Monday, June 30, 2014

Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Pretty Deadly, Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes! This is pretty funky awesome! A horror/mythology western. Very dark and Gothic with its theme of death. Absolutely brilliant art, especially the colours which amazed me, these palettes are unusual and perfectly moody and atmospheric. It starts out with orange/peach/browns, then blue/pinks/black then pinks/reds/black, etc. The story is set in some sort of American West world/dimension and centres around an original death story which takes elements from the Hades/Demeter/Persephone myth. It's by no means a retelling but just enough to use as a backbone. The characters are fantastic, and since this is about death and takes place for a good part in Hades, it is safe to say not everyone is alive by the end of the volume. There are "good" and "bad" guys, while some hover across that line but none is beyond redemption and I loved them all. This volume finishes with a finite ending and thus, when the end note prepares us for volume 2 we are left feeling as if we have just read the prequel to events yet to come. I'm left extremely eager to carry on with this series!

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Millennium Snow (2-in-1) : Includes Vols. 1 & 2 by Bisco Hatori

Millennium Snow (2-in-1) , Vol. 1: Includes Vols. 1 & 2 by Bisco Hatori
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Millennium Snow (1, 2)

Vol. 1 - This is adorable! I'm on a quest to find shoujo that I actually like ... there must be some. I chose this because of the vampire theme and the summary made it sound as if romance was not the main element. I found the story cute and funny. We have the typical couple at odds but what is different here is that the girl, Chiyuki, likes the boy, Toya, from the get-go and lets him know it. He is the one who won't admit he likes her, though of course he speeds to her side the first time she gets a boo-boo. LOL. I like the girl's attitude here; she's sassy and has spunk, not a door-wipe like most shoujo I've tried. Of course, Toya, knocks her around a bit in jest, you get used to this in shoujo, and calls her names, mostly "stupid". I prefer Dojo's calling Iku "bonehead" in Library Wars, but name calling is cultural and I'm sure the Japanese equivalents are more endearing. I know in French they use animal names such as chicken, flea, otter, hen and even cabbage and egg! Anyway, I kept waiting to find out who the other guy was on the front cover and I *love* who it turns out to be. Sweet and fun. And the sidekick, Yami, the bat? Perfect comedic partner and kawaii! Looking forward to the next volume. Unfortunately, this volume does end with a (perverted) one-off which left a sour taste in my mouth ('nough said). (4/5)

Vol. 2 - I'm totally satisfied with this volume but we need to suspend belief and just go with the flow because plotting is all over the place. Things happen for no apparent reason and then everybody just moves on to the next thing :-( Normally, that would bother me but this story is basically "fluff" and really a lot of fun that to analyze it would just be pretentious. The characters are all so cute, I just love them! Of course I like Toya the best! The romance is more focused in this volume but everybody now knows everybody is in love (or deep like) with each other, which usually isn't the case in shoujo, and I didn't feel any irritation with it at all. (My main problem with shoujo) The plots of the stories overrode the romance for me keeping me interested and the humour kept me laughing. As mentioned the the story jumps all over the place but the stories of the ghost girl in the deserted mansion and the psycho cousin who ties Chiyuki up are pretty wild. Here's hoping volume three continues in the same fun manner. (4/5)

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Red Hood and the Outlaws, (New 52) Vol. 1: Redemption by Scott Lobdell


Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 1: Redemption
by Scott Lobdell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New 52

Red Hood is intriguing to me, as I had never heard of the character before I started the new 52. I've read the whole "Death of the Family" arc and the Red Hood volume was good enough that I had to backtrack and find out more about him. Of course throughout all my DC reading he's popped up here and there but only very briefly. Roy Harper has made a few brief pre-Arsenal appearances as well. This volume has great dialogue and is very comedic. If you love banter among JL team members, there is a great deal of that going on here and it really made me like both Roy and Jason. Princess K we don't get to know very well but she's very powerful and everything mentioned about her past is very intriguing. Lots of action in this volume as we have a couple of side stories going on but the main theme centres on the new "team" tracking down the "Untitled" and finishing off the remaining members. A lot of Jason's background with the "All" is explored and I feel much more familiar with the character now. Interesting tidbit shows Nightwing's old blue costume having been left aboard Starfire's hideaway when Jason first finds her.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson

Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the 4th book in this series and I haven't read any of the others but I think I would have felt more comfortable if I had. By reading I have the impression that Hilda (and her town) are not exactly altogether human, strange things happen there, and everyone takes it all within stride. This book has Hilda joining the Sparrow Scouts, obviously to give her something to do with all her extra energy and imagination. But during this time a large hound has been roaming, and sited, in the woods beyond Trolberg. The Sparrows go camping on private Sparrow ground which has been walled off from the rest of the forest making everyone sure the girls will be perfectly safe from this supposed "creature". At the same time Hilda has come across a Nisse, a house spirit, which has been kicked out of its home. Hilda becomes friends with him, helping him to find a new home and together they manage to both find him a home and solve the mystery of the Black Hound. Cute drawings. A fun fantasy, a bit short, but it keeps you reading quickly. I wouldn't mind having read the first ones because I think if read in order, you may be fond of Hilda by this point.

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Shadows and Masks: Batman Adventures Vol. 2 by Dan Slott & Ty Templeton

Shadows and Masks: Batman Adventures Vol. 2 by Dan Slott & Ty Templeton*
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Batman

Great little digest edition that combines issues 5-9 of "Batman Adventures" based on the TV Cartoon. Great cast of characters, edgy and dark but not overly, leaving room for fun and humour. Harvey Bullock is a good guy here, just like in the New 52, and I like him that way. The main story line for most of this book is False Face Society an underground crime family run by Black Mask and Batman is infiltrating it with his "Matches Malone" persona. I don't know if he does this identity anywhere else but I love him as Matches. Some great scenes, one where he and Alfred take a look back at all his past loves and the criminals they turned out to be. This is an all ages comic, perfect for kids but the story is plenty entertaining enough for adults also. I hate these little digests though as they are just too hard to read. Vol. 1 and 2 combined give us up to issue #9, but all 17 issues can still be purchased individually online, which would be my preferred choice to buying the complete series.

*Ty Templeton is a Canadian writer/illustrator having worked for both Marvel & DC

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The Batman Adventures, Volume 1: Rogues' Gallery by Dan Slott, Ty Templeton, et al


The Batman Adventures, Volume 1: Rogues' Gallery by Dan Slott & Ty Templeton*
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Batman

This is a collection of the first four issues of "Batman Adventures" based on the cartoon show in a tiny digest size. I don't really like this format as I find them hard to read and I have good eyesight. But the first issue collected here is "Gotham Adventures" #50 which tells a tale of Bat & Cat becoming more friendly, Cat seems to have softened a bit, but still a thief. This doesn't really have anything to do with the "Batman Adventures" and I'm confused as to why it was collected here. Then we move on to an Arkham Asylum tale which are always tons of fun with all the cameos by the various villains. Then the newly "cured" Riddler & Batman team up. There's a great issue featuring Harley and the Joker and how she gets him out of prison and de-brainwashes him. Finally, the last story brings Ra's al Ghul and his daughter to the scene. The stories are all pretty much stand-alones but there is a common thread involving the Shadow Assassins of Ra's al Ghul lurking throughout. I really like the stories here but the digest size is just too small to be any fun. I recommend buying the individual comics which are still available at 99 cents each.

*Ty Templeton is a Canadian writer/illustrator having worked for both Marvel & DC

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine, July 15 2013

Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine, July 15 2013 by VIZ Media
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Shonen Jump Magazine

I'm jumping in with this digital magazine at this point. My son has a subscription and I just renewed it for him and decided to go back and start reading it. For a first ever (for me) issue it was pretty good. Combined together the ratings averaged out to a three. There are 10 "stories" represented here. I'm currently reading 4 of them, the other six I had never read before and of those six didn't know much about them to start with but hadn't even heard of two of them. I'm now currently interested in four of those new-to-me stories.


Jaco: The Galactic Patrolman - Ch. 1: Good start to a new series by "dragonball" author. Typical of his work. Only two characters so far, an alien with an attitude and a grumpy old man. Typical humour. (3/5)

Naruto #638: In full colour and absolutely gorgeous. However, I'm only on like vol. 9 of this series so I've jumped in here without a clue as to what is going on but this ten tails creature is awesome. (3/5)

Bleach #545: I love Bleach and I'm caught up to where the 3in1 volumes are but this is further ahead and I've got to figure out what's going on, but all the characters are the same and I felt comfortable dropped into this scene, though not much was happening. (4/5)

Toriko: Gourmet 241 - OK, I've never heard of this and I've been dropped into the middle of a battle. I haven't a clue what is going on, nor what it is about, but it has something to do with food and chefs. But, that battle was really cool, and the characters,, creatures' art is awesome. Am looking forward to getting to know this one. (3/5)

World Trigger Ch. 22 - I've heard of this title but didn't know what it was about. It sounds like one I'm going to really like. This was a good chapter to jump in with as it's not too far into the story and it seems to introduce all the characters and is a scene where the students are assigned their mentors and are taught how the "battle" system works to move up the ranks. I already like the characters and I like the art. (4/5)

Cross Manage Ch. 41 - This was short and I couldn't get much out of it. It's a sports manga about a girl's lacrosse team,. This chapter was about them losing a game a felt much more like shoujo. (2/5)

Nisekoi Ch. 81 - Bunch of girls clean a pool then go swimming but one is shy and awkward. More shoujo? (2/5)

One-Punch Man Punch 21, Part 3 - In full colour, quite short and totally wordless until the last frame. Huge robots, with people inside, flying around. Really just a teaser. Confusing but great art and did its job. Has me intrigued! (3/5)

One Piece Ch 714 - In full colour! One Piece in full colour! Yes! I'm reading this one but am waaaay behind this point so had no clue what was going on yet again. Only knew two characters but that a battle between the good guys and some ludicrous bad guys was going on was pretty easy to grasp. (4/5)

Draganball Saiyan Saga DBZ Ch 23 - Commonly known as Dragonball Z in N/A, I'm currently reading this and had read this chapter already. Brought back to mind some early stuff. I love DBZ soo much and this is full colour again. (5/5)

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Doubt, Vol. 2 by Yoshiki Tonogai

Doubt, Vol. 2 by Yoshiki Tonogai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Doubt, #2

Well, all combined this series was a fine piece of psychological horror! Book two wasn't as good as the first, though still creepy, gross and scary, The game only has a few players left, with terror reaching it's pique immensely when only two are left, one of them must be the kill 9th wolf. So trapped in a warehouse of some kind, possibly an abandoned school or clinic, the teens join forces and try to capture the wolf, certain though it must be one of them. I'd say this volume doesn't have the same intensity of the first one. Still pretty tense, as I was scared to look round corners and concerned with who of the final three remaining would make it out alive. In book one I couldn't stop trying to figure out who the killer/wolf was and I was thrilled to find out that in the end I had been fairly right on target. However, this second book takes a bunch of twists and turns until it gets to the solution, so I was kept thinking I had been wrong. A pretty trippy mind-play, all things considered.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Lévy; Illustrated by Frederik Peeters

Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Lévy; Illustrated by Frederik Peeters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

May contain spoilers, though I've tried to keep it cryptic.

I'm going to start by saying I absolutely *hated* the ending which has brought my rating down to a four. Otherwise, up until that point, I was absolutely mesmerized with this book! Such a unique, gripping story and completely spellbinding. It's up to the reader to make sense of the story and figure out the meaning for themselves. The genre is either science fiction (which is actually mentioned in the story) or magical realism (an old myth/fairy tale is related to give this impression). The story comes full circle expressing to me the theme of people building walls around themselves, to protect them from the possible evils of life, but then only succumbing to a unfulfilled life that ends in death. I was greatly fascinated by the story, attentive to the end to find out what would happen. But was disappointed with the conclusion as I had really felt that the youngest boy's question about what happens after death was going to lead to a profound examination of death not being the end, or only the beginning or eternal life, etc. (I'm Catholic) I find these themes often come out similar to the Catholic view of death in many stories even when the author hasn't set out to do so. But instead, we got a silly abrupt, death is death, myth and an ending that shows life continuing but rather without any hope. The book is for mature readers as it does show full frontal nudity of both sexes, however it is in natural circumstances and not gratuitous at all. Certainly worth reading! Very well done.

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Green Arrow (New 52), Vol. 3: Harrow by Ann Nocenti; illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino

Green Arrow (New 52), Vol. 3: Harrow by Ann Nocenti; illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New 52

Again, I'm enjoying this way more than I had thought. I particularly enjoyed this because it is a crossover edition. Green Arrow himself has 4-issues compiled here sandwiched between 1 from "Savage Hawkman" and 2 from "Justice League". As we left the last volume, Hawkman had just come upon the scene, under attack and wanted for murder. GA decides to help the underdog in the situation and Arrow and Hawkman become partners for the first few issues which crossover between a Hawkman issue and Green Arrow issue. I liked this plot quite a bit as again Hawkman is one of those I've not read a lot of, especially from a backstory/beginnings point of view, and he and his team-up with GA intrigues me. Savage Hawkman has been cancelled already but since it only takes up two trades, I've added them to my reading list. Next story has Arrow messing up an arms deal for dealer Harrow, his young partner Pike and their pit bull protectors. Harrow is out for revenge on GA and this is a quick story that GA is involved in stopping the bad guys, nothing special but some good characters and at the end, he finally feels like he might have helped someone who is actually grateful. Then as the grand finale we go into Justice League issues 8 & 13 which I've read but are a lot of fun. I really enjoyed reading them again within this context. These are the two issues that Green Arrow shows up wanting to join JL and they don't like him and won't have him but Steve Trevor comes along at the end saying "come with me, I have another team I'd like you to join." If you are only reading Green Arrow you might find this volume a bit confusing but if you are into the New 52 universe, it was, as I said, a fun crossover volume.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Green Arrow (New 52) Vol. 2: Triple Threat by Ann Nocenti

Green Arrow (New 52) Vol. 2: Triple Threat by Ann Nocenti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The New 52

I'm only reading these as I'm a completest and want to be "filled in" as I'm excited about Jeff Lemire taking over the reins. I liked this volume way better than the first and actually quite enjoyed it. Never been a fan of Green Arrow, but the clean shaven (no goatee!) look makes him much more easier to take seriously. I like where the plot is going for him on a personal level, the stuff with his business. All the villains here are new ones, so we don't meet up with any old faces but that's ok because I loved the "Skylark" triplets. Awesome semi-villains! The robot people was a fun storyline and, finally, I adore Suzie Ming, great female superhero! I like Chinese mythology/history so really enjoyed that little adventure and the cliffhanger ending that came out of nowhere was interesting. There is a mention in this volume where someone asks GA didn't he go off to join the Justice League and since I'm a regular reader of that I enjoyed the reference and can place timeline wise where I am in the grand scheme of the JL universe. Lots of artists worked in this volume, so quite some different styles but I was pleased with pretty much all of it. Didn't really think I would be, but I'm actually looking forward to the next volume which I'm reading next.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Batman Adventures #7, #8 by Dan Slott

Batman Adventures: Phantasm Strikes! by Dan Slott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Batman Adventures, #7

Batman and Batgirl team up in this comic. Batman is being kept busy with Black Mask and the underworld masked criminals which leaves Batgirl alone to face Phantasm. Typical stylized art after the cartoon show, lots of action and the book leaves us with Batman still undercover as Matches. One more book to go until the finale.




Batman Adventures: Masquerade in Red! by Dan Slott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Batman Adventures, #8

This is the last book printed in this series but obviously not the last comic to be issued as the book ends with a major doozy of a cliffhanger. Each of these books also end with a short story that ties into the main story and here we have Batman's backstory on the real Matches Malone. This was an excellent story. I really liked the focus on the crooks and crime, instead of super-powered villains. All 17 issues are still available as comics online and hopefully Capstone will continue the run for the library market.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Stand Volume 2: American Nightmares by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

The Stand Volume 2: American Nightmares by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first started this series back when only a few volumes were out and decided to stop and wait until it had been completed. So here I am back with Vol. 2. This volume jumps around the country showing us who the survivors (major players) are, where they are, their current circumstances and how they get on their journey heading towards where they are being pulled. Randall appears more frequently this volume and the characters experience the bad dreams from him, this time there is only one dream of the old woman and corn field and that is by Nick. Main storylines are Nick still coping with being Sheriff and his last prisoner in the jail. He finally leaves and begins his journey after getting directions from his dream of the cornfield. Larry Underwood meets Rita they travel off together and the famous scene in the tunnel occurs. Frannie meets Harold and their whole set-up story takes place as they decide to head out on the road together at which point they meet up with Stu. Stu starts starts off at the CDC and the plot covers his break-out and journey till he meets up with Fran and Harold. Randall Flagg saves Lloyd from prison and recruits his first henchman. Oh we also meet Trashcan Man in this volume. Everybody is portrayed faithfully to the novel and I feel like I know everybody already. I'm enjoying seeing the story played out in this format. The only thing I don't like is the portrayal of Harold; he's not how I imagine him at all. First he looks like Hank from "King of the Hill" which totally kills the creeps that character gives me in the book. Otherwise I love everybody. The art in this novel is absolutely gorgeous! Not that there are any pretty scenes but just outstanding art and I'm really looking forward to the next volume as things start to get darker and Tom Cullen should be introduced, I think, with Vol. 3.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Manifest Destiny, Vol. 1 by Chris Dingess

Manifest Destiny, Vol. 1 by Chris Dingess
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A romp through the uncharted west with Lewis & Clark but this time while also cataloguing the flora & fauna they have a purpose to rid this untamed land of any monsters they come across and in this first volume that they do, one of the flora variety, the other more fauna. First they meet up with beasts half man and half bison, these guys are humongous and enjoy eating little human beings. Along comes Sacajawea, who they had expected to be meeting anyway, and saves the day. Next, when they reach their first destination the fort has been abandoned except for a few monstrous plant people. Quickly discovering how to kill them, the majority of the book is spend on figuring out how to go about eradication an entire forest region of man-eating, zombifying, plant people. Of course Sacajawea saves the very life of Lewis & Clark at the last minute but there is something sinister no-one knows yet that the explorers have made a deal that has to do with the unborn child she is carrying. This is a fun story, especially if you know your history as little in-jokes of humour pop-up but it is all quite light and these two plots felt episodic while the ending sets us up for the next step of the journey and we've been given a hint as to what possible variety of "monster" they will meet next. The art is just about what one can expect, professional looking but nothing special. Would read the next volume, but only if I came across it at the library or some such.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Batman and Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn by Grant Morrison

Batman and Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn by Grant Morrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Batman Universe

I continue to explore the more recent pre-52 Bat-verse. Here we have the first collection of the teaming-up of Dick Grayson as The Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin. Bruce Wayne is supposed to be dead, but those close to him know he isn't really; me, I haven't a clue on that storyline. Anyway, this collection is divided into two separate story arcs, the second develops from the first. I loved the first one, introducing the new Batman and Robin. This is their first time, finally back in action as a team after Batman has been MIA for several months. They meet up with an awesome villain, Professor Pyg, who turns people into dolls, pretty gruesome stuff. Dick is different than I know him in the new-52, and this is only the second time I've read him as Batman but I'm getting used to him as a tougher, no nonsense, killer Batman. I hate Damian as Robin, a 10yo with major villain attitude. Second story features Red Hood, who was a completely new character to me in the new 52 and I haven't read him enough yet to get a feel for him there. But this is his first appearance pre-52 as a crime-fighter in Gotham and he is evil! I can't stand him, nor his "Scarlett" sidekick. What is with the weird capsule helmet he wears? His 52 outfit is much more cool. Anyway I didn't like the second story which just had Red Hood out against the bad guys, vigilante style, but waaaaay more vigilante and rogue than Batman ever could be. But Red Hood is also against the police and Batman. Really, just about anybody who doesn't tow his certain type of "the punishment should fit the crime" type of justice. The villain in this story is a strange motorcycle dude in pink called the Flamingo, who eats the faces off people. Since I love Dick Grayson I'm appreciating his role here and getting to know his character better and I liked the first half of this volume storywise very well. I didn't like the other characters nor the Red Hood story at all!

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Doubt, Vol. 1 by Yoshiki Tonogai

Doubt, Vol. 1 by Yoshiki Tonogai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. Wow. Wow. Has this been made into a movie because if it has I want to watch it! Wow. I am hooked! A pure page-turner, I cannot guess who is the wolf but I do have a certain theory going at the moment. We will have to see what happens with the next (and also final) volume. Nobody could reach me while I read this, alone upstairs, I came down to get a cup of coffee and was muttering to myself "They need to .... Why didn't they... OMG, they forgot to ..." My family just stared at me and I quickly went back up to my book. I love this kind of mystery/horror!

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

I, Vampire (New 52), Vol. 1: Tainted Love by Joshua Hale Fialkov

I, Vampire (New 52), Vol. 1: Tainted Love by Joshua Hale Fialkov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The New 52

When everything is said and done, this is simply a good vampire story, nevermind that Batman shows up near the end. This is my first introduction to the Andrew Bennett story arc, though I've come across him in JLD. Mary is gathering together all the vampires to take over the world, and plans mass human turnings to add to her ranks. Andrew is out to put a stop to her and gets some help from John Constantine and Batman, though The Bat has to be convinced not to kill the vampire Bennett himself, first. A very dark story with vampires the way they should be: evil, ugly killers. Even Andrew turns into an ugly beast when he gets his full-on fury going. The backstory between Mary and Andrew is weaved throughout in either flashbacks or just dialogue between characters. A satisfying read which presents a fine vampire story while also fleshing out the characters with their back stories. The artwork matches the mood of the story and is very dark using black, browns, army green and artistic touches of red. There are only two more volumes in this series and I plan on reading them as they do involve a few characters from Justice League Dark of which I'm a huge fan.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Seraph of the End, Vol. 1: Vampire Reign by Takaya Kagami

Seraph of the End, Vol. 1: Vampire Reign by Takaya Kagami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, I just totally loved this! This is the first time I've read a shounen vampire manga. So far, I've only come across shoujo manga with vampire themes and so far they've proven too romantic for me. This has a very promising start and wow! was it a quick read. I was hooked from the opening pages. The orphans home setting pulled me in, then the virus apocalypse, and what a great set-up for a first volume. Not many characters are introduced, just the main ones (2 males and a female plus a male superior) and we get the whole backstory of this world, at least as far as the main characters know it. Due to the few characters to start with we get to know them quite well for a first volume and see some good action which promises good things to come; we've got demons, cursed power weapons and an awesome vampire battle scene. Since the people who survived the original virus were children under 13 we are dealing with some young people in these violent scenes, both as villains and victims,which makes them pretty creepy. The art is pretty, backgrounds quite detailed, some frames are a bit heavy on black ink, but not overdone. This could prove to be something quite special. Let's see where volume 2 takes us!

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Code Red Volume 1 by Patrick Shand

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Code Red Volume 1 by Patrick Shand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grimm Fairy Tales Presents

Excellent! I thoroughly enjoyed this title. I have difficulty in placing these trades in exact chronological order but as far as I can tell this is a direct sequel to "Realm Knights" and though this story is not dependant on that one; it would probably enhance enjoyment to start there. This time only Agent Red Hood and Agent Robyn Hood are called to duty. Brief mention is made of some events from Realm Knights but only one time is it worth Zenescope's infamous use of the asterix reference to the previous volume. LOL. Pat Shand is becoming one of my favourite authors from this publisher and knows how to tell a good story and keep the very complicated world-building and crossover characters in line, giving the reader brief hints to remember who is who and what is what. This story was highly entertaining, and while sexy and violent, was a little tamer than usual. The art was gorgeous, as it almost always is. This story really gets us into the beginnings of the plan of the Dark Horde's takeover and show their massive armies of orcs and ogres, all hinting at a little Lord of the Rings-ish feel to it. The book also ends with a sneak peak preview of the Robyn Hood one-shot comic which is a mission she is sent on within the pages of this volume. Fans of GFT will get what they usually expect and a little more in the story department. Great read!

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Nightwing (New 52), Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes by Kyle Higgins

Nightwing (New 52), Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes by Kyle Higgins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Nightwing!! What a wonderful start for Dick Grayson in The New 52! I first really got to know Nightwing when I read Vol. 3 as I read through the "Death of a Family" arc and I ordered Vol. 1 & 2 right away as I knew I had to follow him from the beginning. He is one of my favourite Gotham characters. This first volume pretty much starts Nightwing off where he was pre-52, coming off of being The Batman and returning to his own beloved Nightwing. Dick meets up with Haly's Circus again and old friends, though not much backstory is given for him yet, we do get secondhand information, the tale of his parents death and a good feel for where he came from. This is pretty much a self-contained story that ends by the final issue and was a thrilling read with lots of surprises. Dick faces new enemies and only briefly crosses paths with Batgirl so not a lot of familiar faces leaving Nightwing as the main focus. The final issue brings in a small tie to the Court of Owls (which I've read) which was exciting (for me) to get that extra tidbit. Then the book sets up the beginning of the next arc. The art is fantastic. I adore Nightwing's costume and can't wait to catch up with Volume 2.

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2 Comics Land Easy Readers illustrated by Jess Bradley


The Good, the Bad, and the Monkeys
by Scott Sonneborn. Illustrated by Jess Bradley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an adorable new easy-reader "first" comic book series by Capstone Press. Written for the K-2 level this is a cute story of Jake the Cowboy and his horse who work on a monkey ranch. Jake wishes he worked on a cow ranch but when they are held up by rustlers and the monkeys save the day, he becomes a little bit more appreciate of being a monkeyboy instead of a cowboy! Cute artwork and a fun story. Kids will love this!






Goat on a Boat by John Sazaklis. Illustrated by Jess Bradley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an adorable new easy-reader "first" comic book series by Capstone Press. Billy the goat dreams of being a hero and sets off with a treasure map to find Paradise Island. Along the way he meets a cyclops, hydra and minotaur! I just loved this! The comic renditions of the greek mythological creatures are a blast. The art style is wonderful and the story is fun, adventurous and a great easy reader. A delightful book in a cute series!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Classics Illustrated #19: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain by Michael Ploog

Classics Illustrated #19: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain by Michael Ploog
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The is latest issue (book 19) in this ongoing collection of graphic adapted versions of the classics. Having read Twain's original "Tom Sawyer" watched many movies, read retellings, etc., this is a story I come into knowing full well and I'm quite pleased with the adaptation. This publisher continuously does a splendid job on keeping the essence of the original work and bringing it alive in the graphic medium. I've been known to comment on the company's editorial choices of outlandish or shocking illustration but Tom Sawyer's illustration by Ploog struck me on the first page as beautiful and perfectly rendered to represent the historical time period the story is centred in. Of course, reducing a large classic novel to a short adaption is no easy feat, but Ploog has presented the original story with all the main story lines present and choosing to concentrate mostly on Tom and Huck's friendship, their typical capers of boys, then adding the tension, danger with Tom and Becky's getting lost in the cave then culminating with the trial and "Injun Joe"s part in the whole murder. Politics, satire and racial allusions are mostly kept out of this version. Leading me to say this volume is particularly aimed at the children audience these books can appeal to. Even though most of the series is just as well-appreciated by adults, who never read the classics, want refreshers without reading the original again, or would like to experience them in a new way through this different format.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins 2 by Nakaba Suzuki


The Seven Deadly Sins 2
by Nakaba Suzuki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Seven Deadly Sins (2)

I liked this even better than the first volume! First, it was more age appropriate at T+ than the first volume and had a lot of battles. Two more of the 7 Deadly Sins have been found and we are getting to know them. I adore the giantess Diane! Four terrible Holy Knights are loosed to destroy the now roaming Sins and they are pretty freaky dudes who make for some cool battle action. We are also getting to know our characters better with brief looks into their pasts. The plot is becoming deeper and more meaningful as the whys and wherefores of this animosity between the Holy Knights and the Deadly Sins becomes somewhat clearer. Book ends in the middle of a good bloody battle leaving us exited to read what happens in the next volume! The art is only middle of the road but characterization is the strong point (so far) :-)

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Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Trouble in Mind by Duane Swierczynski

Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Trouble in Mind by Duane Swierczynski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I've run across the Birds of Prey briefly in my reading of the New 52 so far and they have intrigued me so when I received a gift-card I bought the first two trades. The members here make for an awesome team! I am already familiar with (and love!) two of the members (Poison Ivy & Batgirl), Starling is a new character, and I wasn't familiar with Black Canary or Katana. The only one I'm not sure I like is Black Canary. Katana is an awesome female warrior. A Japanese ninja-type who believes her sword is possessed by her dead husband. Fighting to her means killing, she stabs, slays, decapitates her way though any battle and the others have to rein her in when they need baddies alive to question. So i love the characters and the dynamics between them. The plot on the otherhand was only so-so. It was intense enough but didn't feel appropriate for a superhero comic. Choke and his team of mind-controlled assassins could be the bad guy from any thriller/crime novel; he was a far cry from a comic supervillain though and that left me rather unimpressed with the Birds whole caper in this volume. Love the girls though and want to see if they get a better plot in the next volume.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Vixens, Vamps & Vipers: Lost Villainesses of Golden Age Comics by Mike Madrid


Vixens, Vamps & Vipers: Lost Villainesses of Golden Age Comics
by Mike Madrid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OCT 14 - Astounding look at female villains in Golden Age comic book history. Absolutely absorbing read! I've become increasingly interested in comic book history and am a newbie to work from this early period; so 98% of the comics discussed were new to me but my interest in them has been spiked a full 100%! Each chapter focuses on a certain type of villainess and starts with a lengthy commentary by the author/compiler which is then followed by several b/w issues of comics featuring several of the villainesses that have been discussed. All comics reproduced here are in the public domain, from the Golden Age, mostly from the 1930s & 1940s and all from before the Comics Code Authority of 1954. Absolutely fascinating commentary which had me intrigued and will have me reading further about the history of this time period of the comics industry. Th comics themselves, when read within the context of the commentary, were a pure joy to read. Mike Madrid manages to place them within their era, societal views and explains why the comics he's chosen are excellent examples of stories which gave women positive, empowering roles for the time in which they written. How they are typical of the time period, but also how these ones in particular were affirmative and ground-breaking. Chapter themes include: inherent evilness in women, the role of beauty (or lack of it) on women, positive portrayals of women of colour (black, asian, india, etc)and true-crime real-life female criminals.

I haven't read much from this time period before and found it very "out there". I thoroughly enjoyed the comics gathered here but do not think I would enjoy them as much without some type of commentary or annotation included as is presented here. I always thought that the Comics Code Authority was a joke and an overzealous, prudish product of the fifties but these comics here actually shocked me with the startling violence they contained. I mean it's nothing like today's blood and gore, but much more cold-blooded and surprised me with how it just came out of nowhere. There are scenes such as criminals blatantly turning around, shooting and killing police officers, a scene of a woman being hanged in the background, a little battle going on and then yikes someone is speared right through the body and another through the hand, another guy gets the ant treatment from natives: buried to the head in the ground, covered in honey and the ants go wild; later on someone trips over his skull. Maybe this doesn't sound so bad but taken in context, with the campy action, "clean" dialogue riddled with 30s/40s slang, it does come as shock when the coldblooded violence is so casual.

If you read my reviews regularly you'll know one of my favourite topics is true-crime and serial killers so I was fascinated with the last section which contained comics from the comic book "Crimes by Women" from the 1940s. These were pure exploitation comics but soooo fun to read. I did find myself looking up these lady criminals though and out of the 5 included could only find information about two of them (but they were pretty gruesome serial killers!). The stories weren't exactly true to life though so whether these other "crimes" were real or not I don't know but I may just look up this comic and read more from it and others like it.

Here are the two female serial killers covered I found: Bell Guness (very gruesome pictures) and "Shoebox Annie" Smith (took me a while to find her as this is an alias)

This author has previously written a companion book on heroines which I would just adore to read as well!

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Gotham City Sirens, Volume 1: Union by Paul Dini & Scott Lobdell

Gotham City Sirens, Volume 1: Union by Paul Dini & Scott Lobdell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Batman Universe

This is nothing serious but a lot of fun. Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn decide to become roommates because things are so unstable in Gotham right now and basically they are good guys, well at least they are fighting the bad guys. This takes place during a timeline I've never read before with Dick as Batman, though he only has a few appearances in this volume. Hush is masquerading as Bruce Wayne and since I haven't read the Hush series I'm vague on that background also but enough information is given that this was easy to jump into. Each issue is pretty much a stand-alone story though there is enough of a running thread to keep some continuity going. The girls find lots of trouble and end up going head to head with Boneblaster, bickering amongst themselves, the Riddler, the Joker, Hush and more human villains. The all-star cast also includes cameos by Zatanna, Damian Wayne, The Broker, Alfred and Talia Al Ghul. I loved the art; it is just gorgeous and these three villainesses are a perfect team-up.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Wonder Woman (New 52), Vol. 2: Guts by Brian Azzarello


Wonder Woman (New 52), Vol. 2: Guts
by Brian Azzarello
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New 52

I'm really enjoying the new Wonder Woman! I'm a big fan of Greek mythology and I just love how firmly her new genesis is grounded within that mythos. In this book a whole slew of the gods turn up and we've got a good deal of Zeus' progeny on the scene now. The whole book can be described as a classic chase scene so the plot doesn't go forward too much but a great deal of new information is being introduced about the characters and background. A great portion of the book takes place in Hades and concerns that god; I really enjoyed that as I always enjoy stories about Hades and I must say I was impressed with the rendering of him with the flames on his head. Great artwork there. Wonder Woman and her gang are chasing after Zola to rescue her from Hades and that story arc finishes with this volume and ends with the birth of the child. However we have a plot twist at the ending that will keep us in rescue mode for the next volume.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sand Land by Akira Toriyama

Sand Land by Akira Toriyama
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a oneshot, a stand-alone title and is fairly standard shounen content. I don't have a lot to say about it. I love the author's Dragonball series with a passion but this title barely kept my interest. Being only one book, it doesn't follow the usual manga pattern of lots of battle in one volume, some character development in another, etc and has to do it all in just short one volume. So not much battling until near the end. It's not bad though and *is* written for children, not grown-up women, like ... ahem ... me. I'd certainly recommend it for the younger set and to be included in an elementary library. It's suitable for ages 8-12, rated A for All Ages, and is clean; mind there are phrases such as "sexy" and "dirty old man".

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Monday, June 2, 2014

The Cage by Martin Vaughn-James; Introduction by Seth


The Cage
by Martin Vaughn-James; Introduction by Seth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can't really say much about this. Everything stated about it in the Introduction by Seth is quite true. I found it too esoteric to be able to really write about. I found more enjoyment in looking at the pictures without reading the text. I also found that I could see faces in many of the illustrations and sometimes the entire head. Perhaps this is my own mind playing tricks on me or are they really there. The hidden people in these images. I didn't enjoy the work enough to try and analyze it; Seth does that job for me in the introduction. It does remind me a bit of Renee French, especially "H Day" However I like her work much better!

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Gangsta, Vol. 2 by Kohske

Gangsta, Vol. 2 by Kohske
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Took me a bit to get into it but by the end I knew I had a definite new series I'm going to follow in my hands. A very intense story. Violent and emotional. I love that the auther of this seinen is female! She writes real, believable characters. Nick, the deaf hit-man, is such a unique and realistic character. This is such a different manga for me. The setting is not Japan or even Asian. A fictional city called Ergastulum, it has a rather European feel to it with an Americanized type of police force. The characters come off as Caucasian plus a variety of ethnicities, though Nick has been identified as Asian. The plot between the police, mafia and hitmen, called The Handymen, has been developed in this volume and the added supernatural element of the Twilights has been explained to the point where we know what they can do, and they have a code to follow same as the 3 laws of robots, but it isn't quite clear just what they are yet, nor whether this is in fact a supernatural or scientific power they have. This is an explicit story, think Sopranos/Godfather and the female characters, Ally and Nina, are proving to be multi-faceted and three dimensional. Good!

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Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 1 by Paul Dini & Derek Fridolfs

Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Vol. 1 by Paul Dini & Derek Fridolfs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Batman: Arkham City tie-ins

This is OK. Nothing fantastic but not bad. It's based on a video game and I'm not a gamer but it doesn't take any special skills to understand the plot. Basically the villains live in Arkham City now instead of the Asylum. Hugo Strange is in charge and wants Batman captured and locked away, too. So we have short stories with Strange vs Batman, Catwoman, Two-Face, Joker vs Penguin, Batman vs Joker, and we have appearances by Harley Quinn, Nightwing and Robin. I enjoy a good parade of Batman villains and heroes and the art was pretty good most of the time so a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours.

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