Sunday, July 27, 2014

Glory: The Complete Saga

 Having never been a fan of Rob Liefeld's Image characters, I honestly have no idea how much, if any, of what goes on in GLORY: THE COMPLETE SAGA jibes with the character's past publishing history. What I can say, with certainty, is that writer Joe Keatinge and artist Ross Campbell have truly outdone themselves, delivering a blistering twelve-issue run that gives readers a beginning, middle, and end, something that is a true rarity in comics these days.

 Glory, as conceived by creator Rob Liefeld, was nothing but a shameless rip-off of Wonder Woman, a companion piece to his Superman rip-off, Supreme. Just as Supreme was re-invented by Alan Moore, Glory gets her turn in the sun now, thanks to a brilliant re-interpretation by Keatinge and Campbell. Their Glory is a hulking, scarred brute of a warrior woman, the offspring of the leaders of two eternally warring races; Born to bring peace to the feuding kingdoms, she abandons her birthright, choosing instead to go to Earth and become a champion to humanity. In her absence, the kingdoms she was to unite fall further into ruin, leading to a disastrous battle that finds her homeworld destroyed, billions dead, and Glory herself a wrecked, shattered husk barely clinging to life.

 GLORY: THE COMPLETE SAGA chronicles Glory's preparations for the final battle against the forces that destroyed her homeworld, but there's much more to this book than meets the eye. (What does meet the eye is gorgeous, thanks to the hideously grotesque, yet beautiful, art by Ross Campbell. His bizarre creatures, overflowing gore, and exaggerated anatomy are absolutely captivating, and his work is complimented perfectly by the eye-pleasing color palattes of MS, Shastia Hamilton, Joseph Bergin III, Owen Gieni, and Charis Solis.) In addition to bloody battles, there's also drama, friendship, betrayal, secrets, and the underlying love between family members. Plus, lots and lots of monsters get killed in all kinds of nasty ways.

 There were some parts of this book that didn't quite add up for me...I didn't really get how Glory's human sidekick Riley was necessary in the first place. She plays a huge role in the climax of the story, but I wasn't sure why she was a part of the story to begin with...the way she was introduced didn't ring true to me. But overall, this is a good, solid read that should keep you busy for a while. Clocking in at 336 pages, with tons of extras, including scripts, cover and sketch galleries, and much more, this book is well worth the price of admission.

 Image Comics provided a review copy.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Wraith: Welcome To Christmasland

 Joe Hill's creepy antagonist Charles Talent Manx III, villain of his brilliant novel NOS4A2 (Review HERE) returns for a prequel/origin story in IDW's THE WRAITH: WELCOME TO CHRISTMASLAND.

 I really can't stress enough what a huge "Get" this book is for IDW. Joe Hill is a major player in the Horror industry, and NOS4A2, in my opinion, will stand as an enduring classic of the genre as the years go by. So for IDW to get Hill himself to write a new NOS4A2 story is pretty big stuff. This is not a bestselling author supplying an idea that another writer does the heavy lifting on, which is something comic book fans have had foisted on them for years...this is the actual bestselling author, contributing his ideas, in his own words. Hill's love of comics is no secret, and his partnership with IDW has brought his fans some great stuff (Especially his LOCKE & KEY series), but this book is a whole different beast. If played correctly by IDW's marketing department, this has the potential to be a huge crossover hit, potentially reaching out to fans of Hill's original novel that have never read a comic book before. And that's pretty exciting stuff.

 All that aside, nothing matters if the story isn't up to snuff, and Hill, ably assisted by artist Charles Paul Wilson III (Billed here as Charles "Talent' Wilson III), has delivered a whopper. The main story is bookended by a pair of shorts that delve into the past of Charlie Manx: The opening story is a straight origin story, as Manx reveals the story of his life and the creation of "Christmasland", the otherworldly amusement park that is home to the transformed children that he abducts. The story that closes out the volume is heavily tied into the events that led to the creation of Christmasland. Sandwiched between those two shorts is a five-part story that gives Hill's readers all they could ever want of Christmasland, and then some. A trio of convicts, being transported to prison, manage to overcome their guards and crash the prison truck, leading one of the cons to call an old acquaintance for assistance in "disappearing". They're soon picked up by the familiar Rolls-Royce Wraith, driven by a happy fellow with a pronounced overbite.

 The convicts, guards in tow, find themselves disappearing more fully than they ever intended: Manx is taking them to Christmasland, where they can play that classic childhood favorite, "Scissors for the drifter" with all of the park's jolly little residents. Oh, joy!

 Mixed in among the copious horror and Gore, Hill also delivers a heartfelt tale of the love between a father and his tragically deceased son. Hill writes great crazy, but his non-crazy characters are genuine and believable, which makes their horrific circumstances all the move emotionally disturbing. On the art front, Charles Paul Wilson III makes Christmasland his own, wonderfully realizing all of the outre descriptions that Hill dropped in NOS4A2. There's a double-page spread towards the end that is absolutely breathtaking, both in terms of detail and layout, as Manx's children pursue a pair of escapees through an ice maze. I would buy a print or a poster of that spread in a minute. I've never heard of Charles Paul Wilson III before now, but I'm going to predict that we'll all be hearing a lot more from this talented young man.

 Fans of NOS4A2 will love this trip back in time with Charlie Manx, and new readers will find the story totally accessible to anyone who hasn't read the novel. Highly, highly recommended stuff.

 IDW provided a review copy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 5: A Game of You

 As I reread Neil Gaiman's brilliant SANDMAN saga in these spiffy new "Fully Remastered Editions", I notice one glaring omission that makes for a lesser reading experience for an old fart like me that's been here on more than one occasion: DC, for all of their endless milking of THE SANDMAN in various and sundry editions (Floppy, trade, hardcover, Absolute, Omniboo, Annotated, digital...), has never really strayed from the format of the original collections. (Call me on this, if you know differently.....I didn't spring for the Absolute hardcovers, because I thought they were overpriced, and I'm kicking myself for not buying the two omniboo, but I'm just too poor right now...) Considering what a game-changer THE SANDMAN was (And IS...), DC has stuck to those original collected editions like they were The Bible, never adding any behind-the-scenes material of any kind to the volumes.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Justice League of America, Volume 2: Survivors of Evil

 Wow, that was awful beyond belief. I just don't get what anyone sees in Matt Kindt. This is the third or fourth try I've given him, and...nothing. I just don't get it.

Forever Evil

DC's endless crossovers keep on crossing, with FOREVER EVIL!!!!

Justice League, Volume 5: Forever Heroes

 DC's eternal crossover-mania rolls on, with The Justice League facing the threat of FOREVER EVIL!!!!! Or not confronting it, because The Justice League really doesn't appear in this book at all. (Well, Cyborg does, but I don't count him, because he's boring.)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 4: Season of Mists

 I remember the thrill of anticipation that I had reading the "Season of mists" storyline when it originally ran in THE SANDMAN, circa 1990/1991. In hindsight, one of the (most) brilliant things that writer Neil Gaiman does with this series is twist and circumvent reader expectations. This arc was presented as "The Sandman goes to Hell to confront Lucifer for the soul of his condemned lover, Nada." This reader was expecting full-blown Horror, an epic confrontation between Morpheus and a much-more-powerful adversary, a massive throwdown that would shake the very foundations of the series. Well, Morpheus did end up going to Hell, loaded for bear, and ready for a battle that he may very well lose. And Gaiman got to that confrontation in the second issue (Of an eight-issue arc...), and took all of my expectations and turned them on their head. Instead of fight worthy of Miracleman/Kid Miracleman, I was presented with a massive talking heads arc that was mostly comprised of various mythological and supernatural entities sitting (And standing) around talking. And I loved every minute of it. Such is the brilliance of Neil Gaiman.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Sandman, Volume 2: The Doll's House

What was once my favorite arc of one of my favorite series gets taken down a notch or two....

The Sandman, Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes

 I doubt that anyone reading this blog has not already read Neil Gaiman's staggeringly good run on THE SANDMAN, so this won't be as in-depth a review as usual.