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.
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.
DESCENDER 1 & 2
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.