Graphic Life: June 2018

Comics

It’s almost two months since my first edition of “Graphic Life” where I run through the comics and graphic novels I’ve read recently and I’ve got through quite a lot, including some really great books. Have a read then pop down to your local store to pick up some new comics!

Black Hammer

Black Hammer Volume 1

Author: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Dean Ormston

Score: 8/10

More brilliance from Jeff Lemire in this off the wall super hero series. The story follows a group of super heroes trying to live normal lives in some kind of small town parallel universe. The art is wonderful and the characters are intriguing, I’m looking forward to see where this goes.

4 Kids
4 Kids Walk Into A Bank

Author: Matthew Rosenberg

Artist: Tyler Boss

Score: 8/10

An exciting and funny short series brimming with nostalgia. A group of young friends get involved with some dangerous criminals and plan a bank robbery to save one of their fathers from returning to his own illegal activities. The relationships between the characters is very well written and the panel work is sublime.

Flirting-With-Death
Flirting With Death

Author: Rudra Purkayastha

Artist: Lydon White & Paulina Vassileva

Score: 6/10

A small collection of short stories about life and death. I enjoyed some of the stories more than others but there are a number greats pieces of work here. It’s hard to make an impact in a few pages but some of these little stories have stuck with me, especially one about a lonely robot and another featuring a giant goldfish.

SpySeal_Vol01-1
Spy Seal: The Corten-Steel Phoenix

Author: Rich Tommaso

Artist: Rich Tomasso

Score: 8/10

An old school spy comic but all of the characters are various anthropomorphic wildlife, imagine a cross between Tin Tin and Blacksad (if you’re familiar with them). The simplistic art style is lush and very fitting of the tone while the fast paced story was a whole lot of fun.

Brass Sun
Brass Sun: The Wheel Of Worlds

Author: Ian Edgington & I.N.J. Culbard

Artist: I.N.J. Culbard

Score: 8/10

This elaborate steam punk epic had me gripped from start to finish. Based in a clockwork solar system were planets are dying as the mechanisms start to slow down, we follow a young woman on her mission to fix this fading collection of planets. It can be difficult to make unique sci-fi these days but in Brass Sun we have a very original series that deserves more attention.

Potters Field
Potter’s Field

Author: Mark Waid

Artist: Paul Azaceta

Score: 6/10

A solid detective series about an investigator trying to solve the murder cases of unidentified bodies. A great premise and good pacing but unfortunately I felt it fell in to a few cliches.

Death Follows
Death Follows

Author: Cullen Bunn

Artist: A.C. Zamudio

Score: 7/10

A short series from horror expert Cullen Bunn. An incredibly eerie tale of a farming family who take on a mysterious farm hand who hides a dark secret. This is the first thing I’ve read by Bunn but I’ll definitely be checking out his acclaimed series “Harrow County” because I really enjoyed the unsettling vibes in this.

PeterPanzerfaust_vol05-1
Peter Panzerfaust Volume 5

Author: Kurtis J. Wiebe

Artist: Tyler Jenkins

Score: 8/10

A heartfelt conclusion to a fantastic series. As the name suggests, Peter Panzerfaust is based on the Peter Pan story but it is set in France during World War 2 and Peter and his lost boys spend their time fighting Nazis. It’s always difficult to bring a story to an end but this was executed very well with a great mix of exciting action and emotional narrative.

Dr Strange
Doctor Strange: Way Of The Weird Volume 1

Author: Jason Aaron

Artist: Chris Bachalo

Score: 7/10

I’m not much of a Marvel fan but every now and then I’ll pick up a series to give it another go. This run of Dr Strange has definitely got me a bit more interested in Marvel as it’s exactly what I want from a super hero comic. It’s fast paced, the art is over the top and most importantly it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Green Wake
Green Wake Volume 1

Author: Kurtis J. Wiebe

Artist: Riley Rossmo

Score: 4/10

A mysterious character appears in a small town full of equally mysterious characters and no one knows how they got there. There are some good ideas in this supernatural detective story but overall it didn’t grab me.

Punpun
Goodnight Punpun

Author: Inio Asano

Artist: Inio Asano

Scores:

Volume 1 – 9/10

Volume 2 – 10/10

Volume 3 – 8/10

Volume 4 – 9/10

Volume 5 – 8/10

Volume 6 – 10/10

Volume 7 – 10/10

I wasn’t planning to read this whole series so quickly but after reading the first volume I just had to read the rest. Goodnight Punpun has jumped straight in to my top 5 series ever, it truly is a masterpiece. At it’s heart the series is a coming of age story, following Punpun from his childhood through to his 20s, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an intricate tale of love, family, friendship, obsession and depression that uses the medium in ways that I have never seen before. Our protagonist and his family are all drawn as crude bird like stick figures while the rest of the characters are fully realised as detailed, regular looking people. It’s hard to explain why this odd representation of the main character is so effective but it adds another level to the story telling. I was transfixed for the entirety of the series and connected with it on an emotional level that I don’t feel often, I’d strongly recommend this to anyone who’s looking for something a bit different.

Saga
Saga Volume 8

Author: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Fiona Staples

Score: 7/10

Image Comics’ flagship series continues with more space opera weirdness. The story seems to be meandering a bit now but it’s still a very enjoyable read and the art is as incredible as it’s always been.

Secret
Secret

Author: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Ryan Bodenheim

Score: 6/10

Hickman is one of my favourite authors and although this isn’t one of his strongest projects it is a fun heist/spy action comic.

Irmina
Irmina

Author: Barbara Yelin

Artist: Barbara Yelin

Score: 7/10

Based on a true story, Irmina is a German woman working in England shortly before World War 2 who ends up back in Germany, unable to escape as the Third Reich takes over. I was fascinated by the depiction of Nazi Germany, seeing it through the eyes of a regular civilian, the soul destroying environment that made it almost impossible to speak out. It’s easy now to look back and wonder how people let such horrible events happen but this really gave some perspective. Not the most exciting read but I enjoy these slower historical novels and the art was apropos.

One Piece
One Piece

Author: Eiichiro Oda

Artist: Eiichiro Oda

Scores:

Volume 8 – 6/10

Volume 9 – 7/10

One Piece continues to be my go to easy read. The crew once again get side tracked on their quest and although volume 8 was a bit slower than usual it did a good job of setting the scene for the madness of volume 9.

Manifest
Manifest Destiny Volume 5

Author: Chris Dingess

Artist: Matthew Roberts

Score: 7/10

One of the series on Image Comics that I always look out for. It follows one of the first groups to explore America but instead of the regular Natives and wildlife they find the country filled with mythical creatures. Each volume they stumble across another horrific phenomena that puts the expedition at risk and teaches them more about this treacherous land. This volume wasn’t quite as intriguing as the last but with the beautiful art and character dynamic it’s still very entertaining.

Spread
Spread Volume 5

Author: Justin Jordan

Artist: Kyle Strahm

Score: 7/10

The concluding volume to one of the more unique post apocalyptic comics out there (and there are a lot). Set some time in the future when a grotesque, sentient growth has spread across America killing many and infecting others. We follow a loner tough man simply known as “No” as he tries to save the child who may be the key to stopping the spread. The series never slowed down and with this volume it comes to a fittingly action-packed, blood filled ending.

KidSavage-1
Kid Savage

Author: Joe Kelly

Artist: Ilya

Score: 3/10

A bickering family find themselves stranded on an alien planet and are saved by a young native. A bit on the basic side for my liking but would probably be a good read for younger audiences and has some great art at times.

Beasts or Burden

Animal Rites: Beasts of Burden

Author: Evan Dorkin

Artist: Jill Thompson

Score: 8/10

A group of neighbourhood dogs (and a cat) band together to battle the increasingly common supernatural forces in the area. It’s a funny and thrilling series with breath-taking art. It reads like a colourful children’s book with surprisingly adult content, a wonderful juxtaposition that makes it a brilliant read, especially for dog lovers.

album-cover-large-48
Kenya

Author: Leo

Artist: Rodolphe

Scores:

Volume 1 – 6/10

Volume 2 – 7/10

Volume 3 – 7/10

Volume 4 – 6/10

Volume 5 – 8/10

I absolutely love the Aldebaran series from European comic book legend Leo so I’ve been meaning to get through this series for a while. Leo’s comics have a very distinctive style that I absolutely love, he has a great mind for conjuring up these bizarre creatures. The series follows a British academic on a visit to Kenya when peculiar animals start appearing and causing troubles for everyone in the area. A joyful sci-fi romp with a retro vibe.

Regression

Regression Volume 1

Author: Cullen Bunn

Artist: Danny Luckert & Marie Enger

Score: 7/10

An excellent mix of body horror and occult themes with some crime drama thrown in there. A man is plagued by horrific visions and these nightmares become all too real when a hypnotist awakens an entity from a previous life. The elaborate artwork is very creepy and the unique storyline is well executed.

RoyalCity_Vol02-1

Royal City Volume 2

Author: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Jeff Lemire

Score: 8/10

This was my favourite new series of 2017 so I was really hyped to read the second volume and it didn’t disappoint. The series focuses on a troubled family brought back together in a failing industrial town when the father’s health takes a bad turn. This volume goes back and looks at the children of the family in their youth, continuing to add depth to these very well realised characters. I often get frustrated when a flashback lasts a full volume but in this case it’s an integral part of this already exceptional series.

Jazz Maynard

Jazz Maynard Volume 1: The Barcelona Trilogy

Author: Raule

Artist: Roger

Scores: 8/10

The more European comics I read the more I love them, maybe it’s only the good ones that make it over here in England but almost every one I read is fantastic. Jazz Maynard is a trumpeter with a secret set of skills that are very useful in the criminal underworld. He is brought back to his home of Barcelona after saving his younger sister from sex traffickers in New York but soon finds himself in a lot more trouble. The art in this book is so slick, it oozes coolness and perfectly visualises the high octane fight sequences. This could easily have been a typical action-packed crime drama but the the plot twists and effortless style make it into something special.

GodCountry_01-1

God Country

Author: Donny Cates

Artist: Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie & John J. Hill

Scores: 6/10

An elderly man with Alzheimers gains possession of a magical sword that cures him of his disease but comes with a catch, the god who made it wants it back. This short series has lots of action interspersed with emotional scenes between the man and his son, all very well drawn and coloured. There was lots of very high praise for God Country but I found it somewhat disappointing, it’s solid but to me it doesn’t really stand out.

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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.