The Wild Storm: Volume I by Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt – A Book Review

The Wild Storm is a title that appears to be taking classic WildStorm characters, especially those from WildC.A.Ts, and rebooting them in a modern day, sophisticated world.

WildStorm was under the umbrella of Image Comics back in the 1990s when Jim Lee and other industry luminaries decided to start their own publishing house.  Jim Lee’s characters were cool, but rather shallow and derivatives of DC and Marvel’s icons.  Clearly, though, they had great potential as famed writers like Alan Moore and James Robinson took a crack at them.

In The Wild Storm, Warren Ellis, one of the absolute BEST science fiction writers alive today, takes the most charismatic elements of characters like Void, Voodoo, Grifter, Deathblow, Zealot, and Engineer and strips away all of the excess.  All of these characters now exist within one book, one story line, and are under the control of one vision, who happens to be visionary.

I’m all in on this book.  It is remarkably familiar yet utterly fresh.  I know the characters, I know the names, but I don’t know what’s going to happen next.  Ellis is always completely unpredictable and it’s obvious he’s building a comprehensive world in this title, not a super team.

Jon Davis-Hunt creates cinematic, dynamic panels in this book.  Most of the characters are wearing regular clothes in normal environments, but he makes all of it look GREAT.  He adds all of these little touches that strike the reader subconsciously but may not be obvious at first glance.  Things like shells flying though the air, glass shattering, hair blowing in the wind, or debris falling — these minor things connote movement and lead the reader sequentially from one panel to the next.  The art is so smooth and fluid.  Perfect.

The Wild Storm is full of intrigue, action, violence, heroism, originality, and just enough nostalgia to charm.  It’s obvious there is a sprawling, epic tale unfolding, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

I haven’t been this excited about a title in quite some time.

Image result for the wild storm volume 1 cover

(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

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Manifest Destiny: Mnemophobia & Chronophobia by Dingess and Roberts – A Book Review

Manifest Destiny is one of my favorite comic books running at the moment.  If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Lewis and Clark are still exploring the American wilderness west of St. Louis, but in this alternate history, they are not merely mapping out the landscape and marking rivers, they are also analyzing any potential preternatural threats to the American pioneer.  Guess what?  There are many, many strange plants and animals ready to kill them at every opportunity.

There is also a larger plot at play from one volume to the next.  They keeping coming across arches, much like the famed St. Louis Arch.  However, these arches are made of natural materials and developed organically … or did they?  Whatever the case may be, they tend to serve as the epicenter of unusual, and deadly, occurrences.

In this fifth volume, Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea, and their band of soldiers and felons have founded a fort in order to survive the winter.  Soon, though, a strange fog rolls in, and this fog brings some of their past–and most horrific–threats with it.

This is a high-concept book, but such industrious titles tend to burn out by the time they reach their twenty-fifth issue.  I’m happy to tell you that Manifest Destiny shows no signs of slowing down.  Dingess has found the perfect balance of horror, adventure, and characterization to keep this title engaging and interesting.  Honestly, I thought this particular volume would end up boring me.  After all, a fog doesn’t sound terribly exciting, does it?  It became readily apparent that the fog wasn’t the real threat–the men’s fear, bias, and paranoia is the real threat, and those things burst free during their encounter with the fog.

Matthew Roberts also keeps this title driving forward.  His art appears historically accurate in terms of clothing, tools, weapons, boats, forts, and things like that.  He is also a master of anatomy and perspective.  There appears to be no animal, plant, or combination thereof that he cannot render perfectly.  But, even with that all being said, his most important quality is that he knows how to keep one panel moving into the next, and then into the next, and then into the next.  He realizes the importance of “sequence” in sequential art.

There are only a few titles currently being published that I consider “must-read.”  Manifest Destiny is one of them.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Image result for manifest destiny mnemophobia and

(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

East of West: Volume 7 by Hickman and Dragotta

East of West continues to be one of the most satisfying series that I’m following.  Even with the seventh volume, Jonathan Hickman engages the reader with innovative plot development and surprising character development.  I never know what’s coming next with this series, and that’s about the highest compliment that I can pay.

If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, the idea is that … I can’t even.  It’s far too complicated.  Just pick up volume one and you’ll catch on quickly enough.  Just know it’s a dazzling blend of fantasy, western, science fiction, military, alternate history, samurai, and religion.

Hickman utilizes an ever growing cast with grace and nuance — everyone gets a moment to shine in this series.  Furthermore, Hickman seems to know exactly where he’s going at all times.  At no point during this series have I felt as though Hickman is floundering — he never seems lost.  Every issue counts with this series.  Every scene serves a purpose.  There is no wasted time.  That’s rare for a title that has lasted as long as East of West.

Of course, as good as the writing is, East of West would not be the same without Nick Dragotta.  This artist has put a particular stamp on this book; he’s given it an inimitable style.  He makes everyone one and everything in this series look cool.  That’s a great characteristic for a comic as eclectic as this.  Though the term is overused, his art is absolutely epic in nature.

Of particular note regarding Volume 7 — several major players die (or seem to, at least).  Wolf steps to the forefront.  Crow continues to steal every panel in which she appears.  Doma gets the girl.  Oh, and Archibald Chamberlain reveals a very special talent.

When people ask me what current comic book series is a must-read, East of West is always at the top of my recommended reading list.  I see no reason why that will change anytime soon as its excellence continues.

Image result for east of west volume 7

(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Manifest Destiny: Sasquatch by Dingess and Roberts

This is one of my favorite ongoing series, and Volume 4 entitled Sasquatch is no exception to the previously established excellence!

We finally discover exactly how President Jefferson procured the skull of the Sasquatch which served as the impetus for Lewis and Clark’s true mission westward.  That epiphany alone makes this book completely worth the cover price!

This collection is divided into two story lines.  The first follows Captain Helm and his expedition as they traveled west before Lewis and Clark.  They soon encounter the brutal winter as well as the enigmatic Sasquatch.  Helm is bedeviled by an otherworldly entity, and it’s not Bigfoot.  If you’ve been reading the series, you know the mysterious arches often serve as a signpost to the supernatural.  Helm is drawn to the source of those arches, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

The other story line picks up with Lewis and Clark.  They are literally following in Helm’s footsteps and reaping what he has sown.  That’s not a good thing.  Death awaits them at every turn, and it’s not always from the things that go bump in the night.

As always, Matthew Roberts’ art is magnificent.  This title always flirts a bit with the horror genre, and Roberts’ definitely got to display his special talent for all things gory.  Seriously, this collection is particularly gross.  I mean that as a total compliment.

Chris Dingess continues to deliver a really tight plot that is beginning to align in ways I never expected.  His dialogue and characterization is consistent, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call this title “historical fiction,” he certainly did his research regarding Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea and their seminal journey.

Manifest Destiny is exciting, well-written, and expertly drawn with phenomenal color.  I absolutely recommend this title.  You’ll never look at Lewis and Clark the same!

(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Black Magick (Volume One) by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott – A Book Review

Black Magick kept earning all sorts of praise so I finally got a copy of the first volume entitled Awakening.  The premise is that Rowan Black is a tough-as-nails detective by day and a witch by night.  Not the flying on the broom kind, but rather the sort who communes with nature and is able to tap into realities beyond normal human understanding.

Greg Rucka is an above average writer who particularly excels at crisp dialogue that often progresses a story line logically and engagingly.  He has created a cast of well-rounded characters that will surely become even more interesting as the series continues.

Nicola Scott is a phenomenal artist with a superb grip on anatomy and, like Rucka, knows how to pace her drawings to always move the story forward fluidly and fetchingly.  Her colors are also subtle yet they set the tone magnificently in more hues of grey than I thought possible.

But even with all that being said I can’t say Black Magick particularly captured my interest.  I’m not excited to read the next installment and really don’t find myself all that invested in Rowan Black’s ensuing tale.

That’s not to say you won’t like it, though.  If hard-nosed detective stories with a dash of the supernatural are your thing, you may very well enjoy it.  After all, Black Magick features the work of two of the best in the industry.

Image result for black magick volume one cover

 

Black Science: The Beginner’s Guide To Entropy by Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera – A Book Review

This beautiful hardcover collects issues 1-16 of the Black Science comic book series.

You may remember I reviewed a collected edition of Black Science encompassing issues 1-6 back in 2014.  At the time, I loved the art, I loved the concept, I loved the colors, I just didn’t love the characters – I never felt connected or invested.  If you’re unfamiliar with the book, rogue scientist and terrible father Grant McKay creates a machine called “The Pillar” which allows travel between planes of reality.  The machine activates unexpectedly, though, and Grant, his team, his two children, and two corporate malcontents are taken on an unexpected,and possibly fatal, trip through realities.

I do have to say that this edition, which I got for free through Amazon Vine, included 10 more issues than I’d read before.  I must admit that it introduces an entirely new concept, one that is absolutely riveting.  Somewhere between issues 6 and 16, Remender moves beyond simple interdimensional travel and delves into string theory, parallel dimensions, and even multiple versions of people destined to repeat cycle after cycle.  It adds a layer of depth to both the story and characters that I didn’t pick up on in the first 6 issues.

The book itself is gorgeously produced.  It’s over-sized which amplifies the already magnificent art.  It’s got great weight, and the hardcovers are solid and resilient.  The back of the book includes alternate covers from the single issues, sketches and designs, and actual scripts.

With a $49.99 cover price, I imagine you’ll need to be a huge fan of the book or the creators to purchase on your own.  However, this could make a great gift for the serious comic book fan in your life or the science fiction aficionado.  It will definitely be considered an appreciated luxury item by book lovers.

 

Descender: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen – A Book Review

Because this title has enjoyed great buzz, I thought I’d give it a try.  Descender is a an interesting science fiction book that explores the meaning of family, humanity, consciousness, and morality.  Of course, these universal topics are unfolding in a universe filled with robots, aliens, and gargantuan mechanical world destroyers.

Tim-21 is an android developed to look like a child and act as a friend to a human companion.  He finds himself alone after a long slumber, cut off from his family, but quickly finds his robot dog and befriends a labor robot called Driller.  Tim-21 may hold the key to understanding the enormous machines that threaten all worlds across the galaxy, which has made him the target of good and bad alike.

The themes of the book are pretty standard to Lemire, though I personally found his dialogue even better than usual.  The story itself is interesting but not necessarily unheard of.  No, what sets this book apart is Dustin Nguyen.

Nguyen’s art in Descender is absolutely beautiful.  The colors, the figures, the layouts – exquisite.  Nguyen’s talent and careful work makes Descender a must-read.

Descender is a book that has broad appeal.  Science fiction fans will appreciate the aliens and robots.  Those interested in the human condition will find the themes and the exploration of what it means to “live” interesting.  Those craving action will be thrilled.  But at the end of the day, if you love comic books, or just art in general, Dustin Nguyen will delight you with every page.