Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Alien, Aliens, Chris Roberson, Dark Horse, Dave Stewart, David Palumbo, Fire and Stone, Nate Piekos, Patric Reynolds, Predator, Prometheus
Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Patric Reynolds
Colours by Dave Stewart
Letters by Nate Piekos
Cover by David Palumbo
Published by Dark Horse
If, by some chance, you’ve never seen Aliens, run, do not walk, RUN to your nearest Netflix/DVD store/relative who owns it and correct that. NOW. It’s worth it.
SEE?! WASN’T THAT BRILLIANT?! I LOVE that movie!
And this is a hell of a follow up to it. Dark Horse’s Aliens and Predator comics got me into the field in the first place and it’s both immense fun, and a huge relief, to see these new takes working so well. It’s also nice to see them plotted so audaciously. We got the Prometheus book last week (Liked the movie? You’ll like the book. Hated the movie? You’ll like the book, trust me.) and now we get the Aliens side of things as well as some interesting clues as to what’s going on.
Roberson’s script follows a group of colonists who, through a combination of luck, bravery and ingenuity escape the LV426 infestation. They leave a few months before Ripley arrives, in a mineral hauler never attended to do anything but shuttle up and down from orbit. They crash on one of LV426’s sister moons and make two discoveries; the planet is far more inhabitable than they were told and the aliens have followed them…
Roberson sprints through the script but never short changes you. Russell and Nolan, the engineer and wildcat prospector who end up as leaders of the group, are both especially well defined. The conflict between them is classic action movie stuff; one’s a thinker, one’s a doer but it’s neatly complicated by guilt, necessity and the questions about their new home. Neither’s right, but neither’s quite wrong and the conflict between them looks set to be complex, morally ambiguous stuff. He’s just as good on action too, and the second attack in particular is beautifully staged. These people aren’t soldiers and have absolutely no weapons. They have one chance and it’s a tiny one; run, hide. This is horror as mammalian instinct and Roberson, along with Reynold’s exemplary character and location work, makes you feel every second of it.
Stewart’s colours are naturalistic and extraordinarily good, arguably tying the entire book together. The outdoor locations especially are perfect and the entire book is thick with atmosphere and dread. Likewise Piekos’ letters shift between alien cries, internal monologues and dialogue effortlessly, giving you a complete view of the characters and the plight they find themselves in. Together they create a book that connects to the Prometheus series with subtlety and intelligence but stands equally well on its own. High quality, high intelligence science fiction and horror.
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: black mask, Doug Garbark, Jeanette, Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, Liberator, Matt Miner, Sarah
Critical Hit Issue 1
Written by Matt Miner
Art by Jonathan Brandon Sawyer
Colours by Doug Garbark
Published by Black Mask
Jeanette and Sarah are animal rights activists who break the law for the greater good. Both of them are veterans but neither of them have ever targeted hunters before, instead focusing on animal labs and the corporate side of animal abuse. But when they sabotage a deer hunter’s camp they find themselves in unknown, and very dangerous, territory. Because these hunters don’t care what their prey is…
Matt Miner has been one the star of the Black Mask line for a while now, and his previous mini-series have explored the world of direct action directly but without ever preaching. Miner’s a passionate advocate for animal rights, and a dog rescuer himself, and his profound love for the cause shines through his characters. That alone would make the book interesting but, as I say, preachy.
Instead, Miner present an unflinching view of the extreme elements of direction action. Jeanette and Sarah’s colleagues are strong personalities who clash and bicker constantly, agendas and personal desires bouncing off each other in a way that’s as untidy as it is realistic. No plan, or principle, survives contact with the enemy and that’s certainly the case here.
Where the book absolutely shines though is in Jeanette, Sarah and the situation they find themselves in. The opening sequence sees the pair destroy an abandoned hunting compound with flamboyant precision. Everything goes according to plan, right up until when it doesn’t. The end result is a scene that starts nasty and ends flat out terrifying. The two leads are shown to be, if not naïve, then certainly unaware of the consequences of their actions. Judging by what’s to come, they’re going to pay a very high price for that. And that’s the real genius of the book. Miner continually addresses, and challenges, the ethics of his characters. You may very well not agree with them, but you can’t look away and that’s rarely been truer than it is here.
On the art side of things, Garbark provides exactly the rich dark palette a series set largely in the woods at night will need whilst Sawyer’s realistic, focused style works throughout but really comes into its own in the final pages. Combined with a script from one of the best writers in the game, this is a great jumping on point and a great first issue. Give it a shot.
Filed under: The Glass Is Half Full | Tags: 7String, Lars Troubleclef, Melodia, Nich Angell, Zachary Briarpatch
Nich Angell is one of the best comic creators working today. His work, like that of compatriots like Jon Lock, P M Buchan (BLACKOUT), Owen Michael Johnson (Raygun Roads), James Lawrence , Mark Penman (Peabody and D’Gorath) and Andrew Tunney (GIRL & BOY) is defined by an endless enthusiasm and love coupled with some blisteringly smart ideas. In Nich’s case, that’s led to 7String, one of the most entertaining and assured books on the market right now.
7String takes the Final Fantasy-esque notion that music is magic, a tool and a weapon and runs headlong at it. Zachary Briarpatch is the wielder of the 7String, the world’s only guitar sword. Ranged against him is Lars Troubleclef, a wannabe dictator who wants to crush the world of Melodia beneath his heel.
Here’s how Nich describes it:
“7STRING is a classic legendary hero adventure story in a brand new world of melody and music. Our hero Zach wields a legendary seven stringed guitar sword on a mission of vengeance but at the same time complex international politics of a previously utopian world start to fall apart, and war seems imminent.”
In the world of Melodia battles are fought with instrument weaponry, with extremes in volume, adjustments in tempo and changes in key to surprise your opponent. The world is defined by the 4 Clefs, tribes that people align to including;
There’s the Altern Clef, home to the String-Ja ninjas who specialise in dischord and the use of Flat and Sharp as a martial art.
The Brace Clef city states who focus on digital music, electronic synthesizers… keyboard technology.
The Tremor Clef are ancient and wise… specialising in the ‘magic’ of woodwind and brass
…and the Trouble Clef. A rising power under the leader of a new ruthless dictator, specialists in Percussion. Raw power if you keep time, but lethal if you lose your rhythm.”
This is an insanely well realized world and, with volume 2, Nich’s also exploring the in universe card game, ‘Bells’. In fact, he’s even made the cards and when volume 2 is Kickstartered, one of the levels will include a deck of the cards. Even if you don’t choose that, each copy of the book will have the rules and a link to a print-and-play version in the back.
That sort of dedication is a mark of just how good Nich is. A good creator has a passion for the world they build. A great creator holds the door open for other people to come and play too. Nich is undoubtedly the latter and it’s a pleasure to see the world of 7String continue to grow. The first volume is available now from his site and the second is kickstarting now. Get onboard and discover just what comics with added guitarswords sound like.
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: A Voice in the Dark, A Voice in the Dark: Get Your Gun, Dexter, Duncan Eagleson, Get Your Gun, Image, Jay Savage, Larime Taylor, Norman Bates, Rio, Zoey Aarons
‘Get Your Gun’
Written and Drawn by Larime Taylor
Interior Colours by Jay Savage
Edited by Duncan Eagleson
Published by Image
Zoey Aarons isn’t a psychopath or a sociopath. She was born with a compulsion to kill and, for the first 18 years of her life, resisted it.
Then someone drove her best friend to commit suicide, Zoey snapped and, to her amazement, got away with it.
The high tension, intense environment of University drove Zoey to the edge again and, in an effort to stave off her desires, she began hosting an anonymous call in show on the campus radio station. The plan was simple; live vicariously through the deeds of her callers.
Then she killed again.
And, it seems, gained a fan…
Larime Taylor’s title is the best horror comic you’re not reading. From the opening flashforward to the closing reveal, the first issue of this story never lets you go. Zoey’s a cold, compelling lead whose absolute self-awareness constantly orbits a complete lack of moral boundary. She knows what she’s doing should be wrong and yet doesn’t feel it. Worse still, she knows that she likes, and is good, at what she does. She’s Dexter without the smugness, Norman Bates without the guilt. Zoey’s a killer. Zoey’s you and me.
Zoey’s also, now, got a partner. Rio’s an equally fascinating case and the book’s best scene is their conversation at the coffee shop. Rio knows what he’s doing is wrong too and, like Zoey, knows why he does it. However, he’s also one step further along and is actively looking for ways to stop. As far as Rio’s concerned, Zoey’s interesting enough to help him do just that. As far as Zoey’s concerned, Rio is either a problem, a hunter, or, perhaps a target. Seeing the pair of them try and figure each other out is as unsettling as it is romantic; two predators trying to work out who’s at the top of the food chain or if it matters. And, the whole time, the events of the flashforward are hanging over everything we see…
Taylor’s artwork is just as impressive as his writing and there are some moments here where brutality and precision combine to truly chilling effect. Rounded out by excellent internal colours by Jay Savage this is a very welcome return for the best horror title on the market. Grab it, then order the first trade (You don’t need to read it first). You won’t regret it.
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Alex Ford, antony johnston, Dispater, Image, Jordan Boyd, Justin Greenwood, Matt Wallace, Michael Moreci, Recall, Roche Limit, Ryan Ferrier, Slingers, Sonya Sorrin, The Fuse, Tim Daniel, Vic Malhotra
Written by Michael Moreci
Art by Vic Malhotra
Colours by Jordan Boyd
Letters by Ryan Ferrier
Design by Tim Daniel
Published by Image
Welcome to the Roche Limit colony, orbiting the one impossible thing in the universe. The anomaly is something like a black hole, consuming light and energy but without the crippling gravity that would rip everything around it apart. The anomaly is impossible. Yet here it is.
The colony is built into Dispater, a dwarf planet on the edge of the anomaly. An underground city, it started out as an outpost of humanity, showing how far we’ve come.
Now, it’s a chaotic assembly of scientists, criminals and the desperate. The drug, Recall, is tearing the city apart and as a cop and a chemist find themselves unlikely allies, their strange little world begins to be swept up in something almost as impossible as the anomaly…
It’s been a really good year for space-based science fiction. Johnston and Greenwood’s The Fuse and Matt Wallace’s Slingers series have both demonstrated just what you can do with space-based SF and modern sensibilities. Moreci’s script sits halfway between the two; the down at Hell hyper-Vegas of Slingers mixed with the orbital frontier town of The Fuse and a healthy dose of Bioshock-style failed utopianism. A failed city on an tiny planet orbiting something unique. It’s a great set up and in Sonya and Alex, the book has a pair of remarkably sympathetic leads. Ford in particular is great; a crumpled, brutally effective smartass who believes in living through chemistry. The better can come later. Much later. There’s a lot of set up this issue and we’ll clearly be spending some time with these two but there’s more than enough here to hook you. Which, on some level, is what Alex in particular wants…
On the art side of things Malhotra’s work is a perfect mix of chaotic urban sci-fi sprawl and character moments. Boyd’s colours are also top notch especially in the nightclub and action scenes. Finally, Ferrier’s letters map remarkably well to both the pacing of the book and Ford’s personality. Controlled and calm until it’s time not to be, then frantic and expressive.
Rounded out with some rock solid design work by Tim Daniel and some great in-universe back matter this is yet another impressive SF book in Image’s current line-up. Stop in at Roche’s Limit and find out what the fuss is about. Just, don’t accept anything from Alex, okay?
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Bunny, Butterfly, Clayton Cowles, Death, Emma Rios, Fox, Ginny, Image Comics, Johnny, Jordie Bellaire, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Sissy
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Emma Rios
Colours by Jordie Bellaire
Letters by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image
Death fell in love and that’s never a good start to a story. Because Death, for all its universality is, in the end, just like us; flawed, fickle, desperate. The very things that make Death love are what can also render Death unlovable. Not that that stopped it. Nor should it.
Would it stop you?
So, Death fell in love. And Death had a daughter and that was the last good thing to happen for a long, long time.
Kelly Sue DeConnick’s story is a western, a horror, a love story and a discussion of family, story and faith, often all at the same time. It’s a remarkably complex, unflinching book that grabs you by the lapels from the first page and doesn’t let you go until the last. It also pointedly refuses to lay the jigsaw pieces out for you. Instead, it does the one thing that every reader says they want but some don’t.
It trusts you. And in trusting you it challenges you.
Rise to the occasion.
This is the most lyrical, intelligent, compassionate comic book I’ve read this year. It’s endlessly inventive, very funny and utterly brutal when called upon to be and DeConnick deals with each tone shift with the same ease as Ginny deals out violence. Death’s Daughter is as defined by violence as Pretty Deadly is but neither are controlled by it.
On the art side of things, Rios, Bellaire and Cowles are just as vital to the book’s feel and success. Rios’ fluid, expressive art style captures the imperfections and frailties of the characters just as well as the huge, sweeping vistas. Bellaire’s colour work is as feverish as it is delicate and Cowles’ lettering as just as at home punctuating Ginny’s violence as it is sweet character moments. There’s not a weak link here, not a page that doesn’t soar or a word that doesn’t hit home. Ginny never misses her mark and neither does her book. I suspect she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Alien, Blambot, Dark Horse, David, David Palumbo, Engineer, Julian Ferreryra, LV 223, Nate Piekos, Paul Tobin, Predator, Prometheus, Weyland, Xenomorph
Written by Paul Tobin
Art by Julian Ferreyra
Letters by Nate Piekos of Blambot!
Cover by David Palumbo
Published by Dark Horse
£2.85 or £1.85 with your Weyland Yuytani issue SuperCard Go!
Hated Prometheus? Read the first paragraph below. Loved it? Read the second.
Everything that was wrong with Prometheus is fixed inside three pages of this blistering return to the Aliens universe from Dark Horse. The story follows a 2219 mission to salvage the downed survey vessel from Prometheus. As far as most of the crew are concerned, it’s just a salvage op. As far as the Captain’s concerned, it’s a mission to find what happened to Weyland and the truth behind the history of humanity…
Everything Prometheus did right is used as a foundation for this first part of a Prometheus/Aliens/Predator three way dance, Tobin’s script neatly builds on both the original mission and it’s secret as a three-ship group is dispatched to LV 223 to salvage the remains of the previous expedition. Only the Captain knows the truth about what Weyland did there, and that’s why there’s an armed patrol ship as part of the fleet…
Tobin has an instinctive understanding not just of the universe he’s playing in but our expectations of it. He sets the team up as fun, distinctive people and shows us the seeds of their destruction even as they take pains to ensure the mission will be safe. Everyone has secrets, no one trusts anyone else and the entire mission is already working to two agendas even before they make planetfall. When they do? Tobin does an excellent job of showing us how the world’s changed, casting a little doubt on whether this is the right world at all and wrapping up with a killer final panel.
Ferreyra’s art is perfect for this style of book. The characters are all distinctive and expressive and the technology is exactly the right level of Ron Cobb-esque chunky precision and functionality. What really makes the book fly though is how expansive the panels are. Splashes are uses sparingly and effectively and the tension is neatly ratcheted up by some truly extraordinary colour work. This feels like an alien world and it’s a pleasure, albeit a terrifying, blood-soaked one, to spend time here,
Peikos’ letters combine with the book’s unusual style to cleverly guide your eye around the large panels in particular. Lettering is an often overlooked, but always vital, part of comics and Piekos’ reputation as one of the best in the business is only confirmed here. It’s effortless, smart work in a book that’s intensely smart and tremendously good, nasty SF fun.
Whether you loved or hated Prometheus doesn’t matter, because this take the elements of the movie that truly worked and makes something better from them. I’m fascinated to see not only how this series pans out but the others that are connected to it too. Excellent work from some of the best creators in the field. Go get it.