Friday, 8 April 2011

Comics Round-Up # 3


Written by Matthew Sturges

Art by Luca Rossi, Jose Marzan Jr. and Darwyn Cooke

Published by Vertigo

Desolation: Part One A psychopathic waiter celebrates killing off his restaurant's clientele with a drink at the House of Mystery, a bizarre house in a borderland between many different dimensions where the first drink is free, but all the others have to be paid for by telling a story. There the waiter confronts the new bartender, Lotus Blossom who can magically make weapons appear out of thin air. Meanwhile a lonely astronaut tells a story of love, rockets and Martians, while series regulars Fig Keele and Harry Bailey are in unexpected places.

This issue starts a new storyline, and is a pretty good jumping-on point for new readers. It opens with a detailed summary of the main storyline to date, and introduces a number of new characters. As always with House of Mystery it features a main storyline and also a short mini-story, illustrated in a completely different style (in this issue it's a science-fiction story which takes a dark look at a pulp staple and is illustrated in a style that strongly hearkens to those comics of the '50s and early '60s). The comic is always a hugely entertaining mix of horror-fantasy, surrealism comedy and even soap-opera elements.


Written by Ben McCool

Illustrated by Nikki Cook

Published by Image Comics

This is the third of a six issue comic telling the story of a cynical journalist who arrives at a small town to investigate reports that the residents have all lost their memory. Arriving, the journalist begins to receive strange e-mails, and finds himself being pursued by strange shadow-creatures. Added to that is the discovery of a recent mass grave outside of the town, and the arrival of a mysterious and hostile agency who will stop at nothing to discover the town's secrets.

This has been a really involving series, with a genuinely intriguing plot, and some brilliantly moody black and white artwork, which makes great use of shadow (as befits the plot). If you're not reading this yet it is definitely worth checking it out when it is released in a collected form. It is a really good supernatural mystery thriller.


Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti

Illustrated by Travis Moore and Trevor Scott

Published by DC Comics

American Nightmare, Part Eight. The Freedom Fighters are a group of superheroes (or "meta-humans") who led by Uncle Sam, the spirit of the nation, are employed by the US Government to keep the country safe from super-human threats. In this story they are pitted against a ruthless terrorist known as The Jester who believes that America has grown weak and decadent, and has kidnapped the Vice President in order to force the Freedom Fighters to collect components for an ancient, powerful secret weapon, as well as the inmates of a prison full of super-villains.

This series tends not to get a lot of attention and the best issue apparently will be the last. It has an intriguing concept with the way it marries contemporary political concerns with super-hero action, but it doesn't always work. Mostly it comes across as fervently patriotic, but there is a welcome strain of cynicism. The artwork is good, of conventional and the script suffers from trying to cram too much into too short a space but in the end it has been quietly impressive in it's own way.


Written by Marc Andreyko

Illustrated by Patric Reynolds and Dave Stewart

Published by Dark Horse Comics

In a remote small town in Indiana, a serial killing property developer is determined to free up the home and land of a reclusive elderly man, named Thomas, by any means necessary. However he reckons without Thomas' twelve year old "daughter", Abby, a girl who has been twelve for a very, very long time.

This is the final issue of the four part prelude to the 2010 movie Let Me In, which in turn was an English language remake of the 2008 Swedish film called Let the Right One In which itself was an adaptation of a 2004 Swedish novel by John Ajvide Linqvist, about a lonely boy who befriends a 12 year old girl who turns out to be a vampire. The comic series is set immediately preceding the events of the Let Me In film which becomes something of a problem, as it tends to do with prequels because the outcome is never really in doubt. Aside from the two main characters, and some faint story elements, the comic has very little connection to the film, and it can easily be enjoyed if you've never seen the film. Also, if you've seen the film you're not really missing any of the story if you don't check out the comic. There are no origin stories, and none of Abby's secrets are revealed. The art is good and quite evocative. Wisely they don't go for photo-realistic depictions of the movie's stars Chloe Grace Moretz and Richard Jenkins for the look of the characters, although their look is very much based on the actors, instead the art is given kind of a rough look that makes it feel very much like an American gothic piece. It's not bad at all and fans of the film will probably enjoy it.


Written by Jeff Lemire

Art by Jeff Lemire and Jose Villarrubia

Published by Vertigo

Endangered Species, Part One. This comic is set in a post-apocalyptic near future where most of the human race has been wiped out by a plague and some have become human-animal hybrids, including the series main character Gus, nicknamed "Sweet Tooth", a nine-year old boy who has antlers and deer like ears, and is travelling with his tough protector, Jepperd, among others to find sanctuary. Three of Gus and Jepperd's companions, Lucy, Beck and Wendy (another hybrid who has a pig-like snout) have been caught in a trap, but are rescued by a seemingly kindly man who offers to take them to his home. Jepperd and Gus set out to find them, but the tension between the two of them hampers their efforts.

This is an interesting and offbeat piece that features some great artwork and an involving story. The wintery landscapes are very well realised and the comic mixes likeable and engaging characters, an involving plot, and a sense of pervasive bleakness. It's certainly recommended.

iZOMBIE # 12

Written by Chris Roberson

Illustrated by Gilbert Henrandez and Laura Allred

Published by Vertigo

Ghost Stories. This series revolves around Gwen, a pleasant, intelligent, attractive young woman, who also happens to be a zombie. In order to keep from becoming a mindless monster she needs to eat a regular supply of human brains. This one-shot story revolves around Gwen's best friend Eleanor, the ghost of a twenty year old woman who died in 1968. In fact the story is set slightly before the rest of the series and Gwen only appears at the end. Eleanor is bored in the cemetary, and spends her time listening to the other ghosts tell their stories: Native American legends of a man who became a fish, a comwboys tales of fighting subterranean zombies in Portland Oregon and Eleanor's own account of how she died among them.

This is a consitently enjoyable series which is notable for a horror title in that it is almost entirely focussed on the female characters. The comic is funny, frequently moving, endlessly inventive and surprising as well as featuring some impressive artwork. It deserves points as well for doing something different with the endlessly overdone zombie genre.


Written by Geoff Johns

Illustrated by Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin and Tom Nguyen

Published by DC Comics

War of the Green Lanterns, Part One. Former test pilot, Captain Hal "Highball" Jordan, is chosen to join an interglactic police force, the Green Lantern Corps, created by the oldest beings in existence - the Guardians of the Universe. However, the Guardians are becoming deeply concerned about Jordan's reckless ways and potential instability. Particularly since he has apparently allied himself with other unsanctioned members of Lantern Corps, strictly against orders. Jordan and his allies are trying to find a rogue Guardian named Krona who is in posession of seven of the most powerful cosmic parasitic forces in existence - the Entities. However the Guardians order the rest of the Green Lantern Corps to arrest Jordan and stop him by any means necessary.

This is a pretty entertaining blend of science-fiction superhero action, even if the amount of characters and their allegiances and backstory isn't particularly welcoming for new readers. The artwork is very good and there is plenty of exciitng action. You can expect to be hearing a lot more about Green Lantern in the coming months as there is a major film version due for release in July 2011.


Written by Jamie Delano

Illustrated by Philip Bond and Warren Pleece

Published by Vertigo

New London in the year 2025 "the Modern Republic of Love". Britain is a totalitarian country controlled by a puritanical President. The Royal family having died off from a mysterious succession of "accidents". The poor live in slum areas known as "No-Gos". The main religion is worship of Princess Diana, and most people are obsessed by endless soap operas and sadistic reality shows on TV. However, it may be that the Royal lineage has not died out after all. The fate of the heir to the throne rests in the unlikely hands of seventy-something occultist John Constantine.

This bizarre mini-series was first published in 2000 but has been reprinted as part of the Vertigo Resurrected strand which has been reprinting various short storylines which don't really fit into ordinary graphic novels or trade paperbacks. This story is possibly one of the strangest Hellblazer stories ever published, and that really is saying something! It ditches the usual urban-horror setting for a dystopian science-fiction story. Also this is an out and out comedy, or more accurately satire, and it is very much a product of it's time, feeling slightly out of date now, even though some aspects seem all too plausible. To get all the references you really need to have some knowledge of British life in 2000, but even it's not a major problem for readers who don't. It's not one of the best Hellblazer stories and is so atypical of the rest of the series that it is really not recommended for newcomers. It is still enjoyable enough though, once you get used to it.


iZOMBIE # 12

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