American Vampire (Volume #5) Comic Book Review

In the first story, series mainstays Skinner Sweet, Pearl and company return to Hollywood in the '50s during the Red Scare. In a time where America was on the lookout for the next Communist threat, was the real danger something far more insidious? A major turning point in American Vampire lore begins here!

In the second tale, familiar face and vampire hunter Felicia Book is "retired" from vampire hunting when she gets called back into action to track down and kill the most powerful vampire of all time. The hunt takes our heroes through post-war Europe, behind the Iron Curtain and into the heart of Russia to track this deadly enemy...

Writer Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing) and artist Rafael Albuquerque bring together even more threads to the complex tapestry that is the world of American Vampire.

American Vampire is full of ups and downs, so I wasn't initially sure if I would like this volume, especially with using the Dracula legend as a plot for the first story, Lord Of Nightmares. Thankfully the writer and illustrators all had a better grasp of what they were doing compared to previous volumes and I really enjoyed the stories.

Lord Of Nightmares should have been a horrible mess, revisiting Felicia Book and her son when Dracula's coffin is kidnapped. However the storytelling was really quite good, explaining that Felicia's son is in danger from Dracula she heads to Russian to finish him off. The art in this story is the best it's ever been thanks to Dustin Nguyen.

After that we revisit Pearl, picking up where we left off. Henry is recovering with the Vassals Of The Morning Star while Pearl works with Skinner, hunting down packs of Vampires. We meet some old faces during this volume and wrap up quite a lot of loose ends before Pearl literally packs up and leaves for a new life. There's one other story at the end where we meet Felicia Book's mother and learn of a new threat, The Grey Trader. I presume this is a hint for the next volume in the series.


Snow Blind Comic Book Review

What happens when you discover your parents aren’t the people you thought they were?

For high school student Teddy, life in a sleepy suburb in Alaska turns upside down when he innocently posts a photo of his dad online, only to learn he and his family are in the Witness Protection Program. A man seeking revenge invades their town, followed soon after by pursuing FBI agents . . . but what if his dad's reasons for going into the program aren't as innocent as he says?

Snow Blind is very similar to Dept. H, the last graphic novel that I read, in the sense that the story is told as an internal monologue and the art style is rough sketches combined with watercolour. While the story is much stronger (and the art a lot better), I still didn't think that this would be a particularly memorable read.

The story is simple enough, and is told in 4 issues: Teddy post a photo online of his dad and discovers that his family is in Witness protection for something that happened years ago. Naturally he does the most sensible thing and asks his dad about it goes private detective, putting someone in hospital in the process.

The story wrapped up well but it was predictable and unoriginal, unfortunately. Thankfully it's a very quick read with a couple of action scenes to help it along. I'd be interested to see what the author/illustrator does next.


Dept. H (Volume #1) Comic Book Review

Mia is a special investigator hired to uncover possible sabotage taking place at a deep-sea research station. What she uncovers is a mind-blowing crime scene filled with suspects with terrible secrets, strange deep-sea creatures, and an impending flood!

I mean this in the nicest way possible but this story was a load of cack. I have read enough Young Adult books like this to easily spot everything they're trying to cover up and it's just not working. Love interest? Check. An old friend turned rival? Check. A constant whiny monologue about how great she is? Check. Repeated sentences to hide the lack of story? Check, check, waiter where's my check? I'm out.

The story is basically super genius chick goes to solve her father's murder because when someone is murdered you obviously send their closest relative. She constantly tells us that space is her thing and she doesn't dive, just to add to the irritation. Her constant monologue repeating over and over in different ways just made me want to chuck the book, had I not read the digital edition.

I'd like to at least say that the art in this none existent story was lovely. Unfortunately I can't do that because it was a bit of a mess. I tried to go with the rough sketch combined with watercolour style but it kept changing through panels which just made the whole thing look amateurish. The bar along the side showing the depth was cute for two pages.

I know other readers are raving about this but it's honestly just blah. I couldn't help but feel like they ripped the idea from that Doctor Who (10th) story featuring the Devil for most of the way through. There's no real interaction between her and Raj, despite them being siblings. He was so, so cardboard.


Suicide Squad: The Black Vault (Volume #1) Comic Book Review

The government has once again handpicked the worst of the worst for its Task Force X. Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Katana and Killer Croc. All deadly criminals sent on the most dangerous missions possible by a government that wants them killed. But their newest challenge? A teammate so powerful that even this group of murderers and thieves can't control. 

After the mess that was the first volume of the New 52 Suicide Squad, I was a little apprehensive about starting this one. Thankfully I was greeted with everything that the previous volume lacked - a solid engaging plot, character development  and plenty of one liners. Oh and one of DC's biggest villains makes an appearance too. Who? Go read it!

Harley Quinn is DC's biggest cash in (if you can think of a product you can likely buy it with her image on it) but her character often seems to be brushed off a "Crazy" and that's it. This time she's still crazy but funny, with nods to her intelligence too. She easily had the best one liners, her character overall kind of reminded me of Tank Girl.

As a new reader I appreciated the sections in between the stories explaining the back story of each character. Familiar readers may find this boring but hey, it will keep me buying these volumes. Luckily for me, King Shark has been replaced by Killer Croc, who I understand a lot better due to him actually speaking instead of just eating people.


Suicide Squad (Volume #1) Comic Book Review

As a part of the acclaimed DC Comics--The New 52 event of September 2011, writer and co-creator of the CW show Supernatural Adam Glass rolls out an all-new team of death-row super villains recruited by the government to take on missions so dangerous-they're sheer suicide.
The story begins with the Suicide Squad defeated, imprisoned and being interrogated about their newest mission. Harley Quinn, King Shark, Deadshot and company must make it out alive without revealing who's pulling the strings behind their illegal operations. Who will be the first to crack under the pressure? More importantly will they make it all out alive?

Eh, this was a trip. Mainly trippy. I was hoping that I would fall in love with Suicide Squad fairly quickly, simply because a band of supervillians on various missions sounds bloody awesome but this volume really, really fell short of expectations.

I gave it 2 stars rather than 1 simply because of Harley Quinn. She's the strongest character, largely because she's the only character the writers cared out. She's the only one with real backstory and has the most page time, too.

The other characters are pretty generic and I'll forget about them tomorrow. Deadshot is your typical jock type, there's a man with a shark head that likes to eat people (reason unknown) and various other characters that are quickly killed and replaced.

This choice to throw a load of characters out there without getting to know them first really killed the story and when they started added more characters after killing off the last ones I just got bored. I didn't feel like paying much attention to a character that would be gone by the next page.

I may continue this series but it's unlikely - I think I'll move on to Rebirth instead to see if that is executed better.


Pull Me: Notable Comics This Week (25/01/2017)

This week I've been battling with different versions of Suicide.Squad. I started with the first volume of the New 52 series but that fell really, really, flat for me. Then I tried the movie which I did really enjoy, even if I was a mess! I'm now reading the new Suicide Squad, Rebirth and I'm really, really enjoying it. Here's everything I'm excited about this week:

Comic Books

Spider-man/Deadpool #1
Spider-Man and Deadpool find themselves face-to-face(-to-face?) with one of the dozens of monsters smashing and stomping their way through the Marvel Universe! Ever the stalwart hero, Spider-Man has to use his powers (and responsibilities) to fearlessly fight the freakish monsters, saving many civilians at great cost to himself! Meanwhile, Deadpool is about as helpful as he usually is.

This is part of the Monster Unleashed thing that Marvel is doing right now and I have no idea what that is (there's a lot to keep up with in the comic world) but a Spider-man/Deadpool team up sounds FANTASTIC.

Suicide Squad #10
A “JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD” epilogue! She’s lost a prisoner, her darkest secrets have been revealed and she’s unwittingly unleashed a major threat upon herself and Task Force X. It’s one very bad day for Amanda Waller as she tries to tie up loose ends and clean up her mess. But some sins can’t be undone in this special epilogue to JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD.

I'm totally digging the new Suicide Squad comics that were released in 2016, but I hate comics like these. The "we're now going to make you feel left out if you don't bother catching up on all the Justice League comics and then this new series too". I tried Justice League, I stopped after 3 issues because it keep constantly directing me to previous random issues by referencing things that had happened. I just want to read the volumes I like, not have to run around reading absolutely everything.

Harrow County #20
Hunters have come to Harrow County, seeking to take down its most powerful haints. They have no idea what they’re up against. Emmy tries to save them from their foolish mission, but she will have to sacrifice her last hope of a normal life in order to protect these strangers.

I've been digging Harrow County since the very first issue, it's so unique. If southern gothic horror is your thing you have to pick this up - the forth volume is released this week.

Graphic Novels

The Black Monday Murders (Vol #1)
It’s the first collection of the exciting new crypto-noir series, THE BLACK MONDAY MURDERS. “All Hail, God Mammon” pulls the covers back on the secret world of magic lying behind the largest and oldest financial institutions in the world.

I know barely anything about this but it's looks super creepy and the promise of magic is more than enough to tempt me to start reading this series.

Nightwing (Vol #1)
Nightwing is blue!
He's been Robin, he's been a super spy, a ghost. Now, Dick Grayson finds himself back in Gotham City fighting to reclaim the life that was taken from him. But when a new evil threatens those closest to Dick, as Nightwing he must once again choose whether or not to tear himself away from his home in order to combat this dark force.
Everything Dick thought he knew about being Nightwing will be brought to bear, and his relationship to his former mentor Batman will be put to the test in NIGHTWING: VOL. 1

I love the Batman universe but gosh... while this sounds super cool I think I'll need to get reading some previous issues to understand better before I pick this volume up.

Mae (Vol #1)
When she was just a girl, Abbie discovered a portal to a fantasy world and has since had great adventures there: defeating horrible monsters, power-mad scientists, and evil nobles. But when she turned twenty-one it all came apart and she decided to return home. Her sister, Mae, had no idea what happened to Abbie all this time, and Abbie's tales are too hard to believe-that is, until the monsters and other terrible creatures start to cross over to our world!

This sounds like the plot of a young adult novel and I've read a lot of Young Adult novels so I know already that this is going to be insanely cool... or a complete flop.

Manifest Destiny (Volume #2) Comic Book Review

Lewis, Clark and the surviving members of their expedition continue westward across America, only to learn there is nowhere to run on a river.

Lewis and Clark continue their adventures across America with their crew of soldiers and dispensable criminals, encountering species that the real Lewis and Clark would never have encountered, thank goodness. This volume's theme is "make everything gigantic". I was always okay with mosquitoes until I saw one tearing it's way out of a person's back... and don't get me started on the toad.

While the last volume felt quite fast paced, volume two felt a little stuck - probably because the ship was literally stuck in the river. Despite the previous volume having some sort of buffalo/centaurs and zombies chasing them I still found this one scarier because ew, gigantic bugs. Zombie plant people I can deal with. Bugs not so much.

I ship Lewis and Clark and think the writers of this novel might so too. There's a lot more character development this time and this story doesn't shy away from LGBT themes, and we have at least one scene that basically proves that Lewis is hella gay, which I can 100% get behind. Get it? Get behind? Because gay? *sigh*

I'm looking forward to the next volume, the pacing of this series is excellent and the art is beautifully grotesque. I just hope we can keep hold of some of our crew members as at the pace this is going, there is only going to be Lewis and Clark left... although I kind of like that idea!


Colder: Toss The Bones (Volume #3) Comic Book Review

When a mysterious madman returns to claim Boston's sanity, Declan Thomas can only fight him by fulfilling a dark prophecy. With each step, with each use of his abilities, with every ounce of effort he gives to hold onto his sanity, he grows colder. Step by step, moment by moment, closer and closer to zero. With his body failing and his sanity crumbling, Declan balances between falling into madness and falling onto a dinner plate, because Nimble Jack is back, he's hungry, and to him sanity is just a matter of degrees.

I've been AWOL from comic reading for few days due to doing some Very Important Things, like crying over Elliana leaving Dance Moms and watching Brendan Urie Vine compilations so I'm sorry about that. I finally managed to pick up Colder: Toss The Bones tonight and all I need to know know is: WHEN IS THE SEQUEL RELEASED?

Toss The Bones picks up where The Bad Seed left off, you really can't skip any volumes in this series and nor should you need to - there's only 5 issues in each volume. In this volume The Joker... wait sorry, Nimble Jack is back, and he's hungry. Again. I've seen less hungry people in Asian food eating contests but anyway.

I'm pretty sure there is indeed 5 issues in this series but this one went much, much quicker for me. Not a lot happened either - the previous volume went through Declan's history before seeing him finish of Swivel in one of the greatest comic book battles I've seen but this went at a slower pace, having Nimble Jack follow Declan and his girlfriend (whose name escapes me).

There's still plenty of creepiness though, as this volume's theme is suicidal pigeons. Dogs feature quite heavily too, both creature killing themselves off in ways that would have given me nightmares as a kid. These days, I have Facebook. We go back to The Hungry World, too, with a few new monsters to scream at. Not as much gore at Volume 2 however.

Toss The Bones ends with another epic battle, this time between Declan and Nimble Jack. As The Hungry World has very little colour, the colour coming from Jack and Declan during the fight scene was seriously epic. So, so gorgeous. The ending will get you. The very last panel changes everything, potentially forever and is the biggest cliff hanger I've seen in a comic. I NEED TO KNOW WHEN THE NEXT SEQUEL IS.


Manifest Destiny (Volume #1) Comic Book Review

In 1804, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark set out on an expedition to explore the uncharted American frontier. This is the story of the monsters they discovered lurking in the wilds...

This is my second time(ish) reading Manifest Destiny. I originally read a couple of issues of it back when it was first released and absolutely loved how creepy and mysterious it was, so I did presume that I would love it just as much now. That wasn't the case but this is still a great first volume of the series.

We're not taught American History in high school here in England, so I had to do a bit of Googling to find Sacagawea, whose name I did recognise and the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804, which I had never even heard of. I'm usually a bit wary of a new take on an established historical event but this seems so far, so good.

The parts that don't stay true to the story are well... crazy zombie plant people. I think something similar was done in Z Nation recently so this comic may be where they got the idea from! It's an interesting concept and super creepy but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't getting sick of seeing zombies. Still, zombie plant animals is a new idea.

By the end we'd lost quite a few members of the crew to sort-of-minotaurs and crazy plant creatures, while Lewis and Clark nearly got eaten by a gigantic venus fly trap like plant, so I'm looking forward to the future volumes to see what else they discover on their journey across America - and hopefully there will be some answers as to why there's crazy zombie plant things?


Colder: The Bad Seed (Volume #2) Comic Book Review

Declan Thomas is a former inmate of an insane asylum that was destroyed by fire. He has the strange ability to step inside a person's madness. Sometimes he can cure it. One day, he hopes to cure his own. 

Life goes on for Declan Thomas after his deadly encounter with the psychotic Nimble Jack, but Declan's strange powers continue to develop, offering him a profound connection with the nature of insanity. Little does he know that the malevolent Swivel wishes to pick up where Nimble Jack left off!

I gave the first volume of this series, Colder, 5 stars so I was a little wary about this one. Experience has taught me that sequels can often be dire. This volume did take me a bit longer to get into, as it focussed more on gore rather than weird, with the demon (demon? no idea what any of these things are) Swivel wandering around Boston with a plant pot, cutting peoples fingers off. However I soon got into the swing of things when we went back into the Hungry World.

I'm pretty sure Colder: The Bad Seed just broke the world record for "Comic Book With The Most Amount Of Fingers Chopped Off".  It's very hard to explain why fingers help Swivel grow crazy people but you just have to roll with it. On the plus side, we get a lot more of Declan's back story and why Nimble Jack made him cold in the first place.

I wasn't a huge fan of gore over weird. I like weird. The weirder the better. Thankfully the Hungry World provided plenty of weird, although not a lot of it was new. Still it was trippy and cool and there was plenty of weird finger action, so I was happy with that. The ending brings back a familar face, which if you've seen the hugely spoilery cover of issue 5, won't come as a surprise. I look forward to volume 3!