Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Comic Reccomendations

So I've been completely failing at writing one of these every Thursday but I'll fix that. Promise. Basically what I want to do is get a comic review post up every thursday covering what I've read from that Wednesday... sort of a "if you missed it, you should be reading this (or not)" post.

For right now, I'll just cover what's been really standing out for me lately:

From Wildstorm: NORTH 40 #'s 1 & 2

Issue #2 just came out and I simply cannot praise this comic enough. It even has an endorsement by one of my favorite horror writers of all time, Steve Niles (30 Days of Night from IDW & the Cal McDonald mysteries over at Dark Horse). The comic is above and beyond from start to finish.

It's written by Aaron Williams with OUTSTANDING art by Fiona Staple. The story (which has some great Lovecraftian elements without being obnoxious about it) centers on a group of people in a small town who seem either immune or empowered after an incantation is read from a very creepy looking book that was previously buried in some archive. Most of the town is very very negatively affected by this incantation and the exact purpose of these changes has yet to be explained or even alluded to. Safe to say, its bad news all around for the town. I can't and won't get into just how weird these changes are because I'd hate to deprive you the "OMFG!" moments I've had at least twice per issue so far. It also has a good sense of humor without being campy.

The characters' dialogue is fantastic, splattered with bits of local country slang and phrasings. There are more modern folk, complete bumpkins and everything in between. I'm sure this will get optioned for a film sooner or later, work this good (and work far LESS good) usually does. But honestly, do not wait for the film. Go grab this right now. If you're shop doesn't have it, order it. Its so very very worth it.

From Darkhorse: BPRD 1947 #1

I'll admit I've fallen off the BPRD/Hellboy train the last couple years and I'll also admit I view this as a mistake. The last BPRD series I read involved the return of the "frogs" from the original Hellboy story arc and the "death" of Roger. I'll be remedying this as soon as I can get the extra paper for it.

So I was lucky enough to find that a new story arc has just started called BPRD 1947. Just like the title implies, the book is about the BPRD back in... 1947. Which allows Mignola the opportunity to flesh out the origins of the organization, get Broom some more page time and have little cameos of a young Hellboy. Only the first issue has come out so far but its off to a very promising start. Broom has just recruited some new military operatives fresh out of WW2, there's a train car full of brutally murdered Nazi troops, a creepy Russian paranormal being who chooses to appear as a little girl and mention of an ancient Count that escaped Broom in the first 40's era BPRD story arc (which I'll also be grabbing the trade of).

Mignola's writing is always a worthwhile read. Its full of classic horror elements, well thought out and maintained characters, and more mythology history than an entire college course. The man knows his mythology. He loves it, he clearly gets it and most importantly, he knows how to turn it into a great story that doesn't ever resort to the cheesy elements most horror films end up being these days (even the Hellboy films, though still enjoyable as their own entity, suffered a bit from that sadly). The art in the book is split between Gabriel Ba (Umbrella Academy) and Fabio Moon (who is new to me, but I like him already). I find it kind of funny that Gabriel Ba is working on a Hellboy book after Tess showed me Umbrella Academy (which she picked up through her My Chemical Romance fandom of Gerard Way) and my main comment was, that guy wants to be Mike Mignola BAD. So Ba's probably pretty happy to be working on BPRD. Now that Mignola is so busy writing nearly four books a month, he only has time to do covers so I totally welcome Ba's Mignola inspired aesthetic. Pick it up if you want some interesting and quirky horror along with some crisp art and Mignola's great writing. And you know you do!

from BOOM! Studios: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Yes, a comic adaptation of THE 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' novel by prolific (to say the least) science fiction author Phillip K. Dick. Just to get some background for anyone new to the work, 'Electric Sheep' is the inspiration for the film Blade Runner. Blade Runner is an amazing film on so many levels, arguably the greatest science fiction film of all time, but at the same time, its only a scratch on the surface of the book. To faithfully adapt the book, you'd need three films just to cover it all. Phillip K. Dick was an interesting man... getting into just how interesting would require an entire entry unto itself. I hate to just skim over his life and do him a disservice in not fully articulating who the man really was.

The comic luckily has a great background piece at the end of the first issue written by the most perfect choice from the world of comics I could ever name to write such a piece: Warren Ellis. That alone is worth buying the issue. Each issue is WORD FOR WORD from the book. All the narration, dialogue, EVERYTHING. It will be 24 monthly issues and each issue will have some interesting background pieces in the back written by important creators commentating on Phillip K. Dick's work and the man himself.

So obviously, the book is written well. The art... I hate to rip on it because its clearly functional art. Its not gonna blow you away or alter the comic medium forever like a Jim Lee, Ashley Wood or Frank Quietly. Normally I'd be a little dismissive towards art of this nature but honestly, for a work as dense as 'Electric Sheep', its fitting. It tells the story, its capable art with nothing inherently wrong with it. Some of the spreads really do look quite good. For anyone who's read Vertigo, its a bit in that realm. Not good, not bad, it gets the story told without being distracting at either end of the spectrum. The fact that it doesn't take from the text but rather helps to clarify it is a perfect fit honestly.

For anyone who's never read 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' I can't tell you enough times how much you should read this. The comic pages will help to clarify and keep the reader up to speed without so much, "wait...what?" that can happen when reading Dick's work. If you have read the book, this is such a fun way to re-experience it.

Phillip K. Dick is probably my favorite science fiction author of all time (along with Robert Heinlein, William Gibson and Jack Williamson). The man's vision is seriously unparalleled. And for someone with such an... outsider's perspective, Dick's work seems more and more grounded in reality with each passing year. So please read this. Seriously. I said please. Read it already!

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