Sunday, March 19, 2017

Heavenly Bride Book One

I got this (along with the second volume) by way of Katrina Joyner's Kickstarter campaign last year.

Title: Heavenly Bride
Issue: Book One
Publisher: The Writers of the Apocalypse
Date: 2016
Writer: Katrina Joyner
Artist: Katrina Joyner

Lhung, a celestial dragon, takes on mortal form, and soon falls in love with Taus, a mysterious young woman who seems to be able to see him for what he truly is.

Their growing friendship in complicated by a succession of factors, not the least of which is that the body that Lhung now inhabits happens to be vampiric in nature.

This is a nicely paced supernatural romance that builds slowly and gives the reader a chance to get to know the characters as the tension and complications grow. The world is familiar enough to be accessible, and the supernatural elements are woven smoothly into the setting.

Because of the pacing the story sets, not a lot gets resolved in this first volume. This book is all about adding conflicts rather than solving them. It is still a very good introduction to the characters and settings with a good amount of plot twists to keep things moving along.

The artwork is lovely, and the bits of color splashed in places throughout the book serve as a nice addition to grab the reader's attention.

I'm looking forward to checking out the second volume.

Rating: 8.5/10

Thursday, March 16, 2017

X-Men #1: Free Comic Book Day 2008

Another 2008 Free Comic Book Day offering, this one from Marvel. From the random stack of unread comics.

Title: X-Men
Issue: 1 (Free Comic Book Day 2008 Edition)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Date: May, 2008
Writer: Mike Carey
Penciller: Greg Land
Inker: Jay Liesten
Colorist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer: VC's Joe Caramagna
Editor: Nick Lowe, Will Panzo

Megan Gwynn, AKA Pixie, is back home in Wales after a year at Xavier's School. She's trying to fit back in, but the fact that people keep mysteriously vanishing from her small town is making things rather difficult for her.

It's not long before she's facing down a full-fledged demonic invasion. Fortunately, the X-Men are there to back her up.

This was a really great introduction to Pixie, who I had not previously been familiar with. She's a fun blend of magical and mutant powers, and her personality really shines in this story as she fights the bad guys on her own first, and then alongside the full X-Men team.

The X-Men had some good lines, and there was a quick exchange between Pixie and Emma Frost that I thought was an excellent use of both characters.

The story is self-contained, and provides a nice introduction for new readers. Its biggest weakness is the villains, who are generic, and who barely put up a fight in the final battle scene. The artwork in that scene was a bit confusing in places, although I thought the art in the rest of the book was quite good.

This was a book that accomplished its purpose as an introduction to the X-Men series, and did an exceptionally good job of introducing Pixie.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, March 13, 2017

Leave it to Chance #1

From the random stack of unread comics.

Title: Leave it to Chance
Issue: 1
Date: September, 1996
Publisher: Image Comics (under their Homage brand)
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Paul Smith
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Amie Grenier
Editor: Jonathan Peterson

I'm a big fan of Leave it to Chance, but this was actually my first time reading the debut issue. It did not disappoint.

Set in the city of Devil's Echo, where the supernatural exists side-by-side with modern civilization, the story introduces resident demon-slayer Lucan Falconer and his daughter Chance. Chance is eager to begin her training as the next generation of the city's long line of protectors against demonic threats, but an overprotective Lucas has some very different ideas.

This issue does a great job of introducing the main characters, as well as some background and supporting characters, plus a complex setting, and then diving right into the action. Chance is immediately likeable. The Devil's Echo setting is loaded with possibility, and several long-term plotlines are set into motion along with the immediate story of Chance's first real adventure in the city.

Lucas's sexist attitude came off as a cliche, but it was thrown out there and the story moved on quickly, putting the focus on Chance, while building toward an ongoing plot that is set up to break a lot more cliches than it will reinforce.

This was, first and foremost, a really fun start to a series with a very unique vibe.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth

Brought home from the school library by the Kiddo.

Title: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
Publisher: Amulet Books (a division of Abrams; series website at wimpykid.com)
Date: 2011
Writer: Jeff Kinney
Artist: Jeff Kinney


This is the fifth book in this series, with middle schooler Greg Heffley confronting what it means to be growing up. He's getting the special puberty lessons in his health class and his grandmother has set her sights on him for the mysterious "TALK" that she gives all of the males in the family.

And with all of this going on, Greg is starting the school year without the company of his best friend Rowley, as the two of them had a falling out over the summer.

This installment had some pretty funny jokes, including a ridiculous school-sponsored "lock-in" overnight event that managed to make fun of the adults as much as it did the kids. The insights into Greg's extended family were also amusing.

Not much actually happens, though, and the usual gripes that I've had with this series continue to be an issue. Girls aren't treated as real people, and there are not really any likeable characters.

That being said, my son continues to really love this series, and I am appreciative that these books get him excited about reading.


Rating: 6/10

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The World Builder

A freebie I picked up at last year's Readercon convention in Quincy MA.

Title: The World Builder
Publisher: Brett James
Date: 2015
Writer: Brett James

Not a comic. This is a prose short story in quarter-sized zine format.

World Builder Barun makes deals to build a city of wonders on a desert planet while his mother sends him urgent messages of an impending deadline. This was a well-written science fiction story, with a good details, especially on future architecture and construction. It has something of a twist ending, which didn't come entirely unexpectedly, as there were hints throughout the story that all was not exactly as it appeared. Still, the ending was well-executed, and the author kept up the nice level of detail that made the story engaging.

This worked well as an introduction to the writing of author Brett James.

Rating: 6.5/10

Monday, March 6, 2017

Jughead Comics: A Night At Geppi's Entertainment Museum: Free Comic Book Day Edition #1

From the random stack of unread comics, by way of Free Comic Book Day 2008.

Title: Jughead Comics: A Night At Geppi's Entertainment Museum: Free Comic Book Day Edition
Issue: 1
Date: 2008
Publisher: Archie Comics
Writer: Craig Boldman
Penciler: Stan Goldberg
Inker: Bob Smith, Rich Koslowski
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Colorist: Barry Grossman
Editor: Victor Gorelick

Published in conjunction with Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore MD.

Archie and Jughead get jobs as museum guards at Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, but Jughead is more interested in chowing down on chocolate than in guarding the museum's pop culture treasures. And when an evil genius who's been quietly stealing those treasures replaces Jughead with a robot, there is some serious doubt as to whether anyone will even notice.

Fortunately, the Archie Gang get to do their own Scooby Gang impression and save the day.

This was a nice promo for the museum, which I wasn't familiar with, but am now interested in checking out if I get to Baltimore this summer.

The story was basic harmless Archie fun that veered a bit more into comedic science fiction than the typical Riverdale story.

Rating: 6.5/10

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Sleeplessness

Picked this one up from the writer/artist last summer at MASSive Comic Con in Worcester MA USA.

Title: The Sleeplessness
Date: 2016
Publisher: Fat Cat Funnies
Writer:Jay Kennedy
Artist: Jay Kennedy
Editor: Lindsay Moore

Full-color standard format 36-page horror comic. This is a classic horror tale set in a cursed and abandoned amusement park on an island off the coast of Maine.

Teenager Lukas Lein faces the impending death of the grandfather who raised him, the same man who was once part of a work crew constructing a private amusement park on an island for an eccentric and very wealthy recluse. The opening of the park ended in horrifying circumstances, and now Lucas makes the decision to go to the island to find one of the few remaining mementos of the parents who he never knew. With his grandfather dying of cancer, Lukas has only a short time before he will be leaving the country to live with his only other remaining relative.

Recruiting his two best friends for the expedition, Lucas finds himself confronting an ancient and demonic evil.

If you're a fan of scary clowns and mascots and creepy old theme parks, you will love the look of this book. The villain has a great vibe that is menacing and disturbing.

The interaction between the three friends is handled really well, and all three are likeable characters.

I did find the writing to be wordy, overly so in places, although part of that is an old-school goth ghost story flavor that the author is going for. It still could have done with a bit of trimming on the narration. The dialogue was quite good and did its job.

The ending is a nice bit of tragedy that packs an emotional punch without relying on the expected tropes for this type of story.

Rating: 8/10