Thursday, August 29, 2019

Mountainhead #1 (IDW)

MOUNTAINHEAD #1 was just released by IDW. The story hinges on young Abraham Stubbs who's living on the run, breaking into houses with his paranoid father Noah. He's convinced that the government will come take him away, and he will be punished for his non-conformity. Why did I decide to read this comic? I liked the cover.

This comic is written by John Lees who's work I'm familiar with. I read And Then Emily Was Gone some time ago. I can't say I'm as familiar with the work of Ryan Lees who, I dunno, is maybe related to John? But Ryan has worked for Valiant and Marvel in the past.

So SPOILER WARNING. Just a couple pages in Abraham and his father are apprehended and the police tell Abraham that in fact, he's not Noah's son. Noah stole him from a house over a decade ago. They located his parents using DNA match and well, shipped him right off back to the biological parents. I'm really good at suspended disbelief. I am really good at ignoring reality. That's why I read to begin with but there were a few things that just seemed silly and nonsensical. Beyond the quick DNA match and located parents, it was the way the news was just given to the kid and he's just dumped in this new family home without any tools to deal with the whole business. The parents apparently were also not prepared as the mother doesn't exactly say the right things to the boy.

I mean, I feel like she should expect him to be out of sorts and instead she throws the reality that he clearly hasn't fully dealt with, right in his face. Not exactly sensitive Mom.

As far as the art is concerned, I can't say that I'm a big fan of the character design but there are some really fantastic scenic panels. I particularly like the way the mountains are illustrated. Yet a lot of the comic promotes a very grotesque atmosphere. This really does set the tone for how our young protagonist Abraham feels about his surroundings. Further to this, he's often caught picturing monsters in the shadows around him. A decade of learning from a paranoid man like Noah will do that I suppose and children are highly suggestible of course.

This comic is classified by IDW as a psychological thriller horror story and that seems fairly accurate. The supernatural looking figures do appear to Abraham's mind playing tricks on him rather than some evil doom coming from a hell dimension. It's unclear to me right now as to whether this story is about a traumatized child adjusting to a normal life with a normal loving family, or if there is a whole other plot about to hit. Abraham's family lives in a remote mountainous area of British Columbia and right before issue #1 ends, a half naked local stumbles out of the woods mysteriously injured and incomprehensible. So just what is going on?? I honestly can't say. All we're sure of is that Abraham has no intention of settling into his new home.

MOUNTAINHEAD is a 5 issue series and you can expect issue 2 to be out in late September.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Comics I'm Currently Reading August Edition

Hey I'm back on the Youtube train and I've filmed a bunch of videos today with this leading the rest. I've decided it's much easier to film a whole bunch at once so I think you'll eventually get sick of seeing me in the same shirt. AH WELL.

Here I talk about some of the series I've been into, plus graphic novels and more! What are you currently reading?

Friday, August 16, 2019

Angel #1 - 3 (2019)

I honestly didn't read a whole lot of the original Angel comics. I was the biggest most bestest, most knowledgeable Buffy and Angel television show fan though.  Needless to say, as a fan of the shows, most of the comics paled in comparison. Whedon seemed to go a little off his rocker in terms of doing whatever he wanted. Things that would have been impossible on screen due to budget and ridiculousness... So the comics often were just that, ridiculous. A lot of the writers weren't terrific and I often disliked the artwork. I did enjoy some of the characters in the Spike comics however. My friend gave me the omnibus one year for my birthday.

Now that I've said a lot of negative shit, let me just tell you I didn't have high hopes for the new series  based on the past but I was willing to read them. I am happy to report that the artwork  is really good. Gleb Melnikov has brought ANGEL to life in a whole new way for me. I mean look at this. It's beautiful and brutal, not to mention a little bit metal. I've got a thick and sludgy doom metal thrumming through my head just looking at it. 

Gleb had previously worked with Boom Studios illustrating 6 issues of Saban's Go Go PowerRangers. He's also done some work for DC on the title Shazam. Check out his Art Station account to see more.

Alright so I like the art but there's a bit of the story I'm not so sweet on. It has to do with a chronic complaint about youth today that you might be sick of hearing: they're vapid, out of touch empties, obsessed with selfies and how the world reacts to them. Their self worth only measured in digital hearts and thumbs up icons. We've seen all the articles and complaints about what social media is doing to youth today. This story is centered in that. 

Frankly, I am a little tired of this narrative already. I didn't grow up with social media. I'm 36 and graduated in 2001. One of the last few graduating classes to make it out without Myspace. 'Course I got a Myspace account shortly after and had ICQ and AOL in high school but my childhood was internet free till my mid teen years. So I got to sit through all the fear mongering about social media from the beginning. Watch parents blame everything in the world but themselves for how their kids turned out and of course, video games.

So this isn't my favorite story. The big bad in this arc is a demon who feeds off the insecurities of youth. Tells them their beautiful, sucks them in and then sucks them dry. I do however enjoy the flashback scenes. The panels look so cool and I'm curious about what it all means for Angel. Perhaps a deeper, ongoing story. There is a bit of confusion for me also on where this Angel story takes place in the greatest timeline. It seems that it's a prequel because a being explains to Angel that Fred (who in this story is a crazy person in an insane asylum) will be an important friend. Alluding to the fact that they haven't met yet.

Okay, so why is Fred in an insane asylum? She was insane after getting back from another dimension run by demons, which Angel helps her get out of... But Fred was a physicist and NOT crazy pre-interdimensional travel. She was a  genius. So are we to toss out canon here?

So what is a Buffy Angel can to think? I feel all stories must be centered around history established in the television show for me to enjoy them here and if you  want to wipe that slate clean, you better have a damn interesting way to do it other than "this is an alternate reality/dimension/something that let's this story and the pre-established canon exist". Cause seriously, we've had enough of that, thank you Big Two. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Sea of Stars #1 & 2

I liked the cover, what can I say? That's the only reason I decided to read SEA OF STARS. That and the fact that it's a science fiction story. I figured this was an all ages series but Image Comics tells me that this is in fact, rated T for Teen. There's some implied profanity, meaning characters will start to swear only to be cut-off by events or other characters speaking. The violence is minimal and not gory so... I sort of feel like T for Teen is a little extreme. Or maybe it's the content to come that forced the rating?

So you're probably wondering what this story is all about then? It's like Lost in Space with space magic. I mean 2 issues in it sure seems to be about space magic. I like the whole concept of space magic, in fact I kinda like saying it ~ space magic. Sound pretty cool right? How come there aren't more stories about space magic? I mean Star Wars was kind of about space magic (take another drink, this article is not intended for all audiences) but then they explained the force with the whole midichlorians thing. I really prefer space magic. In fact, if there isn't space magic in this story, I'm going to stop reading it. That's how passionate I am about space magic.  

So anyway this kid Kadyn, who's dad (Gill) drives an intergalactic space rig, is ferrying some museum pieces to a new location which is both not important and something I can't remember. Wouldn't you know it, their path is intercepted by a space beast and their ship is torn asunder. The two are separated turning Kadyn into a child is lost. Gill expends all his energy trying to find him and Kadyn seems to have found some SPACE MAGIC (how many drinks is that?). He also found some cute little space creatures who are more or less there for comic relief except, they're not very funny to me. Maybe it's more teen humor? Going back to the rating thing, seriously how uptight ARE parents these days? Why wouldn't you let a 10 year old read this comic? These creatures are so cute. They do say very cutesy things like "just to be clear, we're still going to eat it right?" as they refer to Kadyn who had apparently ZERO fear of the beasts (maybe cause they're cute). 

It's here where I gotta say that the artwork, and that includes the beautiful coloring job, is an absolutely perfect match for this story. This lighthearted adventure is full of colorful panels with rich blues and purples. It really does earn its title Sea of Stars in more than one way. Not just with the space whales and quarksharks but Kadyn's new found ability to "swim" through space in a broken space suit unharmed but the colors! They do make one think of the ocean.

 The big mystery of this story is regarding this magical power Kardyn accidentally picked up. Being able to fly through open space unprotected isn't really normal for a human child. I won't spoil it for you, you'll just have to read the book but I do feel that this space magic (final drink) adventure is suitable for children 10 and up. Maybe some wiggle room in there if you're not a particularly uptight parent.

SEA OF STARS is a beautiful  comic book so add some space magic to your pull list this month.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

DIE: The Series to Date

As I've been pretty under the weather and useless in terms of getting out of the house and doing anything, I've been catching up on my reading. Gotta make the best of a boring situation. Actually that's not entirely true, I'm never bored. Anyway, this means I've caught up on a lot of comic book series. I'm always reading but right now I'm literally plowing through a sea of series. many of which I meant to read in the last 6 months. There's seriously just so much coming out that sometimes a busy comic book promoter just can't keep up.

Yesterday I got caught up on DIE. Vol # 1 which came out back in June. Yes I know how awful you I think I am for not taking the time to read this until now. Well I'm going to be honest, I've never been a real big fan of Kieron Gillen (unlike the rest of the comic book world). My dislike started back when I first read Phonogram. That entire book left a really awful flavor in my mouth because well, it felt so dishonest. It wasn't anything like my experience as a female musician in the music industry. Yes I know, let's throw the magic stuff out of the equation but the idea that women have ANY power in music was just ridiculous to me. And so I guess you know that I didn't stick with reading The Wicked + The Divine either.

Yet this article isn't about those books and I am choosing to look at DIE without involving all my feelings of prior stories Gillen has written. I'm even willing to bet that I'm the ONLY person who took those stories that way. Sidenote: I've written articles on them and I believe they've been published on my website as well as elsewhere but I can't recall for certain anymore.

So what did I think of DIE? I.....*drumroll* .... didn't hate it. I actually found it pretty fun. As someone who played an awful lot of pencil and paper RPG games without all the fancy figurines (and just desperately always wanted to be the Glitterboy character in every game of RIFTS, to the ire of every DM), the story brought me back to fun games with friends. Of course in this story, the friends are sucked into another dimension where a game master literally controls the world and the lives of everyone in it INCLUDING the players. My RPG games never went that way, much to my great sadness.

So all the main characters go over to their friend Solomon's house for a game and he presents them with these special dice (sorry die) and they all get sucked into this world. They're gone for 2 years. Only 5 of the group return while their friend Solomon remains trapped in the world. They don't know much about the world in terms of whether it's real, if all the people who populate it are also people stolen from Earth or if it's some fantasy realm that has no real impact on anyone besides them. They do have crazy awesome powers and new bodies.

Our storyteller and main character Ash is actually a dude on Earth. This awesome blonde, viking-metal-looking fellow created a bombshell female character which is who he gets to be when he's plunged unknowingly into this other realm. Trapped for all time. Well as I said, they do get out after 2 years. The details of that harrowing story are slipped to you through Vol 1. Of course the 5 are plunged back into the realm against their will once again. I guess a story based solely on what happens after the adventure, isn't much of an adventure (although I would read that story...hmmm maybe I already have).

There is some fun playing around with Ash. I mean as a character who's gender changes (not exactly at will of course), the possibilities are endless and I'm having flashbacks to Ranma 1/2. Of course this story is NOTHING like Ranma. There is a lot of drama that can't be settled with creative dueling and the characters actually get mortally wounded... or die.

So here we are 6 issues in. I'm starting to get a decent idea of who these characters are and there's a lot of drama and action happening at the same time. I mean this is what one needs in their escapism isn't it? I'm interested in how these guys are gonna get themselves out of the realm this time, I do want to know more about the realm itself. Is it a distant planet, universe, or an actual Jumanji board? Well what is it? That kind of curiosity is what kept me watching LOST long after I should have given up. So I can only hope that Gillen intends to slip us the good stuff we want and not merely use the smoke monster to entice us into 6 seasons of story without a satisfying explanation.

There is a real good catch of course to explain why the band of 5 cannot simply leave the realm the same way they had last time. The trouble is, they all have to agree to leave and that, they don't. In fact a couple actually prefer the weird DIE universe and why not? Super powers, dragons, beautiful elves, magic and as heroes they have hotties constantly throwing themselves at them, not to mention an endless supply of beer. I mean, I'm down for all that. So how do they get out of this one? And how much time will pass in the real world? You'll have to read to find out.

DIE is an ongoing series according to Image and with the success of Gillen's past series, I think we can except to be in this one for the long haul. If you're looking for a new on-going series and just can't take the heartbreak of another cancelled Image supposed ongoing, I think you've got a safe bet with DIE. Add it to your pull list and expect things to get... a little dark I wager.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Coffin Bound #1 (Advanced Review)

I guess it's been a while since I've actually sat down and written an article about a comic rather than a video script. Let's try and get back in the habit shall we?

Lately I've been all over the various genres. Trying hard to keep up with my favorites and the never ending potential I see coming out every month. There really are so many great comics coming out these days and are people even talking about them? I'm really not sure they are. I will once again make an effort to write a separate article for each one. I wish I felt comfortable just throwing out any old article into the wilds of the internet. I do not. I always want to re-read and fix every sentence and I'm trying to let go of that because simply, nothing gets produced.

So today I read Coffin Bound #1. You can get your copy this week, August 7th no less at a comic book shop near you. I received an advanced copy from Image Comics and opened it up to be both stunned and intrigued by the artwork. Gothic and edgy, that's right up my alley. Throw some supernatural oddities in there and you've pretty much got the blueprint for a Frog Queen Favorite (which by the way I've been childishly hashtagging all over Instagram).

Coffin Bound is written by Dan Watters, London-based writer who's written some DC and vertigo titles like LUCIFER, HOUSE OF WHISPERS. Currently he's writing LIMBO with Image and DEEP ROOTS for the ever ambitious Vault Comics. He's got an active Twitter page you should follow because someone so busy writing should have more followers.

The artwork in Coffin Bound which makes my heart pound (rhyme unintentional but completely invited) is by an artist only known as DaNi who I'm sad to say I don't know more about. She has an active Facebook page and worked on titles for DC such as THE DREAMING. I suggest following her on Instagram as well for updates and artwork. She's auto-fallen into my list of favorite artists of 2019.

Okay let's move on from the gossip and take a look at this grotesquely brilliant piece of work. I dunno what I like more, honestly, the pencils of the colors, which by the way were done by colorist Brad Simpson who is left off the side credit of Image Comic page but written about in the books bio (weird). Regardless each page feels like a frame-able piece for my wall. If this wasn't an advanced review, I would be sharing panels left, right and center. You're just going to have to run out and grab a copy Wednesday to check it out.

I'm not sure how to describe this story. Izzy Tyburn is our gorgeous 90s trash goddess. She can handle herself and you get the feeling right away that she's deadly. From the get-go she's in deep shit with some baddies hot on her trail but receiving help (if you can call it that?) from a bizarre humanoid vulture character. I think I was taken in by the comic right then. I mean, there wasn't much chance of it doing anything wrong and then it threw in some horror strippers and sealed the deal on my opinion. Outrageous fun. The whole thing does feel very Grindhouse but Grindhouse type film based in the Hellblazer universe.

I have to say I really like the old English used in the story. The characters are bizarre and interesting although I really wish this was an extended issue so I could get to know them a bit better. There is this terrifying character known as the Eartheater. What a fantastic name and he has wonderful, sort of romantic figures of speech for what he does, which is essentially murder. Like "I, Psychopomp, sew the Earth. Reuniter of man and mud." Isn't that lovely?  I guess he's a sort of supernatural bounty hunter.

There's a lot going on and unfortunately I didn't get a real strong sense of what that is in the first issue. It's my only real complaint. I think it's all brilliant and highly engaging but I would have liked a few more pages in the first issue. I do feel (and I've said this often), that many stories just shouldn't be serialized and rather make better OGN releases. I'm not saying that Coffin Bound fits in this category but I think my meager brain needs a little bit more info in an initial issue. I want to get a really clear cut sense of what's going on and who the characters are. Mystery is paramount! My brain must wonder what will happen. I just don't really understand the motivations of any of the characters besides Izzy and Vulture and that's sort of annoying to me. Of course it should be clear in upcoming issues but it is an important asset for me as a reader in determining whether I continue to read. I want to be enthralled by mystery but not lost on the plot.

Okay I think that's enough from me. I am excited to see where this goes. I will likely cover this in a video after it's debut so I can share the art but until then, add this one to your list. I feel this one needs to really be talked about. I think it's going to be too much fun.