A Steampunk fantasy from Harper Voyager, The Clockwork Dagger is Beth Cato’s first novel in what will be a series in this universe. I was a little wary when I noticed that it was not only Ms. Cato’s first novel, but was 354 pages long. (Sorry, but all sorts of red flags go up in my head when I see long page counts on first books.) Fortunately, Ms. Cato knows what she’s doing, as I quickly got caught up in the very rich and descriptive world she has created.
1968 was a great year for zombies, as zombie fanatics have learned with every series installment in Image Comics’ run of ’68 comics. ’68: Homefront #1 is no exception and only continues to raise the bar on great zombie fare.
I began my review of Terms of Enlistment, the first installment in the Frontlines series by Marko Kloos, by stating it took me a little while to get hooked into the story. The sequel, Lines of Departure, suffers from no such acceleration delay. We jump immediately ahead five years into Andrew Grayson’s military career, and then we are [literally] shot into almost incessant action for the remainder of the story.
Cosmic VII and the Chronicles of Opus is a mixed bag. On the one hand, there are some truly interesting choices in the panel work. On the other hand, the book is far too long, with a number of redundant images, which are often cluttered with needless dialogue. The imbalance is curious because the style is minimalist throughout (e.g., fluid outlines covered in flowing garments set against empty backgrounds). The effect is startling, but only for short stretches. From time to time, the artwork undergoes a significant flourish. Real images are substituted for sketches, color scheme inversions come and go, and well-executed action sequences take the reader’s mind off the looming void behind each and every face. These moments are arresting and compel interest in the book; however, they also function as something of an oasis by contrast, usually one that is set in the middle of a long, chatty spell of inactive characters. The book tries to drive interest in such static moments with multi-perspective shots of what are essentially immobile people.
River Comics’ Ash Man tells the story of Devon Ashford, a wealthy industrialist who falls victim to the rage of a jealous business partner. Murdered, cremated, then scattered to the winds, Devon becomes reconstituted in deepest space — for mysterious reasons. The strongest aspect of this book is the artwork, which is beautiful; large pastel venues blend together in what becomes a vertical narrative, dropping the reader lower and lower, as he or she moves toward the moment of Devon’s betrayal. The artwork alone is worth the price of admission, which is good because the story is another matter.
This read was a blast from the past! For all of you true Turtle fans, this comic book is a must read! We all remember the original TMNT movie from 1990, right? Well, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Original 1990 Motion Picture Special Edition is the perfect companion to our favorite '90s movie.
Silent Hill: Downpour - Anne’s Story is not something I expected to like. Spin-off comics have trouble keeping up with the thing they are spinning off, and most of the time they end up as advertising that you pay for. That being said, I really dig this spin off.
David Hitchcock’s Springheeled Jack is worthy of your immediate consideration. Imaginative and enthralling, this playful consideration of a real terror from nineteenth-century England is entertaining from beginning to end. In his introduction, Hitchcock explains the historical context for this book. Beginning in the late 1830s, there were reports in London of a mysterious individual who would terrorize women before leaping away and vanishing into the night, only to be spotted later on rooftops and other high points in the city, such as the Tower of London. Beginning with one breathless, pearl-clutching report from the period that claimed this acrobatic tormentor was “most assuredly not of this earth,” Hitchcock reimagines the story of Springheeled Jack as a gothic alien invasion drama, loaded down with literary and historical references that comic book readers are sure to enjoy. For example, the hero of this tale has a bat suit and a fastidious butler named Alfred. His best friend is Dr. Jekyll. (Yes, that Dr. Jekyll.) And, his flying gadgets are crafted by “Orville and Wilbur.” Prince Albert and Queen Victoria also show up, and there are veiled references to Jack the Ripper. And, did I mention the alien invasion?
The past collides with the future in the ninth issue of Dark Horse’s Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle. Written by Joe Stracynski, this issue dives in with no preamble as John Connor carries the fate of the world on his shoulders. But, can he handle it?
It took a little while to get hooked into this story. Terms of Enlistment promises to be an action-packed thriller but starts off more like a military memoir. Sure, that assumes a fair amount of exciting stuff can happen, but I was beginning to despair that it would all be portrayed from a safe distance, instead of sticking me right into the thick of things.
I needn’t have worried.