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Archive for February, 2011

 

Reviewer: Eden Zacarias

Publisher: Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)
Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Jason Latour
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $19.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now

Having inherited my love for classic film noir movies of yesteryear from my father and a box filled with old crime comics from my grandfather, Vertigo’s Vertigo Crime line has been a favorite for a long while now and, while past releases had touches of classic noir, it is releases like Noche Roja that was made for Vertigo Crime so those of us who love their crime comics as black as their coffee will not be disappointed in the very least.

Noche Roja, you see, draws its inspiration from the gruesome murders of women living in Juarez, Mexico. With so many women missing and found dead, the city has earned a most unflattering reputation and has brought to light something everyone already knows … politicians and criminals walk hand-in-hand while nothing is done for the victims. Oh, Simon Oliver tells us a tale that rings true, alright.

We meet Jack Cohen, an ex-private investigator who currently sells home security devices, who is trying hard to push aside an incident from his past that still haunts him. Then, like most classic crime stories, in walks a beautiful woman by the name of Paloma Flores with a proposal that will reopen the old wounds of said past incident that took place in Mexico.

You see, Paloma runs a woman’s aid agency south of the border protecting women’s rights and the disappearance of a factory worker in the border town is a cause for alarm since the bodies of six other women working the same factory have been found in a state of mutilation. She asks Jack to accompany her to Mexico and find out who is behind the murders. While Jack swore he wouldn’t return to Mexico, he accepts it anyway merely because Jack Cohen might have turned his back on his past but he is still noble.

Traveling with Paloma to the border town on the other side, Jack discovers that the countries bad elements still run the show. With a political candidate that Jack knows to have a shady past going up against another candidate that smells of corruption, Jack can see that this won’t be a simple job. As Paloma and Jack start asking questions about the missing girl, a band of thugs called Los Juniors try to forcefully get them out of their barrio. On top of that, they’re being trailed by a white van.

Meanwhile, Paloma tries to get women from the factory to attend her meeting to talk about the working conditions of the factory while Jack decides to shift his investigation to the factory as well … particularly the men in charge. Jack manages to trick his way into the factory to meet the factory manager who is a sleazy individual that Jack feels is just a small part of something more crooked.

Then Jack meets a familiar face that is the currently the Mayor of the city who forces Jack to face his past. It is through Mayor Hank that we learn more about Jack’s past and his connection to an old acquaintance that works for Mayor Hank’s political rival as well as the murder of Jack’s reporter friend. It becomes painfully clear that Mayor Hank as well as other interested parties want Jack out of Mexico and to show him they mean business they take drastic measures that convince both Jack and Paloma that they cannot win this fight.

Oh, but then again a friend of Jack’s makes a whopper of a discovery that sends both Jack and Paloma back into enemy territory for a final confrontation that will not fail to surprise. As I said in the beginning, Simon Oliver tells a story that rings true and he tells it with style that is pure pulpy flare that it feels like a classic crime tale. Even the dialogue has a perfect film noir flavor that is unmistakable and that’s a very good thing for the Vertigo Crime line. Then there’s Jason Latour’s art with its dark tones that sets the mood perfectly, which, if you picked up SCALPED, he does so masterfully.

Living up to the Vertigo Crime label, Noche Roja is everything you can ask for in a crime noir comic. Written with the right gritty touch that you would expect from Simon Oliver and drawn to classic crime fashion by Jason Latour, this graphic novel is what crime fans have been asking for since Vertigo introduced us to this line. Consider this a Must Have for true noir fans or those who enjoy a compelling story well worth reading.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
Haunted by an event that happened a long time ago south of the border, Jack Cohen is brought back to Mexican soil when a women’s rights aid worker named Paloma convinces him to look into the case of a missing factory worker in a city where women are turning up dead. Once on the other side, though, Jack and Paloma find corruption and the truth.

ART: B+
Jason Latour makes this modern noir tale look really good in black and white and opts for an even darker tone that rings true to the crime genre.

OVERALL: A
If Vertigo is looking for the right book that should be used as an example of what a Vertigo Crime book should look like then that book should be Noche Roja. It’s a fitting crime noir story that does not disappoint in any way and trust me when I say that it is a book worthy of being on your shelf.

Review copy provided by Vertigo Crime (DC Comics)

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Reviewer: Frosty McKenzie

Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Writers: Joss Whedon, Amber Benson, Jane Espenson, David Fury, Rebecca Sinclair, Doug Petrie, Brett Matthews, Sam Loeb, Drew Goddard, Ben Edlund, Becky Cloonan and Jackie Kessler
Artists: Leinil Frances Yu, Tim Sale, Ted Naifeh, P. Craig Russell, Steve Lieber, Mira Friedmann, Gene Colan, Karl Moline, Jeff Matsuda, Alex Sanchez, Jason Shawn Alexander, Scott Morse, Jeff Parker, Vatche Mavlian, Cameron Stewart, Paul Lee, Ben Edlund, Sean Phillips, Ben Stenbeck, Cliff Richards, Vasilis Lolos, Brian Horton, Mike Mignola, Dave Stewart, Jo Chen, Eric Powel, John Totleben, Ben Templesmith, Michelle Madsen, Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon
Genre: Graphic Novel (Hardcover)
MSRP: $29.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series has ended its lengthy run a long while back but that doesn’t mean the story ended here because the eight season continued in the pages of Dark Horse’s comic book releases. As it turned out, Buffy (and Angel) fans had a lot to cheer about since Joss Whedon and many of the shows’ writers were personally involved in the comic book series to create a season that felt true to Buffy. That brings us to Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales, a hardcover collection of stories of vampires and the women who kill them.

Broken up into sections like Tales of the Slayers and Tales of the Vampires (with one part covering Season Eight’s vampire tales), Tales begins chronicling the history of the Slayers with a story about the first Slayer that was introduced to in an episode in the television show. While it’s a bit on the short side, it paints a profound picture of the fear, distrust and even hatred people have towards Slayers.

In fact, we get this vibe from a good majority of the stories such as one story about a Slayer who protected a kingdom but – thanks to her Slayer’s incredible strength and power – is seen as something unholy by a priest who does unexpected. Then there’s the story of a Slayer who operates in a most interesting way mainly because the era doesn’t make it easy for a Slayer’s gender. In another story, a Slayer in the 1800s finds herself handling a saloon filled with monsters on her own.

We also meet a young German Slayer who, in the time of Adolph Hitler, finds herself dealing with two kinds of evil. Another Slayer in the 1960s finds out why Slayers end up with bad luck in love while another Slayer, during the French Revolution, finds out this fact the hard way. Then there’s one Slayer in America during the Great Depression who is drafted by the government to take on a foreign spy who might have a supernatural secret. Another story revolves around a Slayer in the future who learns about the long history of the Slayers that also includes Buffy Summers.

In the Tales of the Vampires, the stories shift their attention to the vampires themselves by introducing us to a group of children who are brought in by the Council of Watchers to learn about vampires from one who happens to be a prisoner in a dank dungeon. It is this vampire who tells the children stories of his kind from a strangely beautiful and touching story of a father who hasn’t let the fact that he’s a vampire change his loving relationship with his son. In another story, a Kansas farm boy’s life changes when a mysterious stranger arrives late one night.

There are stories of modern vampires as well, such as a girl who ends up enjoying being a vampire because it’s like living out a Tolkien-styled fantasy. Then there’s a battle between two vampires during the times of Jack the Ripper. Meanwhile, another vampire misses the feel of sunlight and turns to a Doctor Frankenstein-like scientist who crafts an artificial heart for him. Then there’s a great story where a vampire meets a priest who tells him that he’s God. In another story, a vampire meets his match when he comes across a beautiful woman in red.

Oh yeah, if you were wondering if the shows’ characters make an appearance you will not be disappointed. There’s a story with Angel who is – once again – wrestling with the crimes he committed as Angelus. Then a story where Spike attempts to save Drusilla from vampire hunters. Of course, we also get stories with Buffy such as one where she and Willow take on a Djinn. One of the best Buffy stories in Tales has her confronting a familiar face, Dracula, who is actually more hysterical than when he appeared on the show.

Season Eight’s stories are also included, which is a really good thing since these two stories are absolutely exceptional and take place after vampires have become known to the human world thanks to Harmony Kendall. The credit, of course, goes to the writers that include those who have worked on the television series (Jane Espenson and David Fury just to name a few) as well as a few other writing talents that include Amber Benson (who played Tara on the show), Ben Edlund and Becky Cloonan.

Then there’s the artists involved that make Tales easily one of the most eclectically eye-catching book comic book enthusiasts will appreciate. The art is simply stunning no matter what story you read and there’s a lot to like thanks to artists like Tim Sale, Paul Lee and Jason Shawn Alexander just to point out the great lineup. Event he book’s cover is gorgeous.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales is everything a Buffy fan can ask for in a collection and, thanks to the remarkable talent that makes up this hardcover edition, you will certainly find more than enough reasons you should really own this one. With the perfect balance between tales of the Slayers and vampire stories, these stories are simply too good to pass up even if you’ve never watched an episode of Buffy or Angel. In other words, this is how you make good book.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
There are tales about slayers and tales about vampires with a very interesting continuous story about a group of young Watchers-in-training so there’s something for everyone. Sure, there are only a small handful of stories with Buffy Summers or Angel in them but you will find a few familiar faces from the TV series. Still, the collection covers a years of vampire and slayer history.

ART: A
You just can’t go wrong with a collection that includes the art of talents such as Tim Sale, Paul Lee, Vasilis Lolos and Steve Lieber just to name a few of the master artists involved. Besides the artwork for each story there’s amazing artwork in-between from artist like Mike Mignola and the front cover is just gorgeous.

OVERALL: A+
You don’t have to be a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan to enjoy this hardcover edition but if you are then Tales is a real Must Have collection for all Buffy fans. Simply put, the lineup of brilliant writers and talented arts make for stories that range from considerably interesting to absolutely unforgettable. Believe me when I say that Tales truly does deserve a place in the library of any comic book fan.

Review copy provided by Dark Horse Books

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Reviewer: Faith McAdams

Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics)
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Genre: Comic Book
MSRP: $2.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now

While it’s only in its eighteenth issue, Sweet Tooth is already considered a masterpiece and one of the best comic book series available. A lot has happened in these eighteen issues as both Gus and Jepperd find themselves surviving in a world that has evolved into something more stranger and more dangerous. Back on the trail, Sweet Tooth #18 finds the boy with the antlers and the big man traveling with new companions and a new sense of purpose.

Jeff Lemire has opted for a different format for this particular issue and it will become evident the very second you open said issue. The reason is that this story contains narration from Gus who gives us a brief recap of what has happened so far. He explains the aftermath of his rescue by Jepperd and the death of one of the hybrid children that might have been Jepperd and his wife Louise’s son. Along with two remaining hybrid children (Wendy and Bobby), two human women as well as Doctor Singh and Johnny from the camp, the pair are no longer traveling alone.

As it turned out, the woman Gus calls The Nice Lady suggests that their destination should be Alaska and Jepperd agrees but before they make that difficult journey they decide they should look for warmer clothes since winter is upon them. Luckily for them, their journey takes them near an abandoned shopping mall. Of course, malls could end up being dangerous so – cautiously – the group enters in search for clothes and supplies.

It is Jepperd that suggest they take the tags off the ears of the hybrid children in case the tags had locator devices and, for the first time, Gus gets to wear clean clothes that have never been worn by anyone. It’s a comforting and novel idea of wearing new clothes as Jepperd looks for camping gear that will be useful for their journey.

In the mall, however, The Nice Lady manages to get Doctor Singh alone and she pulls out her pistol to execute the man who had performed experiments on hybrid children. This is the man responsible for the death of Jepperd’s wife as well as countless other pregnant women in the name of science. The Doctor pleads for his life, telling them it was necessary in order to find a cure for the plague. Jepperd walks in on the scene and his response is not a surprising one.

However, it is Gus who steps in at the last moment to add his own thoughts on the current and very unforgettable scene. It is clear that with all that has happened to him, the boy named Gus is becoming the young man named Gus. In one scene, Jepperd returns Gus’ slingshot but – when he offers Gus his old Dandy book – Gus refuses the storybook.

Before they reached the mall, Wendy was hoping they would get snow since she’s never seen it before. By the end of this issue, something surprising happens that – for an instant – something wonderful happens to each traveler. For an instant, there is happiness in this bleak world and Jeff Lemire doesn’t just show us this but makes us feel it.

Sweet Tooth #18 is every bit as exceptional as the first issue and believe me when I say that it is touching and absolutely brilliant. It’s evident that Gus is changing or, rather, adapting as he shows us in this issue and with a dangerous journey ahead of them this story can only just get better and better. That said, this particular issue will just serve to remind you that Sweet Tooth is one of those gems comic book lovers should not miss whatsoever.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
Having rescued Gus and a few of the other hybrid children in the camp, Jepperd and his new traveling companions decide to head straight towards Alaska. Before heading to their destination, the group stops in an abandoned mall for supplies as one of them decides to do something drastic.

ART: A
Aside from the writing, Jeff Lemire’s art is just as brilliant as it was since this series started and that’s saying a lot. This particular issue is presented in a different format than past issues, which makes this one even more interesting.

OVERALL: A
Jeff Lemire continues to amaze us as he weaves a story that just keeps getting better and better with every issue of this utterly brilliant series. With Gus and Jepperd traveling together again, they are no longer alone as they journey on towards Alaska. Things are just going to get more interesting after this.

Review copy provided by Vertigo (DC Comics)

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Reviewer: Evelyn Finch

Publisher: (Vertigo) DC Comics
Writer: Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba
Artist: Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $19.99 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now

How do you measure a human life? Is it by weighing your list of accomplishments or recognizing major events as well as the moments that may seem insignificant? Perhaps it is all of these things and as we can see in Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s Daytripper – a graphic novel that celebrates life’s big moments as well as the little moments that are just as important but also recognizes death as a part of life.

Daytripper introduces us to Bras de Oliva Domingos, son of a famous Brazilian writer and something of a writer himself since he pens some genuinely touching obituaries for the local newspaper in Brazil. Called the “Little Miracle” by his mother due to an event that took place during his birth, Bras finds himself thinking of ones mortality. On the evening he was attend a gala in his father’s honor, a stop to a nearby bar results in Bras’ death by the hands of an armed thief.

Yet this is not the end of the story for Bras’ life is filled with life’s little and big moments that keep including death. We find Bras in his twenties as he and his closest friend, Jorge, take a little trip to the beautiful city of Salvador where he meets a gorgeous and voluptuous woman named Olinda who he instantly attracted to and spends a memorable night with in this beach-side paradise. It is that same Olinda that a few years later breaks his heart by storming out of his place. A year later, however, Bras finds love again while getting his morning coffee … and finds death again crossing the street after deciding to go back and talk to the beautiful woman that caught his eye.

Life takes another turn for Bras as he and the same woman he met in the café is expecting their first child only for Bras to miss out on his son’s birth returning home to get something his wife requested. Unfortunately, the day of his son’s birth is also brings with it the death of Bras’ father. The young man looks back on his childhood as the family often took trips to their kin’s cottage when Bras’ father would use as the perfect opportunity to write. It is in one of those trips that young Bras experienced his first kiss under the winding roots of a tree with a pretty half-cousin.

Then there’s a defining moment in Bras’ career with a commercial airliner crashes at takeoff and pushes the man to write several obituaries for each confirmed passenger from the flight. Not only is it beautiful stuff but it inspires him to write his first novel that becomes a success. At last, Bras feels like he has caught up with his father. Unfortunately, the book tour takes him far from his wife and son who miss him very much. On top of that, his best friend disappears only to be discovered in a rundown shack in a bad mental state.

We finally reach the end of Bras’ life as a gray-haired Bras returns home after getting bad news from his physician. Bras isn’t afraid of what awaits him … he never was in the many death we see through his eyes. The fact is simple: one experiences life and takes in all the things it has to offer. There are good moments in our lives and bad ones but they are a part of the big picture that makes up our existence.

Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba paints this big picture called life in a way that you can feel what Bras goes through and relate to his ups and downs as well as the emotions that come with it. It’s a powerful thing for a graphic novel to make you feel and Daytripper does it so effortlessly. The art is also considerably impressive and just as expressive as the writing itself. Even Dave Stewart’s coloring is perfect enough that it compliments every panel to make this a beautiful-looking graphic novel.

Daytripper is as big and as meaningful as the story of Bras’ life and it will not fail to make us think and feel and wonder, which is a rarity within itself. With magnificent storytelling and artwork that is equally stellar, this graphic novel is easily one of this year’s best graphic novels and one that should be on anyone’s list regardless of your favorite genre. This is storytelling at its more perfect and I cannot recommend this one enough.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A+
Writing obituaries for the local Brazilian newspaper, we witness the life and death of Bras de Oliva Domingos in different stages of a life. We follow him through various moments from a first kiss, becoming a successful novelist, falling in love and experiencing heartbreak but also death that is a big part of life as well.

ART: A
The art is simply gorgeous and compliments the written word beautifully enough that sometimes a panel with the art alone speaks volumes of what the character is thinking and feeling. We’ve seen the twins’ work before and they still do not fail to impress.

OVERALL: A+
There are graphic novels that speak of what it is to be human and then there are graphic novels like Daytripper that celebrate our humanity as well as our very existence. This is the story of life and death but mainly the little things that make up one particular person’s life. In other words, Daytripper is a graphic novel that will speak to you and make you feel and that’s what makes this such a masterpiece.

Review copy provided by (Vertigo) DC Comics

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Reviewer: Ian Mintz

Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Frank Miller
Genre: Graphic Novel (Softcover)
MSRP: $30.00 U.S.
Release Date: Available Now

When it comes to his storytelling style, Frank Miller just doesn’t spin a good yarn … he gives his readers a wild ride that you won’t forget long after you close one of his books. He has shown us just about every grimy back alley, side road and street corner of his sinister city of sin and we loved every inch of the place and just about every citizen of this twisted burg. In the seventh volume of Sin City: Hell and Back, the series goes out with a bang and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We meet Wallace, a talented artist whose talent is wasted on employers who simply want tasteless nudes. Oh, but Wallace has another talent and it is one he has kept from people including his nice landlady. Driving in the unusually pleasant warm night, Wallace life changes when he sees a beautiful young black woman jump from a ledge and straight into the ocean. Without missing a beat, Wallace dives right in and saves her.

Her name is Esther and she is grateful that Wallace pulled her out of the cold, murky water and took care of her at his place. Wallace finds her charming and loves that she finds his art fascinating enough that she lingers on every piece. She tells him she’s a struggling actress but she wants to hear about him and the interesting object she found in his drawer. They go for drinks and suddenly Esther and Wallace kiss … then something awful happens.

Waking up after taking a tranquilizer shot from a thug who travels with a strange doctor, Wallace realizes that these men took Esther with them kicking and screaming. The police think he was a junkie and when he tells them what happens the same cops tell him to leave the investigation up to them. Sensing the police will do nothing, Wallace decides to handle things himself. You see, Wallace is also a war hero who is good at fighting and it doesn’t take him long to find out where Esther lives.

At her apartment, Wallace meets a beautiful woman with blue eyes who tells him she’s Esther’s roommate. She also seems to be very interested in Wallace who tries to fight off the girl’s aggressive advances. Going on the run with this mystery girl, Wallace comes to a realization that she might not be who she seems she is and that the cops might have something to do with this as well. Meanwhile, Esther wakes up to find a familiar character (that’s if you read Volume 6) who tells her that her fate is like a second chance at life.

As Wallace gets closer to the truth and knowing he has to watch out for the police as well, he turns to a buddy from the military. However, when he is double-crossed by the beautiful Blue Eyes, it is his military buddy who lends a hand when he’s hallucinating. In one of the more unusual sequences of the Sin City series, Wallace finds it hard to concentrate when everything from Dirty Harry to Captain America is appearing before him.

In the middle of Wallace’s drugged visions, we meet a sultry and dangerously beautiful woman who bares a striking resemblance to Angelina Jolie. She is an assassin who works for the man who runs the entire operation involving many women much like Esther. In a sequence that plays out like a short story, we witness her threatening the son of the Chief of police.

In the final chapter of this story, Wallace shows who he really is as he not only attempts to rescue the women he hardly knows but has come to love but also destroy the organization by utilizing all his skills as a military specialist. Oh, it’s a thing of beauty to see a man wage a one-man war against some heavy odds that include assassins.

As I said, Miller just doesn’t know how to spin a good yarn but rather concoct a thrill ride you will not forget anytime soon. There are fights aplenty and twists and turns that make this particular story a really fun read. Then there’s his art that is just as unforgettable, especially Wallace’s hallucination that are in color and wild.

A truly thrilling and memorable finale, Hell and Back is a great way to close the book on the Sin City series. It’s a grand tale that is quite lengthy but believe me when I say that you will be zipping through the book just to see what happens next until – bam – you’ve reached the end. That’s when you know you’re in the presence of greatness so missing this would not be acceptable to any comic book fan.

COMIC REVOLUTION RATING BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
When a mysterious woman named Esther tries to take her own life, an artist named Wallace comes to her rescue and even falls in love with her. Unfortunately, somebody has had an eye on her and takes her away leaving Wallace shot with a tranquilizer. When he wakes up he goes on a mission to find and save the woman he has come to love from a very dangerous organization.

ART: A
At risk of repeating ourselves, Miller’s work has always been original and unique and that applies to every book he has worked on including this one that has a color sequence that’s far too awesome for words.

OVERALL: A
Hell and Back is the perfect swan song for Frank Miller’s Sin City series and yet another memorable jaunt into a city that never failed to captivate us from the very start. With a new character who is just as ultra cool as the other characters Miller introduced, this story just keeps getting better with every page. Sin City fans, you should not be without this seventh volume.

Review copy provided by Dark Horse Books

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