Sunday, April 26, 2015

Indie Corner - 04/22/2015

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

My comic shop has a rack by the counter they put new trades on each week.  Every week, I circle around this rack looking for anything interesting.  Henshin leapt out because I instantly thought, "Man, that looks like I Kill Giants..."  For good reason!  It's drawn by the same guy - Ken Niimura.  As a fan of the man's work, I snapped it up instantly.

Inside are 13 vignettes, of about 20 pages each, running the entire emotional spectrum.  It's a bit like a one-man anthology.  Most are slice of life, though some have a twist ending.  If that sounds interesting to you, or if you're a fan of Niimura's work, I recommend it.  I loved it.

The Life After 9
Recently, I've been watching Dragon Ball Kai.  So when a large demon throws a little girl into a rock face that shatters when she hits it, I'm thinking, "That's awesome!" and at the same time, "Dude, that's not cool!"

Last issue, we followed Jude and Hemingway on their misadventures in hell.  This issue, we follow the rest of our cast while that was going on.  The Kids get their new-found demon pal to take them to hell in pursuit of Jude and Hemingway, only, as predicted, she's not so friendly once they arrive.  Things quickly devolve into DBZ-style, people hurtling into rock faces that shatter on impact.  Then there's a snuggle huddle.  Wait, what?  Trust me, it all makes perfect sense.

Next: War!  And: Return of the Space Potato!  Apparently.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Indie Corner - 04/15/2015

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

I didn't do a review of issue three, but it was great.  The weird goings on of the first two issues gets explained in a major way, but in a way that doesn't feel heavy on exposition.  The humor is ever-present, pulling us out of flashbacks and to the situation at hand.  That continues here.  While issue four has dramatically fewer flashbacks, the explanations haven't stopped.

The story, the art, the action, the humor, it's all fantastic... and you're probably not reading it.  But it's probably my new favorite series and I want everyone to give it a read.

Deadly Class v2
Like Zero, this is another book I waited to read until I could dedicate myself to it.  I loved the first volume, and listening to the guys at the comic shop talk about it as the issues came out, volume two was going to be even better.  Exactly how much better, I couldn't have imagined.

I read this in bed last night until I could physically no longer stay awake.  Then, when I woke up, I finished reading it before I even rolled out of bed.  This is easily the best thing Remender is currently writing.  I'd have to double-check, but it may actually be the best thing he's EVER written.  The writing is phenomenal, but the art, the lettering, the colors... everything comes together perfectly to produce a story that's fantastic yet populated with entirely realistic characters.  It's absolutely brilliant and I can't recommend it highly enough.

There's literally no part of this that I can talk about without spoiling something.  I just want to make that clear before you read onward.  Spoilers.

Well that escalated quickly!  Page 1, Panel 1, I'm having flashbacks to Joe the Barbarian.  The insanity escalates from there as all of human, and pre-human, history now lay open for a couple of jerks to do as they please.  The results are predictable, yet somehow still jaw-dropping.

It's a great read, beautiful to look at, and I can't hardly imagine what new havok will be unleashed on the time-stream next issue.

BPRD v10
In a surprising break from the norm, this book contains three separate tales.  The first is a modern-day haunting in BPRD headquarters, related to and mingled with Hellboy's first field mission.  I thought the Hellboy flashback was more interesting than the situation in the present.

The second, happening at the same time as the haunting, though half a world away, features Johann and a small team in Japan.  They spend some time running away from giant monsters, and the story concludes with a rather spectacular giant monster fight.

The third centers on a small town trying to find a way to carry on in the new world.    It's the shortest of the three, but packs quite a punch.  This volume may not have become my new favorite, but the series continues to be excellent and will forever remain on my recommended list.

I reached the end of this issue and thought, "This is a miniseries, right?"  I can handle it if it's a miniseries, because that means things will start making sense soon.  If this were an ongoing, things could stay weird and vague pretty much indefinitely, and I'm not sure I could handle that.  But I've just verified, with Dark Horse's June solicits, that this is a five issue series.  That's a relief.  By that logic, a lot of things should start making sense next issue, and hopefully wrap up nicely the month after.  I can stick with it until then.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Indie Corner - 04/08/2015

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

I kept this at the bottom of my to-read pile until I had sufficient time and to read it in one sitting and the proper mind-set to give it the attention it deserved.  So I was surprised to discover the linear nature of the stories within.  Unlike previous volumes that jumped through time to various points in Zero's life, this is a straightforward read.

Some things of note: 1) The art is as spectacular as always.  For a different art to tackle each issue, the art is consistently good.  2) Ales Kot writes fight scenes like no one else.  I've read plenty of American, European, and Asian comics, but no one writes fights that are this intense, brutal, and heart-pounding.  3) I desperately want to know what happens next.

The Legacy of Luther Strode 1
Just yesterday I wrote about how, in Zero, Ales Kot writes fight scenes like no one else.  Today, I read this and it's... beautiful.  While I stand by that statement, the fights in Zero are intimate.  Close, personal.  The fights here are basically comic equivalent of The Wachowskis or Michael Bay.  Tradd Moore has seriously outdone himself here.  At one point, Luther hits the street so hard it ripples!  And that's, honestly, the least of the visual insanity contained within this issue.  Justin Jordan, Tradd Moore, and Felipe Sobreiro are putting everything they have into this, and I'm loving every glorious panel of it.

The first issue of Descender was amazing, and I completely failed to write anything about it.  Time to make up for that.  The second issue?  Also quite good.

The series starts with a futuristic world.  Things are humming along well enough, until BOOM widescreen craziness.  A lot of people talking about or attempt "widescreen" in comics.  This book pulls it off gloriously.  Cut to 10 years later when a robot boy wakes up.  Any sense of surprise related to this boy being a robot was destroyed by the preview pages released prior to the book going on sale.  Movie trailers are bad enough, I don't want my comics spoiled as well, thanks.  Cut back to that futuristic city to see how things have changed in the intervening years.  Spoiler: it's not good.

Issue two picks up right where the first left off - with bounty hunters going after the newly awakened robot boy.  The book alternates between current events as he runs and hides from the bounty hunters and with "flashbacks" of his early life.  It works better than you might expect.  Tension was high on each of the current pages, and I just barely resisted skipping ahead of the flashbacks.  For their part, the flashbacks were running high on emotion as the boy and his adopted family bond with one another.  It's touching and a little heartbreaking.

The first issue is 30 pages of story with some sketches at the back and is absolutely worth the $2.99 asking price.  Try it.  I think you'll come back for issue 2.

At first, I thought the character on the cover was Hazel, after going through another time jump.  But that wouldn't make much sense given how the last issue left off.  What does make sense is the issue being a deep look into Marko's past as he goes on a bad trip from the drugs he took last issue.  It's pretty dark stuff, tempered only by the hilarious comedy of Ghüs and Prince Robot.  I loved every second of it.

Baltimore always reminds me of Witchfinder in the "Oh hey, we haven't gotten a new one of those in a while" and obviously the "Cool, new stuff from the Hellboy guys!"  Baltimore, for those unclear, is the one not set in the Hellboy universe.  I actually thought the previous volume was the last, because my comic shop guy - whom knows more about these things than I do because he actually read The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire - indicated the comics had caught up with the original novel... and that should have been that.

Well, here we are with a volume 5, and a new mini series set to start next month. I'm not complaining because it's always great stuff. Baltimore is the typical badass, but gone is the single-minded mission to hunt down Haigus. Now, he and his friends are smiting in any and all forms. Here, two short mini series are collected: The Witch of Harju, a kind of zombie Frankenstein with a witch and some not-quite frogmen thrown in, and The Wolf and The Apostle, a werewolf tale. Both are far better than the brief summaries in the previous sentence indicate. I mean, we're still talking about Mignola, so there's drama, suspense, death, and new twists on classic stories. It's great, and I'm looking forward to more.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Indie Corner - 04/01/2015

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

For a book I wasn't planning to pick up, I'm quite enjoying it.

Our cast was stranded at the end of the first issue.  This isn't a spoiler, it's kinda the premise and in all the marketing material.  While the first issue pointed out why no search or rescue would be conducted, I don't think anyone in the audience actually believed it when the characters said it.  So a search gets underway this issue.  But that's not all.  Something else appears to be going on, but we'll have to wait until next issue to learn more.  I'll be picking it up to see where this title goes.

Lady Killer 4
After this issue, I really need this to continue as a series of mini series.  Josie's making moves all over this issue, barely standing still long enough to take a breath, and every second of it is brilliant.  I love the art, the writing's fantastic, and there's only one issue left.  If you've missed the series thus far, wait for the trade.  Trust me, it'll be worth it.

I've mentioned before how I tend to read comics in bed.  There's a whole stack I've been making my way through this week, including several trades.  I brought Lazarus to bed last night, thinking I'd read an issue or two before crashing.  I wound up reading the whole thing.

In this volume, we find out what happened to Jonah, since last we saw him way back in volume one.  A gathering of the families follows, with plenty of posturing, backroom negotiating, and general politicking.  The stand-out scenes for me here were seeing the various Lazari interacting and Forever's continuing quest for the truth.  It's all brilliant and I can't wait for the next installment.

This is the team building issue.  If you've ever seen a heist movie, you should be familiar.  The main character from issue one goes around collecting old friends and acquaintances for... well, no one actually says, "one last job" but since so many are dying or near death already, it's kind of implied.  If this really is a team book, that means at least one of the following will happen by the end of the first arc: a new member will join, a member will die, or one member will betray the others.

It may sound like I didn't enjoy the issue, but I actually did.  Thankfully, with this out of the way, the book can get back to what made the first issue great.

I bought a couple issues of this when it was originally printed, years back.  Loved the art, but didn't think too much about the story.  Reading it from the beginning with the recent Collected Editions was a real eye-opener - the story is actually good!  For years I've thought Lady Mechanika was just an excuse for drawing steampunk and attractive women.  In reality, it's a fun adventure book with a lead reminiscent of Tomb Raider.  She's smart, more than capable, and yes, attractive.  She also has a cast of villains and supporting characters, and a world with history that grows more defined with each issue.

The next series, The Tablet of Destinies, is out this month.  Benitez has help this time, which should lead to a more regular release schedule that plagued the original series.  The art, already detailed and gorgeous, is even more so in Tablet.  You can see a preview in issue five.  It's already on my pull list, and I recommend anyone into steampunk give it a look.