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TOP TEN LISTS

My favorite artists, books, stories, etc!

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My Pull Box

The current contents of my pull box!

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Cyntr yourself with these comics you need to read!

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Unpopular Opinion

Hot takes ... Opinions I have that aren't shared by too many.

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ROTM

Monthly piece spotlighting something in the comic book world I feel should be noted!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Advanced Review - Fearscape #2



For the rundown on the debut issue for those of you that haven't managed to get drawn in yet: HERE

Pardon me for a moment Primus ... but you should be one for poetry, prose, and the scent of an otherworldly rose because you'll get one hell of a kick out of this Fearscape show. After being blown away with the entry of O'Sullivan's novelique (did I make up a word) approach to this story in comic form, he's done what his White Noise partners have done with Friendo.  They've turned the the volume up to 11 and cranked the amp to boot.

What struck me immediately upon finishing the second installment is the play on Henry. Yes, the whole thing with the series that he's a fraud and has been drawn into (ha ha) a very real situation that only, you know, carries the fate of everything. And, this is the thing about the presentation of Henry. It is phenomenal. The vastness, complexity, and overbearing nature of the Fearscape is not only demonstrated, but personified through the portrayal of Henry himself. For instance, he basically tells the Muse that he doesn't care about the how and why of the Weeping Castle. After being told the 'what' of it, he's done. That's a pretty apt representation of a plagiarist. Swipe the details and fluff the rest. No time for exposition and world building because we just need to copy the headlines! Of course this brings about another host of problems in of itself. The introspective piece of Fearscape lies within the darker half of human nature. Everyone has issues and tries to cover them up. Everyone wants more but tries to do the least amount of work to get it. Everyone lies too. It's a nasty recipe for a human being and Henry is the foulest soup in the kitchen. What we end up with is a train wreck that we can't take our eyes away from. 

The real genius lies even deeper in the process but at the surface of the book. Henry knows we're there. He knows we're watching, "listening," and taking in everything. So it would follow that we know he's as phony as a 3$ bill right? Not so fast friends. Henry is either really that stupid, or really that smart. The manner in which he speaks TO the fourth wall would have you think he's painfully oblivious to the fact we KNOW what he is. His misdirection, slight of word, and constant trying to show us something shiny over there lends to him being faithful to his ruse. Though, how could he even attempt to do this? Certainly there's more at play here ... Henry simply HAS to have more layers than even he's aware of. That's why, on top of every other masterful layer of this book, this book hooks you. It tells all by not telling you anything ... and everything all at once. We're also treated to, quite frankly, one of the most beautiful books out there. For the story to work on the grand scale it is meant to encompass it has to not only FEEL, but LOOK to be what it says it is. No question about it. It does and is. There is no doubt just how deep we're already in with just the first step through the doorway. The Fearscape is presented in a manner that rivals the audacity of Henry himself. That's how fantastic of a place our story is occupying.

As we're left at the end of the issue it is with the rational fear of self. What is in our heart? Who are we? For most it's a simple ask but for Henry it is amplified on an unimaginable scale. He isn't just lying to himself or a sibling, but to fate itself. How's that for a tall tale? Fearscape takes us on a ride through what can be the most dangerous place for all of us ... ourselves. While our minds can dream up the scariest of places none are as terrifying as the inner workings of the mind itself.

So who are you?











Advanced Review - Friendo #2



Well hot damn.  After the reality check in issue #1 we're off to the races ... If you've still not started Friendo then you can check out our take on the first issue HERE

It cannot be expressed enough just how horrifyingly real of a take this book has on our slide into consumerism, technology, and pretty much any other means of pushing off our actual lives for an alternate version. Alex Paknadel, as we've stated, hits this nail on the head with frightening accuracy. What is perhaps the most concerning piece is that the "Friendo" acts all too much like many people in our lives today.  Something in it for them? Right on, they're quick to lend a hand. Any way to serve themselves? Yup, step right up because I'm your bud! Not sure what you want? Look here friend, have I got a deal for you!  The self serving nature of society today is perfectly reflected through Jerry, the AI.  The all to natural interaction from Jerry is what laces the story and brings to the forefront the issue at hand.  Our own indulgence blinds us from seeing that we are engaging in the very behavior we condemn from others, and that condemns us.

With issue #1 we were given a polite, but stern, slap right across the mouth. It was an attempted wake up call or 'snap to it' kind of alert. Everything was laid out in obvious and overt mannerisms ... the same ones we look right past (or through) ourselves. It's no wonder it didn't click with our main man. It's also no wonder it was that easy for him to step off the right path and directly into the open, waiting, and ill-intended hands of his Friendo.  Thankfully he's recovered from the stabbing in the opening issue in regards to his physical state of things.  Mentally? Yeah, we're just starting that slide into oblivion.  In a way, I couldn't help but think about the theme song to the Lego Movie.  "Everything awesome, everything is cool when you're part of a team, everything is awesome ... when you're living OUR dream!"

That's pretty much what the lovely Friendo, Jerry is doing.  Sell that dream, show Leo (our poor sap) that what he's told he wants, is better, or is what he needs is the way to go!  Darn that pesky reality check (hello girlfriend).  Don't fret though dear consumer, as Jerry literally infects the very panels of the book to pump Pump PUMP!  The way this issue is laid out is just perfect to reflect the infectious nature of the consumerism and need to HAVE that the Friendo is representing. Even the lettering helps ooze it all over the place.  Just wonderful. I mean how fitting that this is a comic book that is presenting the very need to read it/have it directly to you by way of the superficial metaphor it is driving home!  Brilliant work.

This full frontal presentation of our "smart" reality is roaring ahead with the pedal planted firmly to the floor.  Stellar follow up on the absolute master piece of a first issue.

This book is damn good.









Monday, October 8, 2018

TOP 10 - Debut Review


Our Run Down of Recent Comic Book Debuts!
We'll leave the time on this open as sometimes recent for someone can mean three months ago.  Our reading schedule gets pushed constantly and there's usually a good 15 or more books in our "to read" stack at any given time.  So take the 'recent' with a little bit of salt and hopefully enjoy our take on debut issues that we felt really worked, and launched titles in a manner that sets them up for success.  We'll try to hit these books before they've had more than 3 issues hit the stands.



-Bone Parish (Cullen Bunn - Boom!)
This is a novel take.  Turf wars among drug gangs is a tried and true methodology, sure.  However, Cullen does what he does best and introduces that supernatural/horror element and twists the narrative.  In Bone Parish we get this by way of a new drug ... the bone powder of the deceased.  Yup, snorting dead folks is the new high.  Now, there's PLENTY to explore with this and in the first couple of issues we've got several threads running.  Excellent start to an excellent new approach to something we thought we knew.

-Dead Rabbit (Gerry Duggan - Image)
I picked it up on a whim.  Crime, beat 'em up, love story ... all sorts of classic bullet points are sprinkled in the solicit.  In the vein of the anti-hero that has become a staple in comics, this book does a fantastic job of bringing across a very important point first and foremost.  Why?  Why should you care about our 'hero' and the motivations he's got for doing what he's doing.  It doesn't break through all sorts of barriers and then go back and justify them or paint the picture differently.  Instead, the first issue makes everything real first while setting up the mask our 'hero' wears.  That is what makes the anti-hero work.  You've got to care and believe who the person behind the actions actually is.  We've been shown that first with this book.  That makes me care about where it goes.

-Death Orb (Ryan Ferrier - Dark Horse)
Yeah it's a post-apocalyptic setting.  See though, we're given frantic over the top action right from the get go as we learn that our main man is searching for his pregnant wife.  I mean I'd be a damned honey badger/tasmanian devil combo if something had happened to my pregnant wife.  What I love best is that the book has a style all its own while tipping a cap to the popular culture same settings that have come before.  This book takes off running and gives us what we need to follow along.  I love new within the old, and this book is primed to give me that.

-Euthanauts (Tini Howard - Black Crown)
What a wonderful premise.  This book takes a delicate and embracing approach to the finality we'll all realize at some point.  Death.  It sucks, for the living, but the holding hands with it and ALL it is that this books is doing is almost refreshing.  It is unreal just how real everything about this book looks and feels.  If I didn't know better I'd think I was engaging in both an inner question and answer session with my conscious as well as a conversation with someone that knows me as well as I do myself.  Right now it seems that the answers to the questions will work against each other.  I'm going to find out though.  

-Fearscape (Ryan O'Sullivan - Vault)
A slow burn is an effective device when done properly.  It's even better when managed in a fashion not typical to what you expect from such an approach.  The exposition is heavy BUT it's beyond effective as it grabs you and pulls you into the narrative.  Henry Henry is a dick.  He's about to really screw things up for everyone too.  The opening salvo is a slow burn that burns brightly and manages to provide the eyebrow raising and inquisitive thoughts about everything that inhabits the Fearscape.  

-Friendo (Alex Paknadel - Vault)
It's disturbing because quite honestly it's damn near true.  Well, parts of it are true in terms of how we, as a society, have begun to think, act, and rely on artificial means of pretty much everything.  In a take on what very well could be our not so distant future we're all having our value measured by metrics.  The AI's of the world have begun to move on from a reliance we still control, to having turned the tables and in many forms controlling us.  Everything is a metric or statistic and now we've got Friendo who is a horrifically real mirror image of what we are as a society.  Naturally, shit hits the fan.

-Hot Lunch Special (Eliot Rahal - Aftershock) 
Old fashioned crime in a small town fused with today's immigrant realities.  Attitudes, bad guys, good guys, and out right ugliness know no bounds and this book is bringing the harsh realities of it all in a rather brunt fashion.  Both INTER and INTRA personal interaction is wonderfully portrayed in a set up for a tale that undoubtedly will end up much, much bigger than the quaint little town we've begun things in.  Just how big are we going to get?  Who knows, but we'll be captivated thanks to how we're inserted into the family in a very personal manner.

-Relay (Zac Thompson - Aftershock) 
This is a big book.  I mean, not literally but in scope.  A very large scale sci-fi epic encompassing the vastness of both time and space is waiting for you.  There's also the sense of connection by way of the (literal) big ass monoliths that dominate the skylines.  This book looks every bit as large as the story is and I felt it was a nice approach to have things be as they are while we learn what's happening through the characters themselves.  The simple truth of humanity deciding the fate of itself.  There are choices everywhere and the intent of man, both good and ill, are everywhere.  What's really best though?  Is controlled better than chaos? 

-These Savage Shores (Ram V - Vault)
Just wow.  I was highly anticipating this book as it was the first real venture outside of the awesome bubble that Vault had built in their first year and a half or so as a publisher.  The setting, premise, and everything else was a real step outward.  It might just be their best book going forward (which is saying something given its debut partners and the already phenomenal Wasted Space).  A colonial setting we don't normally see mixed with vampires and other unrevealed horrors?  Absolutely sold.  The pace, presentation, and last panel reveal have put this book at the top of my anticipated monthly reads.  You think you know where we're going but it cuts all of that off and leaves the door wide open going forward into what this story will be.

-Wrong Earth (Tom Peyer - Ahoy Comics)
Campy old school superhero comicness is exactly what we've got here.  I loved this opening issue.  I felt like I was reading a book off the shelf from decades ago before too much of the realist, dark tinted glasses started to fill up the realm of comics.  We've got a lovely tale that shows the wholesome goodness of the age old hero and then it gets mixed with that realist, dark tint as our first issue ends.  I can't help but feel that this has an underlying tone that is meant to mirror how things have evolved (or devolved in some cases) with our beloved comic books.  Brilliant book.





 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Attack of the B-BOTS! The Best Books On The Shelves!

The Best Books on the Shelves

A Walk Through Hell (Aftershock)
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Garth Ennis is one of the best at layered stories.  This effort certainly maintains that front but this book ... this book is different.  No matter what you read beforehand or try to preview in order to pick it up, you just aren't ready for what happens when you open this puppy up.  Using the cop drama backdrop for what is clearly a dread/horror story, Ennis has created a down right terror filled series.  What makes the overbearing terrible events that unfold all that more terrible is the realism with which everything unfolds.  Elements that infiltrate our actual world (like social media) are present and make the skin crawling feeling that much more intense. 

With a 'hell' of a lot more to unfold on this journey it's going to be both exciting and horrifying to see where this book is heading.




Astonishing X-Men (Marvel)


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Charles Soule started this series off and immediately gave us a classic feeling book about X-Men characters.  The initial arc even presented a classic X-Villain and set up a very familiar "X vs everyone" feel.  It was all a mechanism to get us Charles? back ... but what exactly is going on?  This is one of the main plot points going forward.  Clearly there's SOMETHING about this Charles that fits, but there's also a whole hell of a lot that doesn't.  In ending his run Soule left a pretty big carrot dangling.  The new Charles (named X) gives all of the AXM a "gift" but wipes their mind of all that has happened to the point that the Shadow King arc ends.  Matthew Rosenberg has taken the reigns and has brought his own classic feel to the characters.  Constantly facing a mounting wall of, well, everything to climb Havoc has set out to rally the troops despite once again being outcasts.

This is how an X book is supposed to feel.  With Cullen Bunn's XMen Blue ending this is the only mutant filled story that feels like it is supposed to (oh, and Greg Land's art is bringing them to life in glorious fashion). 

Avengers (Marvel)

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Jason Aaron has given us a proper Avengers book.  The entire point of the team is "bigger" and for a while that hasn't been what we've been getting in the scope of the team books.  It's pretty damn hard to get bigger or more powerful than the freaking Celestials.  But let's toss in that lovey dovey asshole Loki AND add on that he's bringing in the FINAL HOST to wipe out Earth/humans because ... wait for it ... we're a freaking accident.  Yup, humans are literally an OOPS.  As our history is revealed to us in this first arc it is refreshing that while we are now apparently just a mistake, there's a cosmic karma that presents on a scale much grander than us.  Shit happens, and the consequences must be dealt with thusly.  That's where we, as humans, do a collective "hello!" (at least as far as Loki is concerned).  There's a new element to how Earth has remained guarded all this time and even a bit of a cosmic level love story.


This is a damned Avengers book.  EVERYTHING is bigger, as it should be.  

Dark Ark (Aftershock)

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Cullen Bunn brings a kick ass supernatural/horror story to life!  Also, oxygen and water are key elements to life.  Yeah this really shouldn't be a surprise.  Cullen is the best writer of the 'dark' out there.  With Dark Ark he's posed a simple yet terrifying question.  What if Noah's Ark wasn't the only Ark?  Just as God called on Noah, what if the Dark Lord called upon someone to save the monsters, creatures, and unnatural beings?  We're given our Dark Noah and a whole host of uglies on the second ark.  As one would expect there's plenty of nastiness and bad intent going around.  We get to see what happens to the Unicorns and also find out that evil has many faces.  There's also questions raised about good itself and its definition.  Is evil any less deserving of life than good?  Is good actually so, or only by comparison?

The biblical tale of Noah is flipped on its head in order to present and then question several trains of thought we all take for granted every day in a nightmarish tale of, what if?


Death or Glory (Image)

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Rick Remender and Bengal have brought us an absolutely beautiful book.  Each page looks like a still frame from a movie.  Admittedly I bought this book simply due to the images.  It IS that gorgeous.  Digging in though and we find as much substance in the script as there is artistry in the images.  Poor Glory.  She's our focus as Remender gives us a representation of a real life issue facing many facets of middle America.  Old ways are dying.  Some quickly, some slowly and painfully, and some even worse.  The convoy/trucking community is one that refuses to go quietly.  It is a time honored love story about what makes us, us.  For Glory it is her father who is dying.  The loss seems as though it will be so much more than just her father though.  Of course, there's a whole host of shit hitting the fan.  Black market organ running and a whole lot of 80's car chase shoot 'em up happening is just the tip of the iceberg.


This is a beautiful book and a fresh take on some age old tales. 


Evolution (Image)


Image result for evolution comic reviewThe writing team of James Asmus, Joseph Keatinge, Christopher Sebela, and Joshua Williamson have brought a new spin on horror while taking on human evolution.  Up to this point everything has taken millions of years to evolve.  Well, now things are happening at (relatively) light speed.  The tale is unfolding piece by piece and uses some familiar tropes (Father's love for his son or the perceived crazy scientist) to help along a skin crawling narrative.  Toss in the religious aspect and it all makes the skin crawl wonderfully.  Something has evolved and it is now ravenously spreading and gobbling us all up.  Just as eerily as the story is unraveling, the book feels like I'm watching a 70's grind house flick.  The color moods, effects, styles, and showing all the gore yet still keeping something veiled ramps this up too 1000.


It's fresh, complicated, and even though you feel icky reading it you can't wait to turn the page.


Immortal Hulk (Marvel)

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Al Ewing has created an insanely dark take on what, in its true form, is as horror filled of an idea as it gets.  The Hulk has always been a frighteningly real analog for the divide that lives in all of us.  Yeah, there's that big huge (literally) monster that could devour all life itself but the horrible part is that that isn't the scariest part of it all.  The inner struggle is as real as it gets and this book is bringing the divide between Hulk and Banner into entirely new and horrific territory.  I'll just say that Hulk only comes out to play when Banner dies ... yup.  This book is dark, very very dark.  This new take asks the reader internal questions and puts elements of self that we all have to either stare down or fall victim to.  This is a tortured soul book that makes you wonder whether it is your soul or Bruce's that is on trial.


There are blurred lines, real life horror, and an uneasy questioning of one's own soul.  This is true horror and this is good.

                      
Mister Miracle (DC)


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Tom King has created an modern classic with this tale.  Fittingly it's done with characters created by the king himself.  Kirby's Fourth World/New Gods setting has given King a palette with which to paint the human story itself.  Love, fear, death, life, family, and of course the ever present and overbearing sense of dread we all live with.  For everyone it's different but it exists.  The taking of the over-sized, larger than life characters and turning them into a mature tale of real life is beautiful in of itself.  The humanizing of these out of reach characters is a class in writing mastery.  It's even more endearing because Scott has always been the more 'human' of the cosmic entities in DC and always seems to have a banana peel in his path.  After this series is done Big Bertha will be set up to do and handle virtually anything and Mr Miracle will have become a favorite for an entirely new set of fans.


This is a modern classic.  Vision was just a primer for this hall of fame book. 


Spectacular Spider-man (Marvel)

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Chip Zdarsky is doing exactly what I loved about Spectacular growing up.  It's wholly Spider-Man and exactly what you expect from the "Friendly neighborhood" take on the character.  Spidey is at his quipping best self in this new edition of Spec.  We've also got timeless villains (Vulture and Kingpin for instance) and the continued new dynamic between JJJ and Peter.  There's the old school throwback with having the Human Torch involved (Amazing Friends everyone) and a return to the NORMAL hectic mounting tidal wave that is Spidey's life.  Yeah, we've run into a literal save the world effort with some rather crazy visitors but the soul of the story is, of course, Spidey.  That is and always has been what Spectacular has centered around.  All of the lovable parts of Peter, Spidey, and the supporting cast has always been front and center with Spec.  We're back to that.


Spec is back to being the perfect capture of what makes Spidey so damn awesome.
                                                      

Wasted Space (Vault)


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Michael Moreci and Hayden Sherman are rocking the galaxy.  An absolute misfit, rag tag group is taking on everything.  Life, cults, a big ass robotic bounty hunter, family, and damn near anything else that could possibly try to hunt you down and kill you ... or worse.  Yes there's satire but that just adds to the complex nature with which Moreci is doling out the next great space saga.  Don't believe me?  Well, then believe the publisher because Vault has announced that the book will go to at least 20 issues due to just how damn good it is.  Seeds have been planted all over the place that we will hopefully get to see explored in full.  I mean with just our main character we need to figure out where his powers come from and well, just what they actually are.  There's a rather deep running family issue, the fuqbot saga, and that pesky robot God of the universe that only our main character can see.  Did I mention that the entire universe is at the risk of deletion?  This is being played close to the chest but that only adds to the overall experience this book is bringing.


This is tracking to make people forget about SAGA.  It's that good. 


HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Justice League (DC), Deep Roots (Vault), Shadow Roads (Oni)

It was a toss up for me between Avengers and Justice League. JL is doing what Avengers is and is finally getting back to being a proper book for the title on the cover.  Deep Roots was barely edged out.  Toughest call was between DR and Evolution.  If DR were as far into things as Evo is it might have gone the other way.  Shadow Roads stands alone but I can't help feel that if I were more familiar with the 6th Gun universe (I'm catching up) this book was be even better.  It isn't out of necessity but I can't shake the feeling that there's more nuance there and that the experience would be that much deeper.



WATCH LIST:

Black Badge (Boom), Bone Parish (Boom), Cold Spots (Image), Hot Lunch Special (Aftershock)

These books have started out white hot and are primed to take top shelf status.  In fact, they're all going to be featured in the upcoming DEBUT REVIEW due to their immediate bang out of the gate.












Saturday, September 22, 2018

ROAR OF THE MONTH - Tim Daniel

TIM DANIEL 

Writer: Atoll, Burning Fields, Curse, Enormous, Fissure, Spiritus, Skinned to name a few

Design: Alien Bounty Hunter, Zojaqan, Stalag-X, Vagrant Queen, These Savage Shores to name a few

Title: Reigning Emperor of Comic Book Design

Ok, that title may not be "official" but we said it, and we mean it. Much of what Vault Comics has been able to do in their very brief tenure as publisher comes down to the writing, design, and influence of TD.  His hands are all over the work being put out by Vault and the overall look and feel of the books reflects Tim's absolute golden touch.  The easiest thing to point to is the growing stack of trades heading to our shelves as many of the series are wrapping up or hitting the end of story arcs. To put it bluntly, Tim's design and influence have made absolutely beautiful damn comics and trade dresses.  Arguably THE key element of a book is its ability to jump out at the potential reader and make them take notice.  Every single Vault title does that in spades.  The shelves can't hold these books (Wasted Space #1 on a 3rd print, #2 on a 2nd print - Deep Roots #1 on a 2nd print - Submerged #1 on a 2nd print).  What do we get due to the books being so hot?  MORE TIM!  These BRILLIANT Vault Comics VINTAGE COVERS that pay tribute to iconic creators and covers from comic book history.


Yeah, it's ok.  I'll wait.  These are stunning.  Take a minute.

This is just a taste of the brilliance that Tim is helping to grace our comic loving community with.  Classic and undeniable images with new life breathed into them in a giving of thanks and showing of respect. We all owe so much to those that came before us and TD has managed to tip the cap with work that drips with class just as the originals did and still do.  It is painfully obvious that the man has not only an eye for fresh elements, but an appreciation and ability to capture the essence of what has made comics great for decades upon decades.  While the story within the pages MUST be captivating, it is the images that first conjure emotion with a book.  So much is set up for a potential reader by the look, feel, and first impression that they get when searching for their next book.  Certainly, we don't judge a book by its cover.  However, great packaging sells.  Great packaging with guts that sell the packaging just as much as the packaging sells the guts?  Yup we've got a winner.  Welcome to the world of Tim Daniel Comics ... WINNING.  Oh, and just in case anyone was still wondering, here's a sampling of his design/influence on the collected editions:



TimDaniel_logos_1I could literally go on and on and on about just how beautiful each and every single book is that Tim has touched.  It isn't just Vault Comics mind you.  He's got quite the collection of logo design to include quite a few that I guarantee you've seen and have helped you decide to give a book a try.  I also guarantee that you're raising your eyebrow right now seeing the title in some of these logos.  Yes, Tim has been kicking the teeth of comic book design down its throat for quite a while.  We're looking at a decade of dominance from the man and the comic community is all the better for his influence.

Through admission of his own, Tim has taken that eye for the awesome and helped get his other talent a foot in the door.  That's right, not only is Tim the Emperor of Comic Design but he can also spin a damn good tale.  If we're being honest here we almost want to hate the guy in the most loving way possible.  An absolute wonder with design and can also write with the best of them.  Curse, Burning Fields, and Enormous are some titles that might light up a bulb in the 'ol noggin.  As a father myself I have to say that Curse resonated with me on a rather personal level.  The werewolf story is a great read with horror tones, but a much broader and applicable story to tell.  Burning Fields sees Tim give us vibes that make the creepy crawly uneasiness of The Thing wash over.  The beauty of it isn't the supernatural/horror, but rather the very real political/military backdrop that story unfolds in.  Enormous speaks for itself.  The breakout hit is a fan favorite.  In just these three examples we've got Tim giving us a very relatable real world story, an old school horror tale spun through the still current political climate, and a pop culture sensation.  There's not a writer out there that wouldn't love to have those three books in their portfolio.  That's just a sampling of what's on offer from Tim.

Though, let's try to do the impossible for a moment and remove ourselves from being awestruck by the beauty of the books Tim has helped design and write/co-write.  Why?  Because even more so than the immense talent that TD has with writing and design, he's a rare breed.  This is coming from a place beyond his creative abilities.  He's a rare breed because on top of everything he's capable of he's a good human being.  Tim is a man you WANT to work with regardless of the fact that he's a 1% talent.  I'm likely to get flack from TD for doing this spotlight of him and drawing a stink eye for giving him praise.  I'll gladly take it as he is the first and most boisterous person when it comes to singing the praises of the people he works with.  In every public forum he can and with every chance he gets he doesn't just promote the work of his fellow creators; he promotes the PEOPLE he works with first.  He genuinely appreciates, acknowledges, and loves the interactions and relationships he forges through his collaborations and partnerships.  It isn't just with his professional level interactions.  Tim is open to us out here in the comic community on a level that usually isn't the case.  Again, that interaction is genuine and not simply self-serving or promoting.  It isn't about an image or a brand.  For him, it's about US out here in the comic community and in the realm of fellow creators.  THAT is the foundation upon which his multi-talented house of awesome is built.

For being a genuinely good person that, oh by the way happens to be an extremely gifted writer on top of being untouchable on comic design ...

TIM DANIEL IS OUR ROAR OF THE MONTH FOR SEPTEMBER 2018

Follow Tim: @TimDanielComics













Sunday, September 9, 2018

ADVANCED REVIEW - These Savage Shores

Written by Ram V                        Drawn by Sumit Kumar
Colored by Vittorio Astone            Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
Alternate Cover by Tim Daniel     On Shelves October 10th

As with every other Vault Comics title, it is impossible not to stare at These Savage Shores for a while before actually starting the read.  Just like its brothers and sisters in publication, this book is gorgeous.  Much like a fellow White Noise Studios effort Fearscape, this book uses subdued tones and washed palettes to evoke the story/tale atmosphere that is spun within the pages.  Just like Fearscape does, These Savage Shores feels like a novel brought to life.  It isn't a prose approach though.  Rather, Ram V uses the classic imagery to help naturally unwind the beginning of our tale.

Appropriately named, the book gets right to the many themes represented.  Colonial India was a port, quite literally, for the European powers and rivalries to try and express their rule.  Arrogance abounded and our efforts kick off with that on full display.  Sending "a problem" to foreign lands wreaks of superiority.  That air is shown both subtly and bluntly over the course of the issue.  From the inner workings of the vampires themselves in London, to the East India Company, to Lord Pierrefont, and even the down to the shores of the Malabar Coast itself the air stinks of arrogance.  This arrogance begets the course of events that leads us down the path of travelling from London to Calicut.

It's fitting though as both man and vampire have both suffered at the hand of arrogance on more than one occasion.  Both histories are wrought with tales of caution in acting with such bravado but lessons are almost unanimously learned the hard way.  Here, we've got a quick one learned by Lord Pierrefont (that last panel was amazing) which really makes you raise your eyebrows and wonder just where this is going and how it is going to get there.  Several plot points were put into motion and there were a few other pieces that were either pushed under the radar or tossed in to throw the reader off and keep them thinking.  The very first 'scene' of the book has the perfect illustration of this.  It is quite clear that Bishan (or at least his creator/what he is) will be a key figure in this story.  Is he vampire as we are accustomed too or something else entirely?  Whatever he is Kori is not afraid.  What's with the Alada tree?  Is it representative or literal?  Was there something more alluded to with Kori and the dancing or is that just looking to far into things?

The biggest question though, is what's the story we're actually reading?  Now, that's not a slight on the book.  It isn't a question because there's aimless narrative and dialogue or a lack of direction.  The question of just which story we're reading comes from the fact that everything you were forming in your head gets the rug pulled out from under it with the last sequence of the issue.  We are shown one of the invaders of the land represented by Lord Pierrefont.  He's a threat inside the threat of the East India Company.  A fine nod to the historical aspect of the setting sees the revelation that the Silk Route (Maritime version) is the aim of the EIC.  The conquering civilization has set out to conquer the savage beasts in order to control the resources and value of the lands.  We're led to believe that while there are other forces at play and other interests involved, Lord Pierrefont is a crucial piece to getting the foothold in place as the start of the road.  But what of the lands themselves?  We're told that savage things roam the night, Lord Pierrefont himself feels an aura about things and ponders he might be more accepted, and we're even shown that the bats "can smell death and have come for the spoils."

Ram V tosses several threads out onto the mat.  Amidst the beauty of the artwork from Kumar and Astone these threads are woven into a fine, silken like fabric that flows together as the pieces come into place.  Then, the trap door opens and we're left with even more questions and nothing more to do than say "bravo."  This first issue is, as Vault has quickly become known for, an absolute dream.  Personally I was greatly looking forward to this one upon announcement as it looked to be the furthest and have the least common thread from the line of stories that Vault has published thus far.  For me it was going to be a true first test throw of their cast net.  

This delivered ten fold.  As readers we're always looking for a new, different, or hardly done angle and this book is it.  Yes, vampires ... or is it?  After the closing panel of the book I'm not sure what teeth the nights are full of.  What is lurking about?  Just what else is there to contend with?  What is the true struggle that will unfold?  I'm on board for it all.  These Savage Shores continues Vault Comics' perfect record of top shelf books.   




















Sunday, August 12, 2018

ADVANCED REVIEW - FRIENDO

FRIENDO #1 - VAULT COMICS


Continuing in the now long running and insanely consistent tradition of smash hits coming from VAULT COMICS, Friendo is set to explode onto shelves at the end of September.  Alex Paknadel is delivering another entry to the lineup that further establishes VAULT and their targeted approach to assaulting the comic industry with books that push every boundary of what you can do in the medium.  Set to debut alongside FEARSCAPE (our thoughts HERE), FRIENDO is going to instantly grab you and not let go.

What Paknadel has presented us with, is a satirical take on not just our present day but where we very well could be going with the "immersion" of our experiences.  Everywhere we look there's one form or another of marketing being shoved down our throats.  Product placement here, check out our partners there, and this second of your life presented by this fucking thing.  Growing up the commercials seemed whimsical and a way to transport to a completely different place.  That's partially due to being a kid in the absolute golden age of toys/etc in the 80's, and slightly less due to the ignorance of being a child.  As a grown up I've been turned off of many things I love due to every Extra Point and Field Goal landing in the 'good hands of AllState' or having to book a trip to NRG Park instead of the Astrodome (yes, I've got some age to me).  The biggest difference is that it is no longer subtle, but rather down right insulting of our intelligence at this point.  In FRIENDO we are given a scenario that I can honestly see being somewhat of a reality before my dust is used as a way to advertise the authenticity of my kids.  

Leo Joof has a snazzy pair of sunglasses.  He's already crashed and burned as an actor so hey, what's the harm in letting him have these glasses that come fully loaded with an augmented reality/AI marketing interface assistant called "friendo."  This neat little trick puts a full bodied "person" in the wearer's real time environment.  The purpose?  A live feed, immediate, real time, essentially living/breathing advert.  That store has 30% of toe separators, she's wearing Banana Republic Pier 1 Import limited edition anklets, and oh look that sector of air is sponsored by GE Green.  I'm being a bit over dramatic .... maybe.  The first couple of pages deliver a line that speaks to a truth of today: "do your bit before these industry bitches get distracted by a laser pointer or something."  I laughed because it sure as shit ain't just cats chasing that little moving light on the floor.  Even the actual introduction to our "reality" with Friendo got a chuckle due to being all to real.  Premium or Free version pal?  That's right chump, free and shitty it is.  Preferences set and a quirky, odd inferred joke later "let's go spend some money."  Just like that.

Paknadel makes all of this very easy to dump onto Leo as he has set up his weak and susceptible mind with two quick but overly effective hits.  The opening of the book glimpses an interaction with Leo and his psychologically abuse and fanatical father.  The immediate transition to present day let's us know that he's not the bread winner in his relationship and the very glasses/friendo are a gift from his lady.  It all makes sense and with minimal effort we've been given a whole hell of a lot about Leo.  It follows that when he and his friends are out on the literal burning streets of California, he's oblivious to being separated for just long enough to lose them.  The delivery of that moment though, is made to make us question whether it was the elements, Leo himself, or Jerry (the friendo) that caused the disconnect.  There's an effectiveness with the delivery of things like this that run rampant through the book.  Maybe it was the fact that the algorithms used to set up the construction of the personalized interface were horrifyingly simple but overly effective, we're told it sounds like Leo's bff from school that od'd at burning man, but there's something that leaks off the page to make the interactions between Leo and the friendo uneasily real.

The seamless interaction of the AI and streamlined dialogue are expertly done.  Not once do the lines feel forced or the "placement" seem awkward and out of place.  They are creepily on point with the casual conversation.  The friendo also exhibits a very life like reaction to things that mirrors the "I just watched that TV show and now I've got an ad for their t-shirt on my app" shit that's happening to us now.  The best part of just how integrated it all is, is towards the end of the book.  During the last event of our opening chapter (that ends up being another lesson) while the stakes are life and death, our AI manages to drop a hint for counseling that fits the bill of a witty friend cracking a joke in the face of danger.

Visually the book is just as much of a treat as the story within.  There is a plainness to the art work that proves the less is more phrase.  The point of this book is not Michael Bay-esque.  The visuals don't need to present that.  What we're given is a representation of what Big Corp and the like are trying to sells us on.  Your world is uh, yeah ... but what we've got is where your world comes to life!  It reflects the "not what you are but what's available to you" motif perfectly.  When needed there's more detail on display and the colors ramp up.  It is certainly not lacking.  The art is purposeful and compliments what is being done very well.

TL;DR?  JUMP ON FRIENDO!  PROMISE, IT'S FANTASTIC!

PRE-ORDER WHILE YOU STILL CAN!  HITS SHELVES SEP 26th!

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