*Please note that this article is an opinion-editorial.
Marvel’s new blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy, is absolutely the summer hit of 2014. If it seems as though I’m giving away too much praise too quickly, just hold on. I have a scathing, deprecating message for Marvel Studios later on, so for now, let me take a minute simply to congratulate them on what they’ve managed to get correct. Guardians succeeds exactly as it is supposed to. The action/comedy scored big marks in terms of being action packed, with likeable characters, a well-thought-out story, and comedic one-liners. A fantastic space epic, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Firefly, in which the characters don’t take themselves too seriously is a refreshing and much-needed breath of air after all of the ‘dark, noir’ comic movie adaptations we’ve seen in recent years. Now, I will grant you that the entirety of my knowledge when it comes to the Guardians comics is just Wikipedia articles and nerd-osmosis, but I still sensed that the writers stayed close to the source material, or at least as close as we nerd fans demand from our comic book movies. Indeed, the style - both visually and in terms of the writing - is so well done, I’ve almost forgotten why I’m upset with Marvel.
But, I haven’t.
The Rocketeer soars across the pages of IDW’s new serial, Hollywood Horror! Rodger Landridge brings Dave Stevens’ classic, adventure-seeking Los Angeles hero to life once more, with distinctive and quirky art by J. Bone.
Sfumato, the tale of a positively ancient vampire reexamining his (un)life, is a well written book, offering particularly excellent art critique and wonderful scenic description but little in the way of gripping, first-person narrative.
To be fair, I feel that I may be biased, simply in that I don’t know if there is a single vampire story left in the world which I would be interested in hearing; however, I still take particular issue with a certain particular in Sfumato. Kat Thomas’ "protagonist," Mr. Glass, is a lonely vampire art critic who has been alive for about ten centuries. He’s unsure how old he is and, indeed, who he used to be due to the way Thomas has reinvented the vampire mythos for her purposes. In all vampire media, it is interesting to see how the creator will balance legend with creative license, and I thought that it was balanced well here. Frankly, Mr. Glass’ ability to overcome several of these archetypes, his aversion to crosses and the sun for instance, are relatively fun to read and unique, which is refreshing. Mr. Glass is highly condescending, which initially proves amusing, but his arrogant nature and lofty opinion of himself wanes as he waffles in ambiguity, and makes amusingly simplistic decisions.
I can never tell if it’s a good thing or a bad thing if a comic is so engaging that I’m furious when it’s over. Did the author do such a good job of creating narrative magic that I’m desperate for more, or did he entice me with just enough that I crave some promised resolution? Smoke and Mirrors in its trade form gives a first-time reader an insatiable appetite for plot as it sucks you into a world driven by magic instead of science. I can’t imagine how I would have felt reading this month to month, but I can tell you the trade is well . . . magical.
Classic Golden Age Comic ghost stories at their best, Haunted Horrors is a beautiful collection of some wonderful, ghoulish tales hearkening back to the fifties! These wonderful stories have me recalling my old Tales of the Crypt books, radio mysteries like The House on Cyprus Hill, and the black and white VHS tapes you only pull out before Halloween. I love classics like this, and the chance to be able to read them now without having to sort through boxes and boxes of tattered floppies is great.
Epic Kill reads like the script of next summer’s action-packed blockbuster. It throws out action quickly and unapologetically from the get go, and don’t expect it to stop. In almost any other setting than the sort of hack-and-slash action thriller Epic Kill aims to be, the initial plot reading would come across as cliché. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been introduced to an amnestic protagonist, only to have their past slowly revealed to me (and to them) in flashbacks, and it’s done well, we’ve seen it all before. Additionally, the Japanese ninja/assassin/femme fatale idea is also old hat, so what I tried to glean was the ever elusive, “Why do I care about this one?”
“The multiverse (or meta-universe) is the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes (including the historical universe we consistently experience) that together comprise everything that exists and can exist: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them. The term was coined in 1895 by the American philosopher and psychologist William James. The various universes within the multiverse are sometimes called parallel universes.”
-Wikipedia definition of “multiverse.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse
If you don’t grasp the above definition, Joe Keatinge’s graphic novel, Hell Yeah, is going to be a miss for you. The compilation Volume #1 is out, and if you’re up to it, be prepared to be taken on a journey.
The most important thing to remember when beginning to read Rebel Blood is that it is unequivocally not a zombie story. You might flip through the book, seeing Riley Rossmo’s art, and be put off, believing this to simply be zombies in the woods. But, if you did that, you’d be wrong, and you would miss out on one of the better horror novels out right now.
I must say it is to the benefit of my own ego when comics are set in cities that I’ve lived in. Perhaps that is why I gravitated toward Marvel instead of DC Comics; as a former New Yorker, I identified with the heroes and the unlucky citizens, so the discovery of Near Death’s Los Angeles setting made me enormously happy.
The new publication of Image’s 2005 horror miniseries, The Milkman Murders, is now available in a hardcover edition. Inside, read Joe Casey’s disturbing depiction of modern suburban life, which Steve Parkhouse expertly brings to life with his art. This horror comic is not for everyone, but for any horror comic fan, it is a must have.