Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rant-Reviews: Monsters and Magic

Scary Spells and Mighty Monsters!
Putting aside the current monster in the White House who is oh-too-real, we as human beings often get excited reading about scary beasts, aliens, and the like. A good yarn about magic-spells can be a fun time too. I've read a number of comics that involve magic or horrific monsters and thought I would discuss them in a review-post. Shall we?

Comics with Creatures (and Magic)
Monsters Unleashed #1
This issue was gorgeously illustrated by the talented Steve McNiven and has some solid writing from Cullen Bunn, but it was annoying in that despite being bigger than a normal comic and costing $4.99 I feel less happened than in most cheaper books. It legitimately feels like they took what could have been less than half of a regular comic plot-wise and stretched it out to pad everything. Page after page features monsters falling to Earth on what look like shooting-stars and then getting into fights with heroes located in various places. This repeats over a bunch of gorgeous full-page spreads repeatedly. Seriously, again and again we witness some heroes saying they are going to fight a big monster, see this big monster get fought, rinse and repeat.

I'm not even too upset that so little happens, because McNiven is an incredible artist. The thing is though, he ain't illustrating this whole mini-series (that now will apparently then be followed-up on with an ongoing book). Next issue we get Greg Land's hack-work, and then some better folk come in differing issues. Therefore, this issue looks great, but besides monsters falling to Earth almost nothing else happens other than it being hinted a young boy drawing monsters is somehow, "Summoning," them. That's it though, a kid drawing and monsters falling to Earth, for $4.99. If this book didn't look great I would have felt incredibly ripped-off. As it is now, I just feel underwhelmed and will probably wait to read any other issues until they are collected in trade.
2 out of 5 stars.

Curse Words #1
Charles Soule has written great stuff and Ryan Browne is a talented artist, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that this first issue of, "Curse Words," is some delightful stuff. As a first issue this lays the groundwork for our world, making it clear an evil wizard came to this dimension with orders to destroy it, discovered he actually kind of liked it here, and chose to portray himself as a magical hero. We see these moments in flashbacks as well as the Wizard beginning to face struggles in the modern day as it becomes clear his evil past is coming back to haunt him. This makes things sound very dramatic, and the book has some harsh moments, but actually is loaded with humor as well. I mean, it opens with a rapper who literally wants to be platinum as opposed to just having his records go platinum--that is a good example of the zany nature of this book. I can't wait for the next issue!
5 out of 5 stars.

Die Kitty, Die! #4
The temporary conclusion of Kitty's story occurs in this issue, before another mini-series launches in a few months featuring her. This book, featuring writing and artwork by Dan Parent, has been highly enjoyable. Parent of course created Kevin Keller and has written a number of, "Archie," comics, but this book is all his own and features a somewhat more, "Mature," take on the concept of comic characters (more swearing and implied sex for sure than in the all-ages Archie stuff Parent has done). You see, Kitty is a real-life witch who also has a company that makes comics about her. They decide to try and kill her for real so they can sell a bunch of comic-book issues. This results in a book that is both meta in its examples of faux-historic stories, commentary on the nature of the comic-book industry, and features a number of great jokes. Sometimes the book can get a little too wrapped-up in itself, getting so busy telling in-jokes and winking at the reader it puts the actual story on a back-burner, but for the most part I really liked reading about Kitty and the evil comic-company out to put an end to her.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Dollface #1
Dan Mendoza created the cult-comic, "Zombie Tramp," which isn't hugely popular, but has a highly-active base of fans who adore it and continue to buy issues as they come out. In an effort to make more money/further please fans he now brings us the somewhat-related, "Dollface," which features the Zombie Tramp as a supporting character but also has a cast all its own. This big introductory issue starts explaining where Dollface came from (she basically was going to be a realistic sex-doll), but leaves a lot of unanswered questions about how she acquired a soul, became equipped with a ton of weaponry, and why she has a desire to hunt witches.

If you like Zombie Tramp comics you know what you're going to get here too--exciting fighting scenes and a lot of T&A from large-breasted characters such as the Zombie Tramp and Dollface. It's nothing too thought-inducing but it is some good-natured fun. As someone who doesn't mind a good guilty-pleasure comic I can see the appeal of this comic and the, "Zombie Tramp," book it draws from.
4 out of 5 stars.

God Country #1
I've loved other works by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw such as, "Buzzkill," and found, "The Paybacks," was quirky fun as well. Therefore, I was excited to read their first book being done with Image comics which has already gotten a lot of buzz and--thanks to selling-out due to all the buzz--is currently fetching a pretty-penny on eBay and other sites. Therefore, I had high-hopes for this comic and found that Geoff Shaw's artwork was amazing (as I presumed it would be) and Donny Cates sets-up some interesting story-beats, but as this is a first issue a whole lot scene-setting has to occur before things get interesting. When things do get interesting toward the end of the issue however I found my interest quite piqued. An old man gets a magic sword that used to belong to a God, fights a demon, and what at first seems like a quiet tale of a family struggling with an aged Father with Alzheimer's becomes an epic fantasy-yarn. It's strange, and I like it a lot. It just takes it a bit to get going, so I'm hopeful the 2nd issue keeps the momentum up!
4 out of 5 stars.

Moon Knight #10
I of course made it clear I've been loving, "Moon Knight," in my posts discussing the best stuff of 2016. This issue unfortunately dragged a bit for me, delving further into a concept that Marc Spector always suffered from some kind of identity disorder from childhood-on as opposed to past comics that gave more of an impression that these other identities were aliases Spector created in his fight against crime that grew into their own personalities. I mean, depending on who is writing the books it always has been a question of if Spector is in fact, "Pretending," to be other people, literally somehow, "Becoming," someone else, or if he is simply suffering from a personality disorder. With this issue focusing a good deal on Spector's childhood, giving us a story-line that Spector may quite possibly have a mental illness both provides opportunities for the book--e.g. exploring ideas of mental illness without stigmatizing it or simply writing it off as, "Being crazy,"--and can be a potential liability--e.g. it closes off other story-possibilities or can be offensive if done poorly.

Throughout the book so far it has felt more like an epic story is being told as opposed to individual story-arcs. I've loved it and hope this discussion of Spector's childhood ends-up helping the story instead of harming it. So far every issue has helped add to the Moon Knight mythos and this is the first to make me worry something might be subtracted, if that makes sense. For now I'll just need to wait and see where the book continues to go and hope it works out as superbly as everything else has so far.
3 out of 5 stars.

Closing the (Spell)book For Now
That was an interesting assortment of comics about monstrous and magical beings. I hope you found reading my thoughts about them interesting and that maybe I inspired you to check-out some books.

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