September 10, 2015

Reviews by Tania: "Broken Moon" #1

     Broken Moon #1
    Steve Niles, Nat Jones

    Hoorah! Another bleak human-produced dystopian future! "Broken Moon"'s setting may be wearing heavy on some of us, but it's an interesting story nonetheless: humans finally screw up in a catastrophic, irreversible way. We are forced to colonize the moon but royally mess that up too. Moon explodes, tidal waves wipe out most of huanity on earth, monsters formerly in hiding run around willy-nilly.

    Fortunately, monsters and paranormal stuff are my jam. The vampires and werewolves in this story are slightly more dimensional than the standard "big bad monster". The vampires prove to be pretty resourceful; the near extinction of the human species forces these suckers to think of new, creepier ways to treat their severe iron deficiency. Hence human farms/concentration camps and factories whose only purpose is to smother the sun with smog. Human farms! And they're not free-range! Ew...the whole thing is drawn well, too: in addition to being colored very dark, the action (of which there is lots) is crisp, finely lined; speeding figures look almost electric and gun blasts look explosive.

    The werewolves are decidely more "chill", as they say. There appears to be a group subscribing to a doctrine forbidding consumption of human meat.  They happen upon a terrified, lone runaway human  who informs them, much to their shock, that the vampires have started an unexpected and uncharacteristic migration further into their woods. What's up with that? And what do these doggies eat, squirrels or smaller monsters? Where the heck do they get their strategically-ripped sexy denim outfits and can I have one? I am hoping to see a lot of these canine cuties in this series.

Overall, this first issue was pretty good. Even though the premise makes me feel bad about my species (maybe even my entire genus) the story and art are cool enough to distract.

VERDICT: Yes! I will be reading the next issue.

July 6, 2015

Reviews by Tania J: AIRBOY #2

Oh boy. Oh, wow. You can always tell how enamored I am of a book by the number of complete sentences I start with.

Airboy had me at issue number 1. It was so depraved that I was hooked instantly. I just love seeing people running wild and messing stuff up and being general messes. Makes me feel better about my lifestyle. This is a dirty series. Every page has graphic but beautifully artistic depictions of dicks, drugs, and depression. This series is just debauchery!

Issue 2

"Airboy" is great. It is ugly, hilarious, sad, and strange. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series.
sees the story progress into something outside of this bro-mantic bacchanal. I would have been perfectly content to just read issue after issue of creators Robinson and Hinkle's messed-up autobiographical (?) tales but in this issue we get better acquainted with the one point of light and purity in this whole story thus far: the eponymous Airboy himself. Poor guy. One has to sympathize with this WWII pilot's shock of going from glory and heroism to a directionless world where people obliterate themselves with drugs out of boredom because there's nothing to fight for. Airboy doesn't comprehend our world. People and buildings are run down and barely dressed. "What have I been fighting for?...Why am I bothering, if no one cares?" Poor innocent Airboy. The conflicts between him and us are really interesting to see played out. Why did we discard our once-beloved Airboy? How did we change so drastically; become so jaded and bored and self-destructive? I was really mind-buggered by the juxtaposition between Airboy's very real and urgent sense of duty and purpose and the creative duo's seemingly directionless existences. How could these three possibly understand one another?

June 6, 2015

The Cat With the Really Big Head

"What the heck is this", my brain deadpanned as I read through the first chapter of this freaky volume. It was, indeed, about a cat with a huge head, but unlike the images of adorable egghead cartoon kitties in my head, this was a rather gross weird little story. There is cat afterbirth, death, severe physical malformation, butt monsters, embarrassment, and more death. That's cool, though; art is meant to be pretty, disgusting, offensive, pleasant. For some, the list of things that are acceptable for art to make you feel does not include "disgust". I'm personally undecided about icky art. I am grateful it exists. Does not mean I seek it out; but I think it's necessary. The eponymous chapter is about the short, strange, sad life of a cat born with a huge head. If you enjoy whimsy sprayed with little unsavory droplets, this first chapter is for you.

The art throughout the whole book is great; pretty colors and textures and the animals and humans all have haggard, pitiful little looks to their faces. There's a lot of character in the artwork; mainly of a strange, whimsical and sad type. It suits all the stories perfectly.

The crowning glory is the last story, "The Monsters in my Tummy". It is an allegory for the many phases of a bad heartbreak, starring, among other uncomfortable characters, "Sir Anger", "Lil' Contempt, "Betrayal" and "Alone on her stilted legs". The poem watches as their time plays out, but there is no happy ending when these emotions had become practically sustenance.

I'm telling you, the last chapter had me Feeling Things. It was great. I forgive Mr. Dirge for the lung monsters that apparently live in his butt and love snacks (WTF?!) because of the last story. And I will celebrate the art once again: these little feeling-embodiment creatures have amazing and appropriately haunted looks and freakish, deformed bodies. The whole experience captured how ugly and naked some feelings are. UGH THAT LAST STORY. So good.

May 29, 2015

Reviews by Tania! Grindhouse Drive in, Bleed Out: Lady Danger Agent of B.O.O.T.I. part one

  Hoo, boy! Another fun-ass read from Alex DeCampi, lordy bless her! If you're not reading "Archie vs. Predator", "No Mercy" or the other "Grindhouse Drive In Bleed Out" mini-series you might not be properly entertained! Violence, foul language, sass, tacky villains, and sometimes boobies are recurring elements in DeCampi's stories and in this latest installment of the Grindhouse series it's nicely paired with lively cartoonish art.  And a main cover by Francavilla! 
     The protagonist is a bad-ass Black female (which for some reason is still enough of  an occurrence that I feel the need to celebrate it; boo! * fart noise*!) who is the U.S.' first choice weapon/rescue party when our citizens get into trouble overseas. We get to see Lady Danger of B.O.O.T.I. fight baddies and hang out with hotties.  To be honest I was hoping for a ridiculous blaxploitation type of thing, but this is surprisingly sincere, and I felt my shriveled little heart responding to the characters and their plights, such as pity for the poor nerd with the unrequited crush on the lady herself and his hood friend suffering from gentrification).  

     I like the characters, the art, and did I mention it's funny? I definitely recommend the entire Grindhouse Drive In Bleed Out series. OH ALSO there's a scene where Lady Danger delivers a thorough thug beatdown and then picks her wedgie (you would too if you were kicking ass in booty shorts) and it is delightful. This whole book is just a lot of fun!

May 1, 2015

Reviews by Tania J! "Jem and the Holograms" #2

     AWWWW YEEEAAHH. It’s about to go down. Oh my god.

     A few weeks back, after reading the first “Jem and the Holograms”, I sat, shocked. The thought occurred to me that I may be going soft. I had only read it half as a joke, expecting just something cute and harmless to make fun of for a bit. But you guys. It was actually pretty good. The relationships among all the (adopted? multiracial? figurative?) sisters was cute and touching without being cheesy. The character design is great; there’s a variety of body types and skin colors.  And!! There’s a chick with an afro!!
     No, I had not suddenly turned to soft cheese; “Jem and the Holograms” #1 is in fact a good read. This second issue is no different. A (British?) girl band issuing a friendly musical challenge to rising bands, the contenders of which will face off against them in a battle of the ass-kicking girl groups! Naturally, they stumble upon Jem and her Holograms and are impressed and excited! Most of them are anyway…
     This whole series thus far warms my cold cold heart for a few reasons:

*Girl power! It’s horrible that seeing females being cool, normal, HUMAN people is refreshing. But it is. And they are. These girls are funny, kind, talented (I imagine; I like to think of them as a Go-Go’s/New Order/The Wiggles/Ed Sullivan-debut-pre-drugs-and-India-era Beatles) bouquet of delightful, happy, clean pop) loving, troubled, over-eating, adorable, intelligent, gutsy. And all of them have such cool hair. (Except Jerrica, which makes sense, as it reflects her reserved timid personality).

*Diversity! As Aforementioned, there’s a great variety of bodies, skin colors, hair textures, and even sexual orientation. Like “Lumberjanes” (another great series for adults and young women alike) before it, it looks like “Jem” is extremely cool in its treatment of homosexuality. In this issue there’s flirtation between two of the main girl characters and it’s presented as totally normal. Normal! Can you imagine!? Completely natural sexual orientations treated like completely natural sexual orientations? Revolutionary! It makes my heart smile.

     The whole series is wholesome without being saccharine and progressive without being preachy or ham-fisted. Not to mention the funny and adorable dialogue and the fun, lighthearted plot. And the amazing hairstyles and outfits omg. 

April 24, 2015

reviews by Tania J! "Mono: Pacific" #1 Brian Wood; Sergio Sandoval

It's understandable if you overlooked last year's "Mono: The Old Curiosity Shop" (Sharp and Wolstenholme); it didn't seem to have gotten as much buzz as other independent titles. But trust me: it was special. The juxtoposition of this incredibly strong, hairy human/non-human/superhuman ape born of military experiments with his introspective, gothic narration was just gorgeous to behold; not to mention the fantastic dynamic and cinematic art.
I digress. This latest installation of Mono's story paints him as more of an action film star...a human film star. Yeah he's hairy but he's like, "viking" hairy, not "non-human" hairy. And he doesn't have a tail! (Personal tidbit: non-human apes are some of my favorite creatures; specifically gorillas and chimpanzees; which are the two apes the previous incarnation of Mono looked most like. Except for the long prehensile tail....) Fine, I can deal with a more human-like Mono; the art is still good. The spy thriller story set in the Pacific war theater of the 40's is pretty consistently engaging. There is never a dull moment and we get to see how military ape experiments fare in other armies. I think this was my favorite thing about this book. Mono is faced with these apes who are more like him than any other creature on earth. It's an interesting opportunity to see what that stirs within him. Also, GORILLAS!! Or are they?! Not really. But they look like gorillas and they are so cute and Sandoval does not fail to do these magnificent creatures justice. Whether naked, in kimonos, shooting rifles, screaming in Japanese, mouths agape with incisors gleaming, Sandoval renders these creatures as every bit the regal beings they are. I FREAKIN LOVE APES.
This issue is more of a straight spy story than the gothic monster/traghic hero one of the previous run, but I liked it. Brian Wood and Sergio Sandoval make a great team and I will be picking up the conclusion to this short run.

April 16, 2015

Sabrina #2 Review by Tania J.

AHHH FINALLY. Freegin' finally. I have been waiting for my sweet Sabrina since the first issue came out like fifty years ago in October. If you've kind of dismissed "Sabrina" as a "Sugar, Sugar", sassy-talking-cat-accompanied-by-laugh-track, high-school-dance, teenage-beach-party kind of Sabrina, you are mistaken. When I read the first issue I was not prepared for how dark it was. 

In this series we really get to see Sabrina for what she is and where her roots are. She is a witch. A witch's life is not usually glamorous (except when lounging by a pool in Hollywood with Ann Margaret in #2) or easy to stomach. #2 is a fascinating look into the story of Madam Satan, a witch jilted by her beloved: Sabrina's own father. With (like, the gnarliest!) death begins the second bitter part of her chapter, dangerously driven this time by pain and humiliation. 

I love the art in this book. Hack's watery, muted, sienna-tinged colors and true-black shadows work with Aguirre-Sacasa's slightly gothic writing to give the whole work a finely aged feel that nods to Sabrina's brighter days of the sixties. The art in this is so freaky sometimes I found myself examining pages long after I'd read them.
I am so pumped for Madam Satan! Poor Sabrina...