Another Sunday, another giant stack of comics, and I still have a massive backlog - as I observed first thing very early this morning as I was getting ready to leave the house, I could barely lift my Sunday Comics bag. While I'm really only a few weeks behind, for the most part, some of the regular series to which I subscribe have actually published two issues since last I read! So I decided to read through those first.
There wound up being so many "two-fer" titles that back-to-backs were all I had today!
THE LAST ZOMBIE: INFERNO, Issues 1 & 2
The Last Zombie: Inferno begins a new arc in this on-going series from Antarctic Press, horror writer Brian "The Rising" Keene, penciler Brian Denham (The X-Files, Sarah Palin: Rogue Warrior, Iron Man: Hypervelocity) and inker Fred Perry (Gold Digger, Time Lincoln). This is Keene's second major comics series; I was a big fan of his Dead of Night: Demon-Slayer for Marvel's MAX line, in which he combined his own military background and experiences with a tale of high deviltry in the middle of the latest Gulf War. He's also written a few horror novels, with which I'm sure my readers are quite familiar. Denham was new to me before I took up The Last Zombie but I've quickly come to admire his work tremendously, and Perry is quickly becoming a favorite because I just love everything about Time Lincoln.
The Last Zombie: Inferno picks up where The Last Zombie left off, as Doctor Ian Scott and his team of soldiers and scientists make their way across the wastelands of a post-zombie apocalyptic America. Infected with the virus that caused the zombie outbreak, Ian struggles to stay alive long enough to see his wife again. As if that wasn't enough, the team find themselves caught between a raging, state-wide wildfire and the radioactive destruction of a nuclear reactor meltdown. - from Antarctic Press's website
Note: some of these tweets are actually from last week; I didn't get to finish Issue 1 before it was time to pack up and head for home and start writing on the blog.
Magnificent two page splash in subtle greys. A big long highway and two diagonally arranged insets. I love it.
Way to twist all the emotional wrenches, Keene. Jeez XD
Denham's drawings totally selling the wrenches, too. The face on p. 4 is devastating.
"Definitely there but not life-threatening." "What about nut-threatening?" Klassy!
Passenger jet landed on the interstate, abandoned Amtrak train, radiation alarms, post-apocalypse much?
Oh, and a hundred-mile wildfire. @BrianKeene has the same love for his characters that @ChuckWendig does.*
The fire was maybe a bit too half-tone ambiguous though. Until it was named as such, I thought maybe a tornado.
Getting a big-time BSG vibe out of the civilian/military tension. Good stuff. And again, all in the faces.
Pretty glad I have Issue 2 handy!
The only way I could like the look of this comic better is if it was still being printed on matte paper.
I may be misremembering it as coming out on matte at first but right now I feel certain it did.
Wonder what Kansas ever did to piss Keene off XD
Oh awesome. Thousands of refugees and a big-ass fire. Yeah, better turn back.
Wait, so all of that wasn't enough peril? Christ, Keene.
I keep watching the horizon for mechs. Damn you, @jakebible XD**
As always, our knowledge of the reality of the situation, that most of the characters lack, ratchets up tension.
DUDE! And now I have to wait, uh... how long? I never know with these (awesome) tiny presses.
THE SUMMING UP
The Last Zombie grabbed my attention in its first series last year, and has yet to lose it. To call it a black and white comic is to mis-describe it extremely; it is a wondrous multiplicity of subtle tones of grey with nice black line-work. It may sound boring, but it is not. As I mentioned in one of the tweets above, Denham has a gift for conveying a whole lot of emotion in his faces -- and Keene has made him push his abilities. As we have followed this convoy from a military base across the remains of the American mid-west, the soldiers and civilians here have suffered depression, deprivation and several flavors of terror, fighting and dealing with not only zombies but also lepers (whom they, of course, mistook for zombies with near-disastrous consequences for all and disaster for our hero, Ian; left for dead, he got dumped into a mass grave full mostly of dead lepers, but with just enough double-tapped zombies to give him that disease instead of Hansen's!). The landscapes are bleak and blasted, the characters and figurants desperate and believable. Even if you love all things zombie, this should be a hard book to take in.
THE STRANGE CASE OF MR. HYDE, Issues 3 & 4
Another fine one from Dark Horse Comics, this is writer Cole Haddon's comics debut, and I hope to see much more of his work in the future. Though Haddon is playing hard and fast with some characters created by Robert Louis Stevenson, Stevenson does not seem to be credited in this comic, which I find odd and detect a lawerly whiff about. The pencils are by M.S. Corley, another relative newcomer, though I could have sworn, upon seeing his name and his style, that I've seen his work before (despite having never looked at his bits of Dark Horse Presents). Jim Campbell is the colorist, someone I mostly know from his work in The Art of Tony Millionaire, which I thought superb.
Sometimes good police work just isn’t enough, as Inspector Thomas Adye of Scotland Yard finds out when he’s assigned to the Jack the Ripper case. He’ll need the guidance of imprisoned madman and amoral libertine, Dr. Henry Jekyll, whose mind-splitting serum Jack might be using to commit his bloody murders. Written by Cole Haddon and illustrated by M.S. Corley, Hyde sets in motion events that will pit London’s two greatest monsters against one another. Will Adye--and his soul--survive intact? - from Dark Horse's website
"If your mate be Mr. Hyde, I shall be Mr. Seek." XD
Prepare for swank, walk into rank. How very Victorian. Or Eyes Wide Shut. Or @BooksAndBraun
"I just saw a woman doing the most extraordinary, disturbing thing with a garden vegetable..." Glad I didn't!
Sometimes telling is better than showing.
Am I reading #MrHyde or #Caligula (a new issue of which is also on the pile today)? LMFAO
Ooh! Almost caught him in flagrante (the Ripper, not some guy with a garden vegetable, gutter brains)!
I like Henry's decadence, his insousiance. He's in for the hunt but he's cool about it. Cooler even than Lechter.
And yet: "Is there any point in asking you not to kill him?" "Please."
Apparently the #MrHyde promicin gives Spiderman powers! OK...
Nice touch with the dinner jacket falling to the ground as #MrHyde climbs the side of yon building.
Ooh, and Adye is following the action from a balloon! Neat.
I'm not crazy about Corley's faces but his action scenes are cool. Did the peelers just cut Adye's balloon loose?!
Ha ha! Flying leap to catch the tether. FTW.
I feel a bit thick for not seeing where the "Liberation" sub-plot was heading. D'oh.
Liberation introduces a nice Hunter S. Thompson element to the tale.
So the possibility opens up that there are LOTS of culprits doing the Ripper's work. I like this. Will we go there?
VERY nice touch at Tussad's, with #MrHyde surveying his own diorama. "There was no pram." XD
OK, so my theory is already KO. We're going a more traditional route. Looks like Issue 4 will be a villain hunt. OK.
Cover is a hoot. The creators' names on banners along the bottom suggest Jekyll is @colehaddon and #MrHyde is M.S. Corley.
Any finale that begins with a bobby being launched through a roof and across a garden is a promising one.
I wish the character faces were better differentiated. There's pleasing ambiguity and there's total confusion.
Aha. Thought this might have to happen. As how could it not?
Ew. Nicely done, Corley. I believe I can smell Abbey Mills. Thanks for that.
This is now reminding me of that BBC series "Filthy Cities." Heh.
"When I am gone everything will still be shit." Well, yes.
Aaaaaand... many, many slapstick deaths. Excellent!
That's as good a finale to a limited series or story arc as I've seen in quite some time.
THE SUMMING UP
The original Stevenson tale The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has become quite a chestnut - everybody born after, say, 1970 probably new the schtick from the Warner Brothers Cartoons that riffed on it long before they were old enough to handle Robert Louis Stevenson's prose style. So when I saw this book in the Diamond Preview guide, I sort of shrugged and ordered it as a curiosity; I'm always interested to see how hoary old classics like this get translated to comics. In other words, I didn't read the actual solicitation. I was, therefore, very pleasantly surprised to see someone doing something truly new and different with the characters. The comic takes place years after the events of the novel and is its sequel much the same way Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs was one to Red Dragon. The first details the rampage and capture, the second sees a detective turning to the maniac to help catch another. It's kind of a goofy thing to have done, but it totally worked for me (and this is why I have developed a creative crush on Mr. Haddon, who is also a charming tweeter and amusingly easy to cause to blush). What almost didn't was some of the art. As I complained of in a tweet or two, the resemblances between characters were often close enough to be confusing; even our two leads, Adye and Hyde (and didn't I just notice the names are near anagrams of one another!), can only be differentiated most of the time by a line or two meant to suggest sharper cheekbones on the latter. Corley more than made up for that, though, with some superb action sequences, with balloons and coaches and flying bobbies and swirling capes and splashing blood. It's all very cinematic, which is fitting as this is supposedly under development as a film. I'm sure it will be a grand one, but meanwhile, I'm more interested in Haddon's hints that more miniseries might be in the offing. Yes, please.
THE SIXTH GUN: BOUND Issues 12 & 13
Full disclosure: I have drunk "margatweetas" and (shudder) "bloody marias" with writer Cullen Bunn, who has described himself as "formerly the world's youngest hypnotist," so I may not be entirely objective here. And while I do come from Wyoming and so might be expected to have a certain taste for Westerns, I'm also a geek (duh) and so I like my Westerns a little bit weirder than your typical Louis L'Amour or Zane Grey -- so even before I choked down that vile brew of tequila and bloody mary mix (shudder) I was primed to like this book. And I haven't been disappointed yet. Bunn and partner in crime Brian Hurtt and colorist Bill Crabtree have made a reliably enjoyable piece of eye candy that is also telling an unusual and entertaining story with -- pay attention all you people who are hating on DC for its supposed low female presence -- a nifty firecracker of a heroine in Becky Moncrief. Oni Press are putting out a great book, here.
During the darkest days of the Civil War, wicked cutthroats came into possession of six pistols of otherworldly power. In time, the Sixth Gun, the most dangerous of the weapons, vanished. When the gun surfaces in the hands of an innocent girl, dark forces reawaken. Vile men thought long dead set their sights on retrieving the gun and killing the girl. Only Drake Sinclair, a gunfighter with a shadowy past, stands in their way. - from Oni Press's website
Wow. Missy Hume looks like hammered shit. Awesome.
Do I want to know what she considers a "pick me up?" XD
Ooh! Ooh! I can haz train robbery? Apparently so!
And a classic bit of zombie-rising slapstick XD
"A spirit as foul as General Hume's... well, it might be best to keep that bound to flesh and bone." Yikes!
Have I ever mentioned how much I dig Bill Crabtree's coloring on this comic? Because I really do.
This two-page-wide panel with the robbers chasing the train into the sunset is GORGEOUS.
I'm foggy. This is the first time we've really seen the guns in action, no?
"I thought we were done with dead men!" quoth Becky "There's more than one variety of walking corpse in this world" quoth Drake.
Aaaaand holy crap, am I glad I've got the next issue to dive into immediately.
And the train robbery is far from over. Yee and also haw.
Ahh, possible nod to Robert Bloch and #ThatHellboundTrain?
Ouch. I don't think Becky's ever been grabbed quite that way before.
But she recovers well. Damn, but Becky is becoming a badass.
So. Freaking. Good.
THE SUMMING UP
The Sixth Gun was one of my very favorite comics of last year. It's been a blast watching these characters tramp to and fro across a good swath of 19th century America -- a story arc prior to this one even had them passing some time in New Orleans and the surrounding swamps, giving Bunn and Hurtt a chance to mess around with voodoo tropes along with the cowboys-and-zombies that started off this hot mess. And their heroine, Becky, has grown as a character. When first the mystical gun came into her possession, I'm not sure she even knew how to fire it accurately, but now she's kicking ass all over the weird west (though not entirely insuperable; an icky dude named Kirby got into her pants for a while and almost got away with the guns). With this arc we head west again and the original villain, General Hume, who is dead and chained up tightly in his coffin, looms large again nonetheless as his widow searches for him and the guns they consider rightfully to be his. I have seen a giant mummy attack a moving train, and it is GOOD.
I,ZOMBIE, Issues 15 & 16
Unlike a lot of the books I've been digging on lately, I,Zombie is the work of a bunch of old pros; Vertigo can afford to bring the best to bear on anything it likes, I suspect. Chris Roberson (whose work I praised last week on Elric: The Balance Lost) is writing this supernatural soap opera of a story, with Mike Allred (who seems to have turned his hand to just about everything in comics at one time or another) on pencils and Laura Allred on colors -- it's Laura who takes the fellas from awesome to eye-poppingly spectacular; I could just lick the page every issue (but of course I won't because, yeah).
Gwen Dylan is a gravedigger in an eco-friendly cemetery...and a zombie detective. Once a month, she has to eat a human brain – both to keep from going all “Night of the Living Dead,” and to keep her own memories intact. As a result, Gwen’s mind is crowded with the dead person’s thoughts. And lately, she feels compelled to fulfill their final requests. Torn between a mysterious mummy and a dashing young monster-hunter, Gwen is set for adventures beyond imagination! A were-terrier, a swinging ’60s ghost and a pack of paintball blasting vampires complete the cast of I, ZOMBIE. - from Vertigo's website
Yet another #SundayComics two-fer, #iZombie. I think by now it is not news how much I love this book.
Gorgeous pencils, gorgeous colors, MATTE PAPER, fantastic story, great characters, undead soap opera goodness.
Chock full of Michael Allred easter eggs, this issue is. Funny that.
Grandpa Chimp to the rescue! I love it!
"Meanwhile at a comic book convention in Portland.." - man, sure seeing a lot of action set at cons this year. Tired.***
Yes! Cave o'zombies!
It's a special comic in which a vampire, performing an autopsy, looks in a medical book and says "Ooh creepy."
Well, yes, Gwen. Right in the middle of his zombie-killing spree would be a bad time to tell him you're a zombie.
Oh, yeah #TheDeadPresidents. Had totally forgotten about them. Huzzah!
Bwahahahaha. Looks like the storylines are due to collide.
On to Issue 16 of #iZombie, and we've definitely moved from the soap opera plots to more of an adventure story. Cool.
Oh, and yep, straight into #DeadPresidents, fighting off teh zombies.
Even closer to @jakebible land. "I don't heal too well, and most of my original meat has been replaced with metal.
THE SUMMING UP
I,Zombie was another of my picks for favorite comics of last year. Since the original solicitation the relationships between Gwen, Ellie and Scott/Spot (gotta love a were-terrier!) have deepened, Gwen has had to spend a lot of her time wrapping up other people's storylines (she has to eat a brain at least once a month to say pretty, alive-looking, and intelligent. She only eats those of the recently dead, but when she does, she gets a full dose of the eaten brain's personality, memories and priorities) and started a new one with her own: a romance -- with a professional monster killer! -- who doesn't know Gwen is a monster! Throw in a former sorority, all turned vampires, and a whole new gang of monster/government agents, The Dead Presidents (who seem destined to have their own series, expanding the I,Zombie universe), and things, I suspect, are only beginning to get weird.There is a whole weird set of complicated metaphysics explaining how ghosts and zombies and were-terriers (and how Scott's grandfather is now a dead ringer for DC classic character Detective Chimp) can actually exist that I've decided not to bother sorting out; I turn into a complete girl for this book, and I like the beautiful colors, the lush character designs, and the pulpy, soapy stories. Delicious.
That's going to be it for today. As with last week, I'm breaking this post into two parts so I can go about my evening's business. If you saw my tweets, you already know what else I read today; if not, well, surprises are nice, aren't they?
*Chuck Wendig is the author of, among other things, a blog post that's been making the rounds called "25 Ways to F*ck with your Characters." It's a good read even if you're not, as most of my friends are, an aspiring author yourself.
**Jake Bible is another author friend, inventor of the drabble novel, who has completed two of them now set in a world that has not only seen a plague of zombies but is now beset by giant robots piloted by zombies.
***Why, oh why, are we going so meta with this, comics creators? Seems every other comic I pick up sets significant action or story developments at a comic book convention and treats us to a parade of cosplaying nerds. Twilight Guardian did it, I,Zombie has done it and, as you'll see tomorrow, so has Screamland. And that's just three recent examples off the top of my head from my personal, highly idiosyncratic pull list.