American Vampire Second Cycle #1

Vertigo

Release Date: 3/19/14

Words: Scott Snyder

Pictures: Rafael Albuquerque

The Sitch:

Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque are back to pick up the tale of Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones. Long time fans of American Vampire can rejoice as we have been waiting awhile now for more of this sweet addiction. Noobs can pick this second cycle up from this new beginning and be sucked into the American Vampire mythos without problem but once they do I bet they will be overcome with a strong desire to go back and discover everything they missed. Do it. This is one of the best vampire stories in comics now and ever.

The Confession:

I am a junkie who has just gotten her fix and am sighing in happy oblivion. I missed this story so much. I am itching for that red sunflower tattoo all over again.

There is a lot going on in this first book of the new cycle. As the cover suggests, it is the 1960’s and Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones are still walking their separate paths. Pearl is the Harriet Tubman of vampire runaways in her hometown, the great protector rising from a field of red sunflowers. Not only is she running a safe home and relocating “undesirables,” she is researching and documenting the various vampire species she comes across in her work. Skinner is up to his old ways, doing the wicked thing in Juarez, Mexico, ripping off drug cartel baddies with glee, riding a bike and brandishing a boomstick. Snyder is synonymous with a good story and the vampire mythos he has created here is so gratifying that I am sated. Suck it Twitards and all you other undead knockoffs. This is the real thing.

Albuquerque is back with his unique style. He has a beautiful way with angular lines and shadowing. It is perfect for this kind of story. His attention to the details of facial expressions is just awesome, from the softer human aspect to the harsh look when the beast within takes over. Take the time to appreciate the artist’s hand in these books. You won’t be sorry.

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Dead Boy Detectives #1

Vertigo

Release Date:  12/31/13

Words:  Toby Litt

Pictures:  Mark Buckingham

The Sitch:

The Sandman fans from back in the day will remember Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland, boys who while attending St. Hilarions school, suffered untimely and mysterious deaths, Edwin’s in 1916 and Charles’ in 1990.  Both boys escaped Death and have since managed to avoid her while solving mysteries as ghosts, hence Dead Boy Detectives. The boys now have their own story line, this first arch introducing themselves and a new, live, girl detective, Crystal Palace.

The Confession:  

This is my pick of the week.  Sure there were a lot of debuts this week but for me this is the one that stands out, not just because these characters are from the pages of The Sandman, but because these boys are a lot of fun to follow.  I enjoyed the divided narrative of the boys that effortlessly showed their respective personalities.  Having the story grounded though the new girl is a nice, clean way for new readers to jump in on.  Those familiar with the world the boys shared with The Endless will enjoy the nods and connections to The Sandman stories.

The art incorporates a little something of various different styles making for a world that is vibrant but dark and a bit playful.  If it weren’t for the dark themes of death and the sinister I would almost think it child friendly.  There is an innocence to the beauty of the work.  Being that each character comes from a different time period, the use of varying styles makes the book not just an interesting read but an enjoyable piece of work for the eye to explore.

If you are a fan of The Sandman stories this is an easy choice, just give over your money already and make sure this is on your pull list along side of Sandman Overture.  If you enjoy losing yourself in those nostalgic childhood mysteries like say, Encyclopedia Brown, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Veronica Mars or the Winchester brothers… do yourself a favor and give this a try.

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Sandman Overture #1 (of 6, bi-monthly)

Vertigo

Release Date:  10/30/13

Words:  Neil Gaiman

Pictures:  J. H. Williams III

The Sitch:

If you ever wondered how the Lord of Dreams could be taken prisoner in the beginning of the original Sandman series, your answer is finally here.

The Confession:

This isn’t going to be a fair blog.

If you want the long story short up front – it’s Neil Gaiman doing The Sandman again!  Just buy it already!  Yes, even at the hefty price of $4.99 there is no buyer’s remorse if you truly appreciate a good story telling.

Sandman Overture is the answer to the question posed in the first issue of The Sandman 25 years ago: how could one of the most powerful beings in the universe come to be so easily taken captive by a bunch of sad, wanna-be-Aleister-Crowley-type wizards?  Neil Gaiman isn’t relaunching his classic series, he revisits it to tell a story he has kept hidden in his library of treasures, the prelude to a dream.  Only Gaiman can tell a story like this, a story about stories.  He can weave a killer fairy tale with epicness and ease, Overture being just another amazing piece of the mythology that is The Dreaming.

The art of Williams is gorgeous.  He understands the feel of Gaiman’s flow in storytelling on a visceral level.  In the opening pages of this overture Gaiman wanted Dream depicted as a flower in the dream of a carnivorous plant and what Williams comes up with is simply beautiful.  The union of Gaiman’s words and Williams’ work is seamless.  Williams knows just how to guide the reader along the story within the panel layouts perfectly.  The double page spreads are so awesome I’m considering framing pages for my nerd lair.  One of my favorite pages to look at is this:

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I could babble endlessly on like the fan-girl I am but I’ll be kind.  I will confess The Sandman series is what brought me back to comics.  It is the best comic I’ve ever read, my one truest of true loves.  The Dreaming is my happy place in all its horror and beauty.  I would have named my first born Nuala if the grandmothers could have pronounced it correctly. Some girls read to find they want to be Lizzie Bennet, I read to find I want to be Death.  If you love a good Neil Gaiman story accompanied by stunningly beautiful art, you can’t pass this one up.  If you are a dreamer, do yourself a favor and fill your waking world with these stories and if you aren’t…maybe this is the way to start.

 

Coffin Hill #1

Vertigo

Release Date:  10/9/13

Words:  Caitlin Kittredge

Pictures:  Inaki Miranda

The Sitch:

Coffin Hill is a supernatural crime drama centering on the life and times of Eve Coffin.  Eve has currently cracked the case of her career as a rookie cop.  Before she has time to enjoy the much unwanted spotlight she suffers a gunshot wound.  She survives and after recovering,  is forced to go back home, a place she apparently has been trying to leave in the past.  Eve’s history as a high society brat intent on shaming her rich and powerful family involves her dabbling in a bit of nasty witchcraft, the kind in which she and two of her friends partake in the forest one night only to wake to a bloody mystery in the morning.

The Confession:

Coffin Hill is perfectly released, just in time to get in the spirit of things that go bump in the night.  Issue #1 is the set up for the central conflict and introduction of characters. Kittredge does this without bogging the book down in back story.  She jumps in time giving clues here and there, slowly drawing the reader in deeper.  Eve makes for an interesting protagonist.  The way Kittredge uses nonlinear storytelling works for a character who is nowhere linear herself.  The obvious contrast between Eve’s present more responsible self and her younger wild self is enough to make the reader want to know more.

The art in this book is brilliant.  It is simply pretty to look at.  It makes you feel like the whole thing is steeped in dark and damp places.  For a book with such dark tones, the colors are so vibrant and alive.  My favorite example being the page of Eve somewhat obscured by ravens.  I am looking forward to seeing more in the issues to come.

Pick this one up in honor of Halloween, because it’s October, because you have a thing for fearless girls with dark, dirty secrets, because you liked the book Beautiful Creatures, because you like ravens or witches or just because it’s Vertigo Comics.  If you haven’t noticed, witches are the in thing this year, so do yourself a favor and one up those watching American Horror Story: Coven or Witches of East End.  Read Coffin Hill.

Hinterkind #1

Vertigo

Release Date:  10/2/13

Words:  Ian Edginton

Pictures:  Francesco Trifogli

The Sitch:

The world as we know it has moved on, whether it has moved forward or backward is the question.  “The Blight” has all but ended the human race and nature has taken her world back.  What humans that have survived must continue to survive in a bizarre world in which what was once known as myth is now reality.  Hinterkind focuses on Prosper Monday and her bestie Angus as they come of age in a time of myth and legend somewhere in our not-so-distant future.

The Confession:

Hinderkind’s cover drew me in, it looked like something from Saga only instead of sci fi genre bending, it’s bending the urban fantasy genre.  After reading issue #1, I’m convinced, it really IS something like Saga for the urban fantasy genre.  The reader is dropped into this bizarre world around a village that is somewhere in what was once Central Park, at some unknown time after “The Blight” has wiped out reality as we know it.  What is left of the human race is surviving the best they can in small villages that have had to revert to hunter/gatherer days and contend with creatures dangerous and bizarre, creatures of myth and legend that humankind had once pushed to the shadows.  The time of these creatures has finally come back around and not even human beings can remain untouched by this evolution.  Prosper Monday reminds me a Katniss-type girl, aspiring to hunter status with her bow and arrow skills.  Her bestie in crime is Angus who has issues of his own to contend with.  Inadvertently these two set off in a bizarre adventure together past the comfort and safety of their village.  I like how we have yet to find out the details of how the world has moved on, it just has.  The word “hinterkind” translates from German to English as “behind child.”  I guess we will see how these children are forced to go back and redeem themselves and their race for whatever part they had in the way things have come to be.  It looks like the creatures they will have to reckon with in order to do this will prove an interesting and formidable challenge.

The artwork is bright and beautiful, reflecting the fairy tale mood set in a post apocalyptic world.  The “once upon a time” spread in the beginning is striking, the New York skyline has gone from its concrete jungle days to a lush forest growing out of buildings and skyscrapers under brilliant blue sun shiny skies.  Even cooler are the creatures this new landscape houses, many familiar-ish creatures from the fairy tales we all grew up with and new hybrids like the tiger striped, white maned lions.

I know post apocalyptic tales are a dime a dozen these days but a few still stand out now and again.  This one puts an interesting spin on it using urban fantasy instead of the usual zombie fare.  Being one of those that have always been obsessed with fairy tales retold, I’m an easy sell.  I like this one.

American Vampire Anthology #1

Vertigo

Release Date:  8/28/13

The Stories, words & pictures:

The Man Comes Around Part 1 – story by Scott Snyder, pictures by Rafael Albuqurque

Lost Colony – story by Jason Aaron, pictures by Declan Shalvey

Bleeding Kansas – story by Rafael Albuqurque, pictures by Ivo Milazzo

Canadian Vampire – story by Jeff Lemire, pictures by Ray Fawkes

Greed – story and pictures by Becky Cloonan

The Producers – story and pictures by Francesco Francavilla

Essence of Life – story by Gail Simone, pictures by Tula Lotay

Last Night – story and pictures by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

Portland, 1940 -story by Greg Rucka, pictures by JP Leon

The Man Comes Around Part 2 – story by Scott Snyder, pictures by Rafael Albuqurque

The Sitch:

This is the #1 American Vampire Anthology, a collection of ten short stories that show independent looks into the mythology of Snyder and Albuqurque’s American Vampire by some of the best writers and artists in comics right now.

The Confession:

If you have yet to discover the world of American Vampire, shame on you.  Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuqurque have created a beautiful and bloody world in American Vampire.  I have been a follower since day one and I admit Stephen King’s involvement in the first few issues is what caught my eye, but it was Snyder and Albuqurque that I fell in love with and are responsible for me wanting more with every issue.  The hiatus American Vampire has been on these last few months has left a sad whole in my comic book life.  Getting a book this gorgeous makes the break almost worth while.

I refuse to describe each story in this collection because everyone and anyone willing to give this book a read deserves to fully enjoy it, spoiler free.  If you are already a loyal fan, this is Christmas in the middle of summer.  If you are part of the sorry lot who missed out on these books previously, you can easily jump on this anthology and get a teaser taster of what you need to catch up on because after reading this, trust me, you will want to catch up.  The writing is solid.  The art is beautiful.  Of course, I love the work Snyder and Albuqurque create together.  I cannot get enough of the stories Snyder can weave.  As for Albuqurque’s artwork, it is a special kind of beautiful terror.  Or is it terrifyingly beautiful? Either way, it makes me want to tattoo myself in red sunflowers.

I will say this: Gail Simone, I love you.  Her story that gives insight into the character of Hattie Hargrove is actually my favorite of the stories.  I felt empathy for Hattie like never before but I was also reminded of just what Hattie is capable of (and it’s awesome!)  I can only hope I will see more of this character in the future.

Just read it.

Trillium #1

Vertigo

Release Date:  8/7/13

Words:  Jeff Lemire

Pictures:  Jeff Lemire

The Sitch:

Trillium is a science fiction mystery surrounding two people from two very different times and places.  Nika is from the far reaches of space in 3797, while William is from the amazon jungles of 1921.  Both characters are on their own adventures, adventures that strangely mirror the other’s.   Lemire tells their stories using a flip book, meaning one one half of the book is told from Nika’s point of view, the other is told from William’s.  Both stories begin at the opposite covers and meet in the middle where Nika and William eventually meet each other.

The Confession:

Vertigo has promoted this book as “the last love story ever told” and I, for one, am totally sold.

I have not yet read Sweet Tooth, but I have heard good things about it.  Some of the reason I have yet to pick up anything from Lemire is because his art just doesn’t resonate well with me.  I have to say that I am glad I did not let that stop me from giving this new series a try.  Lemire can tell an interesting story.  It may seem gimmicky to use a flip book layout, but it works really well in this first issue.  Though opposite, the two points of view are perfect mirrors of each other down to the panels, splash pages coinciding with splash pages, that it is a nice touch, forcing the reader to slow down and notice the parallels in each story in a creative way.  Nika’s story seems more deep and detailed, while William’s leaves more to the mystery of things.  Both sides are compelling and have fleshed out their respective protagonists very well.

As I have said before, Lemire’s art style is not my favorite but it really does do well with the story, especially with Nika’s side.  Her story, her time and place, allow for him to be more rich in detail.  He also has a firm grip on how to use his pictures tell parts of the story that need no words because his art makes it perfectly clear.

Trillium is set for an 8 issue run and I can’t wait to see how so much potential will pan out.  I like how Nika is all hard science fiction scientist while William is all pulpy hero.  Even more attractive to me is how both are searching for something bigger than themselves, yet at the same time their search is still very personal.