Death Walks Among Us in Jonathon Hickman’s East of West

Over on Kirkus today, I take a look at another fantastic book from Image Comics – Jonathon Hickman’s East of West.

From the post:

Alternate histories have been a staple of science fiction for a very long time.  Some look so much like ours you can’t see the differences until they’re right up on you, while others feature drastic, sweeping changes – East of West is one of these.  The American Civil War continued on far longer than it should have.  The Indian Nations became one and threw their hats into the ring.  By the end, the continent of North America was split into the Seven Nations of America.  Fast forward hundreds of years and thee of the Four Horseman of the apocalypse, are working to bring about that end.  The fourth, Death?  Well, he’s on a more personal quest.  And the other three want him dead.

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

Our zombie overlords have stuck around as an all-conquering pop culture meme a whole lot longer than I thought they would, to be honest. Although I’m not instinctively fascinated by the entire sub-genre, I do like certain iterations of zombie fiction. I’ve even kind of written some myself.

But I don’t read the head honcho of zombie comics, The Walking Dead, any more (all that suffering finally became too much for me, delicate little flower that I am). Fortunately, there are other takes on the risen dead out there in the world of comics, so I thought I’d take a look at a couple of them.

One, Revival, is the first volume of a new continuing series which is perhaps not strictly about zombies, but definitely about the living dead. The other, The New Deadwardians, is a self-contained story, complete in one volume, that’s certainly about zombies but also about vampires, thereby doubling its quotient of zeitgeisty pop culture icons.

They both demonstrate that a bit of imagination and lateral thinking can squeeze fresh and interesting blood even from a stone that’s been pretty much squeezed to death already .

Read the rest of this entry

Words and Pictures: Prophet

A while back, I said 2012 was notable for two things in comicsworld: Image Comics and sf.  (Advance publication schedules suggest 2013 will also be notable for two things, btw: Image Comics and sf.)

I also said Saga, flagship of the trend, was a certainty for a Hugo nomination and a potential winner.  Still true.  If Saga doesn’t get a graphic story Hugo nomination I’d be a bit uncertain about the point of the category, to be honest (but I’m sure it will, so no worries).  If it doesn’t win … well, tastes vary and webcomics have a heavy advantage over print.  But it’s certainly the most accomplished sf/fantasy comic, of the broadest appeal, I saw last year.

So Saga’s probably my favourite 2013 Hugo-eligible comic.  But only by the narrowest of margins, because it was not the most unexpected, exhilarating, deep-genre Hugo-eligible comic I’ve read.  That prize goes to yet another Image sf product: Prophet.

It too would be a worthy nominee or even winner of the Hugo.  It won’t win, may well not get nominated (but there’s still time to get those nominations in!), because not enough people are reading it; it’s nevertheless remarkable, and feels more deeply rooted in the soil of the sf genre – prose, film, everything – than any comic I’ve read in a while.

Read the rest of this entry

Words and Pictures: Chew

Chew, Vol 1-4: Taster’s Choice, International Flavour, Just Desserts, Flambé

written by John Layman, art by Rob Guillory, published by Image

Chew is science fictional craziness unlike anything else you can read in comics at the moment (as far as I know). It’s also, in its own idiosyncratic and deceptive way, one of the most ambitious and accomplished comics you could ever hope to read.

Fun is a big deal. For the reader, it might come from many sources: the energetic excitement of a kinetic adventure story, the interaction of immensely likeable characters, wherever. Sometimes from comedy, of which I confess I’m not the most instinctive or biggest fan but I tend to think the most satisfying species is comedy built not on gags but on humour earned through setting, character, events. Chew‘s got exactly that kind of humour.
Read the rest of this entry