Books, Comics

Southern Bastards Vol. 2: Gridiron Review

Alright guys, fun facts, I am running out of comics that I’ve finished to review for you so I’m going to need a new comic related feature to put in here on Wednesday to stretch it out until I finish something new or, you can give me suggestions for comics I should go and read!  That too!  If there is a little bit of a lapse in quality comic content, my apologies, this is why.

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Series Title: Southern Bastards
Volume: Vol. 2: GridIron
Publisher: Image Comics
Collected Issues: #5-8
Writer: Jason Aaron
Illustrator: Jason Latour
Page #: 128
Genre: Mystery
Rating: M for Mature

Now, I’m going to preface this review with: I have never been that interested in any kind of sport ball.  This volume is incredibly saturated in sports ball.  So I didn’t love it.

However, (You knew there was a however coming didn’t you?) I still think that this comic in general has a lot to offer.  Now stereotypes tell me that people in the south love their community activities, which as you guessed, would include sports ball of all shapes and sizes.  This particular town in question prefers HandEgg (Football but I prefer to accurately describe the sport).  I was willing to listen to this story about this sport because it was giving me insight into one of the most intriguing characters in the previous volume (see my review of that if you so desire).

I have to say that when I picked up issue number 5 I figured it was going to pick up where the last volume left off.  I was wrong.  I didn’t realize then, but having continued reading the comic, I know now that this series is not a chronological story.  It isn’t plot driven.  It is character driven.  It is a story giving you a definition of this town through its inhabitants.  Each volume focuses on a different character.  This volume focuses on the main antagonist of the last volume and the next volume focuses on someone different.  I feel like the longer the comic runs the more all of these stories will twist together into something tangible and perhaps even a forward moving plot, there was a bit of a mystery involved in the first volume it might be wise to get back to that.

I cannot say at this moment whether it will be successful at this.  However I think it has a lot of promise and for the time being, I have faith in what they are doing with it.

I will stick around even though I, someone who grew up in Massachusetts and never cared about communal activities … reading is a pretty solitary act, until you start talking about it on the internet that is… I will stick with it because I really love the atmosphere of this comic.  I feel like it perfectly captures something completely other to me.  It may be a bit of the uncanny.  I like the way that it moves so slowly and that we are focusing on different aspects of these stories because it means that at some point it will catch me by surprise.

I really love mysteries and thrillers and horror.  I feel like this comic has the potential to be really great at that.  Is it for everyone? No.  Is it still worth checking out if you have an interest in it.  Of course.

Now you might be wondering.  Michaela, you are always going on and on about the art in comics.  Well, yes, I am, because I love art.  I do have to say that the art in this comic is not my favorite.  It is blocky and harsh and I usually prefer softer lines and more flowing panels.  However, (See that pesky however keeps showing up) I think that the art style here perfectly matches the story they are trying to tell.  I’m not going to sing its praises but the strength of this comic is in its atmosphere and most of that is created through the art style.

So guys, that’s what I have to say to you for this lovely comic book day!  I hope all of your pulls this week were fantabulous and I will talk to you guys on Friday with a book review!

 

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Books, Comics

First Impressions: New Comics Summer 2015

Apparently this is my 200th post on this site, which is exciting.  I have been doing this off and on for a number of years now and the blog has changed a bit, but it still maintains my awkward rambling descriptions rather than anything that is helpful to anyone.

Speaking to that “off and on” comment, TWO POSTS IN ONE WEEK! :O Shock and Awe.

Today I want to tell you guys my thoughts on the new comics I have picked up starting last month, some of these have had two issues out and I will comment on both those, not just the first issue, but some are still single issues until the coming weeks.  If you want to hear my final thoughts on the comics I was reading over the Spring I reviewed them here!  

If this is your first time reading one of my posts, there are a few things you might want to know.  The first is that I very rarely do a plot summary, I prefer to talk about the elements that I liked or disliked and what I feel would compel someone to read them.  If you would like a plot summary however, I always link the Goodreads page to the image you see next to each impression, just click it and you will find a description of the comic in more detail.

I primarily pull comics from Image, because they have been on a roll releasing comics that are not only beautiful but have really interesting unique stories.  Here are a few of the Image comics I pulled in the past couple months:

There are two comics that I have pulled that started their comic run in June:

Title: Pisces
Writer: Kurtis J. Weibe
Artist: Johnnie Christmas
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror

Based on the first two issues of this comic I have to say that it is a bit confusing to read and that is intentional.  I feel like this might be one that you wait to read in the trade so that you have the whole story.  It isn’t necessarily a bad thing for me as a comic reader, a lot of the time that endears a comic to me, but for some, they may not like this comic weekly simply because its not linear.  You can’t read panel by panel, page by page and understand the whole story.  On top of that, this is a really heart-breakingly violent and graphic comic.  Heartbreaking in that through that first comic I was completely invested in Dillon and his struggle but if you aren’t a fan of gratuitous violence then you might want to avoid this comic.  There is a lot of blood and muck.

Who is this for: People who like science fiction.  People who like books that tell stories through flashback rather than single strain standard plot progression.  People who like to read something for the atmosphere rather than the traditional plot arc.

Title: Injection
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery

This is one of those comics that just drops you in somewhere near the middle of a story, or even, I am beginning to suspect, toward the end of a story.  It can be a bit jarring, but it also lends itself to the mystery genre.  We see the remnants of something gone wrong, we see snippets of what it was like before the fallout, and we see how those involved are trying to live after the fact.  I was really pulled in to the first issue, I wanted to know more about these characters and this world.

Who is this for: This is for a reader who longs to see what happens after the story, because this very much feels like a story after the story.  People who have traveled to England, of which I am not one but the landscapes and setting is very much there and it might add insight that even I don’t have, finally but most importantly, for people who love sassy female hackers, because sassy female hacker, what more do you need?

There are two comics that are starting new arcs but have been ongoing for a while that I continue to read:

Title: Low
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Greg Tocchini
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

I cannot speak highly enough about Low.  If you haven’t read the first arc it is out in trade now, please go pick that up.  It is such a lovely story.  On top of that I want to cover the world in Greg Tocchini’s art.  If I could buy all of the prints of his I would buy ALL OF THE PRINTS and wallpaper every surface I possibly could with it.  This is the seventh issue, and is the beginning of a new arc.  We are dropped into a different set of people than those we were following in the first arc.  As of right now, I’m not sure whether the new character will cross paths with the main characters of the last story or if this is a new story in the same world, in any case, I am excited for it, I can’t wait.

Who is this for: EVERYONE! No, but seriously, if you like dystopian worlds then Low in general is a really good take on that, and this issue in particular looks at some more of those elements in here.  If you love art and color then you NEED to pick this up, it is sooooooo beautiful, I can’t stress this enough. I take it back, it is for sure for EVERYONE. That means you, person who has never read a comic or graphic novel before. Go pick up the first volume of Low and give it a try, you will be surprised how much you like it. (A note: This comic is rated M for Mature, so when I say everyone, it is everyone who is old enough, or has permission, for this… I would roughly say 14+ but there is a lot of sex so, reader’s discretion)

Title: Southern Bastards
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jason Latour
Genre: Historical Fiction, Southern Fiction

I really like this comic, but I don’t love it in the same way that I love Low.  Low is a comic that I want to throw at everyone, Southern Bastards is a comic that I like but recognize that not everyone else will like it.  The story is not particularly exciting, in fact it is rather dull.  It is a bit violent, but sparingly.  The pacing of the story is also quite slow, but all of that combines to create this really deep and interesting atmosphere.  The art is a bit uncomfortable which some people will be turned off of, I know that there are definitely some art styles that will prevent me from reading a comic even if people rave about the story, so the art is a bit touchy as well.  I really love stories set in the south.  I love the creepy atmosphere that this comic gives off. I know that it isn’t for everyone one, but it might be for someone, so I wanted to talk about it.  There are actually two volumes out that follow two different characters in this town, one being an old man returning to his hometown to clear out his father’s house, the other being the tale of how the football coach made the football team when he was in high school.  This comic starts a new arc and I’m excited to see what insight it lends.

Who is this for: People who love atmosphere, people who love stories set in the south, and people who love series that follow a characters arc to learn about them and their motives rather than one continuous story (the story of a town and the people in that town rather than one direct narrative).

When it comes to THE BIG TWO publishers I like to say that I wouldn’t choose either really, I feel like a lot of the comics coming out of DC and Marvel had grown a bit stale.  However growing up I read comics from both and I do still really love the characters, I just am sad that I don’t want to read their stories as much any more.

When it comes to coming out with new, interesting stories I have to give that award to DC:

Title: Gotham by Midnight
Writer: Ray Fawkes
Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Genre: Paranormal

I like to describe this series as The X-Files for Batman fans.  It revolves around this department in the GCPD (Gotham City Police Department) who work specifically on reports that are or appear to be (are.) supernatural in nature.  This is issue number 6 which is the start of a new arc, again you can get the first volume in trade if you want to catch up.  This series has a new artist, starting with this comic, and I actually like it a lot better.  I wasn’t particularly upset about the old art style, but it wasn’t my favorite, the new artist is a lot cleaner.  I like it.  The colors in this particular issue are also really beautiful to me.  I’m just happy with where this is going.  I was always in love with the story but now I’m in love with the art as well, rather than just accepting of it.

Who is this for: People who like/liked The X-Files.  People who love comics that take place in Superhero Universe without Superheroes actually in the main cast, People who like Horror Suspense or Crime shows on Television at the moment. Yes. Good.

There are two comics from DC that are starting this summer that I picked up:

Title: Midnighter
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: ACO
Genre: Superhero

I haven’t been reading very many Super Hero comics as of late, I simply haven’t been infatuated with them but here is what I have to say about Midnighter. GAY SUPERHERO.  I have made an acceptation for my no superhero love when it comes to representation in comics.  I am happy to say that this isn’t just a vote for more representation in comic books, it is also genuinely good on its own.  Midnighter seems to have all of the characteristics that I really love about Deadpool (Shock, crossing the streams, how dare I mention a Marvel character) and Red Hood and even a little bit of Batman in there.  If you like any of those comics then I highly recommend checking this out.  Plus the covers remind me of old hollywood movie posters and I kind of love the style its giving off.

Who is this for: People who like superheroes who aren’t squimish about killing people. People who like superheroes with secret identities. People who are all for more representation in comic books not just in the side cast, but headlining comics!

Title: Black Canary
Writer: Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Annie Wu
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Genre: Superhero

Again I pulled this because I want to see more leading ladies in comics, not meant for ladies, but just being badass in their own right and boy does this fit the bill.  If you have been reading Spider-Gwen (again I’m crossing the streams, I’m sorry) then you might want to pick this book up.  I really love seeing Black Canary as a rock star, it just makes sense to me.  I also really love the tiny little guitarist named Ditto who has yet to speak but is definitely the most adorable tiny guitarist in comics currently.  I like that this story seems to be less about a superhero moonlighting as a musician and more about a musician who moonlights as a superhero.  It is good.  I loved it.  So pleasantly surprised.

Who is this for: Everyone who loves bad-ass lady types.  Everyone who likes the concept of “the daily lives” of superheroes.  Anyone who likes the idea of tiny guitarists which really should be everyone.  If you read it for anything read it for Ditto!

When it comes to Marvel, yes I am still reading Spider-Gwen and yes I am still reading Silk as well, but I don’t really have anything new to say about them.  I like the stories, I find them appealing, but compared to some of the other comics that I really love or was surprised by, they are about what I expect at the moment.  The one Marvel comic that is surprising to me is:

Title: Runaways
Writer: Noelle Stevenson
Artist: Sanford Greene
Genre: Teen Superhero Team

Read this comic! If you like Lumberjanes, this is written by the same writer. If you like Gotham Academy (DAMN ME I JUST CAN’T STOP. CAN’T STOP. WON’T STOP) then this has the same kids in a boarding school feel.  I have always been a fan of Marvel’s stories but I haven’t been in love with many, or really any of their currently running characters.  I love the characters in this book.  I think this is a really great thing that Noelle Stevenson is bringing to this comic.  It has everything.  Good characters, good story, good art.  Triple threat right here.  If you haven’t picked this up yet, please get your hands on a copy.  I also have to say that the character you would think to be the least useful is surprisingly the most useful in the first two issues and I really love that.  It reminds me of Death of the Family era Teen Titans ( 😛 ).

Who is this for: People who like Lumberjanes, Gotham Academy, or Teen Titans.  People who like comics with teams of superheroes and their dynamics.  People who like stories set in schools for the gifted.  Above all else this comic is just plain fun, pick it up.

Alright, I think I have it all now.  These are the comics I’ve pulled this season and what I think of their first (few) issues.  Let me know if you are reading any of these and what you think about them and let me know if there is another comic I really should pick up and haven’t yet!

I have a book club video from two weeks ago to post on Friday so there will actually be THREE POSTS THIS WEEK. It must be the apocalypse. It must, it must, it must.

 

 

Adult, Books, Comics

Spring Comic Wrap Up

While I haven’t felt like I could dedicate the time necessary to read many books over the course of the last semester comics are easier to accept.  It takes but a few minutes to read them.  They cost only a few dollars.  They are beautiful pieces of art that I want to keep and covet forever.  Recently, I realized that I have finished several story arcs of comics, in that I have read the comics that will be bound into trades and could count them as books read on my Goodreads challenge, as well as started some new threads and I wanted to talk to you now about the comics that I have pulled recently.  If you didn’t know, all of the book covers I post on my blog, when clicked, link to the Goodreads page for that book if you want to find more information, or hear others’ opinions.

Sex Criminals is one of the comics that I actually pick up in trade rather than reading the weekly issues.  It isn’t the only one on this list, but my explanation for this is mainly just that some stories work better when I read the whole arc rather than bits and pieces over a series of months.  I really like this comic.  If you didn’t know that this was an R rated comic by the title, for sure, it is not for children.  I have been enjoying the way that sex and relationships are portrayed in this comic.  They portray the struggle with mental illness in a realistic manner as well.  Plus there is sex magic and glowing penises.  What more could you ask for in a comic series?

Southern Bastards is perhaps the most controversial comic on this list.  Not because its bad, simply because it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  There is no magic, not really any action, or adventure.  The first volume had a bit of mystery, but this volume is completely and utterly back story.  If you liked the first volume and want to learn more about the main antagonist then this is a good read for you.  If you prefer something that is less character driven and more plot driven, then maybe stay away.  I really like the art and color in this comic, its a little disconcerting but I think it suits the atmosphere of the plot very well.

This is probably one of my absolute favorite comics coming out right now.  If you are a big Dungeons & Dragons fan, if you were a fan of the new Mad Max film, or just bad ass lady types in general please look into Rat Queens.  The first volume was action packed, where as this is a but more suspenseful.  We learn a bit about each of our main characters backgrounds as well as some of the side characters.  If all of that hasn’t persuaded you to pick up this series than all I have to say is, Orc Dave.  You are missing out on Orc Dave.  the best Orc Dave, that ever Orc Daved, ever.  Pick it up.  I beseech you.

This comic, unlike the others I mentioned is definitely suitable for the little comic reader you know, in any gender.  If you like cute mysteries solved by a rag tag gang of kids, set in a boarding school, in Gotham, then this will be great.  It shows kids who have a lot of heart, and passion.  Maps is super nerdy but still bad ass.  All of this makes this series an A+ from me.  I haven’t been too won over by DC or Marvel as of late, but Batman was the comic that got me into comic, although technically it was Robin that got me into comics, in any case.  Gotham and Batman were always the things that sort of felt like home.

When it comes to comics set in Gotham, sans Batman, this one is less Harry Potter and more X-Files.  It revolves around a secret department within Gotham PD that solves crimes of a questionably super natural variety.  I’m not sure how popular this comic was but I really enjoyed it.  While the art was not my favorite style, I do think the gaunt faces and heavy shading fit the atmosphere the comic was trying to portray.  If you are a fan of detective following around other detective because he thinks the work said detective does isn’t real and that the money funding this department is being stolen, then this would be a good comic for you.

*wheezes* It hurts us Precious.  This comic guys, this comic.  If you aren’t reading The Wicked and The Divine please go pick up the first volume.  It has a lot of Religion lore for you history nerds out there.  It has pop music for us plebes.  It has beautiful art and scenery for the artists or art lovers.  Plus the story is soooo gooood.  And painful.  Very painful.  The last comic.  Just the last comic.  It hurt so good.  I was waiting for that moment the whole series and then. AND THEN.  I won’t spoil it.  However I do implore you to read it and find out for yourself why it hurt so bad.  I cared so much about these characters, and the writers aren’t afraid to ruin everything you love.

So, this volume won’t be out until the fall, however I think that Marvel are doing good things with their female lead Spiderverse comics.  I am reqading both Spider-Gwen here and Silk.  While I like Silk better than Spider-Gwen I think this one was alright.  It didn’t have much going for it plot wise, more of a monster of the week kind of comic which made it easier to read each month.  However it means you have to care about her character to keep you going. If you like stories that are character bases, and alternate universes where Peter Parker is dead, and Spider-Ham, then for sure you need to pick up this book when it is released in later.

I think next week I will talk about the comics that I am reading for the summer, but here is a little sneak peak if you just want a hint on what I suggest you should grab from your comic stores soon:

 

If you want to hear my thoughts on the first issues here I will be talking about them next Wednesday! (Although that low issues is technically #7 the first in the second arc).

I hope you have a lovely week, and I will see you on Friday with a book review!

Adult, Books, Comics

Southern Bastards, Vol. 1: Here Was a Man Review

Have you heard?  Wednesday is comic book day!

Title: Southern Bastards, Vol. 1: Here Was a Man
Writer: Jason Aaron
Illustrator: Jason Latour
Publisher: Image Comics
Page #: 112
Genre: Mystery/Crime Drama’

1 Sentence Tag: The South is creepy people, why aren’t more horror/mystery type stories set there?

I have to say that this is definitely not going to be a comic for everyone.  This is a slow burn and not a flash in the pan.  When most people think about comics they gravitate toward those flashy high energy super hero titles, and this is probably as far away from that as you can get before you hit Archie Digest.  There isn’t action up the wazoo, there aren’t bright colors flowing across the pages and that might make you a little bit uncomfortable, but don’t write this comic off yet!

The selling point of this comic for me, is the atmosphere.  This should be split equally between the artist and the writer.  The writer perfectly portrays the southern attitude in the pacing and dialogue and the artist is using a style that is just this side of uncomfortable.  The two together create the perfect creepiness.  I love a good horror atmosphere that leaves you just creeped out enough when you set the book done that you think about picking up something else just to ease your mind a little.  I get that feeling more often in novels and short stories than I do in comics, perhaps because I haven’t picked up enough horror comics, perhaps because something in brain doesn’t correlate the pretty pictures as scary, not sure, but this one definitely has that tone and atmosphere and I’m giving it props for that.

The girl who works in my local comic shop told me that this title is not very popular and I have to wonder why.  Like I said it isn’t snappy or flashy, but different isn’t bad.  There has been a lot of talk about variety being a good thing in all forms of media, if you are looking for something different to add to your comic rotation then I would definitely recommend this title.  If you are looking for something that is a little calmer, a little slower, something mysterious and interesting then I would definitely grab this one.

The second arc started recently so pick up the trade and the last couple of issues and you should be all set with this one.  Its in my current pull list and it definitely needs more hype.

Did you guys read it already?  What did you think about it?  How about how the first arc ended?  (If you don’t want to be spoiled best stear clear of the comments!)

I’ll hopefully be back with a book review for you guys on Friday!