(3 comments, 68 posts)
Lissa is stylist, amateur photographer, blogger and general pain in the ass. When she's not breaking rules in the salon she's reading comics, watching movies, sharing nerd news online, hoarding gadgets and swiggin' whiskey. She lives in NY with her dog shark, Henry, and her husband, Ryan.
Home page: http://lissahasageekgasm.tumblr.com/
Posts by MissLissa
Sheltered #1 & #2 Review
Writing: Ed Brisson
Art: Johnnie Christmas
Review by Melissa Megan
Victoria and her dad recently arrived at Safe Haven, a community intentionally removing themselves from ‘the grid’ and preparing for the end of the world, however it may come. They’ve got ham radios, bunkers stocked with food and water and the knowledge to survive almost anything. They’re still adjusting to their new home when things take a major turn for the worse.
Charismatic local boy Lucas heads up a rebellion against the adults of the compound. We’re not talking about throwing the grown ups in the basement here, every single one of them are killed and burned. It’s a shocking basis for the story and issue 2 wastes no time getting to the point. As Victoria and her friend Hailey return from a walk in the woods that caused them to miss the massacre, they are faced with the grim new reality of their situation.
This is heavy shit, folks. Lucas is committed to his mission, although what that is isn’t exactly clear yet, and he won’t let any weepy kids get in his way. He’s already convinced the other kids in the compound to murder their own parents. The question is why and what has he got planned for the community left behind. Victoria is obviously a tough cookie and she isn’t prepared to lay down and start taking orders from Lucas or his child army.
So far, Sheltered is a very interesting read. The art works but it’s nothing that will blow your mind, the writing is the real meat here. This concept is high tension and I love how quickly the action got started. There is lots of potential for a great psychological thriller here and Sheltered has already delivered in a big way on emotional drama. You should definitely be reading this one, I have a feeling it won’t slow down.
Writing: Gerard Way, Shaun Simon
Art: Becky Cloonan
Review by Melissa Megan
From Dark Horse Comics: “Years ago, the Killjoys fought against the tyrannical megacorporation Better Living Industries, costing them their lives, save for one—the mysterious Girl. Today, the followers of the original Killjoys languish in the Desert while BLI systematically strips citizens of their individuality. As the fight for freedom fades, it’s left to the Girl to take up the mantle and bring down the fearsome BLI or else join the mindless ranks of Bat City!”
That’s the first time I’ve copied a series description, word for word, from the publisher site. Please, forgive me. I’ve been holding off on reviewing The Killjoys because I just haven’t been able to wrap my head around how I feel about it. Part of the predicament has been because it’s just a confusing, overloaded story. I thought rather than waste time trying to clearly articulate the story synopsis for you, I’d prefer to use my brain cells on verbalizing my actual feelings about the experience of reading it. Thanks for your forgiveness.
I loved the Umbrella Academy and I love Becky Cloonan, so I figured The Killjoys had to be great, right? Well…sort of. There are some great, fun pieces here, but they do not connect in the most agreeable way. Let’s start with Girl, the main protagonist. She is the lonely prodigy of the long gone Killjoys, a band of glamorous rebels who lost their lives fighting the evil BLI corporation. These days, Girl roams the desert with her kitty, moping about her lost pals. When her old friend Cola discovers her, he tries to lead her in the right direction, away from the violent and unstable new teen rebel group, the Ultra V’s. The lure of anarchy and lip gloss may be too much for her and she becomes intrigued by the V’s.
There is nothing wrong with Girl, there just isn’t much anything with Girl. It’s hard to feel attached to her or even to give a damn what she chooses to do because she doesn’t offer much in the way of personality. Cola and his senior ham radio buddy feel a bit more deep as characters, but they speak in such silly, hyper stylized dj jabber it’s tough to hang in there to figure out what they’re talking about. Example: “The sodas gone flat, D. All the bubbles have popped. Carbonation is a thing of the past. The ghost of our childhood is staring us down in a rusted metal can” Uh, ok.
The V’s are fun enough in a wild, teen spirit kind of way. My personal favorite characters (and story) here are the porn bots whose desperate fight to exist without fear of being deemed obsolete and trashed is tragic and dangerous. I’m not sure how much of a focal point they were meant to be, but I found myself more invested in their lives than any of the humans.
Overall, the True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys just comes across like a cocky, indulgent, angsty song put to nice artwork. Becky Cloonan does her thing well, I only wish I could say the writing was as polished. Unfortunately, issue #3 may be the last one for me. I know some out there are loving this series, but after giving it some time to get under my skin I feel underwhelmed and ready to shower off all the glitter and dust.
Writing: Adam Egypt Mortimer
Art: Darick Robertson
Review by Melissa Megan
From the vaults of recently formed Black Mask Studios comes an exciting new five issue series called Ballistic. This book is the return to comic book sci fi by artist Darick Robertson who created the insanely detailed and just insane visuals for the critically acclaimed Transmetropolitan. Writer Adam Egypt Mortimer brings a variety of skills to the table with his background in video direction, screenplay and cartoon writing. Now that you understand what we’re working with, let’s move on to the good stuff!
Repo City State is a future city where the technology has a mind of it’s own. Everything is alive and everything has attitude. Butch is a skilled air conditioning repair man with dreams of becoming a big time criminal boss. Along with his best friend, a drug loving, generally pissed off gun named Bang Bang, Butch sets out to start his new career by failing a bank robbery miserably. This is the story of Butch and Bang Bang, two cocky, disillusioned guys (sort of) struggling to find their place in a mad world of technology and indulgence.
Issue #1 is a great introduction to this absolutely bat shit crazy story. We get some understanding of the intimate but toxic relationship between Butch and his gun. I suspect there’s more to learn about who Butch is and why, but this issue proves he’s an interesting character with some charming flaws. Ok, maybe it’s more pity for his self destructive tendencies, but I find the slightly broken characters more fun. This story can’t go anywhere but awesome, judging by this start. If you read Transmetropolitan (who hasn’t?), it’s tough not to draw comparisons with the distinctive artwork of Darick Robertson splayed across the pages. I hope Ballistic maintains this level of exhilarating debauchery and terrific eye candy.
Ballistic is one of the most promising new series being written right now and everyone should most definitely be picking this up. Kick ass, party time adventure with a sharp edge rarely seen in comics today. It will smash your face with creative awesome.
Perhaps you recall a certain futuristic, sci-fi, completely insane series back in the 90′s called Transmetropolitan? The series was written superbly by Warren Ellis and inked in a brilliant, hyper detailed style by an artist named Darick Robertson. The intensity and balls-to-the-wall attitude of that story has not been matched yet in comics, in my opinion, but a new series with artwork by Robertson and writer Adam Egypt Mortimer appears to be taking a stab at something close to it.
Ballistic is the tale of a failed bank robber in a post apocalyptic world where all technology is alive and has an attitude. Butch is an air conditioning repairman with big dreams of the criminal kind and he’s working to get there with the help of his genetically modified and foul-mouthed gun. They call Repo City State, a reclaimed trash island, home and the place provides plenty of opportunity for Butch and Gun to raise hell.
Matt Pizzolo of Black Mask Studios says “Mortimer’s mix of speculative science, pulpy noire, and drug-addled adventure cooks up a strange brew of Lethal Weapon by way of Cronenberg meets Dr. Who if written by Odd Future.” This promises to be an impressive and wild series with tons of talent behind it. I’m very excited to have the chance to review issue #1 on July 10 and I highly recommend you all check this one out.
Writing: Nick Spencer
Art: Ryan Browne
Cover: Frazer Irving
Review by Melissa Megan
Oh, Bedlam chaos and insanity, how I missed you. In issue #7 Madder Red is back to his old tricks, which in this case is playing puppet master with the heads of two recently murdered religious leaders for an audience of locals gathered to prove they are not afraid of Madder Red. Ok, so it’s only another flashback of one of his many bloody killings, but oh boy does it make his madness crystal clear. This opening scene is the kind of material that drew me to this series and I, for one, am glad to see the pace picking back up.
In present day, Fillmore is still working with Detective Acevedo, helping the police solve murder cases. He makes it look easy and she still doesn’t seem to understand how or why he has such an intimate understanding of all the madmen he paints in such great detail for her. Although Fillmore is maintaining some level of normalcy to Acevedo, he is losing his grip, having hallucinations and flashbacks of his alter ego, Madder Red.
This issue is the first one with a new artist. It was announced a couple months back that Riley Rossmo would be stepping down from Bedlam, due to “creative differences” with the writer. Artist Ryan Browne (Hack/Slash, Hoax Hunters) does an admiral job with the visuals of this world, obviously making a respectful attempt to maintain the appearance of the characters that we have grown comfortable with. His overall style is similar to Rossmo’s in it’s lines and wobbly sketchiness, but doesn’t quite have the same depth. The changes didn’t ruin Bedlam for me, but it does feel different. I suspect as long as the writing holds up, the new art work will melt in just fine, without causing much disruption in the atmosphere.
You should be buying and reading Bedlam. I admit, it has had some ups and downs, but in general is one of the best horror comics being written right now. It’s quite unique and terrifying.
Writing: Joe Hill
Art: Gabriel Rodriguez
Review by Melissa Megan
Locke & Key Omega #5 is the final issue in what was originally rumored to be the end of the series, but now we know Locke & Key will actually close with two extra long issues in an ‘Alpha’ set. This one is by far one of the most intense and harsh issues to date and that’s saying a lot.
Dodge has finally succeeded in opening the black door, trapping the graduating class of Lovecraft Academy in the drowning cave with him. The dark shadows are his army now as he begins to march the students to their deaths at the bottom of the cave. Kinsey is trapped on the walkway, being tormented by evil versions of her friends who have become terrible servants of Dodge. She does everything she can to keep some hope that her family will rescue her, but with every minute that passes death creeps in.
Tyler Locke is hanging on the edge of life himself thanks to an accidental gunshot wound to the stomach. His mother races to save him using a magical medical cabinet. Her desperate move sets up a heartbreaking and honest reunion between Tyler and his late father.
As Dodge wastes the lives of students who either refuse to follow him or do follow him but are apparently found to be unfit for the blessings of the black door, he presents Kinsey with a horrible choice. A game to set up the final scene of his plan. What is his plan? That is unclear at this point, which is a genius approach to take.
The dark shadows are moving in from every side, the black door is open and the alien terrors have begun feasting on souls. The few members of the Locke family still alive and free from Dodge’s grasp don’t seem to have the power, ability or time to help Kinsey. The entire situation is looking very grim. Without any knowledge of exactly what Dodge is doing with the black door and the only person with full knowledge of who Dodge is being the mentally challenged Rufus, Locke & Key Omega does not appear to have a happy ending.
This is a fantastic final issue for Locke & Key Omega, but obviously not the end of the story for the Locke family. Good thing, because after all the suspense and sadness this story has built up, if this were the absolute end I would be pissed. I need to see this thing to the close, even if that means watching the brutal destruction of the remaining Locke kids. The Locke & Key series has been both fun and crushing. Endearing and sweet but dark and heavy. It is a perfect marriage of writing and art, making the ultimate love child of a comic series. Locke & Key will forever be on my ‘top recommendations’ list.
Chin Music #1 Review
Writing: Steve Niles
Art: Tony Harris
Review by Melissa Megan
Apparently, Chin Music is about a guy named Shaw who can leap through time and possesses supernatural powers. He’s on the run from some other creepy dudes who also have powers, like tearing his skin from his bones. Apparently he has landed in Prohibition era Chicago and must now contend with the local police, gangsters and the supernatural underground. I say apparently because Image Comics tells me that this is what’s happening in Chin Music, but to be perfectly honest I only understood about half of that premise reading through issue #1.
I hate to criticize Steve Niles at all because I really love pretty much everything he puts his pen to, but this introduction just didn’t connect with me, story wise. There’s a lot going on, but not all of it is clear. Granted, it’s a pilot issue, so there’s lots more story to tell and time to tell it. I have all the faith in the world that Niles will pull the plot together in future issues and that my confusion will disappear. Not being crystal on what’s going on in this issue doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t enjoy it, however. It is action packed, moody, violent and spooky. I just don’t ‘get it’ yet.
The artwork by Tony Harris is brilliant here. It’s thick with atmosphere and very, very pretty. Some of the panels are framed in art deco borders, like intricate picture frames. This lends quite a bit of flourish to the pages and really helps set the retro style of the book. Harris’ characters all seem to have large, chunky facial features and knobby knuckles, but it’s less of a distraction than a style. I found his play with color and texture very pleasing to look at.
All in all, Chin Music seems like it could be a quality series. As long as the story isn’t too difficult to grasp, there’s a good idea here and some unique styling. I’ll definitely be keeping up with this one and am anxious to see Steve Niles develop it further.
Writing: Brian K. Vaughan
Art: Fiona Staples
Review by Melissa Megan
Oh, Saga, how you play with my emotions. The games this series plays are heartbreaking, thrilling, disturbing. The opening scene of issue #12 is a prime example. Prince Robot IV has been wounded in war and calls upon the aid of the medic, a mouse-like creature with healing skills. As the medic administers medicine, he explains that he’s not a native to the planet but is supporting Prince Robot’s forces in hopes of earning his degree and as thanks for their help on his home planet. It’s almost warm and fuzzy until a poisonous gas is released upon the unit and the medic reveals that he wasn’t given a mask to protect himself. It gets messy from there.
In the present day, Prince Robot is on a mission to track down Alana and Marko, like so many others. His government has their own reasons for wanting to dispose of the forbidden family. He’s landed on a solitary , foggy planet where he believes a reclusive author can lead him to the fugitives. Mister Heist wrote a romance novel that Alana and Marko are fans of; the book is believed to be a revolutionary text in disguise and Prince Robot thinks the novel was the inspiration behind the couple’s idea to run from their homes and duties.
The majority of issue #12 is focused on Prince Robot’s verbal chess game with the intelligent author, trying to surmise if he has knowledge of the whereabouts of Alana, Marko and Hazel. It’s not quite as much fun as the usual plethora of alien creatures and formidable planets, but it’s engaging and imperative to the story line. And as usual, the issue sets up an exciting and tense possibility for the next one to come. Holy shit, does this book perfect story telling. Magnificent artwork accompanying genius writing makes Saga an absolute masterpiece of a comic book. I’m not sure how many ways I can say that I love this series, but I’ll keep trying.
Writing: Nick Spencer
Art: Riley Rossmo
Review by Melissa Megan
Crazy, winged holy man is massacring everyone that moves over at the hospital. The pet superhero of Bedlam PD, The First, is taking a major ass-whooping while he attempts to stop the killing. Fillmore Press has landed himself an exclusive sit down with convicted child molester Father Warton. Warton suspects immediately that Fillmore is no detective and that his interest lies deeper than just putting a stop to the murders that he directs from inside the prison.
Fillmore gets right to the core of what Warton wants and needs, possibly his real drive behind ordering his ‘archangel’ Eric to kill. Warton wants to know the sins of the children of god. Fillmore has plenty to confess. And there is the key Fillmore needs to solve the case.
The highlight of this issue is definitely in the ‘psycho to psycho’ chat between Warton and Fillmore, which not only gives a deeper look at the illness driving the priest but also reveals just how in touch Fillmore still is with his alter ego, Madder Red. And really, that’s what we’ve all been wondering, isn’t it? If Madder Red is truly buried beneath the new psyche of Fillmore Press, or simply lurking just under the surface, waiting for the right moment to make his glorious comeback?
Besides the revealing interview, there’s not a whole lot of edge to be had here. I appreciate the attempt to maintain a solid story line, but it’s tough to offer the chaos and brutality that Bedlam has produced in previous issues, then follow it up with slow burn story progression heavily reliant on dialogue, without it feeling like it’s slowing down. I don’t want this story to slow down, I like that it slaps me in the face with every issue. Maybe I’m expecting too much. It’s not over yet, but I really hope for a return to the intensity that I’ve come to identify with Bedlam. Regardless, I still say everyone should be reading this series.
Bioshock Infinite was released last week, bringing a new, exciting chapter of the hugely popular game series for fans to obsessively play for days at a time. I, myself, am a fan of the franchise and when I heard about a book release accompanying the game which would outline the artistic development involved, I was thrilled to have the chance to review it. The Bioshock games are known for their complex story lines and tormented characters, but I think the real core of these games is in the mind blowing art work. I still remember my first time watching the opening sequence for Bioshock. I felt real terror and fear living the experience of sinking on a huge ship, watching people and flames plummet in to the ocean around me as my character sank deeper and deeper. Then, the elation of discovering Rapture, the city under the sea, glowing and majestic, yet abandoned and incredibly eerie at the same time. Bioshock has never settled for less than ‘holy shit amazing’ in the visual department and by the looks of The Art of Bioshock Infinite, this latest installment is no different.
The introduction to the book is by creative director Ken Levine and he explains that the process of developing a video game on the level of Bioshock Infinite is far more complicated and time consuming than some may assume. “ the process of making anything—and certainly an Irrational game—is grueling and exhilarating, exciting and depressing, thrilling and scary as hell. For every idea that makes it into the game, a dozen are put against the wall and shot.” This book puts this process on display for you, showing the character and world development, sketch by sketch. Hundreds of pieces of art and ideas were thrown out in the editing machine, but no less impressive. It becomes obvious right away that the artists who created this new Bioshock universe toiled endlessly to achieve the perfect effects on every single detail of every puzzle piece that eventually became Bioshock Infinite.
I found the notes explaining the process behind the art development as intriguing as the pictures themselves. To get a glimpse in to the great care and immense thought behind every detail in this game feels like peeking in to someone’s window and watching them create. Someone with more artistic chutzpah in their little finger than I could achieve in a lifetime. Watching the floating city of Columbia come to life in these paintings and sketches is so much fun, but for me the best part was being witness to the birth and growth of the enigmatic characters of Bioshock Infinite. Booker DeWitt, Elizabeth and Songbird are focused on heavily, their personality and story details being just as imperative as their styles and physical make up. Readers are invited to observe the ideas behind Sky-Hooks, airships and the menacing, powerful Heavy Hitters.
The Art of Bioshock Infinite is a beautiful, enlightening lesson in video game development. It’s not quick, easy, simple or lacking in sacrifice. At least not a game on this level of quality and brilliance. I haven’t actually played Bioshock Infinite yet, but reading this book makes me feel like I already have an intimate knowledge of the people and creatures (or machines) that make up the city of Columbia. Whether you’re a fan of the Bioshock franchise or just a lover of artwork, this book is definitely satisfying and worth having on your shelf. It’s been a real treat for me and has only increased my desire to experience Bioshock Infinite for myself.