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.

Savior #1

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Release Date:  4/8/15

Words:   Todd McFarlane & Brian Holguin

Pictures:  Clayton Crain

The Sitch:

It’s the real world and people are people.  Then, dropping out of the sky in fire and tragedy, a man appears naked and with no memory of who he is or where he came from. Also, he seems to have messianic power.  Immediately, as humanity is oft to do, he is seen by the masses as either a blessing or a curse.

The Confession:

McFarlane and Holguin are taking their time to craft a careful yet bold story that deals with the questions of faith and belief. The first issue, in terms of story, is the vaguest of set ups. By the last page the reader is still unsure of where this book is going.  That doesn’t mean words are wasted.  The development of character is strong. Cassandra, who seems to be the central character of the story so far, is smartly written.  Not unlike Cassandra, the reader is dropped into the unknown, between the opposing viewpoints of those that fear the fraud and those that hope he can provide miracles, with this unknown character, and left to slowly, almost painfully, piece together the mystery of who this mystery man is, where he came from, and why he exists.

Even better than the beginnings of such a story is the art work.  It is amazing.  It tells the story almost better than the words themselves.  There is a cinematic feel, as if you are watching this unfold within a lens rather than on paper.  The style is like a realistic abstract painting (if that makes any sense) and his use of panel layout is beautiful, at once focusing on the small squared perspective, then pulling back to reveal more of the surrounding chaos depicting the effect this savior has on the town and its people.

Savior has the potential for an excellent story.  It’s compelling and thought provoking and beautiful to see unfold.  It is definitely worth a read.  I’m intrigued and can’t wait to see where this one goes.

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Bitch Planet #3

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Release Date:  2/18/15

Words:  Kelly Sue DeConnick

Pictures:  Robert Wilson IV

The Sitch:

Bitch Planet #3 is the first of special third issues in which there will be a guest artist and the narrative will focus on the back-story of one of Bitch Planet’s inmates.  This one is focused on Penelope “Penny” Rolle.  Penny Rolle is a repeat offender of “insubordination,” “assault,” and “aesthetic offenses.”  Obviously, Penny is non-compliant.  This is her origin story.

The Confession:

I normally don’t revisit ongoing books on this blog because I try to focus on what’s new, the potential new starts on some different reads for the usual pull list.  Only this week, I had to break the cycle.  I have to admit I eagerly read, and devoured, this one before any of the others.  I usually give #1’s the first, quick read of the week.  This time I indulged.

My confession is really a thank you letter to DeConnick.  As I have said before, somewhere in my review of Bitch Planet #1, this is the comic I’ve been waiting for since I picked up my first comic…. way, way back in the day.  When I was a kid there just were not many female characters I could relate to or admire.  It was so disappointing, not to mention frustrating.  I didn’t want to see women depicted as the scantily clad trophy on the arm of a man, a sidekick or some other insignificant supporting character.  I wanted to see more diverse women kick ass.  Where were the female led books?  Being an Asian American female I would be sorely disappointed for an unfairly long time.

Since then I’ve made do, like many of us do every day.  I grew up and I learned how to compromise. It wasn’t perfect but neither is the world we live in every day.  In recent years there have been advances but it’s painfully slow.  We still have a long way to go despite it being 2015.

And then Bitch Planet happened.

Bitch Planet #3 tackles body politics, racism, and the blatant misogyny of our society. Penny Rolle is my hero and spirit guide.  Just like the comic book itself, she is unapologetic.  I love her with all my heart.  In this book we learn her origin story, why she is where she has ended up.  Despite the attempts of “the fathers” trying to help her be happy, Penny digs in and takes a stand for herself.  She is not afraid to take up space and be her own person.  She doesn’t struggle.  She just is.  Oh my goddess she is what I strive to be. She is what I hope my daughters strive to be.

Non-compliant for life.

Guest artist, Wilson, is awesome in highlighting Penny’s story.  He has a softer edge than De Landro but makes no less of a point.  His renditions of the compliant women and superior “fathers” are in stark contrast to every non-compliant inch of Penny Rolle.  And his work on the last page was so satisfying I had tears in my eyes.  No one can break a woman like Penny Rolle.

Bold, Beautiful and Baaaaaad is an understatement.

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If you aren’t reading Bitch Planet already, hurry up and get it on your pull list.  Share it even. You owe it to yourself, your mother, your sister, your daughter, and your lover.

Bitch Planet #1

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Release Date:  12/10/14

Words:  Kelly Sue DeConnick

Pictures:  Valentine De Landro

The Sitch:

It’s the not too distant future where women who are guilty of being “non-compliant” are shipped off to a distant planet for a life of incarceration, they are told they are to “live out your lives in penitence and service” for their so-called crimes.  This planet is known to all as “Bitch Planet,” despite it’s supporters’ preference of “Auxiliary Compliance Outpost.” Earth as we know it is a man’s world and women must comply with the standards of their society.  We all know what that means, thin, white, sexy, living to please the man, the same old tired story we live every day.  Well, at least some of us.

The Confession:

Image has tag-lined Bitch Planet as, “Think Margaret Atwood meets Inglorious Bastards,” as if I needed any more incentive to pick this first issue up.  This is a sci-fi, women-in-prison with a 60’s/70’s exploitation feel kind of story.  It’s the future, but really, it’s right now.  It’s like Orange is the New Black but even better.  This is the comic everyone, not just every woman, needs to read.  It is the comic every woman, every person who ever felt not up to the standard society dictates, has been waiting for.  Have you ever felt unable, tired of, or unwilling to play the same tired old reindeer games that are being shoved down your soul every minute of every day in this screwed up society we call our world?  Are you non-compliant?

DeConnick is awesome.  She writes about characters that aren’t just strong, they persevere.  The world would be a far better place if there were more of these characters in existence, especially in the comic world.  She writes of women of all shapes and colors that aren’t afraid of who they are and refuse to apologize for it.  These are the women you’ve been looking for, the ones who truly kick ass. Penny Rolle is larger than life and proud of it.  Now, when I feel the need to raise the proverbial middle finger, I will channel by inner Penny Rolle and not feel one ounce of shame.  The plot twist at the end will hit you in the gut if you’re paying enough attention and this story deserves your attention. Give it due respect.  Read it slow, read it twice, and don’t skip any of the pages, including the back page of ads.  It all deserves your attention.

De Landro is excellent in his artwork here.  He has to draw a lot of female nudity and does so with respect, none of that sexualization of women is depicted.  This guy gets it.  It’s harsh and gritty and real, melding seamlessly with the story line.  He can also draw facial expressions with perfection.  He makes those punches to your gut that much more harsher with his talent.  Take the time to notice his details while reading what DeConnick is saying.  There is nothing disappointing here.

I cannot recommend this book enough.  I want to buy one for every woman I know, the ones who are fighting the good fight daily and the ones living in denial.  I want to buy this for every man, too.  As Eve Ensler said, “You live with us, make love with us, father us, befriend us, brother us, get nurtured and mothered and eternally supported by us, so why aren’t you standing with us?  Why aren’t you driven to the point of madness and action by the rape and humiliation of us?”

Get this book.  Now.

Non-compliant for life.

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