Monday, August 1, 2022

Comic Book Review: Golden Rage

Words by Chrissy Williams
Inks by Lauren Knight
Colours by Sofie Dodgson
Published by Image Comics

WARNING: This article may contain story spoilers. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Grabbed this one on a whim because of the title. Having finally sat down to read it though, the title makes perfect sense. This story takes place on an island. An island that is essentially a junkyard of people who are no longer wanted by society. In this case, it's women who are no longer fertile. I mean it's not that far fetched. Society for years has looked at infertile women as less than human. Hell, fertile women are viewed as less than human birthing machines by many still today. I mean, with Row vs Wade overturned, the US government legally said "you're potential to make new life is more important than your life". I'm sitting here having Handmaid's Tale flashbacks. 

Anyway our story starts with Jay, a woman in her 30s who is left on the island and immediately attacked by elderly women. She luckily however, is saved by a large, strong woman and thus the story truly begins to unveil itself to the reader. 

Going to say right now that I really enjoy the style of the art in this book. I'm wholly unfamiliar with everyone involved in this book. After a quick search of social media I found that Lauren Knight previously had done some beautiful work for the CHOSEN ONES series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Truth be told her style reminds me somewhat of Vanesa Del Rey in character design, although her actual illustrations are much more minimalist in comparison. I highly suggest following her on Instagram. I have included some social media links below. Writer Chrissy Williams has previously been awarded Telegraph Best Books of The Year for her book BEAR.

This is an interesting story concept and pretty timely considering the climate of the United States right now. I really enjoy seeing senior women portrayed as formidable and self sufficient. Our society always portrays seniors as invalids. Not to mention that television and film have a long history of limiting the kind of roles that women of a certain age, usually 30, can have. I should say also that it's not JUST senior women are sent to this island. It's women who are no longer fertile, but this just happens to be mostly senior women, or near senior. 

Creators' Social Media:

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

There's Something Wrong With Patrick Todd #1

Written by Ed Brisson
Art by Gavin Guidry
Published by Aftershock Comics
Released July 6th 2022

Warning: This article contains story spoilers for the first issue. Read at your own risk

What a great cover right?! Yes, I still really do judge books by their cover pretty often and this is because it's the artwork that pulls me in, not just the subject matter projected by that artwork. With comics however, you gotta open that book up if you like the cover art cause of course, the covers are often done by different artists than the interior. If you're the fashionable artist of the year or exceptionally in high demand, you can make an entire career off of just doing cover art. Fortunately for us and this particular book, the cover artist is also the artist for the story. I can't say I'm familiar with Gavin Guidry's previous works (Going to the Chapel, The Death Defying, Rebel, Medidata and some TMNT). They are all stories I have yet to read but I can say that based on what I saw in this book, I'd really like to check those out. 

Writer Ed Brisson who's work I am very familiar with. I've talked about his work in past videos and articles (Famous for a slew of marvel books most notably Old Man Logan & Dead Man Logan, Dawn of X and some great creator owned books like Sheltered). This particular story takes place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, coincidentally the city we both reside in. I was thrilled to see actual Halifax locations in the pages of this comic. The downtown police station looking exactly as it looks here. The QEII Hospital and even an old hotel out in Bedford, which is another part of what we call the HRM, the Halifax Regional Municipality. And hey there's even a Tim Hortons in this book cause pre-covid, it really felt like there was one on every corner. There practically is. 

Of course, admiring the likeness of my own environment on paper, doesn't tell you what the story is about. Truthfully, from the set up of this particular book, all I can surmise is that this is about super powers... and murder & crime. It wouldn't be fun if the story didn't hold some decapitations and crime. I think we're all much more fond of super power stories that have some grit and gore. I know I am. I read less and less Marvel comics lately as so many of them are just a bit too squeaky clean for my terribly corrupted and corruptible brain. 

This first issue is great. I can honestly say I have zero criticisms or problems with it. It sets up the story properly. We know that something odd is afoot. We find out that our protagonist Patrick Todd is basically using other people to steal money in order to take care of his infirm mother. We find out that someone has it out for him although we don't know who! There's just enough mystery to leave us wanting. We're introduced to our antagonist Detective Anderson (some matrix nod there?) who comes across as a  fine dude who's just trying to solve some crime. All in all, this story feels a bit like an anti-hero story as the people Patrick chooses to commit his money-driven crimes, happen to be criminals themselves. We're not entire sure how Patrick knows this though. He's choosing to use bad people as his tools to rob banks so in his mind he's doing a little public service. Vigilantism is frowned on by the law so that makes the story more fun, I mean who doesn't love a good vigilante story?! All in all, really good set-up for the series. 

Something else fun about this first issue is that there's a little embellishment at the end of the issue where we see some police reports and medical reports which all talk about real places in Halifax. This adds a feeling of authenticity to the story that I really like. 

Friday, July 8, 2022

The Me You Love In The Dark

Published by Image Comics
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Jorge Corona

My reason for grabbing this book at all however was not based on my love of stories about artists but instead for my love of paranormal stories. The fact that I'm an artist experiencing a large period of creative block illustration-wise, is a bit of a coincidence in terms of reading something I can related to.  Of course, the fact that Skottie Young was writing something a bit darker and more adult was another reason for me grabbing this book, not to forget that fact that I love the art of Jorge Corona. So long-time fan of both these creators and of the collaborations they have been putting out together the past couple years. 

Yes, I realize I'm a bit late to this book. The trade came out in March 2022 and serialized in the previous year. But hey, better late than pregnant, especially if you live the United States. This story follows artist Ro who moves into an old house in a rural location in order to find some inspiration for a new set of paintings. The house she moves into is well-known to be haunted. I'm going to try my best not to spoil the story but my motto for my reviews from now on happens to be : read at your own risk.

I feel like this story is more about the dark and trapped emotions associated with creative blocks rather than anything paranormal. Particularly as an artist, the struggle to come up with something new and different while also tapping into your deeper self, is a relatable struggle. Hmm I'm kinda reading other stories with this "writers block" sort of trope, that is also mixed with elements of the paranormal.. i.e. Brian Azarello & Maria Llovett's  Faithless

I think it's a fairly obvious that pairing creativity with the paranormal is a good match because the idea that artistic talent and/or creativity come from the gods or other paranormal beings, is not a new one. It has been a prevalent theme throughout history. The ancient Greeks for example, often talked about this in mythology. The Muses and various gods dedicated to bestowing innovation, creativity and artistic talent on random mortals have many stories of this nature. Further to this, the idea that artistic innovation itself comes from a dark part of your soul or psyche, the old trope of the suffering, brooding artist, for instance; the very idea that creative talent comes from a place of darkness and some dark force rather than something benevolent is also not a new concept but seen in puritan cultures. 

This story feels like an exploration of creativity rather than a general haunting story. In fact, it isn't really a haunting story at all. The interactions Ro has with the being in her house is actually for much of the story, a very comfy one. She gains great friendship and inspiration from the spirit at first. It wouldn't be much of a story however if that were the end of it. Spoiler alert, the spirit isn't really all that nice. It's at this point that the story really becomes less paranormal again and feels more like the story of a battered woman. The red flags start to unfurl themselves before disaster falls. When this story takes a turn to domestic abuse, we see Skottie talking about how you can't force creativity and that when you do, progress is stalled. This happens multiple times. 

There are a lot of other great themes running through this story, like the dangers of isolation when in a new relationship, the pressures of creating under a deadline, self confidence, imposter syndrome,  abusive domestic relationships in general, and so many more things...

In conclusion, I really like this story. It carries so much more deeper themes and meaning than simply serving as another haunted house story. The ideas and themes is explore are all adult however so I wouldn't recommend this for anyone under 14 or 15 but that's really a parents judgement call there. 

Watch my review of this comic in Youtube: 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

A Town Called Terror by Steve Niles & Szymon Kudranski

Written by Steve Niles

Illustrated by Szymon Kudranski

Published by Image Comics

Amazing way to start a comic book. I have to say that I immediately got into the mood for horror. The tone and atmosphere were perfectly crafted into existence with the first 3 pages. I write to you now, all my thoughts as I climb through this new horror story by one of the comic book world's best horror writers- Steve Niles. Have you written about necromancers here?! The first few pages portray a type of post-mortem surgery, an autopsy in reverse. A surgery putting a corpse back together. I am getting serious necromancer vibes and I love it!

Like many good horror comics, color on these panels are used minimally with the book consisting largely of haunting black and white . It is quite fitting for what is literally a town called Terror, population 1300, home to freaks and monsters. Our story centers around a man named Henry who grew up in Terror, driven away by in-laws and locals, unfortunately finds himself back there to deal with a family matter, against his will. 

This is the first time I've read a book illustrated by Szymon. If you're a Spawn fan however, you would have seen his work on a few modern issues as well as Nita Hawe's Nightmare Blog Vol 1. Szymon is going to be blow up. Or haven't you noticed that this happens to pretty much every artist who works with Niles? Maybe keep your eye trained on Szymon and their trained hand! Horror seems to come naturally to Szymon and there are several pages that are particularly compelling in this first issue. Several sequential panels that flow with second by second movement just like pictures on a film reel. It is on these pages that I found myself taking the first few steps into the emotions of these new characters. That's when I realize, I'm hooked. When the artist can suck me in that way, showing me exactly how a character feels, that's when I feel that connection. The story becomes real to me. Now I need more. 

If you haven't already ordered this story which I am certain will become a horror treasure, you should go call up your local comic book shop and get it added to your subscription box pronto! You do not want to miss this one! Use diamond code FEB220042. A Town Called Terror is available to buy tomorrow!  Grab a copy at your local shop!

As always thanks for reading and remember to read something good today.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Little Monsters by Jeff Lemire

Written by Jeff Lemire

Illustrated by Dustin Nguyen

The team that brought us DESCENDER and the spin-off story ASCENDER, is at it again. This time they brought us a horror inspired story about the last children on planet Earth who also happen to be starving vampires. LITTLE MONSTERS. Oh if you're around my age, you're probably reminded of the Fred Savage movie from '89 staring Howie Mandel. Ya I barely remember the plot of this movie. It was not one of my favorites as a child (is there any wonder?). No, this title doesn't seem to have anything to do with that one. Thankfully.

What we have here is an introductory issue that quietly presents each of the last living children to the reader. Lemire and Nguyen have perfected the atmosphere of this post-apocalyptic world with these near expressionless characters. You feel every bit of their ruined environment through the black and white panels. I should say, nearly completely black and white. Like so many great books before (some Frank Miller comes to mind), Nguyen uses reds as an impact effect to draw the readers eye to important parts of a panel. Blood never looks so impactful in black and white of course but he also uses the red to underline the names of the children as we meet them, among other things. 

Through this debut issue, we get to see a little about of the humanity as well as the brutality that has been left behind in these eternal children. There's a beautiful moment revealed between 2 of the older children, Yui and Lucas. In this moment is revealed the nature of their day to day like as well as how they had to adjust to their new environment. Their eternal life in a dead world, it is obvious from this conversation that time is meaningless. It got me thinking what most people would do if time was meaningless to how our lives eb and flow. The day to day life of the monsters is completely unencumbered by responsibility or purpose. They don't even seem too hard-up on the survival front as they are depicted eating rats later in the book. I guess those are in no short supply. But the rest of humanity? They have not seen hide nor hair in what must be decades. The exact time frame since the death of the last human at this point is unknown. Yet if I know Lemire, he's likely got some amazing lore to share about this world. That is to say, if past stories like Descender can be any indicator. 

I am very excited to see where this story was headed. I was reminded of The Wrenchies by Farrel Dalrymple while I read this issue. Simply due to that quiet atmosphere created by the illustration and narration. Or perhaps its the fact that its a story centered on odd children. Hard to say! I tried to keep all spoilers out of this article and will endeavor to do so in the future. More reviews to come. I wish I could assign a numbered rating to comics but that just isn't me. I think if I had to, I would give this issue 3 out of 3 crowns for leaving me enough curiosity to read the next issue. A thoroughly enjoyable introduction to the series.