Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Rant-Reviews of Some Science-Fiction Comics I Liked (and a Dash of Horror Too)!

Sci-Fi and Scares
When it comes to, "Genre," works people will generally discuss science-fiction and horror in the same breath, be it to promote them as quality pieces of entertainment or denigrate them as, "Lesser," works. Now, while both can involve themes, characters, and ideas that are outside our so-called norm, science-fiction and horror do often stand apart, but to be fair it isn't unheard of for them to co-mingle--after all, isn't, "Alien," as much of a horror flick as it is a piece of sci-fi? With that in mind  I have some comics that fall in various spaces on this spectrum, with some being your general sort of science-fiction works, others being straightforward horror, and of course those comics that straddle the line between the two.

The Comics
Raygun #1
A new digital release from publisher Alterna Comics (who make physical and digital comics), I quite enjoyed the first issue of this comic geared toward young adults. Focusing on a young boy named Matthew who is sent to live with his estranged Father by his mother (who is having some problems of her own that inform a lot of his personality), the comic follows Matthew as he stumbles upon an old weapon that despite its age is still well ahead of its time thanks to being kept secretly safe by its original creator, Nikola Telsa. Telsa is portrayed as a bit of a madman in this comic, which is odd as historically he was actually a kind and caring person, but for the sake of this story it makes sense he is shown in a more dangerous manner. Basically, the comic opens with Telsa, we jump to Matthew, and by the end of the comic we get the, "High-concept," of Matthew discovering the laser-gun (or, "Raygun," hence the title of the comic) and wondering what he might do next.

As we all have been young kids there doubtlessly have been times in our lives where we wished we had some amazing device that could help solve our problems, so this comic touches upon that childhood fantasy of being able to go wherever we want, do whatever we want, and strike fear into the hearts of  bullies (as I imagine Matthew might do next). The only odd thing is that it is made clear Matthew's father is a bit of an inventor himself, which slightly takes away from the, "This kid could be you," feeling of book, but probably will be important later if Matthew shares his discovery with his Dad.

The artwork is solid and gets across both the mundane aspects of everyday life as well as delightfully illustrates the more exotic and bizarre elements of the story such as robots and Telsa's inventions. This is a stellar debut issue and I am eager to see just what kind of mischief Matthew gets up to with his new, "Toy."
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Note: The first digital issue of "Raygun" can be found at this link.

Saga #34
The fantastical series from Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples continues to impress with its mixture of surreal sci-fi, and mixture of characters dealing with the same stresses many of us all know so well from friendships and relationships, to child-rearing, and etc. As we near the end of the latest arc it is becoming more and more apparent just how everyone's story is going to sync-up, with some characters evidently cruising-for-a-bruising and others possibly about to happily reunite...or also have to get in a tussle. Vaughn and Staples have created a fantastic series that consistently impresses through its mixture of wild ideas, down-to-earth emotions, and gorgeous artwork, even if this issue is mostly set-up. Comics that are a, "Sure thing," for bringing entertainment when you pick-up an issue are few and far between, but basically with any issue of, "Saga," your're guaranteed to have a good time, even in quieter issues such as this one.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Mercury Heat #8
This series started out as just being straight-up science-fiction, with its discussion of colonies on Mercury, implants in bodies, the usual socioeconomic allegories, and the like. However, with the end of issue #7 and now during this eighth issue a surprise cross-over has occurred with another entity from Avatar Press--the, "Crossed,"--now appearing in this comic set well into the future, and in a world where, "Crossed," is little more than a piece of fiction just as within our world. "Crossed," was of course much more of a horror-comic with some science-fiction leanings (with certain off-shoots of the main comic exploring the sci-fi concepts to a greater or lesser degree as with, "Crossed +100,") so it is interesting for this mixing of intellectual properties to suddenly come out of left field.

It could be discussed that, "Mercury Heat," deserves more than just a single story-arc to establish itself before getting all tied-up in mixing with other intellectual properties, but writer Kieron Gillen actually has written, "Crossed," comics before too, so it makes more than enough sense for this to occur, and I'm more on the side of believing he knows exactly what he's doing than worrying this is some kind of company-mandated cross-over with, "Crossed." I say that because we still are getting some solid plot advancement, the comic is maintaining its quirky ultra-violent humor even in the face of the terror that is the, "Crossed," and Gillen has more often than not taken whatever writing concept he's doing and made it work. With all that said, I look forward to just how it will be explained these different, "Worlds," are co-existing.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

InSeXts #3
From newer publisher Aftershock, this is my favorite lesbian-romance-body-horror-science-fiction-comic coming out currently. Well, it's probably the only comic that quite fits into that category on the stands at the moment, but that doesn't subtract from the fact that it's great! The plot continues to thicken with this third issue, as threats to our main characters simmer and bide their time, and the delightful scenes of sexiness that morphs into abject disgusting horror continues in this issue too--I don't want to spoil too much, but let's just say a vagina grows to make up the whole torso of a woman and then bites the arm off of someone...okay, I just spoiled it, but you still have got to see it for yourself. I believe the 4th issue is out today and I know I'll be eager to read it so that I can witness what terrifyingly fascinating events occur next.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Discipline #1
I'll be honest, this isn't particularly science-y as this is more just an odd mixture of horror and sex with a little bit of sci-fi in the form of ancient orders ("The Discipline") and long-kept secrets. Such as it is, Peter Milligan brings us a story about a bored woman who meets a mysterious man and all sorts of dirty and surreal things then occur involving imaginary beasts, nightmares, and vague discussion of the aforementioned Discipline. This first issue raises a whole bunch of questions--as first issues of comics are wont to do--but thankfully they are the kind of questions that I want answers to and would be willing to keep reading a comic to find out (as opposed to the kind of questions some comics spur such as, "How did this book even get made?"). Milligan is notoriously hit-or-miss for me, but if this book can maintain its intriguing tone with the mixture of horror and eroticism we may have a winning series on our hands here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Karnak #2
Now we close-out my reviews on a Marvel comic dealing with some science-fiction style aliens that came out some weeks ago, but considering how it took from October 2015 till late February of 2016 for another issue to finally come out I think we can excuse my slight tardiness in discussing this (if you're wondering what the cause of the delay was, it seems the artist had some issues that necessitated someone new coming onboard). Anyhow, Karnak is of course one of the Inhumans that Marvel is so desperate to make become, "A thing," and in a funny twist the, "Karnak," comic at the same time makes the best argument for this and mocks the reader at the same time for liking such a horribly mean individual as Karnak.

This second issue picks-up with Karnak working to find and rescue a young boy who was stolen from his parents due to being a latent Inhuman...or something like that; remember when all the Inhuman-making mist spread around the Earth so Marvel could move the X-Men to a place literally called, "Limbo," due to the mist hurting mutants and made a bunch of new characters nobody cared about besides Ms. Marvel? Yeah, it is from that mist-spreading business. Anyways, the comic is about half one long fight-scene with fantastically abstract artwork and half philosophical discussion about the human desire to have faith and something to believe in (this is where the comic almost seems to be making fun of people for thinking the Inhumans could become popular). Warren Ellis is the writer, he writes angry and cynical characters well, which describes Karnak to a, "T." Therefore, this is a good comic thanks to Ellis and some spectacularly bizarre art.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

No Matter When or Where, There Will Be Conflict
As all of these comics illustrate with their mixture of science-fiction and horror, no matter when or where a story takes place, there will be conflict, and it will result in (hopefully) interesting reading. It is good I liked all these books though, that's always a nice thing to have happen.

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