for this book as his action spreads look great in translating the urgency and desperation of the situation. Together he and Fiffe make it a true large scale street fight where you can feel the panic and confusion as the various actors struggle for survival before the ruckus get’s broken up by authorities. Fiffe continues to inject his sensibilities into the series as we meet more of the gangs while the stakes raise due to a series of executions from a mysterious gun men, all while showing the young Ultimate’s fracturing under the pressure and consequence’s of their actions. While the debut provided a nice introduction to the world this one fulfills the promise towards the expectations that come from doing a teenage superhero comic with Fiffe’s name on it. Action and intrigue move at a breakneck pace in a style that is in sync with comics cutting edge. The Ultimate line went form being the place to see a new vision of the Marvel universe to something that turned stale over time as creators came and went while the rest of comics caught up with it. This comic feels like the reinvigoration that this series needed. It’s as fresh and vital as the comic has felt in years with the type of swagger and style that put’s it squarely in it’s own unique space. This truly lives up to the “All New” moniker in the best way possible as it feels like the start of something special. It’s the type of Marvel universe that’s exciting and fun. I think these kids are alright.

Review of Godzilla: Cataclysm #1

jun140360Godzilla: Cataclysm #1 (of 5)
Cullen Bunn and Dave Wachter

Having always been a Godzilla fan, it shocked me the other day while creating Cataclysm entry in the pull lists that I had never read a comic based on this most famous kaiju. Unfortunately, like so many other books I tell myself I should read, I pushed the thought aside. Luckily, while meandering through my local shop Tuesday afternoon, our favorite “comic book guy” Tryke was unloading the boxes recently delivered from Diamond. Sifting through the goodies was like Christmas come early! Set before me as we chatted were the books set to sell the following day, and one of them happened to be Godzilla: Cataclysm #1. I flipped through the first couple of pages, ensuring I at least liked the art. The opening scene blew me away, and I vowed to snatch it up the next day.
One of the reasons I had for not reading anything from this franchise was that I hadn’t read what came before. (As most of us know, that is an extremely stupid reason not to try out a comic, but I feed myself that BS all the same.) Fortunately, everything you need to know for this issue to work it provided in the opening sequence. Years ago kaiju came from the sea, fought each other, and wreaked destruction upon the world. The annihilation of modern civilization’s traditions threw the world into an unshakeable tailspin. Jumping forward, the main story is set twenty years since the last monster sighting, and society is still struggling to rebuild.
As was to be expected, the issue ends with a return of the kaiju…namely, Godzilla.
Overall, I really enjoyed the beginning of IDW’s next Godzilla miniseries. Sure, there was plenty of set-up, but the beautiful art makes it worthwhile. The scope, as best reflected in the panel with the humans walking through a monster’s gigantic footprint, is HUGE. These humans we are following are tiny compared to the whole event.
One complaint I did have was that the issue felt incredibly short. I felt myself wanting more, which is, of course, both a good and bad thing. Either way, I will be back for issue #2.

Review of The United States of Murder Inc.

umiFrequent creative collaborators writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming have crafted an intriguing first issue of The United States of Murder Inc.  The comic depicts an alternate history world in which the Mafia has gained political control of certain regions in the United States.  The protagonist is the new “made man” Valentine Gallo, who comes from a distinguished lineage of mafioso. Gallo is tasked with traveling outside the Mob-controlled “Territories” to deliver a package to a U.S. senator in Washington, DC.  He is partnered with the beautiful Mafia assassin, Jagger Rose.  Things go bad in Washington, and the first issue ends with a big revelation about Gallo and his family.

Bendis is a master of dialogue, and the tension and conversation between Gallo and Rose is every bit as entertaining as the secret Mafia rituals and gunfire that are also present in the comic.  Michael Avon Oeming’s art is crisp and kinetic as always, and colorist Taki Soma makes Oeming’s artwork pop with contrasting dark and bright palettes that are appropriate for each scene.

The first issue of The United States of Murder Inc. is intriguing, and the series promises to be an entertaining alternate history comic with plenty of suspense and great characters.

Review of Über #13

UBER 13Über is an ongoing alternate history World War II war comic from Avatar Press that imagines the Nazis creating super-soldiers very late in the war (April 1945). The result of such a historical divergence is not that Germany wins the war – at least, not yet – but that everyone loses. Producing superhumans is not easy; it’s a very difficult scientific process, and Germany develops two types of superhuman soldiers – the more easily-created, strong and resilient “tank” soldiers, and the rare, but stronger “battleship” soldiers. Although the Allies steal the process from the Germans and create their own superhumans, the Germans have the advantage of three fully-functioning “battleships”.

But the Soviet Union has created its own “battleship” soldier – unfortunately for the Soviets, their “battleship” is Maria, a disgraced and unhinged Ukrainian sniper who doesn’t take orders well.  Maria flees from her Soviet masters and takes refuge with a starving elderly couple in Siberia, Yuliya and her husband Marat.  Yuliya is a hard, practical woman who considers turning Maria in for the reward money, while Marat still maintains hope and decency in a harsh wartime world.  Marat’s optimism wins over Yuliya, who narrates the comic and recounts the couple’s experiences with Maria.

Writer Kieron Gillen gives readers more background on the troubled Maria, and the issue showcases how harsh life was for Soviet citizens during the war.  Despite the gory battles between Maria and the Soviet forces sent to retrieve her (depicted in gruesome detail by artist Gabriel Andrade), the story remains anchored to the plight of Yuliya and Marat as they endure the dangers brought to their doorstep by a superhuman visitor.