Redlands #1

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Release Date: 8/9/17

Words: Jordie Bellaire

Pictures: Vanesa R. Del Rey

The Sitch:

Welcome to the sleepy, sunny town of Redlands, Florida where the police are failing to maintain control of their old-fashioned town, and a coven of killer witches that plan on taking everything from them. Bible thumpers beware.

The Confession:

If you enjoy a good southern-gothic horror, Redlands just may be what you’ve been waiting for.

The story opens in 1977. The lynching of three witches has not gone as planned. The lynching tree is on fire and the police are immobilized with terror and hiding in their precinct. The reader is only given little pieces of the puzzle. We don’t know how the lynching went wrong or why the women were put there. There is a ghost that haunts the Sheriff, hinting at deeper, darker secrets. And what is the deal with all those people locked up in the dark? With an opening such as this, everything is turned on its head. Who is more vile, the women for whatever it was they were accused of or the police for attempting to lynch them? It’s clear the witches have plans for the future of Redlands, and said plans look bloody well promising to say the least.

The art and coloring fit perfectly with the story. There is something about the scratchy, frantic way she draws the scenes that adds to the unsettled terror and chaos. The characters seems scratched out of the shadows and it’s truly creepy how the light coming from the lynching tree is the only illumination for the things coming out of the dark. It’s a horror story lover’s dream.

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I Hate Fairyland

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Release Date: #1 – 10/14/15, Vol. 1 – 4/20/16

Words: Skottie Young

Pictures: Skottie Young

The Sitch:

How did I not review this when it first came out? SO many apologies…

Meet Gertrude, a six year old who has been stuck in Fairyland for almost thirty years. She is willing to hack and slash her way through anything to get back home. Even a magical place like Fairyland will lose its magic and drive a girl a little mad if she can’t leave. You do not want to miss this blood soaked journey to see who survives the girl who hates fairyland.

The Confession:

Skottie Young. That’s all you need to know to make you want this book. I Hate Fairyland is his debut epic fantasy for Image that is sort of  like Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz, if Alice or Dorothy were more like Tank Girl. Needless to say, this is not one for the kiddies. Every issue is what it is, a fun romp through a whimsical and unpredictable world. Who doesn’t remember what it was like to dream of being some perfect, happy protagonist on some magical adventure in a world of marvels, like talking wondrous creatures that answer in riddles and fart glitter? I mean, who wouldn’t have a good time? What about after thirty years of the same? Could you still be happy and chippy or would you be bitter and completely mad? Could you still greet the challenge of crossing ice cream mountains with joy and grace or would you want to throttle the next muffin fluffin unicorn that farted in your general direction? Anything goes in the world of Skottie Young.  The results are awesomely funny.

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Glitterbomb

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Release Date: #1 released 9/7/16, Vol. 1 – 3/1/17

Words: Jim Zub

Pictures: Djibril Morissette-Phan

The Sitch:

Farrah Durante is a middle-age actress on the hunt for her next gig in an industry where youth is valued more than experience. Her frustrations become an emotional lure for something even uglier and horrifying than Hollywood itself. Something dark and wicked comes to Farrah, and is eager to help her exact some sweet revenge on the shallow, celebrity obsessed culture of the entertainment industry. Hollywood feeds on the insecurities, desires, and fears of its victims, it’s about time for someone or something hungry enough to bite back.

The Confession:

This horror story about fame and failure is pretty enjoyable. Zub makes some strong character development with Farrah from the start. The reader is pulled in fast and furious into the pain and anguish she has to endure navigating the entertainment world. I’m all for complex female leads, and Farrah is one to root for. As much as I hate Hollywood and it’s messed up culture, I still follow it. I’m still a sucker to watching it and enjoying it for the most part. I also hate it for its power to pull in the more gullible and vulnerable, making victims and monsters of so many. It is such an ugly thing, what Hollywood does to women in particular. It’s disgusting to see the prevalence and enthusiasm for seeing older men with younger woman. It’s disgusting to see women turn against each other and themselves in order to survive. That’s why it’s so satisfying to see the industry receive its due, and it’s even more fun to see it done with such violence and gore. The art is dark and beautiful. The line work and layout is paced just right, which adds to the dread feeling brought out from the subdued colors. The book feels taught and miserable at the same time, just right for this kind of horror story.

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Huck #1

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Release Date:  11/18/15

Words:  Mark Millar

Pictures:  Rafael Albuquerque

The Sitch:

Huck is an intellectually disabled young man with super powers who lives in a small, quiet, seaside town. His fellow townspeople keep the secret of his abilities so he, and they, can continue to live their peaceful and idyllic existence. This life allows Huck to grow into the good natured soul he is, having been brought up to value the importance and actual practice of doing at least one good deed a day for the town and its people. Huck’s acts of kindness are often slightly odd but done with gentle humor because Huck is the ideal do-gooder and gentle man. Huck’s world and character is Rockwell-esque perfection until a newcomer alerts the media, forcing Huck on a whole new scale of adventure.

The Confession:

This is the most hopeful and optimistic comic story I have read in a long time. When I said “Rockwell-esque,” I meant it. The whole book just feels good, warm and fuzzy, but not saccharine sweet. Millar’s words and Albuquerque’s pictures work to tell an engaging and beautiful story of hope and goodness at a time when we (humanity) really need to be reminded of why we continue to fight the good fight. Huck’s character is developed and defined not by any disability but by the actions of the man himself. I love how Huck is so sweetly mischievous and laconic that the silent sequences tell more than words ever could. Actions here really do speak louder than words.

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Did I mention how beautiful this book is? Did I mention how in love I am with Albuquerque’s art in general? Those silent sequences I mentioned before are outstanding. This book showcases his softer side of watercolor style and is breathtaking to behold, making the feels so much more intense. The contrast of the monochrome television screen depicting the outside world’s turmoil within Huck’s utopian world’s setting is striking. Although I have to admit I am biased. I could flip through pages of Albuquerque’s panels indefinitely when they are as magical as the first few pages of this book.

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Huck is a hopeful and uplifting book about a tender-hearted, readily likable character, carefully crafted by Mark Miller and Rafael Albuquerque, reason enough to add this title to your pull list today.

Paper Girls #1

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Release Date:  10/7/15

Words: Brian K. Vaughan

Pictures:  Cliff Chaing

The Sitch:

In the early hours of the morning after Halloween 1988, four twelve year old paper delivery girls uncover a story bigger than any headlines they have ever delivered.

The Confession:

Fans of Vaughan will want to buy Paper Girls because they well know he can craft a good story. He has a knack for creating well fleshed out characters that will intrigue the reader from page one. Personally, I cannot pass up a book immersed in the innocence of the 80’s, especially one that focuses on the smarts and strengths of individual girls banding together. These girls are not just together for the sake of girl bonding, they are together to survive an adventure. This is the coming-of-age story of and for girls that the 80’s should have given us. It’s a bit Monster Squad meets Stand by Me meets War of the Worlds. I already love these fearless girls.

Chiang’s art is already well known and appreciated from his work on Wonder Woman. He works so cohesively with Vaughans’ story that I felt I was drawn into a movie, not just a book. His skills only solidify the character development. Each girl has her own distinct personality and expressions. You can feel the 80’s in his splash pages, the days when helicopter parenting was nonexistent and kids were able to grow up and figure life out on their own while exploring the world around them.

Also, props to the detail of the Depeche Mode poster on Erin’s wall.

If you’re looking for a new story with some good, strong female leads and/or an immediately intriguing sci-fi adventure, Paper Girls is the new ongoing series that is one for the pull list.

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Tokyo Ghost #1

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Release Date:  9/16/15

Words:  Rick Remender

Pictures:  Sean Murphy

The Sitch:

Tokyo Ghost begins in The Isles of Los Angeles 2089. Humanity’s single, all consuming addiction is technology. This brave, new world houses only seekers of distraction from real life which has become nothing but toxic contamination. They beg, borrow, steal, and/or kill to buy their next digital fix. This virtual high is the only thing anyone lives for anymore and the drug lords rule the world, real and virtual. The only source of order in such a chaotic world are Constables Debbie Decay and the love of her life, Led Dent. Debbie is the last tech-free human in LA while Led is as tech-addicted as they come. The duo has one last job to carry out before Debbie can achieve her dream of getting the two of them out of The Isles of LA and into The Garden of Tokyo, the last tech-free nation on Earth. There she hopes to find detox for the man she loves, the only thing that makes her life worth living, the only thing that keeps her fighting.

The Confession:

Tokyo Ghost is pull-worthy.

If the team up of Remender and Murphy isn’t enough to sway you, then I will attempt to convince you.

Tokyo Ghost is a fast paced sci-fi cautionary tale set to a punk rock beat. It gives you the same sort of warm, jittery feels you would get watching Mad Max: Fury Road. Remender cannot tell a bad story. His commentary on our current reliance on tech and constant need for stimulation from television and social media is not subtle. Nothing about this book is subtle. Of the two main characters, in this first issue, it is Debbie who is most intriguing. Though she is one half of a co-dependent relationship, she is immediately likable and a badass to boot. Being the only tech-free human in such a depressing world cannot be easy. She is fierce and fearless. She knows what she wants and she’s going to get it. The big bad of the story and last job is Davey Trauma, a not-so-subtle psychopath that kills for fun. See? Even the character names are fun to read. Just as interesting as the sci-fi thrill is the twisted codependent love story of Debbie and Len. I hate spoiling a good read so, if you are a fan of Mad Max/Road Warrior, Blade Runner, Judge Dredd, or Ghost in the Shell this is a read for you.

Murphey’s art is as stellar as always. I love the look of this book. It’s so pretty. His scratchy, punk feel is perfect for such a high octane dystopian thriller. Take the time to explore every single page, no space is wasted and nothing is simple filler. The world has gone toxic and mad. The tech drenched life is a reality worse than hell itself. The constant flood of information and images is truly frightening and not so far off in our future. As Remender said himself, “Our impulse control is gone; our attention spans are shorter, and it’s only getting worse.” Look around you, at yourself, at our children. That’s the stuff of nightmares. Murphey captures this beautifully.

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The Beauty #1

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Release Date:  8/12/15

Words:  Jeremy Haun & Jason A. Hurley

Pictures:  Jeremy Haun

The Sitch:

The hook is as follows:  Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is attainable. The vast majority of the population has taken advantage of it, but Detectives Foster and Vaughn will soon discover it comes at a terrible price. Writer/artist Jeremy Haun and co-writer Jason A. Hurley offer up a startling reflection on the cost of looking good in this procedural science fiction tale.

 The Confession: 

Since this IS the part where I confess my opinion of said book I must be honest… I picked up this book, one, because it’s an Image title, and two, because I saw the cover and thought, “Pretty!” How’s that for shallow?

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Lucky for me The Beauty is pretty freaking awesome. I mean, what a concept! I was just reading an article the other day about a woman who was diagnosed with cancer. When she was healthy she had always struggled with her weight. In about two months with her illness her health declined so much, so fast, that she lost a lot of weight. People began telling her how great she looked despite her dark circles under her eyes and loss of hair. This angered her, understandably so, because what does that say about a society that values beauty over health? It’s deplorable. It’s sick. It’s ugly. It’s the world we live in right now. The public at large will certainly take advantage of a quick and easy fix. Who doesn’t want to be outwardly young and beautiful?

The Beauty depicts a world not too dissimilar from our own, only this one offers a fast and tempting fix for our vanity issues. A sexually transmitted disease called The Beauty is unleashed upon the world. Once infected the person becomes younger, slimmer, and obviously beautiful. It’s the kind of beautiful only Photoshop makes possible and many people want it. They go out and get it, regardless of the price. Of course there are going to be opposition because life is all about conflict. Enter detectives Foster and Vaughn who are called in on a new threat to The Beautys, death by sudden internal combustion. Is it the disease itself? Is it the backlash of the uninfected? The first issue sets up the hook and sinks it in firmly. The detectives are not fully developed yet but the reader gets just enough to know they are flawed and interesting. You will want to know what is going to happen to them and what they will find in their investigation of this mysterious crime in such an intriguing world. The writing is solid and the story has the potential to go in any number of directions. I cannot wait to see how it all plays out.

As one would expect, the art is gorgeous. It is painfully clear who the infected are and are not. It’s a gritty sci-fi crime tale and the art gets dark and gritty in all the right places. It’s a bit stunning when you see those infected with The Beauty in the midst of some ugly situations. I don’t think the words and pictures could have been so in tune with any other team of creators. Just looking at this book makes me sick and intrigued at the same time.

If you are looking for that something new and original with some disturbingly haunting after affects, don’t pass up The Beauty. Honestly, the hook is all you need. This title is no doubt for mature audiences, those of you that appreciate a tale of sex, beauty, and crime.