Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Not For The Squeamish, Snarl Review

After My last review of The Chair I chatted it up a little with Alterna Comics president and writer of The Chair Peter Simeti who was kind enough to give up the keys to the Alterna kingdom. I give social media full credit for my meeting Peter Simeti and giving me this opportunity to review some amazing works from Alterna.  Because of this I have decided to take advantage and do this review of Snarl. I have followed and friended Kelly Bender because of his creativity and because were both concerned with networking, so because of our social media friendship I felt I should maybe let it be known before the review. I whole heartedly admit to picking this book to review because of these two guys but I will never let my friendship cloud my reviewing, it would be unprofessional at best and as a blogger I can’t afford any shots to my credibility, so rest assure my review is exactly like the rest.

Snarl is written by Kelly Bender, art by Nathan Kelly, colors by Josh Jensen, letters by Micah Meyers, and is published by Alterna.  Snarl is a one shot and is an all-around good book as far as the art and lettering is concerned. The art is something between cartoon and realistic but carries what I assume is Nathan Kelly’s signature style mixed with some pretty awesome coloring by Josh Jensen. The coloring really assists this books feel because there are a lot of shadowy parts that depend on good coloring. I like the lettering by Micah Meyers as well because he followed the tone of the book with some of the letters that describe scenes and all of the thought bubbles and scene descriptions are perfect. I feel like these guys weren't just reading from the same book they were on the same page the entire time as well.

For me personally, the first thing that sticks out about the book is the location it’s set in, Seattle. I live in the Pacific Northwest and Seattle is pretty much the pinnacle of the Northwest culture and scene, so it instantly grabbed me. The beginning is a one page five panel intro that sets up the feeling of a man that survived something pretty hardcore. Bender sets up the coming flashback, which is the majority of the story, and makes the feelings of the man very clear. The first page is a nice set up because it shows us that the main guy is still alive but he clearly lived through something scary and lives with the scars daily.

As I said the majority of the story is a flashback and it starts right away with the main character, Detective Bevil, as he gets to the station. As the flashback starts it sets up the world that Detective Bevil lives in, a typical high pressure police station with a BA Captain that doesn't take no for an answer. Detective Bevil has a partner and an important case that is starting to weigh itself down on his back. We knew already that this case was what set up the intro but now that the story continue we see the small facts and details that start to set the world Bevil lives in. I feel like the setup with the Captain and the intro to the partner, Detective Sagun, is essential but what makes this part a good piece of writing is the way Bender blends the everyday actions to exposition. This is a sign of good writing and the way it blends the possible supernatural connection into the story is subtle but effective. The banter back and forth between all the police officers involved is done great and now we know that their facing a possible ware wolf.

Bevil and Sagun have been all around and have nearly exhausted their resources when a fellow Native American Officer gives Bevil an idea. Bevil drops Sagun off to try and get some info from a surviving victim at the local hospital while he heads to learn more about the possible native connections to the case. So far the story has flown so well I haven’t even noticed that I’m like ten plus pages into it. It’s not just the story, the art is great too, and one of the best pages so far is when Sagun is in the hospital trying to get the victim to wake from a coma. The shadows and the way that Kelly and Jensen contrast the obvious frustration with the way the page lays out is exactly what I think of when I think of good creators working well together.

There is a small break in the A story that comes from a small one page conversation between the two guys from the beginning including the captain. They made it known to Bevil and Sagun that they needed to start making some headway but they speak a little bit on why during this little break. It’s followed by more murders of people in the park that help to break up the A story line. I wouldn't call the break a B story at all but it does serve a purpose and pushes the main story further along while emphasizing a few things; the severity of the case and the fact that Bevil is the best detective in the precinct, and the severity of the crimes. The two men make no bones about their desire to keep the feds and the media away from the story and the killings are clearly done by a shadowy wolf like creature. These two facts make the provide a break from the detectives but still service the story and that is very hard to do effectively but this team nails it on the head. The shadowy wolf thing could easily be the ware wolf the skeptical detectives were talking about but they leave the mystery to the reader’s imagination and I respect that.

The creative team starts to blend the detective’s story back in with the murder of the kids in the national park but they do it very subtly. Through dialog between Bevil and Sagun the direction of the investigation is revealed to be heading towards the local native tribe and their customs while the new murders keep showing the severity of the case and build up the mystery of who is doing it. Through some really gory and well-illustrated pages the culprits of the murders appear to be just regular wolves but the dialog indicates that Bevil believes it to be a man in a wolf suit or something of that nature. The dialog is eye opening and super well written, it delivers on suspense, foreshadowing, and exposition, everything a reader can ask for.

For the next few pages the detective team follows a lead that puts them at the door step of a man running an illegal sanctuary. The man once housed some rare wolves from a specific German bloodline and Bevil had a hunch he would find some answers at the sanctuary. Although the hunch didn't really result in any answers the encounter with the sanctuary owner proved that there are in fact wolves missing and possibly out killing people but Bevil still believes that the real culprit is over six feet tall and possibly a Native American that is following the Yee Naaldlooshii tradition that roughly translates to “with it, he goes on all fours.” At this point the writing is really winning me over because it flows like a crime noir novel and is intertwining everything together really well. I feel like I’m a detective right next to Bevil and Sagun putting it all together piece by piece.

Bevil and Sagun head to the Duwamish tribal reservation to meet with Detective Walker the man that put Bevil on the right path to begin with. Walker brings them into a bar to talk with a village elder and shaman that not only clues them in on what is going on he drops a major bomb shell and tells them he can locate and knows the culprit. As I stated before I’m from the Seattle area and Seattle is actually sitting on occupied Duwamish territory so this story and the feel for me is incredibly surreal. I can’t say for sure if Yee Naaldlooshii is actually a Duwamish tradition but the area and the tribe are so familiar to me it’s eerie, I realize that may not be the case for some but for me it adds just a little bit to the story and I have to say that I love it.

As the three of them go searching they find the fight their looking for and without spoiling the ending let’s just say that Detective Bevil really is good at his job. The ending is hard to explain without spoiling it because it’s a one shot versus an ongoing series but I can say that I enjoyed it and it left me with a smile on my face. As far as the writing is concerned I think the crime fighting and detective work was excellent but I think what impressed me the most is the lack of leaning supernatural elements. The creative team and Bender could have easily written in supernatural ware wolves, zombies, vampires, or any other creative crutch to support the story, but instead they made the supernatural element dependent on the story which is refreshing to me. Sometimes comics can get a little heavy on the crazy and supernatural stuff and forget that there should be a story to tell as well, but Snarl is the exact opposite of that. Snarl relies on story and dialog that paints a vivid picture and Bender makes the main characters likable as well as smart so the reader gets invested in not just the characters but the story as well, that is where the good noir style came in handy. For my money character development along with excellent story development is more than any reader can ask for. I’m here to tell you “yes” to Snarl and I can say for sure that I enjoyed the book. I only have one thing bad to say about it, it needs to be more than a one shot. I could read a monthly with Bevil and Sagun’s adventures but I guess the point is to cherish what you have and enjoy it while you can, so please, go out and enjoy this book!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Horror On A New Level With The Chair

Since I started blogging about comics I have put myself out to network on social media and have been more than successful in my endeavors.  I have joined groups and followed some really amazing artists and writers.  My luck has by no means run out and the proof is in a few of the posts I have put up like Salvagers, Summons, and now The Chair.

The Chair is a graphic novel for people seventeen years and up, roughly a hundred and twenty pages long, and is largely the brain child of Peter Simeti.  Simeti is the responsible party for; creator, writer, gray tones, letters, and cover colors.  Kevin Christensen is the penciler, contributor on act six, and cover pencils.  Erin Kohut edited this book, but as I stated this is largely Peter Simeti’s baby.

The Chair is an Alterna Comic production where Simeti is the president and publisher.  I imagine those two titles carry a ton of responsibility and after a quick peek at the Alterna website I can confirm that statement with impunity, Alterna has at least eight different comics and two different movies, and that was just from the first page of their website.  Right off the bat I see that Peter Simeti has a handful just dealing with other people’s creative properties and I commend him for finding the time to stick with doing his own.  The Chair is not only a large graphic novel it’s being turned into a movie as well, kickstarter has been quite generous to a lot of artists looking for help and this project is no exception.  I have a lot of respect for the people that run their kickstarter’s but I also have a ton of respect for those that contribute.  If I was a millionaire I would troll kickstarter repeatedly but knowing that many of the people that give are just as broke or more broke than I am warms my heart.  

The first thing I noticed about The Chair’s cover is that it’s different from the inside but in a similar tone.  The cover is somewhat colorful compared to the charcoal looking inside.  I’m color blind but even I can tell the slight tones of blue and red and the way that they blend nicely with the charcoal look.  The inside of this book is something reminiscent of an art school style charcoal portrait piece, the type of portrait that naked people come and model for.  The style is actually pretty amazing and clean on the eyes, dark and brooding, like the story.

The graphic novel is actually volume one featuring original published works from The Chair #1 - #4.  There are 6 parts to this book and as I said the page count runs into the hundreds so this review will be much less in depth than my normal reviews.

As act one starts we are given a little overview of what the situation is and a bit of a back story of how the main character, Sullivan, ended up sitting on death row.  Simeti starts by painting a picture of what I would consider the most awful prison experience ever; multiple bodily fluid laced food trays, screaming and scary fellow inmates, and worse of all, the knowledge that you are one of the only innocent people in the place, guards included.  The introduction is solid to say the least, it gives a vivid picture of the horror that would be prison, but it also sets up the empathy we readers need with Sullivan.  Sullivan is a good guy that was wrongly accused and without that simple fact this book wouldn’t carry as much weight as it does in the beginning, and the story really does depend on it.  Because of the first act I’m already invested in Sullivan and I really feel his situation.  Another thing that is done well in act one is the hints to the horrors to expect.  The pee and spit in the food is really pretty mild compared to how act one ends, with a guy chained to a wall with no legs.  The foreshadowing is thick and the setup is solid, couldn’t ask for more from the first act. 

Act two starts to get a bit more in depth with Sullivan and some of the other inmates.  The key behind the new character introductions is that it has a similar feel to it as the first act.  Sullivan has the guy that he hates, the guy that is the child killer, but through his time in prison he befriended a decent guy named Jimmy that was in a similar situation as he was.  Jimmy was a soldier that got caught up in a scenario that landed him right next to Sullivan and was quite possible Sullivan’s only reprieve from the hell he lived, so of course he got killed immediately.  Jimmy’s death was a real slap in the face for me, I was starting to think that maybe Sullivan had a break coming, but that idea was quashed quickly.  As I read on I understood the reason they took Jimmy so fast, Simeti needed an excuse to push Sullivan to the brink, or at least appear that it was the brink.  Sullivan’s pain just pushes him to murder a janitor sent to clean his cell and I think this is significant for a few reasons; it proves that the absolute horror he lives in day to day is real, and it gives Simeti a reason to introduce us to the real evil in the story.  

Act three is exactly what I expected after seeing the end of act two where Sullivan is strapped to a table.  The warden or the guy named Enrik I assume to be the warden, has Sullivan strapped in for the first round of torture.  Over all the torture is fairly standard, Enrik just pulls him a bit and sends him back to his cell to stew over Jimmy’s death and listen to the other torture subject as he gets cut up piece by piece and limb by limb.  At this point I get the feeling of desperation that Sullivan has to be feeling, he can’t even have a friend without them killing him.  The third act is not really different from the second it just gets more into the pain and suffering and ramps up the torture.  I can’t complain about the pace, it continues to climb the story and adds new characters like Enrik.  I get the feeling the story is about to really kick off in act four.

I completely believe in the monster inside all of us but the way Simeti paints the guards and Enrik I can’t help but to wonder how many of us let our evil out like the guards in this book.  Simeti has shown the guards to be heartless as can be and has made several references to the guards referring to Sullivan and other inmates as animals and the more I see of the guards the more I wonder who the real animals are.  Act four doesn’t introduce anymore characters but the theme of the book is so real and only emphasized by the continuation of the story.  Nothing much different happens but some things are revealed; the warden Enrik is new and brought on all of the horrible things, and Sullivan has been in that hell hole for about a decade. 

As act five starts the first image is a sadistic portrait of Enrik.  I have minced no words in saying that the theme of this book is dark and brooding but the portrait of Enrik is downright creepy looking.  So far this guy encompasses everything that scares the hell out of me, a man in high position abusing his power over people with a horrible torturous mind.  When I started act five I thought that it would be a little more of the same but Simeti switched things up.  Sullivan isn’t just some good family guy, he has a checkered past.  Simeti shows a small glimpse into Sullivan’s past and reveals some pretty horrible things before he returns back to Enrik telling him to enjoy his last moments.  The new revelations of Sullivan and his true nature have got my head twisted around, I’m not sure what to believe and I can’t figure out who the real evil one is.  I’m fairly confused and my feelings about Sullivan have been flipped but I wasn’t ready for the end and the real bomb shell.  Sullivan kills a guard and through flashback’s we see that he is really just a cold killer but as they sedate him the thought bubble said, “How the hell can I execute my own brother?”  I know, mind blown, right?  At this point in the story I have been up and been down, I have seen a good man turn to a devil, and a devil at least make me question his actual intentions.

What a twist, what a way to start the last act.  Enrik is a Sullivan too and everything we have seen about him is through the eyes of a sick man.  The reality of the situation is something out of real life, a paranoid schizophrenic seeing life the way he does, nowhere near reality, and the guilt ridden family member watching him deteriorate.  Sullivan did it, he killed a ton of people, but he was not just sick he was crazy, and his brother clearly carried plenty of guilt over his little brother’s faults.  Some of the feeling from both brothers is surreal and I more than sympathize but at this point I have to stop with the review and leave this review with this.  The reveal of the reality and the twist of Enrik being a good guy and Sullivan being his brother is only magnified as the book comes to an end.  I can’t spoil the ending but I will say one thing about it… In-freaking-credible. 

This book is fabulous to say the least; it has not only great dialog and wonderful story telling it has social norm overtones that really get the brain cells working.  The way Simeti writes and paints Sullivan only to switch it up is pretty amazing to me.  As a writer I have a hard enough time making my characters not boring and Simeti not only makes his characters not boring he makes them so complex it takes nearly two or three reads to understand what really happened.  The character development of this book is so complex and done so well that I can see why Simeti decided to try to make it a movie.  The actors must have read the script and flipped out, this sort of story is something the most talented people on Earth search for.  I truly envy Simeti, not only does he run a nice comic company he followed his dreams of making comics, and ran a successful kickstarter so he could turn that comic into a movie as well.  It might sound easy but trust me; turning comic scripts to movie scripts and transforming properties across platforms is actually very hard to do.  Because of this fact I happen to admire Simeti even more.  As far as the book is concerned I highly recommend it but I would also suggest sticking with the mature seventeen and up rating because there is killing and adult themed things.  I enjoyed the book a lot and the way it flows impresses me, I can’t wait to see what they have planned for the movie.  If the movie is similar to the book, which I assume it will be, the twist will have you on the floor rolling around in disbelief.  This book is seriously worth the read and it actually flows pretty fast considering it’s over a hundred pages, not to mention it would be worth reading before watching the movie to compare the styles.  

I can’t say enough about Simeti and the work he must have put into this book and all these related projects, it’s hard enough to run a company but it’s on a whole other level to do that and maintain two of your own projects at the same time.  If anyone reading considers themselves a supporter of indie comics I really think you should support The Chair because it represents not just comics but the way comics make it to the big screen as well and that is very important for indie comic creators as well as indie movie makers.  Everyone involved with the book and the movie deserve a pat on their back for all of the effort and they deserve your business as well. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Salvagers 3 Review

The Sci Fi Salvage Crew Adventures Continue

When I first started to write about comics I decided to try and stick with not just stuff that I liked but with stuff that was somewhat lesser known and deserved the exposure.  My first review was on a little book called Salvagers #1; written by Bob Salley, Illustrated by George Acevedo, colored by DeSika, and lettered by Hde.  You can check out my review on Salvagers #1 or you can just take my word for the fact that it was a really nice book made with care and love from a crew that believe in what they do.  Nothing has changed between issues one and three, these guys make sure of it, and the four successful Kickstarter’s have proven that more people than just me believe in their work.

I feel like I have to give a shout out to the artists first, George Acevedo has a very realistic style that is only accented by DeSika’s coloring.  The characters are rich in style and color and they all have very distinct feel which is important to me.  The details are there as well, especially when the scene is of outer space or close up of the characters.  As much as I love the art I can’t take away from the letters either, each character has a different letter style and the thought bubbles are unique to the situation.  All around great art work and I can tell it’s all done with love.    

Salley has a vast world that he has created but aside from aliens and people interacting in this world of vast galaxies it’s nothing out of the ordinary from most sci fi and Salley makes it really easy to follow.  Salley gives a great little back story and overview of what has happened so far in the series.  I enjoy the overviews because with self-published and self-made stuff like Salvagers the production gets caught up with things unforeseen like Kickstarter.  These guys put their hearts and souls into the production and it shines through with the Kickstarter’s that they have successfully run four times now.  The overview allows a new reader the ability to know enough of the back story but not be spoiled enough to not want to read the first three issues.  Basically broken down issue one is the crew going to salvage a Darzinean Warspray ship, and issue two is a bit of a back story on one of the crew members and why the team ended up taking the salvage job in the first place.  Like I said, this is a great little catch up for new readers and a little refresher for those of us that have been following along.  

The story picks right back up without skipping a beat and we join the crew back on the Warspray ship.  Brigby the comic relief and Ty’r the muscle are still together trying to figure out their situation.  They were getting attacked by androids and trying to figure out how to shut them off so they’re not in danger anymore.  Captain Bill Roenick is still stuck on his own, with only communication to Teagan and a friendly droid he found to help him.  Then there is Teagan who is still on their ship helping with the tech and in communication with Bill.  The first three pages is a nice exchange between Brigby and Ty’r as Brigby tries to save face for getting them into the situation.  Ty’r gives him some shit but the comradery is never in question, the strong personalities of Brigby and Ty’r are clearly balanced by the Captain.  Even while they both bicker and complain about each other and the situation both of them worry about the Captain.

As we know Captain Bill Roenick is on his own with only the friendly droid and is working on the mystery of why the ship is there and how they’re going to salvage it.  Bill and the droid know that a security company owning a ship like that wouldn't be out of the ordinary but as they tinker around in the ships mainframe they find out that there are life pods heading straight for them at devastating speeds.  Bill realizes that the security company Blackbane wouldn't have left their ship without a contingency plan and in this case that plan happened to be sending some escape pods around the nearest planets orbit and crashing them into the ship.  At this point I was seeing the drama coming around the corner but I didn't really expect the surviving pods to be on the way to act as missiles.  I have to assume that the approaching pods are going to be the drama of the issue and the only thing I wonder, naturally, is if the pods are empty.  Bill has already said offhand that Blackbane is petty BA and the Darzinean's are some of the best soldiers in the galaxy so I wonder if we will be seeing any of these guys by issues end.  

Bill frequently attempts to regain communications with Teagan through their artificial intelligence called AVRI (Artificial Vehicular Resource Intelligence) and when he discovers the approaching pods he finally gets a hold of her.  Teagan is working on the ship and trying to get a solid communication link but Bill hits her with the bombshell that their finished if she can’t get the shields up and deflect the pods.  Through the dialog and thought bubbles we see why Bill trusts Teagan so much, she is basically the entire crew of the Enterprise wrapped into one!  She is a top notch mechanic and can run the mainframe, a software and hardware specialist, and possibly the most important person on the crew, at least how I see it.  

Teagan maneuvers an otherwise non maneuverable ship to take the brunt of the pods but two of them were still on course for the Warspray.  Bill and the android are caught near the impact and have to get resourceful really fast to stay alive.  Bill finds a ventilation shaft and makes a run for it before the fire catches up with him.  I know that Ty’r was correct when he said the Captain is resourceful and I have no doubt that he will be fine.  I also happened to notice that the pods hit directly where the androids were being kept and I wonder if that was a destruction of evidence tactic by the Darzinean or just a coincidence, but either way now there are androids floating out into space.  

Brigby and Ty’r were not near the accident but they definitely felt something and mention as much in dialog.  Their master plan is to get to the engine room and get the ship working so they can open doors and do all the stuff a powered ship allows.  The guys were successful in opening a door but to what I wasn't really sure, probably a power core of some sort.  No matter what, if they go to help the Captain or not, their still trying to get the ship up and online and at this point I hope they do so maybe they can stop the fires and fix the hole the pods blew in the side not to mention maybe get a line of communication so they’re not cut off from the Captain and Teagan.

Teagan has lost Bill again and is scrambling to fix the damage caused by the pods when she starts asking AVRI for help.  The AVRI system helps her but she gets a call from an officer that states she is in violation of her parole.  When it rains it pours, it seems they just can’t catch a break, until Teagan gets a report from AVRI saying that the ships shields were at 78% and the core was not only in tact it was running at a reasonable speed.  The AVRI has scanned the Harrier IV (their ship) and the Warspray (the salvage ship) but wasn't able to find the Captain.  Teagan see’s the wreckage of the life pods and notices they were in fact full of Darzinean’s.  At this point I wonder if the Darzinean’s knew they were on a suicide mission, I wonder if they’re actually trying to salvage anything from the ship themselves and just went into defense mode when they noticed the salvager crew.  So far the Darzinean’s are the biggest question I have because I feel like they can tie in this mystery to the first few issues and I’m also willing to bet that they play a large role in the coming issues.   

The book ends with Captain Bill as he makes his way through the duct system and out into the weapons depot where he discovers a gun ship of some kind and a ton of droids.  Because of the fact Brigby got into a crime family I assume that they would want any and all of the weapons but I wonder if the ship is more important than the droids or vice versa.  I would assume that a nice army of mindless droids would be nice for anyone trying to take something over but a reliable BA gun ship probably isn't a bad thing either.  

Issue one is a great introduction to the team and their little world, issue two is a great back story that brings the crew and issue three into perspective, and now I feel issue three is a real send off for the series.  Issue three is ramping up the action and developing the story and characters better than I could have asked for.  Salley keeps the mystery with the Darzinean’s and what is really going on with the Warspray but keeps adding layers to the story and the characters.  I really enjoy this series and if you do too I suggest you make your way to their Kickstarter because they have some really killer prizes and if you put in you can be more than just a supporter, you can be a part of it.  I linked to their issue four kickstarter but keep in mind that even if a project is funded it doesn't mean that the money won't go to production and I'm more than certain that issue five will have a kickstarter coming soon as well so if you felt like waiting for that you can be one of the first to contribute and swoop up some of those awesome rewards!

Some of the rewards include; digital and hard copies, signed issues and pinups by original artists including George Acevedo, T-Shirts, and any other thing that pops into their creative little heads.  I have no doubt that the prizes will as good or better for their next round and I admire what they have been able to do through Kickstarter, so check them out and contribute to help keep this galaxy salvaged.   

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Summons Review

Summons A Supernatural Fight Of Good VS. Evil

I’ve been super busy with life and everything that comes along with it, but I have also been on my game with the reviews.  So far for the last month or so I have put up something at least once a week and I hope to continue my trend.  I recently went back over my body of work and noticed that I was leaning heavy towards sci fi stuff from more known companies and thought maybe it would be a good idea to revisit something different and from the more indie labels.  I decide to do a review on Summons because I’m completely blown away by this books art as well as the general premise of the story.

Summons is; written, penciled, and lettered by Chris L. Williams, inked by Jake Isenberg, and colored by both Danielle Alexis St. Pierre (cover) and Victor Bartlett (Interior) and I have to hand it to them because I feel like this art is spectacular.  The cover features two of the main characters, Kristine Helios and the last agent of a group known as the M.E.G.A.S (mystic event gatherer and surveyor).  I understand that that may not mean much now but as I get into the review know that it will be clarified, just keep in mind that both characters are seriously BA and the cover features Kristine kneeling down with a dagger in her hand and some dragon/dog looking monsters behind her with the MEGAS guy behind her.  The MEGAS agent looks almost like Deadpool meets Emperor Palpatine, and I only say that because of his red and blue mask with blue and red trimmed cloak.  Both characters have glowing eyes and fierce looks to them that are only accentuated by the monsters around Kristine.  I made it the featured image on the left over here so you can get a real feel for what I'm describing.

The book begins with a four page panel that starts at Kristine’s eyes and pulls further out to reveal her standing in a half circle of troll looking monsters.  Again I have to say, the art is on point in every way, Kristine’s eyes are fierce like she is angry and ready to take care of business.  She provides some commentary about what it was like before the real world revealed itself but overall the first page is a simple but BA introduction to Kristine and her current struggles as someone that knows about and deals with supernatural things.  Page two is a continuance of the first page but it’s a five panel ass kicking that show cases Kristine’s abilities and ends on the next page with a killer profile of her holding a monsters head.  I enjoy the fight scene and the profile of Kristine but as a writer I really enjoy the way they put the exposition in as Kristine’s thoughts and explanations of the monsters.  I have mentioned before in previous reviews that one of my pet peeves is being thrown into a complicated world with complicated back stories and just being expected to know what is going on.  Williams gives a great explanation of what the creatures are and why their stalking her down.  The exposition is done well and sets up the premise of the book, Kristine is meant to get back the book of Summons.  The explanation is enough to get a good taste as to what she is facing and what she is seeking out but it doesn't over share and leaves something for us to discover as the book goes on.  The exposition continues with the profile page and Kristine explains her “edge” when dealing with these creatures called Monstrum.  Along with her dagger made for spear of destiny parts she has a “death rapport” that links her thoughts with the Monstrum she kills.  The death rapport doesn't yield anything good so Kristine is forced to summons her MEGAS buddy and we are lead to the next page where he is front and center but flanked by four panels of Kristine and one close up of his masked face.  I simply can’t say enough about the art, the MEGAS dude looks formidable and BA as the two of them chat about what transpired.  The exposition continues alongside an explanation of the MEGAS and what their all about.  Her new MEGAS buddy was “the 5th, sans a blonde Bruce Willis and half naked Milla Jovovich” and I have to say that I love the 5th Element reference.

Summons 15

Summons 14

So within the first four pages we are introduced to the two main characters, shown a nice fight sequence, and given a reasonable amount of exposition so we understand what is going on in Kristine’s world.  For me personally this book does what I expect from anything that has a complex world building around the reader; I need to know something, but not everything, I need to get a feel for the characters and their abilities, but not be overwhelmed by it.  Williams has already drawn me in and I’m hardly four pages into the read.  I definitely feel that the art helps me get drawn in but the story line has me as well.  The search for the book of Summons, the history of the MEGAS, and what sort of evil they face are all inventive and have me hooked.  The main characters are cool and heroic but not of the super hero ilk, more of the Constantine type, as is the world that is being set up.

Summons 12

After the beginning and the character introduction there is a short synopsis of how Williams describes his story.  I don’t normally quote things but I feel like his words are fairly poetic, and as a writer I enjoy these lines.

“Nothing meek shall inherit the Earth.  Humans are simply spectators.  Glorified animals caged by their own perception.  The real struggle, the real war… is fought by far greater beings.  They decide our fate, our purpose.  Everything depends on them.  Always has.  This is their story.  Their struggle.  And it is only the beginning.”

I know, epic... Right?  I really dig the way this feels and rolls off my tongue as I mouth it to myself.  After the first few pages and the realization of the mission and the book of summons this statement only beefs up the hype of the book and totally riles me up.

I have already been hooked with the art and the story of the first few pages but as I turn to the next page I see a “Chapter 1 Rude Awakening” and realize that the story has hardly started.  Kristine is clearly a late teen early twenty something, judging from the art, but as the story begins Williams reveals her true age while she narrates how awful school is.  I’m a man in my thirty’s but her clear contempt for school rings a bell with me, as does the three page narrative of Kristine thought bubbling her worries about college while trying to ignore the “self-absorbed, vapid, pima-donnas.”  I love this part because I have more than a few bad memories of self-absorbed A-holes in high school, as many comic book fans probably do, and Williams not only captures the essence of what many people deal with he does it while showing that Kristine is no push over.  Kristine has proven to be BA, but now we get a glimpse of her as a normal person dealing with normal people problems as well when she blows up at the girls talking trash.

Williams continues with Kristine making her way to the principal’s office when she stumbles upon the big football star that just happens to be her good buddy from childhood.  The banter between the two of them is natural, but flirty, and revealing of the true nature of their friendship.  Through dialog Williams shows us the nature of the relationship while also possibly foreshadowing some key plot points.  Football star Jared Lee reveals that his cousin has just died and was possibly into some shady things, which at first doesn’t sound very revealing but the art work really puts it into perspective with a close up of Jared’s face but behind him is a cloaked guy getting attacked by a hand that looks awfully menacing, like some of the monstrum from the beginning.

Summons 13

Williams shifts the book to three shadowy figures arguing about when to strike at Kristine and the mortal world but he leaves the dialog open until the next page when I turned and saw the up close of three shadowy monsters.  They argue when to strike and the shot caller declares that they wait until they find the book.  The art of the monsters is something to behold because their scary and mean as hell, with some of the best coloring I have ever seen.  The crew really out do themselves on this page, truly amazing art work.

The next seven pages are Kristine at home getting ready for bed when a monster attacks her by jumping through her window.  At this point we know that she doesn’t die and with the help of the MEGAS becomes pretty BA and this revelation comes to fruition when the MEGAS shows up to dispatch the Monstrum.  Again the art work is fantastic with the MEGAS and the monster fighting, my favorite being the first panel with MEGAS standing over the monster.  The panel is about three fourths of the MEGAS standing in front of a head shot of the monster.  The panel is colorful and gives a really nice profile of the MEGAS while still showing a scary version of the mostrum’s head up close.  The Monstrum has some really detailed features, including nasty teeth and a long gross tongue, everything a true monster should have.  As the MEGAS kills off the monster he screams “all hail Zombinos,” which is a nice piece of foreshadowing because I wonder if one of the shadowy monsters are Zombino or if he is going to be someone higher up the monster chain, but either way I’m excited to see Kristine and the MEGAS do their thing and kill them all.

Summons 9

MEGAS stops to holds a passed out Kristine and apologizes for his barging into her room to save her and explains the MEGAS formation.  Within the explanation of the MEGAS is also the explanation of how the book of Summons came about, as well as who Kristine is.  Kristine is somehow an intermediate between the forces of good or evil and the book.  MEGAS explains she is the newest of a long line of ancestors that held her powers and between him, her and another unknown person called “the warrior born” they have the potential to save the world.  The MEGAS explains that both her and the warrior born have the potential to be swayed to the bad side so it’s imperative that they start their quest to save the world and find the warrior born.

I was expecting this to be the end of the book but I turned to find one last page of a man running in the moonlight.  The final page is six panels of this man and a narrative of how he finally understood the MEGAS and the fight he was about to enter into.  He knew, all of a sudden, that he is essential to the never ending fight as well as the fact that they needed to get to the book of Summons.

Summons 11

I hate to keep gushing over the art, but seriously, it’s good.  All of the characters have a unique feel to them, no two are even remotely similar, except when supposed to be, and even then are done very different.  The Monstrum are the closest thing to similar in the book and their very different in their own ways.  The style of the art is something between cartoon and realistic and the colors are bright and popping.  Williams doesn’t slack on the story either, he clearly has an extensive world he is building but doesn’t bombard us with too much, he gives us exposition when needed and slides explanations into dialog to give it a natural feel.  I like the story and clearly the artwork but I have already read issue two and can’t wait for issue three.  This is the kind of indie book that makes me shake my head at the big two and ask them why they can’t be this BA.  Williams, Isenberg, Bartlett, St. Pierre; you guys deserve a firm handshake, a pat on the back, and more than anything you deserve to sell out of this book.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ninjak Review

Ninjak, Valiant's BA Ninja!

I pretty much love doing reviews and I have done a ton of stuff from publishers like Image and Boom! but I have yet to do anything from Valiant.  Until now! I felt like now would be a good time to talk about a Valiant book because; A) I haven’t done a Valiant book yet, B) they have some really cool properties that are pretty old but have also been redone, and C) they just signed a huge contract of movie rights.  DMG Entertainment signed a deal worth nine figures with Valiant for the movie rights to a few characters and if they play their cards right they could end up with a seriously good cinematic universe like the big two, particularly Marvel.

The book I chose for my first review is Ninjak.  I admitted already that Valiant has some BA characters and books like Bloodshot, Shadowman, Quantum and Woody, Archer and Armstrong, X-O Manowar, and many others, but I went with Ninjak for two reasons; it was the first issue, and I enjoyed it.  As many of you know I’m not about bashing books so my personal enjoyment is a major factor in the decision to do a review and I can say for sure that I enjoyed Ninjak.

Ninjak 3

The book starts with a fun little classified specification on Ninjak’s “Multi-Tool Battle Belt” so we get a nice little preview of the type of weaponry to expect and they package it up in a top secret style page which is fitting considering he is a M.I. 6 agent.  Although the tool belt is cool we all know the book isn’t starting there, it actually starts with a five panel page of a blind folded ninja fighting a bunch of other ninja’s while Cranes fly all around them.  I liked the start but it was just a tease because the second page is three panels of a child eating popcorn and watching a movie.  The only thing the page says is “Then” at the bottom and it quickly shifts to “Now” as they give us some exposition on Ninjak’s mission.

So within three short pages Ninjak draws us into a back story and kicks us in the face with a scary mission briefing of a super BA target named Roku.  Ninjak’s target, Roku, is killing a Russian prison guard that is trying to hold her in a custom made prison but the exposition is what is scary; she can either feel no pain or she likes it, and she has had “Genetic tailoring” so her hair can cut through metal and she can strangle a man with only three strands.  Yeah pretty BA if you ask me, but we all know that Ninjak isn’t going to be a push over himself.  All in all the exposition about Roku is three pages of her taking care of Russian prison guards but it all leads up to a killer one page shot of Ninjak holding his sword while he quotes a line from the movie he was watching earlier.  Told you, he wasn't going to be a push over.

Ninjak 1

Ninjak asked her if he was supposed to be impressed and true to the game Roku says “who cares” as she grabs a gun to attack Ninjak.  There are nearly three entire pages of fighting before they pick up the dialog and Ninjak clicks an explosive trigger.  A bomb goes off behind Roku and she is dazed but Ninjak just tells her to stop and he lets her go.  At that point I was wondering why he decided to let her go but he goes on to tell Roku he saved her life because she was going to hack into their system and trigger a nuke.  I guess maybe he did it to save them both but someone in his ear piece tells him to clean up before he blows up the base he rescued her from.  Of course the blast is formidable but what really impressed me was the fact that he gets into a stealth bomber looking plane to get away.  At this point I’m starting to draw comparisons to Batman; the Ninja like persona and the super cool belt, and now a BA plane.

[caption id="attachment_1294" align="alignnone" width="323"]Roku Roku[/caption]

Roku 2

After his mission in Russia and saving Roku the story flashes back to his childhood movie time and they reveal he lives in a castle with parents that could care less what he does with himself, probably has an Alfred and everything.  I’m more than convinced he is the clone of all BA characters like Bruce Wayne and James Bond, possible some other cool British characters, we will see.

The next page Ninjak gets debriefed at home and they show an aerial of Ninjak’s castle, and I have to say it is pretty stellar, certainly comparable to Wayne Manor.  Ninjak gets debriefed on his new assignment but just before it’s revealed what he is going to be up to next it’s revealed that Ninjak's name is Ninjak because he is actually Ninja K.  Makes sense to me, but I sort of thought it was because his name was Jack, more like Nin Jack, but it was nice to get some clarification.

During the debriefing it starts to get very spy like with the verbiage and new assignment to infiltrate a weapons maker and dealer.  We also learn that his in is because he financed the release of Roku, his right hand woman.  So all in all he has to get in and befriend a billionaire named Kannon, infiltrate his organization, and find out who the other seven leaders of a group named the Shadow Seven are.  No problem, right?  Well it seems pretty cake when he ends up singing karaoke with the guy.   I enjoy the way the book has been flowing as far as the "now" portion.  The way they transition and fit in the Roku mission with his new mission is done well, it provides clarification without being overt in a subtle but effective way.

I’m sure that things get crazy later but for now things flash back to when he is a child and is sneaking into his room but he gets caught by some big guy with a mustache.  At this point the only thing I don’t really dig is the short flashback story line.  I wish the flashback was more than a page here and there between the “now” parts, but I can see the back story setting up for something bigger or at least painting the picture as to why a little rich boy would want to become a ninja.

Ninjak 2

As the “now” part rolls on my hunch about things getting crazy with Kannon were right, they strip him and naked and drop him five miles outside of Tokyo expecting him to make it to an appointment at eight.  Ninjak is a ninja so of course he makes it on time but the next test had to be hard for Ninjak; he has to take a beating.  As a ninja I assume it would be hard to fight off the urge to kill all of them, but he does it with no problem.

The books main story line comes to an end with a “then” where he gets a whooping by the big guy with a mustache and a “now” where he earns the trust of Kannon and is granted anything he wants.  Ninjak asks him for a stealth jet outfitted with top secret nano-tech and chemical weapons payloads.  There is a small back story bonus at the end that chronicles a job ten years ago where he gets his butt kicked but it’s just a bonus to the actual story.

I certainly want to know more, that hook was way too good, and the questions I want to know are from both the then and now story lines.  I like the dual approach to the story line though they could do more with the then part.  There could be more, sure, but I’m still interested and still hooked.  I love the now part because it has everything a spy thriller fan could ask for, government agents up to and including Ninjak, bad guys and bad guy organizations, and other BA villainous people like Roku.  Ninjak hits on all cylinders and I’m glad I picked it for my first Valiant book.  I will definitely be checking out book two.



Sunday, March 22, 2015

Female's in Comics

A Discussion About Female's And Misogyny In Comics

I feel that recently there has been a certain segment of the feminist population that have become outspoken about misogyny in comic books and I feel that some of their complaints are justified, but I also feel that some are not.  A lot of the complaints are directed at the big two companies and characters like Power Girl, Starfire, or even Wonder Woman and their dress, as well as a general need for more woman/girls in comics.  I understand the want for characters that are not hyper sexualized and drawn with outrageous anatomies but I like to point out that the big two also have a rich history of crossover and addition of female characters.  DC has one of the most iconic super heroes of all time and I feel like Wonder Woman has been a positive character since the 1940’s, not to mention the many different, six to be exact, Batgirl’s.  It’s not just super heroes, anti-heroes like Catwoman, and straight up villains like Harley Quinn are a staple of DC as well.  I understand the idea of dressing them different and not making them hyper sexualized, but I feel like skimming over the fact that these characters are mostly empowering is not doing them justice.  Both of the big two have some amazing characters and some of them have amazing histories, not just in comics but as back stories as well.

As far as DC is concerned I think that Starfire is under the most scrutiny, or under the most fire, pun intended.  Princess Koriand’r, or Starfire, is most recently a part of Redhood and the Outlaws in the New 52 but she was created in 1980 and has been part of other teams like Teen Titan’s so there is plenty of history, not all of it overly sexual.  I understand that she is often portrayed in a fairly sexual manner with little clothes but by focusing on only this detail we have been sort of unfair to her history and depth as a character.  I just don’t feel that a panel or two of her in a sexy swimsuit takes away from the rich history of her people the Tamaran or the world she comes from.  Not all men that read comic books stop at the pictures, many of us can see past the sexualizing art, and we appreciate Starfire as a really amazing character.  There are times in the series that Jason Todd or Roy Harper are standing shirtless, all buffed out and sexy, but I have never heard anyone complain about that, and I feel that is because the story continues to grip the imagination and people can see through the panel and frame it with the overall story line.

[caption id="attachment_1273" align="alignnone" width="640"]Jason Todd and Starfire Jason Todd and Starfire[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1274" align="alignnone" width="247"]Starfire Starfire[/caption]

DC has made some strides towards comic book equality; the New 52 reboot has redone some of the staple characters like Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman, and recently added some new books like Gotham Academy featuring a teenage girl as the protagonist.  Even Harley Quinn got her own book, and if anyone wants to question the BA status of any of these characters then I implore them to read Suicide Squad and make an argument that Amanda Waller isn’t one of the most BA woman in comics today.  DC has heard the voices in demand of new female roles and heroes and believe me their creative wheels have been turning.  I feel that some of the ventures into female led comics have been dismissed because they were not successful.  Let us not forget a little book called The Movement that featured four teenage girls and two teenage boys as the team and also featured one of the girls as team leader.  It ran for a year but was cancelled after only twelve issues.

[caption id="attachment_1275" align="alignnone" width="640"]Virtue is team leader Virtue is team leader[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1276" align="alignnone" width="672"]Gotham Academy Gotham Academy[/caption]

As far as the big two companies I like what Marvel has been doing the most.  Not to take away from DC but Marvel has really stepped up their game in the attempt to kill stereotypes in comic books; in fact, they have done such a good job it’s hard to know where to start.  I feel like one of the most important things is the success of the female Thor character.  According to the BBC, and every other news organization, the female Thor books have out sold the male books over shooting a lot of people’s expectations and silencing the critics of the change.  I certainly don’t mind the change but I also don’t dismiss the critics that ask why they had to take a male character and make it female.  I see it from both sides, but I don’t understand the hate over it.  As much as it doesn’t bother me they changed Thor I have to wonder why they didn’t just make a new female character that was different, but the feminization of an already existing character is nothing new so the critics should realize that as well.  I think the biggest difference is the lack of misogynistic hate that exudes from a lot of the female Thor critics, I have no malice in my heart over it, and I just feel that the need for female characters is better served with new and refreshing characters versus reinventing male characters.

Female Thor

Even though I feel new characters is a good idea I like the crossover and world building stuff that Marvel has been doing with the Spider-verse, it’s reminiscent of Batman and the variations of Batgirl.  Through the Spider-verse story line Marvel has been able to introduce some really killer female characters like Silk, Spider Gwen, and Mayday Parker.  Instead of reinventing Spiderman they took the idea and built on it.  In my opinion having Peter Parker lead a bunch of other spider people doesn’t dilute the Spiderman name like changing the characters sex does.  The preservation of the original is what has people like me upset, but it’s also the reason I would like to see new female characters.  I feel that the Spider-verse alternative is done very well because the other spider people are similar enough to get the Spiderman feel but it doesn’t dilute Peter Parker at all, Peter’s legacy as Spiderman is only enhanced by Miles Morales, Gwen Stacy, and all the other Spider-verse people and instead of shifting the emphasis they share it.  All the Spider-verse people are comparable to Peter and they can have their own books, best of both worlds, just like the Batman/Batgirl dynamic.


There have been plenty of times that I have seen a male character with an outrageously good body that was needlessly shirtless and ripped like a Greek god.  I feel that the big difference may very well be that I don’t care and that sight doesn’t draw out any negative emotions in me.  I’m certainly not trying to tell anyone how to feel or think about an issue, I’m simply drawing a conclusion that may or may not be correct.  For me, personally, I never thought about the issue of dress with female super heroes until I saw a few articles and videos on the matter, but touche to the people that noticed and wanted a change because I can see clear changes that have happened and I can see even more changes coming down the pipe.


Not saying that people are wrong to feel the way they feel and I’m not attacking people for feeling the way they do, but I would like to see some recognition for the good things going on within DC and Marvel.  They have made a concerting effort to do better and be better; I think that deserves at the least a golf clap of recognition.  I also feel that anyone yearning for more female protagonists should check out more indie books because there is no shortfall in female protagonists in indie books.  I have done reviews on a lot of stuff and a ruling majority has had either main female protagonists or at the least have had secondary female characters.  The Empty, Cluster, Magdalena The Seventh Sacrament, and Pregnant Bitches of War are all reviews I have done and they all have female protagonists; and everything else I have reviewed has at least a female character if not a strong supporting female protagonist.  If the success of the new Thor or the demise of The Movement has taught us anything it’s that comic book consumers care about one thing and one thing only… quality.  I feel like the best thing to do is to buy the books that feature great female characters and spread the word so others buy it too, that way creators can continue with their visions and let the market climate decide if they keep going, because as much as consumers like quality creator companies like money.  If an artist team has a hit like the new Thor it will show, and if not it will go the way of The Movement.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Theodicy Review

A Religious Adventure That Explores Theodicy

Everyone knows and I have been unabashed about my love for nearly everything sci fi, but few of you know I have another weakness… religion.  So far I have only been able to find one really good religious comic book to talk about and ironically enough I posted that last Christmas.  Even though Theodicy is religious it has nothing in common with The Magdalena The Seventh Sacrament, my last review of a religious nature.

Theodicy is available at Indyplanet and comixology, but you can also read about it at their blog and link to it yourself.  Theodicy is written by Chad Handley, penciled by Fernando Brazuna, inked by Ryan Boltz, colors by Minan Ghibliest, and lettered by Kel Nutall.  The art is done very well and it works well for the sort of book it is.  With the nature of this book Nutall gets a workout, it’s a very word heavy book that focuses a lot on the story and dialog of characters versus the visual story telling that we see a lot with comics, and I’m good with this.  I truly feel that comics are one of the greatest mediums, some comics tell a great story without a character saying a word and sometimes the book becomes in depth and more involved in the dialog.  Guess which one Theodicy is.

According to Merriam-Webster theodicy is, “Defense of God’s goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil” and yes I did have to Google it.  I feel like this is an amazing title because everyone, whether they know it or not, struggles with the thought of theodicy, and most people base their belief or disbelief on their interpretation of theodicy, characters in this book included.

The cover gets straight to the point of evil in this world as it features a young boy with his arms and legs cut off.  The image sets the tone well before it starts with the story.  Theodicy starts off with a man named Paul unloading some pretty hardcore atheist arguments to what turns out to be his future parent in laws.  Of course the fiancé doesn’t take kindly to his smug, arrogant, and rude speech and gives him back his ring as she tells him he needs to find something or someone and let it all out.  After reading his diatribe I was leaning towards agreement with his fiancé because it was pretty smug, especially because he did it at a nice dinner with the future in laws.

After the first few pages of Paul and his fiancé Theodicy turns to a second story where a catholic priest named John, his Monseigneur, and an attorney argue a contract that requires a young woman to leave the priests care and turn herself into her debtor.  Father John argues vehemently for the poor girl but in the end he loses.  Father John has already described the institution the girl is going to as some sort of horrible brothel where the girls are drugged and used up and that thought is only reinforced when a military looking force shows up to take her away.

theodicy panel 2

During these panels with Father John I can tell that he is being faced with doubt but another priest tries to remind him that he is a good guy and has done everything he can do but Father John points to the boy with no arms or legs as a sign of his doubt.  I feel like this exchange sums up the ideas behind this book, a poor little child that has never done anything to anyone and deserves so much more as he lays helpless with no limbs, and how can God let something like that happen?  What could this child possibly done to deserve such a fate?  Why won’t God do something?  And probably most important to this book, how can anyone believe in a God that allows such things to happen?

I believe the struggle of how God can let bad things happen is what keeps the man Paul an atheist but because of his exchange with the parent in laws and the loss of his fiancé he is compelled to attend a church service.  Paul at church is only one page with six panels but the artists involved do an amazing job at showing his skepticism about religion through body language and facial expressions as he sits and watches a baptism.  It’s a quick page but it’s also powerful and meaningful to the story.

After Paul and the baptism the story shifts back to Father John as he does some magic for some kids and talks to a woman named Kate that appears to be a nurse or a doctor.  They talk about the magic trick and Kate tells him that their MRI machine is acting up.  Father John seems to be a jack of all trades because he agrees to look at it again, hinting that it has been on the fritz before, but also through dialog they reveal that Father John is somewhat of a mystery to Kate because she asks how a father could fix an MRI let alone build one.  The more I see Father John the more I like him and I feel like I could be a Catholic if everyone in the church was as caring as he seems to be.

Father John and Kate make their way to the conference room to meet with the Monseigneur, another priest, and a little boy.  They discuss the boy and through dialog it’s hinted that the boy is at the center of some sort of healing miracles.  They talk about him being healthy other than losing his voice but apparently they have no explanation of how a few of the people near him miraculously came out of a coma and went into cancer remission.  Father John doesn’t think he is a miracle worker, he says he just doesn’t believe the kid is special in anyway.  Father John is clearly starting to lose faith and become disillusioned by the thought of a God that can allow so much misery.  I understand the feeling of being overwhelmed and under qualified to deal with so much and I feel like mentally Father John is losing the faith.

theodicy panel 1

Father John leaves the meeting and goes to prepare for a mass where the young boy with no limbs comes to receive the Eucharist from Father John.  The boy’s mother brings him in with a wheel borrow and the entire church stares in wonder while the boy comes in.  Father John losses it a little bit and makes a small speech about “Just what kind of God you serve” and walks out.  Even though Father John leaves the woman and her child are more than happy to have been there.  I love the contrast between the believers, non-believers, and people like Father John who seem to be somewhere between.  I truly believe that faith is a never ending struggle and this is portrayed perfectly.

Hours after Mass Father John gets a visit in his invention room by the other Father that brought the kid with no limbs and the two fathers have a conversation about Father John harboring his doubts.  Father John is an inventor and a practical guy so when he sees practical issues he has a problem with all of the impractical suffering.  I understand and I see where the ideas of a godless world meets the thought of so much suffering but I struggle with Father John losing his faith, I never like to see the good guys get disillusioned to the point that they stop trying.

The story flashes back to Paul as he sits in the church getting ready for a showdown with God.  I actually do this all the time, I just call it prayer, but Paul is on another level with his lack of faith in any God let alone Jesus or the Christian God.  Paul’s rants to God is not by any means unfounded, he reveals his upbringing that was heavily Christian, he speaks of a brutal way of losing his parents, and has an all-around good reasons for being bitter and unbelieving, but before he can finish his rant he looks down to notice that he is standing on water.  Of course the second he notices this small miracle he falls into the water only to pop up with a look of amazement on his face.  I feel like Paul needed that moment with God for him to realize that he is bitter about some things in his life and come to terms with it.  In my eyes the root of most disbelief, at least with atheists like Paul, stems from personal loss and personal examples of suffering and pain.  I don’t blame people and the argument is fairly solid but people like Paul don’t account for the free will of man.  Naturally man’s heart is not pure and free will causes pain.  Paul is mad that God didn’t keep the Garden of Eden as the blueprint for the world, and I get that, especially when he lost his parents so brutally.

Handley leaves us with Father John being woken up by an alarm and scrambling to get people inside the gates to avoid a raid by collection agents like the ones in the beginning that came for the girl.  Although he expected collection agents there were none; he ran out to find the limbless boy standing with limbs next to his mother, and the mute child that heals people.  I enjoyed the book and I feel like this hook is inescapable, it just leaves way too many questions.  Is God real?  Does Paul convert?  Is the healing mute child a gift from God?  Are any of the things that happened real?  What is going to happen to Father John?  Just after the final panel there is a wonderful little synopsis that has a definition of theodicy so you don’t have to Google it like I did, but it also has a synopsis of what the crew attempted to accomplish by writing this.  They focus on Paul the atheist and Father John as they deal with people like the mute boy and form an unlikely alliance.

I was impressed mostly by the thoughtful and intense dialog but please don’t think that because it’s word heavy that the illustrations lose out in anyway because they don’t.  The book is an all-around success and it takes on a very serious issue from both sides and with class, that can be hard to do and they certainly pull it off.  I’m glad that someone out there had the wherewithal and courage to tackle such a controversial topic, and they did it from both sides, which only adds to the appeal.

Theodicy image