comic book review

REVIEW: Revival Volume One: You’re Among Friends by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton

revival vol 1For one day in a rural central Wisconsin town, the dead came back to life. The townspeople must learn how to deal with loved ones returning to them while the government keeps the town in lockdown and there’s a media frenzy. Officer Dana Cypress has to deal with all this as well as solve a brutal murder and everyone’s a suspect, both dead and alive.

Revival is not like your usual zombie/undead story. People only came back from the dead on one night and aren’t necessarily on the rampage. A lot of people are happy to have their loved ones back and want to protect them from the media and religious fanatics.

Dana Cypress was an interesting lead (or co-lead really). She’s a cop and her father’s the head of the police but they don’t have a very good relationship but she really cares about her young son and her little sister Em. I’d say Em is the co-lead in this series as she has her own story running along with Dana’s, one with a lot of secrets and a mystery.

The story moves along slowly but not too slow that you get bored. It very much feels like a noir film with horror elements as Dana looks into the murder case and people continue to ask why and how did the dead come back to life. You’re Among Friends is so good because it give you enough information to keep you interested and to have a satisfying sort of first chapter with this volume, but it still lays out some sub-plots and unanswered questions making you want to read on. Sometimes with comic book trade paper backs, that’s a balance that doesn’t always work but Revival go it perfectly right.

I really liked the art style in Revival, it’s realistic but often creepy and atmospheric. The scenes in the woods are very grey and with the snow it’s like you can feel the cold radiating from the pages. The character designs are great too as everyone looks different (even background characters) so it’s

Revival is definitely a comic that’s not suitable for kids, there’s a lot of blood, violence and swearing, but if you’re a fan of horror and mysteries then you should give it a go. 4/5.

REVIEW: Five Ghosts Vol. 3: Monsters & Men by Frank J. Barbiere, Chris Mooneyham and Lauren Affe

five ghosts elenasquareeyesFabian Grey has the power of five ghosts thanks to the Dreamstone. He can use the powers of an archer, a wizard, a detective, a samurai and the one he fears using the most, a vampire. Fabian must come to terms with his powers as he tracks down his kidnapped friend Sebastian. Along the way he discovers monsters and a tentative ally in the form of Van Helsing.

I love this comic series a ridiculous amount. The premise is amazing – Fabian Grey is like Indiana Jones with superpowers – and the art is very pulp-fictiony and the colour tones used add to the creepiness.

Fabian travels to Romania to find Sebastian and there he finds a town plagued by a sickness and some strange monsters. Once again, Five Ghosts doesn’t hold back on the violence. The battles are brutal and the monsters are really quite disgusting and scary. Also with Sebastian’s kidnap you learn more about secret organisations and about the Dreamstone and its powers.

Fabian’s reluctance to let the vampire ghost take control was explored really well and the way he can now sort of communicate with the ghosts that possess him was interesting.

Van Helsing was a great edition to the world and the sepia toned panels that showed his backstory were great. He and Fabian work well together but don’t always see eye to eye – I’d love to see him team up with Fabian again.

Five Ghosts is one of my favourite comic series and with Monsters & Men it continues being great with even more mystery and action. 5/5.

REVIEW: Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters and Brooke Allen

lumberjanes vol1 elenasquareeyesLumberjanes is about a group of girls spending their summer at a scout camp discover strange creatures and weird goings on in the woods around the camp.

Lumberjanes is a completely different comic to anything I’ve read so far. The protagonists are all young teenagers who are looking for adventure, there’s action and drama but there’s also an innocence to it all. Their friendship is amazing as well – more awesome lady friends please!

The art style is different to what I usually like to look at/read as well. It’s so bright and the characters are sometimes quite cartoonish – not that cartoonish is bad, it’s just normal that’s not an art style I’d like. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Lumberjanes but it’s taken me this long to read it because it’s so different to what my usual taste in comics is. I’m pleased I’ve now given it a go and found that it is just as fun as everyone has said it is.

I love the way the characters are all different and you can see their personalities through just four issues. Jo is the calmer one of the group, April looks small and weak but is super strong (and references Kelis’ Milkshake which I love), Molly often thinks she isn’t good enough compared to the rest of the girls, Mal is the more cautious one and Ripley is like the baby of the group. And then there’s the girls camp counsellor Jen – I love Jen! She wants to follow the rules and keep the girls safe but she’s so long suffering it’s kinda wonderful.

While a lot of stuff happened in this volume and set up the characters well, it did leave me wanting something more. I’m not sure if it’s because I liked it so much and I just wanted to continue with the story or if I expected something different to happen.

Lumberjanes is really sweet and fun and I can’t wait to read the next volume. 4/5.


REVIEW: Lazarus Volume Three by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Santi Arca

Lazarus_Vol3-1A conclave has been called in order to try and broker peace for the feuding families. Two sides have appeared those following Jakob Hock and those following Malcolm Carlyle. Forever Carlyle is the families Lazarus and protector whose been raised to never question her orders but as things transpire, Forever isn’t sure who to trust anymore.

My experience with the Lazarus series has been a bit up and down. I enjoyed Volume One but then I really didn’t like Volume Two. Now, after a guy I know at the comic store I go to convinced me to give Volume Three a go, I’m back to liking the series a lot again.

Volume Two feels more of an interlude from the main story as set out in Volume One. This Volume is much more focussed on the politics of the world and gives it a bigger scope as you’re introduced to the many different families and their Lazarus’s.

Forever has a lot of decisions to make. She’s always been told that she’s a part of the family and her father is her father, but she begins to doubt that and wonders if she was made in a lab rather than born. She also has two decide who to trust out of her brother and sister and whether to tell her father her doubts and fears. Forever isn’t used to being unsure about things so it gives her more depth as she tries to figure out what to do.

There’s a fight at the end between two Lazari, Forever and another woman she considers her friend, that spans numerous double pages and there’s no dialogue. There’s just the amazing art and you can imagine the movements as the two Lazari fight and it’s gripping as you’re not sure who you want to win because if Forever does win she’ll lose her friend but if she doesn’t her family will lose everything.

Lazarus Volume Three makes the world bigger and more complex, secrets and lies that were hinted at in Volume One are revealed but there’s still more intrigue and a brilliant cliffhanger ending. 5/5.

REVIEW: The Fade Out: Act One by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

FullSizeRender (74)It’s 1948 in Hollywood and the death of an upcoming starlet is being covered up. Struggling screenwriter Charlie Parish is trying to figure out what really happened to her while trying to keep his life together.

The Fade Out feels like a noir film. With the setting and the art and the types of characters you all know, the drunk, the big boss, the struggling young actress and the naive lead – it’s all the markers for a noir thriller and while in some ways it’s playing on the stereotypes it also manages to be fresh and interesting.

I loved the setting of the Hollywood studios of the 1940’s. I loved learning about the studio system in my Film classes at school so seeing all the drama of a studio possibly failing and how tight the schedules were and how studios could loan out stars to other studios was great.

It’s got a slow build to it as Charlie begins to realise that he’s stumbled into something he shouldn’t that’s a lot bigger than him.

There’s a lot of characters in The Fade Out and while a lot of them are very distinctive I did get confused a few times as to who was who and how they related to different characters. Luckily there was a handy pictures and name list at the start of the book that I could flick back to whenever I got confused.

I’ll definitely be picking up the next volume as I’m intrigued as to where the story goes and who are really the bad guys. 4/5.

REVIEW: The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1, Storm Vol. 1 and Ms Marvel Vol. 1

FullSizeRender (64)The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cowles

Every ninety years, twelve gods are reincarnated as humans and they can live and party and do as they wish (within reason) but then two years later they die. Laura is a normal teenager who is fascinated by the Gods and becomes embroiled in their world of dance, fun and danger.

I had heard a lot of good things about this series before reading it and I think this was the books downfall. I had such high expectations and expected to love The Wicked + The Divine but then I didn’t.

The art was gorgeous, so bright and stylish and I loved the character designs but none of the characters really pulled me in. Lucifer was pretty cool and I liked Laura’s loyalty but other than that I didn’t really grow attached to any characters. The story didn’t pull me in that much either.

I think it’s a case of I liked the premise but then the execution wasn’t for me. I’d say definitely give it a go because the art’s stunning and it has a lot of diverse characters which is always nice to see in comics. Unfortunately I was let down by The Wicked + The Divine. 2/5.


REVIEW: Black Panther: Who Is The Black Panther by Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.

FullSizeRender (62)The reclusive country of Wakanda is under threat by a deadly team. The Black Panther must protect his family, his home and his nation as outside nations look to take advantage of any weakness.

This is the perfect comic for someone to be introduced to the world and character of the Black Panther. You learn about T’Challa’s backstory, his family and the history of the Black Panther name. I’d never read a comic about or featuring Black Panther before – I’d only seen the awesome TV show Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes which Black Panther was a part of and that’s where I first thought he was a badass.

T’Challa is indeed a badass. He is the leader of his people so he is smart and resourceful as well as being full of honour and a sense of gravitas that you can feel through the pages. He is a badass when he is dealing with nosy bureaucrats and he is a badass when he is fighting bad guys.

T’Challa’s whole family (and the Wakandan’s in general) are pretty amazing. His sister Shuri wanted to become the Black Panther and even though she didn’t get that chance she can still fight and protect her country. She is also very clever and not afraid to go against her brothers orders when she thinks something isn’t right.

I loved the scenes where American politicians are discussing Wakanda and the history of it keeping invaders from various countries out – it’s an interesting insight in racism and imperialism as these Americans can’t believe a country in Africa can be more technological advanced than themselves. Wakandans are freakin’ awesome!

Who Is The Black Panther is action-packed and the art is great. It also has the first issues that the Black Panther ever appeared in, way back in 1966 where T’Challa beats the Fantastic Four – he is that awesome. It’s a nice, complete story arc that anyone with any amount of knowledge about the Black Panther can pick up. 5/5.

REVIEW: The Punisher Vol. 2, Secret Avengers Vol. 1 and Lazarus Vol. 2

FullSizeRender (58)The Punisher Vol. 2: Border Crossing – Nathan Edmondson, Kevin Maurer, Mitch Gerads, Carmen Carnero and Phil Noto

Frank Castle is in trouble, he’s injured and has not only gang lords after him but Crossbones as well. Things get interesting when he runs into Black Widow but whether their meeting will be good for Frank, who knows? All Frank knows is that he has to get back to LA before it burns to the ground.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed volume one of The Punisher (I mainly picked it up because I’ve seen the various Punisher movies – check out The Punisher: War Zone – and because I liked the art). I really like Frank Castle and his attitude towards criminals, he is a vigilante but when he’s not around things are decidedly worse for the general public. Volume One ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger so I was keen to see what happened to Frank next.

I really liked his encounter with Black Widow and how his story entwined with that of her (as seen in the series by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto) but you don’t need to be reading Black Widow to know what’s going on (though I highly recommend it because it’s great). They’re interesting characters to have together as they are both comfortable with doing bad things for the right reason.

All the threads that were set up in volume one are coming together and painting a complicated picture – but not too complicated. There’s the strand with the drug lords and the strand with the new Howling Commandos but Frank (and you as the reader) is slowly starting to join the dots. Everything hasn’t become clear quite yet so I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how it all pans out in the next volume.

I still like the art a lot but the way the panels are ordered so they suddenly go across a double page spread sometimes threw me a bit. 4/5. (more…)

REVIEW: Hawkeye, Lazarus, Sex Criminals, The Manhattan Projects and Rocket Girl

I’ve been catching up on my comic books (the majority of which featured awesome female characters) so here are another batch of reviews.

FullSizeRender (18)Hawkeye Vol. 3: L.A. Woman
– Matt Fraction, Annie Wu and Javier Pulido

Hawkeye Volume 3 combines alternate issues of the comics run – Hawkeye Annual 1, Hawkeye 14, 16, 18-19, 21. I thought it was a bit strange to have odd issues instead of consecutive issues like your average trade paper back but it turns out it makes a lot of sense. The volume follows Kate Bishop who after getting fed up with Clint Barton has decided to go to LA with Lucky the dog. Instead of having a nice, relaxing time in the sunshine she stumbles into supervillain Madame Masque’s plans. Kate’s not quite on her own; she does have Lucky, the cat she’s supposed to be looking after and the newly-weds next door to help her out.

It was great seeing what Kate gets up to when she’s not dealing with Clint’s ridiculousness – Kate’s such a great character so it was nice to see her strike out on her own. The art was different to the rest of the series but I liked that as it showed how Kate and Clint are different on another level. I especially liked the pictures that were Kate’s inner thoughts. Hawkeye Volume 3 continues to have great writing that’s funny but also touching and the art compliments the writing perfectly. 5/5.

Lazarus Vol. 1: Family – Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Santi ArcasbFullSizeRender (21)
Lazarus is set in a dystopian war-torn future where there are a few great families who have the power. In each of these families there is a Lazarus – the Lazarus has the best training and assets and is the family’s sword and shield. In the Family Carlyle, the Lazarus is called Forever and she is deadly.

Forever is near-indestructible and will do anything to protect her family. Her family isn’t exactly honest though as everyone seems to have their own agenda and Forever is being kept in the dark. Forever is an interesting character, she’s strong but there’s a vulnerability about her and I like that a lot.

The plot is slow moving but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. It takes the time to build the dystopian setting, add layers to the characters and it slowly builds the tension between the characters which I can see paying off in the future. I’m definitely going to be picking up volume two soon. 4/5. (more…)

REVIEW: Black Widow, Saga, Secret Avengers, Locke & Key and X-Men

Here’s anothphoto (7)er batch of mini-reviews of the various comics I’ve been trying out recently.

Black Widow Vol 1: The Finely Woven Thread – Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto
Much like Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, this is the story of what Black Widow gets up to when she’d not being an Avenger. Generally, she’s doing less than legal things in order to help make money to (somewhat) atone for her sins towards her previous targets families. This is a beautiful book and Natasha is awesome and I really like her relationship with her lawyer, who is also quietly badass. I love how Natasha does sometimes make mistakes (because she’s only human) and does get hurt but that doesn’t mean she stops fighting and being an awesome spy. 5/5.

photo 4 (1)Saga Volume One – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga is a sci-fi, fantasy epic with star-crossed lovers. Alana and Marko fall in love and have a child, the only problem is that they are from long-warring alien races. Their marriage and child are against both races laws and they must fight for their survival while trying to bring up their daughter Hazel. I liked Alana a lot since she was no nonsense and tough (even when giving birth) but you can still see her softer side in relation to Marko and Hazel. Also I loved the artwork and how the aliens really look alien. Some are more humanoid than others but some of the best are the ones that look so weird and different – Prince Robot IV is kind of awesome since he has a human body but then a TV as a head. Saga is action-packed and funny and a great bit of epic science-fiction. 5/5.