Comic Review – The Woods #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

I’ve been gradually trying to pick up more creator-owned titles as they tend to have more original and interesting stories than the usual superhero comics I pick up (which doesn’t mean I’m getting sick of superheroes, it just means I’m cutting down on food to afford more comics). The Woods wasn’t really on my radar until I saw Scott Snyder tweet about it (odd considering I’ve chosen it over his latest issue of The Wake as my favourite comic this week). It is a new creator-owned title written by James Tynion IV, with art by Michael Dialynas, colours from Josan Gonzalez and letters by Ed Dukeshire, published by Boom! Studios.

The Woods takes place in a seemingly innocuous American high school in Milwaukee, allowing us a brief but effective introduction to our key players in the story in the form of tiny captions that tells us all we really need to know about them. Suddenly a flash of light transports the entire school to a world drenched in an oppressive darkness, surrounded by a thick wooded area and populated by various frightening beasts that begin to terrorise the unsuspecting students and staff. Everyone panics, most try to hole up inside the school, but a rag tag group decide that the only way to survive their predicament is to head into the woods to look for answers as to what happened to them and why they are there.

All I’ve read from James Tynion IV so far has been his work on Talon, the backups in the main Batman series and recently the new weekly series Batman Eternal, all of which I enjoyed. The writing here is really engaging. It is easy to care for all of these characters fairly rapidly, as the gravity of the situation sets in and the more headstrong try to deal with it as best they can. The art team does a great job creating a dark and terrifying environment too, and the fear is palpable. The double page splash in the middle in particular is gorgeous.

I’m really interested to see how this series develops and what lies ahead for Karen, Adrian, Isaac, Ben and Calder as they venture into The Woods. I especially liked how the mysterious first page takes on an intriguing meaning as we approach the end of the issue. I’ll definitely be keeping up with this series, and I suggest you do too. Check it out at your local comic book shop or digitally.

Score: 9 Hockey Sticks out of 10

 

*It was a tough call to review this or the equally excellent ‘The Wake’ issue 8 from Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy , Matt Hollingsworth and Jared K. Fletcher (which you should also definitely buy). I ended up choosing The Woods because it is new, and I’m almost certainly going to do a full review of the whole of The Wake when it comes out in trade paperback.

3 Awesome Fictional Swords

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I don’t think this needs an introduction. Josh, tell us about swords!

Swords seem to appear in many of my major interests; reading, television, movies, and games. Often taking quite a pivotal role in the epic tale where the hero draws upon the power of a mighty sword to slay a mythical dragon. So I’m going to take this chance to list a few of the most awesome and badass blades. They aren’t all conventional and probably won’t appear in many people’s list. Also about that hero I mentioned, they also probably weren’t wielded by him. Read on to find out more.

Image Sourced from: http://mugen.wikia.com

Image Sourced from: http://mugen.wikia.com

Frostmourne –Video Game – Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft
“Whomsoever takes up this blade shall wield power eternal. Just as the blade rends flesh, so must power scar the spirit.”

Frostmourne is the cursed blade wielded by the Lich King. It’s power of corruption are beyond measure. Upon taking hold of the forsaken blade you forfeit your soul to the Lich King, in trade for his immense power and command of the undead scourge. Not a bad trade really if you want to go on a bloody crusade slaying thousands. Humans, orcs, elves and even demons fear this blade as many of their kin have been laid to rest, before being reanimated, and commanded by its wielder. Not a bad trade indeed.

Image Sourced From: http://forum.malazanempire.com/ (username: caladanbrood)

Image Sourced From: http://forum.malazanempire.com/ (username: caladanbrood)

Dragnipur – Book – Steven Erikson “Malazan Book of the Fallen”

This sword is my personal favorite on the list. Its badassary knows no bounds. From the outside the sword doesn’t seem too special, it is a silver hilted bastard sword, with an inky black blade that absorbs light. Now I know you’re saying that’s really not that badass. What makes the sword really cool is that everyone slain by the blade gets trapped in a magical realm. These souls are chained and forced to pull an immense cart pursued by the forces of chaos. But as the souls within the sword fall from lack of strength they add to the weight of the cart making it heavier, meaning Dragnipur’s thirst for souls can never be quenched. What makes it even more awesome is that the guy that carries it can turn into a dragon and took the sword from an elder god before trapping him for eternity to drag the cart.

Image Sourced from:  http://www.comicvine.com/ (username: Archaon)

Image Sourced from: http://www.comicvine.com/ (username: Archaon)

The Slayer of Kings – Game – Warhammer

The Slayer of Kings is the blade wielded by Archaon, Lord of the End Times. Yes, I know what you are thinking, anyone with a name like that you don’t want to be on the wrong side of. What makes him scarier is his sword, not only does it have a demon imprisoned in it, but a demon driven insane with rage and fury. Got to say that’s a pretty awesome sword. Once the demon imprisoned in the sword is unleashed it’s anger is all consuming meaning that it may even turn on the wielder. Really, to be using a sword of this incredible power you got to be a badass who feels he can hold his own against one pissed off demon.

So that ends my list of 3 awesome swords, I know there are a lot out there that didn’t get a mention, but these are swords that I think are amazing. I would love to hear if any of these swords would make your list or what sword would.

Josh

So do you have a favorite fictional blade?

Seven Seas Of R’lyeh

I walked down the aisle, as casual as a person being watched could. How long had it been? 3 maybe 4 aisles. His eyes burning into the back of my head. I reached for the tome. I’d spent my last few pounds buying an intolerable hog dog from a portable vendor, trying to hide the urgency of my mission from my pursuer. It hadn’t worked. I swiftly placed the book in my jacket and began exiting. Had I done it? Was the stalker just a physical manifestation of my paranoia? I could see the door. I had done it. That’s what I thought until a strong, authoritative hand grabbed my shoulder and asked me to come to the security office. Well, I thought to myself, that’s the last time I try to steal a book from Waterstones.

I arrived late to the Cthulhu mythos party, and hadn’t even brought a bottle of wine! But I haven’t looked back since. I love everything from the 1920s setting to the themes of mind-shattering paranoia. H.P. Lovecraft had been sold to me by a different medium – board games! I love Eldritch Horror and Elder Sign and that’s why I decided I must read some Lovecraft immediately.

After a small amount of research I found the best item to start with was “The Call Of Cthulhu”, a short story with only 32 pages. Now I love short stories and this has become one of my favourites. It’s based on the diary of an ill-fated professor and his grand nephew, who’s the narrator of the tale. He finds out as much as he can about the ancient one Cthulhu and the place he slumbers, the corpse city of R’lyeh. I won’t spoil anything but it’s a great nighttime read!

Second up was “The Dunwich Horror”. I purchased the Penguin publication edition, which had a collection of other Lovecraft stories included. This tale is of the long forgotten hamlet of Dunwich and its rather backwards inhabitants. There are many old families based in this region, with even older secrets. It introduces another of the ancient ones with their own macabre way of forcing their will upon Dunwich. This story is amazing but the other stories included match up to it incredibly well.

Classic horror fans should really give these books a go! The language is challenging at times but it’s worth persevering with. I highly recommend both.

If you’re a fan of Cthulhu already, what stories would you recommend to our readers?

Don’t Bother Mate

Batman is hands down my favourite superhero, possibly my favourite character in fiction, and I’m fairly sure I’m not alone in thinking that. Most people that have met me know that. I once drunkenly gave my very patient girlfriend what can only be described as a 45 minute lecture on why Batman is so brilliant. Lucky girl.

It all started when I was very young, watching Batman the Animated Series (I still hear Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill when reading the comics). I was so taken with the show, that for a piece of early classwork that I recently dug out from around age 7 I basically state that I prefer the Dark Knight to my parents. Priorities. Then for a while I must have become more interested in something else, being a fickle child (I think it was Power Rangers), until about 10 years ago when I started getting into the comics and films in a big way.

I remember soon after Batman Begins came out, making the character credible in the cinema again, standing in line to see one of my favourite bands. The lead singer was hanging around outside chatting to people he knew behind us, including us along too, and he had just bought a book with a photo of Bale’s Batman on the front. He pointed out that Batman doesn’t really need to do anything because he looks so badass, then held up the photo in front of his own face and said “Don’t bother mate.”

I think the main appeal of the character comes from the distinction between Bats and his superhero counterparts, in that Bruce Wayne is ostensibly just a man, and yet he fights crime and often super-powered villains just as well as any big blue boy scout, Amazonian princess or power ring wielding arsehole. This is captured well in one of my favourite moments in Grant Morrison’s huge run in the comics following the events of ‘Batman R.I.P.’. He gets a priority call from the Justice League (leading up to the series ‘Final Crisis’), despite having just been buried alive, nearly drowned and forced to rely on a back-up personality he prepared in advance just in case he was mentally compromised. Just before heading out to an even worse fate, he tells the readers that ‘I’ve worked so hard to gain their respect, they sometimes forget I’m flesh and blood’.

That’s the crux of it, being mortal somehow makes being Batman an attainable thing, even though it absolutely isn’t. People (yes, I am people) like to think that if they had preposterous wealth, took a gap year or two to train to be a ninja, replaced sleep with working out and read a f**kload of Sherlock Holmes that they could be Batman. The same can’t be said about Superman, even though the characters are equally fictitious. This is of course ridiculous, but it does make the character more appealing. You would also have to be a lunatic to dress like a bat and want to be a vigilante every night and day.

DC comics have clearly realised that Batman is their main money maker. The Nolan films were hugely successful (even if the third one was a bit of a mess), and they certainly seem keen to get a new iteration on the big screen as soon as possible. It certainly helps that the main Batman title from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is f*****g great every month, and tends to outsell most other titles on the stands. There seems to be a lot more going on this year too, being the 75th anniversary of the character’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 way back in 1939 (just a year after Superman). That’s a hell of a long legacy for any character.

So there are some reasons why I love Batman. To the extent that I got a tattoo of the symbol 2 years ago, and have yet to regret that decision at all. Maybe someday I will stop enjoying the comics so much, and I’ll look at it and think ‘what a moron’. But I hope not, because that would be boring.

Also, the animated series completely holds up on rewatching. It is f*****g brilliant.

Adam