Tag Archives: Superheroes

Friday Reviews: Shoot First, Ask Questions Later Edition

Every Friday I review two books, usually comic books from NetGalley. This week as I am trying not to be distracted by the various noises made by my dog’s stomach, we’ve got a sheriff moving to a new town trying to escape her past, and an aging hero trying to recapture it.

Copperhead Volume 1: A New Sheriff in Town

Writer – Jay Faerber, Artist – Scott Godlewski

DIG054473_2Clara Bronson is tough to get along with. She has fought hard to become who she is while balancing being a single mother and a sheriff. But her uncompromising attitude has often run her afoul of her superiors, and now she needs to make a fresh start on the backwater planet of Copperhead. There she must deal with a deputy who resents her taking his job, and her race taking their planet. There’s corrupt tycoons, relics and wounds of a not long finished war, and a massacre on her first day.

This is more of a western view of a justice than a police procedural. While there is ostensibly a murder and an investigation, the case is solved not with evidence, but with grilling the right people and holding them in jail till they tell the truth. Bronson has some clear racial biases against the “arties” artificial humans created to fight the war against the indigenous lifeforms of Copperhead. Even when one saves her son, she is suspicious of their motives since they were created only to kill (think Blade Runner).

Her deputy “Boo” has a dry sense of humor, and even though he clearly resents Bronson’s presence is a consummate professional and warms to her pretty quickly. We get a glimpse of his war history during a scene where he is chasing down a subject (though the concluding action of that scene is a bit muddled). Everyone in this story has a past they are trying to run from in one way or another.

Faerber’s characters are interesting, but not particularly likable at first. I personally found the solution to the case a little unsatisfactory but it fit with the western motif of this ostensibly science fiction story. Given more time in this universe I think these could be people you could really care about. I love the design of the races and uniforms (complete with bullet holes from the previous occupant).

This one’s got style, and places to go with its character’s histories. Definitely worth the look.

(4 stars | A good beginning)

EGOs Volume 1: Quintessence

Writer – Stuart Moore, Artist – Gus Storms

DIG027506_1When an old enemy surfaces threatening the existence of inhabited worlds, an aging super-hero must bring together his old comrades and new recruits to stop it. To do so he may need to resort to methods he once fought to stop. Oh and he’s also a womanizing scoundrel with a marriage on the rocks with the daughter of a super-villain he once defeated. Think The Incredibles on a galactic scale with a far less stable marriage at the center.

This volume contains the opening three issue arc of EGO’s and a one-shot featuring some of the new team members, plus a prequel story told entirely in tweets.

Moore has a very imaginative sense with super powers, and is very good at revealing his twists a bit at a time. The big twist (involving the nature of our unreliable narrator) was a bit of a let down, but the revelations about the exact nature of the enemy, and who of the new recruits would actually be effective in combat (and where all these recruits came from in the first place) was really interesting.

Both of these comics are characterized by a rough edges sensibility, but Storms has a really good handle on how to portray the scale of certain conflicts. Moore’s work is a little tongue-in-cheek and a little unpolished, but definitely entertaining.

I also enjoyed the issue 0 story as it provided a decent amount of background to one of the initial characters. I haven’t seen too many examples of people using twitter as a successful story telling medium, but this one worked.

The production schedule for this seems to be slow, but we are finally getting an issue 5 and 6 so hopefully there will be more of this to enjoy in future.

(4 stars | Rough but entertaining)

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PS. I’ll be taking next week off, returning on Monday March 23rd. That week we’ll have more Trube on Tech, thoughts on writing and Chapter Six of The Sky Below. Stay tuned!

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Friday Reviews: Mega Girls and Mighty Monsters

Every Friday I’ll be reviewing two books (usually comic books from NetGalley). Today’s post is a bit of a change of pace as both of these books are actually collections of ongoing web-comics. We’ve got a girl who fights monsters, and one who lets them play with her cat.

Gronk Book 1

Writer and Artist  – Katie Cook

Ggronkronk follows the eponymous monster as she leaves the big woods in search of a life that doesn’t involve scaring people. Gronk has never fit in with the monster life, and is teased by the other monsters, so she sets out way from the deep dark woods. Soon she finds a young artist who quickly sees that Gronk is not a monster inside and gives her a home with her cat and 160 pound Newfie.

This is mostly a cute gag of the week comic with little narrative thread. It’s appropriate for all ages, with most of the humor deriving from Gronk discovering things about our world, and the particular nerd sensibilities of the artist. Another point of interest are the different shirts that Dale (the artist) is sporting in each comic, often with obscure code or nerd references.

The art is cute and simply colored. Most of these originally appeared in black and white on the site but have been colored for the book. This is a very quick read (I think I knocked most of it back waiting for pizza at Marcos), and at $9.99 60 pages feels a little thin. The site posts on an irregular schedule, and the books that have been printed so far contain about a year’s worth of comics which works out to about 50-60 each book.

That said there are probably a couple of these that you’d want to put up in your cube either for the humor or the extreme cuteness, and if you want to support the artist go ahead and pick up the book. For me this is probably another one of the ones I’ll infrequently check online.

(4 stars | Fun and cute but too short)

Strong Female Protagonist Book 1

Writer – Brennan Lee Mulligan, Artist – Molly Ostertag

strong_female_protagonist_cover_sm_lgStrong Female Protagonist follows the adventures of Allison Green (a.k.a. Mega Girl) as she tries to adjust to post super hero life by going to college and trying to find a way to save the world that doesn’t involve smashing giant robots. In this volume we flash back to the moment Allison decided to give up the mantle of Mega Girl and the impact that has had on herself, and her fellow biodynamics (the author’s term for those with super-powers).

This comic is a bit like Watchmen crossed with John Byrne’s Next Men with a little XKCD thrown in for flair plus a lot of heart. Each page features a wry comment or extra joke from the author (a la XKCD though a technique that’s popular elsewhere). In this world like Next Men, super powers are not always a gift. One villain has blades for hands that are actually cancerous lesions that are slowly killing him from the inside. Another hero, Feral, can heal from any injury, and because she wants to help others has chosen a life of extreme pain and limited mobility in order to give as much of herself as possible. Even Mega Girl who is basically invincible worries that her strength will cause undue harm to those around her.

But the best moments in this story are the simple interactions, whether it’s between Allison and her former nemesis Menace, or her family life, we spend less time fighting the typical super hero fights and more time getting to know these heroes and villains as people. Each chapter or issue of this volume reads like an individual comic book (though more of an annual length than a single issue), with some connective tissue. There are some plot threads introduced in the first chapter that feel a little forgotten by the last (which given the webcomics’ schedule would be about two years later), but the author may pick these up in future chapters.

Another of my favorite comics is MegaTokyo, which has a VERY irregular schedule but tries to do a similar thing in delivering pages of a book rather than just a gag of the week format. It’s a shame more web comics don’t follow this format, though it can be a little frustrating to follow from week to week. We’re about 88 pages into Issue 5 on the website (the book reviewed here contains 1-4), but that’s at a rate of two pages a week. Probably this is the kind of thing you’ll want to check in with once or twice a year and read the whole backlog (or buy the books).

This is one of the best comics I’ve read in a while and is playing on a whole bunch of levels. I even found myself with a bit of a tear in my eye by the last page of Issue 4. But I also found myself laughing like crazy as well (Check out this comic and maybe the one right before it, particularly if you’ve got humor sensibilities like my friend Brian). You owe it to yourself to at least give this one a look.

(5 stars | Highly Recommended)

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