Friday, April 18, 2014

Comics Capsule Reviews

4/2/14 Books
Rachel Rising #24Rachel Rising is one of my favorite books currently being published. The comic is by writer/author Terry Moore, creator of Strangers in Paradise, probably my favorite non-genre comic of all time. Moore is one of the most bright and talented storytellers working in any medium, period.
When Rachel wakes up in a shallow grave in the woods, she finds she has no memory of her brutal murder. She somehow stumbles back to the small New England town of Manson. As the series progresses, she finds herself under attack from some powerful and nasty witches out for revenge for their murders in Manson hundreds of years ago. Originally part of the coven, Rachel is now working against them and trying to save her friends and the town.

In this issue, Rachel, the evil little brat Zoe and Rachel’s old friend James (currently in the body of her present friend Jet—don’t ask) confront Lilith, one of the most powerful witches of the old coven. A raging snowstorm has been burying the town and beautifully adds to the art and mood of the story. The team vanquishes Lilith (for now), Jet returns to her body and James returns to the ether. This is a high-stakes battle, with Lilith commanding feral wolves and poisonous snakes to do her bidding, and Rachel and James fighting for their lives. Zoe doesn’t really care.

Moore has written about the small audience and low sales of this book. He has used several guerilla marketing tactics to gain a bigger audience and I hope they work. This title features typical Moore characters, who look like real human beings and have distinct and realistic personalities. Thrilling and insightful, Rachel Rising deserves better sales and comes with my highest recommendation. Comics don’t get better than this.

Rating: ***** out of 5 stars

Angel & Faith Season 10 #1 – A companion book to Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 comic, Angel & Faith are working together to fight evil and pay for Joss Whedon’s fourth or fifth summer house. This is a sequel series to Christos Gage and Rebecca Isaac’s Angel & Faith book, which was very good. New writer Victor Gischler and artist Will Conrad get off to a promising start, as Faith helps Buffy with a case and Angel unsuccessfully tries to protect a young man from a group of foot-high winged demons. I admit I would follow Gischler about anywhere, his crime novel The Deputy was one of the best books I read last year. I avoid the main Buffy comic like the plague since it became a showcase for politically correct storylines—it very well may be worse now since Gage has taken it over and he is a militant political agenda writer. Angel & Faith are far removed from that up 'til now—it’s just death to monsters everywhere. Let’s hope they stay with that theme.

Rating: *** out of 5 stars

Shotgun Wedding #1 – I didn’t know anything about this book, but bought it due to a friend’s recommendation. I’m glad I did! Mike and Chloe are not a normal engaged couple. They are both spies and assassins for the U.S. Government. Mike is a patriotic true believer; Chloe is a stone-cold psycho who hides it well. When Mike leaves Chloe a "Dear John" letter on their wedding day, she’s not the type to have a good cry, play “I Will Survive” and move on. She’s more the “wait several years and chop Mike and his new fiancée to pieces” type. Now on a blazing path of vengeance, she tracks down Mike’s father and gets the scoop on where they plan to tie the knot, then does some terrible things to him. As the book ends, she is buying an airplane ticket to go greet Mike and his bride-to-be. And I don’t think it’s to give them the good china on their gift register.

This book was a fun surprise, with a unique premise and some engaging character work. Chloe really is a nut case. Add to that she is a scorned woman, and to that her fiancée has found happiness with someone else. I expect snarky quips, gunfire and multiple explosions in the next few issues.

Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight #7 – Even at my advanced age, I’m too young to have caught the most exploitive grindhouse flicks from the ‘70s at the theater. This comic helps make up for that educational gap. Writer Alex De Campi has done a series of two-issue grindhouse stories in this title, with subjects like alien killer bees and medieval princess revenge stories. In the first part of this last two-issue tale, “Flesh Feast of the Devil Doll,” Renae is an unpopular teenager sent to an upscale summer sports camp. Of course the camp’s land butts up against a cult compound where the members spend their days calling bad things from beyond to this world. The two camps end up overlapping, and Renae must team with the popular girls to fight bikini-clad, multi-fanged she-monsters to the death.

This book is violent, bloody and exploitive. And a great deal of fun. It also contains fake movie posters for ridiculous grindhouse films I’d love to see, such as “Shaolin Romeo-Wutang Juliet (Only one thing stood in the way of their love affair ... Vengeance!!!), and “Dirty Sanchez (He’s a stinker!). Not for the faint of heart, but it does live up to the grindhouse claim. Can’t say they didn’t warn you!

Rating: **** out of 5 stars.

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