Being a World War II historian and a fan of the golem legend, Breath of Bones was a perfect combination of good storytelling and fantastic line art that held my interest the whole way through. The tale is told from the point of view of Noah, an Allied soldier who is going to take care of the upcoming attack with a repeat of something that happened to him as a young boy. And, so, we get pulled back to his childhood and a recounting of how his village survived with faith and strength.
When Noah was just a child, his father went to war along with the other able-bodied men of their village. Noah was left to live with his grandparents and wait, everyday, for his father to return. Sadly, the stark reality of war is that he will never see his father again. The monsters of Nazi Germany has stolen away this young boy’s childhood and made him grow up way too fast. But pretty soon the war is not some far-away threat, but one that is knocking on their village’s front door.
An Allied soldier by the name of Simon Richards crashes his plane near the village. Noah and his grandfather, along with the rest of the villagers, hide him away and put out the fires of the crash, but pretty soon the event draws the attention of the Germans who send two soldiers to check it out. The villagers almost get away with the secret they are keeping, but after accidental exposure of Simon during a search and a resulting shootout that leaves one German soldier dead, one German soldier injured yet able to escape, and Noah’s grandfather bleeding from a gunshot wound, it is evident that the monsters outside will soon be coming into their home. It is up to them to fight or run away scared.
This is where the golem legend comes into play. Noah’s grandfather, Jacob, gifted him with a small clay figure prior, one that has been passed down from grandfather to grandson for many generations. Jacob is going to use the golem legend to build a large clay figure that will come to life through the power of faith and protect them from the oncoming Nazi attack. He gets the townspeople’s help to create the figure and then sends them on their way, hoping that they can escape to safety before the Germans come back. Choosing to stay behind, Noah, his grandmother, Jacob, and Simon all stand their ground and watch as the golem does indeed do what it was meant to do. And once his mission is completed, the golem goes back to being just clay again. The village is safe, for now.
And it is this memory of faith and safety that Noah uses again in present day. As we close the series, he is beginning to shape another figure out of clay so that the golem can rise up again and defend good men against the monsters. It’s a wonderful ending to a wonderful story. If you’re a fan of WWII, or the golem legend, or just a fan of great artwork and great storytelling, you cannot go wrong with Breath of Bones. Pick up your copy today and revisit the notion that good can indeed triumph over evil.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Note: There might be some mild spoilers in this review but nothing too serious. Still, if you haven’t read it yet and want everything to be a surprise then maybe give it a quick read first. Thanks, and enjoy.
When reading Loki: Ragnarok and Roll #1, the first word that came to mind to describe it was “whimsical”. This is a fun and different take on Loki and the sibling rivalry between him and his brother Thor. One thing that is different about this one is that it is sympathetic to Loki, so if all you’re used to is Thor always being the hero then you’re in for a treat. Here we have Loki constantly vying for his father’s attention and being overshadowed by his brother. The comic almost makes us feel sorry for him, especially when the two brothers go on a mission together and Loki gets punished for failures that were totally his brother’s fault. So not fair! He turns his lemons into lemonade though, which seems to be what further issues will focus on.
Overall this first issue was a lot of fun. My favorite random part of the comic was a scene where you see Odin in a banquet hall with literally every god you could think of, including the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Yes, even the internet gods are real. I look forward to more adventures with Odin’s other son.
“Aw, shoot. I got my hat and forgot my gat…” (image via Buy Costumes)
Being fanatic about real-life gangsters is a touchy subject. Following the lives of say, Al Capone, Griselda Blanco or Carlo Gambino is an interesting read, for sure. Until your stomach starts to twist a bit. Luckily, there’s been a whole host of fictional mobsters to captivate our imaginations and deep-seated need to be bad to the bone. These are personal favorites and there’s a noticeable lack of anyone named Corleone or Soprano listed on here (though, to be fair, I considered Tom Hagan and Sylvio Dante)…
(Image via Wikipedia)
Mega-sized supervillain Wilson Fisk, otherwise known as the Kingpin, is a badass among badasses within the Marvel universe. Stan Lee’s creation came to life in 1967 and has since gone up against Spiderman, Daredevil and the Punisher, among others. The Kingpin doesn’t possess superhuman powers. It’s simply his brute strength and tactical mind that contribute to his masterful Machiavellian scheming. Even as an enemy to the reigning Maggia and terrorist group HYDRA, the crushing fists of the Kingpin are nothing to scoff at. His ‘look’ has been reappropriated by Hollywood at large: we now expect all gangsters to be fat, bald and toting a cigar.
(Image via MovieCrazed)
Martin Scorsese clearly loves gangster culture more than I ever will. He’s crafted a life out of shining light on the decadent underworld of every era. In Mean Streets, a fresh-faced Robert Deniro plays Johnny Boy, a reckless, goofy hothead with a rather visceral swagger for a small-time thug. He practically charms his way off the screen as the strutting, obnoxious sidekick to Harvey Keitel’s straight man. At the risk of sounding superficial, my favorite thing about the character is the way he looks. Between the jaunty hats, plaid suit coats, scruffy locks and one of the biggest guilty grins to grace the silver screen, I’d be in love…if I didn’t want to punch him in the face.
(Image via EmpireOnline)
Motor-mouthed, limping Kevin Spacey wins for simply being renowned as a semi-fictional gangster, inside a work of fiction. In 1997’s The Usual Suspects, tales swirl about international heavy, Keyser Soze, throughout the course of the unfolding plot. It’s hard for me to think back to fifteen years ago, when I didn’t know the ending to this movie, but I’m pretty sure it caught me off guard. Surprise plot twists aside, Keyser Soze is the kind of omnipotent, grudge-holding villain that makes for cinema gold. He shows true gangsters are all about the long game. Though, if he weren’t simply a small-time crook, this paragraph would definitely be about Benicio del Toro’s character instead.
Jabba the Hutt
(Image via Wikipedia)
Jabba the Hutt is totally gangster. Star Wars’ space-slug hoodlum is ‘our kind of scum’. Plus, his hard-partying palace is my kind of joint. I read somewhere that it took six separate operators to portray the worm-like warlord at any given time. Rumored to have been based on Orson Welles in his obese later years, this intergalactic thug is surrounded by packs of interesting groupies, followers and slaves. Salacious Crumb is no Paulie Walnuts, but hey, you take ‘em where you can.
(Image via HowsYourRobot)
The soft-spoken Los Pollos Hermanos kingpin put a new spin on gangster gravitas. Gustavo Fring ran a tight ship. Very few actors can walk the line between polite and threatening – Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito drew that line and silently tap-danced on it. His calm demeanor was enchanting and his cool, aloof manner most unnerving. Though he dies at the hands of protagonist Walter White, his character was the true professional of the whole bunch, displaying zero ego and maintaining perfect posture.
Lydia Mondy is a freelance writer with absolutely zero ‘gangster’ qualities. Unless you count her penchant for pinstripes and bourbon. You can find her blogging about everything from her Jem obsession to the big business behind all things ‘geeky
Beware: There be spoilers ahead.
I am a big fan of Loki, and not just the superb version in Marvel’s cinematic universe, but also the original. The one in the Poetic Edda, who is the Norse God of Fire and Mischief. Who is known as Loki Silvertongue and The Trickster. So I decided to pick up Marvel’s newest Loki story, Loki: Agent of Asgard. I went in, having read a preview of the series, with some pretty high expectations. I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
The issue begins with Loki stabbing Thor in the back as he says, “Trust me,” to the reader. It’s such a classic Loki/Thor moment that the reader assumes Loki has a nefarious purpose. It turns out he had a purpose but it wasn’t really nefarious, just self-serving. As a somewhat newly-minted teenager, Loki is attempting to purge all the evil he committed and replace it with acts of good. Of course being Loki, he goes about it in his own special way. Including singing a Loki-ed version of The Wizard and I from Wicked, that I think shows some real promise, running up the side of Avengers tower in stolen Seven League boots and a coat made from shadow thread, and hacking the internet to delete all traces of his old self.
But the moment that really stood out for me was when the reader realizes something is wrong with Thor. He can apparently sniff Loki out and, after Loki causes a Hulk-Sized(literally)distraction to reach the Avengers database, Thor attempts to attack his brother with Mjolnir but he can’t lift it. She has deemed him unworthy because he meant kill Loki. This scene brings us back around to the beginning where Loki stabs Thor in the back. Turns out Thor had been possessed by a dark force and the sword Loki stabbed him with caused him to see the truth of his possession and force the darkness out.
We are treated to a glimpse of the All-Mother, three goddess, who make up a powerful triumvirate and are the ones who sent Loki on the mission to help Thor. The last frame features the All-Mother releasing the darkness from it’s magical prison, and from the smoke comes the Loki of old with his green spandex and gold horns and evil grin. And he wishes to talk about the future.
This comic made me laugh out loud, it made me cringe and it made me sing. All in all it was a great first issue and it gives me hope that Loki can become a mainstream COMIC character again, and not just be known for being played by the delicious Tom Hiddleston.
Comics Review: Doctor Who: Skyjacks Vol. 3 by various
Review by: Prof. Jenn
This is a fun TARDIS-dimension-loop story which are enjoyable because of how timey-wimey they get. This is an 11th Doctor/Clara story, and we get more about the Time War, information and fun images re: the various rooms in the TARDIS, and get to hobnob with some valiant WWII soldiery. There are various references to the previous Hypothetical Gentleman storyline, but not so much they’ll get in your way if you’ve missed it.
There’s an extra, unrelated story attached to this volume called “In-Fez-Station”, which is an 11th Doctor/Amy & Rory tale which involves the Slitheen, and mind-controlling fezes. Yes, you heard me, the fezes are evil. Or at least tools for such. Really bouncy and light-hearted fun after the epic, timey-wimey feel of the longer Skyjacks story.
Bottom Line: recommended, especially for fans of the 11th Doctor.
Bonus Review: Dead Man’s Hand #3 by various
Now I haven’t had the pleasure of catching the first two in the Dead Man’s Hand story, so admittedly I was a tetch lost re: who’s who and what’s happening. What I can say is that this is a fun romp in the Wild West with a meta twist, referencing Westerns all over the place. It does get a tad long-winded, as all the Doctors explain his philosophy to Sondrah. But oo, look: the War Doctor actually makes an appearance!
Bottom Line: definitely only if you’ve been following the story till now. But I do recommend it.
Comics Review: Doctor Who Prisoners of Time #9-12 by various
Review by: Prof. Jenn
The Prisoners of Time storyline that continues with the recent Doctors and concludes pre-Capaldi with a twelfth issue is a fitting and compelling cap to the story up till now. What has been highly entertaining about the whole series is the dedication of one “episode” each per Doctor, with a thrilling, classic episode-like throughline for the whole thing. In general, the stories are varied enough yet coherent to the throughline that it reads like an actual series you’d find on TV. The art is also varied as per each artist, yet maintains a high quality we’ve come to expect from the Who comics and again makes us almost think we’re watching favorite episodes on TV.
#9 is of course starring the 9th Doctor (and Rose). It’s a fun megalomanaiacal villain who captures Rose both as a selfish romantic interest, and to trap the Doctor. (Incidentally, is it me or are you sick of Rose as a romantic interest?) The art is very Lichtenstein, very cinematic.
#10 stars the 10th doctor and Martha, and is a charming story set in 1950s Hollywood, where Martha is recruited as an actress. Lovely cute moments, including one where Martha declares: “I’m acquainted with Shakespeare.” Ha! Of course, it’s an alien invasion of Earth. Because you can’t have too many of those.
#11 centers around the 11th Doctor’s climactic attempts to stop Adam’s machinations through time. At this point, Adam has captured all of the Doctor’s companions and it’s finally time to put a stop to it. Wonderfully dramatic moment when the villain pontificates (as Doctor Who villains are wont to do) on why he hates the Doctor so, and poof! Who’s he in league with? The Master! Thanks to the artists for making him the Delgado Master, too.
#12 is the conclusion to the whole story, which I won’t spoil, other than in #11 the Doctor was posed with a moral conundrum and in this concluding issue must solve it. What I will say, though, is that this is the Three/Five Doctors episode all Whovians fantasize about, that could never happen on television: all 11 Doctors and *all* companions facing the evil Master in an over-the-top, dramatic showdown. All of them, that is, as we knew them on TV. In comics, apparently, one can time-travel just a little better than on TV.
Bottom Line: I recommend this whole storyline, but especially had fun with the conclusion.
Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima’s graphic novel is an impressive, violent journey through Edo period Japan. Dark Horse Manga’s Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus 3, is filled with the cyclonic intensity of Koike’s stories matched by Kojima’s generous panels where the black ink leaps off the page.
In Omnibus 3 we continue to view the travels of Ogami, the assassin known as Lone Wolf and Cub through the desolate Japanese countryside, sword fighting his way through his tumultuous path. Accompanied by his young son Daigoro the lone swordsman battles to survive and protect. The challenging characters that they meet in their travels range from gifted artisans to would be assassins working with blind desperation as insane edicts are passed and dispatched.
The original English translation of Lone Wolf and Cub, released by First Comics back in 1987, featured an introduction by Frank Miller and captured its audience with broad detailed panels and clear concise story.
Dialogue plays a secondary role in most of the series, Koike allows Kojima’s art to cultivate and develop the stories. This third Ominibus released by Dark Horse Manga, delivers the art, angst and riveting trials that each story holds within this massive tome to one of my favorite Manga. With rich stories like The Guns of Sakai, The Soldier in the Castle and Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger this Ominbus keeps you turning the page, grateful you have the next story following instead of waiting for your pull list to be sent.
Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus 3 is violent and at times quite sad, but it is a solid collections of some of the best stories in this series. A true fury of emotion and action driven Manga, worthy of your collector’s shelf.
Comic Review: Peabody and Sherman #1
Review by: Prof. Jenn
How delighted was I to learn of the origin story behind dynamic time-traveling duo, smart-dog Peabody and his boy Sherman. These two have long been a favorite of mine in the Rocky & Bullwinkle pantheon, and this comic delivers in style, both the witty, snappy writing and the bold, colorful art design.
In issue #1, we learn of genius canine Peabody’s early life and his reasons behind (and early struggles with) acquiring and taming a pet boy. Of course as any genius knows, the best way to keep a little boy occupied so he doesn’t mess up the house is to build a time machine, natch. This first issue is just as rollicking and quick-witted as its cartoon origin, and I’m happy these characters live on in comic form.
Bottom line: highly recommended.
Comic Review: Rat Queens #2
Review by: Prof. Jenn
You know? I *like* these ladies. I like em a lot. They are a terrific balance of chummy buddy-comedy fun, bitchy good humor, sexiness, and straight out action adventure. The pseudo-D&D setting is splendid and well drawn, and as we travel and fight (and drink) with these ladies, the more interesting, round, and complex they get as characters. Moreover, the story is unfolding sort of like a good adventure video game (like old school Thief or Assassin’s Creed) in that, the more we survive with them, the more information is revealed as to who may be behind the trouble we been getting into.
As you’ve heard me say before, the art of Rat Queens is superb. I especially like the costuming. Dark outlines, rich color, and dynamic, diverse character appearance all adds up to an adventuring group I’ll be happy to keep following.
Bottom line: yep, still good. Better and better.
Comics Review: Dr. Who Classics Vol. 9 [by various and sundry]
Review by: Prof. Jenn
The ninth collection of Classic Who comics are all centered on the 7th Doctor, which is a lot of fun, as he’s not one that often gets his own spotlight in fandom or on TV these days. Many of the selections are light, comedic, and sometimes downright silly, and all read like a good classic episode, which is really what you want out of a volume like this. In general, the art is bold and colorful, the characters well drawn–it’s a matter of finding the balance between representing a fictional character and having a good dose of the actor’s likeness who played him. Some of the time this illustrated Doctor doesn’t look much at all like Sylvester McCoy, but the overall light-hearted ness of the collection makes this not such a big deal. In general, I’d recommend this collection for any classic Who fan. Here are some notes on the individual stories within vol. 9:
“Time and Tide”
This one is a very Star Trek TNG style plot: do you interfere with the clues aliens to save them, or do you leave them to their fate? It’s a sweet little tale with a lovely ending, and it’s the kind of story I’m glad is illustrated instead of on live tv, as the aliens are allowed to look really weird without the jarring effect of a dude in a rubber suit (or CGI).
“Follow that TARDIS”
A futuristic world in which there are stereotypical ’40s gangsters and Sinatra is president? Yes, please. This is such a slapstick-silly romp: what happens when two hilariously inept gangsters hijack the Doctor and his TARDIS to chase a monk through time? And one of them has a hand-held nuke? Hijinks, that’s what.
“Invaders From Gantac”
The poor Doctor just can’t seem to find Maruthea. Poor guy. This one centers around an alternate 1992 dystopia, wherein aliens have invaded London. But the aliens have got the wrong planet, and it’s up to the Doctor to convince them of this. We have an endearing hobo character in Leapy, and his function does end up being quite important, but I’m just not sure about his effectiveness as a character. He seems more of a punch line.
“Nemesis of the Daleks”
I’ve already reviewed one of the issues in this story, and my opinion of the whole rains the same, after it’s resolution, etc. so. Yeah.
“Stairway to Heaven”
Hm. This one falls short. It’s too much a redone “Carnival of Monsters” but without the suspense.
“Hunger from the Ends of Time”
The art in this one is much sketchier in the outlines than the rest, and it’s very pleasing to the eye. Also, you gotta love a giant library/giant bookworm plot! I mean, this is no Vashta Nerada, but it’s still an exciting one-off monster tale of huge proportions. “Sainted geeks preserve us” is something I will say from now on.
Yay Sarah Jane! Oo and we have a terror-on-a-train story, with squicky bug-like aliens! So very fun!
Bottom Line: this is a fun, rollicking collection. Definitely recommended.
Have you picked up your copy of Man of Steel yet? As we mentioned in a press release back in August, Man of Steel was released on DVD (Bluray, DVD, and Ultra Violet) by WB this past week. We had a chance to check it out, and were not disappointed.
I feel I should mention – I am not a Superman fan. I have never been all that into the boy wonder – his whole deus ex machina schtick has always annoyed me. There’s even a site dedicated to his egotistical and often misogynistic nature in older comics called SuperDickery. However, I figured if any line-up could make me like the character and his story, it might be a director like Zack Snyder, and writers such as Christopher Nolan and David Goyer. Well, I’m glad I kept an open mind going into the film, because it did turn out to be pretty interesting.
The main reasons I’ve always been bothered by Superman as a character were his invulnerability and my inability to find any way to connect with his struggles. In Man of Steel, they make this latter connection a little easier to find. Clark is portrayed as a very lonely boy with very little to connect to, himself. He has wonderful adoptive parents in Martha and Jonathan Kent, but knows they aren’t his family, and that his abilities aren’t something he can share with other people. He struggles to adjust to his new-found powers, and feels lonelier because of it. Even as an adult, Clark is jumping from job to job, never really finding a friend, and constantly having to hide his traits from coworkers and acquaintances. On an emotional level, there’s something about this incarnation of Clark Kent that I feel almost anyone can relate to in one way or another.
Before we even met Clark, though, I was already entranced by the positively gorgeous depiction of the planet Krypton. While previous Superman stories have always touched on the Planet under the Red Sun, I’ve never seen Krypton be visually displayed in such detail before. Not only were the graphics just absolutely stunning, the amount of work that went into building Krypton is staggering. The technology, architecture, government, history, and culture of Krypton just in the opening sequence really paints a portrait of a very rich civilization. Later on, when Clark finds an abandoned Kryptonian ship, and speaks to an AI projection of his father, we hear more about Krypton’s history, and get to see more of the “geo-liquid” technology that seems to have been used quite a bit in Krypton, as well as learn more about the rich culture that the writers obviously put a lot of heart into building. From WB’s special features, here’s a little bit about that geo-liquid technology:
The only thing that did annoy me about that is.. why is it that any time there’s some kind of alien/extraterrestrial race involved, there are always sharp, metallic tentacles coming from somewhere (see also: Pacific Rim, Alien, Predator)? Surely we can get a little more creative with alien weapons these days. That’s a very small complaint, though, considering the intense detail put into the Kryptonian race in this movie.
Moving forward, we meet Lois Lane. Now, I’m sure the first thing people tend to complain about with this character is that she’s a redhead, when Lois Lane, traditionally, has always had a signature look of stark black hair. However, while this is very different for the character, I think taking risks with a long-standing character can be a virtue. Lois’ interest and determination when it came to finding out about Clark Kent was on point, butf I had my way, she would have had a lot more of her trademark sass and wit. This portrayal of Lois, while determined, was also a little timid, and not nearly as interesting as she could have been.
Then comes Zod. Technically, Zod was in the opening Krypton sequence, but when he comes into the story line with full force, things get interesting. We were given Zod’s backstory in a very satisfying way, and got to see him face off with Superman, culminating in some killer action scenes. Zod becomes a very strong lead villain with a fiery intensity. All villains believe they’re the heroes in their own stories, and that’s definitely something you can see in abundance with Zod. Even if he does need to do something about that hair.
Overall, I very much enjoyed Man of Steel, and was impressed by the acting, writing, and special effects. The packaging options aren’t half bad, either.
There are portions of the story and characters that can definitely be improved upon, but hopefully that’s something we’ll get to see more of in the upcoming sequel, for which we are already seeing a ton of hype for. In fact, recently, Zack Snyder commissioned paintings of Batman versus Superman from three modern, stylistic artists. You can see more about the story here from io9. My favorite is definitely Alex Pardee’s contribution:
The commissions and the cause they’re being auctioned for definitely make the upcoming sequel a little more exciting – to me, at least.
If they won’t say it, though, I will…
BOW BEFORE ZOD.