I pick up Wolverine & Deadpool every month from WH Smith, and £3 for 3 issues isn't bad. I've been reading that and it's a good chuckle.
I pick up Wolverine & Deadpool every month from WH Smith, and £3 for 3 issues isn't bad. I've been reading that and it's a good chuckle.
I mentioned this in another thread but may be more appropriate here. I picked up the Sworn Sword graphic novel from GRR Martin's short story. It is really good. Nice art and well written. I love Westeros - such a cool world. I hunger for Martin's next book. My stomach is grumbling.
Just read the second issue of Warren Ellis' SuperGod. I am liking it so far, enough to look forward to the next issue. Heavy on the exposition and light on action, but the story is cool and very interesting. I have also been rereading Transmet and that is always fun.
Over the past few weeks, I've been sinking my teeth into some more graphic novels. Here's what I've been reading:
Batman Year One
Planetary: The Fourth Man
and Sleeper: Out in the Cold
I enjoyed all of them. It would be hard to pick a favorite from that bunch too. Since I started reading comics, I have to say, I have been reading some really good, fun stuff.
I've been up to some more comic reading lately. I recently finished Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco. I liked this one a lot, though I still rank Palestine a slight notch better. Here's the review from my blog:
Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco
Safe Area Gorazde (pronounced gor-ajh-DUH) is Joe Sacco's documentary style graphic novel about the Bosnian wars which occurred in the early to mid-nineties. Safe Area Gorazde reminded me of Palestine as Sacco uses the same techniques to gather information and to tell his story.
During the 90's Sacco made several trips into the UN designated "Safe Area" Gorazde to meet the people there and to hear their stories. Bosnian Muslims were forced to fight off starvation, isolation, and enemy troops while trying to carry on some semblance of a normal life despite living in a town deep behind enemy lines.
Sacco interviews a wide variety of people in the town of Gorazde, but for me, the most gripping parts occurred when Sacco interviewed various soldiers of the town who had fought on the front lines and told him stories of the brutal fighting happening often only a few kilometers away. The brutality and the tactics used by the Chetnik soldiers against the townsfolk of Gorazde, who were outgunned, outnumbered and virtually defenseless often left me feeling ill and shaken.
Sacco does a good job of giving the reader a bit of the historical backdrop as well as the politics involved. I learned as I read, because even though this war occurred while I was a teen, I didn't remember many of the details, and certain aspects were completely new to me.
There were many times while I was reading Safe Area Gorazde that I caught myself comparing it to Palestine. I caught myself comparing the severity of the two struggles, the suffering of the people involved, trying to decide which situation was worse until I eventually realized that trying to make that judgement isn't fair. It isn't fair for me to judge one tragedy against another. There isn't a measuring stick for human tragedy, and the circumstances that took place in Gorazde and Palestine are downright terrible regardless. Sacco makes this abundantly clear. Not only is it clear from the first hand accounts he collects from his interviews, but also with the artwork on the pages.
Sacco uses black and white artwork with incredible detail to help tell the story.
Safe Area Gorazde is a graphic novel that sticks, and the art has a lot to do with that. I think that with just words, the story loses the impact that Sacco is able to convey by including art work that takes no prisoners and shows (often with lurid detail) the brutality the people of Gorazde faced. Sacco doesn't pull any punches, and Safe Area Gorazde does a great job of detailing the Bosnian war from one forgotten town's perspective.
Recently finished reading Preacher: Gone to Texas, the first volume in a 9 comic series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. I really liked it. I reviewed it in full here and the review is excerpted below...but, I cut some of it out in order to maintain a PG rating.
Preacher: Gone to Texas, is a crazy, sadistic, blasphemous, and heretical comic.
It tells the story of Jesse Custer, a small town preacher in Texas, who gets possessed by a supernatural God-like being called Genesis. Genesis is the product of an unholy sex-tryst between an angel and a demon. Since the conception of Genesis, God has quit, disappeared from heaven, thus leaving the petty, squabbling angels in charge. The angels fear that whomever is possessed by Genesis, will gain God-like power, so they set the Saint of Killing loose in Texas to find Jesse Custer.
Custer indeed gains some powers. The one revealed so far is his "Word of God" ability to speak commands and have people immediately do as he asks. While this power could make Custer's life extremely easy, he only uses it as a last-ditch solution...the man has morals.
After accidentally destroying both his church and his congregation while becoming possessed by Genesis, Custer sets out in search of God...literally. His goal is to discover why God has abandoned His creation. Custer is aided along the way by his gun-toting ex-girlfriend, and a heavy drinking Irish vampire.
Best comic ever: Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa
I recently read the second Preacher graphic novel. Boy did Ennis ever raise the bar! I loved the first installment, but this one blew my mind. Wow, what a crazy Gran'Ma! Not to mention Jody and T.C. Possibly the three baddest baddies I've come across!
I am solidly hooked on this series...just gotta get my hands on the rest of the books. I really think everyone should give Preacher a go.
Wait until you see some of the later trades, there is one fight in the fourth I think involving the SoK (you'll either know what those initials are or not) that is amazing.
Winter Men - sadly limited mini-series that just filled a single trade but absolutely brilliant nonetheless. Set in Russia and mixing the very best of the superhero genre with modern day culture, espionage and the black market, it's a story filled with incredible dialogue, nailed-on art and almost flawless execution. Gutted there won't be anymore.
Last week I read the entire Sleeper series by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips...
Sleeper is a graphic novel series that stands out as unique. Devoid of costumed heroes (unless they are getting pounded on by the main characters), it instead chooses to focus on the bad-guys (and gals). The series has a very distinct film noir feel that gives the comic an edge. This dark, gritty motif sets the stage for a great spy-thriller where the spies have super-abilities and trust doesn't exist.
The series' protagonist is Holden Carver. Codenamed The Conductor for his ability to transfer any pain he has absorbed into another person by touching them. Carver is a deep cover agent, who is posing as one of the bad-guys. When we meet him, Carver has managed to work his way up to rungs of the criminal organization, getting ever closer to Tao, the mastermind who pulls all the strings. Carver's success seems like a good thing until we find out his only contact is in a coma and Carver is now stranded with the bad-guys, while his old employers are actively hunting him. Now Carver must employ his spy skills and his powers to survive in a twisted game of cat and mouse.
Sleeper stars some other very memorable characters. Most notably, Carver's love interest and fellow Prodigy, (the highest ranking members of Tao's criminal organization), Miss Misery, a deliciously evil and sexy lady who needs to commit acts of violence in order to stay alive. Miss Misery inspired very little sympathy from me, she is an evil, evil woman, but as a character, I admired her. Brubaker uses a fairly small cast of characters, but they all stand out as well constructed, without feeling like spy genre cliches. For example, on the surface, Tao is just a shitty Bond villain, but Brubaker fleshes the character out, and I actually found myself admiring his guile and scheming.
As with most graphic novels that I enjoy, Sleeper has fantastic artwork. The artist, Sean Phillips does a fantastic job of matching the art to the tone of the story. Sleeper is a dark tale and the art matches up nicely. Phillips certainly has his own art style, and often each page is a full page drawing, with smaller panels showing the action. Having never really seen this done before, I thought it was cool, stylish way to tell the story. Another thing about the artwork that stood out for me was Phillips' ability to portray human emotion in facial expressions. He often had panels of close ups on a character's face, and with out words or narration, I was easily able to tell exactly what was on that character's mind. This may seem like a minor thing for an artist to be able to draw faces well, but I thought it stood out as exceptionally well done.
As a series, I thought Sleeper was quite good, but I felt that Season 1 was stronger than Season Two. This is likely a case of personal taste, because in Season 2 there are so many back-stabs, and double and triple crosses, that I often had a hard time keeping everything straight. For that reason I had to go back and reread pages to make sure I knew what the hell was going on, which broke up the flow a bit. But really, I can't complain too much, because in the end, I was very much satisfied. Sleeper makes Jason Bourne look like Hello Kitty, and packs enough action and intrigue to stand with any of the great spy thrillers.
I got issue 4 of Wolverine & Deadpool yesterday.
Needs more Deadpool...
Hot off my trip to the Emerald City Comicon last weekend, I've been reading Black Summer by Warren Ellis. Here's what I thought:
I have been waiting to read Black Summer for awhile now. It is written by Warren Ellis, with artwork by Juan Jose Ryp. Warren Ellis is probably my favorite comic writer, and Juan Jose Ryp's artwork is amazing. This combo has had me drooling over this title for nearly a year, so I was pretty pumped to get it at a half-off sale at a local comic shop. It then skyrocketed to the top of my to-read-pile, and I was rewarded with a kick-ass graphic novel.
Black Summer kicks things off from the get-go with a presidential assassination, an act committed by a costumed super hero. It is never out-rightly stated, but the president who gets killed is George W. Bush. The murderous super hero is John Horus, a member of a scientifically enhanced super group called the Seven Guns. The Guns are all linked to high-tech pistols that deal out more fire power than most small nations could muster. Due to the death of a teammate the Guns are like a rock group who have chosen to go their separate ways; One guy, after losing part of his leg, has quit the hero life completely, four others have somewhat stuck together - but haven't done much, and John Horus, who is surrounded by floating eyes - which is also his "gun", has pursued his solo career. Well, there's nothing like a government mandated bounty hunt to get the old band back together.
Tom Noir, he of the missing leg, gets brought back into the fold after a failed attempt on his life. Fitted with a fancy prosthetic limb, he re-enters the fray alongside his old teammates. But other government controlled enhanced Guns are looking for them, while they search for John Horus and try to right his wrong.
Black Summer is vintage Warren Ellis. A brilliant plot, coupled with gripping characters and tons of action. I haven't read too much of his stuff, but the things that I have read, (half of his Planetary series, and all of Fell), I have loved. He mixes science fiction, fantasy, and costumed heroes very well. I think what I like about him is that his ideas seem just plausible enough that I think they could or already have happened and we just don't know about it...the bastard makes me paranoid!
However, where Black Summer really blew me away was in the art department. Juan Jose Ryp's art is the best I've seen in a graphic novel yet. I found myself scrutinizing every panel, every page taking in Ryp's skill and drooling over the insane detail. My acts of deep scrutiny were rewarded too. I noticed that some pages contained "easter eggs" - little hidden pictures within the tapestry. On one page in particular I found Sponge Bob, Bam-Bam, and Mario. Crazy. Really fantastic art though...just look at the pictures!
The entire Black Summer story is contained in this one graphic novel. While I sometimes like the single book format, versus 10-12 volume story arcs, I felt like Black Summer could have been longer. I wanted more. I wanted more of the back story on the Seven Guns...hell, we never even see who the deceased seventh Gun is. I also think the story could have been fleshed out more, and Ellis could have given more depth to the plot. I can't really complain too much though, because I really loved this graphic novel. Any complaints I have are washed away by Ryp's artwork.
I think Black Summer is a great place to start for readers who are new to Warren Ellis. From what I've read of him, this graphic novel seems to be on par with his other writing and evokes a similar style to what I've seen. Ellis is definitely one of the biggest names in comic writing, and I have my sights set on reading more of his work in the future.
Yeah for those who haven't seen Ryp's work before it's always an eye-opener, check out some of his B+W work for just insane detail unmarred by pesky colours. I thought Black Summer was over-rated, it was superb but the ending just felt forced, especially if you read it in singles as I did, as opposed to something like Black Gas where the ending pretty much made the title.
I recently re-read The Losers as part of my Vertigo collection and it really doesn't get old, hopefully the movie does it justice. After watching the tragedy that is Punisher War Zone I'm revisiting Garth Ennis' Punisher MAX run to erase the memory.