I ordered my second OwlCrate recently because the theme, Comic Explosion, was just my sort of thing. OwlCrate is a YA subscription service based in America and it’s the shipping costs of $20 that makes it a box that I pick and choose when to get it. I have to say I was very surprised at how quickly it arrived on my doorstep. Especially as I received an email at lunchtime today saying it was on its way and I could track it, I click on the tracking number and see it had arrived at 11am! Turns out the email might have been a bit delayed and my box was actually posted last Monday – still, it was an excellent surprise to come home to.
If your May OwlCrate box has yet to arrive – beware spoilers below! (more…)
I couldn’t figure out what book I wanted to read recently (the great thing about the Read the World Project is I’ve got a lot of interesting options but it does sometimes feel like homework) so I went back to my comic shelves and read a few of my unread volumes. I have stuff to say about them but not a lot so here’s some mini reviews.
Poe Dameron Volume 1: Black Squadron by Charles Soule and Phil Noto
I really loved this comic! Poe Dameron stole my heart in The Force Awakens so when I heard he was going to have his own comic series I knew I had to read it. Black Squadron is a prequel to The Force Awakens and Poe, along with his friends in his squadron, are tasked by Leia Organa to find Lor San Tekka (the old guy Poe’s talking to at the start of The Force Awakens – boy I’ve said The Force Awakens a lot in this paragraph!).
So, the comic is all about the mission but also the downtime and you get to see Poe interact with his team which is great. It’s a funny comic, Poe’s charm shines right off the pages and it’s a nice way to learn more about the character. Plus, his relationship with BB-8 is brilliant, there’s a scene where the whole plan depends on BB-8 and some other droids and Poe has complete faith in them.
I also love the art style in Black Squadron. Phil Noto draws some gorgeous stuff (his Black Widow run is also fab) and I love the colours. It is a bit funny seeing Oscar Isaac’s face in a comic, but I soon got used to it. This is such a fun comic with good adversaries for Poe and his team and they kind of go on a heist at one which was wonderful (heists are my favourite thing ever) and I can’t wait till Volume 2 is released. 5/5.
Top 5 Wednesday is a great feature created by GingerReadsLainey and hosted by ThoughtsonTomes. To find out more about Top 5 Wednesday and the upcoming topics, check out its Goodreads page. This week it’s all about your favourite non-traditional written books, so graphic novels, comics, manga, audiobooks and so on and so forth. So, this week I’m writing about my favourite graphic novels/trade paper backs (because I don’t live near a comic store so it’s easier to read the volumes) and by pure chance they are all from different publishers. In no particular order they are…
March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell
This graphic novel trilogy was pretty much the first thing I read this year and it’s my new favourite thing ever. It’s all about the Civil Rights Movement in America and it’s told through John Lewis’s eyes, what protests he was involved in, who he knew and all the hardships and successes. It is such a powerful and important graphic novel series, the sort of thing everyone should read.
Five Ghosts by Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham Five Ghosts has a very Indiana Jones feel, especially as the main character is an archaeologist who searches for weird mystical artefacts. Oh, and he also happens to have a stone stuck in his chest that gives him the power of five different ghosts. The thing about Five Ghosts I really love is the art style, it’s like those old pulp fiction stories and it can be creepy and dynamic, especially when the ghosts make an appearance.
Now a century-long war has ended, Odyssia and her crew of weary warriors leave the battlefields of Troiia-VII for home – but getting there will be a long an dangerous road.
ODY-C is a space opera retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey, that may sound a bit crazy and weird and it kind of is. Now I haven’t read The Odyssey and only know the tiniest amount of the story so really I was going into ODY-C like it was an original and new story for me. Naturally I probably missed a tonne of the references to The Odyssey but one thing I did find interesting (once I’d got used to it) was that some of the text seems to be almost lifted from The Odyssey. The language of the narrator voice is the sort of thing you read in classics, the formation of the sentences sound old and important. That combined with the speech of the characters, which is more modern and often has swearing in it, is a weird and jarring experience. This was actually my second attempt at reading ODY-C (I tried last year but couldn’t get into it) and I think it was the language styles that was causing me problems. (more…)
For 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.
Fabian 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.
A 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.
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.
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…)
I’ve been catching up on my comic books (the majority of which featured awesome female characters) so here are another batch of reviews.
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 Arcasb 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…)