Quick Round-up of Recent Reads
47 Ronin (Mike Richardson, art by Stan Sakai)
This is a new 5-issue miniseries based on the classic Japanese legend of the 47 Ronin. I picked this up because I’m a huge fan of Stan Sakai’s other long-running work, Usagi Yojimbo. There are definitely some similarities in the artwork. Sakai recently comment on this transition with CBR:
"For this one, I took my inspirations for the character designs from the ukiyo-e print, the Japanese woodcut, and so it’s just drawing people. Actually, [artist] Scott Shaw had commented how nice the transition was from my Usagi characters to drawing the human characters — getting the proportions correct and that."
Albeit a light read, I enjoyed the first issue. I really got the sense that the creators are trying to capture the visuals as well as the mannerisms of feudal Japan. I would recommend it to fans of classic samurai tales and those familiar with Sakai’s art as it can come off too much like a comic strip to the modern reader. Keep in mind, Usagi Yojimbo has been around since the 80’s!
Halloween Eve (Brandon Montclare, art by Amy Reeder)
Funded by Kickstarter, Halloween Eve is a 40-page standalone comic drawn by the same artist behind Madame Xanada and new Batwoman. Eve is a sales clerk at a Party City replica who, of course, loathes the concept of Halloween and dressing up in costumes. She reluctantly stays after-hours on Halloween Eve to clean up the store by her lonesome. While tidying up, masks and toys come to life and she finds herself in another world appropriately called Halloween Land…
The concept sounds fun, and I end up reading it in the spirit of the dead last month. I liked the playful art, but I wasn’t taken away by Halloween Land as a magical getaway. The comic suffered from dull and borderline elementary writing. Somehow, Eve managed to hate Halloween, love Halloween, fall into another realm, confront her skin deep insecurity, and kiss a co-worker, of whom we’re unaware she had any interest in, all in one sitting. It felt rushed and I think it missed the mark to become something truly imaginative. On just the strength of the concept and art, I give it 1.5 stars and would suggest you pass it up altogether.
Happy! (Grant Morrison, art by Darick Robertson)
A hitman finds himself being followed and pestered by Happy, a kidnapped girl’s imaginary yet joyously bubbly friend. What does it want? For Nick Sax to manipulate it and help win poker hands for drugs and dirty money? Or is there a greater cause? It’s racy. It’s vulgar. If you don’t pick up this 4-issue miniseries for anything else, pick it up because the imaginary friend is a blue horse with wings, a donkey face, and a unicorn horn. Oh, and Morrison and RZA wants to do a film adaptation. (I enjoyed The Man with the Iron Fists, btw.)
Revival (Tim Seeley, art by Mike Norton)
Anything that calls itself a “farm noir” sounds pretty interesting off bat, right? We follow Dana Cypress, a police officer assigned to the case of a recent epidemic that’s starting to plague the small towns of Wisconsin. Dozens of people who were once dead, are now miraculously “revived” and back to living their normal lives. Dana soon finds out that there is something very eerie about these revivers. Her mission becomes personal when she discovers one of her own family members is rising from the dead… but how did they die in the first place? (o_0)
The “revivers” in this series are not your average zombies. As of issue #4, at first glance, they don’t look threatening, feed off the living, or swarm in hordes. The setting is very rural and elements of religion are explored. There are a few racial cliches that bothered me, but once I got past that, I thought the concept is pretty unique though it hasn’t hooked me quite yet.
Fatale (Ed Brubaker, art by Sean Phillips)
Known for having one of the most gorgeous cover art of the year, this series does not let the eye candy outshine its storytelling, which is told from several characters’ POV. With corrupt cops, blood-soaked crime scenes, and a deadly femme fatale, the plot mimics your typical noir, but with bizarre elements like occultism and demonic monsters. There’s even something paranormal about our femme fatale who is the centerpiece of events. For someone who has a stomach lined with cyanide, I was surprised by the explicit amount of gore, and it gets pretty gruesome in some shots. I’m not completely drawn in by the characters yet, but the creative mashup of noir, horror, and black magic certainly made this worth the read.
Scalped (Jason Aaron, art by R. M. Guera)
I’m going to pull out my late pass for this one. I only recently started reading this series which is a shame, because the 60th and final issue was released last month. Scalped is a gritty crime thriller that takes place within the wildly impoverished and crime-ridden Native American boroughs of South Dakota. Dashell “Dash” Bad Horse is an undercover FBI agent who takes a job from a tribal mob leader, but soon finds himself face to face with issues bigger than his undercover mission, such as the treatment and cultural preservation of his people.
Given that you don’t mind rampant f-bombs everywhere, it’s a very enthralling read and Guera did an amazing job with the art. The art has the western feel to it yet it’s very gritty but detailed. I’m still midway into the first arc, but I can see my rating increasing as I move further along the storyline.