Friday, December 27, 2013

The Strange Tale of Panorama Island by Suehiro Maruo

This manga is sold in a large, hardcover edition with beautiful gold foil letter in the cover. The whole book is like one of my dreams. It's beautiful and collects a wide variety of different cultural architectures and eras. It debuted in July of 2013 and immediately caught my attention. Many of the reviews and write-ups were devoid of plot description but pictures of the artwork could be found splattered around the internet and the artist's blog. They gripped my curiosity as did the title!

The Strange Tale of Panorama Island is based on the novella by the famous Edogawa Rampo. Rampo was one of Japan's most famous pulp mystery writers. The story centers around a failing writer named Hitomi who steals the identity of a wealthy and deceased university comrade who happens to share a very similar appearance. No one suspects the deception. He takes his friend's fortune and dedicates it to the construction of a massive amusement park on a remote island. He converts the ilse into his mind's fantasy. An island of wonder; a colossal living panorama that resembles the Grecian decadence of Dionysian proportions. i.e. lots of orgies. 
This tale includes, murder and deception. Although it's beautiful and captivating, this book is not suitable for people under 18 years of age. I highly suggest you read it. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monster: Volume 4 by Naoki Urasawa

This is probably my favorite volume thus far in the series. It was full of action and amazing developments including the reappearance of Johan's sister Nina. It's in this book that I grew really attached to Dr Tenma's now little sidekick Dieter. He's a brave little boy who has become fiercely loyal to Tenma and anyone who aims to protect the doctor.

The book is full of the usual unique looking characters and once again there is more Tezuka inspired appearances. Some of the characters look straight of books like the Phoenix Saga. Others resemble Astro Boy which of course must have been a favorite of Naoki.

Finishing this volume made me immediately read the next 2 in the series but I regret that I have run out volumes to read for now. More in the future.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sweet Tooth Vol 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire

I bought this as soon as it was released but was terribly swamped with homework and the like. Now that school is done for the semester, I get to read all kinds of awesomeness so I read this last night.

Sweet Tooth is one of my favorite series. Although I never got into the singles during it's initial release (mostly due to the fact that I was super impoverished) I use to stare at the covers and flip through the pages. It seemed to be such an odd story. A boy with antlers.

Jeff Lemire wraps everything up in a neat package with the final installment of the series. Although I can't be sure I believe that the hybrids actually caused the plague, I am certain that they were cloned from an earlier living set of animal-humans. Our heroes found the bunker with all the ancient sarcophagi and the cloning tubes. I will accept that as the truth. The final chapter shows us a brief summary of the rest of Gus' life. Complete with family, children, a wife and a community of hybrids. We even get to see where Buddy ends up as well as Gus' death where Lemire represents his passing as he being reunited with "the Big Man". It's very sad as Lemire's stories often are. At least this time, death seems less final and less of a punishment. Instead it's a positive passing and just a part of the cycle of life.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Darkness Issue 116

Story by David Hine
Art by Jeremy Haun

Image Comics latest installment of Darkness came out on Wednesday. I like this book. I just jumped in really. They had a great review page to catch you up to speed on the plot so it was easy to jump in. I wish more comics included a page like this. Sometimes it's hard to remember what was happening in a single you read 4 weeks ago.

This plot centers around a virus that seems to be paranormal in nature, known as the Darkness virus. I love the supernatural. After my disappointment with the Buffy series, I hadn't been reading a whole lot of Supernatural books besides my manga series. This is quite refreshing for me although obviously, I'm late getting into this book. Check out Jeremy Haun's beautiful work: 
There is an awesome creepy development with this little child who appears to hold some significant role with these odd "fate-like" characters. They're all hooded and monstery! Yeay!! I'm actually going to order the trader papers for this series because I think I need to go back to the beginning ;)

Dead Body Road Issue 1 by Justin Jordan

It's not my kind of story. I actually skimmed the last few pages because the story was not holding my attention but the artwork is awesome. This is another duo artistic duo. Penciller and colorist. I much prefer art done by one person but this duo obviously have chemistry. I mean check this out:
There are a whole bunch of these action panels. It's some of the damn best action I've ever seen in a comic. I love it!! I really don't have much to say about the story. It's not my kind of thing really. All gangsters, bad guys vs well.. kinda other bad guys. I was a bit bored. Thankfully the artwork rocks.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Monster: Vol 3 by Naoki Urasawa

So I've had a chance to dive back into Monster. This time around however, I started to see great parallels between this and Tezuka's famous Black Jack series. Urasawa, an obvious fan of Tezuka's work. Some parallel's being that there is a rogue doctor, a child involved and greedy hospitals and doctors in abundance.

At this point in Monster, Dr. Tennma has become a fugitive suspected of having a spit personality which is a killer. This is not the case, and he remains on the run while trying to hunt down the real killer: a child soldier all grown up name Johann. Tenma has got himself a little travelling buddy now however. A child named Dieter who was almost destined to completed the child soldier training suffered by Johann, our serial killer who's where about's remains unknown and who's existence is still questioned. The book has become a series of events where Tenma is forced to perform surgeries on various patients while being held under duress or other hostile circumstances.

While it is easy to see some inspiration being drawn from Tezuka's famous series, it's not a direct retelling. Tezuka's Black Jack was a collection of un-related stories while Monster does not suffer from "monster of the week serial" syndrome and has an over-all plot focused around one killer. Black Jack was intended to be released as little short stories in magazines so for me, even reading it in volume form was somewhat odd, kinda boring, if not a little challenging. I could read 10 volumes of Monster in a row if I had the time.. and less to read in general. I highly recommend this series already and with book 3, I'm becoming more intrigued by the history of Johann which is beginning to unravel.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hinterkind Issue #1 by Ian Edginton

Written by Ian Edginton
Art by Francesco Trifogli

I was excited about this after I read the premise. Post-apocalyptic Earth, humans forced to hide from the dominant species...monsters, faerie, giants..etc. I liked the idea of humans running around central park hunting zebras (That's what happens in the first scene). I'm not completely impressed. The artwork is a little mediocre. It's not awful, it;s just a little lack-luster.

What will probably make me purchase issue 2, is that one of human heroes has suddenly grown a tail! That's Angus, poor guy. It's a mystery that our heroes intend to solve. To be honest I dunno what the lead female characters' name is. I kept looking for it but I couldn't find it lol. Maybe I'm just crazy but I couldn't even google it.

Little highlight: weird-ass unicorn that speaks and also has blood all over it's mouth. I laughed!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Manifest Destiny Issue 1 & 2 by Chris Dingess

Written by Chris Dingess

Out today was issues two of Manifest Destiny. This is a new title on Image Comics that caught my attention due to.. ahem.. the cover. I like so many assholes, still judge a book by it's cover. Give me a little credit, it's logical to do this with comics (most of the time, you can't count variant covers among a few other things). Look at the cover art? It's the pic to the left. How could you not buy this beautiful metal-esq monstrosity?? I didn't even care what the story was about, I just kept having Heavy Metal flash-backs.

Luckily for me the story is actually pretty interesting. The story takes place during an expedition in the beginning of the 1800's during Jefferson's presidential reign. A few naval members joined by a few dudes from the stockade, are travelling the Atlantic. They're looking for new species; off the record they are looking for monsters. OOO and they run into some!! Minotaur's!! Well, they are more like buffalo beasts with arms, but they are metal as fuck. Not to mention the whole naked lady jumping off a cliff (I think she's a plant species or something, maybe a siren). The end?? I think we've got zombies.....

I'm really happy with where this is going. It make white colonial assholes look like racist white colonial assholes AND you get to see some of them die. :D

Claymore: Vol 1 by Norihiro Yagi

I wasn't totally sure about this one. It came recommended by several anonymous forum maniacs. I call them manics purely because of the sheer amount of topics they see fit to comment on. You know those people, the ones that have something to say about "eveerrythiiing". *giant eye roll* It's like that awful sales man who works at your local comic shop who asks you if you need help finding something and then immediately begins to berate you for your request. It's like that except sometimes they have something positive to say about a comic. Anyway, it came up while I was looking for something that may be as awesome as Berserk.

This is a story about demons. Half-demons taking out full-demons known as Yoma. This is not new to Manga, we've read this book often. What is more interesting is that so far, it does not appear to be a love story. Furthermore, the main character is female. Unlike some of our demon-cursed manga heroes like Inuyasha. Sure, there is some fan service. The first volume has at least 4 bum shots and plenty of suggested nudity, but you can't get too upset about it. It's manga... if it's targeted at 14 and older, there is going to be nudity. Deal or ditch.

As for the artwork, it's quite clean and uncluttered. I do enjoy the smaller eyes which make everyone look a little sinister. I will be checking out volume 2.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sandman: Overture 1 by Neil Gaiman

Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by J.H. Williams III

I was skeptical at first. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to see another Sandman book but I got sucked in by the cover. Then I got sucked in by the fact that it is written by Neil Gaiman. Finally, I was sucked into the artwork inside.  J.H. Williams III has really out-done himself and it’s the perfect mix of whimsy that I always wanted all the Sandman comics to embody. No one will ever beat Sam Kieth’s Sandman for me personally but I can actually enjoy Williams’ version.

The story begins with our dear Dream being thrust into another planet far away. It is implied that he is dead as it was Death who pushed him to this far-away place.. or so she alludes to. Fate cannot foresee what will happen and Dream himself is unaware of this chaos that he is drawn into. It happens just as he was about to un-create a familiar face (or lack of face character) The Corinthian. He who was created to show humanity it’s true face (unfortunately he started eating them). Morphius, aka Dream, has been meaning to un-make The Corinthian for some time now. Yet again, The Corinthian makes a narrow escape as Dream is summoned away for the moment. 

With stunning artwork like this, I can't wait to read the next installment although it was rumored to be delayed. I wish all my dreams looked like this book. 

Coffin Hill Issue #1

Written by Caitlin Kittredge
Art by Inaki Miranda

I never considered myself absurdly hard on comics (teehee, I just said hard-on) but after reading Coffin Hill I started thinking, maybe I'm kinda picky. Let me try and focus on the good stuff... the art is pretty decent. In my opinion, it's very fitting for the time although not at all my style. It's super clean and crisp which attracts the Marvel readers for the most part. It's not UBER realistic looking but the characters are proportional in body making them somewhat less "cartooney". Spanish artist Inaki Miranda is talented, there is no doubt but his style just isn't for me. We all know where I dabble in terms of art.

Caitlin Kittredge isn't exactly writing something entirely new. Secret, teenage seance's have lost their appeal on my generation (must of been the movie The Craft). The story centers around lead character Eve Coffin who apparently gains some evil powers she wields of her own accord. The story starts in the present, diverts to the past for a little re-cap on how she got to be this doomed vixen, then meets you in the present for the final pages of the issue where Eve is a cop. She had just caught this apparently famous serial killer known for dumping the bodies of women in a frozen river. Eve Coffin is a rich gal with super powers. Her family has some claim to fame as being multi-millionaires and in possession of ancestors who were hanged for witchcraft.

The witchcraft card is hard to carry off. It's pretty cliche, (like the rebellious teenager dressing up in devil horns and running off into the woods with her friends after ruining her parents party). You know what though? As re-hashed and over-done as the elements of this story are, I might actually pick up the second issue. The third to be released this Wednesday. It wasn't an awful story. It just wasn't terribly new. The pacing was alright and who knows, there could be some surprises! Right now, one can't really tell where the story is off to.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Trillium Issue # 5 by Jeff Lemire

Jeff Lemire must have a real appreciation for paper as a medium for comics because I can't see this layout working well for digital copies of the issue. What has he done? He has placed the first half of the comic on the top 50% of each page of the comic. Once you reach the end, you flip it upside down and read backwards to the beginning on other 50% of the page. It's kind of charming really, but only if you have a paper copy. I can see this being more annoying than cute in digital format.

Medium and impractical layout aside, this was a really interesting issue. For all the flipping of the physical book that one must go through, our dear characters have flipped lives. They have been swapped through time! Each of them realized something is amiss and struggles to figure it out.

This issue seemed awfully short. I really can't figure out what shall happen next but time-travel is one of my favorite devices.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hawkeye, Vol 1: My Life as a Weapon

I'm in love. Yah yah, I know you know. Did you know I was in love with David Aja's art in the latest Hawkeye series? It's one of the only Marvel comics I've picked up in the last three years. It's the only series, I'm actually going to continue to read.

I have to say the first and last chapters of the book are my favorite. Maybe because they center around Arrow the dog. I mean, the first story is so adorable! All about how Barton runs into this awesome doggie.

The second story is told without so much script as it's just what Arrow sees and hears. Of course he doesn't understand English as he's a dog. Most of the scripting is nonsense. I love it.

I absolutely love THIS Hawkeye. His down-to-earth attitude and pretty much everything he says is makes him the coolest Hawkeye ever. Fraction reminds the reader through repetition that Barton is just a regular guy who happens to be a pretty good shot. Oh and of course he did that whole thing with Avengers ;)

I like how this book feels like a complete book. Too often trade papers and hard covered editions of our favorite monthly series are released without any thought to being in that medium - a whole, complete book. A beginning and an end, even if the story is left to continue on. Sometimes you get the book and it just ends in the middle of a story arc without tying anything together, without anything to pull it together and make it feel whole. It's just a collection of singles. Might as well be an f'n "Best of" release. Fractions use of the dog Arrow, to open and close the book, ties everything back in a neat package while allowing the story to continue in another season of singles. It's brilliant and heart warming. Who doesn't love a doggie side-kick? ;)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

King of the Flies: 2. The Origin of the World By Mezzo & Pirus

I had to wait nearly 6 months to get this from the local library. Some dude had it for about that long... I don't wanna know the late charges. Anyway, this is the sequel to book 1 which was subtitled Hallorave. Great book. You can find the review for that one in the archives. Anyway, this one kind of flips back and forth through time and slips a little more into the morose and macabre with our skeleton-dressed, raver friend narrating most of the story... from the dead. Some of the story is told from different points of view about the same event.

Most of the plot revolves once again around Eric, who is a selfish little pretty boy with a big chip on his shoulders and a blatant disregard for... well everyone. He reminds me of a few people. His more introspective self reminds me of me. Only because sometimes he gets too involved in dissecting his own discomfort that he misses things that happen around him. I do that a lot. Eric should try to push the focus out-ward. I'm working on it.

I feel like most of this book is about missed opportunity, the dangers of focusing inward and lack of focus on the present. Very rarely do the characters actually get into trouble for making poor decisions as a reaction to the present. They pretty much just react to their feelings that re-surface whenever they re-visit the past in their heads. Unfortunately, it's their present that suffers every time. Not to mention that they can't stop abusing substances. Even Marie's mom ends up walking out into her neighbors BBQ wearing nothing but an Astro Boy mask and an open shower robe. She was popping tranquilizers and sipping wine in the bathtub until her husband walked in and took a piss. You see where all this is going. Pretty depressing and great actually. It was a really good book. Now I gotta track down the third installment.

A lot of people have compared this to Black Hole by Charles Burns and although I see where they are coming from.... my two cents?? Fuck Black Hole. Read this book.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Walking Dead Issue #116

Awe man. I'm really getting sick of this Negan bullshit. How many more issues am I suppose to suffer through? With Stumpy McStumperson trying to be all bad-ass and Negan just threatening people every second speech bubble, sigh, I'm really losing faith in the direction of this book. I have always loved The Walking Dead and I want to continue to love it but MAN we need a new story arc. This just has to go. When I look at the big picture, I'm not attached to any of the newly introduced characters. The only remotely interesting development to come out of this whole Negan shit, was Carl's experiences in Negan's compound. Other than that, I can't say I was all that interested. Plus man, they killed off the Troy. I actually liked him. Negan bashed his head in with his spiked club Lucielle like, I dunno, eight issues ago?

I wish I could give a synopsis on what happened in this issue but nothing really happened. Some people fought each other and Negan wasn't expecting Rick to have so many people helping him. He also didn't realize he was being double crossed. That's about it...