Tag Archives: Net Galley

Friday Reviews: Out of body experiences

Every Friday I’ll be reviewing two books (usually comic books but occasionally something else). Today we’ll be looking at a woman thrust back into a life she thought she left behind, and a girl who’s left behind life.

Shutter Vol. 1: Wanderlost

Writer – Joe Keatinge, Artist – Leila del Duca

DIG031596_1Kate Kristopher is the last in a long family line of explorers, or so she thought. Ten years ago she watched her father die in front of her, and ever since she’s given up the adventuresome life. But on her birthday as she is visiting her father’s grave she’s attacked by ghosts with swords and a top-hat wearing pudgy robot. And that’s before three tiny mice try to put her in a crystal while a gang of lions fights to get her for themselves.

If you haven’t caught on yet, this is a bit of a fantastical world, and the storyline is much more about spectacle than necessarily moving the plot forward. del Duca’s art is amazing and will get you to stop and stare at many panels. There’s a good deal of humor both in the dialogue and in the imaginative creatures (particularly the assassin Richard Scarry sequence).

This book moves at a frantic pace, and while we do get some back story of their adventures together, there’s a lot more we’re left wanting to know about Kate and her father. We’re given some pretty shocking news in Issue 6 which seems to contradict information we just received in Issue 5, making it a little hard to figure out whether we’re supposed to believe Kate’s father is alive or dead. But Kate spends most of this book dodging explosions and gunfire to the point that when we get to the last third of the book which starts to have some explanation, we’re in need of the break.

It’s a little tough to figure out exactly how much of your big mystery you should give away in the first volume (or six months in comic book time), but I definitely want to know more, particularly about Kate’s extended family whom she only just discovered existed. I’m left at the end of this book not really knowing where Keatinge intends to lead us, but interested in coming along for the ride.

(4 stars | I want to see where this is going)

Mind the Gap Vol. 1: Intimate Strangers

Writer – Jim McCann, Artists – Adrian Alphona and Rodin Esquejo

AUG120486_1Elle Peterssen is young, rich and doesn’t remember who she is or how she came to be floating outside of her body. She’s not sure who to trust of her friends among the living or the comatose. The mostly dead are able to commune with each other in a world known as “The Garden”, though there’s a lot of question as to whether any of this is real or a figment of Elle’s comatose brain.

The art is sharp and realistic, comparable to titles like Revival and Morning Glories (for which Alphona does the covers). Elle has some ability to shape her reality, though most of the changes she causes are subconscious and not deliberate acts of will. The sequence where she remembers her attack as a series of wolves in hoodies attacking her as Little Red Riding Hood is a good example of this fantasy, not as wild as Shutter, but still capable of whimsy.

Why Elle and others are attacked and the exact nature of this Garden are still be revealed. Elle quickly learns that she has the ability to jump into the bodies of the about to expire, where she can gain a couple of minutes of movement and communication before passing back into the space between life and death. In this way she attempts to investigate her own attack and the forces that might be behind it including possibly her family and friends. A concerned doctor and her wife a cop also are drawn into the case and the suspicious behavior of the other doctors and Peterssen’s vitals.

Elle’s investigation of her own murder are comparable to sequences that Sally (a ghost) goes through in Being Human, and it does seem that Elle is developing comparable powers. Whether any of what she’s learned will be retrained when or if she goes back to her body is yet to be seen.

Sadly, this title seems to be on hiatus or at least on a very irregular schedule (only up to issue 17) so the full mystery may not be revealed, but the shocking reveal at the end of this volume is enough to get me to at least pick up issue 7.

(4 stars | Hope we get a complete story)

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Tales to Suffice

One of the perks of being a member of NetGalley is being able to read tomorrow’s books today. But admittedly I’ve been kind of a bum and I don’t always get around to reviewing the titles until long after they come out. Luckily, NetGalley has a pretty wide array of comics and graphic novels available and I tend to actually get time to read those before the deadline. So here today are three new books that have either just come out or will be coming out in the very new future. Hopefully there’s a little something for everyone (and I can alleviate some of my guilt over free ARCs 🙂 )

Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick

prettydeadly-01There’s been a trend in comics lately for end of the world apocalyptic tales with western trappings and well … Pretty Deadly is another of those. If you like Image’s East of West this might be for you, but it honestly wasn’t really my cup of tea. Action scenes, particularly those involving hand to hand combat, come across as blurry and confused. There’s some interesting imagery, including an opponent who dissolves into thousands of butterflies upon being defeated (and if you liked that you’ll get to see that same person killed twice this way). One character in particular, a young girl who wears a vulture on her head, is drawn very inconsistently, and I was finding it hard to pinpoint her exact age.

The story itself seems drag in some places, and move too fast in others. We spend a lot of time with a man in a whorehouse and only a few pages explaining the actual goal and objectives of all players involved (one of whom is Death). There are a few twists and turns that may interest readers who are more invested in this genre, but for me it seemed like a lot of blood and running around for a being just trying to put off the natural cycle of succession (or somehow eliminate Death entirely which is a bad thing…?)

Maybe this title will evolve with more issues, but it’s debut arc (issues #1-5) didn’t work for me. (2 out of 5)

I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin

cover47201-mediumAs a cat owner it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Burma, the talking cat protagonist/antagonist of this graphic novel, has spent his nine lives trying to take over the world. Allison Breaking, a blogger and journalist, is recruited by Burma (who absolutely swears he’s done with the whole taking over the world thing) to write his memoirs, as a way of introducing the talking cat to the world, and revealing his influence over key figures throughout history. Basically each of his tales are a power behind the throne story for some of the world’s greatest (and infamous) leaders, from Good Queen Bess, to Napoleon to Blofeld? (James Bond).

After a while I found this narrative style repetitive, only serving as way to increase the unease of Breaking and her friend with whom she’s staying. Burma’s real plans don’t really kick up until the back half of the book, though I must admit some of his plans for world conquest are innovative. The artwork is excellent and gives a good differentiation between the historical periods being discussed and modern day London. And some of the talking cat moments are funny, particularly when someone pulls his whiskers.

Overall there are a few points of interest but it could have used to lose about 40 pages of filler. An enjoyable enough read, but not one you’ll probably return to again and again. (3 out of 5)

Super Ego by Caio Oliveira

cover47106-mediumThis was definitely my favorite of the bunch. A psychiatrist takes on the job of trying to help super heroes work out their problems, from drinking to survivor’s guilt, to just figuring out how to talk to a girl. We’ve got stand ins for just about every super hero trope, from the Power Rangers to Iron Man (who in this iteration is a man who pilots a giant Mexican wrestler robot complete with mask, El Lucahdor De Fierro)  to even Hawkeye.

But the toughest of Dr. Ego’s patients is Lester, a young kid born of a brief liaison between the Wonder Woman and Superman equivalents. Accepted in neither world, Lester has the power to juggle planets, but he just wants to be able to go on a date with a girl. He’s thin and lanky because he’s never able to exert himself enough to build up muscle mass.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when he has to fend off an alien invasion and instead of just attacking sends them a resume of his previous battles, complete with quotes from other races saying that Earth just isn’t worth it. “Why doesn’t anybody ever read the resume?” he thinks as the aliens inevitably attack and are defeated.

Dr. Ego’s own motives and back story become relevant toward the back part of the book and may make you question whether he’s a force for good or evil. But either way, he’s the only one the suits can talk to. The artwork is imaginative and colorful, and the different superheroes are both recognizable and engaging. I found myself tearing through this one, and wishing there was more (sequel maybe?) (4 out of 5)

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PS. The title for this post is drawn from another series of comics I picked up from StoryBundle. Mostly not very good, but they did have one gag I liked, which was a poster for a new movie entitled “Oh S&*t, Bees!” though they may have cribbed the idea from “Oh F%!k, Zombies!”

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