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Archive for November, 2009

Reviewer: Sienna Rockette

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

“An‘ The Word Was Law.”

I knew it the minute I finished the first issue of North 40 that it would become a favorite around the office and when an office filled with comic junkies love something you can expect them to hound the reviewer for a chance to read it as well. That’s how I know a comic managed to surpass all expectations and offer a story that all comic fans can really love no matter what genre you love the most. In the second issue of North 40, the brilliant art and storytelling continues so yes my fellow reviewers want it badly.

In North 40 #2, the aftermath of the event that shook Conover County and changed the people living within a few miles of the local library (where two bored teens awakened some ancient power) in the town of Lufton is finally becoming a nightmarish reality to those who have come to realize that there‘s something different about their surroundings. Some of them have even gained strange new abilities while the other half were freakishly transformed physically.

One of these freaks is Dave Atterhull who has become a hulking monstrosity that is currently smashing The Howdy Holler a new back entrance with a vehicle he picked up as if it were made of aluminum foil and cardboard. It isn’t until the waitress named Luanne who has the power to “see” sends Sheriff Morgan a message via a crow that the lawman steps up to the plate to put an end to Dave’s rampage to rescue a barmaid inside the bar.

Dave, as the Sheriff can see, has become an unstoppable force to be reckoned with but the man doesn’t even blink when he confronts Atterhull. It seems all of Dave’s kin have crowned him king of the Atterhull family and it becomes very clear that they intend on taking over Conover County … a feat that won’t be so simple seeing as they come to realize that Dave isn’t the only one that’s been enhanced by whatever caused the unusual occurrence.

Back in the farm, Wyatt comes home to find his father in the most unusual state and he’s not sure whether the man is dead or living. Meanwhile, the town bully named Dwyer Martin comes knocking on Wyatt’s door by telepathically sending a pitchfork flying down on the farm boy’s foot. Luckily, for Wyatt, his super strength allows him to be nearly unbreakable as we saw in the first issue when he took a shotgun blast at point-blank range. As the two super powered youths fight it out, Amanda Walker receives instructions by the old witch to head out to Conover County’s own Ground Zero and team up with Sheriff Morgan.

Meanwhile, Luanne sends word that it might not be a good idea for the survivors to stay outdoors after dark. There’s something coming, she says, and there’s a barrier surrounding the county line that just won’t let anything pass. It’s clear that they’re all stuck where they are until they’re able to sort out the entire mess. It also doesn’t take long before another major threat pops up.

Things are just getting even more interesting as we can see in North 40 #2 and, as the after effects of the event that lead to the county’s transformation just barely begins to come to light, Sheriff Morgan attempts to bring some law and order to his town. Of course, that won’t be easy seeing as there’s more than enough freaks and monsters that the survivors must deal with in the upcoming issues. Consider us hooked on this one.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
In the wake of the supernatural event that changed Conover Count, many of the folks in the little town is coming to terms with their new abilities and other unusual changes. As Amanda Walker comes to learn her role in all this craziness, the good Sheriff is trying to keep some order … by way of a little bird sent by somebody in town. Meanwhile, farm boy Wyatt finds himself going up against the town bully who has powers of his own.

ART: A+
The art by Fiona Staples is still simply yet another reason you will love this series and it continues to be just as eye-catching in this second issue.

OVERALL: A
As the mystery behind the “blackout” is still just that, the handful of people that have developed abilities are slowly coming together in the second issue of North 40. Things are certainly going to get a lot more interesting as the Sheriff tries to bring some order in all the chaos. This series just keeps getting better and better.

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Reviewer: Emma Coverdale

Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Writer: David Lapham, Jeff Lemire, Alex De Campi, Chris Offutt, M.K. Perker, Paul Grist, Rick Geary, Ken Lizzi, Gary Phillips, Ed Brubaker, Brian Azzarello and Matthew and Shawn Fillbach
Artist: Hugo Petrus, Joelle Jones, Eduardo Barreto, Sean Phillips, Kano, Stefano Gaudiano, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $12.95
Release Date: Available Now

As a fan of crime fiction and, even better, crime comics, Noir: A Collection of Crime Comics was one of those graphic novels I could not ignore. Rarely has Dark Horse ever disappointed me with the titles under the crime genre and now I must say I have a new favorite with Noir. The reason is simple: it contains a collection of short stories told by some of the industry’s most talented writers and artists and boy are these stories wonderfully grim.

With 13 stories by brilliant minds such as Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Paul Grist and Gary Phillips (just to name a few), the stories are on the short side but are no less exceptional. In fact, the bite-sized nature of the stories actually work well. Starting with David Lapham’s “Open The Goddamned Box” where a pair of angry boys take a female classmate captive and stuff her in a box and continues with a story by Jeff Lemire about a farmer on the verge of losing his land to a bank when fortune smiles upon him when a wounded bank robber ends up in his barn.

Fans of Mister X and the Kane series will not be disappointed seeing as there are two short stories featuring the characters from the series. In “Mister X: Yacht on the Styx,” Mister X helps journalist Rosetta Stone try to uncover the mystery behind a massacre that might have involved a dead shipping magnate. In “Kane: The Card Player,” Detective Kane and Detective Felix look into the case of a burglar that leaves a calling card. It’s certainly great to find short stories with Mister X and Kane and these two stories are actually good.

There are also some truly gruesome crime stories such as “The Albanian” where an Albanian nightshift custodian arrives on time to witness the finale of a disgruntled employee’s macabre handiwork. In “The Last Hit,” a seasoned hitman goes up against a younger hitman. Then, in “21st Century Noir” a young man meets a sexy woman online and has a chance encounter that goes sour. It’s the more gruesome stories that actually make Noir even more fascinating.

“The New Me” finds a gym’s personal trainer hitting on just about every woman in the place only to find himself interested in a woman that suddenly becomes more attractive now that she’s lost all the weight. What makes this an interesting tale is the reason why she got fit and what she has in store for the playboy personal trainer. In “Blood On My Hands,” a man thinks his wife is cheating on him so he orders a hit with an unexpected aftermath. There’s even a text short story called “Trustworthy” where a man hooks up with a woman who comes with her own baggage of the deadly kind.

Some stories are actually wonderfully written but just feel out of place in this graphic novel for some reason. “Ladies’ Choice,” for instance, finds a bored woman whose boyfriend think’s he’s a tough gangster when a cowboy shows up and sweeps her off her feet. “Fracture” deals with a woman who wonders what would happen if she pushed a homeless person in front of a subway train. Finally, there’s the short story “The Bad Night” that has a familiar content for those who know who recognize the surprise ending.

As I mentioned in the beginning, this graphic novel contains short stories written by some of the most talented writers and artists working in comics and it shows. All the stories, even the ones that I felt didn’t seem like they belonged in this collection, are not only intriguing but fun stories to read. Many of them are actually unforgettable gems.

Noir: A Collection of Crime Comics is just how I love my crime comics … gritty, dark and downright brilliant. With a collection of talented writers and artists, the stories might be on the short side but they will not fail to impress and to put on smile on your face from beginning to end. Yes, comic fans, it is just that good so trust me when I say that you will most definitely want to pick up a copy immediately.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
There are several standout stories among the collection as well as some Dark Horse favorites like Mister X and Kane show up in interesting short stories. There are some deliciously twisted stories like “21st Century Noir” and “Open the Goddamned Box” as well as story or two with no real crime but the best ones are violent and unforgettable.

ART: A
There’s certainly no shortage of amazing artists on display whether you love Jeff Lemire’s interesting visual style, Eduardo Barreto’s classic artistic vision or Hugo Petrus’ wonderfully detailed artwork.

OVERALL: A+
Noir isn’t just a collection of brilliant crime stories but it is also one of the most darkly enjoyable rarities that make this a real gem for fans of the genre. All of it, of course, is due to the enormously talented writers and illustrators that bring these short stories to life on the pages of this Must Have graphic novel.

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