Comics

Weekly Pull Review: 4/8/15

This is, to say the least, an astonishingly large amount of comics this week, at least compared to what I have been getting in my pull of late.

Saga #27- Image

Saga, of course, takes top billing. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples abandon the triptych format of the last few issues for an issue that just buckles down on Marko- and it’s a doozy. Marko spends the issue tripping balls on a bad batch of fadeaway, and Prince Robot and Ghus are trying to figure out a way to pull Marko and Yuma out of their overdosed state. This issue really provides a sense of catharsis for much of the tension that built up over the last arc. The rest of the family getting kidnapped, though providing a slam dunk cliffhanger ending for the last arc, nonetheless really failed to provide emotional closure for Marco, and Saga has been building towards this issue for a while now. Both Marko and the story have a much stronger sense of direction now. Since it’s already one of the single best comics coming out, well… If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to fanboy out for a little bit.

ODY-C #4- Image

Saga and ODY-C in one week? Fuck yes. Odyssia and her crew have to escape from the cyclops’ den, and the comic gets more than appropriately visceral in the most literal sense this outing, leading eventually, to, well… some windy conditions. (Hah. Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.) Matt Fraction and Christian Ward are really getting into the swing of things here. Ward’s art continues to amaze- even my curmudgeonly roommate who hate comics, science fiction, kittens, and fun loves Ward’s art. (He has very, very strict views on the Odyssey, however, so he’s not sold on the story yet, though if I can get him to actually sit down and read it, I have high hopes.) I’d honestly say that ODY-C is one of the chief contenders for best art in my pull- Saga is the only competitor this week, though there’s plenty of other great art on display.

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Weekly Pull Review 4/1/15

Not much to review this week.

Black Science #13– Image

Even for this series, this was a seriously dark issue. A planet ravaged by a fast acting, horribly contagious, and absolutely lethal virus, which they find out is their fault, or at least the fault of their alternate selves. Multiple characters infected by the disease. At least one, and probably two, character deaths. Flashbacks to the terrible home lives of the McKays. That’s not to say that this is ever a particularly light-hearted series, and the cast almost never gets any downtime from danger, but this issue just feels much, much darker. There are a few lighter moments, as well- Grant seems to have finally embraced the role of mad scientist, leading to jetpack escape scenes and such. Apparently, reading the note in the back, they’ve planned out this series to issue 50 already- I wasn’t expecting it to go quite that far, but I’m not complaining. Still, however, I think they’ll need to slow down here and there, and give us and the characters the occasional breather to prevent action fatigue.

God Hates Astronauts #7- Image

So, apparently the America of God Hates Astronauts is ruled by President Rushmore- literally a man with a smaller version of Mount Rushmore with a head. Watching the various presidents try to work together to make a phone call? Priceless. Also, it isn’t even remotely surprising that Thomas Jefferson is a coke fiend. …Actually, on second glance, he’s not even on a phone, Lincoln just has his head by his hand. Also, the White House flies, and there are snakes wearing business suits. Charles Soule replaces 3-D Ghost this issue for some reason, Time Giraffe hits on Starrior, and there’s pig samurai. (Hamurai.)

Eh. All in all, a pretty tame issue for this comic.

Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1952 #5- Dark Horse

This miniseries started off pretty slowly, but these last two issues have been moving at breakneck pace. I’m not going to say they feel rushed, by any means- the pacing feels fine. It’s just a very different speed than what came before this. Hellboy fighting Nazis never gets old, either. Overall, it was pretty good (though far from the best of the Mignolaverse), but it feels a bit too stretched out. They really should have had three or four issues top for this story, I think.

Weekly Pull Review: 3/18/15 & 3/25/15

You get two weeks at once, since I had houseguests last week!

3/18/15

Invisible Republic #1- Image

Invisible Republic is a far cry from most of the scifi comics I’ve seen lately. It’s a complex political thriller- it is set on a far away world, yes, but the story could likely stand pretty strongly on its own even without the scifi elements, which many stories lately probably couldn’t. Invisible Republic is set on a world seeded by slower than light colony ships, and only lately reconnected with humanity at large via faster than light. A despot/ political strongman was recently overthrown, and the planet is wracked with poverty and political unrest. A journalist discovers a manuscript which seems to be a herebefore untold story of the despot’s rise to power from someone close to him. The story bounces back and forth between the memoir and the “present” day (I always feel really weird saying present day when referring to far future science fiction.) The story could technically exist in a non- scifi environment, sure, but I feel that it is enriched wonderfully by being scifi. The creators (a married couple, actually) depict the transplanted humans and terrestrial lifeforms competing with the local, alien life, it provides an ability to isolate a world that goes well beyond the ability to isolate a nation in any other genre- not only physically, but economically and culturally as well. Plus, the visuals are gorgeous. It’s very much a grim, gritty industrial future, but something about it just clicks for me. One of the best #1s for me in quite some time.

The Manhattan Projects: The Sun Beyond the Stars #1- Image

The Manhattan Projects has been split into a group of miniseries now, following the divergent cast members, who were, to be fair, getting a little unwieldy. The Sun Beyond The Stars follows Yuri Gagarin as he quests to find TALKING SPACE DOG Laika, who’s been missing for some time… IN SPACE (also, got transformed into a dog-humanoid somehow, which edges uncomfortably close to furry stuff for my taste). SPACE. The issue starts off introducing some new alien space threat, then skips to Yuri dealing with SPACE JUSTICE (I don’t know why I’m capitalizing SPACE. I just feel like it.) The Manhattan Projects is one of my favorite comics, but Yuri was never one of my favorite characters in it- I would have rather the series followed Richard Feynman and the interdimensional Einstein clones first. (Hey, there’s a great band name.) Still, I’m very happy to see it back.

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Weekly Pull Review 3/11/15

Southern Cross #1- Image

Hey, I’m giving a #1 top billing this week! Will you look at that? To be fair, none of the usual major heavy hitters came out this week (Saga, Sex Criminals, etc.), so I decided to push something a bit new. That’s not to say Southern Cross isn’t very deserving in its own right- I’m really digging it so far. Even apart from passing the Bechdel test, (the rarity of that in comics is extraordinarily depressing), it’s got solid art with an almost retro-futuristic look. Retro-futurism is most often applied to Buck Rodgers style futurism or 50’s futurism (Fallout), but Southern Cross feels like 80s retro-futurism. (And yes, that was three decades ago.) Grungy space stations and ships, industrial decor, headbands, transparent visors, actual naval outfits for starship personnel- it’s got the tone of so many of my favorite 80s scifi films. (My roommate thought of Cowboy Bebop.) The mystery set up has me interested, though there do seem to be hints of some sort of weird, semi-psychedelic craziness going on in the background- that, or the protagonists dreams are just extremely trippy.

East of West #18- Image

Babylon is really what this comic has been needing for a long time- a character you can actually sympathize with. There are abundant badasses and cool characters, but… yeah, I mention this every issue lately. Anyhow, Babylon gets to play with a giant horrifying demon that he sees as a giant hamster, Death and Lady Mao have a loving farewell, backstory backstory, the Endless Nation and the PRA plan out their war. Good times. I should backpedal on the character sympathy bit- getting to see Death and Lady Mao together actually goes quite a way towards humanizing the Horseman of the Apocalypse and the supergenius cybernetic despot.

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Book Review: Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor

I’ve owned this graphic novel for less than two weeks, and I’ve already read it three times, and cried at the end each time. (Of course, because I’m clearly just so manly, I had to physically force the tears out of the ducts, and there were only one or two tears. Yeah. Totally.) Each time I’ve read it it just gets better and better.

Scott McCloud’s art does play second fiddle to the story, but the story couldn’t have worked without it- this is one of the definite examples of a story that wouldn’t be possible as prose, and I have doubts about whether it would really work in any other medium.

The Sculptor follows a young, down on his luck sculptor, David Smith (not that David Smith), who is trying to make it big in New York. With nothing going his way, he makes a deal with Death, gaining the ability to easily sculpt anything he wants with his bare hands- in exchange, however, he only has two hundred days to live.

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