Blackout #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
Written by: Frank Barbiere and Randy Stradley
Art By: Colin Lorimer and Doug Wheatley
Blackout continues to get better and more engaging. The beauty of issue #3 (of 4) is it does what great origin arcs should do and that’s reveal more of who the hero is and luckily Scott Travers is an affable, likeable, protagonist that lightens the mood a little with his wit amid the dark and dangerous forces around him. As he learns to deal with his new powers via the special suit so do we as readers.
Blackout barely escapes being trapped in another dimension and has to face a greater foe only moments later. He is nothing if not resilient when it comes to finding out what’s going on at Mechatronics. Frank Barbiere has infused the story with great balance with world building, humor and action. Even though many things remain unclear as far as the villains go it’s been great to read Travers adjust to his new role as superhero.
Artist Colin Lorimer and colorist Randy Stradley set the mood in simple combinations of dark hues for the expository parts and then hit the reader with splashes of strategic colors during the fight scenes. The action scenes convey a sense of urgency and energy with great choreography. With one issue to go in the mini-series we miss Blackout already.
*Review by Enrique Rea
Star Wars dawn of the Jedi Force War: Vol 3 (Dark Horse Comics)
Written by: John Ostrander
Art by: Jan Duursema
Color by: Wes Dzioba
A long, long, long time before a long time ago, in the same galaxy that is far far away, the same conflict of good vs. evil rages on. According to the timeline given at the back pages of this volume, the series, Dawn of the Jedi, takes place 36,000-25,000 years before the battle of Yavin, Episode 4 (A New Hope).
The moment this graphic novel begins, you are in the middle of a battle with force sabers (light saber precursor), between the Je’daii (ancestors to the Jedi) and the Flesh Raiders. With typical names of a space drama like Xesh and Skal’Nas, you are given a short break from the well-drawn battle showcasing fancy saberplay, to be introduced to these characters and why they are fighting.
Throughout this comic, you are shown a wide variety of force abilities such as; lightning, projection, and animal empathy. After a short break to explain why they are at war (the typical evil force user’s plot to take over the universe), the battle resumes with the added plot of betrayal. A non-stop fight to finish the race to obtain revenge first ends with an epic duel.
The art of this series is well fleshed out to portray the many alien races and worlds you see, which helps to get a better understanding of the science fiction/fantasy war you are reading through. Even if you’re not a huge Star Wars buff, this volume entertains you from cover to cover, not to mention it has force users mounted on flying rancors.
*Review by Cory Anderson
Crime doesn’t pay: City of Roses (Dark Horse Comics)
Written by: Phil Stanford
Art by: Patric Reynolds
Color by: William Farmer
There’s a reason the cliche saying of Crime Doesn’t Pay is true. Sooner or later your dirty deeds and illicit activities will catch up to you. The comic is set during the 70s, and they do a great job of transporting you there. During the full read, it felt like the time period and I was fully immersed into it. In The City of Roses, Portland Oregon is portrayed as a normal city, with the stereotypical corruption found in drug and police dramas. You’re quickly introduced to several people and their current life styles, ranging from dirty cops to trick turners and drug dealers. And when you are shown their back stories, you begin to understand what drove these players to their current predicaments.
Eventually, you begin to see these people are all interconnected like a good Quentin Tarantino film. After a life of doing illegal activities, these people begin to feel the repercussions of their past. One character recognizes this and wants to run away, while another character only realizes this through shame and a degrading proposal. Events begin to happen quickly and spiral out of control, giving this comic a justified title.
The story, by Phil Stanford, a well established true crime novelist, branches out to create this 12 issue comic. While doing work to uncover Portland’s dark past, these events came to light. The story is based on true events that took place from just before and ending just after the 1970s, adding to the appeal. (Names have been changed to protect the guilty)
One of the biggest highlights about this comic was the artwork (As if being based on true events wasn’t enough). With well drawn and inked pages, the characters’ emotions are clear as day. The artist, Patric Reynolds, makes it easy to tell the differences between normal citizens and the seedier ones with the use of shading and darker tones. The overall style of the artwork matched the story’s characters and genre; shady, gritty and rough.
*Review by Cory Anderson
Souther Hospitality (Approbation Comics)
Written by: B. Alex Thompson
Art by: Kevin Richardson
Color by: Russell Vincent Yu
I first spotted this comic at the Long Beach Comic Expo. The cover just really stood out. Rebel Flag a sickle and blood splatter. I don’t know about you but that has all the ingredients for a great horror book. This graphic novel reminded me of two classic movies Deliverance and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It has that creepy Southern hick flair from Deliverance with the hardcore violence and gore brought to you by Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
This story takes place in Boons Creek , Alabama where we meet a couple passing through heading to Florida for a party. With no GPS or cell reception they get lost and run into some trouble with the the Police. The Law is the least of their worries. Next we have a couple of business men heading to Florida for a meeting where they pick up some college co-eds who are on Spring Break. As you can imagine they end up in Boons Creek at a Hotel where drinking partying and sexual frustrations are taken care of. Then the madness starts.
I don’t really want to say to much more. This book has a lot of twists and turns that I would rather not spoil for you and let you uncover the secret of Boons Creek on your own. B. Alex Thompson did a great job of getting me involved and curious of what will happen next. He has a knack for great story telling. In my opinion this needs to hit an executive’s desk in Hollywood and made into a nice little indie horror flick. Kevin Richardson and Russell Vincent Yu did a good job of bringing that sadistic look to the faces of the creeps in this book. Overall this book is a fun read and will make you think twice once again about driving through a little town in the middle of nowhere.
*Review by Chris Pirri
Written by: Paul Tobin
Art by: Benjamin Dewey
Meet Allison, memoir writer and blogger of a website called Allison Breaking. She’s an American journalist flown to London to write a memoir for a rich client who is paying her three times the normal rate. With her over protective and paranoid best friend, Reggie, this graphic novel gets odd, and quick. Allison finally meets her client and begins to take down notes from the stories the client; a wealthy owner of a several worldly important businesses. The stories she begins to write down, range from several time periods, all important chapters in history. Mr. Burma, her client, tells Allison of how he always wanted to take over the world and nearly did on many occasions, such as; creating a pantheon for the ancient Egyptians, taking part in political conferences within the White House and even helping Napoleon take on the world. Did I mention Mr. Burma, aspiring world conqueror, is a cat…who talks?
This comic was very entertaining and smart. Each of the previous 8 lives Burma lived, he was involved in world changing events. The comic spends pages going through historical events, placing a cat at each event, and explaining how it wasn’t these important PEOPLE who were changing the world, but Burma, the cat. Eventually his quest for conquest was foiled during each extraordinary life, as he explains his frustration “I’ve always wanted to take over the world. And he forever acted like he already had”.
The stories unfold, as Allison and Reggie begin to see, and actually say out loud, that Burma is a “Bad Kitty”, and that he isn’t done trying to take over the world. He has finally realized his mortality on his final life, out of 9 of course. Through various investments and corporations, Burma has dipped his paws into the vital needs of humanity, and though he lacks opposable thumbs, his thugs, spies and minions do not (though some are also cats lacking this ability too).
As you read about long past events, and some fictitious stories the cat claims are true, the panels are filtered through an array of monotone colors that really fit the eras (muddy green wars, warm yellow Egyptian times, red/brown Napoleonic wars, and so on). The overall artwork of the comic is also very fitting. From just how characters and background characters are drawn, you get a very good sense of their personality and motives, even if they have less than a line in the entire six chapters of the graphic novel.
The artist also took very good care of the various cats (Burma assumed different cat types to fit the needs and times) and their mannerisms to show how a cat, without many facial expressions, was feeling. The end of the story can be seen coming as you and Allison begin to notice odd events occurring, that cannot be coincidences anymore. As you, the reader, and Allison the main character realize the outcome, you are both left with one option, and you want to know how it ends. The best quote from Burma’s soon to be memoir, which sums up this novel, “Most cats have no more aspirations than a windowsill and a dish full of food. I, of course, wanted more”
*Review by Cory Anderson