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Archive for September, 2009

Unknown Soldier HH 1

Reviewer: Eden Zacarias

Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics)
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $9.99
Release Date: Available Now

CR Editor's Choice Award

You know you found an amazing graphic novel when the story grabs a hold of you so tightly that you can’t put it down or even want to once you open it. Like many comic collectors and hardcore comic junkies, like myself, my growing library of favorites that fall into the category I just described continues to grow and even more so when works like Joshua Dysart and artist Alberto Ponticelli’s Unknown Soldier: Haunted House comes along. Consider this one of this year’s most poignant, frightening and outstanding comic series that deserves to be in your library.

Unknown Soldier tells the story of Doctor Lwanga Moses who fled Uganda with his family when he was 7-years old when the Tanzanian soldiers and a formidable group of Ugandan exiles forced the Idi Amin Dada Oumee out of their soil. He has since became a pillar of his community as an African-American and later graduating from Harvard Medical School. Yet he has always considered himself a son of Uganda and, along with his lovely Ugandan wife Lwanga Sera, they join the Humanitarian Affairs relief effort in Kampala to treat patients in the nearby Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.

Conditions have not improved one bit even with the change in government and the atrocities have become way too common in the region as the two doctors can see as they treat children who have been mutilated and disfigured by rebels. Then, one day, a group of children cry out for help when they were attacked by a small group of armed rebels who have taken the sister of one of the boys. Moses carelessly runs into the clearing where he is confronted by children with guns. As he watches as one of the soldiers that helps guard the camp get shot to ribbons and the young girl an obvious victim of rape, Moses reacts violently and ends up killing one of the young rebels with his own gun.

Out of despair and not fully understanding the voice in his head that made him react, the good Doctor begins to disfigure his own face to make the voice stop. When he wakes up, he finds his face bandaged and under the care of a kind Australian nun who overseen an orphanage for girls. Meanwhile, back in the IDP camp, Sera is worried about her husband as she contacts official channels asking for help. In a town not too far away, two American men confront another man named Jack Lee Howl who is definitely a “company man” who is asked to locate Dr. Lwanga.

When a raid on the orphanage by a Christian rebel group kick starts that angry voice inside him, Moses takes action only to be captured by the rebels. Dressed in a priest’s clothes – seeing as this is the only men’s clothing the Sister had – he is mistaken for a man of the cloth and is unharmed. It is in the rebel camp that he meets the leader, a cruel man who with a twisted sense of faith in God, who tells them that his men need wives and will not let the orphan girls go. It is then that the voice returns and guide’s Moses’ hand to kill again. As he works to get those girls out of the rebel camp, he loses count of how many rebels he kills.

What is the voice he keeps hearing and why does Moses have horrible nightmares of him breaking his own beloved wife’s neck? For that matter, why does he experience strange flashbacks of his past in America and of strange experiments that might have been done on him? More importantly, how does a medical doctor become an experienced killing machine? These are the questions that plague Moses as he gets the girls back to the orphanage and he is finally reunited with his sweet wife.

When the rebel leader makes his way into the IDP camp in search of Moses, the killing machine is awakened again as Moses accepts his dark side to take out the remaining rebels and face off against the leader. In the end, what was once Lwanga Moses is gone and in his place is an unknown warrior that will not stop killing until there is peace in his homeland.

With powerful imagery, great characters and an unforgettable story, Unknown Soldier: Haunted House is not only an amazing read but also a relevant work of art. This is also a great beginning to what is sure to become one of those graphic novels that will be right up there with some of the most noteworthy classics. Yes, this is high praise but if you pick this one up you will see it is praise well deserved. This is certainly on the top of our most Highly Recommended list.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
It’s 2002 and the northern region of Uganda is suffering the effects of the guerilla war between rebel extremists and the government yet this doesn’t stop Doctor Lwanga Moses and his beautiful physician wife from returning to their homeland to do some good. Then one horrific moment turns the kind Doctor into a disfigured killer who stands up for a group of orphans taken by a vicious Christian rebel group.

ART: A+
A truly visceral experience from start to finish, Alberto Ponticelli’s art certainly compliments the story well enough that sometimes words aren’t needed to convey the emotion and drama. This is great work from a brilliant artist.

OVERALL: A+
Unknown Solider: Haunted House is what masterpieces are made of and it just doesn’t get any better than what Dysart and Ponticelli offers. It is, simply put, one of the most powerful, moving and utterly compelling work worthy of being on the very top of your Favorite Comic Of All Time list. Whatever you do, do not miss this amazing series.

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North40#1

Reviewer: Sienna Rockette

Publisher: WildStorm (DC Comics)
Writer: Aaron Williams
Artist: Fiona Staples
Genre: Comic Book
MSRP: $2.99
Release Date: Available Now

“Now entering Conover County.”

Rare is the comic that has me so caught up in its universe that I have go back and read it all over again to savor its creativity once again. Mind you, this is rare for me and I haven’t done that in quite some time but it was North 40 #1 that has made me do just that. If you’re looking for a comic that has the ability to creep you out and suck you into its world then look no further because North 40 delivers.

Conover County doesn’t have much in terms of a history nor does it have much going on so you can imagine why teens Robert and the Goth girl he calls “Lady Dy” pick up the book in their local library that was sent to them from Vidette University’s restricted section of its library. When they open the book they begin to almost automatically read its passages when the library literally explodes.

At the time before the book opened, Sheriff Morgan is once again going through his Friday night ritual of hauling drunken and abrasive David to the slammer. Not far away, Brad who just so happens to be the Major’s son, is trying to convince an unlucky gal to join him in the Super Stayalot Motel. In the diner down the road, a young waitress named Luanne has no interest in joining her fellow schoolmates in tonight’s dance. Driving down that road in not too far from that is Wyatt who is out running unnecessary errands for his father. Then there’s Amanda Walker who is hiding from a bunch of drunk boys that got too rough with her when she hears a comforting voice talk to her from somewhere.

Everything goes dark for these people as they all instantly fall asleep.

When they wake up the following morning, Conover County and its residents has gone through a strange transformation. The library is reduced to rubble and Sheriff Morgan – untouched by the strange event – realizes that his handcuffed prisoner not only escaped but also twisted the handcuffs as if they were made of Silly Putty. What comes home to the trailer park is David, alright, but his appearance has greatly changed. Wyatt wakes up realizing he just got into a collision with a shotgun-wielding townie only to realize that Wyatt has super strength and just when he realizes that he can fly … he gets run over by a vampire-like creature that looks like it a woman. Suddenly, Sheriff Morgan realizes that there are monsters in his town.

While Brad is dealing with his undead girl and Luanne coming to the realization that nothing can leave Conover County breathing, Amanda Walker wakes up to the voice she heard before she and everyone in the county blacked out. The voice is both warm and comforting and even when the person tells her that Amanda was meant to be the stranger’s apprentice and that she would gain great power used to combat “he who sleeps but now is awake.” She’s even given a symbol that would show her authority.

As Wyatt deals with the vampire that is trying to sink her fangs into him, he gets help from the Sheriff who doesn’t seem to have been affected by the event. He lends the young man a hand but comes to realize that he will need Wyatt but for what remains to be seen. While we do get a good peek at the supernatural elements and Lovecraft-inspired monsters, Williams does a brilliant job of weaving the story that is sure to get even more better in the next issues. Topped off with gorgeous art from Fiona Staples who makes the images really come to life.

It’s work like North 40 #1 that makes me glad I love comics and even more so when the tale is cleverly told and the panels filled with amazing art that brings it all together in a perfect package. As the story introduces its players and the power of the dark force that was awakened, we can only sit back and wait for the next volume and the next with much anticipation. This one is definitely a winner and one we will carefully keep an eye on for sure.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
In the dusty shotgun-loving Conover County, two bored-out-of-their-minds teens open an unusual book of ancient power that instantly puts everyone to sleep. When they all wake up, however, the aftermath of the event is powerfully evident and downright strange. As a few people try to make sense of what is going on in their county, a girl is being prepared to combat a supernatural threat heading their way.

ART: A+
The art by Fiona Staples is, by far, some of the best we’ve seen and it fits this series beautifully to the point that you can’t help but going back and reading this one all over again. Even the cover is easy on the eyes.

OVERALL: A
Genuinely creepy and wildly imaginative, North 40 has all the makings of an instant classic and a comic you should definitely not miss. The first issue alone manages to outshine anything even Stephen King could dream up and that’s saying a lot right there. Consider us hooked on this series and if you pick it up so will you.

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RedHerring#1

Reviewer: Emma Coverdale

Publisher: WildStorm (DC Comics)
Writer: David Tischman and Philip Bond
Artist: David Hahn
Genre: Comic Book
MSRP: $2.99
Release Date: Available Now

“Blue Makes Her Look Fat.”

As a conspiracy junkie myself, the prospect of a comic book about secret organizations, government cover-ups and other conspiracy theories linked to UFOs had me anticipating the arrival of the first issue of Red Herring. When it finally arrived, I found myself hoping – no – wishing that it would be just as good as I imagined it would be and the truth is that it’s not only very promising but Red Herring also has all the makings of a truly unforgettable series.

In the country’s capital, a young woman by the name of Maggie MacGuffin prepares herself for yet another day at work. Going through the usual motions of chatting with her mother while getting dressed in front of her two roommates, Maggie wonders if she likes the direction her life is going or whether or not she likes the man her mother is dating. She even wonders about her job as an aide to a Democrat Congressman representing the state of Florida. She tells herself she even likes being tossed about the room by said Congressman who she is having an affair with seeing as the man is married.

In other words, Maggie questions her life and her happiness. That makes her a lot like everyone else and thus likeable character we can certainly relate to in this series. In the same city, two men in suits and looking very much like government spooks are speaking to a man named Meyer Weiner (get it?). Weiner is looking to help the two agents, one of which is a redheaded male who also goes by the moniker “Red Herring”). The man is asked to give the red haired man some documents and will meet in the park at night.

The story also focuses on a moment in 1951 in Fort Worth, Texas when a General comes knocking on the door of a secretive government building where a man in a white lab coat shows him a most startling item that was shipped from Roswell, New Mexico. The sight of the thing in the locker is enough to shock the General and offer all the resources the man might need. How this event will tie in to the story remains to be seen but it certainly covers the conspiracy aspect of the series.

Speaking of conspiracies, we also meet the heads of The Capricorn Group, a well-financed private foundation with a special interest in global security and the ability to bend political matters by way of creating demonstrations and other actions. This is where Weiner works and organizes the group’s file as a clerk. Ah, the plot definitely thickens. This fact doesn’t sit well with the new Security Chief, Cademon Hoyle.

When Maggie gets a call from who she thinks was the Congressman looking for a late night tryst when she gets attacked by a familiar face. In fact, she is nearly strangled to death and dropped beneath a small bridge where she is discovered by yet another familiar face who was waiting for Weiner to show up. It is here where the real story begins as these character’s lives collide on this fateful night.

A very promising start for a series about conspiracies and intrigue, Red Herring’s first issue is not only well-written but it also has good art that makes this a nice little package worth opening. While it’s still too early to tell how this story will turn out, what we see so far is a story that just aims to be an interesting series with a lot to offer.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: B+
Maggie MacGuffin tells herself that she likes her body, her job and the Congressman who she has an affair with in her life as the Congressman’s aide. On the other side of the spectrum is a man known as the “Red Herring” who is plans on bringing down an organization that might just control the government itself. These two people will meet on a fateful night that will change both their lives.

ART: A-
David Hahn’s art is still a personal favorite artist of mine since Bite Club: Vampire Crime Unit and he does a magnificent job with this first issue.

OVERALL: B+
Red Herring has all the makings of a truly intriguing and downright appealing series that is worth checking out if you love a tale with interesting twists and turns. This is also a well-written and wonderfully drawn first issue that definitely shows a lot of promise. I know we’re definitely going to check out the next issue.

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Hello, you might not know me but you may know my big brother Edward Zacarias who is the editor-in-chief of the blog site, Animanga Nation. In our household, we have stacks of classical literature and books about art but the collection our house is most proud of is the gargantuan library that holds our greatest treasure … comics!

Of course, big brother has always been fond of manga over any other graphic novels and has had a long love affair with anime since our father came back from a business trip to Japan with VHS tapes introducing him to Robotec and Astro Boy.

As for me, give me Marvel and give me DC. Give me homegrown domestic or foreign graphic novels. If we were living in Cuba I’d be the one smuggling in great classics such as The Watchmen or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to the people who want it so badly. I love The Punisher and swoon at the sight of Batman. I’m no Archie and Jughead girl because my heart belongs to The Walking Dead.

And so, with that in mind, I decided to open my office right next to big brother’s office to form our own blog site. I even gather my small army of revolutionaries as well, one of which also writes and helps keep Animanga Nation in line … the admirable and dedicated anime/manga addict Faith McAdams. Here’s the rest of my staff …

Sienna Rockette, AKA Reviews Editor, is my former High school BFF who would ditch with me to our local comic book store and buy a bunch of comics to read in the park nearby. She’s been addicted to comics as long as I have and has a boy-like love for boy’s comics like the X-Men. Her favorite graphic novels happen to be Y: The Last Man.

Emma Coverdale, fellow reviewer, Emma has literally grown up in a comic book store her parents owned and operated in Chicago. While their parents retired, her love for comic books has never retired along with them. She is a lover of manga too, which shows you how much she loves all comics.

Jerry Tilden began reading comics at the tender age of 3 … of course all he could do was look at the pretty drawings and drool on them. He always tells us that when he was growing and given the choice between getting a toy or getting a graphic novel he would pick the graphic novel every time.

So, we’re just getting started here so I hope you will stay by our side and join our little revolution as we bring you comic reviews and other comic propaganda.

Long live the revolution!

Eden Zacarias
Editor-in-Chief

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