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Bedlam #6 Review

Bedlam6

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.

Review: Saga #11

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Writing: Brian K. Vaughan

Art: Fiona Staples

Review by Melissa Megan

Boy does Brian K. Vaughan know how to open an issue and get your attention. In another of Hazel’s flashbacks to her parents’ beginnings, we get to be a fly on the wall to what I assume is her moment of being conceived. Every naughty detail revealed and oh boy, is Alana naughty! Of course it’s also a difficult realization of the kind of situation Hazel was brought in to: her parents fugitives, each of their respect homelands hunting them down. Alana and Marko aren’t even sure they can breed, being of two different species from different planets, but the method of baby making seems to work just fine.

Another great skill of Brian K. Vaughan is transitioning from one place in a story to another, seamlessly, without depleting the jarring effect of that jump. The ship containing Alana, Marko, Hazel, Marko’s parents and Hazel’s ghostly babysitter is spiraling towards a freshly born fetus planet that appears hungry. In another ship which has already been damaged and exposed to open space, The Will tries to save Lying Cat while Gwendolyn holds tight to the slave child they rescued from Sextillion. If you aren’t reading Saga already, you should be appropriately confused by now.

Every single issue of Saga contains so much. So very much that I often find myself re-reading an issue to make sure I didn’t miss something really important. Issue #11 is powerful and emotional. I’m not going to spoil this for anyone, but I will say that by the end of this issue you’ll feel some feelings that might not be happy. This issue also has many opportunities for Fiona Staples to show off her art skills with sweeping space landscapes and beautiful scenes of magic making. The creators of Saga are the power couple of 2013 and Saga is their glowing love child.

Read Saga and don’t stop. Well, if you read one issue you won’t want to stop.

Review: Bedlam #5

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Writing: Nick Spencer

Art: Riley Rossmo

Review by Melissa Megan

After a few issues of watching Fillmore, formerly serial killer Madder Red, passionately assist the police department in working out the identity of a murderer with a thing for religious reference, issue #5 gives a little more of what Bedlam is really about: psychological fun time.

This issue opens with another flashback to the ‘healing’ of Madder Red, specifically a powerful scene in which he gains the hospital staff’s trust and proves himself ready to re-enter the world a new, less dangerous man. These peeks in to the treatment of Madder Red are what I feel really give Bedlam it’s gritty meat. I find myself increasingly invested in this character although I still can’t decide if I want to see him truly succeed and be a ‘productive, law-abiding citizen’ or if it would be more fun to watch him completely demolish those expectations in a blood bath of celebration for the return of Madder Red.

One thing is certain, this issue makes it clear that Fillmore is quite aware that he’s gaining the trust of Detective Acevedo and has secured himself the opportunity for a chat with an incarcerated priest suspected of being connected to, perhaps behind, the unsolved case. Fillmore has an agenda but if it’s purely to help bring the murderer to justice or something more sinister is yet unclear. What is crystal is that Bedlam is not slowing down but quietly gaining momentum and I suspect the next issue will reveal something juicy.

If you’re reading my reviews on Bedlam, you must be interested; if you aren’t already buying these books, what the hell are you waiting for? Bedlam is top notch material in the horror/suspense genre and the art work of Riley Rossmo is always a delight.

Review: Saga #10

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Writing: Brian K. Vaughan

Art: Fiona Staples

Review by Melissa Megan

 

Marko and Alana are the hottest couple in comic books. Does anyone not know that by now? The opening of this issue is yet another fantastic example of Brian Vaughan’s perfect writing in this series. The first panel, Marko standing shirtless, gently asking “Please. Keep reading.”, is not only sexy but gives the exhilarating feeling of being spoken to by this 2 dimensional book character. This leads to a touching peek at where the intense love between Marko and Alana began. I can’t recall ever reading about two characters in a comic book before that I felt so intimately connected with, as if Saga is really just the biography of a couple of very close friends of mine.

Then, there’s the hunt for the missing ghostly babysitter. Marko and his hard edged mother find themselves searching a strange planet that they’ve been told will soon be ‘hatching’. And yet another shining exhibit of why Saga has quickly gained huge praise and is selling out copies everywhere: incredibly fresh, creepy, awesome alien life forms and settings. It just never stops with this series, each issue throwing new and fascinating characters at you, opening up new worlds filled with completely unique adventures. No matter what comparisons you can make between Saga and other books or films that it shares style with, I honestly don’t think anything like this has been accomplished before.

To sum up this issue, Marko and Alana reunite with their missing babysitter, family ties are strengthened and a planet gives forth new, dangerous life. Gwendolyn, Marko’s bitter ex, is hot on their tail and employing the help of an infamous assassin and a child with special powers of sight. An unfortunate loss leaves us wondering how many more there will be before Marko & Alana are either captured or somehow escape for good.

Saga rocks my socks off, every freakin’ month. I dread the day that this series comes to an end, because it’s one of the most exciting, creative things I’ve had the honor of reading in years. The writing of Brian K. Vaughan and the art of Fiona Staples are a magical marriage that many, many comic book readers are thankful for.

Review: Bedlam #4

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Writing: Nick Spencer

Art: Riley Rossmo

Cover: Frazer Irving

 

A priest is gruesomely murdered. Fillmore Press is undergoing a nasty ‘interrogation’ by the local “hero”, The First. The police suspect Fillmore of being behind the recent murders since he volunteered himself as an expert. They feel he knows too much to not be involved and hope a good old fashioned beating will encourage him to fess up.

Detective Acevedo is working out the connections between the murderer and a possible dark background with the church, figuring out along the way that Fillmore may have been telling the truth that he’s not involved with the crimes. Let’s not forget, of course, that Fillmore was once maniacal killer Madder Red, so he may be involved in something before this is all over.

This issue starts off slow, for the usual speed of Bedlam, but the big bang at the end is worth the wait. Mostly an issue to help tie up connections and keep the crime solving moving for the cops, this one isn’t as brutal or bloody as past issues. No matter, you should have been reading this series already; if not, get on that shit. Bedlam is one of the best psychological thrillers being written in comics right now and Riley Rossmo’s art is superb here. Buy it, read it, collect it.

Review: Bedlam #3

Writing: Nick Spencer

Art: Riley Rossmo

Review by Melissa Megan

 

2012 was the year of Riley Rossmo for me. I shouted at the Gods when Green Wake ended and I thanked them when Rebel Blood showed up on my list of upcoming TP’s. Debris has been a fun adventure. Then, there’s Bedlam. A time jumping story of a serial killer trying (I think) to transform himself in to a positive piece of society. At least that’s what he tells his doctor, who is equally creepy and psychotic and assisted by less than comforting, ghoulish looking nurses.

Fillmore (aka Madder Red) is intrigued by the investigation of a local killer and believes he can help the police to understand their mystery murderer. He convinces his doctor that he should contact the police and offer his help, thereby making himself a positive, useful tool to his community. After putting in a call to explain to law enforcement that he has key information that can assist them in their hunt, the police are convinced that he’s a prime suspect, not a well meaning citizen.

Issue #3 opens with a powerful scene of Madder Red in a controlled experiment in ‘companionship’. Poor, poor kitties. Gruesome and raw, this scene is a prime sample of the mood of Bedlam. The jumps back and forth between reserved, quiet Fillmore and unhinged, violent Madder Red are always shocking, like a slap in the head to remind you of who the main character really is, at his core. Fillmore turns himself in to gain access to the detective he wants to help, which doesn’t work in his favor in convincing them that he is not a part of the killings, but an expert of sorts on the killer.

The killer has an angel complex and Fillmore seems to admire his apparent lack of interest in fame, selfish motivations or gain. This issue is all about Fillmore naively trying to make good, to help, all the while setting himself as a top police target. The immense misunderstanding of his intentions creates tension and frustrations for both Fillmore and the reader.

I won’t give away any more here, but I will say Issue #3 is no less awesome than the last two. Bedlam obviously has no intentions of slowing down or softening and I love it. Bedlam is intelligent, unflinching and beautiful to look at. It’s quality comic book writing and art and if you enjoy your stories with some edge, this one has enough to slice your head right off.

Review: Saga #9

Writing: Brian K. Vaughan

Art: Fiona Staples

Review by Melissa Megan

 

Recently, a friend of mine said something like ‘Saga fans are the Breaking Bad fans of comic books’. (Elliot Serrano) So true. If you haven’t been reading Saga this past year, you’re missing out on one of the greatest things to happen in comic books since Y: The Last Man. Saga is one of my top 5 favorites of 2012, and so far this year hasn’t let up in quality or pure awesomeness.

Issue #9 brings us back to The Will, who has been distracted from his job of hunting down a forbidden family, by his discovery and aching desire to rescue a child sold in to slavery. He dreams of the return of his murdered love, The Stalk. In marches Gwendolyn, a political princess with a personal agenda to get The Will back on his target, and she offers to do what she can to help him get what he wants.

From Issue #1 of this series, you can’t help but hope for the successful escape of Marko and Alana, new parents to what most consider an ‘abomination’. They’re hunted by their respective governments, hired assassins and now a bitter ex, Gwendolyn. This issue is a prime example of why Saga has won so many hearts. It’s not so much the fantastic, magical creatures or the sci-fi backdrop of interplanetary war, or even the absurdly clean but equally pretty art work of Fiona Staples. Saga’s real allure lies in the depth and complexity of it’s characters. The Will is a deadly assassin hunting down a family who want nothing more than to be left alone to love each other. By all accounts, we should hate this guy. Now that The Will has made it his objective to save a slave child whom he just met, we suddenly have empathy for him and think ‘maybe he’s not so bad’. 

Even Gwen, Marko’s embittered ex fiancee who was first introduced with a pissy attitude and a chip on her shoulder, exposes some heart and tenderness in the rescue of the child. Saga keeps you guessing at every turn, never completely sure who is an enemy and who might be an ally in disguise.

Saga is one of the best comics in the shelf right now, no question. The story is enchanting, the art a perfect match and the characters genuine. Start reading it now and don’t miss out on this treat.

 

Review: Valentine, Vol. 1: The Ice Death TP

Writing by: Alex DeCampi

Art by: Christine Larsen, Tim Durning, Cassandra James

Valentine is a French soldier in 1812, stumbling through a blizzard in Russia with a fellow fighter when they come across an injured couple and attempt to help them. The stranger gives Valentine a package and demands that he deliver it, no matter the cost. They are attacked by a huge, red eyed army and Valentine is shot down while escaping, his last memory being of a beautiful woman dragging him in to the water as his body bleeds out. And thus begins his crazy journey through a  world wrought with dangerous demons and monsters, delicate magic, newly discovered origins and mystical lands.

Valentine was originally a digital only book, and free to read on Comixology. Well, it’s still free to read, which is incredible. Now you can also get it in print, as a collection. It’s a really well written story, encompassing both a war setting and a fantasy element. These two are sewn together nicely and the action flows smoothly so there is never a dull moment. The art is very pretty, vibrantly colored and expressive, the many creatures well drawn to feel like brand new monsters we haven’t seen before. The whole story has a sort of dreamy vibe in the way that Valentine is never completely sure what is real and what is being conjured for his mind.

This book is an enjoyable and fresh read and well worth purchasing in print, even if only to support the creators so they can continue to write more of it. I would love to see what new adventures await Valentine in his search to find his purpose in the world, reconnect with his lost love and battle the evil forces trying to harness his power for devious means. Valentine, Vol. 1: The Ice Death is available now from Image.

Review: Saga, Vol. 1

Writing by: Brian K. Vaughan

Art by: Fiona Staples

Saga Vol. 1 collects #1-6 of the ongoing series. I am genuinely baffled as to how this series went unnoticed by me until now. I decided to review the TP, as I prefer to read new stories in big chunks rather than small issues at a time, and was immediately enraptured with it. I mean I LOVED it. I’ve since been given the ‘oh, yeah, you haven’t read that??’ several times from comic reading friends, so I feel like a bad collector now for missing this one. I shall amend that mistake here and now. I plan to pick this up in my local shop today and read the next two issues that are available digitally, while I wait impatiently for another TP to be published.

For those who are new to Saga, I’ll give you the gist. Alana and Marko are very different creatures from different planets whose respective species are at war with each other. In fact, it’s seen as a traitorous crime against both sides that they have fallen in love and begun a new family together. Saga opens with an intense child birth scene in which it’s very apparent that these two prior soldiers care for each deeply and despise the spreading war between their homelands; it’s also very apparent that their new family will not be accepted by authorities and that they must, literally, run for their lives. Their relationship is tumultuous but incredibly supportive, the new parents are terrified and powerful all at once. They are prepared to do anything necessary to protect their new family from the many forces who challenge it’s existence, including their own stubborn dispositions.

First off, the story. Amazing. Brilliant. Exciting and so different. The addition of narration from the child’s point of view is incredibly creative and gives the story an extra layer of intrigue. Is she grown as she narrates? Who is she? Where is she now? This story never stops for air, it just rolls along at a perfect speed, constantly introducing new, awesome creatures and worlds. Alana and Marko can never get too comfortable, their quest for survival and freedom will not be won without plenty of pain and hardship along the way.

Next, the artwork of Fiona Staples. If you consider yourself a semi-knowledgeable comics reader, you have seen and heard her name before. her style is so pretty, so easy to fall in to. It’s instantly recognizable as she works wonders with lines and shadows, somehow managing to create great depth in the panels without ever making any stroke too heavy or hard. She excels at facial expressions; it’s always very clear what the character is feeling, regardless of what is being said. This art style is absolutely perfect for this story, opening up beautiful fantasy worlds in equal clarity and detail as the words of Brian K. Vaughan do.

Saga is one of the most innovative, quality pieces of comic book work I’ve read in years and if you are not reading this, you are missing out on a real diamond of a creation. This book has adventure, romance, fantasy, sci-fi and violence and it’s all brought together in a polished, wonderfully illustrated gift box of a publication. Buy it and read it, right now.

 

Review: Harvest #3

Writing: A.J. Lieberman

Art: Colin Lorimer

 

Ben was a successful surgeon until a nasty drug habit caused him to allow a woman to die on his table, exposing his addiction and his incompetence and eventually resulting in the loss of his medical license. After being approached by some powerful people running an illegal organ trade business, Ben quickly realized that his new job is despicable in enough ways that not even the lure of money and power are temptation worth doing it. He decides to blow up the business and try to rescue the latest victim, who he stole organs from, in an attempt to satisfy his relentless guilt.

As the Feds close in on Ben and clue him in to just how much trouble he is in, he realizes that his short stint in the organ theft business was enough for the people at the top to put the heat on him. His next choice is to throw himself in to a quest for revenge; calling in a favor to a rich man who’s daughter Ben saved gives him just the right partner he needs to pull it off. The millionaire clients that pay the organ business to keep them healthy and off of organ donation waiting lists are Ben’s targets and he wastes no time starting the hunt.

Harvest #3 picks up the pace nicely that it lacked in the first two issues, pushing the story in to new territory with more action and a plot that has potential to carry several more issues. I’m not going to say that Harvest is blowing me away just yet, but it’s definitely entertaining, morbid and unique. Those are all traits that are plenty to keep me reading.

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