Erica McCrystal, Fanbase Press Contributor

Erica McCrystal, Fanbase Press Contributor

In Ten Dead Comedians, Fred Van Lente puts a twenty-first century comedic spin on Agatha Christie’s classic mystery, And Then There Were None. Van Lente’s plot and language are clever and witty throughout the pages, as the comedians get killed off one by one on a deserted island. The characters are brilliantly developed throughout each chapter. They include a variety of different types of comedians—from a podcaster to a late night host. Van Lente does a great job highlighting and maintaining each character’s original style. There are really reminiscent of current, real-life comedians (though I don’t know about Oliver Rees…). The characters aren’t particularly fond of one another, which brings about frequent comedic banter. And they each have their own individual vices, making their deaths perhaps less tragic.

The latest installment of Kim Newman and Paul McCaffrey’s Anno Dracula 1895: Seven Days in Mayhem brings a lot of action and excitement to the Tower of London. McCaffrey’s cover is a stunning juxtaposition of refined beauty and a creepy x-ray—which is very fitting for the atmosphere of this series. The variant covers are great, too. Martin Stiff’s is simple but eerie, as a skull appears to emerge out of the Tower. Tom Mandrake’s cover nicely captures the action of this issue and creates a heroic scene with the heroines ready to battle a horde of crazed vampires.

Each issue of the American Gods: Shadows series so far has provided absolutely brilliant covers. I greatly look forward to the artistic interpretation that jumps out and begs readers to jump in. For issue #4, both covers are stellar. Glenn Fabry and Adam Brown’s cover is filled with mystical excitement. There is so much to look at—from the silly face on the moon to the gritty teeth on the car’s bumper. It feels like the characters are heading on an amusement park ride but into someplace dark and gothic and intense. David Mack also continues to impress with his cover. I can imagine a whole wall of framed Mack American Gods covers. They are exquisite works of art. This one looks like decoupage meets pastels to create a perfectly beautiful silhouette. It is stunning.

In the third installment of Anno Dracula, time is pressing forward and loyalties are questioned as Dracula’s tin jubilee nears.  The rebels move forward with their plans, and Croft’s crew remains on their hunt. There’s also the Chinese faction that has emerged as a mysterious third party with a plan of its own slowly unfolding.

The action in this issue moves across various settings as Shadow and Wednesday continue their journey. With their adventures so far, this tale is playing out to be a perfectly dark mythological epic set in modern-day America. Shadow’s dream sequence adds to that feel, as the statues resemble mythological beasts. They are drawn to perfection to catapult us into a strange world that keeps intruding on the real world. Despite his name, Shadow is the light of these dark dreams. He is the heroic figure wrapped up in a complicated mess. Has he embarked on a hero’s journey? It is hard to tell without yet knowing what his quest is for. The mysterious purpose of his travels creates Gothic uncertainty and apprehension that is utterly engaging.

Dark and domineering, Darth Vader is one of the most iconic villains of all time. He commands the screen—whether by just a glimpse of his helmet, a brief breath of air, or the glow of a red lightsaber. Below are 10 reasons why Vader was, is, and always will be a perfect villain.

In issue #2 of Orphan Black: Deviations, tensions rise to extreme levels. No one knows who to trust or where answers may lie. As the Clone Club is busy trying to put the pieces of their complicated lives together, Heli Kennedy’s brilliant script conveys the idiosyncrasies of each character. Alison’s quips provide humorous moments amid intense interrogation of Sarah. And Beth is starting to develop more, as we see how she fits into the group. Since we don’t get to see these interactions in the show, it is refreshing to have her character so active and involved—even if she is just really angry and tense so far. We also witness her coping mechanism, which shows how much her character is struggling on the inside. Hopefully, once Sarah is welcomed into the group, Beth will be able to release some of her pain.

This series creatively meshes a variety of pre-existing characters in a freshly re-imagined Victorian London universe. Kim Newman’s brilliant script is a true tribute to literature and an artistic creation beyond Bram Stoker’s classic novel. She uses anarchists, criminals, and artists from novels, short stories, films, and even operas as characters coexisting in her version of Victorian London. As I read, I found myself searching the characters’ names and reading up on their original roles in other works. The interactions between these characters make the tale unique and creative. I appreciate that the characters are not popular, because it allowed me to enjoy learning about lesser-known figures and their stories. (I may need to go and read The Princess Casamassima after reading this series!) When a work can inspire and encourage a reader to research and explore other works, I find that to be impressive.

In this issue, Rani and her team muster up their resources to prepare for the imminent war with the fae. Their initial fight is playfully violent, with spaceman Merlin’s magical help and an amusing use of weaponry after Rani cuts off a faerie’s arm. Rani is a strong, aggressive fighter. Adam P. Knave and D.J. Kirkbride have created a fearless woman who learns how to tap into her inner magical ruler abilities amid a faerie attack brought forth from another realm.

What do you do when a god asks you to be his personal assistant? Shadow Moon does not quite jump at this opportunity in the second issue of American Gods: Shadows, but when left with no better options, he finds himself accepting the offer. Shadow seems to be looking for something to do with his life, especially now that his wife is dead. He’s a little lost in the world, which Mr. Wednesday notices and takes advantage of.

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