What I’ve Read: February
So January-February has been a very busy, happy and expensive time for me comic book wise. Between Humble Bundle offering a nice big bundle of electronic comics for Image’s 25th anniversary and the bookstore I work at offering a buy 2 and get the 3rd free deal on Image graphic novels, I’ve got enough comics to last me for quite some time. Seriously I might have a problem. Oh almost forgot…. ***SPOILER ALERT*** I WILL BE DISCUSSING THE GRAPHIC NOVELS THAT I READ IN THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY. THAT MAY OR MAY NOT INCLUDE SPOILERS.
Injection Vol. 1 (w/ Warren Ellis a/ Declan Shalvey):
In this story we learn some weird covert group of really smart specialists got together to think about how to bring future innovation and invention closer to today. Their conclusion is something that they refer to as the Injection, a non-biological intelligence that can bend the laws of physics, capable of looking at problems a way no human can. The results of course are not as expected. It decides to start bringing fairytales and folklore to life. Why? To make life more interesting. I don’t love it. But I don’t hate it. I’m a huge fan of Warren Ellis’s work (Transmetropolitan, Planetary, Global Frequency, Trees, etc.) so I will probably continue reading it for a volume or two more. 3/5
East of West Vol. 4: Who Wants War? (w/ Jonathan Hickman a/ Nick Dragotta)
I readily admit that I’m biased and that I love this series. (see my previous post for January here.) If you’ve read this far, continue reading. Still not getting a perfect score because as much fun as I’m having with the series, something just seems a bit off. I think its the overall pacing. Four volumes in and I’d have expected more to have occurred between more of the major power players by this point. Sure one of them is all but wiped out near the start of this volume, but that was kind of inevitable. 4/5
Hellblazer: Original Sins (w/ Jamie Delano a/ John Ridgway, Alfredo Alcala)
This volume collects issues #1-#9 of the long running Hellblazer series starring John Constantine. First off I love this series. I haven’t read nearly enough of it for my liking but I am working on it. I love the anti-hero protagonist, John Constantine. He’s a complicated character that is all too human. He faces down demons and humans alike. And unlike a certain Sorcerer Supreme I could mention, Constantine is always willing to pay the cost, even if it means sacrificing his friends for the “greater good” or saving his own ass. But hey their ghosts keep him company at night. The most memorable example of this is the story within the first two issues of his mate Gaz unleashing a hunger spirit in New York City. It possesses person after person, compelling them to gorge themselves on whatever is at hand, food, clothing, diamonds, themselves, you get the idea, until they either kill themselves or the spirit burns out the host. (Same result of a dead host either way) Constantine and another magician, a voodoo practitioner by the name of Papa Midnite, construct a ritual that would compel the spirit to possess Gaz and subsequently be trapped. Constantine of course feels bad about this but considers it a necessary action does his best to appease his guilty conscience. His posse of ghosts aren’t too happy about the circumstances in which another is added to their number but they welcome Gaz warmly. But after all is said and done, this isn’t a great collection, but suffers the same way most first trades of old series do, it hasn’t found its voice yet. It hasn’t quite gotten its stride. As much as I love the character and what the book eventually becomes, very little outside the first three issues stays with me after reading this book several times. 3/5
Kill or Be Killed, Vol. 1 (w/ Ed Brubaker a/ Sean Phillips)
This book revolves around a young man named Dylan, who for reasons that he explains to the reader, tries to kill himself and fails. This is a good thing for us as the reader, because had he succeeded there would be no story. Unfortunately for Dylan this is the start of his troubles. When he gets back home after unceremoniously falling from a building, he’s awakened by a demon explaining, “Second chances don’t come cheap Dylan… It’s time to pay for yours.” when Dylan asks “Pay…How?” “Simple…a life for a life… You’re going to kill for me… Bad people. People who deserve death…One each month…We’ll call it rent. Rent for the life you tried to throw away. When Dylan goes to protest saying “I can’t kill anyone” The demon goes “Well…Then you’ll be the one to die.” So Dylan is given a month. Over the month he starts believing he hallucinated the demon, until he gets sick. And gets worse. The demon appears again and starts taunting him tick-tock, tick-tock. When Dylan finally resolves that he’s going to kill someone to appease the demon, his health miraculously improves. He even has a target. Somebody worth killing. Somebody that deserves it. Kill or Be Killed is wonderfully written and beautifully illustrated. The art fully captures the gritty bleakness that is Dylan’s existence and the world we all inhabit. It’s dark, beautiful, monochromatic with splashes of color. 5/5
Rumble Vol. 1: What Color Darkness (w/ John Arcudi, a/ James Harren)
What can I say about “Rumble?” It’s probably one of the more inventive stories I’ve read recently, and as you all know I read some stuff that’s pretty far out there. The first couple of pages I wasn’t sure if I was reading a post apocalypse story or what but once characters were introduced and the story kicked off then it very clearly takes place during modern day. This guy, Bobby, is a bartender lamenting over some lady he’s smitten with while talking with a regular by the name of Mr. Cogan. Mr. Cogan leaves the bar and is immediately accosted by a very large and scary looking masked man carrying a very large and scary looking sword. This very large and scary looking masked man proceeds to slice Mr. Cogan’s arm off with his very large and scary looking sword. The action rushes back into the bar where Bobby runs to Mr. Cogan’s aid by swinging a baseball bat against the intruder’s head. Knocking his head clear off, spilling straw everywhere. That’s right. Mr. Cogan was attacked by a scarecrow. So I won’t bore you with a play by play of the action, but I will get to the part that I find really intriguing, the world building. Our very large and scary looking scarecrow is an immortal warrior named Rathraq. During a great war between various pre-human races and civilizations Rathraq’s soul was separated from his body and taken as a prisoner of war. When his soul is finally released it possesses the first body it comes across, a scarecrow. Now what kind of jerk would want to separate a warrior’s soul from its body? If you guessed Mr. Cogan, you’re right. Mr. Cogan lays out all the rules that these immortals live by to go unnoticed by humanity. I’m not going to tell you all of it because I’d like for you to read this damn fine book. All in all, I liked the book. It took a minute to get my bearings and figure out what I was reading, but once it got going it was a runaway train. I love the art. It’s got a sketchy, caricature quality that lends itself well to the writing. 4/5.
Renato Jones: The One%, Season 1 (Kaare Kyle Andrews)
So I picked this one up sight unseen completely on a whim. (Cover price was $9.99 and a buy two get the 3rd free Image graphic novel sale at the bookstore I work at tends to make me incredibly open to buying new books. I also had a coupon. ) Immediately I’m liking the cover art. It’s reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. The endorsement from Warren Ellis doesn’t hurt either. “A sort of hallucinatory rage pop ‘Punisher from Occupy.'” It’s gorgeous and demented. It is the rage of the overworked and underpaid. It is the frustration and resentment at the injustice and corruption of the world. It is pure fantasy fulfillment. It’s strikes chords with me, similar to those that Millar did with “Nemesis,” and I freaking loved “Nemesis.” On to the summary. This super rich guy isn’t who anyone thinks he is. His name is Renato Jones. This is not the name he was born with. It is not the name his parents gave him. It is quite literally a name he stole. While being interrogated by the police as a child he is asked for his name, and pulling some Verbal Kent mental gymnastics or in this case just looking at the missing children posters behind the officers he chooses one that kind of looks like him, a One% child by the name of Renato Jones. So this child is then reunited with Renato’s family. And they are loaded, like servants rich, possibly buy Paris Hilton and sell her body to science while she’s still alive five times over rich. (to steal a phrase from Warren Ellis’s “Crooked Little Vein.”) Turns out young Renato’s parents were killed during a break in several years before and the young boy somehow escaped into the world during the commotion. Truth is young Renato (that is the real one) was drowned in the river and the body lost in the current. So no body meant that certain family members couldn’t touch the family money. (This gets resolved but I’m not telling you how, because if I tell you why will you read the book?) The butler, Church, raises the newly found Renato (the impostor and star of the book) to be a vigilante and deal death and justice to those rich enough to believe themselves above the law. He dons a mask and calls himself “The Freelancer.” As the subliminal message on the front cover says “The Super Rich are Super F***ed.” 5/5
East of West Vol. 5: All These Secrets (w/ Jonathan Hickman a/ Nick Dragotta)
Okay….The Apocalypse is on track and all the players are still in the game…barely. Alliances are formed, loyalty is tested and conspiracies are uncovered. We still have a lot going on, but lines are being drawn in the sand. I’m forgiving the pacing because I love the art and characters. This is something truly on an epic scale. This is as much of a review as you’re going to get from me on this book. Go read it already. 4/5
I just want to apologize for the short list this month. I’ve just been super busy and life got in the way. I’ve got plenty of stuff to read for next month. I promise to make it up to you. As always any questions, comments or recommendations are always welcome feel free to leave them in the comment box below. I promise to get the hang of this shtick soon. Until next time, it’s been fun.