Review : The New Deadwardians #1

Posted by Dan Billings on March 28, 2012 under Off the New Comic Rack | Be the First to Comment

I did not expect to pick up the first issue of this story as I am not a zombie or vampire fan, but the article last week in Comic Shop News made me reconsider that choice. I’m glad I grabbed it. The premise of the story is that the upper class in Victorian England had to make a choice during a war that somehow involved zombies. And the choice was to turn themselves into vampires so that the zombies would not be attracted to them. Everyone else – just in between, literally.

Abnett has created a lot of intrigue into this world within the first twenty pages of the series. The region has been broken up into zones, their are union members striking about something, and there was a war. Enough information to begin the story, but with enough details hidden. And Culbard gives the images a light feeling that reminds me of all of the illustrations in Illustrated Sherlock Holmes stories. Though naked vampire wasn’t really necessary… The weakest part of the book is the coloring. The yellowish tint gives this an old look, but in the discolored paper way.

The main character, Chief Inspector George Suttle appears to have a back story in the war that could become very interesting. His mother appears to be similar to Maggie Smith’s character on Downton Abbey. And the other police officers may provide a different view of the entire situation as Suttle is the last homicide detective, who appears to be not in high regard by the rest of the police.

There are several cliches in this first issue. The maid is killed by a zombie called a zombie called restless. Another is bitten on the wrist. This maid begins a story that will most likely come back around. However, generally, these cliches do not distract from the introduction to this story. It starts as enough of a deviation to what I have read before to keep my interest. I will be back for #2.

Abnett and Culbard start an interesting take on a typical story that seems to be much in demand today. This mini-series may fill a gap (that did not really seem to need to be filled) between iZombie and American Vampire well.

John Carter: Better Movie Than Critics Say

Posted by Dan Billings on March 14, 2012 under The Multiplex | Be the First to Comment

When I was growing up, I read a lot of Hardy Boys books that were written more recently called Casefiles. They were more pulpy than the old Hardy Boy books – less smugglers. But I never got into old fashioned pulp. I turned to Agatha Christie novels and noir books instead. And that has always been my wheelhouse since. Sci-Fi novels also missed my eyes. I would read a few but I didn’t gravitate to them like I did with anything crime-related.

But when John Carter first had trailers, I looked into the story. I didn’t read the books because I assumed it would be very different, but it had a pedigree I liked. Disney does movies pretty well, generally, and to have Andrew Stanton attached, who directed Wall-E, one of my favorite Sci-Fi films ever, they had my money. So, I went on Saturday with John.

We both loved it. It was a great mix of science fiction, western, and love story. There were also mysterious elements that made it even better. But it was also Taylor Kitsch that sold me on the movie. Tim Riggins is one of my favorite characters in television history, so I may even see that Battleship movie against my better judgment due to Peter Berg’s involvement as well.

John Carter is a former Confederate soldier, like Jonah Hex, who is out west trying to make a life away from his soldier days. He gets pulled in by the U.S. Army to fight the Apache and ends up finding a cave that is a doorway of sorts to Mars. But he doesn’t realize this at all – even when he can jump due to different gravitational pulls. And he arrives in the middle of a war. It’s a setup that seems familiar and the story isn’t surprising or twist-filled, but it has enough interesting characters and plot points to really create a successful story.

The imagery is also beautiful. I didn’t see it in 3D or in IMAX but it doesn’t seem necessary. All of the long shots of Mars or the battle scenes between different airships were amazing. The solar panels that provide power to the ships shined. The moons provided a nice backdrop. And if nothing else, the aliens were all pretty cool.

The best way to figure out, in my opinion, if a story works is if you want more. I immediately downloaded three John Carter novels to read. So, take that as a yes!

DC Universe Presents: Challengers of the Unknown

Posted by Dan Billings on March 13, 2012 under Off the New Comic Rack | Be the First to Comment

After finishing the great first storyline of DC Universe Presents, I turned to issue #6, which is the first part of the new storyline welcoming the Challengers of the Unknown to the New DCU. After finishing Jenkins and Chang’s Deadman storyline, this has a huge spot to fill. Deadman touched on philosophy, religion, and life in the ways that all of my favorite Paul Jenkins’s stories do. From done-in-one issues of Spiderman to Revelations, Jenkins hits a lot of great points in my wheelhouse. The last part of that storyline opened up several questions about life and centered on Deadman’s relationship with the people he inhabits, similarly to how we enter and exit people’s lives in a non-physical fashion. “Why not me?”

I have limited exposure to the Challengers. I enjoyed them in New Frontier and picked up the Showcase to look at Jack Kirby art. But I never read much of it yet. This remaking of the series as a reality show gone wrong is interesting. The set-up is there and I am interested to see if the reality show aspect of it continues through the story or if it was just an opening. The dialogue is very true to reality show contestants and it reads like a Big Brother on a plane. With a few mysterious sequences thrown in to entice the reader, DiDio really crafted a good first issue and I am curious where the Challengers are going.

Additionally, when I saw Jerry Ordway’s name on the cover, I wasn’t that excited. Much of his recent DC work has left me cold as I don’t have any touchstone to his work in the past. I didn’t read his Superman run, so there isn’t any nostalgia. And compared to the Ryan Sook cover, the art isn’t to the same quality. But that is an incredibly high standard. Generally, it is Ordway’s facial expressions that both me. For example, June’s face before the plane crash doesn’t seem proportional due to really big lips and mouth. But otherwise, the characters show a lot of emotion and a lot is shown through the art to define the many characters. There is no one page that stands out, but the art truly works with this story and I hope Ordway’s style isn’t too rushed in future issues as it appears to be in many recent stories he drew.

This series is definitely a highlight in the new DCU and a great way to see peripheral characters shine.