The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks:I first picked up Hicks' work when I stumbled across a copy of Zombie Calling at my local comic book store. The cover featured a teenage girl in a Union Jack T-shirt impaling a zombie with a spork! I had to have it.
Such is Hicks' style, and I like it. This book's a little different, as it follows a scholarship student's first year at a posh, all-girls boarding school. And while it might sound like "chick-lit" (and, yeah, it kind of is), I have to say something I really appreciate about her work. Hicks can actually write. In an industry where an increasing emphasis is placed on drawing super-realistic biceps and disproportionate breast to hip ratios, I just love a good story with good characters. And Hicks accomplishes that.
Of course, her art isn't bad either. I really like her quirky style, and it's definitely unique (something else increasingly difficult to find in this industry). But for me, Hicks' genius lies in being able to just tell a good story.
Michael Turner's Executive Assistant: Iris #0:
I first read about this comic in Aspen Comics' seasonal sampler from last year's Free Comic Book Day. At first, all of the titles seemed like your run-off-the-mill comics starring scantily
clad female protagonists for teenage boys. Imagine my surprise shortly thereafter to find out that the comics' readership was mostly teenage girls!
So I gave some of the titles another look, and this one looked promising--different from the usual fantasy/romance titles of the publisher's late creator--Michael Turner. The story here follows an "executive assistant" named Iris who works for a rich and powerful Japanese CEO. Trained from a young age (in the similar style of traditional geisha) in etiquette, secretarial duties, as well as martial arts, combat skills, and *ahem* romantic servitude. Now, while the series is undoubtedly also aimed at teenage boys, it also seems it might touch on the subject of childhood slavery. With the series' creator having passed on, however, it's likely the series may not maintain what might have been the original message.
Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
Probably one of the best offering's this year was free copy of the first issue of the originalTMNT comic to celebrate its 25th anniversary. Despite my love for the cartoon and movies as a kid, I'd never read their original incarnation. It's interesting that the book is dedicated to Jack Kirby and Frank Miller, seeing as the TV shows were so kid-friendly. But I can definitely see Miller's influence--this comic is incredibly violent. The turtles get beat up, kill members of the Foot Clan, and sort of dishonorably gang up on and kill the Shredder.
That said, I loved this comic, and plan on looking for the upcoming first volume of the collected series. The art is amazing, and the more accurate depiction of the way of the ninja, while kinda dark, is really cool when juxtaposed to 20th century American lifestyles. I will say one thing: it's interesting to see how the addition of pizza and toned down violence can take a mature comic and turn it into a children's phenomenon.
A missed an issue in this series, but that doesn't upset me. It means it's garnering attention, which makes me happy. I've often said this series has tons of potential. And while the last couple of issues seemed to be getting too cliché (a little bit is okay for a long standing myth like this one), this one's getting the coolness back on track. One of Zorro's nemesis has donned a similar cape and mask in hopes of tarnishing The Fox's good name! I still have hopes for this series.
B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #4:
I've not made been terribly impressed with Mike Mignola's spin-off series. But this mini-series has grown on me. Huge battles reminiscent of epic games of Heroscape; a seemingly evil antagonist trying to save the world; and a hero dancing the line of the dark side. Yeah, it sounds silly (and it really is) but Mignola makes it cool.
The Umbrella Academy: Dallas #2:
I'm still not sure what to think of this series. It's interesting in the way that Law & Order: SVU is (which I watched for the first time ever this week just because it was on and sucked me in). But just like I don't plan on watching LOSVU regularly, I'm not sure I'll keep reading this comic. It's not that it's bad--the art and story are very unique--but it just doesn't seem worth my time for some reason. Then again, I just like supporting Dark Horse Comics!
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #5:
The Wizard of Oz is a prick. I'm sure of it. I've never read the book, but the character here is clearly aware that Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Woodsman, and the Scarecrow are already in possession of the things they want. But instead of pointing that out to them, he sends them on a deadly journey! What a jerk! Now, I'm all for teaching people how to do things for themselves, but this seems sorta like teaching a kid not to put a fork in a light-socket by letting him do it.
Now, granted, their dangerous journey is really cool with fantastic use of fairy tale elements. A dark castle? Check. Evil witch? Check. She controls evil animals sent to kill the heroes? Check. A little girl with unspeakable power forced into her servitude? Check. Witch beaten at her own game? Check. I'm starting to like this series...finally.
Love and Rockets: New Stores by the Hernandez Brothers:
I've been reading really good things about this series for a really long time. But it's hard to just jump into a running series, and perhaps this issue wasn't the place for me to do that...because it's really weird, even for me. Four separate stories follow a jilted lover/failed actress, a team of female superheroes trying to accomplish who knows what, a little girl who follows a little robot into a parallel dimension only to be forever marooned on a strange planet, and a couple of super fast children thieves snatching things all over town. Yeah...weird...