Oct 09 2015

Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv – Jack Baxter, Joshua Faudem, & Koren Shadmi

I try to reserve October postings for horror themed works to go with the spirit of Halloween (not really sure why), and considering that this work is about a terrorist attack that takes place at a kind of hippie bar in Tel Aviv, it seems to fit. It is an interesting work describing the events that led up to, included, and the aftermath of just one of the seemingly endless bombings that take place in Israel, giving details on the lives, loves, and personalities of various people involved. Apparently, it is made by the same people and relates to the documentary: Blues by the Beach. I have not seen it and don’t want to give false comparison, but I will say that while this work is very good it either needs to have several characters and events cut to streamline it, or it need to increase its length by about a third to do justice to the various characters. As is, it feels rushed and truncated, so that I felt I was missing some piece of information, or an important interaction that was cut from the final draft. This may not be true, but is the impression that I get. Still, a poignant and powerful read. mike's place

Oct 08 2015

Wytches (vol 1) – Scott Snyder

So there’s this girl, and she might be crazy, or she might be a killer, or she might be haunted by witches, and her dad is a children’s book writer or something completely unimportant to the plot, and the mom’s in a wheelchair (which kind of is important), and there’s all these mysterious happening as first the point of view is from the girl and then it shifts to the father, and often it is just as confusing and convoluted as this sentence. The story actually has a lot of potential, but as I said with Snyder’s work before, he needs a very strong editor to keep him in check and in focus; as soon as the point of view shifted from the teenage daughter I really lost interest. Apparently and inexplicably this is an ongoing series, and while is probably one the best things Snyder has done it’s too all over the place for me to invest time in. wytches

Oct 07 2015

Snow Piecer (vol. 1): The Escape – Jacques Lob

I have no idea why there’s any press behind this title; it is about a train carrying the survivors of humanity and is divided into classes, in other words, is it pretty uninspired metaphor of class struggles. Most of the comic is about an escapee who comes from the tail end and it is taken through the various train cars to meet the president towards the front. It is much more silly than poignant. Apparently, there’s a crappy movie based on it, which, like the other volumes in this series, I will not be participating in. snow piecer

Oct 06 2015

Hellboy (vol 7): The Troll Witch and Others – Mike Mignola [Take Two]

So I reread this collection and, apparently, liked it better than I did last time. Still, It’s more a group of independent stories of various quality and the start of Mignola getting other people to draw for him, which is the beginning of the end for the beauty of Hellboy. Read the original review

Oct 05 2015

Cthulhu Wars – Sandy Petersen

Other people may know him from some video game he helped make; I’ve always known him as the man who made the RPG The Call of Cthulhu based on the work of HP Lovecraft, the definitive horror role-playing game. Sadly, now I also know him as a man who took some two years passed the promised date to have his kick starter get me my darn game. The game itself is a boardgame of the aftermath after “The stars are right” and ancient evils have taken over the planet, and now they want sole dominion. I really like it, and feel it has a lot of nice elements and different strategic possibilities; plus the figures are pretty cool–even if a couple of them came broken in the box, and I can’t seem to get them all back in the box again. The game is more for people who like Lovecraft, as, for all its benefits, there are other strategic games that might be better if all you want is a conquer the world type of game, but for me it’s just fine (even if it got to me rather late (but my name is on the box!)). Cthulhu Wars

Oct 04 2015

Beautiful Darkness – Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet

At first glance it seems like a children’s fairytale book and you might just go and give it to a small child. And that small child might kill itself over the horror of this story. Apparently, there were these fairy creatures that lived in a person who died and they all must now fend for themselves in the harsh reality of the world. Most of these fairies are either evil or simply very uncaring and the death toll is enormous. The book is somewhat nightmarish which turned me off, but that is more subjective. Objectively speaking, there aren’t any characters in the story, just short hand so that your project personality upon them, and that, really, is what kills the story. beautiful darkness

Oct 03 2015

Interview with the Vampire: Claudia’s Story – Anne Rice – Adaptation by Ashley Marie Witter

It’s been a generation since I read the original book, which I absolutely loved at the time, and obviously stuck with me enough that I could remember just about everything in this POV from the child turned vampire, Claudia. This comic version, which has a slight anime feel, nicely captures the story, although I don’t think it would mean much to those who don’t know the story it is from. Good job. 

Oct 02 2015

Hellboy (vol 6): Strange Places – Mike Mignola

For no logical reason I don’t have many Hellboy reviews, so let’s make up for lost time as I’m rereading some collections. I (re)started with this collection randomly, which focuses on the demonic looking hero as he wonders around in Africa, gets kidnaped by a sea monster, and fights a resurrected devil worshiper, all the while learning more about the mythology of his destiny to usher in the apocalypse. Hellboy stories are not for everyone; they are heavy on atmosphere and some action scenes and light with characterization, but Hellboy works perfectly as Hellboy and must be approached as is, unapologetically. As such I very much enjoyed this collection. 

Oct 01 2015

The Doom that Came to Atlantic City: A Light-Hearted Game of Urban Destruction Set in the Universe of H. P. Lovecraft – Moyer & Baker

I got this game on sale at Barnes & Noble (thank heavens for bookstores). Apparently, it had a very sordid history: it was a kick starter and a person ran off with the money but it got made anyway only to not find an audience. Here’s the thing, the game is really anti-Monopoly, but the theme is horror author Lovecraft’s “The Doom That Came to Sarnath”. People who would like a fun, lighthearted, silly game that deals with destroying things named after Atlantic City places will enjoy this game, but they won’t understand the various Lovecraft references (and may be freaked out by the truly awesome miniature playing pieces). Those that love Lovecraft will adore the pieces and the theme, but may get turned off by the lack of actual horror elements. I find the game fun, but there are too many hard-core gamers that won’t, and the people who would like it would never think to pick it up. It’s all about the marketing. Doom that came to Atlantic city

Sep 30 2015

Zazuu’s Quest

It has been a while since I’ve posted any reviews of games so I might as well (re)start now. Zazuu’s Quest is a very simple two to four player card game best for kids (or total stoners, I suppose) wherein you try to collect cards necessary to fill nine slots with other cards to hinder other players as well as help yourself, the idea being that Zazuu got separated from the rest of his fleet and needs to find his way back home. Apparently, there’s a whole series of games that are either similar in idea or complexity (if not genre), which I think is a good thing. Thanks to Kaitie for getting me this. Zazuu's quest

Sep 29 2015

Children of Dune – Frank Herbert

Ok, this one was pretty bad. The focus is obviously on the twin kids of the god-hero of the desert planet that controls the spice (that which allows for accurate space travel) and there is trouble with Alia being possessed (again, Frank, do you have to tell us from the start that there is no possible way this isn’t true? Can’t you allow some mystery?) and there is a heretical preacher who we are basically told is that same god-hero (again, Frank, do you have to tell us from the start that there is (almost) no possible way this isn’t true? Can’t you allow some mystery?) causing trouble, and some other less interesting stuff going on. I originally liked it as I was interested in the idea of an empire that was collapsing on itself, but didn’t find enough focus on those details. There is still more to this series and I should probably stop, but you know me.

Sep 28 2015

Thor: The Goddess of Thunder – Jason Aaron

I finally got around taking a look at this all new, all different, exactly the same Thor comic. So, something happened, blah blah blah, Thor is now female, or to be more precise, a female is now Thor, the god(dess) of thunder. In this short collection, Aaron does a decent job presenting a relatively interesting Thor comic wherein frost giants, dark elves, and evil corporations all combine to cause trouble. The problem is that there is nothing substantial in this comic that couldn’t be done with the old Thor. And in the end, is that not the point of having a change in a character, especially a substantial one such as a gender shift? thor

Sep 27 2015

Hawkeye (vol 3): L.A. Woman – Matt Fraction

Continuing my reading of the series, Fraction takes quite a detour by focusing the comic on the female Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, and sending her to Los Angeles. I’m not really sure what the point of this volume was, as Bishop is a horrible detective and superhero, and the whole thing seems to be more of a joke and the clichéd comment that everyone in LA is focused on youth and beauty. hawkeye

Sep 26 2015

Space: 1999: Aftershock and Awe – Gaska and Morrow

I vaguely remember the existence of this 70s television show, and perhaps even the flash of a memory or two, but nothing solid. It obviously was never as popular as Star Trek & Wars or Battlestar. Still, I wanted to like this comic and thought it might be good to have some sci-fi in the medium. Unfortunately, I don’t see how this will do it. It is based, naturally enough, on the pilot, with some extra stories from the point of view of the Earth left behind after a tragic explosion on the moon throws it into deep space stranding several hundred refugees with no hope of return (and devastating the entire planet Earth, although I don’t know if that was touched on in the show). The problem here is that the authors don’t seem to understand the comic book format. Let’s ignore that the art is rather weak with dull coloring; nothing to capture the imagination. The comic is incredibly wordy; each panel is filled with exposition, in a vain attempt to introduce a dozen or so characters. As I said, I wanted this comic to succeed, but I can’t understand how anyone expected this version to do so. [This image is actually sideways but I think it works better for this post.]Space 1999

Sep 25 2015

Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury

Oddly enough, this collection of short comics, ostensibly in praise of the famous sci-fi author, are mainly fantasy works, and, while there’s often potential, tend to be rather weak. I think it’s more designed to bring together some famous authors and sell some comics, rather than celebrate the work of Bradbury. shadow show

Sep 24 2015

A New Leaf

This is an older movie, so many of the jokes may seem a little slow and without exploding alien robots, but it could easily be remade into a great modern movie. Not that I want that! The title has double meaning as it is about a confirmed bachelor who discovers he is broke and comes up with a plan to maintain his lifestyle by marrying the world’s most socially incompetent, but incredibly rich, woman, who happens to be a botanist. Really enjoyable, but as I mentioned, it may be too slow moving for your average viewer. new leaf

Sep 23 2015

Boxers & Saints – Gene Luen Yang

Yang is probably best known for the wonderful American Born Chinese and, if you read this site, his awesome presentation to the American Library Association. This isn’t as strong, as I believe he’s having some difficulty finding a balance between telling a serious story and his very cartoony artistic style. Still, this was a fascinating adaptation of the Boxer Rebellion that took place in China in the late 1800s against the pseudo colonization of China by foreign powers. While I know of the basics of the rebellion, I don’t know the specific details of the people involved, so I can’t say if this accurately reflected their mythology (he does have a bibliography at the end but what does that mean?). Either way it’s rather poignant as you watch a young boy go from a carefree youth to disillusionment to empowerment to the slow degradation of all his values; truly intense stuff. There’s also the companion piece entitled Saints which is designed to show the point of view not of the foreign powers per se, but those Chinese that associated with them. Again, not as strong as Boxers but I’m glad he made the attempt. Even together they are a fast read and I recommend them. boxers

Sep 22 2015

The Night Bookmobile – Audrey Niffenegger

This is an extremely disturbing story of a woman who replaces life with books. Alexandra comes across a bookmobile that contains everything she ever read, and she becomes obsessed with this magical collection and the librarian who runs it. The implications and even stated objectives of this moving graphic novel is troubling to me as a person who loves the escapism and virtual experiences of reading and the art of knowledge seeking through books, as well as someone associated with librarianship. Apparently, this is to be part of a larger collection, and while I cannot endorse this book, I certainly plan to examine any sequels. 

Sep 21 2015

Blue is the Warmest Color – Julie Maroh

So much for open-minded French society. The store is about Clementine, a young French girl who finds herself attracted to a woman, and the struggles she, and they, go through. This comic is beautifully drawn; I love how Maroh uses one of the only colors, blue, to accentuate certain points (did she have to make the two main characters so perfect looking? It seems unnecessary), and it is told quite poignantly and lovingly. I will point out a few unfortunate things, such as if the story was about a man and a woman it would not be a romance but a tale of statutory rape (consider that when you’re judging the close minded people in this story); I always take issue with coming of age/sexually awakening stories wherein the main character has a friend they can turn to for advice and help, when so many people deal with such difficulties alone, so that it seems the authors are missing a valuable opportunity to tap in to that fear and demographic; and when you get towards the end of the story, certain key points are incredibly rushed over making you feel like you’ve been left out or that the story has been cut short undermining some of the impact. Still, very good. blue

Sep 20 2015

Seconds – Bryan Lee O’Malley

Katie’s life is going well: she’s a popular chef, about to open a restaurant of her own, and has a number of friends. Actually, it’s not going that well: she’s in a pseudo-relationship that she probably shouldn’t be in, her ex is making things uncomfortable, the new restaurant is not going as smoothly as hoped, she is going to turn 30, and she is talking to herself (or rather to the narrated captions (I’m not sure which is worse)). Luckily, there happens to be a house spirit or some such creature that will allow her to redo mistakes she made. Naturally, there are unforeseen consequences. I do love the art and layouts of this comic (although now that O’Malley has an assistant, who knows how much is really done by him), and I was going to originally point out some minor changes that I think should have been made to this work, but on second thought, it is fine just the way it is. seconds

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