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Lucifer #49

June 14, 2012 Leave a comment

April 21, 2004

Quick Rating: Fair
Title: The Widow (Wire, Briar Limber Lock Part Two)

Lucifer returns, and explains why reality is falling apart!

Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Peter Gross & Ryan Kelly
Colors: Daniel Vozzo
Letters: Jared Fletcher
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Christopher Moeller
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Finally. After reading this issue for five months (of which this is only the second time Lucifer has actually shown up in his own title) I feel like I’m starting to get a grasp of what’s going on here. As the immortals are driven out of Lucifer’s new universe, the fallen angel himself has uncovered a flaw in reality that threatens to destroy the universe. This being a comic book, flaws that threaten to destroy the universe are a dime a dozen, but this one is a pretty clever one that suits the pseudo-religious nature of this title.

While this book still suffers from major accessibility problems, the stuff that’s starting to become recognizable is interesting. The book features an entertaining (if not entirely unexpected) meeting with the incarnation of nature in Lucifer’s universe, several inventive monsters and other clever bits like a waterfall of swords that show the amount of imagination that Mike Carey and the art team have put into the issue.

There are a lot of interesting things here. The problem, as it has been since I started reading this book with issue #45, has been one of putting the elements together in an understandable manner. Too much in this book doesn’t seem to relate to anything else, and that’s a problem. The result is a book that, in general, I want to like much more than I actually do.

Gross and Kelly come back to form in this issue, which looks better than the last few have. Images like Angels in flight, a horse being created from clay, the aforementioned incarnation of nature and the odd gateway that bears Yahweh’s name all have a fantastic look to them, like illustrations out of a classic fantasy novel. Lucifer seems to walk the line between fantasy and horror – this issue is more firmly on the fantasy side, and the artwork reflects that.

I’m still not exactly a fan of this comic book, but I’m warming up to it. With issue 50 coming next month and a rather good cliffhanger in this issue, Carey has the tools to grab people in the very near future if he plays it right.

Rating: 6/10

My Faith in Frankie #4

June 7, 2012 Leave a comment

April 10, 2004

Review by: Blake M. Petit Blake@comixtreme.com
Quick Rating: Good

Frankie and Kay have to save the mortal form of the god Jeriven – even if it means going to Hell to get him out.

Writer: Mike Carey
Pencils: Sonny Liew
Inks: Marc Hempel
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: John Costanza
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Marc Hempel
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

After Dean stole Frankie’s faith in Jeriven, his power was drained, leaving him the fodder for a demon. This issue Frankie and Kay set out to save him. I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy this issue as much as I have the previous issues in this miniseries. At the beginning the story was much more a quirky romantic comedy with elements of fantasy. By this finale, it has metamorphed into more of an adventure story, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it has lost some of the elements that made it stand out and made me love it so much in the first place.

There’s still a lot of good in this issue, though. Frankie Moxon is one of the best female protagonists in recent comics, and she steals the show in this issue, helping to set up a real slam-bang finale. In fact, the finale may be a little too slam-bang, because it ties up the stories of our three heroes very neatly and doesn’t leave much room for a sequel. I know, I know, not every story needs a sequel, but I’ve grown to really love these characters over the past for months, and it’s a shame that their tale is over while tired concepts like The Authority keep grinding out issues month after month.

Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel finish this miniseries with as much style and flair as they began it. The artwork is beautiful and distinct, unlike most comic books in any genre, although there are traces of Terry Moore and Sam Kieth throughout. They leap from comedic to horrific aspects and handle them both with skill and style. This art team could do anything from a slapstick comedy to a gory horror story, and they could handle it all well.

Even if this is the end of Frankie and Jeriven, I hope it’s not the end of the Mike Carey/Sonny Liew team. These guys made four issues of a great comic book together and they’re bound to have many more. As for My Faith in Frankie, it’s all done except for the hoping for a trade paperback collection where, if there’s any justice in the comic book world, it will find the audience it deserves.

Rating: 7/10

Books of Magick: Life During Wartime #1

April 12, 2012 Leave a comment

July 13, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Have You Seen the Stars Tonight?

Tim Hunter has given up on magic… but magic hasn’t given up on Tim Hunter.

Writer: Si Spencer
Story By: Neil Gaiman & Si Spencer
Art:Dean Ormston
Colors: Fiona Stephenson
Letters: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

Review: I am an unabashed fan of Tim Hunter. I loved the original Books of Magic series about his childhood and the subsequent Hunter: The Age of Magic about his teenage years. Right from the outset, from the addition of that “k” to the word “Magick” in the title, it is clear that this will be a very different Tim than we have seen in the past.

It seems about four years have passed since we last saw Tim. He has turned away from his destiny to become the greatest sorcerer of them all, denied his place as the Merlin. He has settled down with the love of his life, Molly, and he is happy in a world without magic.

Cue the cataclysm.

Something is very wrong with this universe. Magical creatures are dying… being slaughtered. People seem to be forgetting all about gods and faith. Hell seems to be coming to Earth and, as always, John Constantine is going to have to get Tim back on track if the world is going to be saved.

I’ll be honest here, this is not a very accessible issue. As big a fan of this series as I am, I had to read this issue twice and I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on. Now some of that, of course, is because this is the first issue of the series and a lot will be filled in as the story progresses, but new readers won’t grasp who Tim is or why he’s so important or why Constantine is thinking about him. Having read the earlier books is almost a prerequisite for this one.

Dean Ormston’s artwork is spot-on. He has a fantastic quality that is still quite dark and dirty, reminding us of the subtitle of this new series, Life During Wartime. This is not a bright, happy tale. This is likely to be a hellish, brutal story. War is Hell, and Ormston’s artwork, even in the early, jollier scenes, conveys a sense of foreboding. You can look at the panels, at the serenity in Tim’s face, and you know that in a matter of issues, it’s all going to be shattered.

This is a very new direction for Tim Hunter, and while it may be a bit confusing, it’s one I like. I’ve already hitched myself to this title. I’ve got to see where it goes.

Rating: 8/10

Fables #113

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

March 4, 2012

Title: In Those Days

Writer: Bill Willingham
Art (Prologue):
Rick Leonardi & Ron Randall
Art (A Delicate Balance):
P. Craig Russell & Lovern Kindzierski
Art (A Magic Life):
Zander Cannon & Jim Fern
Art (The Way of the World):
Ramon Bachs & Ron Randall
Art (Porky Pining):
Adam Hughes
Letters:
Todd Klein
Colors:
Lee Loughridge
Cover Art:
Joao Roas
Editor:
Shelly Bond
Publisher:
DC Comics/Vertigo

One of the best things about Fables is that, even after all these years, Bill Willingham keeps finding ways to mix up the formula of the book. In-between longer stories, he often does one-off issues that may set the seeds for future storylines, or tie off past storylines, or maybe just stand on their own. This issue feels like it does at least two of those at once, as we see a magical travelling performer weave several short stories about Fables both new and familiar.

Among the stories, we see a tale of a faithless queen and the punishment she brings upon her kingdom, a sorcerer whose downfall led us to the background of our more prominent Fables, a sailing clan unaware of the true nature of their world, and a hysterical story of a porcupine with an inventive curse. Of the four, it’s the longest (Cannon and Fern’s “A Magic Life”) that seems least complete in and of itself, ending up as it does off to the sidelines of our regular cast. The text itself implies that this story may not be over yet as well, but it stops far short of promising a return. “A Delicate Balance” and “The Way of the World” are tied together in an interesting way and create a world I’d like to see the title return to one of these days. And “Porky Pining”… well, it’s just funny as anything, and it’s got some rare, gorgeous interior art by Adam Hughes.

It’s an offbeat issue, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that Fables needs once in a while. I’m glad that the title has the freedom to do things like this when the creators see fit.

Rating: 8/10

Lucifer #48

February 2, 2012 Leave a comment

March 13, 2004

Quick Rating: Good
Title: The War (Stitchglass Slide Part Two)

Thole the weaver finds a mate.

Writer: Mike Carey
Art: Peter Gross & Ryan Kelly
Colors: Daniel Vozzo
Letters: Jared Fletcher
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Christopher Moeller
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

With this issue Mike Carey concludes the intriguing “Stitchglass Slide” storyline begun in issue 46 and skipped over last month for the far less intriguing “Wire, Briar, Limber Lock.” In part one, the weaver named Thole accidentally brought a young human boy through the portal into Lucifer’s realm just as he began preparations to find a mate. This issue, he finds her, and she turns out to be a far less pleasant mate than one may hope for.

Uuna is harsh and cruel, and her interest in Thole’s human friend is far from healthy. The story spirals towards a brutal, inevitable conclusion that, thankfully, does seem to finally come around to the larger arc of the story After reviewing for issues of this title, though, I have to ask long-time readers of the book, does Lucifer ever actually show up in this series?

Gross and Kelly do nice artwork in this issue, making Thole look small and awkward while Uuna looks bulky and imposing – almost like a nastier version of Paul Chadwick’s Concrete. The violent conclusion of the issue is nasty and bloody, and visually, it works very well all around.

The only real problem with this issue is that, even after a few months, I have no idea what this comic book is about. The title character is a constant no-show, the stories bound around without any connection to each other, and when Mike Carey does strike upon an interesting idea like the weavers, he shatters the flow with unnecessary side stories. This is a pretty good issue, but all in all, I’m not a fan of this series.

Rating: 7/10

My Faith in Frankie #3

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

February 28, 2004

Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Chapters 21-30

Jeriven is human now – and just when Frankie needs him most.

Writer: Mike Carey
Pencils: Sonny Liew
Inks: Marc Hempel
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: John Costanza
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Marc Hempel
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

With just one issue to go, Mike Carey has placed his toys all out and has things set up for a spectacular conclusion. Last issue the demonic Dean convinced Jeriven, god of heart’s fires and personal patron of Frankie Moxon, to assume human form. The results, considering his altitude at the time, were predictably messy.

This issue we have a lot of moving around with the characters, things getting put in place for the finale. We get Kay trying to teach Jeriven to be human, we get Frankie torn between her feelings for Dean and her loyalty to the god who has watched over her for her entire life, and we get a glimpse into how Dean became the despicable creature he is – and of course, it comes back to Jeriven.

I’m so sorry that this is just a miniseries, because three issues in it’s one of the most entertaining comic books of the year. It’s often funny, sometimes frightening and always a treat to read. Carey has created some truly unique characters in this miniseries, and it would be a crying shame to see them disappear when this miniseries ends.

The artwork, by Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel, is still spot-on perfect. The style is unlike any other Vertigo title, it’s unique and light without losing a sense of menace when necessary. There’s a great two-page spread near the beginning of the book where we see the many faces of Jeriven towering over a dreaming Frankie. It’s a rough scene, because we see the angry god in the sky, showing his displeasure, yet at the same time we have a bunch of gleeful, goofy bunny rabbit smiling at our cast through the slats of a fence. It’s little touches like that which make this such a great visual treat. Someone should really be examining this comic book with the intention of making an animated movie, if only American audiences could escape the stupid prejudice that all animated films are for kids.

I’m really sad there’s only one issue left in this miniseries. Sad that more people aren’t buzzing about what a great comic book it is. Sad that even I wouldn’t know if DC hadn’t tossed it in the advance review pack a couple of months ago. But I’m glad that I can at least tell people how much fun it is. Read this comic, friends. You won’t regret it.

Rating: 8/10

I, Zombie #17

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

October 8, 2011

Title: Falling

Writer: Chris Roberson
Art:
Michael Allred
Colorist:
Laura Allred
Letterer:
Todd Klein
Cover Artist:
Michael Allred
Editor:
Shelly Bond
Publisher:
DC Comics/Vertigo

Gwen has had better days. The Dead Presidents and the Gravediggers have come face-to-face in the midst of a zombie attack, during which her big secret has been blown to Horatio? Is there room for love between a monster-slayer and a zombie?

The amazing thing is that with a lesser writer, the preceding synopsis would be absolutely ridiculous, hokey, and painful to read. But Chris Roberson has long since succeeded in making us care about these characters and about the wonderfully bizarre world they inhabit. Gwen’s protest to Horatio that she isn’t a typical zombie is entirely true. The addition of the Dead Presidents to the mix proves to us that she’s not unique either. The causes and manifestations of the monsters in this world are turning out to be even stranger and more layered than we realized in the first two story arcs. Blending in a bit of tragic love story doesn’t hurt at all. Ellie’s subplot, meanwhile, is continuing to help that character grow and evolve in very interesting ways. And the sudden reveal on the last couple of pages is shocking and engaging. There’s no telling where this story is going to go, and that’s just the way I like it.

Once again, Michael and Laura Allred prove themselves to be the perfect art team for this book. Michael Allred’s quirky designs are uniquely suited to a comic of this nature, mixing monster movies with pop art stylings that fit everything from the action to the romance. Laura Allred’s colors, similarly, bled the styles – dark for the monsters, wild and kitschy for the girls’ clothing, and so forth.

This book is a fantastic read, and always entertaining.

Rating: 8/10