Category Archives: Reviews

And Then I Read: SURVIVORS’ CLUB 4

SC4Image © Beukes, Halvorsen and Kelly.

The story lines of the first three issues are set aside to allow the exploration of the very odd Muskagee House, which has been talked about earlier as both an actual haunted house and the setting of a horror film series. We explore the actual house (I think) in the company of one of its ghosts, and meet several others, as well as the husband and wife team of religious ghost-busters who are the living inhabitants. It’s a trippy tale that makes it hard to tell what’s supposed to be real and what’s coming from the imagination of the ghosts, or even the horror films. It has some chilling moments, but in all the tone did not convince me or draw me in. Rather it kept me puzzled and unsure what to think about the purpose of this diversion. There have been some creepy haunted houses in comics, but this does not come across to me as one of them when all is said and done, and it raised more questions than it answered.

Mildly recommended.

And Then I Read: SWAMP THING 1

ST1Image © DC Comics

Len Wein, creator of Swamp Thing, and Kelley Jones had the hit of the recent Convergence crossover event with their version of Swamp Thing, and have been rewarded with a new ongoing series. In many ways it’s a throwback to comics of the past, but at the same time is great fun to read, so I’m all for it. Len’s opening captions take us back to the feel of the original series he did with artist Bernie Wrightson, and Kelley’s art is clearly strongly influenced by Wrightson, though Jones has is own distinct style. It’s not an homage, but it feels retro. Swamp Thing seems to be on his own in the Louisiana bayou swamps, no sign of a supporting cast. His first opponent is a very large crocodile. The story moves in a straightforward way to a rescue, and then a request for help against black magic. The muck monster seems secure in his own vegetable skin, and not full of worries and fears, as has often been the case in recent series. His abilities are certainly informed by what Alan Moore and others did with the character, and Jones has a great time depicting them. So far the story line is uncomplicated and the cast small, but that’s kind of refreshing. I can’t see any reason not to read and enjoy this comic for what it is, rather than hold it up against what other creators have put forth, and that’s what I plan to do. I suggest you do the same.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: UNFOLLOW 3

Unfollow3Image © Williams & Dowling

The plot thickens, and the thickening is well handled in this issue. For the 140 “winners” of the shares of the dying Mr. “Billionaire” Ferrell’s fortune, it seems like a wonderful windfall. Now they’re all gathering on his private island, and a more diverse collection of characters it would be hard to imagine. The stalking cat on the cover is a nice symbol for what’s likely to come next, as the 140 find out more about Ferrell and his bequest, and what they might have to do to get their hands on his fortune. Let’s just say, it’s not all pie and cake, but it should make for great reading.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: JUSTICE LEAGUE 47

JL47Image © DC Comics

I have to say, Geoff Johns does evil psychotic characters well. There are lots of them in this story, either heroes made temporarily so through circumstance, or those with evil intent giving their madness free rein. Then there are a few, like Wonder Woman, who are islands of sanity trying to keep it together and fight the good fight without unnecessary cruelty. Even help others if she can. It does make for good drama (or melodrama if you like), and the visuals by Jason Fabok are fab, too. I’m getting tired of the Darkseid War, but still enjoyed reading this.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE MARVELS by Brian Selznick

MarvelsFCImages © Brian Selznick

As with his first book, and I presume the second (haven’t read it yet), Brian Selznick brings a surprising and wonderful combination of storytelling types and mediums to his third book. About half is text and about half is wordless pencil drawings of considerable skill (almost 400 pages of them), each filling a two-page spread edge to edge like this:

MarvelsPageAnd neither my scan nor the size I can show it here does the work justice. The long art-only section which opens the book is mostly wordless except for a few printed signs and newspaper articles, and details the life and adventures of a boy, Billy Marvel, on a ship at sea in 1766, his shipwreck and eventual return to London where he finds a new life working at the Royal Theatre. We then follow several generations of the Marvel family in that theatre, most actors, until the narrative abruptly ends and the prose story begins.

The prose story, about equally long in this 670-page book, begins in 1990 with another boy, Joseph Jervis, who is running away from his boarding school, where he didn’t fit in, to London in hopes that his uncle Albert Nightingale, who he’s never met, will take him in. Joseph has lots of trouble even finding his uncle, and when he does, that uncle doesn’t want him to stay…at least, not for long. Joseph gradually befriends his uncle after all, and does get to stay, but finds the house they’re in full of mysteries and stories. Those stories include the ones we’ve seen in the drawn story.

Brian Selznick is just as clever and complex a storyteller as he is an artist, and before this very long book is through, many revelations about what is really going on and how the stories and the people in them connect come forth. Some of the plot went in places I would never have expected in a book for younger readers, but that’s not a bad thing, and it’s carefully handled. I can’t say I liked this book as much as Selznick’s first, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” but it’s still quite excellent and well worth reading. The production values on the hardcover edition I was given for Christmas are also remarkable and impressive. This is one book you want to have a physical copy of, not a digital one.

Recommended.