bloodviolet

Constantine: The Hellblazer Vol. 1: Going Down (John Constantine, Hellblazer) - Riley Rossmo, Ming Doyle


Constantine: The Hellblazer Vol. 1: Going Down
by Ming Doyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Constantine's new solo book and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the story. It has a nice mix of what Constantine's up to in the present day and flashbacks that explain some of what has shaped the character. Most of this book is really about John's relationships. He seems to be pretty lonely in a lot of respects; like he uses snark to hide behind. He's sort of a jerk. He chain smokes. He has promiscuous sex with otherworldly entities.

In the past we find out that John's first love was a girl he knew named Veronica Delacroix; and we get to see how that ended. In the present day he meets a guy named Oliver who owns a restaurant. It's pretty clear that John is interested in hooking up with Oliver. I was not previously aware that John Constantine was a bisexual character. Apparently this was revealed in an older storyline that I'd never heard about until I looked it up after reading this. It made me want to pick up some older trades and find out more about the character. It will be interesting to see how it continues in the next volume, even though there's a solid conclusion for the supernatural story that these events unfold around.

The whole book has great flow. I wasn't crazy about the art but it's ok. I liked the look of John back in his rock star days the best.

Extended review with pictures:

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I received an advance reader's copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for feedback and a review.

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I have this little program called ComiPo and I thought it might be fun to make little web comics for my blog.  Here’s my first attempt

Starve: Volume 1 - Danijel Žeželj, Dave Stewart, Brian Wood

Starve is one of the most unique books I've read recently. It's listed as being dystopian horror; but I didn't find the story to be particularly horrific. It probably does have a certain ick factor for those who are squeamish about animal slaughter. So I guess it's maybe horrific to vegetarians?

Set sometime in the not too distant future the book is about an uber famous chief named Gavin Cruikshank. Apparently at the cusp of his career and in the middle of taping his TV show STARVE, he decides to come out to his wife of like 20 years that he's gay and then takes off halfway around the globe. Years pass and he's living a sort of skeevy life of drug and alcohol addiction when the network finally catches up to him and he's told he has to finish taping the season of STARVE he ran away from. So, Chief Gavin is forced to go back and face the wife and daughter he abandoned; and he also has to deal with the fact that his foodie television program has morphed into a exabitionist, over the top arena show for the super-rich.

Some of the things that go on on the TV show are just nutty. It really reminds me of the type of plots you sometimes see in Japanese manga. I'm trying to come up with a good way to describe it but it's like it takes these mundane events to abnormal extremes. There are weird obsessions and high drama... I really actually thought the story was pretty compelling.

I just can't say that I'm liking the art too much paired with this story. It's very dark and stylised with extremely limited color pallets throughout. The kind of art that pairs best with crime noir and horror comics. I don't hate the art, I just didn't think it suited the story well. Maybe if the book had more horror elements in it? Or if the faces were drawn more expressive?

Extended Review with Pictures:

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I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley's Read It Now program in exchange for feedback and a review.

Grayson Vol. 2 (The New 52) (Grayson (the New 52)) - Mikel Janin, Tom King, Tim Seeley

I have so much love for this volume of Grayson. I was a bit neutral on the first volume but I've really warmed up to the storyline and have gotten totally into it. I think I just needed a little time to adjust my mindset to this new take on the character. The story is exciting and fun. I didn't even put it down, I just read it straight through. Volume 2 reprints GRAYSON #5-9, and GRAYSON ANNUAL #1.

The title of this volume is We All Die At Dawn, and pays homage to the classic Batman story Robin Dies At Dawn, originally published in Batman #156. This story is actually referenced in the first part of the book as Grayson recounts the events from his point of view. That issue of Batman is reprinted in Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told [ISBN# 978-0446391238] if you would like to track down the source material.

This story picks up where the first volume left off and continues the macabre organ hunt across the desert. Midnighter features prominently in these stories as well and there are some fun interactions between Dick and he. I know that Dick actually appears in the Midnighter series as well but that volume isn't available yet so I'm not sure how interwoven those stories are, or if they even have anything to do with each other. Good to know though if you like this one.

The second part that takes place in Ireland, and I enjoyed the storytelling style that was implemented. I really thought it was fun. Tom King certainly depicted a version of Grayson that I felt was particularly keeping with his long and varied history. I was actually reminded of the often maligned and underappreciated Devin Grayson run on Gotham Knights and Nightwing. Mostly for the ambiguous sexuality that she sort of played on in her run.

The last part of the graphic novel seems to be setting up a new story arc. We also get to see the girls from the academy again.

And of course this volume also has great art in it. I especially enjoy the spiral motifs used some places, that give it that funky retro vibe. So when is volume three coming out anyway? I'm ready for it now!

Extended Review With Pictures:

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I received an advance reader's copy of this book through NetGalley's read and review program; but I'll be buying a copy of this one to keep ASAP.

Jupiter's Circle, Vol. 1 - Wilfredo Torres, Frank Quitely, Mark Millar

Even when I know that I've hated other works by an author there's always the hope when I read a new graphic novel that I'll just love this one. Maybe this story will be something I like. That didn't happen here, and maybe I should have know better from the get go.

Mark Millar appears to have only one character archetype in his arsenal and that type is douchebag. This has got to be one of the most banal comics I've ever stumbled across. No mystery, no action, no heroes, and apparently no overarching plot. If there is any theme to be plucked out of this I guess it's the exploration of people who weren't conforming to mid century social values.

I dislike Mark Millar's use of actual people in this story. He takes every opportunity to present everyone in the worst possible light. It annoys me. Is it so hard to make up your own characters for these roles?

Extended Review with Pictures:

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Jupiter's Circle is a prequel to another book called Jupiter's Legacy. I got this book from the Humble Comics Bundle Image Featuring Creators Own Worlds. I've given it two stars primarily for the art and character designs that I liked.

Kaptara Volume 1  - Kagan McLeod, Chip Zdarsky
What did I just read? Uck. I didn't like this. The description of this book said:

"Keith Kanga crash lands on KAPTARA, a world filled with danger and weird danger and dangerous weirdos! And if he can't survive, then Earth, the place where YOU live, is doomed! Come check out this sci-fi comedy from Chip Zdarsky (SEX CRIMINALS) and Kagan McLeod (Infinite Kung-Fu). Collects KAPTARA #1-5."

I'm not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't this 1984-Saturday-Morning-Cartoons-on-Crack-Pink-and-Purple-Furies-Abound-Story. I don't really know what else to call it, but mostly it reminds me of like a really crappy version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

And I didn't find it funny. I didn't even smile once. I'm sure that my overall expression was one of distaste. In the end I guess I'll just say that this is just not my thing.

Extended Review with Pictures:

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I obtained this book through NetGalley's Read It Now program at first but I also own a digital copy that was included in Humble Comics Bundle Image Featuring Creators Own Worlds.
 
 
 

 

The Flash Vol. 7 (The New 52) - Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth

The Flash, Vol. 7 is titled Savage World, and it's a reference to the savage land of the speed force. A place populated with dinosaurs, robots, and strange jungle like vegetation. It is a place where lost souls throughout time have fallen into and desperately try to survive amongst the dangerous environment. This is the place where a powless Barry Allen finds himself at the beginning of our tale.

Meanwhile Barry's life has been usurped by a bitter and more angry future version of himself wearing a blue costume. Armed with future knowledge; what will he be willing to do to stop events from happening as they did in his past? Will the Barry trapped in the Savage World be able to regain his powers and get home? And what repercussions will future Barry's actions have on the present?

Savage World delivers a larger than life adventure story reminiscent of Journey to the Center of the Earth while simultaneously exploring the philosophical question if you could go back in time would you kill a killer before he commits his crime?

Artistically I find next to nothing to complain about except a few slight inconsistencies in facial shape; and one or two page layouts where I think a heavier outline would have given better definition to the layered panels. Other than that this the artwork is synonymous with the high caliber, dynamic art I usually associate with DC comics.

Extended Review with pictures:

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I received an advance reader's copy of this graphic novel through NetGalley's read and review program.

Private Eye Deluxe Edition (The Private Eye) - Brian K. Vaughan

I have some mixed thoughts about this book. On one hand if I was judging this based on some of the sentiments expressed within it I would probably just one star it. It’s mainly the barrage on anti-internet propaganda speech that I found annoying and preachy sounding. I’m considering if it’s intended to be satire, but I just can’t tell. It’s ambiguity and thinking too hard about it made me grumpy. On the other hand the pacing is good, the art sort of grew on me, and otherwise the technical aspects are fairly well done. It’s just the subject matter that I couldn’t entirely get down with.

There is a fair amount of profanity and adult content, but I didn’t feel that it derailed the story. I would consider this one inappropriate for children.

I suppose you could consider this a dystopia; the whole premise of the story is that at some point in the future. The digital "Cloud" bursts and all of society's dirty little secrets come pouring out. What follows is apparently the rise of the tin foil hat society. Oh, the horror! The humanity! Everyone's life is ruined! The internet is EVIL, therefore we must ban it all! We must protect our privacy at all costs. Now we will all wear costumes and create alias to hide behind. It's ridiculous reactionary nonsense, so it's kind of hard for me to get into.

I sort of had to shove logic into the ether and concentrate on the futuristic crime noir aspects. This is the portion of the story that worked for me. A beautiful woman walks into a P.l.'s office. She has a job for him. He reluctantly takes the job but no sooner than he's started she ends up dead. What has the dead woman gotten him into? It has a few nice twists and turns as the P.I. is blackmailed by his client's sister into investigating her death.

A few notes about the artwork. First off they used a wide format for it. It's nice for digital reading but I have no idea how it translated into printed form because of that. Most of the comic is bright, and some of the color combinations took some getting used to. I noted a fair amount of undetailed backgrounds. I didn't like the art at first but warmed up to it... it's hard to describe really. Somewhat cartoony? Slightly cute? I think it works with the story.

Extended Review with Pictures:

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I selected this book from NetGalley's Read It Now program in exchange for feedback and a review.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 7 (The New 52) - Brian Buccellato, Benjamin Percy, Francis Manapul, Francis Manapul

Four stories are collected in this volume.

DETECTIVE COMICS #35-36 is a two part story called Terminal. I like this story the best of those in this book. It takes place in the Gotham Airport Terminal as a terrorist unleashes a biological weapon and the whole place is put on lockdown. The art in this story is dark, grim, and depressing looking; it really lends itself well to the story being told and adds to the atmosphere. My favorite character Dick Grayson also has a part in this too, as he helps Batman from afar. It could have almost have taken place at any point in Batman history.

DETECTIVE COMICS #37-40 reprints the main story called Anarky. It has phonalmal art attached to it and really dynamic layouts. The beginning of this story was very interesting and started out with Batman fighting the Mad Hatter, where he discovers the remains of a bunch of young children. Now what does the Mad Hatter have to do with Anarky you might be asking yourself, well I was anyway. That's pretty much what this story is about. I thought this story was good but it did lack a little in the suspense department for me. Lonnie Machin aka Moneyspider is in this, as well as Harvey Bullock and his current partner.

DETECTIVE COMICS: ENDGAME #1 -- This is the weakest part of the collection. It features Lonnie Machin aka Moneyspider, the kid that was in the Anarky story and a bunch of cameo appearances by different Batman Family members. I'm not even sure what this is the endgame for. Except that a bunch of people have been infected with Joker gas and Lonnie is trying to get across the city to his mother. It's an ok, but absolutely skippable story.

AND DETECTIVE COMICS: FUTURES END #1 -- Another of these time skip forward stories with future Batman teaming up with the Riddler to go up against Calander Man. The end of this was sort of evil and I admit I laughed.

Extended Review with Pictures:

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I received this graphic novel through NetGalley's Read and Review Program.

Danger Club Volume 1: Death - Landry Q. Walker

I'm a little confused about the writer's vision to be honest. What were they going for? Parody? Mashup? A study in archetypes? I'm not really sure but I've been left with the lingering feeling that I've already read this book somewhere before. Obviously I haven't but it just feels like that. Because the vision isn't obvious it feels unoriginal. Many of the sidekicks are like more depressing junior versions of well known characters across many different comic companies.

I'm not sure if Danger Club is an ongoing or a limited series. Only issues #1-4 were included in this collection. I would kind of like to read the next volume and see where it goes. I really can't decide whether this was any good or not.

I liked the art alright but most of the story is depictions of fight scenes, explosions and acts of violence making it all feel extremely short. I mean yes occasionally we want a nice large detailed splash page but those should be impactful and used to accentuate the story. There’s too much wasted space in this book that could have been used for character development and world building.

Extended review with pictures:

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I chose this title from NetGalley's Read It Now selections in exchange for feedback and a review.
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Zeroes - Scott Westerfeld, Deborah Biancotti, Margo Lanagan

Well. I can see why the book is called Zeroes. This has some moments of brilliance but there are a lot of problematic parts too. The story starts out in a very compelling way and gets right into the action. We are quickly thrown from one outrageous event to another as things spiral out of control for Ethan after he uses his power to try to get a ride home one night, and becomes embroiled with the local mafia.

The first thing is that the characters are generally a bunch of immature, whiny, shallow, unlikable brats. Ok, they are young so I give them some leeway with that in the beginning. However, there is the expectation that they would have a bit of emotional growth by the end of the book but I just didn't see that in the story and for me, that's a problem.

There are six main characters in the story and the narration is broken up between all of them. There are three girls and three guys. My general impressions of them are as follows:

Ethan aka Scam - To me he is the most likeable character and the easiest to relate to. He lacks forethought, he doesn't consider the consequences of his actions. He's the only character who really tries to help anyone else without thinking about what he's going to get out of it. He's also the scapegoat of the other characters and they blame him for everything. He has by far has the coolest power of the group. A seemingly omnipotent voice that knows all sorts of things it should rightly have no way of knowing.

Chizara aka Crash - She's self righteous and has a I'm-better-than-you attitude about everything. There's a very snotty feeling about her, even when she's "helping" she's really just getting off on her own little power trips while looking down her nose at the other characters. I found the descriptions of how her power over high tech works to be exceptionally boring.

Riley aka Flicker - A blind girl with the power to see through other people's eyes. She has a twin sister and is seeing a therapist for some vague reason. She's sort of obsessively stalking Thibault, and I feel like getting close to him is the only reason she involves herself in the story.

Thibault aka Anonymous - He's sort of pitiable. His power makes other people forget about him, even his own family. I don't really understand why he's hanging around the others. Loneliness, I guess? The romance between him and Riley feels super contrived as a plot device.

Nate aka Bellwether - The one who they call Glorious Leader... yeah. He's an obnoxious little dictator with visions of grandeur. He has the power to compel people to follow him. A very rapey power if you ask me.

Kelsie aka Mob - Has the power to influence the emotions of large groups of people. Introduced as sort of the ultimate party girl.

Call it dangling plot threads or major plot holes; but the story feels largely unsatisfying. We are given no explanation whatsoever about how the Zeroes got their powers. Parts of the story are repeatedly referenced but never detailed. Romance themes are thrown in like an afterthought and add nothing to the story. I just don't think it holds up too well on it's own. Maybe it will be better as a set but for that we'll have to wait awhile and see.

Batman/Superman Vol. 4 - Ardian Syaf, Greg Pak


Batman/Superman, Vol. 4: Siege
by Greg Pak

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

Just in time for Christmas! Batman/Superman, Vol. 4: Siege written by Greg Pak and illustrated by Ardian Syaf; collects BATMAN/SUPERMAN #16-20, Superman/Batman Annual #2, and BATMAN/SUPERMAN Futures End #1.

 

I hugely enjoyed the first part of this book BATMAN/SUPERMAN #16-20; the story starts out as sort of a murder mystery as someone is attacking friends and acquaintances of Superman with some sort of super long range sniper shots. As Batman and Superman start to investigate, Batman likens the unknown assailant to the Joker, because of the unpredictability and cruelty of the attacks. It isn’t long into the investigation before the story takes a crazy turn that had me rubbing my hands together in glee! Tons of great interaction between Batman and Superman in this volume. Supergirl and Lois Lane also feature in this story.

 

After the main story you have Superman/Batman Annual #2. This is sort of a fall out issue that comes out of the main story. I really can’t say too much about that without spoiling the book but it was a little confusing at first. It’s really not implicitly stated anywhere why the events are happening and who’s causing it but I inferred it from the shape of the word balloons that it’s the same villain as in the first story. It also sort of leaves off in a weird way and I’m not sure if the next issues will pick up at that point or if that was just the end of it. While pretty good it’s probably still the weakest part of the book because it sorta feels like a filler issue.

 

The last part in the collection is BATMAN/SUPERMAN Futures End #1; which is a time skip several years into the future that shows a world seemingly abandoned by Superman. Batman has damaged his spine and is fighting in a battle suit. It’s a dark and pessimistic story that’s quite a downer after the fun and excitement of the main story.

 

I have no complaints about any of the art in this volume. The layouts are varied, dynamic, and easy to follow. I love the varied color pallets and detailed background work. First class art all the way.

 

Batman and Superman investigating the killer.

 

FromScanner

 

I too wish to have a tiny city in glass of my very own...  do you think they sell a snowglobe of that?  If not they should.

 

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From the beginning of the annual,  really liking the art here.

 

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From the Future's End issue, Batman, being Batman.

 

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From the Future's End issue...

 

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I received an advance reader’s copy of this book via NetGalley's read and review program.

 

View all my reviews

Goodreads Superheroes and Comic Book Club

Hey, I wanted to do a little shout out to those of you who might also be on goodreads, I'm one the mods of the Superheroes and Comic Book Club on there and we are starting to gear up for 2016.

 

The primary focus of our group is superhero prose fiction and nonfiction books about the comic industry but this year we've decided to branch out to graphic novels too.  

 

I'll be leading the graphic novel reads for the year and we are taking nominations now for our first graphic novel here.

 

Anyway, the group is a great resource for anyone who is interested in our little niche hobby.  I would guess there are less than 100 books published a year in this genre, and sometimes they can be sort of hard to find out about. 

 

So, come by and join us if you have any interest, we pretty much discuss anything relating to superheroes in the group and it's a pretty easygoing crowd.

Sons of the Devil Volume 1 (Sons of the Devil Tp) - Toni Infante, Toni Infante, Brian Buccellato


Sons of the Devil, Volume 1
by Brian Buccellato

 

My rating: 4 of 5 stars 

 

When I first saw this book I was looking about trying to find out what genre it was but because I'm a lazy, impatient girl I gave up pretty quickly and decided to just read it. Imagine my embarrassment when I realised that the story actually seems to be about a bunch of kids fathered by this devil? worshiping? cult leader?

 

Horror comics aren't my go to genre but this book is a real page turner. It has excellent flow and the dialog feels really natural. The suspense is maintained throughout but it seems to be quite early in the story when you come to the end of the volume. So, just know that this is not a stand alone story, and you're going to be itching for the next volume when you finish this one.

 

The creep factor for me is off the charts with this book. Jonestown is reverenced and after that was brought up I couldn't get those visual images out of my head while reading it. [I'm not too sure how many young readers will get the reference but you can look it up. I'm warning you though, you can't unsee it, and I had nightmares about it for a long time afterwards... it's that disturbing.]

 

As for the art; it's very suitable to the story. I'm not fond of the way in which some of the pages are colored. There are quite a few pages that are just done in shades of one color.

 

This is an early page that has a nice multi-color pallet.  This is Travis, an orphan with anger management issues, he seems to be the main protagonist of the story. Image1

 

Here is the cult and their leader, David.  He's Travis's father.  The two of them have the same eyes.

 

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David, while Travis is being born... I'm not a fan of the limited colored pallets.  It does serve to make the atmosphere dreary but it also sacrifices a sense of dynamic action.

 

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Thank you to NetGalley and Image Comics who furnished this book through their read and review program. View all my reviews

Bizenghast Volume 1 - M. Alice LeGrow


Bizenghast, Volume 1
by M. Alice LeGrow

 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Hahaha, what did I just read? This is a quirky one. Very, gothic. Lots of pretty costumes.

 

You know if you read manga there tends to be a slow build up and it's not uncommon to have like 10 to 20+ volumes. This looks like it has 8 out, and I have no idea if that is the end of the series or not.

 

Anyway, this story is about a girl who's parents died in a car accident and she seems to have some mental problems of some sort. She is living with her aunt at this place that was some sort of asylum / school for boys... and it's weird. Hints are dropped about some great mystery surrounding the school, the woods about the town, and a bunch of missing bodies. Honestly it all creeped me out a little, it has supernatural themes too.

 

I think they have the first 7 volumes of this up on Scribd where I'm reading this right now.

 

Oh, and this is an original english language manga.  I think you can sort of see that in the art as well.  It looks like manga art but is sorta doesn't either.  It took me a chapter or two to get used to it but now I like it quite well. Image3Image1Image4Image5Image2 View all my reviews

Loving a Fairy Godmother - Danielle Monsch

This is the seventh story in the Once Upon A Fairy Tale: A Collection of 11 Fairy Tale Inspired Romances anthology; that I got from NetGalley for review; and it’s one of the better ones so far.

I’m still not in love with it, because it’s another one that just feels too much like a contemporary romance. It’s about a knight who wishes to be a fairy godmother [this comes about in a strange way…]. He then has to help out Cinderella with the help of another unwilling fairy godmother. It’s sorta strange, it should feel magical but it just doesn’t. I think it's a general lack of world building that makes it feel flat.

 

I would definitely rec this author to those who enjoy contemporary romances, it seems reasonably well written and plotted, it just isn't my cup of tea.  I prefer my fairy tales to lean a lot more to the fantasy side.

Currently reading

The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
Superman: Doomed (The New 52) by Charles Soule, Greg Pak, Ken Lashley
The Complete Dracula by Colton Worley, John Reppion, Bram Stoker
Wild Cards by George R.R. Martin, Melinda Snodgrass, Walter John Williams, Carrie Vaughn