GRAPHIC LIFE APRIL 2018

Comics, Everything Else

I read quite a lot of graphic novels and comics so I thought it would be good to start blogging about them to spread the word about what’s worth checking out. I won’t be going in to depth, just a very short description/review of each comic/graphic novel that I’ve read and a score out of 10 for how much I enjoyed it.

I’m going to try to do one of these posts around once a month, this is about 6 weeks worth of reading. I’ve been lucky to read a particularly good bunch of books recently, I must be getting better at picking them.

Spaceman

Spaceman

Author: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Score: 6/10

Set in a dystopian future where most of the world is under water, Spaceman follows a man genetically modified for space travel as he tries to save a kidnapped child. This was an enjoyable read that kept my interest but didn’t leave a lasting impression. The characters spoke in a strange English based dialect that the author has concocted, unfortunately I found this more annoying than anything. Fortunately the charm of the protagonist kept me invested the whole way through but I didn’t really understand the ending (probably my fault for being dim).

One Piece 5

One Piece Vol. 5

Author: Eiichiro Oda
Artist: Eiichiro Oda
Score: 7/10

I have read very little manga so I thought a good place to get more in to it would be to read the most popular series ever. One Piece is the story of a young man who dreams of being a pirate, going on an adventure and picking up crew mates on the way. I’m really enjoying the series so far, it’s easy reading but complex enough to keep it interesting. I quickly became invested in these characters and the action is a whole lot of fun.

One Hundred Nights

One Hundred Nights Of Hero

Author: Isabel Greenberg
Artist: Isabel Greenberg
Score: 7/10

I really enjoyed the story in this graphic novel; the tale of two secret lovers trying to outsmart a lecherous man by captivating him with elaborate fables. The book is almost an anthology of short stories tied together by one underpinning narrative. Although I liked this novel a lot I personally wasn’t a big fan of the scruffy, simplistic art style.

303

303

Author: Garth Ennis & Jacen Burrows
Artist: Jacen Burrows
Score: 7/10

Garth Ennis has written quite a lot military comics and manages to strike a good balance of gritty realism and overblown action. Set in Afghanistan, a group of Russian soldiers race against a British team to find an important military plane left by the Americans. The main character is a real badass but shows emotional depth as the story progresses. Not Ennis’ greatest work (that’s no criticism, he’s one of my favourite authors ever) but definitely worth a read if you like war stories.

ID

I.D.

Author: Emma Rios
Artists: Emma Rios
Score: 6/10

A short graphic novel set in the future, focusing on 3 people looking to undergo body transplants. There were a number of very interesting ideas but none of them were fleshed out as much as I’d have liked. The art is beautiful but I did get through this quickly and felt a little dissatisfied at the end. I’d love to see this story made in to an ongoing series.

Creatures

Creatures of the Night

Author: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Michael Zulli
Score: 7/10

A duo of deceptively dark short stories. This book is worth it for the sublime artwork alone, every page looks like a classic painting that could be hung in an art gallery. The stories are darkly fun, especially the first one about a stray cat adopted by the author’s family and what happens when it ventures in the garden at night.

Andre

Andre The Giant Close To Heaven

Author: Brandon Easton
Artist: Denis Medri
Score: 7/10

I’m a huge wrestling fan but didn’t know much about Andre so this was a must read for me. Told from the point of view of a retired Andre The Giant looking back on his life, this is a fascinating glimpse in to the wrestling scene of the time. Andre’s life was quite a sad one and the author does a superb job of capturing that, putting you in the giants shoes.

Royal City

Royal City

Author: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Score: 9/10

Jeff Lemire is a genius. I’ve loved pretty much everything I’ve read by him and he just seems to be getting better. He’s a great author and artist but he really shines when he’s taking care of both like he is here. Royal City is about a disconnected family from a failing industrial town, being brought together by the illness of the father. I’m very impressed by the amount of complexity Lemire has managed to write in to these characters so quickly, I’m intrigued by where this story will go.

Deadly

Deadly Class Vol. 6

Author: Rick Remender
Artist: Wes Craig
Score: 8/10

Deadly Class was one of the first Image publications that I read and it remains one of my favourite ongoing series. It’s about an underground school where crime families send their children to be trained as assassins and follows a number of pupils as they struggle with regular teenage problems and also a lot of not so regular teenage problems. I was a little unsure of the new character additions in volume 5 but this latest volume is as exciting as the series has ever been. Fast paced storylines and some of the best panel work I’ve seen make this a must read for any comics fan.

Neonomicon

Neonomicon

Author: Alan Moore
Artist: Jacen Burrows
Score: 9/10

I’ve read some pretty messed up comics and graphic novels but this is right up there with Junji Ito’s work for the most disturbing thing I’ve read. The story revolves around the H.P. Lovecraft mythos and follows a pair of agents investigating a strange string of murders. The edition that I bought also has the short story “The Courtyard” at the beginning which was probably my favourite part of the book although the whole thing was uniquely unsettling but absolutely fascinating.

Departures

Departures

Author: Pierre Maurel
Artist: Pierre Maurel
Score: 7/10

A small collection of short stories about young people struggling in today’s job market. This book really struck a chord with me because I’ve been in these situations myself. The stories were very brief but I liked how they tied in with each other and the content was very poignant.

tokyo

Tokyo Ghost

Author: Rick Remender
Artist: Sean Murphy
Score: 9/10

I love stories about dystopian futures and this is one of the best comics I’ve read in that genre. The artwork in this is mind blowing and I’m so happy I bought the large deluxe version to pick up on all of the subtle details. This short series is set in a future where people have plugged themselves right in to the internet to have constant contact with social media and TV, many of these people now addicted to the technology. At its core it’s a tragic love story that follows a young couple, pulled apart by the man’s obsession with online entertainment and the technological modifications that give him super human strength. Too often I find that commentary on our use of technology and modern media comes across as arrogant hyperbole but Remender crafts a world that feels frighteningly realistic.

One Piece 6

One Piece 6

Author: Eiichiro Oda
Artist: Eiichiro Oda
Score: 7/10

I continue to enjoy the action packed ridiculousness of this series, definitely one of the most fun things I’ve read.

One Piece 7

One Piece 7

Author: Eiichiro Oda
Artist: Eiichiro Oda
Score: 7/10

One Piece is certainly addictive, I can’t stop reading more. We got some back story in this volume which brilliantly explained the motives of a couple of the characters. Despite the simplicity of this series the character depth is actually very good and is one of the things that makes it so readable.

Jimmy

Jimmy’s Bastards

Author: Garth Ennis & Russ Braun
Artist: Russ Braun
Score: 8/10

Garth Ennis brings us a new off the wall action comic, packed with dark humour in the same vein as Preacher and The Boys (the fantastic artist and co-author Russ Braun also worked on The Boys). Jimmy’s Bastards is a satirical slant on the James Bond type character as he battles foreigners and comes under attack from a mysterious cabal. Expect the usual filth and weirdness that Ennis is known for in this excellent start to a new series.

Blankets

Blankets

Author: Craig Thompson
Artist: Craig Thompson
Score: 8/10

A very heartfelt and personal story about teenage love; Craig Thompson brings you in to his world with subtle details about his childhood that give this book an intense realism. The narrative jumps between different parts of his life, focusing mainly on his early relationship with his brother and his teenage romance with a girl he met at church camp. The quality of the storytelling and art in this book transform what could be a mundane memoir in to an emotional reflection on personal development.

Kaijumax

Kaijumax Vol. 2

Author: Zander Cannon
Artist: Zander Cannon
Score: 7/10

One of the strangest concepts I’ve seen, but one that has been executed very well. Kaijumax is about a high security prison that houses monsters, think a cross between Oz and Godzilla. Despite the bizarre setting the plot is surprisingly grounded and very human, touching on topics such as racism, addiction, police brutality, rape, gang violence and PTSD. Some of the dialect can be a bit ham-fisted at times but it is a story about monsters in jail so I wasn’t expecting anything too serious. Despite this slight flaw the series has been quite exciting so far and I’m very invested in the lives of the main protagonist and his family.

 

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