Ghosted: Haunted Heist

Over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I have a new post up on Ghosted Volume One: Haunted Heist from Image comics.

From the post:

Imagine Ocean’s Eleven if the heist was all about the supernatural, specifically, stealing a ghost.  In Ghosted: Haunted Heist (978-1607068365) by Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka, Jackson T. Winters is tasked with that very mission: steal a ghost.   Continuing the Ocean’s Eleven comparison, imagine if during the middle of that movie, everyone except Clooney’s character was killed, and he ended up in prison.  Then someone broke him out of prison, dragged him to a rich, possibly insane, multi-millionaire collector of the supernatural, who offers him his freedom in exchange for the one thing that will make his collection the envy of his peers: a ghost.

Click over to the Kirkus Reviews Blog to read the rest of the post.

Top Ten Superhero-Free Dystopian Comics

The last fifteen years have seen an enormous resurgence in the popularity of comics. So much so, in fact, that some are arguing that we are living in the second golden age of comics. Everywhere you look, our culture is inundated with comics; their imagery pervades our toy shelves, our theaters, our televisions, our tablets, and our game systems. Yet, even amid skyrocketing sales and increasing cultural ubiquity, there is still an ever-present mainstream majority that looks upon comics with contempt, as though somehow, the very medium were somehow inferior to other storytelling traditions.

Sadly, the latest round of comic-shaming was recently launched by industry giant Alan Moore himself, who claims that our ongoing obsession with superheroes could prove to be “culturally catastrophic.” But I’m here to tell you, that comics aren’t always about superheroes. In fact, some the best comics ever published are completely superhero-free. And, far from “having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in,” many young adults are turning to comics not to escape, but to better understand the world that they are living in through allegory, metaphor, and satire.
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As Winter once again brings snowy doom of the East Coast, John E. O. Stevens, Fred Kiesche and Jeff Patterson huddle within a makeshift shelter made of long boxes to discuss the Science Fiction works of comic book writer Warren Ellis.

Since the 90s Ellis has been producing singularly recognizable work, including superhero titles for DC, Marvel, and Image. He has dabbled in horror, crime fiction, and dark comedy. But he has also written many standalone Science Fiction tales encompassing pulp, cyberpunk, space opera, and alternate history. Some are speculative ruminations on the future or technology, some are absurdist eye-candy, others are adventurous romps. His significant body of SF work delivers modern genre sensibilities to the sometimes myopic landscape of comics.

The Hoarsemen also discuss reading comics digitally, their opinions on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as what they have read recently. Be warned: This episode runs over 90 minutes!

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INTERVIEW: Jean-Marc Rochette, Artist of SNOWPIERCER

Jean-Marc Rochette is a German-born French illustrator best known for his work in children’s literature. In 1979, he began a career in comics when he collaborated with Martin Veyron on the series Edmond Pig. His career in science fiction began when he succeeded designer Alexis on the post-apocalyptic comic series The Transperceneige, scripted by Jacques Lob.

A film adaptation of the comic directed by Bong Joon-ho (The Host) and starring Chris Evans (Captain America, Avengers) will be released in the U.S. later this year under the title Snowpiercer. The movie will be preceded by a release of an English translation of the original comic series from Titan Publishing. Volume 1: The Escape will hit shelves January 29, 2014, with Volume 2: The Explorers following February 25, 2014.

Synopsis: Coursing through an eternal winter, on an icy track wrapped around the frozen planet Earth, there travels Snowpiercer, a train one thousand and one carriages long. From fearsome engine to final car, all surviving human life is here: a complete hierarchy of the society we lost … The elite, as ever, travel in luxury at the front of the train – but for those in the rear coaches, life is squalid, miserable and short. Proloff is a refugee from the tail, determined never to go back. In his journey forward through the train, he hopes to reach the mythical engine and, perhaps, find some hope for the future.

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Gail Carriger’s Soulless The Manga: Volume 1

Soulless, the first book in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, turned four years old this week, so over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I thought I’d take a look at the Manga version of the book.

From the post:

Miss Alexia Tarabotti lives in Victorian England.  She enjoys high tea, reading books, the company of her very best friend, Ivy Hisselpenny, and the vampire, Lord Akeldama.  Alexia’s family sees her as a spinster, too old to marry, and a bit of an oddball for not caring one-whit about it.  She lives with her mother, step-father, and two step-sisters.  When a starving vampire attacks her at a social event, he is shocked to learn that Alexia is a preternatural, a ‘soulless’ being who has the power to render the supernatural mortal through touch.  She is forced to kill the vampire, which only complicates matters.  Lord Maccon, a werewolf, a member of the Bureau of Unnatural Registry, and the Earl of Woolsey, arrives to investigate.  He and Alexia spar verbally, but she is sent home.  The next day, she is invited to visit the Countess Nadasdy, Vampire Queen of the Westminster Hive…

Click on over to Kirkus Reviews Blog to read the rest of the review.

Saga, Vol. 1

In honor of it winning the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, I thought I’d go ahead and take a look at Saga: Volume 1 this week on the Kirkus Blog.

From the post:

From the mind of Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) and illustrated by Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga: Volume 1 (978-1607066019) tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers out to leave their past behind and start a new life together.  Alana is a winged-being from the world known as Landfall.  Her world is at war with the inhabitants of their moon, called Wreath.  Drafted to fight in that war, Alana eventually found herself working as a prison guard where she met Marko.  Born of Wreath, Marko, too, was a soldier.  His race has horns and can wield magic, whereas the people of Landfall are technologically superior.  Somehow, the two fell in love and decided to desert their respective armies and build a new life together.  That new life is complicated by the arrival of Hazel, their child, who represents something neither side of the war thought possible; genetic compatibility.

Click on over to the Kirkus Blog to read the rest of my review.

The Manhattan Projects: Science Bad

Science is bad, m’kay?Over on the Kirkus Reviews Blog today, i have a piece on The Manhattan Projects Vol 1: Science Bad.

Here’s an excerpt from the post:

You know the names; Oppenheimer -‘father of the atomic bomb’, Einstein – the most influential physicist of the 20th century, Roosevelt – President of the United States during both the Great Depression and World War II, Truman – Roosevelt’s Vice President and successor, who dropped the bomb on Japan to end the war, von Braun – former Nazi and ‘father of Rocket Science’, Feynman, genius and theoretical physicist. You should also remember The Manhattan Project; America’s top-secret research and development project located in Los Alamos, NM. They produced the first atomic bomb. Now, add in flying saucers, aliens, wormholes, Japanese kamikaze robots, artificial intelligences, alternate realities, evil twins and galactic war.

Click on over to read the rest of the post.

Today over on the Kirkus blog, I talk about The Legend of Drizzt: A Neverwinter Tale by R.A. Salvatore.

From the post:

It’s difficult to imagine Dungeons & Dragons without The Forgotten Realms, a campaign/expansion setting created by Ed Greenwood in 1967, and brought into the D&D canon fully in 1987.  The setting has proven a fruitful one for players and authors alike.  At least twenty-four books have included R.A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf hero, Drizzt.  Few authors have contributed as much to the Dungeons & Dragons canon as Ed Greenwood and R.A. Salvatore.  I actually had the opportunity to chat with Salvatore for the SFSignal.com podcast, and we talked extensively about his Neverwinter Saga and Drizzt himself.  The history and world building in that series is carried over and expanded in the comics which make up the new graphic novel.

Click on over to Kirkus to read the rest of the

Previously, I reviewed Gail Simone’s first volume for the rebooted Batgirl series, The Darkest Reflection, which is a part of DC’s New 52 initiative. In the review, I mentioned my appreciation of Gail Simone’s writing, and how the series was off to a great start, and how I was looking forward to the next volume, which we now know is called Knightfall Descends.

The question at such a point, of course, is whether the second volume can match the first volume, and whether it can exceed expectations.
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Now at Kirkus Reviews: Once Upon A Time Machine

Today on the Kirkus Reviews Blog, I talk about Once Upon A Time Machine – a collection of comics based on fairy tales and other classic stories, all with a unique twist.

From the post:

This massive book caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, I know Dark Horse puts out great books.  Second the cover was a fascinating mix of fairy tale creatures and science fiction elements like rocket ships and wormholes.  Who wouldn’t want to pick that up and thumb through?  It’s essentially an attempt to reimagine classic fairy tales (a trend these days) in a science fiction setting.  Editors Andrew Carl and Chris Stevens, sought out a plethora of indie and up and coming writers and artists like Farel Dalrymple (Pop Gun War), Ryan Ottley (Invincible), Khoi Pham (Daredevil), and Brandon Graham (King City) to put a wholly new and different spin on these familiar stories.  And I have to admit, they have done a damned fine job of it.

Click on over to check out the complete post.

With DC’s relaunch of its entire line-up under the “New 52″ umbrella, several Batman-related titles were announced, no less than ten of them! We have the main Batman title, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batman and Robin, Detective Comics, Batman: The Dark Knight, Red Hood and The Outlaws, Batwing, Batwoman and Birds of Prey. That’s one heck of an overdose of everything Batman. Plus the fact that the first twelve issues of most of these titles came under the Court of Owls crossover event, and keeping track of the various appearances and stuff is pretty overwhelming. At least, that’s one of the reasons why I avoided reading anything other than Batman by Scott Snyder, Birds of Prey by Duane Swierczynski and Nightwing by Kyle Higgins until now.

Recently, it was as if there was more and more praise for writer Gail Simone, who is penning Batgirl at the moment. It made me curious. I’ve never had much of an interest in Batgirl, a character little seen in the movies and the various TV shows alike. Duane and Kyle have both featured her quite a bit in their ongoing series, with Batgirl being one of the core members of the current incarnation of the Birds of Prey, so I wondered how she would be written in her own solo series. And how it would all tie to the various crossovers that are ongoing for all Batman-related titles. As I said above, first we had the Court of Owls crossover, and now we have Death of the Family, in which Joker returns to Gotham with a vengeance and an axe to grind.

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Richard Sala is a prolific artist of the weird and fantastical, with a varied collection of tales that feature detectives, witches, zombies, fairy tales, cat women, and more. Beginning with his 1984 Night Drive, Sala has drawn a new comic title nearly every year. His work has appeared on RAW, BLAB!, and even serialized as an animated cartoon for Liquid Television.  Today, I want to take a look at his series Delphine.

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This is the weirdest one ever.
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VIDEO: DC Nation Shorts Presents: Plastic Man in: The Many and the Fowl

Plastic Man just wants to mail his letter…
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Soon, theaters will be playing The Dark Knight Rises (midnight showings tonight in most markets), so with that in mind, I put together a list at the Kirkus Reviews Blog called 5 graphic novels starring Gotham’s protector, 3 of which I believe helped to shape the Nolan trilogy.

From the post:

The Dark Knight Returns – If we look at the Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton Batman flicks as being dark, even harsh, in their portrayal of Batman, we aren’t wrong.  A far cry from the campy days of Adam West running around in the cape and cowl, these films have had a mood and tone that at least partially comes from my next pick, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (ISBN-10: 1563893428).  Set in Batman’s future, Bruce Wayne is fifty-five years old, retired, and Gotham is a very different place without him.  Superheroes are all but gone, and crime is mostly unchecked.  When Two-Face returns, Wayne puts on the cape and cowl once more, but finds Gotham and the world, unwelcoming to his brand of vigilante justice.  The Gotham PD hunt him relentlessly, the American government sees him as a threat to their authority.  Worse, Batman alive and well brings The Joker back and he is deadlier than ever.

Please click through the Kirkus Reviews to see the other Batman graphic novel picks!

Evil is afoot, but Supergirl is grounded…
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VIDEO: DC Nation Shorts Presents: New Teen Titans in: Utility Player

You really don’t want to go into battle with a utility belt loaded with the wrong stuff…
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How did the Super Best Friends Forever get their name? Click the video to find out…
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On the Kirkus Reviews blog today, I list my Top 5 Graphic Novel picks starring the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!

From the post:

Sergei Kravinoff burst onto the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man in 1964.  Since then, he has hunted Spidey relentlessly in the hopes of proving to everyone he is the greatest hunter in the world.  Collecting Web of Spider-Man #31-32, Amazing Spider-Man #293-294, and Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132, Kraven’s Last Hunt, written by J. M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Mike Zeck, brought Kraven and Spider-Man together for their final confrontation.

Driven mad by his inability to defeat Spider-Man, Kraven the Hunter launches his ultimate end-game and manages to defeat the web-head.  He shoots him, and buries him.  To further prove that he is the greatest hunter in the world, Kraven takes on Spider-Man’s mask and hunts his latest enemy, Vermin, and defeats him in a brutal attack.  Two weeks later, Spidey wakes up (he was drugged, not killed) and has to dig his way out of his own grave. Kraven is no longer interested in him.  Vermin, however, is out for revenge following the beat-down Kraven gave him.

Click through to the Kirkus Reviews blog to read the full piece and see all my picks.

VIDEO: 2012 Judge Dredd Trailer

Here’s the trailer for the new Judge Dredd movie that 2000 AD co-creator John Wagner praised on his Facebook page, saying, “Dredd as it should be done.”  As for Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby, Wagner had this to say, “Karl is a great Dredd and Olivia gets Anderson completely. This is Dredd as it should be done – true to character, visceral, unrelentingly violent (but not off-puttingly so).”

Visceral and violent?  Take a look at the trailer and let us know what you think in the comments…
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