Unexpected Heroes

It can be a little tricky to find a theme for these NetGalley comic book review posts, but the four titles I’m talking about today all have very different sorts of heroes, from wooden boys, to demon hybrids, to a homeless guy. And the President.

Glory – The Complete Saga by Joe Keatinge

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The character of Glory has been around since the early 90s, with treatments by such comic’s luminaries as Alan Moore. She’s kind of a Wonder Woman, meets Thor, meets demon kind of super heroine. The original series ran 22 regular issues with a couple of specials and an Issue #0 by Moore.

The new Image series collected here is issues 23-34 and is intended as an extension of the original series but with significant retooling. For starters the character of Glory has been beefed up and scarred, in contrast to her 90s vivacious appearance.

Old Glory

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New Glory

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Glory has gone into hiding after fleeing to Earth, acting as a super-heroine for a while, then getting hurt and putting all of that aside. She’s found by Riley, a young girl who’s grown up on stories of Glory and finally goes around the world looking for her. She’s drawn up into Glory’s cause, protecting Earth from Demon’s and helping Glory to deal with her past (including a parents who are members of the opposing sides of a war and view Glory as a symbol of piece between them). Along the way there are furry funny sidekicks, an honest to God laser cat, and a badass younger sister.

This story ends better than it began but the first few issues are almost painful. The dialog is predictable and the worst comic book cliche, particularly Glory’s reaction to her mother’s apparent death at the hands of her father. The comic is also pretty violent in spots, with jaws being punched off, and Glory’s arm being torn to pieces at one point.

What redeems the book is Riley, who has the gift of seeing potential futures and sees the dangerous path Glory is on and what will happen if she fails to stop her. The humor picks up with a furry monster companion who collects old cameras and loves a good sandwich press. And yes, the laser cats. The ending is actually kind of sweet and ties the series up nicely, the quality of the book steadily improves as you go along (if you can survive those first few chapters). I could’ve done with a little less naked, brawny, scarred Glory, but that’s me. (3 out of 5)

Letter 44 Vol. 1: Escape Velocity by Charles Soule

letter-44-coverPart political thriller and sci-fi drama, Letter 44 kicks off quickly with its alternate present and never lets go. Stephen Blades enters the oval office shortly after being inaugurated 44th President of the United States to find a letter from his predecessor. Aliens are real and are building something just outside the asteroid belt. The Iraq war was a front for money to be shunted to alternative weapon research, and the construction of a spaceship carrying a crew of nine astronauts on a one way trip to find out what the aliens are doing.

The book splits its action between the first hundred days of President Blades term as he deals with meddling cabinet members, attacks on his chief of staff, and the subtle influence of 43 (not W if you’re wondering but close enough).

The crew meanwhile is dealing with a ship that needs constant maintenance, the loss of one crew member before they even reach their target, the unknown threat of whatever thing the aliens are building out there, and a commander who’s pregnant and doesn’t know which of her crew is the father.

Soule’s writing is taught and the artwork superb. I particularly love the characterizations of each of the crew and the scientists on the ground. A little gratuitous with the sex in space, but what ya gonna do? And the humor keeps everything well-balanced. This one is firing on all cylinders.

I devoured this one and can’t wait for more. I think it is already being developed into a TV series for SyFy and it would be a good fit. Kinda The West Wing meets Alien. (5 out of 5)

Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer by Dusty Higgins

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Full disclosure here, this sounded way too weird not to at least give it a look. I am decidedly not a fan of things like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, or Jack the Giant Slayer but I like to keep an open mind about NetGalley stuff, and I’m glad I did.

So… vampires killed Pinocchio’s father Geppetto (after all of Pinocchio’s adventures from the Italian version if the story, don’t think Disney) and now his son is out to kill the vampires who took his life. With stakes made from his nose. Which grows when he tells a lie. Hilarity ensues.

This book succeeds where others like it might have failed by being both faithful to its original subject manner, and humorous in its application of the story, particularly in the lies Pinocchio must tell to make his nose grow. He’ll say something badass like “I’m going to kill you all.” His nose grows. “Well, maybe not, but I might at least wound some of you.” Etc.

The black and white artwork is charming and looked great on my Kindle. I like have comics to read on my eReader device (like manga) as the eInk is easier on the eyes than an LCD. This is actually a pretty long epic tale (and the NetGalley version only has about the first half of it) so I can’t wait to get the rest. (5 out of 5)

The Maxx: Maxximized Vol. 1 by Sam Kieth

The Maxx MaxximizedAnother Image Comics classic, this time reprinted by IDW. The Maxx is a superhero who lives in a cardboard box, wears a big garish purple costume with some mean looking teeth, and long yellow claws.

This first volume introduces us to The Maxx as well as his social worker Julie and his enemies Mr. Gone and the toothy black creatures known as the Isz. The Maxx combats these foes not only in the real world of New York city but in the fantasy but potentially real world of “The Outback” where The Maxx is a jungle protector, and Julie is his queen.

While this is another comic subject to exaggerations of the male and female form, it makes up for it with a truly unique hero, and foes to match. Exactly how much of this is mental delusion, or reality is unclear. And it’s kind of sweet the way Julie cares for the big guy, even when he thinks he’s taking care of her. The series ran only about 35 issues or so, so another manageable story to get yourself into. (4 out of 5)

What have you been reading lately?

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