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.

Voodoo, Vol.2 – “The Killer In Me” (DC)

Voodoo-Vol-02Writer: Joshua Williamson | Artist: Sami Basri | Colors: Jessica Kholinne

Black Razor Agent Fallon has finally tracked down Voodoo and has her cornered! Now it’s time for revenge. But Voodoo knows the truth of her own origins and will decide if she’s going to be a hero – or a villain! Then, Pris is forced to confront exactly what she has become after being experimented on by the Daemonites. She’s offered a deal by the Black Razors… but wherever way she turns, it’s guaranteed more blood will be on her hands.

Collects: Voodoo #7-12 & #0

This book brings the Voodoo series to a close. Given the critical reaction at its start, I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. I liked the ideas the series included, and it’s a pity it had to end. That being said, some of the chapters in this book felt like the series had been written off.

As the story begins, Pris has escaped from captivity, accompanied by Black Jack and Fallon. Voodoo is on the daemonite ship, facing their Council. She’s told the truth about herself, and the daemonite lord says she has to be captured and reprogrammed. She… disagrees with his assessment of the situation…

Voodoo-07-Interior2

The two groups are on a collision course, and by the second chapter,  the shit really starts to hit the fan. The chapter (issue #8) was basically one long face-off between Voodoo, Pris and Fallon. All does not go well… Strangely, Pris is offered a job by a dude from the Blackhawks (a series I’ve only read one issue of, but also another that has been axed).

Voodoo-08-Interior2The rest of the story follows all the various threads of the series being tied up – some in not particularly satisfying manner (there’s some interstellar flight, too). As Pris and Voodoo are trained, almost in parallel, by different forces – Pris by the Blackhawks, Voodoo by Helspont. Pris also discovers that Voodoo worked as a stripper in order to remain below the radar. She is not happy.

In the final chapter, the Zero Issue, we see Priscilla Kitaen’s “birth” on the daemonite ship, before freaking out and fighting her way out. It ends with her being taken into custody by the Black Razors. Then we get Voodoo’s birth as well, as a loyal hybrid. And finally, we join Grifter as his life is saved by Voodoo. I’m not sure it works at all as a “#0”, because it ends on “Continued in Grifter”… Really it’s a series epilogue. It did make me want to catch up on Grifter, though (I’ve read up to #7).

Voodoo-00-Interior5

This series crosses over with so many: Superman, Stormwatch, and Grifter. Sometimes these crossovers can be fun or interesting, but when it happens too often, which certainly feels like the case recently (there have been a number of larger, cross-title story-arcs recently). Well, it gets both irritating and expensive… I’m not sure this needed to cross over quite so much. Cameos probably would have sufficed for many scenes and snippets of exposition.

Towards the end of the book, the writing felt a little rushed, but at least it never took itself too seriously. It has a ’80s/’90s action-SF-movie feel to it: it doesn’t all make sense, there are some narrative jumps, etc. The dialogue never quite manages Expendables-levels of cheesy awesome, but that was the vibe I got, sometimes. Not bad, overall, but it’s not too difficult to see why it was sent out to pasture. For the story to really work, it would have required more time and space to properly grow. I think most people will see this was on the outs from early on in this book.

I do like the artwork a lot, though. There are so many nice little details in each issue. I really hope the team are hired on for more of another series.

Voodoo-Vol-02-Covers

Original Voodoo Cover Art #7-12 & #0