Category Archives: Reviews

And Then I Read: FAITH Volume 1

Image © Valiant Enterrtainment.

Comics are full of handsome and beautiful heroes and heroines. Less perfect forms are often reserved for supporting characters or villains. Here’s an attempt to break that mold by offering a plus-size heroine, Faith Herbert, fighting crime as Zephyr. Formerly of the super-team The Renegades, she’s now on her own in Los Angeles.

Faith has found a job as Summer Smith, a blogger for a celebrity news site, and isn’t liking it much. Her boss is intimidating, her fellow employees cut-throat, and the subject matter sometimes off-putting, as when she’s expected to dish dirt on her ex-boyfriend. Despite her powers, Faith feels rather lost, and relies on her vivid fantasy-life imaginings, which we see depicted in a different art style, to get her through the day.

Faith’s first crime-fight is against puppy-nappers, but things soon turn more serious and deadly when she gets on the trail of a sinister group who is out to capture and drain power from other psiots (superheroes) like herself, who are perfectly willing to use their own agents as suicide bombers when necessary.

I enjoyed this collection of Faith’s first four issues that was given to me at Balticon. I admire the attempt to make the heroic field more inclusive, and wish writer Jody Houser and artists Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage well with the series.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: NEWSBOY LEGION – BOY COMMANDOS SPECIAL

Image © DC Comics.

I hadn’t been paying a lot of attention to who was working on these Jack Kirby 100th Anniversary specials, so it was a pleasant surprise to find this one written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin. I haven’t read any of his comics in a while, and it was good to get back into his world. Of course, it’s also Jack Kirby’s world, or in this case Joe Simon and Jack Kirby who created the two kid gang teams for DC (then National Comics) in the early 1940s. I have to admit I’ve never read any of those early stories. I am more familiar with the Newsboy Legion from their appearances in Kirby’s run on JIMMY OLSEN in the early 1970s. Both teams are full of caricatures, kids with very pronounced accents or styles of speaking, or ways of acting that give them shorthand memorable individuality. This story pits both gangs against subversive Nazi plots and agents, and of course their stories meet up eventually. Howard does a fine job with everything, though at times the frenetic plot trumps the character moments, and individual gang members got mixed in my mind, but in all it’s a fun romp through World War Two America and Europe, when the bad guys were easy to identify. Nice to see some new lettering by Ken Bruzenak, and that Howard still works with him when he can, as he has for decades. There’s also a reprint of an old Newsboy Legion story that looks like it might be fun, but…I didn’t read it.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: YSABEL by Guy Gavriel Kay

Cover art by Larry Rostant.

Ned Marriner is with his father Edward and a crew of assistants in Provence, France where Edward is doing photographs for a new book. He meets Kate Wenger in an old cathedral in Aix, another American in France as an exchange student, and the two of them have an eerie encounter with a man there, Phelan, who might be from the distant past. Forces are at work bringing a very old story of love and death from the distant pre-Roman past back into the present: two men, Phelan and Cadell, in love with an amazing woman, Ysabel. These three, and others around them return to a sort of life every so often to play out their story, but while the men return as themselves, the woman is reincarnated through a modern-day female. At first, Ned’s girlfriend Kate seems to be falling into the spell, but then his father’s personal assistant Melanie arrives and is captured instead.

Over the next few days, Ned and his friends and family must try to find Ysabel, who has gone into hiding somewhere in an ancient site in Provence, and do so before either Cadell or Phelan find her to have any hope of getting Melanie back. Ned soon finds his own place in the story when previously unknown abilities surface, handed down through his ancestors, and also evident in his Aunt Kim, who arrives to help. Encounters with spirit wolves, a malevolent Druid priest, a giant wild boar, and ghosts of ancient mighty battles complicate the search, putting everyone in danger. Will Ned find Ysabel in time?

I enjoyed this, but didn’t think it was as successful as the other Kay books I’ve read. Somehow the melding of ancient past to present seemed more forced than natural, and I thought there were too many instances where the main characters did not seem to have a clear picture of what was going on, therefore making it harder for me as a reader to get the big picture. Still, lots of fine writing and great characters.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: HAL JORDAN & THE GL CORPS #17

Image © DC Entertainment.

While many of the Yellow Lanterns, with their leader Soranik, have joined the Green Lanterns on Mogo in a combined force to combat evil, some Yellows have resisted and fled. Many are now captured and in GL science cells, including Arkillo, the most feared, brought in last issue by Guy Gardner. Things seem to be going the way of Earth’s GLs John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan, but the two remaining Guardians have a new project for Kyle involving the last remaining Blue Lantern, Saint Walker. That project will change Kyle’s status and abilities, and it remains to be seen if the effort is worth the cost. Enjoyable story by Robert Venditti, fine art by Ethan Van Sciver.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERNS #19

Image © DC Entertainment.

It seems Jessica and Simon, Earth’s young Green Lanterns, are suddenly in demand, first by Batman, now by the Justice League, in particular to deal with an old Green Lantern foe, Doctor Polaris. Before they can get started, Simon and his brother have an argument that opens old wounds, while Jessica can only sympathize. Despite their powers, Simon and Jessica have not yet figured out problems in their personal lives.

Doctor Polaris actually opens the issue, as we find out his current situation. His brother has brain cancer, and Polaris thinks he can cure him, if he only has time. Trouble is, he’s out of meds for his bi-polar disorder (appropriately enough), and can feel the evil side of his personality emerging. When the US Government tries to take him in, things don’t go well. Will Simon and Jessica do any better?

Well written by Sam Humphries, fine art by Ronan Cliquet. Recommended.