Adult, Books, Comics, Musings

East of West: We Are All One by Jonathan Hickman Review

So you are little bit intimidated by the scale of East of West, and rightfully so, I wanted to talk about my experience reading this comic as well as maybe help some folks who are little nervous get into it.

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Comic Title: East of West
Volume Title: Vol. 2: We Are All One
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letters: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image
Page #: 144
Genre: Science Fiction, Western

As I’m writing this post I’m not entirely certain whether I reviewed the first one or not but I’m leaning toward not.  The only reason I say that is that this is perhaps one of the most confusing comics I have read.  While that may seem intimidating hold on just a moment because I am going to tell you why its worth it.

I know that when I got back into comics and discovered Image as a company who put out a lot of things I love East of West put out a single issue that had all of the different factions mapped out.  I remember thinking, if you need a dramatis personae for your comic you probably aren’t doing it right.  While I do think having that would have been helpful when I picked up the first volume I no longer think that its such a bad thing.

I’m sure there are plenty of people who abandoned it because there were too many people, it was too confusing, etc. I mean I myself often talk about how too large a cast of characters is one of the main reasons I can’t ever seem to finish Game of Thrones, and yet… and yet.

I think that the artist did a really great job of illustrating each faction so that they visually represent something.  I’m not quite sure how I feel about them all being along racial lines, but at the same time it means that you see someone and you instantly understand where they are coming from and what their values are.  I think that this also allowed for interesting discussions on history, this world seems to share some portions of our own history, but somewhere along the lines separate but equal was taken to the extreme.

There are moments where I feel like it strays a bit into stereotyping but it always seems to push past that to something more.  The things that seem stereotypical have different motivations and lead somewhere that I wasn’t expecting.

While I wasn’t entirely sold on the art style I think that it has grown on me and I am actually very impressed by how many different characters there are that all are very distinct.  The problem with a huge cast of characters is that they can become confused and like I said not only is their style showing the faction they belong to but is entirely their own.  There is no confusing characters in this way.  Even Low, which I love, sometimes has a character whose design is so close to another’s that I momentarily forget who I’m looking at, and context usually irons it out for me, but I don’t even need that here.

In any case, I said in my goodreads review and I’ll say it again, I cannot wait to get the third volume. I am so excited.  This one was especially good and I hope that it keeps up the pace.

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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!

 

Adult, Books, Comics

Sex Criminals Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop

Yes, that is a Two Girls, One Cup reference.

This is a review for the second volume of this comic if you want to read my review of the first volume, you can find that here, and if you don’t wish to be spoiled for events of the first volume, best avoid this.

tldr; (if you couldn’t read that paragraph who are you? why are you here? is it the sassy parenthetical comments?)

*Possible SPOILERS for Vol. 1*

Click me for the Goodreads page!

Title: Sex Criminals
Volume # and Title: 2: Two Worlds, One Cop
Writer: Matt Fraction
Illustrator: Chip Zdarksy
Publisher: Image Comics
Collected Issues: #6-10
Page #: 128
Genre: Magical Realism

*This is a Mature comic with Sex in it, duh*

You guys know that I don’t often talk about the plot of things.  I find myself lacking in the department of describing the events of books in any sort of enticing way.  I much prefer to talk about the components of the pieces that really appealed to me.

For Sex Criminals it has to be the characters. Obviously the plot is important but I don’t read this comic to find out what the outcome of the library is.  I’m reading to see how our main characters are getting along.  They aren’t exactly.  They are hitting a bit of a rough patch. They are arguing.

I love how realistic this comic is with its characters. They are flawed.  Real people don’t fall in love and stay 100% in love for the rest of their lives. There are ups and downs. There are fights. I just really appreciate how they show that in this. These people had a weird whirlwind relationship in the first comic, they are now exiting the honey moon period. Shit gets real.

*Real* is going to be the buzzward of this review.  I can tell you that right now. Don’t play a drinking game you might die.

I also appreciate how realistically they talk about, and portray sex in this comic. People have kinks. Unless you are looking for a fetish book in the romance section its hard to find something that doesn’t have both parties achieving simultaneous orgasm in standard missionary position.  On top of that the artist portrays a vast array of body types and ethnicity in equally sexual positions and acts.  Every body is a sexy body, not just the pretty ones.

Basically, what I’m trying to say, is its the real deal, yo.

(I am far too ginger to ever say yo… even when attempting humor. I apologize.)

If you like stories that make you feel like they are real, despite the fact that all the major characters literally stop time when them cum … then please check this out.  It is both heart warming and funny.  These guys have a sense of humor.  I would recommend it in the trades, which is how I’m reading it, but I can’t speak to weekly pick ups as I haven’t read it.  I am not dissatisfied with having to wait several months between issues.  I like getting the full story in one shot.

This is a goodun’ I promise you.

(I may also be too ginger to say goodun’ … will report back.)

That’s all for today folks. I will talk to you all on Friday when I have my first book review of the summer that isn’t a Bibliomancy for Beginners read. Yes, I do read shit on my own. No it isn’t all shit. Most of the time I am quite satisfied with my choices. Most… of the time.

Adult, Books, Comics

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter: The First Death Review

Wednesday is comic book day and I am kind of cheating.  This is a comic book review, but it is functioning more as promotion for my book club. (*shit faced grin*)

On the 18th of August we will be meeting over the inter-webs to discuss Skin Trade by Laurell K. Hamilton which is number 17 in the novels.  Now, I realize that not everyone is like me and has read all 23? books. Has two of them in audio book.  Also has all of the graphic novel versions (i.e. the first three books in trades) as well as the book I’m going to review today, which is a pre-qual to the first book only ever released as a graphic novel.  I purposely chose a book later in the series because I felt it was a good representation of the series as a whole and to impart anyone who wishes with the knowledge of the previous sixteen books if they should choose to skip, I also made a video discussing the world, the characters, and the magic systems.  I am just that sweet.

Now that we have that shameless self promotion out of the way, I can get to the matter at hand.

I reread this graphic novel today as part of the #booktubeathon (if you are participating let me know how its going for you!) and I wanted to review it for you folks, again, for those aforementioned shameless self promotional reasons.


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itle: The First Death
Writer: Laurell K. Hamilton & Jonathan Green
Illustrator: Wellington Alves
Page #: 128
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Mystery, Action

In my mind there will never be a BAD Anita Blake book.  No exception here. This graphic novel depicts the story that you gets bits and pieces of throughout the novels.  How Anita got the cross scar on her arm.  How she met Edward.  What Zebrowski was like when he first joined the force.  What Jean Claude was like when he didn’t really know Anita that well.  All of these things are pushed together into this really short story that I love.  Tidbits of this information is retold at various points throughout the books but it is nice to see it all together in one place.

It was a good mystery.  It was fun to read about my favorite characters when they were young.  I don’t know how this will be for folks who haven’t read the books.  I think that even just reading the other graphic novels they have released will help you appreciate this more, than you would on its own.  Even though this is fine on its own, it has more feeling in it if you already know and care about the characters. Even though chronologically this story comes before Guilty Pleasures I would read the latter first.

The art is amazing as always, the same team working on this as all the rest.  It is just another way for me to enjoy a series a that I love.  I actually think that Anita lends herself to graphic novels very well.  The mystery plot lines give a good over arching plot across trades with different elements focusing in each comic.  Introduction to the crime, investigations, interrogations, confrontations, resolutions.  It works.  Have I said that enough in this paragraph alone?

Like I said, I really love it.  I think you should pick up these graphic novels if you are too intimidated by the sheer scope of the novels.  It might pull you in.  They are all worth it.  I promise.

That’s it folks.

For Friday I will hopefully have our live stream on Angelfall by Susan Ee up for you guys on Friday but it has been stuck in processing hell for the past few days.  Talk to you soon!

I hope you have a good rest of the week and good luck to my fell #booktubeathon memebers

Mini booktubeathon update:

Books read: 3

  • 1 graphic novel
  • 2 YA novels

Books started: 2

  • 1 collection of poetry
  • 1 adult novel
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!

Adult, Books, Comics

Sex Criminals: Volume One: One Weird Trick

Series Title: Sex Criminals
Volume # and Title: 1: One Weird Trick
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Chip Zdarsky
Publisher: Image Comics
Comics Collected: 1-5
Page #: 128

**I would note that this book should be intended for older audiences, it has some graphic content. That isn’t to say it is crude but it is sexually explicit; there is full frontal nudity and sex scenes, however they are realistic.**

This was incredibly unique and funny. I found myself laughing out loud while I fell in love with these characters. They are incredibly charismatic despite being slightly flawed. It was a great first arc. I look forward to reading the next Volume upon its release.

The characters are great I felt like I was reading about real people with a quirky super power.  It was great to see how this affected people with real lives who weren’t necessarily powerful.  Even the characters who had been living with the power for a long time were 911 operators and bus drivers not secret agents or anything glamorous.

The writing is hilarious.  I laughed out loud multiple times while reading.  This is both by the commentary set by the characters and those working on the project and by some of the scenes and set ups themselves.  This books is what I would say a realistic super hero book would be like.  If normal people had super powers, and those powers happened to be connected to sex this is how it would play out.  This is who they would be.  It also talks about and shows sex in such a realistic way.

The art is fantastic.  I was a little worried about the art, because it definitely isn’t the usual beautiful people you are used to seeing in comics.  These people are realistic, they have curves, big noses, and weird hair.  I think this comic is so strong because of its blatant realism, despite being something utterly fantastic.

If all that wasn’t enough to convince you to read it then the only thing else I can say is the story is cute. Its great all around. Not mind blowing, but definitely not mediocre or disappointing.

I especially liked that the trade has lists at the back describing all of the ideas they had that didn’t necessarily make it into the final book.

If you are looking for an ongoing comic series that has a lot of heart and makes you laugh then Sex Criminals is definitely something you should check out.

Adult, Books, Comics

Rat Queens: Volume One: SASS and SORCERY

Series Title: Rat Queens
Volume # and Title: 1: SASS and SORCERY
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Roc Upchurch
Publisher: Image Comics
Comics Collected: #1-5
Page #: 128

If you are someone who plays Dungeons and Dragons or who used to play Dungeons and Dragons and misses it then this is the comic for you.

I say this because this is a fantasy series clearly based on how campaigns out when you are playing Dungeons and Dragons with your friends.  The banter is there, the shenanigans, the weird rivalry with characters for no apparent reason that makes everybody laugh.  This comic is great for that.

If you aren’t someone who has ever played Dungeons and Dragons then I promise you can still really like this.  You just need to understand that it will be a bit silly, a bit gorey, but a whole lot of fun.  Its a fantasy book with a party of up and coming heroes doing what they have to do to get some gold to get something strong to drink.

The characters are all really well developed despite there being so many of them and we only have five issues to work with.  You get a taste of their motives and back stories.  There’s even a queer character which is becoming increasingly common in comics and is almost necessary in every D&D campaign.

The plot is interesting, while slightly predictable.  If you are ready to follow some kick ass girls around as they punch dudes then you will enjoy the story.  If you want this to be the mystery that stumps you for ages, you might be looking in the wrong place.

The art is beautiful.  There is a bit of sketchiness too it that I really like.  I like that not only are several fantasy races represented here but several body types in our female leads.  It helps that dwarves are traditionally stocky, but all of the characters have a different shape and are still sexy and badass.

If you want a fun comic that will make you laugh or just a light read to pick you up after something a bit depressing than I think that Rat Queens are great.  These girls are charismatic and beautiful.  I look forward to hearing more about their story when the next volume is released early next year.