And Then I Read: G.I. ZOMBIE 2

GIZombie2Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Regular zombies bore me, but this one is no mindless brain-eater, he’s a smart covert operative who happens to be dead. We don’t know much about that yet. I’m enjoying his current operation, shared with a decidedly NOT dead female partner, Carmen. The two are infiltrating a group of militants in a rural U.S. location who are not only involved with dangerous weapons like missiles, but in germ warfare materials. I haven’t read much by writers Palmiotti and Gray, but I like this so far. It has “Mission Impossible” plotting and tension with supernatural overtones. The art by Scott Hampton is as excellent as always, and I’ve just realized he’s coloring as well. The style is watercolor over gray tones, and it serves the story nicely. Looking forward to more.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: LOCKE & KEY Volume 6

LockeKeyVol6Image © Joe Hill & IDW.

This final volume of the LOCKE & KEY series is, if anything, best of all, though of course you have to read the others to get the most out of it. Joe Hill has fashioned a complete story full of appealing detail and intricacy, characters that will stay with you, a plot that is edge-of-your-seat thrilling and terrifying, all in a well-constructed world and setting that I find irresistible.

In a way, it’s built on families. The Locke family, of course, are the central characters, appealing and smart though scarred by tragedy. Then there are the families of high school friends, one in the father’s generation, one in the present, each also scarred and separated by tragedy and infiltrated by demons. Finally, there’s the family of magical keys, each with amazing and wonderful powers, each fraught with pitfalls for the user and powered by dark forces hidden deep beneath Keyhouse, the Locke family mansion. This time the main keys in use are the Alpha and Omega ones, as seen on the cover, and as the number of keys has grown, so has the plot become complicated by them. I lost track of some of the many plot threads that tie up in this volume, but the resolution is so satisfying it didn’t matter. I’m sure reading the entire series together would be even more rewarding.

The art by Gabriel Rodriguez is just as satisfying as the writing, full of intricate detail, but crafted on strong art and design skills that never fail to deliver every nuance of the story brilliantly. The barrier between reality and fantasy is constantly being crossed in the series, but every panel is so grounded in fine drawing that it always feels true and believable. And I should add that the book is greatly aided by excellent coloring and lettering by Jay Fotos and Robbie Robbins respectively.

If you like stories with a strong dark flavor, this one will surely satisfy. Highly recommended.

And Then I Read: ASTRO CITY 14

AC14Image © Juke Box Productions.

The premise of this issue strikes me as one that would fit into a Rod Serling “Twilight Zone” with a really big budget. If you’ve ever driven in the bleaker parts of the western U.S., you might have encountered one or more roadside museums or similar attractions, quirky and odd establishments, usually tired tourist traps barely run by an elderly eccentric or two. Here we have Ellie, a woman who collects robots. Specifically all the comic book robots in Astro City’s world that have been beaten and battered by super-heroes and left to rot. She rescues them, repairs them if she can, and has them on display. Ellie is a sweet soul, and unfortunately rather gullible. She’s being used by her nephew Fred, who has some other plans for her museum and its denizens, if he can get Ellie out of the way. Great story, fine art, excellent comics.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: SAGA Volume 3

SagaVol3Image © Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples.

If you pay attention to the comics world at all, you don’t need me to inform you about this excellent series. It tops best-seller lists (at least when collected in trade paperbacks as here), and wins awards. It’s leading the current resurgence of Image Comics in the marketplace and critical respect. All with good reason.

There are so many entertaining ideas and characters, and the plot is never predictable. At the center are the star-crossed lovers Marko and Alana from two warring races that look humanoid except that one has vestigial wings and the other has horns. Much outrage follows their romance, and they’re being pursued by several bounty hunters, each with interesting back stories and companions. There are family members involved, and supernatural beings, one evil, one helpful. There’s a romance novel author sought out by Marko and Alana because he seems to speak to their problems, but when they find him he’s rather disappointing. There are other creatures and races of various kinds, all fascinating, with my favorite being Honest Cat, who doesn’t speak except when calling out someone in his presence with a single flat accusation: “Lying.” Beyond all that, this is more than an adventure story, it’s full of wisdom about people and the choices they have to make in life. Also quite funny at times, and at others chillingly sad and terrible.

Enough, it’s brilliant, both the art and the writing. Get the collections. Read them. You won’t be sorry.

Highly recommended.

And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERN CORPS 34

GLC34Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Writer Van Jensen is given the chance between epic battles to tell a character story in this issue, and it’s a good one, though not so much for John Stewart. His romance with the Star Sapphire Fatality has already been put on shaky ground with the revelation in past issues that the person he thought was Fatality was in fact a Durlan in disguise. Now he’s on the trail of the real Fatality, but when he finds her, he’s due for more shocks. The story’s pretty good, and I continue to be impressed with the art by Bernard Chang. First, it’s all by him, no inker or collaborators. Second, he continues to experiment, now with two graphic variations on his standard art that add diversity and interest to his pages. Very appealing.

Recommended.