Catching up on DC/Vertigo Comics Collections

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Featuring: Arkham Manor, Batgirl, Batman & Robin, Bodies, Coffin Hill, Deathstroke, Detective Comics, Gotham Academy, Grayson, Harley Quinn, Justice League, Lobo, The Names, (New) Teen Titans Continue reading

Catching up on Image Comics Collections

Featuring: Jupiter’s Legacy, Rat Queens, Saga, Southern Bastards, StarlightVelvet

JupitersLegacy-Vol.1JUPITER’S LEGACY, Vol.1

Writer: Mark Millar | Artist: Frank Quitely

The children of the world’s greatest superheroes may never be able to fill their parents’ shoes. When the family becomes embattled by infighting, one branch stages an uprising and another goes into hiding. How long can the world survive when one family’s super-powered problems explode onto the global stage? Just in time for the launch of the prequel series JUPITER’S CIRCLE comes this collected edition from storytelling masters Millar and Quitely.

Collects: Jupiter’s Legacy #1-5

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this — I have had very mixed experiences with Millar’s work in the past. Luckily, Jupiter’s Legacy is a pretty interesting take on super-heroes. Specifically, it’s a great look at the legacy of heroes and their families — what happens when later generations have completely different interpretations of the hero’s responsibility and the solution to the world’s problems? It’s fast-paced, nuanced and action-packed in equal measures. It’s not perfect, and there were some strange or clunky moments, but for the main Millar reigns in his… well, Millar tendencies: there was nothing here that suggested Grant Morrison’s influence was still in evidence. The violence is particularly brutal and graphic, true, but it’s not daft or stupid. Recommended for fans of, among others, Mark Waid’s Irredeemable.

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RatQueens-Vol.2RAT QUEENS, Vol.2 – “The Far Reaching Tentacles Of N’Rygoth”

Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe | Artist: Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Šejić

This booze-soaked second volume of RAT QUEENS reveals a growing menace within the very walls of Palisade. And while Dee may have run from her past, the bloated, blood-feasting sky god N’rygoth never really lets his children stray too far.

Collects: Rat Queens #6-10

The first Rat Queens book was a very pleasant surprise: it mixed up and twisted a whole host of fantasy tropes, creating something both familiar and refreshingly new. It was also wonderfully irreverent, but not to the point where gags overwhelmed the story. In this second collection, Wiebe and Co. up the ante, as the Queens get to the bottom of what’s actually happening to Palisade. It’s a very fast-paced story, with action and humour aplenty. The creative team do a very good job of not letting the story get completely ridiculous, but it’s certainly a grand, fantastical tale with magic and mayhem — playing with tropes in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner, while maintaining the sense of wonder and fun that drew oh-so-many people to fantasy in the first place. Highly recommended for all fans of fantasy, great storytelling and humour comics. Excellent.

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Saga-Vol.4SAGA, Vol.4

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan | Artist: Fiona Staples

Visit new planets, meet new adversaries and explore a very new direction, as Hazel becomes a toddler while her family struggles to stay on their feet.

Collects: Saga #19-24

Saga is one of the few ongoing series that I’m still following — at least, beyond the second collection (I often find that it when a series will either sink or swim). This series has been lauded far and wide, so it’s probably no surprise that I, too, absolutely love it. It’s just the right amount of crazy, just the right amount of faithful to the science fiction genre, but also funny, warm and expertly crafted. In this fourth volume, the strain of running and living in hiding gets too much for our couple of protagonists. Meanwhile, Alana is making it in entertainment, Marko is struggling to remain hidden while raising Hazel. Oh, and bounty hunters and crazy TV-headed royals are still after them. So there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Still a superb series, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. A must-read.

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SouthernBastards-Vol.2SOUTHERN BASTARDS, Vol.2 – “Gridiron”

Writer: Jason Aaron | Artist: Jason Latour

The hit new crime series SOUTHERN BASTARDS returns for its second volume, and pulls back the curtain on the dark and seedy history of Craw County and its most famous and feared resident, the high school football coach turned backwoods crime lord Euless Boss.

Collects: Southern Bastards #5-9

If HBO developed Friday Night Lights, this could be the result. A grim look at Southern football culture, blended very nicely with small-town secrets and brutality. A worthy follow-up volume to the first, shifting perspective and focus. This is a really interesting series, and highly recommended.

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StarlightSTARLIGHT

Writer: Mark Millar | Artist: Goran Parlov

Forty years ago, Duke McQueen was the space hero who saved the universe. But then he came back home, got married, had kids, and grew old. Now his children have left and his wife has passed away, leaving him alone with nothing except his memories… until a call comes from a distant world asking him back for his final and greatest adventure.

Collects: Starlight #1-5

Once again, I was surprised by a Millar book — this one is a nostalgic look at golden-era heroes and sci-fi like John Carter of Mars. The nostalgia lies not only in the setting, but the story itself — Duke McQueen is getting old, he’s buried his wife, and is feeling lost and alone. His family don’t believe him about his earlier adventures. Now, though, the planet he saved decades ago has been conquered by a brutal race of… well, sadists. Called back to help, Duke gets to relive his glory days and, hopefully, do some more good. I really enjoyed this — much more than I expected. Highly recommended for long-time fans of super-heroes and classic science fiction fantasy.

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Velvet-Vol.2VELVET, Vol.2 – “The Secret Lives of Dead Men”

Writer: Ed Brubaker | Artist: Steve Epting & Elizabeth Breitweiser

Everything Velvet Templeton ever believed about the worst night of her life has turned out to be a lie, and now she’s coming back to London, taking the hunt back to the hunters, to find the truth or die trying. Don’t miss the second volume in the adventures of comics’ favorite new super-spy!

Collects: Velvet #6-10

Brubaker and Epting worked on my favourite Captain America storylines (Winter Soldier and Red Menace), so I was very much looking forward to Velvet, when it was first announced. The first collection was a great introduction to the characters and the start of Velvet’s investigation into the situation with her husband. In this second book, there’s action and espionage aplenty, while never stinting on the character development and story itself. It’s a fantastic series, frankly. As the book progresses, we learn just a little bit more about Velvet’s goals, not to mention a rather excellent switch-up at the end. Very highly recommended, this is a must for all fans of spy stories and thrillers. Easily one of the best ongoing series at the moment.

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Quick Reviews: Graphic Novels

Here are seven mini-reviews of graphic novels/collections that I’ve read over the last few weeks. Given that some of them are from now well-established series, I decided to keep them very short in order to not spoil things for new readers.

Batman-Vol.06-GraveyardShiftBATMAN, Vol.6 — Graveyard Shift (DC New 52)

Writer: Scott Snyder | Artist: Greg Capullo

In these tales from BATMAN #0, 18-20, 28, 34 and BATMAN ANNUAL #2, look back to the early days of the Dark Knight, then see the impact of the wake of the death of his son Damian! Plus, has Batman’s worst foe become…Bruce Wayne? This title also includes three pivotal chapters from the epic ZERO YEAR storyline, and a chapter that ties in to BATMAN ETERNAL!

Another good collection, but not the best. This book collects together the shorter and stand-alone stories. It’s a good, mixed collection. I miss the larger, multi-issue and more involved storylines, and I look forward to reading “End Game”.

A must for completists, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s essential. It is, however, also quite a good book to read if you want to sample Snyder and Capullo’s Batman work — they remain a creative force to be reckoned with.

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DetectiveComics-Vol.06-IcarusBATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS, Vol.6 — Icarus (DC New 52)

Writer: Francis Manapul | Artist: Brian Buccellato

Batman finds himself knee-deep in a new mystery involving a deadly new narcotic that has hit the streets of Gotham City. Can the Dark Knight stop the threat before the entire town finds itself embroiled in a deadly gang war that could burn everything — and everyone — down to the ground?

Collects: Detective Comics #30-34 & Annual #3

This is a great new instalment in this series. After Gregg Hurwitz’s run on Batman: Dark Knight ended, I’ve been looking for some new life in the Bat-family titles. I think Manapul and Buccellato are the pair to do it: “Icarus” is a great story, focusing a lot on the “Detective” part of the series title. A drug ravaging the city, Batman and his allies must get to the bottom of things in order to take the unstable, deadly substance off the streets.

A great first storyline for the new creative team. Highly recommended for all fans of Batman.

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Copperhead-Vol.01-NewSheriffInTownCOPPERHEAD, Vol.1 — A New Sheriff in Town (Image)

Writer: Jay Faerber | Artist: Scott Godlewski

Welcome to Copperhead, a grimy mining town on the edge of a backwater planet. Single mom Clara Bronson is the new sheriff, and on her first day she’ll have to contend with a resentful deputy, a shady mining tycoon, and a family of alien hillbillies. And did we mention the massacre?

Collects: Copperhead #1-5

Now this book was fantastic. A perfect transposition of the classic crime/cop story onto a weird and wonderful, Star Wars-esque science fictional setting. The writing and dialogue are punchy and perfectly paced, the artwork is fantastic. The characters are quickly established, the world and community Bronson finds herself in are great — populated by colourful characters and intriguing dynamics. Her supporting cast are interesting and diverse (in race as well as temperament), and Faerber and Godlewski give us some hints about their pasts and potential future storylines.

If you read only one new comic series this year, I’d highly recommend you make it this one. “A New Sheriff in Town” is the start of something awesome.

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Low-Vol.01-DeliriumOfHopeLOW, Vol.1 — The Delirium of Hope (Image)

Writer: Rick Remender | Artist: Greg Tocchini

Millennia ago, mankind fled the earth’s surface into the bottomless depths of the darkest oceans. Shielded from a merciless sun’s scorching radiation, the human race tried to stave off certain extinction by sending robotic probes far into the galaxy, to search for a new home among the stars. Generations later, one family is about to be torn apart, in a conflict that will usher in the final race to save humanity from a world beyond hope.

Collects: Low #1-6

This series was getting a lot of attention when it was first announced, and the first few issues were equally praised. It’s not difficult to see why — Tocchini’s artwork is striking and vivid, and Remender’s story is pretty cool. The dystopian setting is unusual and well-built. That being said, the story never quite gripped me as much as I’d expected. I like Remender’s work, and this series has some fantastic, weird and wonderful moments within. But… it also felt just a tad plodding. It was slightly predictable, too. Nevertheless, and while those may sound like damning niggles, Low is worth checking out if you’re a fan of SF comic and/or dystopian fiction. An interesting book.

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Unwritten-Vol.09-FablesTHE UNWRITTEN, Vol. 9 — The Unwritten Fables (Vertigo)

Writer: Mike Carey & Bill Willingham | Artist: Peter Gross & Mark Buckingham

The worlds of FABLES and THE UNWRITTEN collide in the epic comic event by Mike Carey and Bill Willingham!

Tommy Taylor is thrust into the world of Vertigo’s hit series Fables! But a dark and terrible foe has seized the fairy-tale homelands and our world. In desperation, the witches of Fabletown gather to summon the greatest mage the worlds have ever seen. But they are in for an unpleasant surprise.

Collects: The Unwritten #50-55

Long-time readers of CR have probably picked up on the fact that I’m a big fan of not only The Unwritten, but also Mike Carey’s fiction and Bill Willingham’s Fables universe. It was with great anticipation, therefore, that I started reading The Unwritten Fables. What I found was… disappointing. The story was fine, but didn’t come close to matching the quality of neither The Unwritten nor Fables. The connection felt forced, the story not as confident nor gripping as I have come to expect from both writers. The artwork is very good, of course, and is worth reading for that reason alone. Ultimately, though, I would not tell anyone that this is an essential book, and if you’ve been following either series, you wouldn’t miss anything by skipping it.

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Unwritten-Vol.10-WarStoriesTHE UNWRITTEN, Vol. 10 — War Stories (Vertigo)

Writer: Mike Carey | Artist: Peter Gross

The tenth volume of the critically-acclaimed new series from the Eisner-nominated creative team, Mike Carey and Peter Gross is the perfect jumping on point, as Tom Taylor is stranded at the beginning of all creation!

Lost in the unwritten scenes of all the world’s stories, Tom Taylor is headed back to reality — and all the gods and beasts and monsters ever imagined can’t stop him. But there’s a toll on the road that may be too high for him or anyone to pay…

Collects: The Unwritten Apocalypse #1-5

So, I liked this better than The Unwritten Fables, but the book still didn’t engage me as much as the first eight volumes of the series did. It’s still a strong series, and one I’d recommend to everyone, but this one meandered just a little more than I had hoped. The artwork in the first chapter/issue is fantastic and tries something new. This book kicks off a new phase in the story. Imaginative, innovative, and pretty twisty, if you’re a fan of the series, this is a must. If you’ve never read anything in this series before, I’d recommend you go back to volume one and get hooked now.

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Wayward-Vol.01-StringTheoryWAYWARD, Vol.1 — String Theory (Image)

Writer: Jim Zub | Artists: Steve Cummings, John Rauch & Tamra Bonvillain

Lane is trying to start a new life when she reunites with her mother in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can Rori unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late?

Collects: Wayward #1-5

This is a fantastic new series. I’ve enjoyed everything of Jim Zub’s that I’ve read in the past, but this may be my favourite. Set in Japan, the comic brings to the country and its culture to life on the page. Mashing it up with folklore and mythology, this has a Studio Gibli-esque feel, while very much maintaining its own identity. Magical conspiracies, amusing werecats, and pretty cool protagonists and antagonists. I can’t wait for book two. A definite must-read, and another success for Image Comics.

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Marvel STAR WARS Featurette

StarWars-01A-Art2

Here’s a mini-featurette on the recently-published STAR WARS #1, in which series writer Jason Aaron, editor Jordan D. White, and Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso talk about the creation of the new ongoing series:

[youtube http://youtu.be/H_Hiky7fT2s]

There were 69(!) variant covers for this issue (which is frankly insane). A good number of them are pretty cool (Skottie Young’s is great). Personally, I think I like the Midtown Comics exclusive the best:

StarWars-01-MidtownSpeaking of of Skottie Young, he’s produced three covers – for Princess Leia #1, Star Wars #1, and Darth Vader #1 – that can be stitched together into a single image (via MTV News):

StarWars-SkottieYoungCovers

Quick Reviews: EGOs, THE FUSE, NAILBITER, SHUTTER, SOUTHERN BASTARDS, UMBRAL (Image)

EGOs-Vol.01EGOs, Vol.1 — “Quintessence”

Writer: Stuart Moore | Artist: Gus Storms

Far-future action meets midlife crises as an aging hero rebuilds his former team. But to do so, he must cross a line with his wife that cannot be uncrossed.

 

Collects: EGOs #0-4

This was an interesting comic. It has a lot going for it — big space action, some humour, quirky artwork and design. The colour scheme is, well, very much as you can see on the cover — soft, pastel shades. It’s a big story, touching upon nostalgia (the readers’ and also the characters’) and mashing together super-heroes and space opera. It dragged a bit at times, and the momentum was a little uneven throughout. But, it’s also an out-of-retirement origin story of sorts. By the time the book ends, everything and everyone is in place for a larger, continuing story. I’ll come back for volume two, I’m sure, but of the books reviewed in this post, it was not my favourite.

Still. If you like space opera, weird science and super-heroes, then it’s well worth checking out. There’s a bit of an older Guardians of the Galaxy vibe to it, too.

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Fuse-Vol.01THE FUSE, Vol.1 — “The Russia Shift”

Writer: Antony Johnson | Art & Cover: Justin Greenwood

22,000 MILES UP, THERE IS NO BACKUP.

Working homicide on an orbiting energy platform, in a five mile long jury-rigged steel city stuffed with a half million people, and no help from your so-called colleagues back on earth, is more than tough… it’s murder.

Colletcs: The Fuse #1-6

A crime thriller in space! I rather enjoyed this. It took a little while to sink into the story, however, but once I did I really started to dig the premise and location of the story. It’s Law & Order: Orbital Unit. The detectives are cool and varied (one is a near-retirement woman, which certainly is not your usual protagonist for comic series, regardless of sub-genre). The eventual solution was not what I’d expected. Perhaps a shade over-the-top and implausible,  but it nevertheless is successfully executed. A great blend of sci-fi and crime thriller that really works. There’s political and social commentary, and very well-paced storytelling. Definitely recommended.

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Nailbiter-Vol.01NAILBITER, Vol.1 — “There Will Be Blood”

Writer: Joshua Williamson | Art & Cover: Mike Henderson

“Where do serial killers come from?” and why has Buckaroo, Oregon given birth to sixteen of the most vile serial killers in the world? NSA Agent Nicholas Finch needs to solve that mystery in order to save his friend, and he’ll have to team up with the infamous Edward “Nailbiter” Warren to do it.

Collects: Nailbiter #1-5

I’m not really sure what I was expecting from this series. What I found, though, was superb. A town that has produced a surprisingly high number of serial killers, and an investigating copy has become obsessed with uncovering the mystery of Buckaroo. After he disappears, Finch rolls into town, makes an impression, and starts digging. The most recent, infamous murderer gets drawn into the investigation, as does the local sheriff. Excellent pacing, great storytelling, some wonderfully atmospheric, moody artwork… Nailbiter is really quite excellent. The book ends with some surprises, and some superb promise for the future. Very highly recommended.

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Shutter-Vol.01SHUTTER, Vol.1 — “Wanderlost”

Writer: Joe Keatinge | Art & Cover: Leila Del Duca & Owen Gieni

Kate Kristopher, once the most famous explorer of an Earth far more fantastic than the one we know, is forced to return to the adventurous life she left behind when a family secret threatens to destroy everything she spent her life protecting.

Collects: Shutter #1-6

This was… a bit of a disappointment, sadly. It’s a riot of urban fantastical and weird elements, which while very creative and ambitious, is also a bit of a mess. There’s a lot to love about it — the lead character is interesting and the mystery about her father and family is certainly interesting. There are cool secondary characters (Harrington, for example), but there’s so much thrown at the reader that it’s difficult to know what to expect. I’ll check back for volume two, but it’s not a high priority. Maybe this will end up being like Vertigo’s Hinterkind: a disappointing establishing volume, followed by a stellar second collection?

If you like your comics zany and filled with the mad and clashing fantastic, then Shutter should appeal. I usually do, but I think this just goes that little bit too far.

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SouthernBastards-Vol.01SOUTHERN BASTARDS, Vol.1 — “Here Was A Man”

Writer: Jason Aaron | Artist: Jason LaTour

Welcome to Craw County, Alabama, home of Boss BBQ, the state champion Runnin’ Rebs football team… and more bastards than you’ve ever seen. When you’re an angry old man like Earl Tubb, the only way to survive a place like this… is to carry a really big stick.

Collects: Southern Bastards #1-4

This is a pretty grim and gritty series. It’s brutal, gripping, frightening, and absolutely not a tourist pamphlet for the American south… The town is dominated by the high school football coach, who rules with an iron fist and seems to keep crime under control (and profitable for him). When Earl Tubb returns to clear out his recently passed father’s home, he gets tangled up in the injustices of small-town southern America. It does not end on a happy note. It’s a strangely uncomfortable read, in some respects, but it’s good — brutally honest, unvarnished. The artwork is appropriate — at least, that’s how it feels, fits the story and tone very well.

Recommended if you like your comics based more on reality than the fantastical.

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Umbral-Vol.01UMBRAL, Vol.1 — “Out of the Shadows”

Writer: Antony Johnston | Artist & Cover: Christopher Mitten

The young thief called Rascal witnesses the horrific and brutal murder of the royal family— now the world’s dark legends will be relived, and only Rascal even knows it’s happening!

Collects: Umbral #1-6

This was an interesting book. The tone is interesting — there’s a mix of adventure, action, conspiracy, and some amusing, poking-of-fun at the genre. The humour is gentle and there are a fair number of chuckle-worthy asides and quips. The premise is pretty interesting, and the story flows quite well. That being said, I think it started to lose steam towards the end of the collection. There are some surprises, nicely revealed, but also some things that just didn’t progress enough. The world-building is interesting and well-done. The artwork is very good, too — especially for the Umbral (which are nicely creepy and weird).

An opening act, to be sure, with plenty going on. I am interested enough to return for the second collection.

Quick Review: SUPERMAN UNCHAINED Deluxe Edition (DC Comics)

SupermanUnchained-DeluxeWriter: Scott Snyder | Artist: Jim Lee, Dustin Nguyen, Scott Williams

From the skies above Metropolis to the four corners of the globe to the star-streaked spaceways beyond, one man is synonymous with the word “hero.” Since his arrival marked the dawn of the superhero age, Superman has waged a never-ending battle for truth and justice, no matter when or where.

But before the dawn came the darkness. When another with incredible power, far more than that of mortal man, fell to the Earth. One who could spell the end for the Man of Steel.

Collects: Superman Unchained #1-9

This is a pretty good Superman story. As the name suggests, it’s off-the-hook, action-packed and large-scale. The stakes are high (global peril!), the action is huge, and the story stretches back to the 1940s. Superman is up against a group of techno-terrorists and a mysterious US military department that appears to have been manipulating events behind-the-scenes for years. Teaming up with a surprise ally, Superman must get to the bottom of the terrorists’ schemes, and negotiate a peace with the US military. Meanwhile, his friends and allies step up to help out as and when they can.

The writing is very good, the artwork is stunning, and the action comes fast and often. By offering no pretense as to what this story is meant to be, Scott et al can really go all out. There’s a lot of over-the-top action, presented in eye-catching, stunning artwork. It still manages to be less over-the-top than the Man of Steel movie, mind… If you have any interest in the character, then Superman Unchained should entertain.

Superman Unchained Deluxe Edition is published next week.

Quick Reviews: C.O.W.L., MERCENARY SEA, UNDERTOW, WICKED + DIVINE (Image)

COWL-Vol.01C.O.W.L., Vol.1 — “Principles of Power”

Writers: Kyle Higgins & Alec Siegel | Artist: Rod Reis | Cover: Trevor McCarthy

Welcome to the “Chicago Organized Workers League” — the world’s first Super-Hero Labor Union!

While C.O.W.L. once stood as a beacon of hope against an epidemic of organized crime and an unbeatable “brotherhood” of Super-Villains, the union now faces its fiercest foe yet — a disillusioned public. In targeting the last of the great villains, C.O.W.L. attempts to prove its value to the world and to each other, while staving off villainy from both outside and inside its offices.

In 1962, the union faces a disillusioned public, scandal, and a new era of threats.

Collects: C.O.W.L. #1-5

This was a pretty good start to a new series. Set in Chicago, we get a melange of noir super-hero/detective action, local labour politics, and internal tensions. The story has everything to make it attractive to a large swathe of the comics readership. The artwork is rough, but that suits the story perfectly. It’s pretty slow-moving, though, and “Principles of Power” is very much setting up what I assume will be a large story arc: pieces are maneuvered into position, political and social realities exert pressures on the corrupt and idealistic alike. Obstacles are removed. I think this could end up becoming a classic. Definitely recommended.

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MercenarySea-Vol.01THE MERCENARY SEA, Vol.1

Writer: Kel Symons | Artist: Mathew Reynolds

Action and adventure set in 1938 — The South Seas. Japan has invaded China. War in Europe is imminent. Ex-bootlegger Jack Harper captains The Venture, a refitted German U-Boat, with a crew of expats, mercenaries and treasure hunters. They do whatever it takes to stay afloat, often running up against pirates, headhunters, spies, and soldiers. They’re always one step away from the greatest score of their lives… or their certain demise.

Collects: The Mercenary Sea #1-6

This series pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin: high adventure, action and shenanigans in the late ’30s. It does a rather good job, too, and was a fun read. It didn’t blow me away, but it was certainly enjoyable. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting a break from super-heroes, but not a break from action and adventure. The artwork is rather simple, not bad, but not always great. Blocky colouring means it’s not as nuanced as many other comic, but it’s an interesting and eye-catching style. Recommended.

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Undertow-Vol.01UNDERTOW, Vol.1 — “Boatman’s Call”

Writer: Steve Orlando | Artist: Artyom Trakhanov

Atlantis is the world superpower, and Redum Anshargal is its worst enemy. If you want to break free of the system, he can offer you a place at his side, exploring the wild surface world in his watertight city barge The Deliverer. He and his hostage-protege Ukinnu Alal hunt the Amphibian, a legend that could be the key to an air-breathing life on land. But as they become the hunted, can Anshargal’s team survive long enough to turn the tables on the godlike beast they set out for? A brand new pulp monster adventure with Ray Harryhausen at its heart and a look at Atlantis like never before.

Collects: Undertow #1-6

This was an interesting book. It took a bit longer than I usually like to get stuck into the story, but I think it’s pretty cool. I enjoyed the reversal of power and fortune — Atlantis as the dominant power, and the exploration of dry land from under the sea, rather than the usual opposite. The artwork is rough and interesting, but also rather psychedelically coloured. I didn’t love the series, but I think it’s a decent start to a new series. I’ll be back for volume two, but I won’t necessarily be rushing to buy and read it. Worth reading if you’re a fan of science fiction comics with a twist.

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WickedAndDivine-Vol.01THE WICKED + DIVINE, Vol.1 — “The Faust Act”

Writer: Kieron Gillen | Art & Cover: Jamie McKelvie & Matt Wilson

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

Collects: The Wicked + The Divine #1-5

This was frankly marvellous. It starts well and just gets better and better. Gillen et al manage to pack in a lot into these first five issues — the scene is set, the mythology explained (elegantly — there’s no clunky info-dumping), the characters established. Lucifer (“Luci” for short) is awesome, and probably my favourite, although the Underground-dwelling Morrigan was also delightfully twisted. The artwork is clear and sharp, brilliantly coloured (alternately atmospheric and vivid). The writing is excellent, never cliche and always engaging. I do love the mash-up of urban fantasy, the divine, and celebrity culture.

Very highly recommended, I can’t wait for volume two.

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GN Reviews: FAIREST and HINTERKIND (Vertigo)

Two very good new collections

Fairest-Vol.04FAIREST, Vol.4 – “Cinderella: Of Mice and Men”

Writer: Marc Andreyko | Artist: Shawn McManus |

Cinderella returns in an all-new epic! After an assassination attempt on Snow White, Cind is called back into service to unravel an age-old conspiracy that dates back to that fateful midnight ball! Can Cind uncover the plot and prevent a massacre in Fabletown?

Collects: Fairest #21-27

It should come as no surprise to long-time readers of CR that I’m a fan of Bill Willingham’s ever-expanding Fables universe. Whether it’s the main series itself, or Jack of Fables, or the Cinderella mini-series, I have loved them all. I read an very much enjoyed the aforementioned Cinderella mini-series, with their blend of fantasy and espionage (From Fabletown with Love and Fables Are Forever — both written by Chris Roberson). Therefore, I was rather pleased to discover that Cinderella returns in this Fairest story-arc. This is a bit of a strange story, but one that fits perfectly with the Fables-esque twisting of fable and fairy tale.

In this one, a strange loop-hole in the spell that turned rodents into Cinderella’s footmen to take her to the ball results in decades of poor decisions. As the perpetrator’s actions come back to bite him (and many others) in the ass, Cinderella must reprise her role as spy and Fables operative. It’s a really fun, quick-moving, country-hopping tale. With excellent artwork and writing, Fairest Volume 4 is very highly recommended — if you’ve been following the series already, you won’t be disappointed.

Also on CR: Reviews of Fairest Volumes 1 (Wide Awake), 2 (Hidden Kingdom) and 3 (The Return of the Maharaja)

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Hinterkind-Vol.2HINTERKIND, Vol.2 – “Written In Blood”

Writer: Ian Edginton | Artist: Francesco Trifolgi | Colors: Cris Peter | Cover: Greg Tocchini

The second volume of the hit series begins with Princess Tersia, who has a vision of the future and the shape of things to come. In this vision she’s married to Jon Hobb and carrying his baby. Oh, and there’s a dragon! Is it a dream or a nightmare? Meanwhile, bounty hunters Starla and Jubal find the tables are turned as they’re run to ground by a Centaur posse.

Collects: Hinterkind #7-12

This was a very pleasant surprise. If you caught my review of the first Hinterkind collection (The Waking World), you will have read that I thought it failed to deliver on its promise. In this second collection, however, it delivered in spades.

The cast of character we follow has been considerably expanded, and the story spends far more time on plot and character development than world-building. Palace politics, international relations, and fights for survival infuse every scene: the Sidhe are going through internecine elite intrigue, the vampire nation is on a crusade (sinister bastards, these ones), and the remnants from volume one are still fleeing persecution of one form or another. Some things have disappeared entirely from the story, which is a little strange, but I nevertheless welcomed the forward momentum.

If you are a fan of urban fantasy, and the idea of characters of myth, legend and fables taking over the world, then Hinterkind is an absolute must-read. True, the first book isn’t as great as one could hope, but volume two rewards those who stick with the series.

A complete turn-around, this is highly recommended.

Hinterkind, Vol.2 – “Written in Blood” is due to be published in December 2014, so there’s plenty of time for you to go out and catch up with the first collection.

Yet Another Fantastic CONSTANTINE Cover (DC Comics)

Constantine-20-Art

It’s a series I’ve barely read, but damn does it get some great covers… The image above, by Juan Ferreyra, will be the cover for Constantine #20. The issue, due out on December 10th, is written by Ray Fawkes and art by Jeremy Haun. Here’s the mini-synopsis:

It’s hate at first sight when John Constantine meets his Earth 2 counterpart!

(Got to love a to-the-point synopsis…)