New Books (July-August)

NewBooks-20190808

Featuring: Jeffrey Archer, Jason Arnopp, Dan Bevacqua, Dan Carlin, Agatha Christie, S.C. Emmett, W.L. Goodwater, James Grippando, Dave Hutchinson, Sheena Kamal, Mary Robinette Kowal, Derek Künsken, Olivia Laing, Rachel Maddow, Kristyn Merbeth, Kim Newman, Claire North, Mike Pearl, Jason Pinter, Hannu Rajaniemi (ed.), Josh Reynolds, Susan Rice, Paul Richter, Matt Ruff, Kate Elizabeth Russell, Michael Rutger, Andrew Skinner, Tade Thompson, Jacob Weisman (ed.), Drew Williams, Steven Wright

Continue reading

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.

*

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.

*

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.

*


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.

*

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.

*

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.

Marvel Graphic Novel Catch-Up: Fearless Defenders, Avengers, and Thor

GraphicNovelsRead-201311-1

Three new Marvel NOW collections that I’ve read and enjoyed recently. I had my doubts about the new re-launch/re-boot, but I have actually rather enjoyed the stories themselves (despite, sometimes, only have movie knowledge to get me situated…).

Reviewed: Avengers, Fearless Defenders, Thor: God of Thunder

FEARLESS DEFENDERS, Vol.1 – “Doom Maidens”

FearlessDefenders-Vol.01Writer: Cullen Bunn | Artist: Will Sliney | Colors: Veronica Gandini

New team! New villains! New creators!Valkyrie and Misty Knight are the Fearless Defenders, and not since Power Man and Iron Fist has an unlikely duo kicked this much – well, you know.

Collects: Fearless Defenders #1-6

Cullen Bunn offers up  an all-female team of super-heroines, with a distinctly mythological slant. The story is fun and quirky, with Bunn’s signature, gentle humour often on display – witty asides, amusing narrative moments, and pretty great characterisation. I wasn’t wholly gripped, as I have been with some of his other work (The Sixth Gun remains one of my favourite series of all time). The artwork is good, sometimes a little exaggerated (think Marvel in the 1990s, perhaps). There’s some darkness in the story, too, which offered a nice balance to the levity, although I think I would have preferred to see that a little more developed. By the end, I thought I knew the characters rather well, but that the story had been a bit thin.

It was recently announced, I think, that this is being cancelled. That’s a pity, as I think this could have grown into something pretty cool, if given time. I’ll certainly be reading the remaining issues, though.

*

AVENGERS, Vol.1 – “Avengers World”

Avengers-Vol.01Writer: Jonathan Hickman | Artist: Jerome Opeña (#1-3), Adam Kubert (#4-6) | Colors: Dean White, Justin Ponsor, Morry Hollowell, Frank Martin, Richard Isanove (#1-3), Frank D’Armata (#4), Frank Martin (#5-6)

The greatest heroes in comics together on one unbeatable team! The Avengers “go large”, expanding their roster and their sphere of influence to a global and even interplanetary level. When Captain America puts out his call – who will answer? Big threats, big ideas, big idealism – these are the Avengers NOW!

Collects: Avengers #1-6

Captain America and Iron Man are rebuilding the Avengers. They’re using a more sophisticated organisational model, this time (it’s not as dull to read about as that sounds…). Meanwhile, Ex Nihilo, Abyss and Aleph have been terra-forming Mars and lobbing “evolution bombs” at Earth, re-writing Evolution. As you do. And, collaterally, killing whole bunches of people all over the world. Naturally, this irks the Avengers. After the core Avengers team confronted them at the start, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor and Hawkeye are held captive by these new baddies. Ex Nihilo likes to monologue. Cap is sent back to Earth to “bring everyone”. And then… We get one of the most anti-climactic conclusions in issue/chapter 3. It’s a total deus-ex-machina, couldn’t-be-bothered moment. Sadly fails to deliver, and I felt rather disappointed.

Avengers-Vol.01-Interior4

Recruiting, Avengers-Style

The second story in the book looks at the clean-up after the evolution bombs, from different perspectives, coupled with the backgrounds of some newer Avengers recruits (new for me, at any rate). First, Hyperion (a rather emo-God-type from another dimension, who seems to miss his former station on his world). Second, Smasher (a female “guardian”, or “subguardian” – basically, a Green Lantern with cool tech, a mask instead of a ring, and attached to the Shi’ar Empire, rather than the, uh, Guardians…). And third, Captain Universe (who appears to be a god… or perhaps the origin of all things… It’s not entirely clear…).

Avengers-Vol.01-Interior9

Three Moments of Levity: Bruce Banner explains himself (top), Thor confuses Tony (bottom, left),
and Thor is unimpressed by puny human’s idea of “Godlike”…

Overall, though, this isn’t a bad start to the new Avengers series. There’s a lot of rather cryptic information. Certainly, the Avengers are going Bigger. Hopefully it won’t become too silly in the future, but I am looking forward to reading Vol.2, “The White Event”. The artwork is pretty fantastic, too. Lots of great detail, rich colors, and it really pops throughout.

*

ThorGodOfThunder-Vol.01Thor: God of Thunder, Vol.1 – “The God Butcher”

Writer: Jason Aaron | Artist: Esad Ribic | Colors: Dean White (#1), Ive Svorcina (#2-5)

Throughout the ages, gods have been vanishing, their mortal worshippers left in chaos. Now, Thor follows a trail of blood that threatens to consume his past, present and future. The only hope for these ravaged worlds is for Thor to unravel the gruesome mystery of the God Butcher!

In the distant past, Thor follows the bloody wake of murdered gods across the depths of space. In the present, the Thunder God discovers a forgotten cave that echoes with the cries of tortured gods… and is shocked to find himself among them! And thousands of years from now, the last god-king of a ruined Asgard makes his final stand against the God Butcher’s beserker legions. As three Thors from three eras race to stop the God Butcher, the full extent of his vicious scheme takes terrifying shape!

Collects: Thor – God of Thunder #1-5

Another great start to a new Marvel NOW series. This is the first Thor solo series I’ve ever read, and I think Aaron does a great job of offering a starting point – given that the story hops between three times (past, present, and very far future), there’s no need to be greatly versed in the Thor mythology (Norse or Marvel’s). We see the character develop a bit, and a millennia-long struggle against the God Butcher, who – true to his name – has been working his way through the various pantheons of the universe, culling the numbers of deities. Thor, the only one to give him much of a challenge, has been chosen as the Last, in order that he sees his fellow gods killed, one-by-one.

It’s a solid story, and I’m certainly going to try to stick with the series for a little while. The writing is great, the story and artwork complement each other brilliantly, too. Definitely recommend this one to anyone who either likes the character already, or wants somewhere to jump on.

ThorGodOfThunder-Vol.01-Interior1