Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Double-Shot

Halloween might be one of those bullshit, made-up holidays, but it is like the best day of the year for Goths. (That last statement is in no way based on fact, it is simply the kind of shit I spout when I want to set up a sweet Type O Negative video.) So what better way to celebrate with a Halloween song from the greatest of all Goth-Metal bands? (I say "greatest" because I can't name you another goth-metal band off the top of my head.) Yeah, Type O Negative fucking rocks though... Some of you Type 0 fans out there may be thinking: wouldn't All Hallows Eve be more appropriate? Yes, it would, but there isn't a good enough you tube video to satisfy my demands. Enjoy the clip! Oh, shit, I nearly forgot! I added Blood and Thunder by Mastodon too, since every single person in that video is in some sort of freaky costume. If you don't listen to Mastodon on at least a monthly basis, you gotta get your shit together.

Black No.1

Blood and Thunder

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: The Damned

In the mood for demon mobsters who traffic in the typical prohibition era vices like booze, drugs, gambling and souls? Wait, souls? Ok, so The Damned isn't your typical mobster story, it's better.

In the reimagined prohibition era created here by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, demons run the Chicago crime syndicates, and soul trafficking is a big part of the game. Two of the Windy City's biggest mob families are about to broker a deal and consolidate power, but before the deal can go down, the middle-man, tasked with helping the two rival families iron out the details, goes missing. That's where our hero Eddie comes in.

Eddie has been dead for three days when we first meet him, but before too long, he's alive and more or less well, helping the Aligheri family track down the missing middle-man. See, Eddie's been cursed, and he can only sorta die. Whenever he dies, the next unlucky bastard to touch him gets Eddie's deathly injuries transferred to their body, and Eddie, well, he's alive. So Eddie is sent to find the missing middle-man, but what he finds is one tangled-ass web of double crossings, deceit, murder, and soul thievery. Eddie might just be able to get to the bottom of things too, if he can stay alive.

The Damned is a pretty awesome hunk of crime/horror. Writer Cullen Bunn does a great job of creating a fascinating world, and also a great job of setting things up with the first few pages. I found that there was so much more I wanted to know once the principle plot had been introduced. The demons also add a great twist to the classic mobster storyline.

The characters in this graphic novel are also quite well done. Plugging evil demons in as mob bosses and muscle was a nice touch and a few of the demons are very entertaining characters. Where Bunn's character building really shines is with the hero, Eddie. Eddie's pretty much a bad-ass who can get the job done, and while his tactics aren't necessarily the most humane, or kind, I definitely came to appreciate his unique style. It might help that he's one of the few human characters in the story, so at the very least he's easier to relate to.

The hierarchy between humans and demons was sort of an interesting side story. The relationship between the two beings never gets explained, but a lot can be learned just from the text, and the art.

Speaking of which, the art, done by Brian Hurtt is great. Hurtt draws both humans and demons with skill, and knocks the scenery and the setting out of the park as well. I really got a real sense of time and place as I read. The 30's come to life with Hurtt's eye for detail, architecture, not to mention, clothing, and technology. Normally, I'm a bigger fan of color with comic art, but Hurtt's black and white art was great, and I actually think the black and white treatment was more appropriate given the setting of the story. All in all, very solid work.

When I had finally read the last page of The Damned I found myself wanting more, and supposedly there is more of The Damned to come in the future, but for now, the creative team of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt are hard at work on their ongoing comic, The Sixth Gun, which is also quite awesome. I would be hard pressed to say which I'd rather have these guys working on as both are high quality and highly entertaining. My advice is buy this graphic novel of The Damned, then start reading The Sixth Gun and thank me later for helping to improve your quality of life. You're welcome.

Grade: B+

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: Warp Riders

Warp Riders is The Sword's third studio album, and their first concept album. While their first two albums, Age of Winters and Gods of the Earth had more of an epic fantasy bend, Warp Riders is decidedly a Sci-fi album. The album is broken up into two parts, The Archer and the Orb, and The Android and the Sword. The album tells the story of Ereth, an archer who has been banished from the planet of Acheron. Acheron is a planet that is stuck, and while one side gets cooked by the three suns, the other side is shrouded in permanent darkness. While Banished, Ereth discovers an orb, and meets the Chronomancer, a magical dude who wants to help Ereth restore balance to his planet.

Ok, on to the music!

Part One: The Archer and the Orb.

Track 1: Acheron/Unearthing the Orb: This one is strictly a bad-ass crunchy guitar laden intro, and it is great. When I hear an opening track like this, I always think it is a sign of good things to come for the album.

Track 2: Tres Brujas: After my first few listens of this song, I wasn't a fan. It just feels really generic and follows a rather dull, yet time tested pattern of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, verse, chorus, outro. That's not a really bad thing, but mainstream metal bands milked this format to death in the 80's and 90's and I guess I'm a little sick of it. However, once I was able to get past my own little peeves, I realized this is a fucking sweet song, and I should just shut the hell up. Fantastic, though somewhat restrained, guitar work on this song.

Track 3: Arrows in the Dark: This is the first song that made me think, "Hey, these guys are heading in a slightly different direction here." This one is a bit more proggy at the start, but then, I'll be damned if they don't start sounding like the same old The Sword from their previous endeavors. There are some great elements to this song though. The drumming is improved from previous albums, where some have complained that there are too much cymbals...too bad the drummer quit just before they started touring for this album.

Track 4: The Chronomancer I: Hubris: Pretty great opening riff to this seven minute voyage. The whole two minute intro is fucking amazing. There's no use fighting it, this song will make you play air guitar. The Sword is pretty much sticking to their strengths on this track. Heavy, crunchy guitars, and riffs that make me thank the Gods of the Earth for Black Sabbath, and their influence on this band. If you love listening to fantastic, soaring guitars then this is pretty much your song.

Track 5: Lawless Lands: Lawless Lands sounds like a space-western. Somehow the guitars evoke images of both dust, and space. J.D. Cronise's vocals seem to fit this style of song quite well. Sometimes his voice seems a bit over-matched by all the instrumental power they create, but they seem to have found the sweet spot here. So far, the best song.

Part 2: The Android and the Sword.

Track 6: Astraea's Dream: Another instrumental track. Not a bad way to kick off the second half of the album. The previous instrumental was very reminiscent of the band's earlier material, but this track feels right at home here on their sci-fi concept album. Not sure how they do it, but the instruments sound spacey.

Track 7: The Warp Riders: I've always felt that the title track should be one of the strongest songs on an album, and this song is no slouch. The thing is, it isn't as special as it should be. For what this band is capable of, and for some of the greatness they've shown on this album, this song is just a bit too generic for me. For a song that is about traveling at warp speed and covering great distances, the pieces of the song don't really add up to its theme.

Track 8: Night City: The first thing that I thought of when I saw this song title is Gangland by Iron Maiden. Gangland. Night City. Somewhat similar. Which is funny that this song made me think of Maiden, because The Sword sort of channels Iron Maiden here. The lyrical content sort of hearkens back to some of Maiden's glory days. The bass doesn't rumble along at the speed of Steve Harris, but I don't think its too much of a stretch to say that this song could easily be a bit of an ode to Iron Maiden's musical styling.

Track 9: The Chronomancer II: Nemesis: A great Black Sabbath-esque gallop dominates the early proceedings of this guitar heavy, riff filled song. The lyrics are sung in two-part harmony, the second voice, (I'm not sure who it is) gives a raspy quality to the lyrics that makes for a pretty cool layering effect. This song also possesses the best solo of the album. This one is a great set up for the ending of the story.

Track 10: (The Night the Sky Cried) Tears of Fire: I wont comment on the bad poetry that is the title of this track. Instead I will focus on the straight up amazingness that is this song. The two guitars work really well together on this final track. One lays down the thunderous riff, while the other adds little accents and flares that give the song a great sound. I really like how the first solo just sort of soars in from the ether and ushers in a great instrumental stretch. Musically this is the most unique track on the album. They sound less thrashy as they move towards more intricate and layered sound that makes this the hands down best song on the album.

All in all, this is a solid metal album. There a few stretches where I feel like they haven't evolved one bit as a band since their first album, but then there are songs like Lawless Lands and (The Night the Sky Cried) Tears of Fire that seem to be ushering in a new era of The Sword. One that is technically intricate and multi-layered. It will be interesting to see what direction they take in the future now that they are in need of a new drummer.

Grade: B-

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Strangeways Murder Moon

Set shortly after the Civil War, Strangeways: Murder Moon is a traditional werewolf horror tale set in the American Frontier.

Ex-Army Officer Seth Collins and his friend Web are driving a stagecoach and some passengers towards the town of Silver Branch as night falls. Rumors and tall tales in the area tell of a deadly, unkillable wolf who has a taste for human flesh. It isn't long before the wolf attacks their stagecoach, killing or injuring the passengers, and injuring Web in the process as well. With their cargo dead, and an injured man of the cloth slowly dying in a clearing, Web decides to head to town to get help from the Sheriff. Collins is forced to endure a night alone in the woods with only a cutlass to protect him from the wolf. At daybreak the sheriff and his deputies arrive, and Collins accompanies them back to town. There Collins finds a populace living in fear of the wolf, while the sheriff seems to be in denial about the threat.

Later that night, the wolf strikes again. By the end, the town has one less family and the Sheriff decides to pin the killings on Web, who mysteriously went missing during the attack. Murmurs of a werewolf begin to make the rounds, and the sheriff is determined to hang Web for the killings. Now Collins must set out alone to hunt for the wolf and save his friend.

Strangeways: Murder Moon has a great concept going for it, but it lacks in delivery. I liked the idea of setting a werewolf story in the American frontier, but there wasn't anything to make the idea really special or lasting. The whole plot proved to be too straight forward for me, and ended up feeling pretty generic. The suspense and horror of the opening scene never showed up in force again for the rest of the book, and that was too bad, because the opening scene was quite good.

The story, by Matt Maxwell, didn't get much help from the art either, and that was the main weakness of the story. There were a few instances where the black and white art by Luis Guaragna would be beautifully rendered and amazing, but far too often it was bogged down by way too many lines, and too much black ink. I often had a hard time telling just what the hell was going on in each panel, and when that is happening page after page, it really starts to take away from the reading/viewing experience.

The graphic novel wasn't without a couple bright spots though. There's an origin story of sorts at the end, titled Rale: Alone which tells of how the werewolf antagonist of the book came to be such a vile beast. This story was a pretty good sized improvement on the writing front, and benefited from the great artwork of Gervasio and Jok. The other sweet little savory nugget is the pin up gallery, featuring the art of Guy Davis, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba. Some nice stuff there. Oh, and I should mention that Steve Lieber did some sweet cover work for this graphic novel too.

All in all this was a let down for me. What with it being October and all, I was hoping for a scary werewolf story, but this one didn't deliver. The plotting was just too generic and the art was pretty rough on my eyes. If it wasn't for the few little nuggets I mentioned earlier, this would have been a fail, instead it just barely gets a passing grade.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Comic Quickies

Liberty Annual 2010: This extra big annual supports the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a group of folks who defend the first amendment rights of the comic community. The comic itself features comic shorties and pin ups from some of the biggest names in the industry. There's stuff from Garth Ennis, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba, Gail Simone, Geoff Johns, and lots of others.

The actual comic material all seems to follow a theme, something about anti-censorship or freedom of speech...Seriously, the creators all come up with some pretty cool, and interesting ways to make their points. My personal favorites were Chain Gang by Moon, and Ba, and Milk and Cheese by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer. A pretty cool way to get a taste of some great creators.

Superior #1: Boom! The latest from comic giant Mark Millar. Simon Pooni was a great basketball player and popular kid, until multiple sclerosis hit and he lost most of his motor skills. Now he's wheel chair bound, the subject of ridicule, and his favorite pastime is watching flicks with his best friend Chris. As you can imagine, the shift from all-star athlete to being wheel chair bound has been tough on Simon, but things can change. A visit from a space monkey turns Simon into Superior, comics' and film's greatest superhero.

I'm a little on the fence about this one. It started out pretty well, but the space monkey was strange, to say the least. Also, it seemed really short, I felt a little cheated that the issue was only 22 pages. I'll likely stick around a bit to see where this one goes.

Sweet Tooth #14: Sweet Tooth is easily one of my favorite on-going comics. I love Jeff Lemire's style, and story telling skills. The story of Sweet Tooth is a real slow burn, but lots of important things happen in this one.

Gus and the other hybrid kids make a break from captivity, while Jeppard seeks the aid of the psychopathic tribal leader, hoping to pit the tribes against the men of the militia. It is amazing to me how Lemire manages to raise the stakes and increase the drama with each issue. There are some great, tense moments in this issue and a tantalizing cliff-hanger ending.

Neonomicon #2: Hoo-wee, easily winning the election for most fucked-up and disturbing comic of the year is Neonomicon #2. This comic will not give you the warm fuzzies. Moore ratchets up the intensity, the weird, and the discomfort as the two government agents chase down a lead in Salem, Massachusetts. The hunt opens up a few doors and ushers in a very explicit orgy-rape scene that was absolutely shocking, and terrifying. Very little is left to the imagination. The nightmares wont stop!

This one is filled with lots of metatextual stuff, and is heavy on the H.P. Lovecraft mythos. I'm a little afraid to see where this one goes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Sandman Slim

James Stark is a man who has been to hell and back. Literally. Eleven years ago his only friends in life betrayed him and banished him to hell. Lots changed during that eleven years, both here, and downtown in Hell. While Stark was fighting demons in the arenas and assassinating Lucifer's generals in his spare time, his old pal turned worst enemy, Mason killed his girlfriend. Finally, Stark is back, armed with the key to the room of thirteen doors, a demon knife, and one hell of a grudge.

Once he's back topside, Stark doesn't waste any time getting down to business. Before the first day is out he manages to steal a car, piss off some neo-nazis and behead one of the bastards who helped send him to hell. From there, Sandman Slim is off to the races with a pace that seems determined to tear down the gates of hell.

To say that Sandman Slim hard-boiled is like saying Michael Jordan was pretty good at basketball. It's a bit of an understatement. Stark's answer to pretty much everything is quick, dirty, ultra-violence. Stark sure knows how to stack bodies, but he needs to be smart enough to outsmart the world's craftiest magician. The odds certainly are not in Stark's favor, but then again, he did survive as a living mortal for eleven years in Hell.

Sandman Slim has a lot of good going for it. For starters I really enjoyed the snappy, witty narrative voice of James Stark. It was a constant joy to see L.A. through his eyes. There were many times when I chuckled or laughed out loud at one of the many clever turns of phrase.

The author, Richard Kadrey definitely has a knack for pacing. It isn't much of a stretch to say that Sandman Slim is non-stop action. Yeah, there are a few short gaps, but Kadrey more or less keeps the action scenes coming like they are rolling off an assembly line.

Not only does Kadrey have a knack for pacing, but his character building is quite strong as well. The smart-mouthed, violent, James Stark is the ultimate anti-hero. Not to mention the other freaks, demons, angels, creeps and lowlifes that populate this book...all of which are written just well enough so that they come to life, but don't steal the thunder from Stark who is clearly the main attraction.

On top of the solid character building, is Kadrey's depiction of L.A. and more specifically, Hollywood. He breathes new, demon possessed life into one of pop culture's most beloved settings. When he's through, Hollywood seems like the perfect place for all the crazy, over the top shit that goes down, and the perfect place for his cast of characters to take residence.

Reader be warned, Sandman Slim is sort of the novel version of a Hollywood blockbuster. It lacks the depth and scope that many fantasy readers have come to love, and expect from modern writers of the genre. This may turn some potential readers off, but on the other hand, if you are sick of dull, drawn out epics, then this might be just the thing for you. Clocking in at just about 390 pages, you get a great self-contained book that can be read as a stand-alone. There is a sequel that has just hit shelves, but the conflicts presented in this book are resolved by the end.

Sandman Slim turned out to be a pretty great October read. It has a nice blend of fantasy, and horror, and since it is an pretty easy read, it fit nicely into my busy schedule of school and work. Check it out.

Grade: B

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Ignition City

Ignition City by Warren Ellis is a cool, retro style "future of the past" graphic novel where humans have pretty much given up on space travel because they didn't like dealing with the dangerous aliens.

The heroine of Ignition City is Mary Raven, a fiery, feisty redhead who can kick some serious butt. (I'm starting to think maybe Ellis has a thing for tough, sexy redheads...) Mary Raven has space travel in her blood. Her father, Rock Raven was one of the first men in space, and is a legend of the bygone space travel glory days. Lately though, he's just been stuck on a forgotten hunk of man-made land called Ignition City, with a bunch of other grounded space travelers.

When Mary learns of her father's death, she decides to travel to Ignition City to find out how he died, and who did it. The denizens of Ignition City are unwelcoming, to say the least. Yet, with some help from the locals she eventually tracks down his few remaining belongings, which include a sweet raygun and his journal.

Some of the people on Ignition City want Mary dead because of what's in the journal, including Lightning Bowman, a space traveling legend turned gun runner. However, dying isn't part of Mary's plans, but exposing one of the biggest secrets of Ignition City is.

If you are familiar with the works of Warren Ellis, then Ignition City should feel like a comfortable pair of shoes. It showcases Ellis' skill at writing damn good mysteries, and cool science fiction stories. The characters and the dialog also follow a Warren Ellis trend I've noticed of ranging from a bit over the top, to completely over the moon crazy. Add in a dash of extreme violence, and a helping of potty humor and you have the Warren Ellis blend of comics mayhem. In the case of Ignition City, Ellis seemed to focus more on his stronger suits as a writer and story teller, (the mystery and sci-fi stuff), which made this an enjoyable read.

The illustrations by Gianluca Pagliarani were hit or miss for me. The faces of the characters looked pretty bad mostly all of the time, and the female characters seemed to be drawn in an over-sexualized way that wasn't necessary for the setting or the story. Maybe it was just me, but there seemed to be a lot of round booties in tight pants staring at me on nearly every page. On the other hand, Pagliarani did a great job of bringing Ignition City to life with his art. The downed spacecrafts, the rusted out vehicles, the mud, dirt and detritus all made the setting quite wonderful. On occasion, he would draw some wide-lens shots that showed more of the scenery, and in those moments his artwork was quite nice to look at.

Though it felt a bit rushed, the ending was quite satisfying, and actually left me hoping for more. I'm not sure if Ellis has plans for more work in the Ignition City setting, but the door is certainly left open for it. All in all, a solid, satisfying read.

Grade: B

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review: Mouse Guard Fall 1152

The forest is a dangerous place for a little mouse. In the past the mice-folk have been lorded over by evil weasels, and have lost territory in recent wars. Helping protect mouse-kind are the Mouse Guard, skilled warriors, defenders of mice, and peace keepers of the forest.

In Mouse Guard Fall 1152 three of the Guard's most skilled set out from Lockhaven to find a missing mouse who has gone astray on the treacherous paths between mouse-towns. Once discovered, the body of the missing mouse offers up some clues to a much larger conspiracy. In the far reaches of the mouse lands, and even in the hearts of their cities and towns, a rebellion is brewing and the Guard Mice find themselves in a dangerous race against time to save mouse-kind.

The most noticeable aspect of Mouse Guard is the pretty artwork done by writer/artist David Peterson. Every panel is eye catching and fun to look at. Also, his artwork serves to tell a lot of the story. There isn't a ton of dialog or narration, so the plot leans heavily on the art to help it chug along.

The plot itself is a generic rebellion plot without any twists or turns to make it fresh or interesting. Peterson uses a very straight forward style of delivering the story, and there isn't much depth below the surface. The plot also lacked tension, and the end result seemed to be a foregone conclusion. While the artwork was nice to look at, the action scenes lacked in dynamics that would have given them an edge. It was clear early on that this one is aimed at a young crowd, but that doesn't excuse it for having a lackluster plot.

This book might appeal to fans of the Redwall books, or other anthropomorphic tales, but it doesn't really measure up. If you are really desperate for some sword-wielding mice this might just barely whet your appetite, but it'll leave you wanting more in terms of story.

Grade: D

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Review: Batman Reborn

Did you know that Bruce Wayne is dead?

Well, I didn't until I picked up the first issue of Batman & Robin. The day-glo yellow cover with beautiful artwork by Frank Quitely caught my eye and I started to flip through the comic, and it turns out there is a different dude under the bat-cowl and Bruce's son (also a surprise to me) is Robin! Dick Grayson, the original Robin from back in the day, A.K.A. Nightwing, has taken over as Batman and along for the ride is Damian Wayne as Robin.

Ok, so now you are somewhat up to speed on what's been happening with The Caped Crusader. At the very least we're on equal footing.

Batman Reborn picks up on Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne's first day on the job as Batman and Robin. To make the first day all the more sweet, they have a brand new, pimped out Batmobile to cruise around in...or fly if they want, yeah, the new Batmobile can fly.

The graphic novel opens with a sweet chase as the Dynamic Duo pursue a Toad-like criminal through the streets of Gotham. Mr. Toad is eventually captured, but his apprehension and subsequent shake-down don't really give the detectives too many solid clues to go on. The Toad is part of an all new cadre of circus freak criminals infesting Gotham, who all appear to be connected to bigger and deadlier things.

The new Dynamic Duo soon discovers that the job of vigilante crime fighters is pretty tough, as they also have to contend with a nutty professor who performs nightmarish facial surgeries to his victims, and another set of deadly costumed vigilantes looking to clean up the streets of Gotham once and for all.

I want to make it clear that you do NOT need to know all of what has gone down in the Bat-world to enjoy this graphic novel. I haven't read an issue of Batman in years, and found that this was a pretty solid starting point. Granted, I sort of feel like I opened a very large can of worms, but this is definitely a place to start.

Not only is it a good, and logical place to start but it is also a very good looking, and well written place to start. The comic powerhouse team-up of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely easily smash the first three issues of this graphic novel out of the park. The plot and the new bad-guys are cool, and interesting, and Quitely's artwork is top-tier as always. Halfway through the book, the art duties shift to the capable hands of Phillip Tan. His art style is quite different looking in comparison to Quitely, but it is still very high quality. This is one of the better looking graphic novels out there.

All in all, this is a pretty enjoyable graphic novel. This volume has a bit of a cliff hanger ending and definitely foreshadows mysterious things to come, so there is a bit of a lack of closure. That's not a bad thing though, it will leave you wanting more.

Grade: B

Monday, October 4, 2010

Review: Preacher: All Hell's A-Coming

The hero of the Preacher tale is a man named Jesse Custer. As we all know, behind every great man, there is an even greater woman. So, when Jesse's woman, Tulip saw Jesse fall from an airplane during a nuclear disaster, she thought he was dead. You can't really blame the gal for thinking that. So her downward spiral into the all-too-eager arms of that wanker of a vampire, Cassidy wasn't much of a surprise. Too bad for Cassidy, you cant keep Tulip down for ever.

The eighth and penultimate Preacher book starts with Tulip getting her shit together and walking back into a better life. The early pages of All Hell's A-Coming focus on Tulip's "angelic resurrection" and also deliver her origin story which covers the tragic deaths of her parents, her early love for guns and sharpshooting, and even her first encounter with Jesse.

From there, writer Garth Ennis sort of checks in and brings the reader up to date on many of the side characters, carefully maneuvering them into place for the finale. Through this story telling technique, we find out how much of a true wanker Cassidy is, find out the latest news with everyone's favorite, controversial pop sensation, Arseface, and get a close look at the devious machinations of Herr Starr and his Grail minions. To wrap things up, Ennis throws in a spin-off/one-shot story called High in the Saddle about Jesse and Tulip's car thievin' days.

Preacher: All Hell's A-Coming is definitely a book that dots the I's and crosses the T's. Reading it, I got the sense that Ennis wanted to make sure all the loose ends were tied up and all the essential pieces are in place for the grand finale. That isn't to say that this is a boring volume. This is a character driven story, and by now I am pretty damn invested in a bunch of the characters, so the backstories, and developments that go on serve to add depth to this fantastic story. There are some interesting developments that give me the feeling the ending is going to be epic.

The creative team of Garth Ennis, and Steve Dillon maintain their high level of quality work. Consistency is important in an on-going story and they sure do keep cranking out highly entertaining material. I'm practically salivating for the finale, but I'll likely cleanse my palette with a few other things before I get around to it.

Grade: B

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Review: The Nobody

Not a lot goes down in the small fishing town of Large Mouth, especially in the off season, so it is pretty exciting when a stranger drifts into town covered from head to toe in bandages, and wearing weird goggles. The stranger, John Griffin takes residence at a small motel in the town and attempts to go about his business. Believing the man was injured in some strange accident, the townsfolk allow John his privacy, but remain skeptical. Eventually a young teen, Vickie, befriends John and starts to unravel the mystery surrounding him. The friendship and bond between John and Vickie grows, but when some crimes crop up, the town suspects John and everything begins to unravel.

The Nobody is a haunting reimagining of H.G. Wells' Invisible Man story. The writer and artist, Jeff Lemire does a great job of creating a creepily realistic small town setting. The characters he introduces have great depth and sport motives that are complex and somewhat difficult to grasp. That's not a bad thing though, I think it is that elusiveness that makes this a winner. The story pacing is also interesting. This is definitely a slow burn. Lemire likes to tease out the events slowly, and bring things to a powerful climax.

This book has an almost noir feel to it. Which brings me to the art. Lemire takes a stripped down approach, using sparse amounts of text, and using his artwork to tell much of the story and set the tone for the graphic novel. Another aspect that makes the art stand out is the color, or lack there of. Only three colors are sen in The Nobody. Black, white, and a pale blue. The color palette creates an eerie feel that goes nicely with the story.

The Nobody is a great story written and drawn by one of comic's most unique story-tellers. After reading this, I fully enshrined Lemire as one of my favorite comic creators. His work really resonates with me, and his stories tend to stick with me for awhile after I read them. You can't go wrong here.

Grade: B+

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Comic Quickies

American Vampire #6: The sixth issue of American Vampire is the first issue without the writing skills of Stephen King. King was only around for the opening run of five issues, and now it is up to Scott Snyder to merge the two story lines of Skinnner Sweet and Pearl Jones. This issue introduces a new character, Las Vegas chief of Police, Cash McCoogan. The whole issue essentially sets up this new character, and you get the sense that He'll be directly opposed to whatever kind of things the vampires have planned for Vegas.

Though the comic features some absolutely beautiful art drawn by Raphael Albuquerque, and some solid writing as well, I officially dropped this series following this issue. I think I am just sick of vampires, even ones that are bad-ass, and not sparkly. I never felt that feeling of being sucked in by this comic. A fair shot was given, but alas, no more for me.

Nemesis #3: Nemesis is another title I am sort of on the fence as to whether or not I'm in love with it. The difference though is this one is a 4 issue miniseries. Like most Mark Millar projects I've experienced, the focus seems to be more on style and glitz than form and substance. But damn does this book look good! McNiven is a great artist, and his work is greatly complimented by the great color work done by Dave McCaig. (It seems like whenever I notice how nice the colors are in a comic, they are done my McCaig.) Nemesis is truly a sight to behold. The prison fight in particular is fucking amazing.

Each one of these issues has left me excited for the next, and I'm particularly piqued for the final issue. I cant really predict where all the pieces will lie when it is all said and done, but chances are it will be a bloody, brutal gut wrenching finale.

The Unwritten #17: I'm not a regular reader of The Unwritten but there is no way in hell I can pass up the chance to read a Choose Your Own Adventure style comic! Without a doubt, this is the coolest single issue of a comic I've read so far this year. When I was a kid, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books. The concept is simple, yet pretty brilliant, and it is pulled of perfectly here.

On my initial read, I tried to make decisions that would lead the story in the most interesting direction, though not necessarily the decisions I would personally make given similar circumstances. By this decision making method, I felt like I read the story line that was meant to be delivered by the writers, Mike Carey and Peter Gross. I did finish up on the final page of comic after it was all said and done, which is a win in my book.

The great thing about this comic is that it could be read and re-read over and over, with different possible outcomes. Not a bad deal for $3.99. Worth checking out even if you don't read the comic regularly.

Skull Kickers #1: First off, great title for a comic! Not only that, but there is literally a Skull Kicking on the second page! The basis for this one is two mercenaries, their names haven't been mentioned yet, don't get paid for a job they did, and while attempting to make some money on a smash-and-grab job get tied up in something bigger than they expected.

The mercenary duo comprise of a hack first, ask questions later dwarf, and a tank-like human with a gun. Though it takes place in a medieval setting, no one seems to notice the oddness of that particular item. Skull Kickers is a fantasy-action comic through and through with a nice touch of spicy sassyness added to the mix. They managed to sneak in a penciler switcheroo mid-comic, but it is tough to notice as the art styles are quite similar. Solid debut overall, and one I'll likely continue to follow for a bit.