Written by: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by: Gabo
Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo have a possible gem on their hands if The Life After #1 is any indication. The tale of a guy bored with the monotony of daily life takes a chance for once and finds himself caught between Heaven and Hell with some interesting characters. Fialkov and Gabo have set the table for some fun and surprising stories that could go just about anywhere.
At first we meet the hapless worker drone just going about his daily routine day in and day out. He’s afraid to change the order of things, take any risks and just sticks to his television viewing schedule. Until one day he finally gathers the courage to approach the woman on the bus he’s seen every day. That’s when things get weird and continue to get weirder. This is where the story gathers steam and becomes a visceral experience where not only is the main character confused and set into a whirlwind but so is the reader.
It becomes a disorientating ordeal, but in a good way, that possibly explains where this guy belongs and it isn’t in the living world. Gabo has a clean distinct style that serves the story very well placing you in different time periods with a great vision for camera work, staging each panel from clever angles and use of color is subtle but effective. Fialkov introduces some surprising characters at the end that should make this series a fun adventure and a book to add to your pull list.
*Review by Enrique Rea
Letter 44 vol 1 (Oni Press)
Written by: Charles Soule
Art by: Alberto J. Albuquerque
Executive Colorist: Dan Jackson & Guy Major
What if there is such a deep dark secret that when someone tells you (via letter), you wouldn’t dare believe them? To add the credibility of this information, an entire nation thought this letter writer was a moron? The situation becomes elevated to a whole new level when you are the 44th President of the United States, and the leaving President (through tradition) leaves you a letter explaining there are known Extra Terrestrials some ways away from Earth, and only a select few know about it. The suspense of Letter 44 is driven by two tangent story lines; one being the new President and his coming to terms and his efforts to clean up after the last administration and the alien threat, and the second being the astronauts who are on their way to make first contact.
This collection is full of gripping suspense and drama. There is a lot of story and detail that is thrown at you constantly, but the Soule’s writing (as much as there is) builds up such suspense that you are always anxious to turn the next page. The illustrations are very dramatized to show the emotions that the characters are experiencing. When the book takes a break from storytelling and dialogue, the art holds up on its own. The characters are each drawn in a way to make their personalities memorable (the willful president, the conniving statesman, the dutiful military man).
The amount of story they tell over the course of the volume is novel worthy, but all the while they keep your interest by withholding the direct alien contact and adding some behind the scenes political backstabbing. The theme of the book was the most intriguing to me, because we all want to know what one president says to another. What was even more entertaining about this read was watching events that have been set in motion eight years before the current situation, and what happens when a change in command occurs during said event. Especially when everyone in the world is effected. So what does happen? Well, the answer is a little love, some betrayal and a lot of discovery.
*editors note this complete volume release on 7/30/2014
Avatar The Last Airbender: The Rift Part 2 (Dark Horse Comics)
created by: Bryan Konietzko & Michael Dante Dimartino
Written by: Gene Luen Yan
Art by: Gurihiru
A replica of the many storylines from the cartoon series, this volume of The Last Airbender tells of how Aang the Avatar (embodiment of the spirit and human world and capable of bending all four elements) and his friends continue their investigation of an ore refinery that may be the source of many mysteries in the region. The characters all keep their personalities from the cartoon (strong headed Toph, goofy Sokka and so on), which keeps the comic from being stale. Each member of the group splits off and investigates a different mystery concerning this refinery.
The art of the book keeps pace with the cartoon, showing the soft colors and edges for good characters, sharp and darker colors for the villains. When the story breaks for flashbacks to an Avatar of the past, while the coinciding story continues around it, it is easy to tell as they put a gray tone over the past, aging the story. As we get even deeper into the flashback, there is a story told through beautiful art that shows the original cartoon’s Asian influence.
What is great about this Avatar collection, and corresponding comic books, is that the characters and dialogue are geared towards kids, while there is a deeper level of story and themes that adults can still get something out of it. While the main story is unique to the Avatar world, the background stories that involve each character really define their personalities. This second chapter to the Rift story line brings to light many new challenges and emotions for Aang and the bunch. While the end of this volume doesn’t solve the overarching regional issues, but instead leaves the reader with enticing cliffhanger.
Created & written by: Mike Mignola and Scott Allie
the Shape Of Things to Come Art by: Sebastian Fiumara with Max Fiumara
To the Last Man Art by: Max Fiumara
Colors: Dave Stewart
Heading into a story by Mike Mignola about a B.P.R.D. agent (Abe Sapien) you know there will be strange and stranger events occurring. The Bureau deals primarily with the supernatural oddities, while employing supernatural creatures of their own, doesn’t stray far from their typical story line here. Having a career of fighting these strange anomalies can be taxing on the soul, and that is where this volume picks up. Abe has gone to the desert (odd for a creature of his physical being) to find answers for the many questions he has. This is a deep philosophical book to begin, but doesn’t shy from the paranormal defense.
The art works of the first half of the book is great and invokes the Mayan culture and the legendary monsters its displaying. As put by one of the supporting characters “We’re Mayan blood, our ancestors were wizards fighting monsters” which isn’t different from story that unfolds as we see strange monsters and Mayan legends come to life. The coloring of both story lines collected in this volume, are defined by the tone of the scene, each color set sets the mood and ambiance perfectly. In addition to this attentive coloring, the stories contain great characters and monsters both visually and emotionally.
The great thing about this Dark Horse trade is the extra pages with sketch work and plot development that is included in the last dozen pages. There are great scenes throughout that are note worthy in each issue making up this volume, but only one of them had me wishing for the classic Blazing Saddles scene sitting around a campfire, sharing beans and laughs. Other than the great Mayan and demon source material, the mindset of Abe is fragile as he replies to questions “Not looking for the truth about all this just so I can strap on armor and an assault rifle again”. Overall, this collection was a great addition to the B.P.R.D. story and it’s amazing character development.