Saga #19: In which Brian K. Vaughan makes us go “uurgh”!

Saga_19-1

Chapter 19 of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples sci-fi series gives us something never seen before; a close up view of a baby with a TV for a head being born.

And this is part of what makes this comic so endearing.

In turns Vaughan makes us ooh, ahh and go uurgh.

I won’t spoil the effect by posting that image here.

We jump forward slightly in time in this chapter.

Our star crossed lovers are still on the run, living in hiding on the planet Gardenia.

Times are tough for a couple in hiding.

Being the primary care-giver can be a thankless task.

And wearing a huge wig and acting in a really tacky soap opera also has its problems.

1422_saga_19_insert

 

At its heart this story has always been about the relationship dynamics of the main characters.

Writers who want a really loyal following ignore that at their peril.

Brian K. Vaughan nails it.

I really care about Marko and Alana.

Their squabbles, their sense of humour and their need for each other just rings true.

Despite the floating ghost babysitter and the spaceships.

All of which are cool.

But importantly they don’t detract from how believable  the story seems.

Saga1906

After a three month hiatus this chapter feels like the beginning of a new story ark for Saga.

And I can’t wait to see where they take it.

Advertisements

Comic review: Wynter #1-2 by Guy Hasson & Aron Elekes

 

Wynter 1 cover

The best sci-fi is a reflection of the world we live in.

Especially if the reflection is unsettling.

Or horrifying.

With Wynter Guy Hasson and Aron Elekes have created a world which mixes overpopulation, teenage angst and an internal Facebook-like A.I. with explosive effects.

Here’s the set up.

Liz Wynter is a disaffected 17 year old.

She wants to feel special, unique, like an individual.

But

Her DNA has been born into millions of people before and after her.

Everything she could think, say or do has been predicted and recorded.

And most annoyingly.

There’s an A.I. in her head also called Liz.

Spewing statistics like

‘I AM SPECIAL’ 200 BIL + HAD SAME THOUGHT IN LAST 30 SECONDS

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW WHO THEY ARE

No wonder she’s ready to commit any petty infraction to feel unique.

But things soon escalate when Liz and her friend Shane get hold of an iSTEAL app.

Swiping apps from passersby they end up with something called ‘Subversive’.

That sparks a thought in Liz’s mind.

Perhaps I could do something unique, life-changing and explosive after all?

wynter panel 01

The first issue of this digital comic is available from New worlds Comics and issue two will be released on May 06 2014.

Art work you can grab hold of

I love comics that take as much care over the art as the writing.

After all this is a visual medium.

This story is perfectly illustrated by Aron Elekes tactile, lush artwork.

All the way through we get the kind of graphic art you normally only see on the chapter pages in most comics.

It’s realistic without taking away from the dark otherness of a dystopian future world.

Flesh seems real, pain is a visceral expression on characters’ faces.

Deep shadows are full of foreboding.

If you love comics as much for the art as the words you’ll love this.

Easter-Egg

Another great thing about this comic is that it passes the Bechdel test.

A standard invented for films to see if they have a gender bias.

The test is amazingly simple.

Are there two women who have a conversation together about anything other than a man?

Amazingly high numbers of films, TV Shows and comics fail this test.

I love that Wynter bucks this trend.

And does so in a natural, unforced way.

Although in their Manfesto New Worlds Comics state:

“Women are heroes. In New World Comics, most (not all) of our titles will have women as the protagonists. If you think women can’t be heroes (super- or otherwise), look out the window. Female secondary characters, even in titles that have men as protagonists, will also be real women.”

It is in no way at the expense of good storytelling.

Which after all is what the very best comics are about.

East of West Vol 1: The Promise – Apocalyptic sci-western goodness

east_of_west

 

There are so many comics out there.

So many.

It’s hard to know where the next great story is hiding.

Often I look at the cover art as an indication of what the story is about and if it’s worth investigating.

I scanned past the cover art above at least half a dozen times.

Then someone said, “you haven’t read this yet??”

And I took another look.

Turns out you should never judge a book by its cover.

comics-east-of-west-artwork-2

 

First off credit where credit is due.

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Nick Dragotta

Colours: Frank Martin

Letters: Rus Wooton

Publisher: Image Comics

You can read this in individual editions – there are currently 10 issues in total but I’d recommend starting off with Vol One: The Promise which collects the first five editions.

There’s a lot going on here and you’ll need at least the first five to see whether or not you’re going to like this.

If you love comics as much for the drawing and colours as for the writing then you are going to love Nick Dragotta’s artwork.

I haven’t dabbled in drawing let alone drawing comics for years but this made me itch to get out an inky pen and some good quality cartridge paper. It’s inspirational, tactile, beautiful and very, very clever.

Each frame is cinematic, epic in scale, considered, original and flows so beautifully.

east_of_west2

Oh and Death is riding an awesome cannon horse.

The whole thing is just the right mix of the familiar but with an original spin.

So let’s get the basics down.

You know the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Well, this is a story about them.

But not just about them.

It’s about The Chosen.

They are the leaders of the seven Nations of America created after the Third Great Awakening at the time of the Civil War in 1862.

They’ve heard The Message.

And it says the world is coming to an end.

And they, along with the three horsemen (yeah, Death isn’t totally on-board with this plan) are intent on making sure the prophecy comes to fruition.

But Death got a little caught up in the mortal world.

Got married.

Decided he wasn’t ready to go along with the prophecy just yet.

And so the story goes on a roller-coaster ride of killing, destruction and dodging the dalliances of fate.

But at it’s heart this is a love story.

And that’s what made me care about this motley crew of characters.

It’s not just about grand, sweeping story arcs.

There’s some nicely explored human emotions in here too.

It’s not the first time a fictional Death has fallen in love (see Pretty Deadly for a totally different take on some similar themes) but it could be the first time he’s willing to betray everything he is supposed to be for the daughter of a Chinese warlord.

Read and enjoy!

east-of-west-3-image-comics

Comic Review: The Wake by Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy

Quote

The Wake is a new 10 part comic series by American Vampire writer Scott Snyder and Hellblazer: City of demons artist Sean Murphy.

Hand the wake titles

I really loved this comic because of its ambition and scope. Snyder has woven a story out of sea myths, folklore and fable that comes crashing into reality with a terrifying discovery on the bottom of the ocean.

It’s epic in scale, part one takes us from 200 years in the future to Mars 3.8 billion years ago, takes a pit stop on the Great Plains at the turning point of human evolution 100,000 years ago before bringing us back to the present. Despite these broad strokes the story arc of the main character Dr Lee Archer is perfectly plotted so you get to know and care about her in a pretty short time.

boat scene 1

The Wake Scott Snyder issue 1_e

 

Believe me when I say this comic is best read with little or no knowledge of the story.

which makes it a little tough to review.

I really don’t want to spoil it for you.

So let me just give you a few basics that will let you know if this is for you or not.

Do you love the sound of an amazing sea-based sci-fi story that cleverly ties in real things like the inscription on a Sumerian tablet telling of the flood of Babylon with the Loneliest Whale in the World and the Aquatic Ape Theory?

Then this is for you.

I will also say that after reading this through for the first time I immediately re-read it. This almost never happens but it really is that well written and full of detail that it’s easy to miss first time round.

One last thing to say about The Wake is that the whole thing would fall flat without Sean Murphy’s amazing artistic treatment of water throughout. In an interview with ComicVine last year he said:

“It sounds kind of funny but water is like another character in this book. I looked at a lot of other comics and noticed a lot of people don’t draw water. They’ll just draw lines and the colourist just makes it blue. I really tried to figure out a new way to handle water, to draw an actual wave crashing, a tidal wave surging through a city, there’s all different ways that water works. I’m trying to learn about that.”

I’d say it’s working pretty amazingly well so far.

the wake water