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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Writing by: Curtis J. Wiebe
Art by: Riley Rossmo
Issue #3 opens with a touching scene of Maya being schooled by her late mentor, Calista, in the delicate and patient art of becoming a ‘Protector’ for the last human outpost, Maiden. It’s not only apparent that Calista hoped to teach calm and thoughtful defensive techniques, but also that Maya was stubborn and fearless even as a child. The characters of Debris are quite likable and really help to draw you into the story; you really want to see them survive and succeed.
The art of Riley Rossmo is really at it’s best during Maya’s battle scenes with the giant trash bots that attack her in every issue. She’s nimble and smart and Rossmo does a great job at portraying the acrobatic movements of her fighting style. I’m very much a fan of his creative use of color as well, using it to create the right mood for each scene and allow the right things to pop in each panel to draw you in to the story.
Maya’s travel companion, Kessel, is wise and weathered; he tries to keep her optimistic but he’s obviously weighed down by his own personal doubts and demons. As the two search for a paradise neither knows actually exists, they grow closer through making new discoveries and sharing old wounds. The real story behind Kessel’s banishment from Maiden is sad and shines light on who he really is. Maya’s childlike curiosity for the sights, smells and tastes of the new lands they journey through expose cracks in her hard, warrior exterior.
Debris is a unique post apocalyptic story of human survival that grows ever more thick with emotion and profound character development. The writing is solid and engaging, the artwork bright and scenic. Debris #3 does a great job of building on the personalities of our protagonists and carries the story along at just the right pace. I definitely recommend this series to readers who enjoy a good adventure ripe with relate-able characters and the perfect dose of action.
Writing by: A.J. Lieberman
Art by: Colin Lorimer
What happens to doctors when they mess up? I mean, really mess up. Like going in to surgery on a drug binge and letting a patient die on your table because you can’t stand up type of messing up. Your license is revoked, you’re hated by your colleagues and you have nowhere left to go with your life. According to Harvest, they are approached by mysterious figures who offer them their lives back, in the form of a secret, very sketchy surgery facility. Very rich, impatient corporate moguls are willing to pay big bucks to get the shiny new organs they need and skip the waiting lists. Mysterious man and his sexy assistant see the business opportunity in this and take advantage of desperate ex-doctors to do the dirty work for them.
Harvest starts out slow and doesn’t exactly get to the point right away. Black market organ transplants are not a new concept, but do have potential to make a gruesome, dark comic story line, if done right. The art is very pretty (in a dirty sort of way) and I like that they don’t hold back on the brutal details. It’s bloody, rough and bloody.
I’m going to keep reading it, because I would like to see this material go somewhere really cool, but so far the story is lacking a certain something. I’m not sure exactly what’s missing. Maybe substance to the characters, maybe the story is just progressing a bit slowly for my taste. Dr. Ben is haunted by a child from his past who seems to represent his guilt in some way, and even that aspect lends a possibility for more creep factor, but hasn’t quite gotten there yet.
I’m not sure how many issues you should read, waiting for a book to reach it’s potential. There is enough pull for me to see where Harvest goes that I haven’t given up on it after the first two, so something is right there, even if it’s just possibility. It does offer a fun theme as far as horror comics go, so I’ll check out #3 as well. Give it a read on Comixology and if you feel compelled, check out #2. I did enjoy the idea and the art is nice to look at, I just don’t think Harvest will grab everyone from the start.
Art: Riley Rossmo
Writing: Kurtis J Wiebe
The human race has made a big, dirty mess out of Earth, covering it with garbage and the debris of technology. It’s the future and a small group of people are struggling to survive in the harsh landscape that remains. Old story, right? Not in this case. Debris takes a fresh approach to the future of mankind with with ancient, metal bodied beasts called Colossals that attack the tiny outpost and anyone found wandering the wastelands.
Debris #2 is all about Maya’s first big job as the new Protector of Maiden, the last surviving group of humans. Besides kicking lots of Colossal ass, that is, which she does with grace and strength. The opening scene of Maya taking on three Colossals on her own is fast, expressive and fun under the guidance of Riley Rossmo’s colorful art style. He has a special way of using color to quickly change the mood of a scene and he excels at relaying the movement in action.
Maya is venturing out in to the wasteland to search for a legendary place called Athabasca, which no one seems to believe is real besides Maya’s late mentor, Calista. She discovers a long estranged member of Maiden in her travels, possibly a new alliance. The story is fluid and easy to keep up with, nothing particularly surprising or shocking has developed just yet, but it doesn’t seem to lessen the appeal of the story so far.
Debris is a quirky, futuristic representation of the results of humankind’s disregard for the environment and our obsession with industry. We will suffer for it later and have a heavy burden to bear while we struggle to keep our species from extinction in a harsh, violent new world. Rossmo’s art is unique and bright and does great justice to this kind of story. If you haven’t yet read Debris, I suggest picking up #1 and #2, as I only see this series getting better and better.