Comic Book Review – Man-eaters #1 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I picked up the first issue of the new Image Comics series Man-eaters, written by Chelsea Cain with art by Kate Niemczyk, colours by Rachelle Rosenberg, and letters by Joe Caramagna.

A young girl, Maude, introduces us to her dad as he heads off to work as a police officer. He’s investigating a particularly gruesome homicide, which turns out to be perpetrated by a cat. Not an ordinarily cat though, instead suspicion falls on any number of adolescent girls in the area who, infected by a mutant strain of toxoplasmosis, can transform into cat-like monsters who violently attack and kill anyone nearby. This change is brought on during the onset of menses, which the government tightly suppress through hormone therapy in the water. But it isn’t effective in everyone, and Maude has just got her first period.

This first issue is a lot of set up, from the principle cast to the task force that has been set up to deal with the ‘cat’ problem, with the background laid down for the status quo of the world. The series appears to owe a lot of its DNA to Kelly Sue Deconnick and Val De Landro’s Bitch Planet (its no coincidence that Maude has a Bitch Planet poster on her wall), but what I found interesting is that the direction of the series moving forward is likely best indicated by the back matter rather than the bulk of the issue. While the always relevant ‘fuck the patriarchy’ angle to the story is hinted at in the plot, it is resolved much more clearly through the propaganda in the pages following the comic, where the warnings for men and boys for cat attacks or girlfriends who may be cats are clear, despite the issue indicating that anyone can be the victim of a cat attack, especially close family members. It casts Man-eater in a much clearer light, and I expect subsequent issues to focus in on that aspect a little more, drawing on the male fear and confusion of female biology and strength. In this first issue, Cain sets up the plot well and draws a compelling character in Maude, and the simplicity of the final reveal sets the forward momentum up for the series.

Art by Niemczyk, Rosenberg, and Caramagna (Image Comics)

Niemczyk’s pencils and inks use bold lines for well defined character work, that overall is reminiscent of Tank Girl or Kim and Kim. Reteaming with Cain after they worked on Mockingbird together, there is some gruesome art here that shines through, but there are choices with layout and flow that feels very modern and relevant. The colours from Rosenberg are bright and bold, though some of the darker scenes allow her to stretch out and nail those too.

Man-eaters is off to a good start, and while it’s potential is its main selling point, this first issue is the time to jump on and check it out. Pick it up at your local comic book shop or online now!

 

Comic Book Review – The Wicked + The Divine: 1923 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

It has been nearly 4 years since The Wicked + The Divine started (I reviewed it way back then too!), and in that time the incredibly inventive series from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie has seen 33 issues and a handful of one shots. This week saw the release of another of these additional stories, with The Wicked + The Divine: 1923. Gillen continues writing duties, with art by Aud Koch and lettering from Clayton Cowles.

Cover art by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson

With the conclusion of Imperial Phase Part II, the series takes the opportunity to again visit a previous pantheon of doomed gods, this time in 1923. Steeped in post-war modernism, this crop of gods resemble try-hard artists more than the aggressively hip stars of the main series. As the gods reach their two year expiry date, they congregate on an island for a party. But the party soon turns into a murder mystery, and while some of the players in the mystery may be more obvious if you are up to date with the series, there is a complex interplay between the suspects, informed by both the era and the natures of the gods in question.

The Wicked + The Divine has always been wildly experimental in its storytelling, both in the prose and in the art. This issue is no exception, and is laid out as a multi-chaptered short story punctuated by bursts of art for the key moments. Gillen’s script is complicated, almost to the point of convolution, but with a lack of hand-holding that continues WicDev’s heady and complete plotting. The murder mystery aspect works well, and the extended prose allows the characters to be fleshed out clearly to a degree that would usually not be achieved in a one shot. And the synergy of the closing pages with the main series is frankly deeply satisfying.

Art by Aud Koch

While the bulk of the issue is prose, the art form Koch is truly stunning. Almost black and white, except for all the blood, is is expressionism in its weirdness, with a bleak loneliness that punctuates the quiet moments and heightens the small amounts of action and the larger group shots and vistas.

These one shots for The Wicked + The Divine continue to impress, and 1923 may be the strongest yet. With a strong cast of characters, links to the main series and gorgeous art (not that McKelvie’s work on the main series isn’t equally gorgeous. This is different-gorgeous), it is well worth your time and as a short story, stands alone fairly well too. Check this out at your LCS now!

Score: 8.5 Zeitgeists out of 10

Comic Book Review – Black Science #34 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

As it’s been a while since I bloviated about one of my favourite books, I figured I would use the excuse of the end of an arc to revisit Black Science with issue #34, the finale of ‘Extinction is the Rule’. Black Science is written by Rick Remender, with art by Matteo Scalera and colours by Moreno Dinisio, published by Image Comics.

Cover art by Scalera & Dinisio

The worlds are in chaos. Heroes, villains and monsters from every corner of the Eververse, every layer of the Onion, have converged on Grant McKay’s home reality. The pillar, the transdimensional technology that every version of him creates in every reality has torn everything apart, leading through a crusading hive mind intent on conquering everything, an evil witch who feeds off deals and has stolen Grant’s mind, and a version of his old team members Kadir and Chandra who burn each world they screw up before jumping to the next, partially fueled by Kadir’s obsession with Grant’s wife Sara. Every version of her. And now Grant needs to fix everything.

Short review: Black Science – Still great. Remender juggles a big cast of characters at this point, with everything from the past 34 issues coming to bear and war over reality. Yet while that all happens, he manages to find time to meditate on giving up (and when not to), fatherhood and blame, and the ultimate meaning behind everything. It remains a desperate, chaotic and hopeful book, despite being crushingly bleak.

 

Art by Scalera & Dinisio

Scalera as an artist an absolute beast. As Black Science continues to ramp up, the action gets more frenetic and he has more and more to incorporate into his unique style, and he never seems to miss a beat. This issue is packed full of magics, sci-fi weaponry and actual superheroics, along with huge battles, giant monsters and even more dimension hopping, and it all looks superb. Even the quieter moments that close out the issue and arc are handled with a deft heaviness and clarity. Dinisio’s colours make everything clear and distinct, with no two explosions or energy blasts looking the same, adding a richness to a world gone mad.

As ever, Black Science is still top of my reading pile whenever it comes out. While I’m sad that the end of this arc means that the book will go away for a few months, I can’t wait to see what happens next. If you still haven’t tried Black Science and this rambling ode to the sci-fi craziness sounds good, pick up the first trade paperback ‘How to Fall Forever’ here, which collects the first 6 issues. For this issue, make sure to pick it up at your local comic shop!

Score: 9.5 Toolboxes out of 10

Comic Book Review – Rat Queens Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“Put on some clothes before I whip out my fuck wand again” Hannah

 

I’ll be honest, this isn’t what I planned to review today, but I was meaning to read this for a little while, so I figured I’d read the first chapter or two. Next thing I knew I was putting down the volume, the whole thing read. Rat Queens is something I picked up recently and its fast become a favourite of mine. I appreciate volume 2 is an odd place to start, but what I say in this review will very much apply to volume 1 as well. This was bought to use by:

  • Writer – Kurtis J. Wiebe
  • Artists – Stjepan Sejic
  • Letterer – Ed Brisson

Well then, Rat Queens, how to sum up what it’s about in one sentence: Imagine a graphic novel written about characters in a Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder Tabletop Roleplay Game (RP). It uses many of the same tropes, focusing on a party of fantasy characters and classes with as broad a range as you’d expect in any D&D adventure. Unlike your usual story, and much more like the way a RP game plays out, much as the characters are very competent at what they do, there is certainly a lot of chaos is their wake. From a night of binge drinking to accidentally bringing an orc army down onto a town.

The characters are incredible, packed with personality and subversion of usual tropes – from the dwarf who keeps her beard shaved to the grumpy necromancer. The main characters in the story are the adventuring party the Rat Queens, who work, compete and play hard with and against other parties (such as the Four Daves) to protect the town of Palisade. Each of them immediately feels like an RP character, with colourful backstories and much smaller quirks like having literally no cooking ability. What adds to the cast is how unashamed the story is about showing who they are, every vice, every urge, every flaw which makes them feel as much more rounded characters than you’d expect in most comic books. This is not a comic for kids however, if you like bloody combat, awesome monsters, sex and drugs this is a comic for you.

As for the art throughout is of a very high standard, the variation in the cast of characters is huge, Sejic bringing them to life with well defined line work and vibrant colours throughout.

As always, the question is though, can Sejic draw hands? Seeing as I’m looking at an entire volume here, there are plenty drawn throughout the issue. Which means both plenty of opportunities for hands to look good, but plenty for them to look bad as well. Sejic certainly achieves the former, throughout conversations, combats or sex scene and plenty of other weird and wonderful circumstances. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

This comic is a hell of a lot of fun. I have volume 3 which I expect may get both started and finished tomorrow evening. If you’re a fan of roleplaying games this is certainly for you, even if you’re not and simply want to enjoy a no-punches-pulled fantasy adventure with well developed characters this is also for you.

Also, volume 2 has awesome Lovecraftian Elder Gods wrecking everything. Who doesn’t love some of that?

Score: 9 Redbirds of Wrath out of 10

Comic Review – Copperhead #11 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week’s review is a little late. Give me a break, it was my birthday yesterday! I was excited to see the return of Copperhead this week with issue #11, the first issue since late 2015. Since I reviewed the first issue back in 2014 it has been a favourite of mine, so I’m glad to see it back. Copperhead was co-created by Jay Faeber and Scott Godlewski, with Faeber on writing duties but Godlewski now replaced by on interior art by Drew Moss (although he is still involved and drew the cover). As with the issues before the break, Ron Riley provides the colour art and Thomas Mauer returns for lettering.

Cover by Scott Godlewski and Ron Riley

For those unfamiliar with it, Copperhead is a sci-fi western set in the town of Copperhead on the planet of Jasper. Clara Bronson is the relatively new Sheriff in town, having moved there recently to start fresh with her young son Zeke. She is joined by Deputy Budroxifinicus (or ‘Boo’), a huge creature who bears a serious grudge against Clara and her position, and while a capable deputy he certainly has plans of his own to usurp Clara’s command. As does everyone else in town it seems. In this issue, Clara and Boo uncover a terrible crime, while someone from Clara’s past arrives with a warning. Whatever, or whomever Clara and Zeke were trying to get away from when they came to Copperhead, they didn’t go far enough.

Faeber’s writing in Copperhead has not missed a step in the break, with characters that continue to be intriguing and well developed. Clara is an especially interesting, no-nonsense woman who is utterly unwilling to put up with anyone else’s crap. One of the minor complaints I had with the first issue was that the story moved a little slowly, but while the pace of the overarching plot has continued to be a slow burn I’ve definitely changed my position on that aspect, in fact I think it is one of the series’ strengths. Issue #11 isn’t the most welcoming to new readers, but the first 10 issues have all been collected in two trade paperbacks already for readers to catch up on.

The art is a little different with Drew Moss on board, but style-wise it isn’t a big departure and everything looks just as good as before. The different alien races populating Copperhead all look weird and wonderful, and the facial work with the human characters, in particular Clara, is very strong (especially a few close-up shots). Riley’s colours are as gorgeous as they were before the break, evoking an almost washed out desert heat that suits the story perfectly.

If you haven’t read any Copperhead up until now I suggest you grab the first two trade paperbacks here and here, then pick up issue #11. Great sci-fi western action with well rounded characters and excellent art. I can’t really think of a better endorsement.

Score: 9 Fancy New Suits out of 10

Comic Review – Reborn #3 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

I had a (relatively) small stack this week, but I have been meaning to review Reborn for a while now. This week issue #3 of this fairly new Image Comics series came out, created by Mark Millar and Greg Capullo, with Millar on writing duties, Capullo on pencils, inks by Jonathan Glapion, colours by FCO Plascencia and letters from Nate Piekos.

reborn-cover

Cover by Capullo, Glapion & Plascencia

Reborn stars Bonnie Black, a previously 80-year-old woman who has been reborn as a 25-year-old warrior queen, fated to defend the world of Adystria against the forces of Lord Golgotha and The Dark Lands. When she awoke in this new land, she found the world populated with long-lost loved ones and was reunited with her father. Now the pair of them, along with Bonnie’s childhood dog Roy Boy (now a huge armored beast), are travelling Adystria, while hunted by her now anthropomorphic cat Frost, who is working for Golgotha and bears a serious grudge against her. But Frost isn’t the only danger they need to worry about.

Everything I just said probably sounds pretty crazy. Which is fair. Reborn is kitchen-sink crazy with everything that populates this weird after-life plane. It is high concept fantasy and is a hell of a lot of fun to go along with it. Millar’s dialogue and plot move at a breakneck pace in this latest issue, and while it still may not be clear where the story is actually going, it is compelling enough to lose yourself in. A few character beats and choices felt a little out of step, with a particular moment of blind and idiotic trust in a stranger being difficult to believe from anyone without serious head trauma, but mostly this is very strongly written.

reborn-interiors

Art by Capullo, Glapion, Plascencia & Piekos

Millar has been on somewhat of a roll of late with the artists he pairs up with, and while I was sad to see Capullo leave Batman after such an incredible run with Scott Snyder, it is nice to see him stretch some fantasy muscles in Reborn. The result is something truly breathtaking, with dynamic and visceral action being the real strengths here. The standouts in this issue are the terrifying excellence of the monstrous second and third pages, and the gorgeous Black Wish Mountain towards the end of the issue. Glapion and Plascencia have been working with Capullo for a while now, and clearly know how to really make his pencils stand out. The result is an art team producing work that is worth the cover price alone, regardless of the story.

Reborn is a great looking, huge and insane fantasy book that you should be definitely checking out. I can’t wait to see where the series goes, and what weird and wonderful creatures Capullo is going to get to draw along the way. Check it out at your local comic book shop or digitally now!

Score: 8 Political Prisoners out of 10

Comic Review – Seven to Eternity #1 (Image Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

As if to swiftly fill the hole left by Tokyo Ghost ending a few weeks ago, Rick Remender is back with another new series in the form of Seven to Eternity from Image Comics, reuniting with his long-time collaborator Jerome Opeña on art duties, with Matt Hollingsworth providing colours and lettering from Rus Wooton. As a big fan of Fear Agent I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now, so seemed an obvious choice for review this week.

seven-cover

Cover by Opeña & Hollingsworth

Seven to Eternity takes place in the Kingdom of Zhal, where the ruthless and terrifying tyrant The God of Whispers (also known as the Mud King) has, after a long and devastating war, nearly secured his absolute dominion over the land. By inciting fear and hatred, by turning others against their friends and allies, he has taken control and even made those who stand against him pariahs rather than heroes. Zebadiah Osidis was one such man, and rather than hear the Mud King’s offer and bend his knee to him, he took his family far away. Years later, the Mud King has sent his agents to deal with Zebadiah, and while he sticks to his principles and refuses to hear the offer, his now adult son Adam, thinking of his own young family and the threat to them, travels across Zhal and through the dying embers of the war to hear The God of Whispers out.

Zhal is a high-fantasy world of magic rather than technology, and the entire team here has quickly established an incredibly rich world. The nature and design of how it all works together is stunning, and again really shows a creative team working so well together. This is a dense and heavy story that is unforgiving, but well worth the effort to get into. Seven to Eternity is cinematic in scope, which is clear from even the cover. Remender’s characters are as always, fascinating studies into individuals whose obsession or devotion to their ideals may very well be their undoing. Zebadiah is uncompromising in his principles, and by refusing to bend on them he turned his family into hated outcasts. Adam may not do the same, but his choices may well end up even more dangerous for everyone. The complex characters, a legitimately terrifying villain, and strong dialogue round off a great start to the story.

seven-interior

Art by Opeña & Hollingsworth

The art is the best work I’ve seen from Opeña to date. The visuals are utterly gorgeous, the action sequences insanely detailed, and the way the magic in this world works is just mesmerising. The double page splash of Adam seeing the city is almost criminally good. I don’t know what was going on in it, but my god was it pretty. Matt Hollingsworth’s colours are an excellent edition to the art, often bringing almost a glow to the backgrounds, while infusing the action with an intense vibrancy. The lettering from Wooton in this book is particularly strong too, never intruding on the art but guiding through the pages with a perfect flow.

What is clear in Seven to Eternity is that this is a truly collaborative affair, and everyone involved is pulling in some of the best work of their careers. It’s a dense, intriguing high fantasy epic that I genuinely can’t wait to read more of, and you should definitely be checking this out. Pick it up at your LCS or digitally now.

Score: 9 Mud Hounds out of 10