Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rant-Reviews: Comics I Recently Enjoyed

Shall We Begin?
I have no particular theme this time other than these are all comics I read recently and enjoyed. Sometimes my doing a simple concept is the best one, I feel.

Saga #43
After the heartbreaking conclusion of issue #42 where a world ends and the remaining pages of the comic are literally just pure black nothingness, we arrive at the start of a new arc featuring an issue that can be purchased for just a 25 cents. That's right, a single quarter can get you this amazing book that has continuously brought me immense joy and sorrow. I imagine that quarter-price is also meant to encourage new readers as we get a significant chunk of reviewing what's happened previously within the series during this issue, but plenty of immense interest to us current readers happens too, so I'm still very pleased.

Essentially everyone has gotten themselves into yet another mess, with a devastating miscarriage resulting in a surprising amount of humor (laughter in tragedy, as they say) as the members of two warring races who fell in love--Alana and Marko--have to figure out what to do considering the unborn 2nd-child they were going to have would raise a lot of questions if either of them went to their home-planets. Also, there are monsters made out of literal shit, so yeah, "Saga," continues to be one of the best books on the stands and at a price this good to start reading it, you don't really have an excuse for missing-out on this series.
5 out of 5 stars.

Infamous Iron Man #8
Brian Michael Bendis, you can be as enjoyable a writer as an infuriating one. Whether turning in amazing work on books such as, "Daredevil," and, "Alias," or the recent kinda-continuation of Alias, "Jessica Jones," you can tell some great solo-character tales (and mess-up sometimes too), but you honestly struggle at times with team books, either turning-in decent stuff like, "New Avengers," or absolute garbage such as...your other Avengers stuff. Also, you can't write events. In other words, you can be amazing or really suck, and, "Infamous Iron Man," has actually been...really good?

I picked-up this book as I still hold fond memories of when Bendis and illustrator Alex Maleev worked on the aforementioned, "Daredevil," so seeing he was doing the artwork made me pick-up this book that spins-out of the atrocious, "Civil War II," where Tony Stark apparently was beaten into a coma by Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel for...reasons? Anyways, it follows Dr. Doom who has a repaired face thanks to, "Secret Wars," and now wants to be a hero. The book has been enjoyable in its studying of both good guys and bad guys who just can't believe that of all people Victor Von Doom is trying to be heroic. It seems like he might actually be trying though, and its been a fun read (with awesome art) as he tries. So, of course we need to muddy things further with an evil version of Reed Richards from the now-dead Ultimate Universe. That aside, this issue was more good stuff of Dr. Doom (and an appearance by fellow Ironman-suit-utilizer Riri Williams). Now we just have to hope this book continues to be good and doesn't fall apart or get sucked into some event (I have really been hating the Marvel events lately).
4 out of 5 stars.

Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #104
I continue to read and enjoy, "Tarot," thanks to its delightful writing, and artwork brought to us by the talented Jim Balent and Holly Golightly. Ever since the big wedding issue a variety of challenges have come Tarot's way, as well as her sister, Raven Hex. That makes this issue where everyone goes to a big Pagan High-Ritual known as, "Beltane," more of a relaxed pause in the series as opposed to some of the more action-packed or plot-filled issues. It still is good fun however, and develops some ongoing stories, such as how the happy-go-lucky character of Jon/Skeleton Man may have actually kept a lot of darkness from his past hidden.

Balent continues to illustrate mystical creatures, scenes of fighting, and the female form beautifully, and colorist and letterer Holly Golightly expertly ties everything together as per usual. I can't brag and say I've read, "Tarot," from the start, but I have been reading it for a good deal of time now and always find it to be a highly enjoyable time. Over the years these characters have really grown on me and I look forward to hopefully many more years with them.
5 out of 5 stars.

'Namwolf #2
When I first saw the solicit for this series, I was basically sold on the idea of a Werewolf in Vietnam. I figured as long as this comic gave me that I would be happy. The first issue supplied that and then in this issue we get to watch our werewolf fight a weird green bat-monster too, so yes, I'm pleased! Fabian Rangel Jr. (who also was a part of the, "Tarantula," graphic novel I loved and recently reviewed) writes and Logan Faerber masterfully illustrates this tale of a young man going to Vietnam and discovering a monster lives inside him, eager to get out.

The whole concept (a werewolf in Vietnam) is itself silly, so the book thankfully doesn't play things completely serious, but it also manages to avoid seeming utterly silly. It is like those old 1980's action flicks with a dash of horror that were just self-aware enough to avoid seeming dumb (which the creators have said is in fact the intention). I wish we would get a little more characterization of everyone besides the titular 'Namwolf as outside of learning their names in the previous issue the rest of the platoon has been pretty undefined and just kind of, there. That slight aside, the second issue of "'Namwolf," is a fun read and one I look forward to reading the next issue of!
4 out of 5 stars.

The Divided States of Hysteria #1
Howard Chaykin is an interesting person in the field of comics. He's been making them for decades and almost everyone loves his, "Early," stuff but the material he puts out now later in his career gets him regarded as either a genius or utterly insane. I personally feel he maybe is a bit of both. As he says in an essay in the back of this first issue, when this comic was first announced and being made he and everyone else thought Hillary Clinton would be President and this book imaging a world full of terrorism, racism, homophobia, and people acting violent towards each other would be more of a tale saying, "Here's the worst-case scenario that could have happened," as opposed to being more of a reflection of current events with just a little bit of hyperbole (in ""The Divided States of Hysteria," there have already been more terror attacks on the nation and our President was assassinated in a failed coup of sorts, so thing aren't yet quite this awful).

Chaykin is both the writer and illustrator here, giving us some bloody violence and sex while presenting a narrative of a nation creeping close a tipping-point of utter chaos now that the myths everyone believed of American exceptionalism have clearly been destroyed and everyone seems to hate each other...God, it really is like a fun-house mirror of today, ain't it? At the issues' conclusion it is clear yet another terrorist attack has begun on America and things will only get worse. It is a brutally bleak comic considering how right now terrorist attacks are actively happening in other parts of the world and our whole country is holding its breath in hopes we aren't attacked and our horrifically incompetent President (seriously, fuck Trump) has to try and be effective. It is depressing to think a comic that was supposed to seem over-the-top now reads as uncomfortably plausible, but I would say no matter how horrific, "The Divided States of Hysteria," seems, it is a wholly necessary hard look in the mirror of the path our nation is on and desperately needs to get off of. Yeah, Chaykin is definitely both a bit of a genius and crazy.
5 out of 5 stars.

All Quality Reads
I like when I can just kick-back on the couch (or a smaller-but-comfy chair, whatever works), relax, and read a good comic. I'm happy these books helped me achieve that goal.

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