Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ancestor TP

I wasn't 100% sure what I was getting into before I opened Ancestor. I only knew that I had a great love for the artwork and that's simply because I've been following the work of Malachi Ward for some time now. I became a fan after a particular issue of Prophet written by Brandon Graham, for which you all know by now, I've greatly praised. Ward had lent his talents to the series as so many great indie artists have over the last few years. Ward's particular style fit into the series amazingly and sat comfortably next to the work of Simon Roy. It was then that I started following his work via facebook and twitter, then recently again through the Image Comics magazine Island.

For Ancestor, Ward has teamed up with Matt Sheean. The two are both credited with writing and illustrating the above mentioned comics AND this one. I was lucky enough to talk to Ward for a video interview. Keep your eyes peeled for the video this week for full information on the process of creating Ancestor and more creator secrets!

So what do I think of Ancestor? That's the real question here. The whole story was a pretty big shock. When you consume the amount of comics I do, it's hard not to feel like everything is just a rehashing of something else you've already read. However, I actually got some big shocked moments reading this trade. Originally this was a serial within the Island magazine so this is my first read through of the entire story and I really appreciated being able to read the collected edition. I've said before how so many stories do so much better when binge-read however, this is one of those stories that could keep you interested as a serial. Where the story begins and where it ends is a complete 180. What starts off as feeling like a story in a not so distant future, ends up as an existential mind fuck.


The story does create some really interesting new technology including a system which is essentially a 24/7 cerebral plug-in to the internet. Wireless of course *wink* And this system allows people to control anxiety by being able to access information about EVERYTHING they encounter 100% of the time. Our main characters who happen to be artists are invited to a party of which they really know nothing about. The requirement for attendance is to unplug. Turn off the system. This causes people to feel incredibly uneasy for a time but that's nothing compared to the uneasiness they'll experience when they're taken to a special room which basically becomes a killing floor. It's here things get really interesting. The panels and killing floor does remind me somewhat of that movie Circle but instead of everyone nominating and choosing who should die next, it's just one megalomaniac making the kill decisions.

This story is rooted in science fiction however, not horror but it does contain some violence at this point of the story. It's important to note that most of the violence is implied and there isn't a lot of gratuitous gore, however this is an adult book full of adult topics and would be miles over the head of even most teenagers. I would not recommend this story for people younger than 15.

All this happens in the first two halves of the story but it's the last two chapter which will get to you. I think that's where the spoilers from me have to stop. Needless to say, you can't possibly guess where this is going. The story is not remotely predictable and that's why I'm not telling you!

The complete Ancestor story is currently available as a trade paper from Image Comics. You can purchase it online easily from Amazon if you can't find it elsewhere but remember to support your local comic book stores!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cowboys and Insects

This one-shot comes from one of my favorite comic book artists Shaky Kane (also the awesome artist who created my Frog Queen Logo!). Shaky is collaborating again with David Hine. You'll likely remember them together on titles like The Bulletproof Coffin but Hine has been all over the place in comics. He's written Spider Man, The Darkness, Batman, Crossed, X-men... the titles just go on. He even had a hand in Spawn for a while.

I really wish these two could just continuously release shorts like this together. I'd be thrilled. Shaky's work is reminiscent of a better time in comics, when people used their hands and not copious amount of computer programs. Don't get me wrong, I totally appreciate TONS of digitally created comics but there's something to be said about Shaky's process which you can actually watch online!

One of my favorite parts about this one-off is the format. The cover has been printed on this oddly shaped card stock and it really stands out on the shelf. I know what you're thinking however, "if I bag it, it's going to float around messing up my comic box and creating creases". Well do like I do and have boxes specifically for non-modern aged comics. Simply due to the fact that I support a lot of indie creators and self published comics, I have a great number of uniquely shaped comics.

So the story itself of course is awesome. Everyone knows by now that I'm vegan, and this story is oh so vegan. The story centers around the retold events of a man's childhood crush. It also happens to center in a world which harvests giant insects for food and other commodities. The man explains that his family were ranches. Giant ant ranchers to be certain and his first crush, first kiss was a gothy looking young vegetarian. The boy takes direction from his family who explain that being a vegetarian goes against nature. It's corrupt thinking... and well... apparently violence towards those who think differently than you is actually NOT corrupt thinking.

So you know it has a really happy ending...actually the ending is really the best part. The cover is immensely misleading as you think that the cowboys themselves are ants but this isn't so. However, in a very fascist clan type way, the cowboys band together wearing the heads of their slain livestock to round up and deliver retribution to these veggie loving family. Remind you of anything?

The thing is, a lot of people really DO think that eating other sentient beings IS normal. Violence is violence however and that's something that our world hasn't quite grasped. This is where terms like speciesism comes from. It's the belief that your own species, humanity is superior and this thought process leads to the exploitation of animals.  But this short story really imparts the message that violence towards people and violence towards other sentient beings, come from the same place of ignorance and so, I love it.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Reborn #1

I almost feel like I have to start this review with a disclaimer. I'm a big Mark Millar fan. I really loved so many of his mini series like Starlight & MPH, I loved Jupiter's Legacy, Kick Ass and of course a bunch of his even older stuff. So when I saw the press release for Reborn, I got really excited because the main character/hero is female. The artwork of course interests me as well. At this point, Mark can pretty much work with any artist he chooses. Greg Capullo has been illustrating Batman for the last 5 years and although I don't give two shits about the New 52's iterations of Batman (besides maybe Batman '66), there's no denying that Capullo isn't ridiculously a ridiculous talented artist.  This can be particularly noted in the scenes where our heroine dies and is "reborn" in this mysterious fantastical new universe.

And here we go now all my criticisms, so the story starts out with a few LARPER looking snipers taking out some mundane looking people who are minding their own business and it's pretty clear from the scenery that the LARPING snipers and their targets don't actually share the same space. Before we know it their target practice ends and we're listening to an elderly lady reminisce about her life. She's living out her last days for a couple panels and then... she's gone. This is where the book gains it title. Our heroine dies only to awaken in the field of battle as a bodacious babe with a sword and a legion of bowing minions. Like seriously, I think these are minions (not those minions from Despicable Me). They're monstrous but apparently looking at her as their leader/savior.

So not only do I honestly feel this is a pretty bland storyline so far, I'm kinda angry that the story jumps around so much and leaves the only real interesting part at the beginning as if had no significance. I mean, don't get me wrong, I know first issues are intended to get you hooked and leave you hanging but I'm not really feeling invested enough in any of these characters to give a rats ass what happens to them.  The reason is that this first issue jumps around too much between characters AND it's too short. I know what you're thinking, "AMY it's longer than any Marvel & DC single issue!". Well, a good first issue is more about introducing characters, it's about getting you to care about them. This was too short to be able to do that and it tried too introduce us to too many people. This is why sometimes, I think that many stories need to be released as complete graphic novels instead of constantly trying to cash in on these monthly subs. Brian K Vaughan gets it. He still releases complete graphic novels fairly regularly. I assume that he knows that some things are better binge read and therefore provide a better experience to the reader, left intact.

On top of that, this story really feels like nothing new to me. This is perhaps due to the ridiculous amount of manga I've consumed over the years. Normal people being transported to a magical, fantasy land, swords and battles... well lets just say I was a HUGE Escalfowne fan (I guess I should say that I still am). There are loads of stories like this that have come out of Japan. Not to mention that this particular story has started reminding me of that Canadian series The Odyssey which aired when I was a kid. It's about a boy transported to a strange world while he's in a coma. For instance, we're made to think that the main character has died but has she? It doesn't feel fresh to me and honestly, the freshness of the story wouldn't so much be an issue if I felt more invested in the characters.

I was really hoping that this would be a new fantastical series for me, yet I'm afraid, Reborn is a miss.