Posts tagged comic

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Graphic Novel Review: Seconds

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With 2014 beginning to fade from recent memory, it’s about time I write about my favorite graphic novel of the preceding year: Bryan Lee O’Malley’s book Seconds. Released over the summer, it is O’Malley’s first published work since the last Scott Pilgrim installment was issued in 2010. The story follows Katie, a young chef trying to open another restaurant so she can leave Seconds (her first culinary establishment and the place where she lives in an apartment upstairs). After a dramatic incident in which a young waitress gets injured, Katie discovers her resident house spirit, who gives her a mushroom and an opportunity to erase a mistake and rewrite events. Soon afterward, Katie finds a patch of these mushrooms and begins abusing their power, despite Lis, the house spirit’s insistence that they should only be used once per person.

Cover with half dust jacket

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

The back of the book, with dust jacket partially pulled back to show the design underneath.

The book itself is beautiful. The half dust jacket and cover boards have different designs, giving it a unique style. I’m also a sucker for any novel that takes the color of the panel lines into account (props to the colorist, Nathan Fairbairn).

Seconds differs quite a bit from the Scott Pilgrim series, and more resembles his first graphic novel Lost at Sea. The book is a single, contained story, rather than a series released manga-style. The story also incorporates a narrator, though there is some witty banter exchanged between it and the main character, implying that the narrator may be an inner voice of Katie’s. These quirks bring the story to life. There are even some nods to Scott Pilgrim for O’Malley’s dedicated fans. (Scott and Ramona are eating in the restaurant on page 259, for example).

Main character Katie looking pretty cartoony next to her hunky new husband. (Ignore my appropriately themed bookmark in the upper right).

One of the Second’s flaws is its main character, which is admittedly sort of the point–she is flawed to a fault. As she digs herself farther into trouble by continuing to eat the mushrooms that erase her numerous mistakes, it seems to take an unbelievable amount of time for her to learn from these errors. She is hard to root for. Katie differs even in style from the others. O’Malley’s style is cartoony, but Katie’s design takes it to another level, as she is the only character with gravity-defying anime hair.

There is nothing groundbreaking in Seconds; no new story elements or decisions that set it far apart from other works, but it has just the right amount of humor, quirk, and design to make it pop. I want more graphic novels like this, with a single developed story that plays with narrative styles, and some nice resolution at the end. Seconds is worth checking out, and not just for Scott Pilgrim fans.

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Comic Review: Buzzkill TPB

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A superhero who gets his powers from addictive substances? Interesting! The main character’s ongoing battle between giving into his addictions and gaining the ability to be more than he was versus overcoming his addictions and returning to the (weaker) man he once was. Which side will he choose? And which side would you choose, if you were put in the same position?

I’m doing double-duty with this comic because, a few days after I received me review copy, I found out we would be discussing it in the SuperMOOC that I’m currently enrolled in, Social Issues Through Comic Books. So not only do I get to talk about it with my fellow classmates, I get to see their perspective of the comic in relation to my own.

First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”

The comic takes an interesting approach to addiction, as it takes the concept and expands it into a much more visual and moral realm of the struggles addicts go through. When you take addictive substances, it changes you into someone else. Your concepts of reality are altered and you may feel like you are stronger and better than you once were. But what if this were true? What if you became super, able to bring forth good as a result of your addiction? That’s what the main character, who we first know as Reuben, is faced with. He feels that he becomes a better person because of his addictions. However, he also becomes a more violent person, as do many addicts, and that counteracts the good he feels that he’s doing. Knowing this, he tries to overcome his addiction, but it’s also difficult to knowingly walk away from something that changes him into the man he seeks to be. What would you do in that situation?

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The ideas that somehow he will control and enjoy his liquor drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.”

Reuben feels like he can handle his addictions, but it’s immediately clear that he cannot. While he asserts that he can control the powers that he gains, it’s evident that he can’t. He was pushed to seek help after a bloody battle that put his opponent in the hospital. In group, it’s clear he has strong anger issues. How can he control something that’s ultimately controlling him? But on the opposite side, how can he cast aside the advantage it gives him when there’s bad guys out that that want to use his weakness to their benefit? If he gets help, he’s putting others in danger. If he doesn’t get help, he’s putting others in danger. It’s a no-win situation. Added to that is the idea of inherited addictions and inherited personality traits, as we see with his father and how Reuben turned out. Can he break out of the destructive cycle that he’s in or is he forever destined to be his father’s son? It’s a fascinating illustration of the battles addicts go through. Even when the intention of being better is there, the journey is difficult.

Pick up your copy of Buzzkill today. You will not be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Comic Review: No More Heroes #2

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Issue: No More Heroes #2
Release Date: May 2012
Writer: Gordon Mclean
Artist: Caio Oliveira
Colorist: Stas Leonov
Letterer: Kel Nuttal

The second issue of No More Heroes is out and we once again return to the case of Dark Justice’s murder. For those who have forgotten the storyline, the comic includes a nice “previously” review to catch up. Then, we jump right into the next part of the plot. Or, rather, we’re back in history since we’re treated to a tidbit from seven years ago. It’s meant to serve as background on how Dark Justice and Black Fury got to know Jack Slaughter. He blew up a polar bear in the zoo, while kids watched. This guy’s not kidding around!

Black Fury was treating Sid to the story over a wire, as Sid sits inside the local bar as bait. The plan is for Sid to make it known that he’s looking to work some jobs for the local criminal element. Hopefully he can get an in with Jack Slaughter’s gang and then Black Fury can take him down. Good plan, but the execution was never meant to go smoothly. The bar patrons are criminal minions themselves and they’re laying odds on which super-villains will escape jail now that Dark Justice is dead and how many will end up back in the joint.

The storyline was going well and then we’re dragged back in time again, to three weeks prior. That was the last time Dark Justice and Black Fury took on Jack Slaughter and once again they failed. We also get a glimpse at a religious background on Dark Justice that wasn’t previously hinted at. It left me a bit confused, but I went along with it in the interest of the story. Besides, we get back to current times fast enough, so we didn’t have to dwell too much.

Back at the bar, Sid talks to a fellow criminal minion and tries to work his way onto Jack Slaughter’s payroll. Even though he’s warned that it’s a bad idea, Sid is being pushed to carry on. And then we’re back in time again! Really not a fan of these time jumps. Also not a fan of the religious overtones we’re getting with Dark Justice either. I don’t mind learning new things about characters, having the story unfold and surprise me, but heavy-handedness is never the way to go. We see Dark Justice brooding over losing all those kids in Jack Slaughter’s latest job and he’s drinking himself to death with his cross staring him in the face. Yeah, like I said, this felt like it came out of nowhere.

Finally we’re back to present time and I hope we’re done with the time jumps now. Billy calls to check on Sid and wants to know what’s going on. He had a bet going that Black Fury would put him in a cape and have sex with him. This clearly shows that Sid needs better friends. But he can’t worry about Billy’s issues now because Pieces, who is a direct connection to Slaughter, has come into the bar looking for guys to work a job. This is Sid’s chance! And when he’s given a test to prove his worthiness which includes shooting another man, I’m surprised that it’s Black Fury who is egging him on to do it. So, the superhero is the morally corrupt one? Sid resists and, even though he didn’t complete the task, Pieces apparently likes his spunk and grabs him as part of the crew. The job? It’s for Slaughter. Of course it is. And if that weren’t bad enough, Billy showed up in a car to track down Sid, because he’s aparently worried about his friend, but being in the wrong place at the wrong time means he’s now Pieces’ driver.

There were some bumps to my reading and enjoyment of this new part of the arc. First up with Caio Oliverira’s pin-up at the beginning of the issue. The proportions and distance between the table and the bar in the picture was incorrect, so it threw me out of the emotional involvement I was supposed to be having. The other issue was the never-ending time jumps. As I was getting into the current story, I got ripped back in time to seven years ago, three weeks ago, two weeks ago. It was too jumpy and thew me completely out of the story. So, with these issues in mind, would I continue with the next issue? Well, considering it’s only a four-issue arc then I guess I’ll stick it out, but if it weren’t a closed canon I’d be tempted to let it drop. Here’s hoping the problems won’t get worse.

Magnus, Robot Fighter Volume 1 By: Jim Shooter, Bill Reinhold, Stephen Thompson & Mark Irwin

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This book is just plain fun.  It is not anything ground-breaking and new, nor did it offer any ‘shocking twists’, but it is delightfully entertaining.  Magnus, Robot Fighter tells the story of, you guessed it, Magnus, the robot fighter.  It takes place in the far future, after the artificial intelligence (aka Q-Rob) rebellion that we all know is coming eventually.  Magnus was trained from his infancy to kick robot butt by his robot “father”, 1-A.  This volume follows Magnus as he protects the streets from the “metal mob” that is  being lead by your typical, corrupt politicians/businessmen.

This book is actually a reboot from Dark Horse Comics of a series that was originally published in the 1960s.   It definitely has a classic hero feel to it, as Magnus dresses in a red tunic (and later in a red spandex-y suit) and is your conventional uber-masculine do-gooder.  All the (very scantily clad) ladies love him, and he finds time to have a brief fling with the (supposedly) most beautiful one of them all, Cinnette, after rescuing her from a human trafficking ring.

The one nice twist here, however, is that there is another female character, Leeja, who wants to help Magnus fight robots.  She might not have the same advantages that Magnus has over robots but she still ends up saving Magnus twice throughout the course of this story.  I love her even more because she is still sexy and scantily clad (and literally throws herself at Magnus) but does all of this while wanting to be an equal to Magnus.  In one of my favorite scenes between the two of them, she tells Magnus that she is throwing herself at him and then, in the next panel, tells him that she will only go on a date with him if he takes her with him to find the bad guys.  When he tells her that it is “dangerous down there,” she responds that she will watch his back.  Leeja is awesome because she does not plan to sit back and watch him save the day. She plans to help.

The artwork is clear and well-defined.  Each robot has a distinctive look, and the fight sequences are easy-to-follow (which is good because there are a lot of them).  The writing is slightly cheesy at times, but I view that as a throwback to the original series and time period when it was written.  I love when 1-A calls Magnus a “smart-alec,” or when a group of women call Magnus “bun-derful.”  Moments like those keep the book from becoming another dark, depressing view of the future.

As I said before, if you are looking for something with a lot of unexpected twists-and-turns, this book is probably not for you.  Instead, the book is full of fight scenes (practically a new one every 3-4 pages) and action-hero sequences, without taking itself too seriously or filling the pages with blood and guts and gore.  I strongly recommend this book for anyone who either loves robots and robot-based stories, or who is just looking for an old-fashioned, action-packed superhero story.

Review originally published on Julia Sherred’s Geeky Pleasures

Fraggles Everywhere

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Hey guys and gals. Now that things seem to be quieting down since Comic Con has come and gone, I’ve got a treat for you. It’s your resident Fraggle Rock girl back with a new review for our good friends over at Archaia. Let’s jump to it, shall we?

Archaia has released all of the Volume 2 issues of Fraggle Rock (see previews reviews – Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3) into a hardbound book called – Fraggle Rock Volume  2: Tails and Tales. From Archaia’s press release:

Get ready to rock—Fraggle style! Archaia and The Jim Henson Company follow up their highly acclaimed FRAGGLE ROCK anthology series with a brand-new collection of stories, featuring the antics of Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober and Red! Worry is indeed for another day, as this new series features a stellar lineup of talent, including: Grace Randolph (Muppet Peter Pan, Marvel Her-Oes), Chris Lie (Return to Labyrinth), Jake Forbes (Return to Labyrinth) and Ross Campbell (Wet Moon, Shadoweyes)! Featuring a cover by MOUSE GUARD’s David Petersen and activity pages from fan-favorite writer and artist Katie Cook!

What I find really great about this is that all of the fabulous comics are in one great hardcover book that is a good addition to any comic book library. Even if you purchased the issues when they were released, this is a great collectible to have.

At the beginning of the book, it takes you through all of the residents of Fraggle Rock, giving a great bio for each player in the series, as well as the people or creatures they interact with (for example, a Doozer). They make it very easy to just pick up the book, even if you are not familiar with the world of Fraggle Rock.

If you remember, at the end of each of the issues, they had an activity section. If you’re like me and drew on your actual comic book, then here’s another reason to pick up this hardcover. Now, you can always have a clean copy of the sketches, with no worries about damaging the book!

The book also includes a look back at how the actual comic came to life, written by the managing editor Tim Beedle, and shares with us how each of the artists/illustrators/colorists came to be a part of the project.

As I’ve said before, even if you bought these comics when they came out, this is a great addition to any library. You can pick it up at most comic book shops and bookstores for $19.95.

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Review: Samurai’s Blood by Owen Wiseman, Nam Kim & Matt Dalton

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A few weeks ago I was given the privilege of reviewing a preview copy of Samurai’s Blood by Owen Wiseman, Nam Kim & Matt Dalton.  This new limited comic series from Image Comics is unlike a lot of comics I typically read.  I’m very much a fan of sci-fi and fantasy and therefore the majority of the comics I read on a regular basis can easily be placed in one of those two genres.  Samurai’s Blood, however, was a refreshing and engaging change of pace for me.

The issue starts with the massacre of an entire family line and ends with the introduction of our three protagonists: Jun, Katashi and Mayuko.  My favorite part of this book, however, is the other layer to the basic plot, namely the general story of the samurai ideology and way of life.  Wiseman places a “voice over” description of what it means to be a samurai throughout the issue.  However, the dialogue and images support this description in a manner that is less obvious and more subtle than many other samurai stories that I’ve come across.  You aren’t visibly seeing a samurai live out these ideals as they are being described. Instead, you’re getting a lesson/hint as to what the protagonists will need to learn as they continue their own journey throughout this series.

You can tell that Wiseman definitely knows what he is talking about in terms of samurai legend and lore without the issue being too fact-heavy.  Additionally, Kim & Dalton’s art is intricate and beautiful and enhances every element of the story.  Each panel is a delicate balance between image, idea, and plot.  (NB: You can read more about Wiseman’s background in terms of Japanese culture in an article on CBR from last month.)

But the absolute #1 reason why you should buy this book today? It’s only $1! Really. Not kidding. An excellent, well-developed story with gorgeous art AND a cover from Jo Chen (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) for a dollar?! Just do it.

For Los Angeles Nerds there is a launch party for Samurai’s Blood at Golden Apple Comics TONIGHT, Wednesday, June 8, from 6-9pm.

Follow Samurai’s Blood on Facebook or Twitter.

Down in Fraggle Rock

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Fraggle Rock Vol 2 Issue 3 cover

I was given the honor of reviewing the next Fraggle Issue (Vol 2 #3). This is another great comic, one everyone is sure to love. How about we throw our cares away and get right into the review?

From ArchaiaReady to return to the Rock? Gobo, Red, Mokey, Wembley and Boober are ready to lead you on a new set of adventures and this time they’re bringing some friends. Fan favorites Large Marvin and Cantus and the Minstrels make appearances in the third issue of our second volume of FRAGGLE ROCK. Expect songs, dances, games, competitions, exploration, Doozers, Gorgs, fur, hardhats, lucky walking sticks, semi-carnivorous pet plants and maybe a radish soufflé or two, all courtesy of a wild team of contributors that includes Katie Cook, Paul Morrissey and Nichol Ashworth!

The first story is called ‘My Gift is my Song’ and the story and artwork are done by Katie Cook, and the colors are done by Joanna Estep. It is Mokey’s birthday and Boober is trying to figure out the perfect gift for her. He decides that he wants to give her socks, but then Red appears and tells him that she has gotten socks for Mokey. So next, he goes and sees Gobo and Wembley. Now, Wembley is one of my favorite Fraggles. He’s found a unique bunch of flowers that he plans on giving to Mokey. The flowers? Well, let’s just say they are pretty darn hilarious and clever. Props to Ms. Cook for imagining those clever flowers.

While still searching for a gift, Boober runs into Cantus, a wandering Minstrel Fraggle. Boober asks him if he has any suggestions and Cantus tells him that he should pick something from inside. This gives Boober the idea to make a Radish pie, radishes being Mokey’s favorite, and dashes off to the Gorg’s garden up above. When he arrives at the radish garden, he, quite comically, watches as they all disappear. Where did they go? I’ll let you read the comic to find out.

His next stop is to Majory, the Trash Heap. I loved this section of the comic. It was as if Ms. Cook decided to throw in some fun materials for the older generations that will be reading this comic either for themselves or with their children. I think that what she stuck in there will be quite fun for any parent that sits down with their child to read it because it will more than likely begin a dialogue about fun materials that are no longer around in our digital world.

Fraggle Rock Vol 2 Issue 3 Cover B

Boober makes his way back to down to Fraggle Rock and finally figures out what his gift to Mokey will be. Again, I do not want to give it away because I won’t be able to do it justice. Suffice to say, though, the title of the this particular comic should give you a clue as to what it is.

The next vignette in the comic is called ‘Shopping with Silly Creatures’. The story is done by Katie Strickland and the artwork is done by Lindsay Cibos. The adventure begins with Gobo announcing that he has received a letter from his Uncle Matt – the Fraggle that is traveling “Outer Space” (a.k.a the human world). The letter begins with Uncle Matt telling Gobo he finally found out where the ‘silly creatures’ get their clothes. Uncle Matt is standing in front of a laundromat and decides to enter the facility.

It’s always fun to see the Fraggles interact with humans. Uncle Matt’s adventure in the laundromat is quite humorous and had me laughing out loud as I read about it. Let’s just say that there’s one line where he mentions how his ‘fur has never been fluffier’. I bet you can just imagine what he did to make his fur feel that way. Of course, Uncle Matt does not realize that this is place one does their laundry at, rather than a store – which is what he believes it to be.

The last story is entitled ‘Red’s Chomp-a-Thon’. The story is written by Paul Morrissey and the artwork is done by Nichol Ashworth. Red and Gobo are watching the Doozers have a contest for construction and Red becomes jealous. She hates that the Doozers get to have all the fun and then comes up with a plan to have her own fun. She decides to have an eating contest – see who can eat a Doozer structure the fastest. She decides that she wants to win and so she picks the Fraggles least likely to be any sort of competition for her.

Now, we all know that if you try and rig a contest, you’re going to lose. The odds are against you for trying to do something like this. Of course, this happens to Red. The actual eating contest is quite hilarious with The Cave’s Oldest Fraggle constantly messing up what the actual contest is (he calls it a greeting contest, a beating contest, etc). The moral of the story is very touching. Even though Red did not win the contest, she still made lots of fun memories for her friends, and that’s what really counts in the end.

The team at Archaia really outdid themselves with this issue. I loved all of the stories and how they were presented. It’s so nice being able to catch up with these lovable Fraggles. It makes me feel like I’m a child again. And I think that’s one of their biggest selling points. Fraggles are timeless – no matter how young or old you are. It’s always such a delight to go back to Fraggle Rock and see what the gang is up to. I hope you’ll enjoy this issue as much as I did.

Click here for a free preview of ‘Fraggle Rock Vol 2 Issue #3. You can pick up your copy at a comic shop near you.

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Check Out Blueprints While the Foreman Resolves It

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I absolutely love Hijinks Ensue. Trust that there will be a review from me one of these days. Until then, get into it with a little teaser.

The Walking Dead on AMC! It ain’t just about zombies!

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WHAT IF…

One morning, you wake up in a hospital and wonder how long you have been there. You call for a nurse; you push the help button repeatedly and realize that no one is coming to your assistance. With sheer determination, you pull yourself up and slide your legs off of the bed. Your mind tells you that getting out of bed is the most logical thing to do. Your legs, however, disagree and you collapse to the floor with the feeling of pins and needles shooting through your entire nervous system.

Something inside you trembles. There should be someone that had heard the crash that can come to your aid. You realize that all of the monitoring machines are off and the power is out, the only light you are given is pouring through the dirty Venetian blinds.

You manage to lift yourself to your feet and make it into the hallway. What you witness is nothing short of surreal. The hallway is empty and one of the sets of double doors has been chained shut with “DON’T OPEN DEAD INSIDE”. You stumble outside and see piles upon piles of rotting corpses. Holding back from vomiting with an empty stomach, you avert your eyes and shuffle forward. Out of your peripheral vision, something moves. You glance over in the hopes that it is someone who can tell you what is going on. Your jaw drops as one of the decaying bodies ambles towards you.

Crazy, right?

Well thank your lucky stars you’re not Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln – Love Actually). Rick stirs from a coma only to find that Georgia has become a horrifying canvas of crawling carcasses. He begins a journey to find his family, praying every moment that they are still alive.

Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series, the Walking Dead, is much more than “just another zombie story”. It’s a study of the human condition. What happens when everything we have come to rely upon ceases to function?

Instead of spending your evening sitting in front of the computer reading a blog or watching streaming video, you are sitting on top of an RV, keeping an eye out for Walkers with a shotgun at the ready. Your children grow up with a daily lesson in efficient ways to kill. “Family time” consists of hacking zombie face and burning the pieces.

The only common denominator is the ever pressing desire to survive. When Rick comes across a caravan of survivors, they band together to keep each other safe. There is just as much safety in numbers of the living as there is destruction in a mass zombie attack.

I am very much a fan of the graphic novels and cannot wait to see them come to life in The Walking Dead on AMC. My favorite character in the graphic novels is hands down Carl Grimes, Rick’s son. I cannot wait to see how eleven year old Chandler Riggs (The Wronged Man, Get Low) does.

I do find it encouraging that executive producer Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) added a few new characters into the mix. Hopefully that means there will be 10 seasons revealing all of the characters back stories. Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker – Jumper, Slither) and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus – Meskada, Boondock Saints) have been referred to as a redneck ex-con and his equally dangerous brother. For more information on Rooker and Reedus in The Walking Dead, check out Eric Goldman’s post about speaking with Frank Darabont at Comic-Con back in July.

The Walking Dead will premiere on October 31st at 10/9c on AMC. To peep the four minute trailer aired at Comic-Con, visit the AMC Walking Dead page.

AND if you are ever caught in a zombie apocalypse, save bullets for mass attacks!

Originally posted on my website

You will want to click on this.

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From VirusComix.com:


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♥ Jackie
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