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.
Comics review: Dr. Who Prisoners of Time #4 by Tipton, Tipton, Erskine and Kirchoff & Dr. Who #8 Space Oddity Part 2 by Fialkov, Domingues, Ponce, Gonzalez and Salmon
Review by Prof. Jenn
Part 2 takes up where we left off, with the Vashta Nerada having stolen the TARDIS. This can’t be good. But the Doctor always has a plan. Or at least, he thinks really well off the cuff.
This issue is a tighly-paced, exciting story with a fun Doctor-changes-history-slightly conclusion with all the fun 11th-Doctor quips and action you want out of a comic. And the moral that violence is never the answer.
The art is colorful and comicky, which is perfect for an action-packed plot like this one. The Doctor is rendered close enough to Matt Smith that we recognize him, without having to be a faithful portrait of the actor, but more an illustration of the character.
Bottom line: Recommended, especially for Dr. Who fans.
Prisoners of Time
What a treat, to see “my” Doctor rendered in comic form! I haven’t kept up with any of the comics featuring the classic Who regenerations, and this issue makes me want to start.
This is a classic 4th Doctor tale, with Leela and K-9 helping him solve the mystery of the problems found on a planet they landed on by mistake. And there’s Judoon, which is cool.
I would actually make the same comment about this art as above: the character portrayal, the bright colors, the tight pace matching the writing…
Bottom line: Highly recommended. It’s like watching a good old ep.
Image Comics has pulled the big guns in the new electrifying East of West, a captivating, enthralling offering from the award-winning team of Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta!
East of West is an exciting and engaging Sci-Fi Western, set in an awry, dystopian world, where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are askew themselves, as one of them has parted ways and rides solo.
As he did with Nightly News, Jonathan Hickman uses his gift of weaving mesmerizing, witty dialogue while sprouting a compelling, engaging book. Not to give anything away, but the exchanges between the solo Horseman and the world leaders he encounters in issues one and two, are witty, riveting and deliver an entertaining story that hooks you from first page to last.
As if the engrossing words weren’t enough, Nick Dragotta’s panels are explosive, detailed, immersive works of art. The characters’ features are magnetic expressions of the sumptuous tale that is evolving from one gorgeous panel to the next.
In East of West, Hickman and Dragotta have set out to create a dynamic, unique, engaging and exciting series with depth and unforgettable characters. They have succeeded thoroughly, and I can easily say it is one of the best new books out there. So saddle up and pick up East of West. You’ll love it!
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.
Dark Horse is (kinda) proud to present Buddy Cops, the story of a demoted space cop and 1970s android that hate each other. The problem is that Uranus (the demoted space cop) gets drunk and wild while TAZER (the android) is more traditional and follows the law and procedures to the letter. Somehow they manage to work together despite their differences and immense hatred towards each other. Buddy Cops takes you through some of their adventures as they battle nuclear monkeys and equally ridiculous monsters (“ridiculous” used with the greatest sense of love and affection here). If you’re looking for a fun one-shot comic, look no further than Buddy Cops. Go pick up a copy from your local shop today!
Writing: Steve Niles
Art: Christopher Mitten
Review by Melissa Megan
Cal McDonald and Eben Olemaun have been battling it out in the middle of Los Angeles. Eben is out for revenge after the murder of his wife, Stella, by creating an army of vampires and feasting on the human race. He sells this plan to his followers by convincing them that vampires should no longer hide in the shadows of night but become the superior race on earth, knocking humans down on the food chain. Cal is now among the world of ghouls, walking and fighting but not necessarily living. He’s been tormented by a black vomit illness since his ‘change’ and struggles to maintain the strength needed to defeat the vampire leader and save the human race.
Final Night is the final issue of the Criminal Macabre/ 30 Days of Night crossover and writer Steve Niles has declared that only one of the series will survive when it’s over. I’m not a spoiler type, but I will tell you that I’m very happy about the outcome.
Cal pulls himself out of the rubble, entrails and organs on the floor, ready to keep kicking ass. That is what the man does best, at the sacrifice of his own physical and mental well being. It’s obvious to his best ghoul buddy, Mo’Lock, that he won’t be sticking around for much longer in his current condition and Mo’Lock is determined to do anything he can to save Cal. Blood is required to heal his already dead body, but who’s blood? And how much?
Meanwhile, Eben has released his army upon the Los Angeles night, beginning with the busy party strip. They feast, tear and demolish their way through the crowds, hungry for destruction and blood. Eben has Detective Alice Blood, Cal’s love interest, and knows that Cal will come for her. The two leaders will soon come face to face with their armies; ghouls versus vampires. Only one side can win this fight and there’s no doubt blood will be shed.
I’ve been reading Criminal Macabre for years, it’s one of my top favorite series. 30 Days of Night is also quality work, just not as much of a draw for me as the big, rag tag personality of Cal McDonald. Steve Niles has pulled off this crossover with skill, managing to let the two main characters meet and go to war without diminishing the power of either. These are two bad ass dudes, each with their own personal agendas and commitments to their cause. Christopher Mitten’s art has been a treat and a perfect companion to this story. I’ve very much enjoyed seeing the two clash and I think the conclusion of Final Night will satisfy readers, regardless of who you were hoping to see come out on top.
“The Massive gives us a different, and essentially unique, take on the story of the end of the world. It doesn’t revel in destruction; when scenes describing the planetary crisis show up, they make clear that this was a true disaster, not a disaster movie. Millions have died, in dirty, tragic, and decidedly noncinematic ways. Instead, The Massive is a story of the necessity of resilience. While it leads us through the catastrophic aftermath of the Crash, we soon see that survival here is not the purpose in and of itself—it’s survival with the hope of making things better, even while recognizing that the old world’s legacies (in materials and ideolo-gies) yet remain.”
This introduction to Volume 1 of “The Massive,” mirrors the thoughts I shared in my review of Issue #1 back in June (although decidedly with a gift for language I can only hope to one day touch). The only thing I added was how fantastic the artwork was. The superb attention to detail in both art and story continue with the rest of this first collection.
One thing I loved about the first issue of “The Massive” was how the action starts immediately and the reader is thrown into a world where it doesn’t know the rules, but quickly learns. Never confusing, always intriguing, “The Massive” does a fantastic job of taking the reader on a journey through a post-apocalyptic world where two sister ships must find their way back together while also discovering the cause of the event known to us as “The Crash”. The story gets richer with each page, making the reader dive into a world that’s falling apart, bit by bit. As we learn about this world and the destruction it has already seen, we also slowly get to know the cast of characters and how they ended up in the situations we see them face from the beginning of our story. The transition back and forth from past to present keeps the story moving in ways much more interesting than if the author had simply said “this is what has happened, now to continue…” It not only helps with the steady flow of the story, it also engages the reader better than a straight timeline would.
“The Massive: Vol 1″ is a brilliant collection of stories that introduces you to a world of chaos and disorder. It gives you plenty to drag you into this world, while still leaving you wanting more. Just a little more…
The Massive: Volume 1 is available now, so go ask about it at your local comic shop. Volume 2 will be available Dec 2013, and Volume 3 June 2014. Keep with it, because from what I’ve seen so far it promises to be a continuously good read.
Comics Review: Modesty Blaise–the Girl in the Iron Mask by O’Donnell and Romero
Review by: Prof. Jenn
This collection is a lot of fun–it has an old-school James Bond or Avengers flavor, complete with sexy, daring, whip-smart heroes and colorful, twisted villains. The art is stylized and lovely in a ‘60s sort of way, black-and-white, very high quality in a large format so a reader can hunker down to longer strings of the storylines without feeling interrupted.
It occurred to me as I read through these, that modern comic heroines can learn a thing or two from Modesty. She’s super-badass (one of my favorite panels is from Fiona, where Modesty is engaged in kicking butt in a staff fight), unabashedly sexy, yet is drawn without all the weird contortion-y stuff to add unwarranted sex appeal (see blog Escher Girls to see the kind of thing I mean). She’s got a knockout figure, and can knock dudes out with it. Her friends are as smart and kick-ass as she is, and their adventures would make Indiana Jones sweat.
Bottom Line: I highly recommend Modesty Blaise in general, this collection in particular is worth it just for the title arc: The Girl in the Iron Mask.
Comic Review: Dr. Who vol. 1: the Hypothetical Gentleman by Diggle, Buckingham, Seifert, Bond, and many more
Review by: Prof. Jenn
The Hypothetical Gentleman consists of two story arcs: the title one, and one called The Doctor and the Nurse. Both are quite different both in writing feel and artistic style, and both are quite enjoyable.
The Hypothetical Gentleman takes place in a few different time periods in London. It concerns seances, artifacts of time, and what is real and what is shenaniganry, and of course there’s a dangerous device having to do with the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey and the Doctor must save the day. Or space-time. You get the picture. There’s some wonderful Amy-Rory dialogue, and a delightful bit where the Doctor is exploring a museum, coming across some objects that any Whovian readers will recognize with a chortle (Just checking to see the mummy is deactivated. Yes). The art is elegant and full of emotion–it reminds me a little bit of the style of CrossGen’s old series Ruse, in that we get lots of character and movement, with rich color and a sort of Impressionist realism about it.
The Doctor and the Nurse is a much more whimsical storyline, and the art is more colorful and cartoony as is appropriate. It follows Rory and the Doctor attempting to have a Boys’ Night Out, ending up with a trapped Amy and many many time periods and a flood of beer. And the Silence. But they’re not the scary Silence in this one, they’re just slightly menacing–even though we get a sense of tension and high-speed action, this isn’t one of those terrifying or super-deeply-poignant stories, but rather a fast-paced Whovian romp. The comedic relief of the Doctor’s dynamic with Rory when trapped alone with him is a lot of fun, and Amy is a resourceful hero in her timeline too.
Bottom Line: Volume One is a lot of fun–the stories are beautifully drawn, and they read like good episodes of the show. Highly recommended.