SW Best Comic Book Reads of 2016!

file-dec-29-12-23-46-am

2016, another great year for the comic book and graphic novel industry.

Also, a new era for big changes and shakeups. The big Marvel and DC publishers went back to revamping their flagship superhero titles, again. Image strengthened the creator-owned market with a plethora of well-received new and continuing titles. IDW, Dark Horse and Boom! held strong with their licensed properties, but also brought some creative driven original content to the shelves. Aftershock proved itself as an underrated new dog, with a number of good books that deserve more appreciation. And, there were surprises from other companies, old and new.

Here below, are the best of what I enjoyed in 2016, according to what I had time for and caught my interest across the comic stores, digital fronts, and my local library. For each title, consider just the work done in 2016. The list was very last-minute, so very sorry I could not display detailed reasoning for each. Just see for yourself, should you come across any of these wonderful titles!

BEST NEW SERIES of 2016

Black Hammer (Dark Horse) by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart

The Flintstones (DC) by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh

Animosity (Aftershock), by Marguerite Bennett, Rafeal De Latorre

BEST LIMITED SERIES of 2016

Vision (Marvel) by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Superman: American Alien (DC) by Max Landis,, various artists

Divinity II (Valiant) by Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine

BEST ONGOING STORY EPICs of 2016

Saga (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

I Hate Fairyland (Image) by Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Paper Girls (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang

BEST CREATIVE USE OF SEQUENTIAL LAYOUTS in 2016

ODY – C (Image) by Matt fraction, Christian Ward

Lady Mechanika: La Dama De Las Muerte (Benitez Productions) By Joe Benitez, M.M Chen

Shipwreck (Aftershock) by Eric Gapstur, Mark Englert, Marshall Dillon

BEST USE OF COLOR in 2016

Paper Girls (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang

Night’s Dominion (Oni Press), by Ted Naifeh

Bandette (Monkeybrain) by Paul Tobin, Collen Coover

BEST UNSETTLING HORROR SERIES of 2016

InseXts (Aftershock) by Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina

Demonic (Image) by Christopher Sebela, Niko Walter, Dan Brown

Glitterbomb (Image) by Jim Zub, Djibril Morisette-Phan, Michael Russel

BEST DRAMATIC STORYTELLING of 2016

Animosity (Aftershock), by Marguerite Bennett, Rafeal De Latorre

Vision (Marvel) by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Tales from the Darkside (IDW) by Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez

BEST PARTLY HISTORICAL-BASED FICTION in 2016

Lake of Fire (Image) by Nathan Fairebairn, Matt Smith

Britannia (Valiant) By Peter Milligan, Juan Jose Ryp

Rough Riders (Aftershock) byAdam Glass, Patrick Olliffe

BEST FANTASY SERIES in 2016

Monstress (Image) by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda

Hillbilly (Albatross) by Eric Powell

Seven to Eternity (Image) by Rick Remender & Jerome Opena

BEST STRANGE NEW WORLDS and IDEAS in 2016

Ether (Dark Horse) by Matt Kindt, David Rubin

The Electric Sublime (IDW) by W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo

Saga (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staple

BEST USE OF SCIENCE FICTION ELEMENTS in 2016

Hadrian’s Wall (Image) by Kyle Higgens, Alec Siegel, Rod Reis

Faster than Light (Image), by Brian Haberlin

Ancestor (Image) by Matt Sheean, Malachi Ward

BEST SINGLE ISSUE COVER ART in 2016

Saga (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples (Covers by Fiona Staples)

Scarlet Witch (Marvel) by James Robinson,  Marguerite Sauvage (Covers by David Aja)

Black Hammer (Dark Horse) by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart (covers by Dean Ormston)

BEST CREATIVE USE OF POP-CULTURE ICONS in 2016

Scooby Apocalypse (DC) by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Howard Porter

Klaus (Boom! Studios), by Grant Morrison, Dan Mora

The Flintstones (DC) by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh

BEST FULL-LENGTH GRAPHIC NOVEL STORIES of 2016

Dark Knight: a True Batman Story (DC) by Paul Dini, Eduardo Risso

Mooncop (Drawn and Quarterly) by Tom Gauld

Ghosts (Scholastic), by Raina Telgemeier

BEST REPRINTING OF COMICS HISTORY in 2016

The Don Rosa Library Collection (Fantagraphics) – Volume 4-6

Moebius Libary: The World of Edena (Dark Horse)

Turn Loose Our Death Rays and Kill Them All! The Complete Works of Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics)

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking out my list. I would love to read your thoughts on my pics or suggest some of your own, in the comments below.

Orion T

 

A Stranger Look towards Black Mirror: Season Three

  • Created by: Charlie Brooker
  • Executive Producers: Charlie Brooker and Annibel Jones
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Satire
  • Production Company: Zeppotron
  • Distributor:  Endemol UK
  • Time: 43 to 75 minutes

Synopsis:

“A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.”

The current series sits at two seasons adding up to a total of six episodes and a Holiday special. A third season will première on October 21, 2016.

A look back (Spoilers)

Having been described as a modern-day take on Twilight Zone, Black Mirror presents a new storyline coupled with new characters every episode, all presenting the theme of technology and postmodern life. Despite the role of technology so heavily driving the plot, it is not an overpowering presence; allowing it to frame the progression, and not lead it. Black Mirror features plot progression through interaction, not focusing mainly on plot devices. This way, the events seem more real, and relatable than a typically jam-packed action plot of the typical American sci-fi.

Illustrated through a new plot every episode, Black Mirror takes a psychological approach to the topic at hand, allowing the viewer into the mind and thought process of the characters in question. It allows a deeper connection and understanding, granting more relatability to the character than through thoughts and actions alone.

blackmirrorav

Dark, emotional, intriguing, and mysterious, this show leaves the viewer questioning almost to the end about what will happen. Through out each episode, I analyzed the plot and created predictions, expecting the storyline to follow accordingly; but every single time, I was wrong. Following the plot, the change is so smooth that the initial hitting factor is not out there and ridiculous but slow enough to a real and understandable shock.

Much like The Twilight Zone, the viewer delves into a fully developed and thriving world, left to observe and create conclusions based on what is in front of them. This world, much like our own, has distinct differences and an order that which all characters follow accordingly. From rice-sized memory recording chips to the ability to fully block a person in your physical life, each technological advantage frames but does not lead the storyline. In drastic contrast to other sci-fi series of similar nature, the technology does not absorb the narrative. Apart from a few differences, most of the world is recognizable, leaving all other aspects unchanged.

tumblr_njnabo3vhs1r3kqq0o1_1280

Through out each episode, the storyline focuses on the characters involved, highlighting their relationships, interests, occupations, mindsets, and overall characteristics to create a personal and intimate understanding of them. In no way is it difficult for the viewers to place themselves in the character’s shoes, looking at the topic at hand through their eyes. I do not believe there was a single character that I could not empathize with, the connection so strong that all motives were understood.

Black Mirror does a wonderful job on manipulating viewer emotions, not only through that deep connection but through setting. The series is no stranger to using lighting or music to its advantage. In the second episode of season one, one of the main characters uses a song for an audition, ultimately disappearing and never being seen again. To hear those lyrics being sung five episodes later brought back those initial emotions, flooding me the sorrow and fondness I had initially felt.

2835

Personal Thoughts (Spoilers): 

Black Mirror can easily be described as one of my new favorite shows. Upon watching the first and second episode, I fell in love with the characters, storyline, and general theme coupling its execution; all in all creating an experience that I had not witnessed with any other show. Black Mirror prides itself on taking the topic at hand and breaking it down into smaller segments, covering each part in such a way that even the tiniest details are shown in depth.

Through out the six episodes and holiday special of season one and two, my favorite episodes would have to be episode one and two of season one. The thought and emotion put into these plots really grabbed me, leaving my eyes glued to the screen until the very end. With the goal of grabbing and pulling a viewer and their interest in, I would hands down say that Charlie Brooker did a wonderful job.

Episode one, The National Anthem, presented many different takes on one situation: the kidnapping and holding of Princess Susannah, the Duchess of Beaumont. Through out the narrative, the situation highlights the lack of privacy and opens conflict in a modern world. In 12 hours, news had spread from a youtube video left up for seven minutes, to a global knowledge. With the kidnappers making the ransom video publicly known, it allows the information to be open to anyone, not allowing the politicians to keep it hidden and discreet. Par the request of the kidnappers, the Prime Minister must perform unsavory actions with a pig, promising the Duchess’s safe return if all conditions are appropriately met. On top of the struggle to save Princess Susannah, a moral and emotional dilemma is added to the mixture by means of the Prime Minister.

To have such a curious and far fetched idea be the first episode of a new series, the viewer cannot help but be drawn in from the questions that surrounds the topic. How will they attempt a safe return? What steps does the government take to go around such a vulgar demand? To what further extent do the kidnappers go to ensure they get their demands met? And finally, what is the ultimate decision of the Prime Minister?

Upcoming: 

As of late 2015, the movie streaming company Netflix has now commissioned the creator for a third season, originally consisting of 12 episodes. Currently, Black Mirror is set for its Season Three of six episodes. Perhaps a fourth will follow with the same amount will follow.

Thoughts for Season Three:

Based on the trailer alone, I do have high hopes for this season, wishing that it will fit those shoes season one and two had filled. The presence of technology in everyday relations seems to flow over, but the sci-fi aspects and societal changes appear to be one of the ultimate differences. Whereas the original allowed the world and its holdings to remain unchanged, the snip-it suggests that everything has changed following the advances of technology. The tone and drama are still there, themes appearing to highlight smaller aspects of a larger problem.

Initially, I was very excited for a third season. The two previous captured me, holding my attention tightly and not letting go until it was over and there was no more. In short, I wanted more. According to my personal bias, I am always against sequels, feeling that the original fit the picture the best; but in this instance, that bias was completely thrown away. Following the brevity of the past two seasons, I felt that a third one would fit along perfectly. To now hear that this third season’s creation is through a separate vendor, I find myself uneasy.

While Netflix has done a wondrous job with titles in the past, I fear that it will not have the same tone and success as the original did at captivating an audience. I fear that while it will hold the same name, the emotion and message will be lacking now that the episodes are not so far, far, and artfully crafted. It is a commissioned work, however, so it can be assumed that the same themes and aspects that we all know and love about the original will carry over.

At the end of the day, I hope for the best. Just like all other fans, I await anxiously for another installment.

 

-Katherine A 

SW Fan Film Review – Star Trek Continues E06 “Come Not Between the Dragons”

 

Star Trek Continues E06 “Come Not Between the Dragons”

  • Writer, Director, Executive Producer: Vic Mignogna (also stars as James T. Kirk) 
  • Time: 42.12
  • Release: Released on Youtube May 28, 2016
  • Notes: Purely a fan-made work, and the 6th episode in a series so far.

Synopsis :

“A troubled creature pierces the Enterprise hull, pitting the crew against a pursuer that threatens to tear them apart.”

Personal Thoughts:

Star Trek Continues, is a fan-made film based on the original TV series of work of Gene Roddenberry. It’s on-canonical and not affiliated with the CBS or Paramount copyright holders. Yet, it feels far closer to the feeling of the original premise than the movies and other popular fan films out there (including the highly controversial Axaner fan-film).

What sets this series on its high pedestal goes beyond its truer to original set-design, effects and costumes. The premise is kept alive, to see out new life and new civilizations and boldly go.. Here we get just that, though the new life finds them. It’s the high question of just how far we as humans can fit into the universe, when the variables of life are so much greater than our comprehension.

For this episode, our somewhat familiar crew encounters a creature (Usdi) who can fly through space, affect emotions, has a very unearthly appearance that at times seem closer to the Horta than human. Much of the episode is a desperate need to understand this, while dealing with the changing of their own emotions. Neither side seems to fully understand how one affects the other. It’s a story they may not need a Star Trek to tell it, but such the setting and vessel called Enterprise fits perfect.

That’s due to the maze of conflicted negative emotions leading to mutiny and discord, to add drama I suppose to this bottleneck episode.  Somehow, Eliza surpasses where even Spock fails in her emotions, to better understand the creature. In establishing successful first contact, the sides must find some connection and mutual understanding. Here, there is a parental bond that is eventual understood by the humans, which brings about a positive end for both.

Overall, a good story that reminds us that Star Trek is not about galactic warfare and eminent warp core breaches. I feel it’s about finding our tiny place in a vast universe, as explorers and knowledge gathers. Such is more exciting, to deal with unforeseen dilemmas and complex situations; than to learn and grow from it all.

The crew once again does well to emulate not imitate the original cast. I see at this point, the cast are looking to match the mannerisms and characteristics of the crew members, not the actors who originally portrayed them. The acting is good enough, and acceptable for a fan broadcast. Vic Mignogna does Captain Kirk best, though I feel it’s his involvement in the overall production that leads the presentation to its success. He is a captain on and off the set. The characters of Spock, McCoy, and Scotty are also taking on a life of their own, as the Abrams movie versions by other different actors have also done.

But the only problem I see in this, is the lack of possible development the show can do for such characters. I doubt there will be any drastic changes for the main crew, as such would remind the un-canonicity of the science fiction copy. Yet, we have some original cast members, mostly of the female crew members. Perhaps in future episodes, they could develop and capture the hearts of the fans in the changes they go through.

Overall, a great episode for being fan-work. I would enjoy more, but also hoping for more original crew members and stories of such that revolve around them. I hope for the show to stay to its roots, and stay away from other overall complex canon on Romulan-Klingon-Vulcan-whatever other established aliens overdone by the other canonical series and expanded lore. Keep it real, and I will boldly watch.

– Orion T

Short Science Fiction Film – Temple (by Nguyen-Anh Nguyen)

Temple

  • Director: Nguyen-Anh Nguyen
  • Actors: Osric Chau & Yue Qi
  • Sound design, Musical Score: Cult Nation & Kannibalen Records
  • Time: 9:14 Release: Released on Vimeo February 29, 2015, premiered in 2015
  • Notes: For more info, visit thefilmeffect.com/temple

Synopsis :

“2045 A.D. A new genetic disease is causing humans to reject their own organs. Cybernetic enhancements are the only means to survive. One desperate man is forced to steal cybernetic implants to save an innocent life.

Personal Thoughts:

A beautiful combination of great VFX, sound, scripting, and editing.

The story content itself is a reinvention of several dystopian concepts left from the past 80s/90s era of sci-fi urban cyberpunk fiction. One being the idea of the failures of genetic enhancement, though in this setting the enhancements are necessary for survival. I can only wonder what kind of genetic diseases could lead to this sort of necessity. Another being the idea where technology wins and surpasses humanity, as we see not only the boost of tech in humans but in vehicles and city development as well. The “filthy air” and “flood” are hints and perhaps warnings towards continued harm to our global environments.

Then we have a major theme and moral dilemma for the sake of drama. Our main character and narrator cares little for the opponent, as we have little back story from him other than his want to survive and fight back. He takes no joy in the fight, as he must save another he cares for from dying. In this cruel world, we ponder his moral judgement in the choice of who lives and who dies, based on his martial arts skills. Yet here we are, and can hope for a happy end beyond the nine minutes shown.

The martial arts action is great though not as necessary I think to the overall story. We have a feeling we know who the winner will be and that may deescalate where the overall tension goes. Yet, the brutality and gore result does heighten the gritty mood and shock of the violence this world brings. There is a high degree of nihilism we get from the feeling where “we all have to become monsters.”

The music is very captivating, with elevated electronica mixed with ambiance and tension. The audio set mood feels established for the grit and futuristic noir. The visuals of deep colors and grainy filters used with timed depth of field techniques feel suitable, feels modern to this era of indie filmmaking. These are good things. Together with the great editing and cinematography present, I can envision a full movie worthwhile for independent audiences looking for hard-sci combined with meaningful action sequences.

Overall, a great watch that serves enough as a standalone tale leaving much open. This would be a great prologue to a large story where perhaps the woman is the main protagonist, and perhaps a more cheerful ending. I can hope someday for that bigger story.

– Orion T

Short Science Fiction Animated Film – Sputnik (by Maxim Zhestkov)

Sputnik

  • Director / Designer / Producer: Maxim Zhestkov
  • Compositing, Sound Design, Music: Alexander Kulikov
  • Animation: Dmitrii Kolpakov
  • Character design: Ben Mauro
  • Time: 4:56
  • Release: December 2015
  • Notes: For more info, visit www.zhestkov.com

Synopsis :

“Sputnik” is a Maxim Zhestkov short film about the evolution of an extraterrestrial mind, and its journey to the light. The project was created with the help of industry leading artists from all over the world, including: United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Russia. Production of the full CG animated short film took a year and a half. All crew members worked on the project remotely. Maxim directed it and produced from his HQ in Ulyanovsk, Russia..”

Personal Thoughts:

A visually stunning film, of which I briefly enjoyed.

Much is on the stunning visuals, yet not too heavy. There is a message, though I feel it’s somewhat lost to me. The happenings I feel are interpretive to those enjoy the fiction in their speculative thinking. We have a lone alien, that perhaps represents the truly intelligent life among others, guided by curiosity and a reaching out for history and links to the unknown. To carry it within oneself, not as leader but as a keeper of things come and gone.

The twist I suppose, is how the alien species didn’t seem to care about the greater civilization above, almost dominating yet ignorant of their existence (or perhaps intelligent enough to leave them alone). It’s their junk that now lies in this backyard..an important treasure I suppose to at least one. I wonder how many in our world considered life on our Moon before humanity set foot? Does that light and operations of the unknown represent evolution to our drive for growth? There is much thought provocation within the short time, though I wonder how much intended by the filmmakers.

The alien design is beautiful, in showing a strong frame yet gentle presentation in characteristics. The movement displays fluidity and sense, for living upon a primitive isolation environment. In defense, I could see them as deadly and brutal, with their muscular features and long arms. The closest I can thing of in reality, would be that of the gorilla.

The sound noise is magnificent for its monotone brilliance and setting mood. The reminds me a bit of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Overall, a nice little short that goes beyond to the ideas of anything but short.

– Orion T

The SW Best Comic Book Reads of 2015

2015 3

2015, a splendid year for the sequential arts in comic books, for printed and digital.

This year presented well for readers craving more variety in creative storytelling and visual arts. With prior success in creator pushed titles like Chew, Saga, Locke and KeySex Criminals; I see more investment in fresh ideas from companies also focused licensed properties as well including IDW, Boom!, Dark Horse. While the Marvel and DC are still focused on their superhero flagships, they also have experimented with interesting new takes on licensed characters. Meanwhile, I feel Image Comics led the charge on new creator-owned, imaginative worlds for new readers in 2015.

I missed some comic titles, while less drawn to some entire genres (manga, superheroes, webcomics, multi-title crossovers). Not that such things I dislike, as some I read are hidden throughout here.  Some missed has received critical praise elsewhere, of which are probably missed on my list. I swear I will get around too, and perhaps give appreciation in some other way later on (Wytches, Squirrel Girl, Nimona, Through the Woods)

Here below, are the best of what I enjoyed in 2015, according to each heading that mattered in my buying decisions. Each title has their matching publisher, and shares equal credit with the other two as I have trouble deciding further on. I hope for some nods from readers who share in my reflections, while igniting the fires of curiosity to others. Dig in and feel free to approve, question, or challenge these decisions in the comments section further down..

BEST NEW SERIES of 2015

Paper Girls (Image)

Omega Men (DC)

Arcadia (Boom)

BEST LIMITED SERIES of 2015

Divinity (Valiant)

Richard’s Matheson’s The Shrinking Man (IDW)

Star Wars: Lando (Marvel)

BEST ONGOING STORY EPICs of 2015

Saga (Image)

Chew (Image)

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye (IDW)

BEST USE OF LAYOUT FORM IN STORYTELLING in 2015

Sandman Overture (Vertigo/DC)

Omega Men (DC)

Zero (Image)

BEST STORY ENHANCED USE OF COLORS in 2015

Papergirls (Image) –

Descender (Image)

Low (Image)

BEST IMAGINATIVE WORLD-BUILDING  SETTINGS / CONCEPTS  in 2015

The Spire  (Boom! Studios)

The Empty (Image)

Saga (Image)

BEST SOCIAL POLITICAL SATIRE in COMICS of 2015

Bitch Planet (Image)

Prez – (DC Comics)

The Devastator #13 (Devastator Press)

BEST MYSTERIOUS HAPPENINGS of 2015

Twilight Children – (Vertigo, DC)

The Beauty – (Image)

Paper Girls – (image)

BEST UNSETTLING HORROR SERIES of 2015

Nameless (Image)

Archie Vs Predator (Dark Horse)

I Hate Fairyland (Image)

BEST ACTION PACKED AWESOMENESS of 2015

Godzilla in Hell (IDW)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutanimals (IDW)

Usagi Yojimbo: Senso (Dark Horse)

BEST SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY in 2015

Moon in the Trees (Inverse)

Pressure Sensitivity (Wacom)

How to be Happy (Fantagraphics)

BEST CREATIVE USE OF POP-CULTURE ICONS in 2015

Jughead (Archie)

Star Wars: Darth Vader (Marvel)

Transformers vs. Gi Joe  (Inverse)

BEST USE OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY in 2015

Barrier (Panel Syndicate) – A pay what you want digital comic

Faster than Light (Image) – Print version makes use of matching augmented reality app

Z-Men (Double Take) – Digital only motion-comic

BEST FULL LENGTH GRAPHIC NOVEL STORIES of 2015

Wrenchies (First Second)

Scupltor (First Second)

Last of the Sandwalkers (First Second)

BEST REPRINTING OF COMICS HISTORY in 2015

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Mini-comic Collection (Dark Horse)

The Don Rosa Library Collection (Fantagraphics) – Volume 1-4 (each are equally great)

Batman: the Jiro Kuwata Batmanga (DC) – Volume 2

BEST COLLECTED ISSUE VOLUME PRESENTATION of 2015

Multiversity: the Deluxe Edition (DC)

Wayward: Book One (Image)

Chew Smorgasbord Edition Volume 2  (Image) 

That’s all for now. Let’s see if next year can top this!!

Orion T

 

Comic Reading Review: The Beauty #1

Photo Aug 13, 7 38 39 AM

The Beauty #1

  • Writer: Jeremy Haun, Jason A. Hurley
  • Artist: Jeremy Haun
  • Published by: Image Comics
  • Publish Date: August 12, 2015
  • Notes: The first in a monthly series.

Synopsis:

“Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is attainable. The vast majority of the population has taken advantage of it, but Detectives Foster and Vaughn will soon discover it comes at a terrible price. Writer/artist Jeremy Haun (Constantine, Batwoman) and co-writer Jason A. Hurley offer up a startling reflection on the cost of looking good in this procedural science fiction tale.”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

Interesting, original..

A great hook I believe, is to give the reader a what-if scenario. What if beauty could be sexually transmitted but with consequences? It’s a thinker for me before I even looked at the book from an earlier advert Image advert. Therefore, I must read.

I wonder what let the creative duo of Haun and Hurley to open this strange future. By that I mean, we have enough to worry about though our multiples of our science fiction dark futures. But through this, I never thought of STDs being a new frontier for horror and mystery. It makes sense, I think.

Right off the first page, we have a compelling delivery on this idea with causes and effects as the world changes. They cover much, and leave a more open for the reader to ponder on the bigger picture. What happens with the less attractive people? Is attractiveness no longer the template for healthiness? How does one explain this to the kids? What could have caused this? How does religion play into this? What are the consequences and how far do they go? So many inquiries..

Photo Aug 13, 10 13 58 PM

We get some answers but not all, to a somewhat satiable response. An update and worsening of the situation leads to the involvement of some investigators, of which we must familiarize ourselves with for the story. These of which I wanted a better introduction, to at least learn their names and traits. Otherwise, a very Fringe or X-Files vibe to them. We learn a few details on them but not enough just yet, as the new case they take on demands attention.

Because, there are worse things than becoming beautiful in this world. We learn that throughout this opening issue. There is an odd cruelty at play here, as the victims seem most undeserving.  Yet, the story avoids the social commentary affiliated with modern standards of beauty. I enjoy the turn instead, to this mix of horror, science fiction, and drama. It all blends well, with a little grittiness and patches of dark humor in the cracks.

Photo Aug 15, 11 33 56 AM

The art aids well for this story, with a lot of dark colors and shadows. The soft gradiants and interrupted surfaces play well with all the sex and death drama. This world is not nice, with a lot of vice and shame throughout. We got a lot of different shades of grey, tan, browns to the environment and accessories. The grit in the visuals is a nice complement, bringing on an almost classic noir tone.

We also have good action sequences, with good pacing through later in the book. This, I feel is a bonus. The story doesn’t get too much into itself, and goes for a nice linear easy plot to follow. The panels are straight and cut with a more traditional appeal to them, something appreciative as the story itself has enough invention. The end of the first issue has a perfect cut-off point, giving us a fresh look at how one may deal with symptoms of the “Beauty.” I look forward to this in the coming issues.

Anyway, I enjoy this first issue and will follow it. If you have not, I suggest you also look into The Beauty.

– Orion T

Photo Aug 13, 10 07 41 PM

Comic Reading Review: The Shrinking Man #1

Photo Aug 03, 7 51 22 AM

The Shrinking Man #1

  • Writer: Ted Adams
  • Artist: Mark Torres
  • Published by: IDW
  • Publish Date: July 29, 2015
  • Notes: Adapted from the 1956 novel by Richard Matheson

Synopsis:

“Richard Matheson’s exploration of shrinking manhood is brought to vivid life in this comic-book adaptation! Scott Carey, reducing 1/7″ per day, faces tension big and small as his body continues to shrink away…”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

I never read or thought much of the original novel by Richard Matheson, or the concept of shrinking persons, or bothered to watch the recent Ant-Man movie. I did however, enjoy the classic movie Honey, I Shrunk the Kids when I was little boy in theaters, especially the part with the “giant” fly. The spider on the cover reminded me of how terrifying and wonderful giant insects can be, or when they appear to be. So, I checked this out…

No regrets, as The Shrinking Man comic adaptation is full of the fantastic little things that make a big read worthwhile.

Photo Aug 05, 11 58 29 PM

I love this story so far, being that it is a comic series with parts of the novel split up. Though this is an adaptation, I feel this is a story born for the comics. Not so much for the science fiction elements of a man shrinking, but the dangers and drama presented throughout. It’s fantastic and gripping for the sequential art form of storytelling.

But not as traditional to comics is the story told in sporadic time jumps, detailing the protagonist’s transition from large to small. It’s really two stories. One being the exciting notion of coming to terms with being small, and facing new dangers and difficult obstacles. The other is the declining of his self and manhood. A vanishing of everything that made our protagonist Scott Corey the modern man, slowly shrinking. This being his life as a husband, a worker, a social figure. All slowly driving him to the sad problem of isolation. It’s slow and would be depressing it wasn’t for its presentation in art.

And it’s compelling. Especially, the coming to terms with his wife. They try, but our protagonist has troubles coming dealing with intimacy and the losing of his own power as a man. The wife tries, but we see his self-worth as a husband decline along with his size. 

Photo Aug 03, 7 51 32 AM

Eventually, we know the loneliness is coming for poor Scott. Much of the book we see a different side of him coming to terms with that, taking on a more survivalist attitude. He talks with himself, cracks occasional jokes, thinks himself out of difficult situations. As he lives on, he has a drive to survive. There is a wonderfulness to it all, as we see a sort new character built from the old..a mighty man from within..so far. 

Along with that, the art truly shines. The sequences flow smoothly, and panel transitions heighten the mood of the story, whether here is action, drama, or suspense. The colors are also mood-setting.  The combined sequences becomes a story of angles and different scales as the readers adjust to new environmental perspectives and feel the situations our protagonist endures. I enjoy this.

Photo Aug 03, 7 51 27 AM

The end, or cliffhanger is a bit different with a bit of madness on the absurdity of the situation…all with a bit of humor. Scott has come to a point where he can perhaps deal with his unusual situation, or has he? What comes next, I am anxious as I am tempted to now read the original book.

But for now, I will just wait for that next issue..

– Orion T

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW – Paul Cornell, Tony Parker – THIS DAMNED BAND comic series

STRANGER WORLDS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:

Writer Paul Cornell and Artist Tony Parker, on their new comic book mini-series, This Damned Band (starting this August from Dark Horse Comics).

Tony Parker, Paul Cornell

Photo Jul 29, 5 57 35 PM

(Tony Parker, Paul Cornell)

We had fun at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con in chatting with Paul Cornell; award-winning writer of comics, novels, short stories and television screenplays (his Doctor Who episodes “Family of Blood/Human Nature” and “Father’s Day” being among my personal favorites).

To my surprise and an awesome bonus, we were joined by Eisner-nominated artist, Tony Parker. Parker has published work with pretty much all the main comic book publishers over the recent years including Marvel, DC, IDW, Image, IDW, Boom!, Dark Horse.

And now, they unite to form this dark comedy mini-series published by Dark Horse, This Damned Band – a tale of rock n’ roll and occult devilry. In person at the Dark Horse booth, they shares with us more on this project of which we asked questions and got some intriguing answers…

From your own introductory perspective, share with us what your new series This Damned Band is all about..

Paul Cornell: This Damned Band is about the biggest rock band in 1974. We like to say in a pretentious British way that they worship the devil only to discover that to their surprise and horror that actually, they worship the devil. It’s a Ghostbusters style horror comedy. It’s told straight to camera like The Office. There are all sorts of different levels to it, as we have people saying one thing and doing another.

Interesting. How did this idea come together for Dark Horse to publish? 

Paul Cornell:  We came together as I pitched it to Dark Horse, and they gave me a choice of artists. Tony’s work is incredible,

Tony Parker: I was very lucky.

What were your personal inspirations in bringing together This Damned Band?

Paul Cornell:  I really like stories where people are very good at one thing, and blindsided by something completely different. Because in this case, they are insisting all the time they know all about better the thing…there is a certain deliciousness to that, I think..

The timing of the early 70s, where the idea of rock music being fresh is an interesting era and a turning point for pop-culture. Then along comes the devil and the idea of this being his music by some religious groups? What was it for these bands, do you think made this connection  as “devil music”?

Paul Cornell:  Well, there was a point in the 70s where occultism is much more pop than it is now and it’s a really interesting time. Dennis Wheatley is suddenly becoming popular again even before the Exorcist, and the Stones recording, “Sympathy for the Devil.” I think there is a part of the counter-culture also seemed to be against organized religion. And that went quite a lot into what a lot of musicians talked about at the time. I’m sure a lot of it was sheer pretense, and that really intrigues me. I think there is something about people pretending to believe stuff which is really interesting.

Tony Parker:  That combined with conservatives saying “that’s devil music!” Okay for devil music we will bring it, in fact well make money off it. So with a big counter-culture, we get all the teen money, therefore it adds into it.

Did either of you listen to any music that were frowned upon by the elders, considered perhaps to be that “devil music?”

Tony Parker:  All music of the youth..that’s one thing about it.

Paul Cornell: That’s what music is for when your 14. But you know, I’m slightly the wrong generation for that, as I was born in 1967..so I was out of my age precisely for the teenage audience, so I missed. But one of my earliest memories is with my brother who is a lot older than me who lived in a squat in London, and I remember going down a flight of stairs and seeing a mural painted on the wall of a cellar which was an enormous devil. I suspect that buried memory has resurfaced for This Damned Band.

I would love to see that turn up somehow in this book, perhaps.

Tony Parker: We shall find out.

Tony Parker: For me ..I lived in a very conservative area so that was anything that wasn’t soft mellow 70s gold. Even though that wasn’t the 70s, it was after the 70s so that was still the devil music. In the 80s and 90s, we had the metal bands, the hair bands, thrash bands, punk bands were all. The only thing that isn’t, (and I love Barry Manilow) that wasn’t Barry Manilow was a tool of the devil.

With your fictional band, Motherfather.. I’m sensing an amalgam of different bands here and there but are there any in particular pop bands for you that eclipsed the others in the bringing to fictional life, this band?

Paul Cornell:  I think there is satire and certain tropes that recur, so in Motherfather we certainly have the Who, the Stones, Led Zeppelin in there..certainly lead as Tony draws them to be absolutely perfect amalgam of them.,, Robert Palmer, Roger Daltrey and Mick Jagger…

Photo Aug 01, 6 48 52 PM

Tony Parker: And that’s why we did it..part of it was because I wanted to people think..I really love Mick Jagger or I really hate  Mick Jagger..so that’s going to affect the story..with more nuances of its got hints of this, or that as a measure of tropes a bit and play with that so they can enjoy the concepts of the character versus the logging in of the specific creator.

As the series progresses, what can us readers expect to absorb of this strange world of occultism and rock music?

Paul Cornell:  One of the joys of this is because it’s all meant to be filmed, there are certain sequences where they couldn’t film it.. So like the road trip in the first issue is related to a local artist who than has to draw it..like when a court reporter has to draw for television on the news. So in Issue 1, the local artist is Japanese..so Tony had the idea of doing it in a manga style.

Tony Parker: Which I never drawn manga before..but I love manga. I am a huge Otomo fan and Matsumoto Shiro, and we are trying to find a manga style that was 1972, 73,74 so that we can fit into that as well..and treat it with respect.

Paul Cornell:  In later issues we go to France so we get some Tintin, and some Windsor McCay in there..

In your plans, is This Damned Band a limited series or are there plans for a continuation for years ahead?  

Tony Parker: It’s a finite series,  and a complete story. I think a lot of people will appreciate that. It’s not a volume 1, with a trailer for 500 issues. You have the whole thing alone which you can enjoy by itself.

After this, are there any future projects to your fans and followers of this work to look forward to?

Paul Cornell:  Coming up in September..I have a novella coming up from Tor.com called called Witches of Lychford, which is about 3 women who are brought together to fight the supernatural evil of a new supermarket chain.

What?! (laughing with interest)

Paul Cornell:  And, I got a collection of short stories coming out in September called A Better Way to Die.

Tony Parker: I can’t say right now but I got a project set up right after this..but I got to say, its got a long history to it..and I’m real excited about it!

My curiosity senses are tingling. I look forward to all that and This Damned Band. Thanks for sharing! 

This first issue of This Damned Band is scheduled to come out on August 5th, 2015 and continue monthly for a limited time. Look for it at all the great comic book shops, stands, and digital apps that carry current Dark Horse published titles.

– Orion T

Photo Aug 01, 6 49 20 PM

Comic Reading Review: Star Wars: Lando #1

 

Lando #1

  • Writer: Charles Soule
  • Artist: Alex Maleev
  • Published by: Marvel Comics
  • Publish Date: July 8, 2015
  • Notes: The first in a monthly series,

Synopsis:

“You know him, you love him…now, join him for his biggest caper as master of charm Lando Calrissian gets his very own comic book! Before he joined the rebellion, before he ran Cloud City, Lando made his way in the galaxy getting by on some swindles, some swagger, and a smile. Lobot at his side, Lando has a plan to steal a very valuable ship, but has he bitten off more than he can chew? Writer Charles Soule (Death of Wolverine, Inhuman, She-Hulk) and artist Alex Maleev (Daredevil, Spider-Woman, Moon Knight) bring us the tale of a scoundrel in his natural element-trouble!.”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

“Hello, what have we here?”

A new comic series for Lando Calrissian has arrived, and it’s about damn time.

I say this not so much about Lando being one of the many staples of Star Wars pop-culture, but for something fresh and different in our intergalactic male-protagonists out there. We got enough of the usual stereotype of mercenaries, soldiers, ex-soldiers, space-wizards, etc. shooting and swinging around. The galactic storytelling frontier needs more scoundrels, tricksters, persons looking to beat the system not through guns and laser swords but with brains and style.

What I like about Lando here, is him as not necessarily the hero type. There is one inside of him, as he has a conscious and a drive to not see others suffer as a result of his actions. But, he is still a man who seeks a better way in taking chances by climbing the social ladders, making deals, paling with Sith Lords. He does not always win. After all, movie fans know he lost his Millennium Falcon, Cloud City, and probably more. But, they know he gains from it too, with Rebellion glory a bit later.

The comic starts fresh, reintroducing his character through an intimate moment, as Lando explains his true intentions to a high-ranking Imperial woman. Rather than simply steal an item or go off running, he feels the need to explain himself to a woman who may have felt more for him than realized. There is an odd sort of fairness to make things right, but also take a gamble in that. Is there more to this moment? Perhaps there is more, as that scene cuts off to the main story of the issue.

Photo Jul 30, 5 34 10 PM

Throughout the book, we get more of this side of Lando; man driven to succeed and looking for himself. Yet, there are consequences, as Lando strives for balance in his lifestyle, as he looks to the present future one day at a time. The fun for us, is this crazy setting of a galaxy under tyrannical rule which establishes a sense of order but still allows for organized crime to continue. If someone is going to get hurt from one’s success, we hope it’s the right people.

But unlike Lando’s comic version from film, we have a nearly different character in Lobot, the headplant wearing man who we met briefly in The Empire Strikes Back. From there, we see only a man who takes orders and mute, almost robotic . Here, we have something far more human and sentient, with opinions and a little dry wit. Lobot is now a fellow comrade with a more fleshed out relateable every-man to his demeanor. A bro, perhaps.

The overall story is nothing major or on the epic scale just yet. However, we do get some interesting moments, as Lando puts himself in constant danger. He sort of welcomes it, and takes chances. To put the odds in his favor, he uses words and takes on ideas. This leads to some unwanted attention at the very top of the Imperial order, as revealed at the end.

Photo Jul 30, 5 33 19 PM

The pencils, inks,and colors are fantastic, for this type of storytelling. a galaxy under Imperial rule can be cold, unforgiving. So, we have a lot of darkness and dirty colors. Yet the settings of fantastic, otherworldly architecture and vehicles are all over, reminding of the grandness of the Star Wars universe..perfect for venturous gambler and scoundrel types.

So, I think this is a great opening issue to an intriguing character. But, hard to foresee if this series will be powerful or lacking. It has a lot of potential, with a fantastic character to explore for our Star Wars fans and casual science fiction lovers. That’s enough for me..

– Orion T