Saturday, April 30, 2011

Comic Quickies or Comics with Guns on the Cover

Undying Love #1:  I gonna sound like a broken record here, by Undying Love is another great looking new comic from Image.  Is it just me, or is Image the only company cranking out new stuff?

Undying Love is set in China, and tells the story of John and Mei, a couple who appear to be on the run.  When the comic begins, they are hiding out in a small secluded temple, and are attacked by the sword and spear wielding minions of a talking fox and a Geisha.  From the ensuing battle two important details are learned: John appears to have some special forces training, and Mei is a vampire.

John and Mei are in love, and they want to share a life together, but the whole vampire thing causes a lot of complications. John wants to free Mei from the vampire curse, but to do that he must destroy the vampire that made her.  The hang up is that Mei was made into a vampire by Shang-Ji, the oldest and most powerful vampire in China.  If John can take down Shang-Ji, he can cure Mei.  Simple as that.

From the way things are set up, there should be some bad-ass vampire slaying going down in this comic, and that sounds like a recipe for awesomeness.   I'm looking forward to what this one has in store.

The Mission #2: Our hero, Paul, knows he fucked up.  He was supposed to kill Neal Corman at the behest of God, but didn't, then innocent people got killed and Corman kidnapped his own six year old daughter.  You can't really blame Paul, it is hard to kill someone based on the word of some sketchy aggro old dude claiming to represent the word of God.  However, from the looks of things, Gabe, God's messenger, seems to be right, and Paul, fearing the repercussions of not completing his mission, decides to do the deed.

I'll be straight up, I'm not a fan of the art in this comic.  Compared to other titles I read, it doesn't measure up.  Since The Mission doesn't look as sexy as some other titles, I feel like I instantly down-grade it to second rate...but that would be doing this title a great disservice because I love the writing.  It took me about 10 minutes to read through this issue.  I was totally sucked in from the first page and enjoyed it to the very last.  The character of Paul is such a regular dude, stuck in such an irregular situation that it makes for some compelling reading.  The sharp, gripping writing is top notch, and a great reason to check this comic out.

The Intrepids #2: When we last left the Intrepids team they were about to get the drop on Darius Dread.  Too bad for the Intrepids,  but this issues starts out with Dread's battle baboon whoopin' some Intrepid ass.  It turns out Dread is a much more gracious host then the baboons initially let on, and he hooks the team up with some valuable intel.  Dread's info puts the team on the tail of a mysterious man named Jonah.  Like Dante, the mysterious benefactor for the Intrepids, Jonah appears to have some sort of background in mad science.  The team can only hope that Jonah will lead them to Dr. Koi.

As I was promised by both Kurtis J. Wiebe and Scott Kowalchuk, this second issue definitely kicked some serious ass.  Not only that, but it provided some great moments of humor, especially when the team was getting their asses handed to them by the baboons.  Aside from providing some great entertainment, this story also delivered some solid character development and dropped some valuable info on the various scientific power-ups each Intrepid member possesses.  So far most of the character development has focused on team leader Crystal, but the other team members have distinct personalities, and seem to be strong characters in their own right.  Hopefully more development will be given to Doyle, Rose and Chester in the coming issues.

The awesomeness of the second issue proves that The Intrepids is no one-hit wonder.  I could gush more about this comic, but I'll spare you, and just say that The Intrepids is a comic that deserves to be read.

Who is Jake Ellis #3:  In the last issue of Who is Jake Ellis? Jake Ellis, the man inside our hero Jon's head, got Jon exposed.  Now Jon is on the run and he needs to get the hell out of France, preferably on the sly. Aside from the switch of locales, Jon is also looking to score some information regarding the whereabouts of the secret facility that performed the procedure that linked him to Jake Ellis. 

Jon and Jake make a pretty slick and efficient spy team, but what is the most compelling to me is how easily Jake can convince Jon to do things a certain way, and how Jon is so willing to listen to Jake Ellis.  As a reader, I am definitely beginning to question not only Jake Ellis' motivations, but also his methods.  Jon is a pretty likable character, and I definitely wonder how everything is going to turn out for the guy.

Not only does Who is Jake Ellis? continue to feature great writing, but the art is great too.  I really enjoyed the "club" color palette  that added vibrancy to the opening scene of this issue. 

Who is Jake Ellis continues to be one of the most entertaining comics on the shelves.  With each issue I get even further sucked into the story, and further invested in the characters.  The story is unfolding at a nice clip, and each issue leaves me yearning for more.  Who is Jake Ellis has solidified itself as one of my favorite monthly comics.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Can't Get Enough?

Over at Multiversity Comics Joshua Mocle wrote an interesting piece about what he perceives to be his own comics addiction.

"Now, I'm sure some people will deny that addiction to comics even exists, saving the weighty term of "addiction" for more serious vices. That said, take a minute to think about your connection to comics and how you feel when a book you want sells out? Or your store doesn't open due to snow? Or some other unforeseen circumstance gets in the way of you and your books every week? I'm willing to bet that some (if not most) of you don't quite deal with such instances in the best way possible."

That part got me thinking because due to my class schedule, I can no longer make it to my local comic shop on Wednesday, the day new comics come out.  Instead, I have to wait until *gasp!* Thursday to pick up the titles in my pull-box.  This might seem like a very little deal, but when I discovered it, I was pretty damn upset.   Then, later on in the article, I could also commiserate with another of Josh's sentiments:

"One of those books happens to be Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt’s mystical western adventure The Sixth Gun. For some reason, my preferred comic shop almost always sells out of the book before I am able to get out of work on Wednesday (including a time I didn’t have work and got there literally as the door was being unlocked) and, indeed, I was not able to find Issue #10 there a few weeks ago. Now, I happen to be blessed as a Boston-based comic fan in that there are quite a few stores I can turn to in instances like this one and had, in fact, done so for previous issues of The Sixth Gun. However, two short drives and four phone calls later and I still hadn’t tracked down a copy of the book. At this point I started to feel something I hadn’t felt in years, at least within the context of comic books: I started to panic.

It was sudden, irrational and uncontrolled. The little voices in my head that tell me to calm down and stop being such a nerd were screaming their heads off at me and yet, I was still panicked. So much so that once I found a store that had a copy, I threw on my headphones and walked for almost an hour to pick it up, discovering a new, charming little shop in the process. Once I left the store, my panic began to subside: crisis averted."

Lucky for me, I have The Sixth Gun on my pull list, but I know the feeling.  There have been a few times when I've "discovered" a comic title that I want to read 3 or 4 issues into the series, and have put in a few hours of fevered effort to track down the needed issues so that I don't have to wait for the trade, because I want to read the comic NOW, not later.  

Now, I'm not about to say that I, or Josh for that matter, have a comics addiction, but I will say that my pull-list (comics I get the store to always hold for me when they come out) is ever growing.  Most of that I attribute to me being new to the medium, and slowly finding titles that work for me.  I also really enjoy serial story telling both in the comics medium as well as in fantasy.  The problem is, trimming the fat.  There's no doubt that there is a ceiling as to just how many comic titles I can afford to read.  Today I was looking over my pull list and there's a few titles that I cut right away, but there were others (Chew and Sweet Tooth) that would feel like I was cutting away part of my soul if I were to cut them from the list.  The same goes for my fantasy reading.  If someone told me there was no way I could read A Dance with Dragons when it came out, there would be severe problems. 

Ryan Closs, another blogger at Multiversity Comics wrote a rebuttal to Josh's earlier post, and Ryan makes some compelling points too. 

"I firmly believe that if you don’t love a book that you’re still buying, just drop it. Are you rating a book as a 2 or 3 week in week out? Ditch it. Life is too short to waste time reading bad comics. You have to realize there’s just no way to read everything, so you have to draw your own line somewhere."

I think Ryan makes a good point, and one I tried to emulate when I cut down my own pull list.  However, it can be hard for me to be totally honest with myself sometimes, and that's when trimming the fat is tough.  

I personally feel like I have a pretty good amount of willpower.  Sure, I've added titles, and sure I still buy lots of books on my measly income, but I'm good about asking for and using gift cards, I also buy about 90% of my books (graphic novels included) used.  Plus, everyone deserves a little bit of indulgence every now and again anyway.  I think Ryan sums it up best when he says:

"If you’re enjoying the books you read, then more good books is a GOOD thing; if you don’t think they’re worth the money every month, then just STOP."

So my question to all of you out there is: Is there something you can't get enough of?  Comics?  Books?  Miniature Knight Figurines? 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Some Days You Just Gotta Listen to Opeth

With Toll the Hounds still swirling around in my mind, and the Direwolf pups repeatedly stealing scenes in HBO's A Game of Thrones I feel like animals of the canine persuasion have infiltrated my life.  Which has gotten the opening bit of The Baying of the Hounds by Opeth stuck in my head.  Definitely a song that matches the feral power of both the Hounds of Shadow and the direwolves. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review: Toll the Hounds

Normally, I can only handle about one Malazan book per year, but with the end of the series drawing near, I thought I'd get Toll the Hounds under my belt, and give myself the option of reading another Malazan book later on in 2011.

Anytime I embark on a Malazan Book of the Fallen novel written by Steven Erikson I do so with a fairly large degree of trepidation.  I'll come right out and say it: I struggle with these books.  For one, I always have the feeling that I'm either missing an important detail, or that I'm forgetting an important detail, (or a minor detail that is now important) from an earlier book.  Sometimes I'll be forgetting an entire character.  Another thing I struggle with is sheer size of each book.  Talk about daunting!   Toll the Hounds clocked in at a massive 1269 pages!  That is like three normal sized books.  Basically, what that boils down to is a month of reading for my slow ass.  Another Malazan thorn in my side is the fact that with each book I've read, I've felt like there is at least one story line that is totally pointless.  I tend to skim those parts, which might account for that earlier bit about forgetting details...

Anyway, all my trepidation aside, Toll the Hounds was fairly easy to dive into because it marked the return to Darujhistan, the locale of many of my favorite characters from the series.  Aside from reuniting with Kruppe, Murillio, Rallick Nom, and all the other denizens of the Phoenix Inn, this book delivers a healthy dose of Anomander Rake, badass supreme.  Anytime Anomander Rake is involved you know something awesome is going to happen, and his role in this one is definitely pretty damn epic.

One detail I found interesting about Toll the Hounds is how small of a role the Malazan characters play in the novel.  To me it seemed like Erikson had a lot of big pieces to move around on the board, Karsa Orlong, Mappo Runt, Gruntle, to name a few, and this novel was sort of all about getting them into position for the final two novels.  Even though parts of the book felt like a set up for the final stages of the series, this still managed to be a solid novel.  There is a strong corps of characters present, many of which are some of my favorites in the series, so it was a joy to check back in on them and read about their adventures.

Anytime you get some of the major players from the series in the same Malazan book, you can pretty much rest assured knowing that their paths with converge at some point during the book.  So with so many of the "big" names in this novel, I had a good feeling things would be pretty epic.  Erikson does not disappoint.  The climax of Toll the Hounds is one of the best convergences in the Malazan Book of the Fallen thus far. 

I gotta say, Erikson is probably the reigning master of writing incredibly gripping balls-out action scenes.  There were many nights when I absolutely could not put this book down because something insane was happening.  On the times when Erikson does manage to draw me in, he draws me in completely, and everything else in the world falls away.  This is a rare gift for a writer, and a quality the man only seems to improve upon with each book.

Despite it's monumental size, and a couple plot lines that I felt were superfluous, this was a damn good Malazan novel.   With only two books to go, I could possibly crank them out in the next year, or I might dawdle and draw this series out for another two years.  Hard to say, but if you are plugging your way through this series, and fighting the good fight, I for one think it is worth carrying on.  Erikson always manages to deliver a good ending so I have high hopes for the tail end of the series.

Grade: B

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Joe the Barbarian Issues 5-8

Holy shit, I can't believe its been nearly a year since I did a review for the first four issues of this comic. This review for the second half of this comic series, is gonna an exercise in brevity compared to that earlier review.

Simply put, the second half of this series didn't live up to the set up of the first half. 

The first four issues introduce Joe, a young kid who is home alone and going through a life threatening hypoglycemic hallucination.  In his hallucination Joe is swept off to a fantasy world where his toys are real, and he has to save them from an evil being, who is taking over their world.  While going through this wild hallucination, Joe is also trying to maneuver his way through his house so that he can get some sort of sugar into his body  so he can live.  His movements through the house also correlate to his movements through the fantasy realm, and his actions in one place mirror his actions in another.

The first four issues also introduce the cast of characters that populate the series.  Unfortunately, in the second half of this series, these characters fail to really do much of anything or serve any kind of purpose.  Sure, Jack, Joe's pet rat, and samurai side kick is extremely useful, and saves Joe's hide more than once, but the other characters, namely Zxxxy, or whatever her name was, and Smoot the giant dwarf, don't really do much, or change throughout the series.  They sort of just seem to be there for the sake of it...Maybe Grant Morrison just thought every fantasy story needs some kind of fellowship.  I kept thinking Morrison would do more with them, or that, in some well delivered plot twist, they would turn out to be something more than they appear, either in the fantasy world, or in the real world, but that never happened. 

Most disappointingly, the ending didn't really deliver the goods.  I don't want to spoil anything, but the last issue wrapped things up way too nicely for my tastes.  It isn't that it was a bad ending, it's just that it didn't really seem like the right ending.

When I got my hands on the 8th issue, I re-read the entire series one issue right after the other, and things were going along pretty good, until I reached the final issue, and the connections between the two worlds got a bit shaky, and the plot seemed to lose it's way.  I don't know it Morrison was just trying to finally wrap up this series so he could move on, or if it is just an example of a good idea that didn't quite get executed to its fullest potential.  Either way, the ending left me feeling disappointed.

I have a little personal theory about what befell this series: I think what happened is that Sean Murphy delivered insanely awesome art that blew Morrison away, and as a result, Morrison kept writing crazy shit for the guy to draw that would also look insanely awesome.  But then Morrison sort of wrote himself into a corner and had to resort to less than stellar plot twists to properly wrap everything up.

Don't get me wrong, I really do think this is an pretty damn good comic, it's just that it didn't deliver given my high expectations for what the creative team of Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy is capable of.  Also, I should add that my disappointment lies at the hands of Morrison.  Murphy's art is great, and I'm pretty much at the point where I'd read any book with his name attached to it.

Despite not living up to my high expectations and failing to deliver as awesome of an ending as I wished for, this is still a very good fantasy comic and definitely worth a read.  I might have been a bit let down, but the journey is still great, and one that was almost perfect.  This thing comes out in hardcover graphic novel format sometime this summer.  Keep an eye out for it!

Overall 8 issue Grade: B-

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Review: Starman Omnibus vol. 1

Set in the DC Universe, Starman vol. 1 is a breath of fresh air for those who are burnt out on the typical, run of the mill super hero titles. 

Like many superhero tales that are drowning in cliches, this one starts out with the typical reluctant hero narrative.  Jack Knight is the second son of Ted Knight, better known as the golden age hero, Starman.  Ted's crime fighting days are over, and his older son, David, has taken up his cape and scepter.  However, when David gets brutally gunned down, and Ted is assassinated, it is up to Jack to set his collectibles business aside and take over as Opal City's hero.

The learning curve is quite steep for Jack, a guy who is more comfortable looking for collectible view-masters than he is thwarting bad-guys, but the man is stubborn to say the least, and when faced with protecting the shattered remnants of his family, he wont back down.  Jack might keep telling himself that he's not a hero, but is his own inner doubt, and that fact that he doesn't play by the typical hero rules help make him the perfect hero for all the villainy that Opal City faces.

From the very early stages of his career, Jack Knight has to face The Mist, a criminal master mind who's plan to take over Opal City is off to a picture perfect start.  Jack has to learn quickly, or face the same fate of his father and older brother.

Initially, I was slightly under-whelmed by Starman.  I'd been told that it is hands down the most bad-ass superhero comic of all time, but the first story arc played out in pretty standard super-hero style.  The only thing really unique about it was that Jack Knight as Starman was a pretty unique hero.  Lucky for me the omnibus edition packs in the first sixteen issues of this epic series.

Jack sort of very slowly, and reticently grows into the role of Starman over the course of this graphic novel.  Watching him take ownership of the role is pretty cool, as he definitely has his own style.  Jack Knight as Starman is only one small aspect of Jack Knight however.  The real Jack Knight is an avid, one might say rabid, collector of, well...collectibles.  This lust for old, interesting stuff gives you a good sense of his personality.  Jack definitely is more comfortable surrounding himself with things of the past rather than concerning himself with the events of today.  That is partially what made him such a reluctant hero in the early stages, and is continually a cool part of his character throughout this volume.  There are scenes where he's battling bad guys, but day dreaming about certain collectibles he wants to get his hands on.  Sort of like how I daydream my way through a dull class, doing what I gotta do before I can do what I wanna do.  Of any super hero alter-ego, Jack Knight might be the most regular dude of them all.

Rightly so, Jack Knight is the heart of this comic, but writer James Robinson fills out the pages with some other cool, fun and interesting characters.  The Mist, and his evil progeny are capable, even dangerous bad guys, and Ted Knight the original Starman is a pretty interesting character who I look forward to learning more about.  The best of the secondary characters though is easily The Shade.  The guy's motives are on the extreme side of murky, and he seems to be one of Jack's few allies at the moment, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that change anytime.  The Shade is a Victorian era immortal with the power to manipulate shadows.  He can turn the shadows into beasts, or whatever, that do his bidding.  An awesome power to say the least.

The art of Starman is chiefly handled by Tony Harris, best known by me as the artist of  Ex Machina.  It's pretty interesting to take a trip back in time about 10-15 years and see the artist that was.  The early pages of Starman don't really hold a candle to his work on Ex Machina, but one very cool aspect of this graphic novel is that you can see Harris' skills improve as the issues go by.  He really seemed to come into his own, and start looking like the Tony Harris I know and love in the fifth issue.  That issue is all in shades of gray and you can really see Harris' signature style of body language, facial expression, and fantastic line work come into fruition.  From there I noticed a definite increase in the quality of his artwork through the rest of the graphic novel. 

Though I was skeptical in the early stages, I think I was eventually won over by Starman.  Though I didn't find this as enjoyable as much of the non-hero oriented comics I read, I still think this is one of the best superhero tales I've ever read.  Though pricey, the omnibus edition is a good way to go if you wanna read the definitive Starman collection.  The packaging is pretty damn nice, and high quality.  Rumor has it that the series only gets better from here on out, and if my wallet is willing and able, I'm down for another trip to Opal City in the future.

Do you read super hero comics and yearn for something more substantial? Do you read alternative comics and get the occasional craving for a some superhero action?  Starman volume 1 is your fix.

Grade: B-

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good News Comes in Threes

I've got a few pieces of good news to deliver. One that pertains to both me, and readers of the blog, one that pertains to comic fans, and one that pertains completely mostly to me....

Good news #1: I have the internet again! 

Yes, once again I have the internet trapped firmly in my claw-like grasp.  I'm moved into, and mostly settled in my new place, which means that posts should start popping up in a more regular fashion around here.  I'm extremely eager to be regularly blogging again, and plenty of posts are coming your way.

Good news #2: Green Wake is now an ongoing comic.

I just learned yesterday, via the facebooks that Green Wake, has been made into an ongoing series.  It was initially slated to be a five or six issue mini-series but thanks to good sales, and good reviews, has been changed into an ongoing.  I think Green Wake is a great series to extend, as it is easy to see from the first issue that there are plenty of yet to be told stories that lie in the gutters of that strange town.  I can see an easy progression from the current murder mystery story arc into other tales.  It'll be cool to see what the future holds for this very promising looking comic.

Good News #3: I have free HBO for one year. 

 To make a long story short, when the internet dude came to give me the gift of internet the other day, he also came to install the world's lamest, most basic cable TV service and channel package...until we discovered that package included free HBO for one year! I didn't even have to give him all the beer in the house to get the HBO either, it was just some sweet promotion they have going right now.  I almost high-fived the cable guy. 

The timing couldn't be better, I mean Game of Thrones starts tomorrow.  Sure I'll probably be watching it solo, but at least I'll be watching it.  I'm adding popcorn to my shopping list. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Comic Quickies Debut Triple Threat

Nonplayer #1: Despite being up against some tough competition in the debut department, Nonplayer stands out as my favorite.  In fact, I pretty much fell in love with this one from the first page.  Nonplayer begins in the MMORPG world of Jarvath where a virtual assassination is strangely met with life-like response.  From the looks of things, the lines between reality and virtual reality are going to get pretty blurry in this futuristic fantasy tale.

 The first, and most striking quality of Nonplayer is the absolutely gorgeous art.  I may be a bit of a comic newbie, but Nate Simpson's artwork is hands down the most beautiful comic art I've ever laid eyes on.  Every panel of every page is filled with meticulously detailed and imaginative art, and it is truly an awesome sight to behold.  That being said, the artwork isn't the only strength of Nonplayer.

This debut issue sports some great writing as well.  The opening half of the issue builds up to, and delivers a great action sequence.  From there, we catch a glimpse into the regular everyday life of the main character, and Simpson adds some nice touches, some that are rather subtle,  that make her easy to relate to on a human level.  After watching her do some epic ninja shit in the opening half, it was good to see the normal side of her. I thought the character building was deftly handled. 

On top of the strong character building, Simpson also managed to fit in world building both on the virtual, and non-virtual worlds that his comic features.  It might sound like a packed issue, and it is, but it doesn't seem crammed at all.  By the end, I immediately wanted to read the next issue.  A sure sign of a winner.

Green Wake #1:  Up next in this debut studded Comic Quickies, is the crime noir title, Green Wake.  This one starts out with a gristly murder, and a missing suspect.  The mystery element of this comic hits on three levels.  The first is the murder mystery itself, which is looking to be pretty interesting.  The second is the town of Green Wake itself, that seems to be some sort of lodestone for the decrepit and the lonely.  The third is the main character, Morley Mack, who seems to have a pretty mysterious past.  All these elements play nicely together to make for a damn interesting story.

After reading this one, I feel like I have basically no idea what is going on, but that sense of feeling lost is tampered with the fact that as I read I got the sense that this comic is gonna have a great slow-burn pace to it, and that everything will eventually unfold in good time.

Kurtis J. Wiebe's writing is dark and gritty, and Riley Rossmo's art fits the feel of the comic perfectly.  I'm very excited to see where this one is leading.  

Blue Estate #1: Another crime/mystery story here, but with a totally different feel.  Blue Estate takes place in Hollywood, and has a bit of Hollywood-ized crime feel to it.  The majority of the issue is back story that sets up what will be the conflict for the series.  As with Green Wake, I feel a little bit lost in the early stages of this one, but there are plenty of cool elements (drugs, starlets, ex-KGB agents, money laundering, etc.) at play to make this one worth reading.

I had a bit of a hard time getting into this one because of the art.  The problem was that the issue featured four different artists, each with a different style, and for me it broke up the flow of the story a bit.  There were times when a character would not look quite the same as he or she had earlier in the book, and I had to double check to make sure it was the same person.  Those types of things took me out of the flow a little bit, and took away from the enjoyment.  I'm not sure if the multi-artist approach is gonna continue throughout the series, or if that is a one issue type deal.

Still, a pretty solid comic, and one that I'm looking forward to seeing more of in the future.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: Moxyland

Moxyland is a near future neo-cyberpunk novel set in Cape Town, South Africa.  In this debut novel by Lauren Beukes, the future is a world where the lines between giant corporations and the government are extremely fuzzy, and getting disconnected from your online life is considered a pretty brutal punishment. 

The story follows four different point of view characters who's lives intersect in a myriad of interesting ways.  There's Kendra, an art school dropout, who has recently locked down a corporate sponsorship, complete with nano-technology, and corporate backing for her film photography. Lerato is a corporate hacker, who is trying to work her way up the corporate ladder, while maintaining her free-lance hacker cred.  Toby, my favorite character, is an oversexed blogger, moocher, and rabble rouser.  He's also a total prick too.  Then there's Tendeka, a revolutionary at heart, ready to do what ever it takes to fuck things up for big brother, even if it means taking corporate money to fulfill his goals of sticking it to the man.

I really enjoyed reading Moxyland, and fully enjoyed the four varied POV's.  Beukes did a wonderful job of giving each a unique voice, and each character stood out.  Despite being an abrasive prick, Toby was definitely my favorite character.  Initially, I found his "voice" the most off putting, because his prickishness personality comes across so well, but I eventually came to enjoy his demeanor, and appreciated Beukes' skill at nailing down a variety of personalities.  For me, Tendeka was the weakest character, as he came across as the cliched "fight the power" type dude.  Still, the varied view points, all written in first person, was very well, done.  I feel like the changing point of view technique is used quite often lately, and is rarely done well, but Beukes manages to pull it off with skill.

Moxyland is one of those rare books that rekindled my love for reading...not that my love was waning or anything, it's just that this book felt so original and fresh and was of such a high quality.  Moxyland is a slick book with some sweet slang, and sports a lot of style.  Not only is it a great book, it is a cool book.  I've read some cyberpunk before, but Moxyland takes the coolness, and attitude of the sub-genre and cranks it up a few notches. 

Even though Moxyland is a debut novel, it never once felt like the work of a first-time author.  Beukes tells a gripping, fast paced story, and  had me hooked from the very early pages.  Beukes is definitely an author to check out.  I found the originality of the story very refreshing and I really enjoyed Beukes' writing style.  I fully expect to be reading more of her work in the future.  Looking for something unique and different to break up your usual reading patterns?  This is one to contemplate.  I give it the Battle Hymns endorsement.

Grade: A 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Who is Jake Ellis?" Extended! And some awesome looking debuts...

Good news for fans of the Who is Jake Ellis? series.  I recently learned via Multiversity Comics that the sweet spy/espionage series is getting a much deserved extension! What was initially slated to be a 5 issue mini series has now been extended to at least 10, possibly 15 issues.  Writer Nathan Edmondson says that he'd always had a longer story line in mind, so the extension of the series will allow him to delve into some areas he wouldn't have had time for in the original format. 

This is pretty awesome news, as Who is Jake Ellis has been extremely entertaining through the first two issues and one of my surprise hits for 2011.  This title has quickly risen through the ranks and has become one of my most eagerly anticipated titles.  I know I've said it before, but it is worth saying again: If you aren't doing it already, read this damn comic!

In other comic news, two brand spanking new comics come out today that I feel are worth mentioning. These two debuts have been on my radar for the last few weeks, and at last they are hitting the shelves.

The first is Green Wake, written by Kurtis J. Wiebe, also known as the writer of the very awesome comic The Intrepids, and the art is done by Riley Rossmo, who has done work on other cool titles that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. 

This one is a sort of horror/crime noir that looks to be absolutely gristly and amazing.  It'll  be interesting to see how Wiebe switches up his style from the somewhat light-hearted Intrepids to something more dark and gritty.  The art in the preview is looking prety great too.  This looks to be another hit for Image.  Check the link to the website for a preview of issue #1, or just get down to your local comic shop and buy the comic.  It comes out today!

The other comic I want to mention is Nonplayer by Nate Simpson, who in true hero fashion writes, draws, and colors this absolutely stunning comic.  The art truly stands out in this one, as it is some of the most beautiful and detailed art I've ever seen, and on that quality alone, Nonplayer is getting tons of much deserved attention from all the big comic sites out there.  However, as amazing as the art is, the story appears to be equally as interesting.

This one is basically about a young woman who leads a rather mundane and ordinary life, but on the MMORPG game, Warriors of Jarvath,  she is an elite assassin.  The edges between reality and virtual reality get blurred after her latest hit.  Sounds pretty mind-bending and cool to me.  Once again, feel free to click the link and check out the preview, or simply search "Nonplayer" and take a look at the bevvy of previews and promos.  There are rumors swirling around that this might be an instant comic classic, so now's your chance to get in on a piece of comic history.  "Classic" or not, I know that it looks awesome, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

If you happen to be in Seattle, Nate Simpson is doing a signing at Comics Dungeon today as well.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Moving on Up

I know it's been pretty quiet around Battle Hymns lately.  That is mostly due to the fact that I was on vacation last week, and this week I started up school again, and this weekend I am moving into a new place.  The new living situation will be like moving from a hobbit hole into a house in Gondor...or something like that. I'm not exactly moving into Rivendell, but it is a definite improvement. 

Of course, with moving, my internet access will be a bit limited, but I have a few backup internet options, and don't fret, I have plenty of material on the way. 

To give you a little taste of what is on the way:  I have a book review for Moxyland coming up, a graphic novel review for the first Starman omnibus, some comic quickies, and I'm currently working my way through the 8th Malazan Book of the Fallen novel,  Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson.  So April is already shaping up to be a busy ass month for me, and for the blog.