Great Pacific: Volume Three – Joe Harris

Great Pacific - Big game huntersThis volume marks an end to the current storyline. There isn’t a recap on what has gone before but you are able to pick up clues and reminders if you have forgotten everything.

It feels very bitty. There is an alien invasion, a drug problem and then the conclusion of the ‘nukes’ storyline. It’s almost as if Harris wasn’t sure how much longer he had.

The ending is dramatic and would be a good place to leave the series or start again on a new storyline. There aren’t the big environmental or sociological themes that have come before but more focus on going out with a bang. This has been a good run.

The art has been consistent all the way through and it is great to see such a unique and appropriate style. The cover is an homage to Iron Maiden’s The Trooper which sadly looks too clunky.

Thumbs Up!

Crossed: Volume Twelve – David Lapham

Crossed 12David Lapham has been trying for years to write a decent Crossed story and it looks like he may actually have succeeded.

This is a single nine issue story that works well, has good drama and pacing and interesting characters. As always the Crossed are merely a plot device, like bad weather, but they do the trick of moving the action along.

Narratively speaking there are some elegant and sophisticated tricks and a complex opening with multiple timelines forcing the reader to pay attention. Sadly these techniques don’t last past the first issue.

The art is odd. There is strong colouration but the level of detail appears to vary between panels. It is as if small panels were blown up to single or double page spreads and the effect is a little jarring.

Despite reminding me of the film ‘The Limey’ all the way through this was an enjoyable and unpredictable read.

Definitely a Thumbs Up!

Kingdom of the Wicked – Ian Edgington

Kingdom of the WickedThis is another tale of someone visiting a world which may or may not be imaginary. These seem popular with comics writers, the last one being Cancertown.

Here is a beautiful and sophisticated tale that has plenty of nostalgia for the older reader and is packed with literary references. The origin of the ‘imaginary’ world is certainly unexpected and the book is an enjoyable read. The whole thing is an adult tale wrapped in the trappings of a children’s story and the tone is quite vivid.

The art is great and while it may appear simplistic and caricatured has a lot going on under the hood. The colouring plays a large part in establishing the atmosphere of the piece and the unusual angles bring a real nightmarish quality.

A rapid but satisfying read in a very good hardback format.

Thumbs Up!

The Cape: Deluxe Edition – Jason Ciaramella

The Cape DeluxeThis is a hardcover that is slightly oversized and feels incredibly chunky. You are getting a lot of pages for your money. It begins with The Cape: 1969 which is the prelude to the main feature and although explains a bit of backstory isn’t necessary to the original.

The Cape is an unusual tale that really doesn’t fit in the superhero genre. It is based on a Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son) short story but expands it significantly.

There is a very sturdy hardcover and the format feels just a tad oversized. The spine allows the book to lay flat when open which is always appreciated. The cover is cleverly overprinted giving the illusion that the titles and pictures are stuck on with clear sticky-tape. You find yourself picking at it to make sure it isn’t.

There is a complete cover gallery but no other art. There is also the complete text of the original short story with the adaptor’s notes about what to cut and to leave in which is actually an interesting comparison.

A Thumbs Up!

The Cape – Jason Ciaramella

The Cape 01This is based on a short story by Joe Hill. It expands and fleshes out the original premise significantly which seems quite flimsy in comparison.

This is a story about character and the flaws therein. It isn’t a true superhero story and we haven’t seen such an unconventional protagonist since Mark Millar’s Wanted. To say any more would give too much away as the beauty of this book is you aren’t expecting its dark twists and turns.

The art is fitting and well done. It has a grungy feel that reflects some of its bleak themes and these are well contrasted with the optimistic scenes of childhood. There is nothing jarring or sensationalist which is mostly what you want art to do.

It’s a thumbs up and worth a look.

The Cape: 1969 – Jason Ciaramella

The Cape 02This is an average story with a little bit about family and revenge that exists solely as a prequel to “The Cape.” It’s good enough to be given away on Free Comic Book Day or included in a hardcover but as a standalone it really achieves very little. It isn’t bad, maybe a little simplistic or jingoistic but there are much better reads for your time.

The art is very good and kind of reminds me of American Vampire. There are some brilliant moments when letters are combined with pictures to create a Meta view. The colouring has a dank jungle feel and makes very good use of browns.

The whole thing just felt like an ad break or a short for the main feature, which is what it is.

No Thumbs.

A Game of Thrones: Volume Four – Adapted by Daniel Abraham

This is the final volume in the series and all does not feel quite right. While there are many detailed panels you get the feeling these are becoming rarer. Maybe time or money or other jobs forced more plain, bland backgrounds. Things do feel sparse toward the very end. It isn’t a major blow and there are definitely some lovely covers to keep you interested.

The special features is the artist talking about how he created the main characters. This is good advice for any budding artist and there are lots of examples too. Most interesting is his artistic method which is very classical indeed.

I hope they do more and they continue to be a Thumbs Up!

A Game of Thrones: Volume Three – Adapted by Daniel Abraham

GOT 3This is the third and penultimate volume of the set. It continues the same majestic art, opulent colours and spelling mistakes.

The story is paced well with lots of detail from the books including names. The vast cast of characters are all given different looks and in the special features there are the character sketches of dozens of individuals making this a remarkable work.

A fine volume and a worthy Thumbs Up!

A Game of Thrones: Volume Two – Adapted by Daniel Abraham

GOT 2Here is the second part of this lavish adaption of the Game of Thrones novel. Everyone is getting into their stride and growing more confident and capable. This means less typos.

We also see this volume diverge from the TV show more. There is a marvellous ascent to the Eyrie that would have been cut from TV for budget and you would have thought would disappear here due to length. But it appears in all its glory. This level of micro-detail is as surprising as it is welcome and makes the world richer for it.

The hardback format returns and so to do the special features. If you have any inclination to create comics, in whatever role, it is your duty to read this. In this section we look at the entire transition process to the text of the original novel, through all the different stages, to the finished graphical masterpiece. Invaluably we get to see the creative discussions and see what techniques were tried and rejected. This peek behind the curtain is an anathema to many creative people so we are really privileged and can learn a lot.

The art and colour is sumptuous with each issue representing weeks if not months of work. Backgrounds are impossibly detailed and faces and heraldry receive superb attention. The boxes of narration are keyed to certain characters, just as they are in the source material, but black on red or black on brown is never a good idea.

This is another delightful volume that makes a good stepping stone for those who want more than TV but aren’t quite ready to give up their pretty pictures.

Thumbs Up!

A Game of Thrones: Volume One – Adapted by Daniel Abraham

GOT 1This is the first six issues of a twenty-four issue adaptation of the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire Series from George R R Martin.

With the original novels and the successful TV series why would you need essentially a hybrid of the two? Reading this it isn’t yet clear but this is certainly as well executed as either of the other media. The majority of editorial decisions match the TV show so you are gaining some additional dialogue here and there. This is a great read if you don’t want to watch the TV version again but aren’t ready for the novels.

Being a literary format however we can have narration, flashbacks and internal thoughts allowing us a deeper look into the characters themselves. You can also read it at your own pace allowing you to digest the concentrated history and plethora of character names.

The art and colouring is fabulous. You can see there are hours of pencilling on each page and every background is rendered in full detail. The colouring is rich and lavish as appropriate to the regal locations. Initially it can be hard to tell several bearded men apart but as you read on the characters do flesh out with their speech, bearing and mannerisms. There are a lot of speaking parts and a lot of hard work goes into making everyone memorable.

There are some typos in the lettering however. Initially you aren’t sure if it is Martin’s world but in one issue there appear to be three jarring mistakes (pay instead of pray for example) and this is a shocking let-down.

The hardcover with its delicate embossing and stylish dustjacket ramp up the production values but it is a shame there is no page marker ribbon. There are dozens of pages of extras describing the start of the project by all the people involved including the commissioners and editors. What is really refreshing is how humble they are and how willing to share how much they have learnt on this project too.

A very opulent Thumbs Up!