Posts tagged image comics

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Comic Review: Dark Engine

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Dark Engine by Ryan Burton and John Bivens is a new comic that plenty of my friends have been waiting on, and after reading it, I’m reasonably certain that no one has been or will be disappointed. First of all, the cover art is really nifty, portraying the focus of the comic, a girl who looks fierce and incredibly intimidating with a giant sword. I’m certainly not an artist, but I really like the style of art being shown in this comic. It’s very otherworldly, and definitely helps to transport you into the chaos within the story.

From the beginning, this comic throws you into a world that is unlike anything that we are used to. There are a surplus of creatures that somehow fall between prehistoric and alien in appearance. We meet the girl from the cover rather quickly. As expected, she quickly starts slaughtering things, presumably because she’s a total badass. Directly following this, we start to see some other new characters talking about the girl, who we now learn is called: Sym. There is talk of the magic and sacrifice used to create her, and we are informed that she has been made to kill some enemy.

It’s divulged that she was fitted with some sort of engine (I’m assuming a Dark Engine, but that could just be me being presumptuous) by one of the characters. This character seems haunted by this engine, which we find out is being used to send Sym back in time in order for her to kill this enemy before they could ruin the world in the way that they did (which is only being expressed through the art at the moment). We learn that the engine is sending Sym into various periods of time until it can somehow right itself, and we’re given a glimpse into the possibility that the engine might actually think for itself.

The comic ends with plenty of mystery after a character nonchalantly states that Sym will likely kill anything she comes in contact with across these time periods (and we actually see her brutally slaying something). Already, I want to know more about how Sym and how she was created. I’m definitely interested in learning about the inner workings of this engine, and what it is capable of. I also want to know exactly who this enemy is and what he used to destroy the world. Really, I just want to know more about everything, and I’m really hoping that the next one comes with a little insight into this interesting world.

So, uh, read this. It’s a good one.

 

Daliya Risik

@TasteTheChaos

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Sheltered #1 & #2 Review

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Sheltered #1 & #2 Review

Writing: Ed Brisson

Art: Johnnie Christmas

Review by Melissa Megan

Victoria and her dad recently arrived at Safe Haven, a community intentionally removing themselves from ‘the grid’ and preparing for the end of the world, however it may come. They’ve got ham radios, bunkers stocked with food and water and the knowledge to survive almost anything. They’re still adjusting to their new home when things take a major turn for the worse.

Charismatic local boy Lucas heads up a rebellion against the adults of the compound. We’re not talking about throwing the grown ups in the basement here, every single one of them are killed and burned. It’s a shocking basis for the story and issue 2 wastes no time getting to the point. As Victoria and her friend Hailey return from a walk in the woods that caused them to miss the massacre, they are faced with the grim new reality of their situation.

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This is heavy shit, folks. Lucas is committed to his mission, although what that is isn’t exactly clear yet, and he won’t let any weepy kids get in his way. He’s already convinced the other kids in the compound to murder their own parents. The question is why and what has he got planned for the community left behind. Victoria is obviously a tough cookie and she isn’t prepared to lay down and start taking orders from Lucas or his child army.

So far, Sheltered is a very interesting read. The art works but it’s nothing that will blow your mind, the writing is the real meat here. This concept is high tension and I love how quickly the action got started. There is lots of potential for a great psychological thriller here and Sheltered has already delivered in a big way on emotional drama. You should definitely be reading this one, I have a feeling it won’t slow down.

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Review: Saga #13

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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

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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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Bedlam #7 Review

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Writing: Nick Spencer

Art: Ryan Browne

Cover: Frazer Irving

Review by Melissa Megan

Oh, Bedlam chaos and insanity, how I missed you. In issue #7 Madder Red is back to his old tricks, which in this case is playing puppet master with the heads of two recently murdered religious leaders for an audience of locals gathered to prove they are not afraid of Madder Red. Ok, so it’s only another flashback of one of his many bloody killings, but oh boy does it make his madness crystal clear. This opening scene is the kind of material that drew me to this series and I, for one, am glad to see the pace picking back up.

In present day, Fillmore is still working with Detective Acevedo, helping the police solve murder cases. He makes it look easy and she still doesn’t seem to understand how or why he has such an intimate understanding of all the madmen he paints in such great detail for her. Although Fillmore is maintaining some level of normalcy to Acevedo, he is losing his grip, having hallucinations and flashbacks of his alter ego, Madder Red.

This issue is the first one with a new artist. It was announced a couple months back that Riley Rossmo would be stepping down from Bedlam, due to “creative differences” with the writer. Artist Ryan Browne (Hack/Slash, Hoax Hunters) does an admiral job with the visuals of this world, obviously making a respectful attempt to maintain the appearance of the characters that we have grown comfortable with. His overall style is similar to Rossmo’s in it’s lines and wobbly sketchiness, but doesn’t quite have the same depth. The changes didn’t ruin Bedlam for me, but it does feel different. I suspect as long as the writing holds up, the new art work will melt in just fine, without causing much disruption in the atmosphere.

You should be buying and reading Bedlam. I admit, it has had some ups and downs, but in general is one of the best horror comics being written right now. It’s quite unique and terrifying.

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Chin Music #1 Review

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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.

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Saga #12 review

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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.

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Bedlam #6 Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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