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Saga #13 Cover.  Image Courtesy of imagecomics.com

Review: Saga #13

Saga #13 Cover.  Image Courtesy of imagecomics.com

Saga #13 Cover. Image Courtesy of imagecomics.com

Writing: Brian K. Vaughan

Art: Fiona Staples

Review by Dorina Arellano

When last we saw our heroes, we were left with a pretty big “oh, snap!” moment, so I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was desperately hoping to learn of Alana and Marko’s immediate fate in this chapter. Unfortunately, we go back in time for a bit, as Brian K. Vaughan likes to do, because he’s a mean, genius tease. Fortunately, however, every single page of Saga is exciting, thanks to Mr. Vaughan’s fantastic storytelling, his very relatable heroes and villains, and Fiona Staple’s exquisite and provocative art.

As we’re already aware, Hazel and her parents set off to find their favorite author, D. Oswald Heist, on his remote home planet Quietus. Their first exchange with him is highly amusing, like the rest of the witty dialogue we’re already used to from Vaughan. Gwendolyn and friends are trying to get back on their tail, as per usual, and The Will gets a visit from an old friend. We also encounter a wounded soldier and this universe’s version of TMZ, which should continue to make things interesting on a bigger scale for our protagonists. Therefore, we don’t really get a whole lot of new story in this issue, but the setup continues to be quite entertaining and fulfilling for such a short read.

In just thirteen issues, this pair of storytellers has already managed to make me laugh out loud several times, be completely shocked and grossed out, and tear up at least once. It’s rare when comic books make you care about so many characters this deeply, even the minor ones. If you’re familiar with Vaughan’s past work (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) you’re well aware that the worlds he creates touch upon the same, relevant, hardcore social and political issues we live through on a daily basis. It only makes our heroes’ journey that much more tense and meaningful. I can’t wait to see what happens to Hazel’s parents and what that hilarious narrating baby’s fate will be. I’ll be sad when it’s over, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being one of my favorite comic book series.

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Review: Lazarus #1-2

lazarus2-webThis week marked the release of the second issue of a new series from Image Comics, Lazarus, by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, & Santi Arcas.  Lazarus takes place in a future where there are no more political or geographical nations, but rather nations built around wealth and “Family.”  Each Family has a certain number of workers who provide them with basic labor. These people are called “Serfs.”  All other people (ie the majority of the human population on Earth) are considered “Waste.” In addition, each Family choses one child to serve as their “lazarus,” a soldier that protects and fights for the Family.  This super-soldier is given the absolute best that science and technology has to offer.

The first issue sets the basic groundwork for the story and the main character, Forever, the “Lazarus” of the Carlyle family.  After an incident on the Carlyle farm involving an invasion from another Family (Morray), Malcolm Carlyle summons all of his children, including Forever, to the family estate in order to determine the next course of action.  That is where Issue #2 picks up.

As always, Greg Rucka delivers in a big way.  The first issue is mostly set-up so the majority of the character development is focused on Forever.  She is, as one would expect, more than just a killing machine.  She feels regret and remorse, emotions that other members of the Carlyle family would clearly prefer their Lazarus not to feel.  I loved the additional development of other characters in the second issue, especially Malcolm Carlyle.  I cannot wait to see where Rucka takes Forever and her relationships with her family members.

I also love the idea behind the story.  Rucka does not go into too much detail in the first issue as to how society broke down from nations designated by geography/politics to nations designated by wealth/Families.  I don’t think he needs to right away.  Honestly, this is not a future that is too difficult to envision, especially given a post-apocalyptic type environment (it is revealed in the second issue that Los Angeles was mostly destroyed in an earthquake).  In his epilogue at the end of the first issue, Rucka states that the idea for this series was partially inspired by the Occupy Movement and the general state of the global economy.  He then proceeds to detail all of the research on economics and science that he put together before May 2013 (when he wrote the epilogue).  As Rucka states, “It’s not news to say that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  What is news is just how stark that divide has become, and how much deeper and wider it looks to grow.”  Keeping this statement in mind, I think it is fascinating to explore a world in which this divide has grown so vast that the majority of humanity is viewed as “waste” with only the extremely wealthy controlling food, power, etc.  While the subject matter is extremely dark, I am very excited to see whatever glimmers of hope (if there are any) that may be revealed within this bleak future that Rucka and Lark envision.

Furthermore, the art in Lazarus is gorgeous.  Lazarus reunites Rucka with Michael Lark.  The two previously worked together on Gotham Central (another amazing series that everyone should check out at some point, especially fans of Batman stories).  Lark’s art is realistic and detailed without losing the feel of comic book art.  Perhaps one of the characteristics I love most about his illustrations are the eyes of his characters.  The story moves so quickly it might be easy to miss on the first read-through, but try to look at the eyes of the characters in each panel.  They oftentimes say more than whatever is written in the word balloons.

Only two issues in and I am hooked.  I highly recommend this series to anyone who is a fan of strong female characters and post-apocalyptic story lines.  If you have not read any books by Greg Rucka yet, Lazarus is a perfect place to start.

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Review: Abyss #3 Family Issues

Red Five Comics recently published Abyss #3, by Kevin Rubio and Alfonso Ruiz. If you haven’t read the first issues of this series, please get caught up here.   

The point of this issue is to explain to us the origins of ATOZ, the secret weapon that Eric Hoffman’s father has hidden in his underground lair. Why does everyone want it, what is it? The story involves aliens dropping from the sky, the military claiming ownership of alien technology and finding multiple ways to use it to our advantage, some of them sillier than others. One particular piece of alien technology, something they peg ‘the liquid’ leaves every scientist and engineer baffled as to it’s powers or weaknesses. One particular scientist decides this ‘liquid’ is priceless and succeeds in stealing it from the military. Would you be surprised if it ends up being used for devious purposes?

Fast forward to today and Eric Hoffman is busy cracking a hidden code in his father’s lair through a chess game. ATOZ is revealed and so are visitors. Eric doesn’t seem so bothered that these visitors let themselves into his ‘secret’ lair. He’s distracted by their news that Quiver is missing. The Arrow says he came to see if Eric could help them find her, claims Quiver is “crushing” on Eric.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise ending to this issue, so I’ll just say that we are left wondering who is really who they say they are and what makes ATOZ so damn important to every super hero and villian that knows it exists.

As I’ve said before, this comic series has a great sense of humor. It’s silly and endearing. This issue didn’t offer as much progression in the story as the first 2, but it also didn’t leave me feeling less interested. It’s a well written and colorful comic and well worth checking out, especially if you want a fresh, slightly comedic super hero tale.

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