I’ve been slowly adding entries to LegOpinions when I haven’t been swamped by work, but I wanted to share some brief thoughts I had on some newer comics before they weren’t so new anymore. If anyone wants to know what sort of comics I read (since I don’t really read much superhero stuff or stuff from the “big two”), here’s a good idea.
Thieves and Kings – TJ loaned me the first (and, I think, currently only) three volumes of this series and I really enjoyed it. It’s a fantasy tale, though I think I would classify it as something I’m gonna call “neo-medieval.” That is, it has most of the trappings of medieval fantasy, but more than a few nods to more advanced society as well. It’s the story of a thief whose life becomes linked to that of a princess. There are plot turns a-plenty, action, humor, and surprises. Every so often it goes into full-on text mode, letting only the borders illustrate the goings-on being described in the text. The artwork is deceptively simple, and gives the impression of being crude, but then something will happen and you’ll realize there’s a lot more detail there than it seemed at first. If you enjoy such fare as Bone, Neotopia, or Girl Genius, this is definitely worth checking out.
Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, #1 – Now meet the neo-western. Daisy Kutter is the story of the title character, once a feared gunslinger, who now has retired for the simpler pleasures of running a general store. Some of the items sold in the store are the first hint that we aren’t in Oklahoma of the 1800s, but when there’s robots in the saloon, this fact becomes obvious. Daisy then plays a game of Texas-Hold ‘Em poker, and…well, that would be telling. Smart artwork, a story that grabs from the first page, and interesting characters. I am really looking forward to more of this. (The backup story in the first issue, alas, wasn’t too good, but the main story is worth the price of admission.)
Flight Anthology – Anthologies themselves, like the stories within them, can be somewhat hit or miss. I think everyone, though, is astounded that this wonderful book, with a whole crop of good selections in it, came from Image of all places. Holy freakin’ cow. As with any anthology, obviously some stories are stronger than others, but there are no real clunkers here. The whole thing soars. There are plenty of items and artists I wanted to see more from by the time I finished, especially Kazu Kibuishi (who, it turns out, is responsible for Ms. Kutter, above.) This is a creator I am going to be keeping an eye out for, indeed.
The Metabarons volume 1: Othon and Honorata – Ummm. Okay. This is over-the-top, sound-and-fury, testosterone-fueled science-fantasy as only the Europeans can do. It’s a comic that defies you to describe it without using the words “saga,” “pantheon,” and “mythology,” as it brings ultra-powerful heroic figures into an already sprawling cosmic tale. Everything is writ large, and nothing’s done by halves. But all in all I was reminded of the movie ‘The Fifth Element,’ another European space epic which, frankly, I hated. (It’s one of the three movies that helped convince me to stop seeing so many movies.) There’s all kinds of amazing things going on in it, and I’m supposed to be taking it all very seriously, but there’s not a single character in the whole thing that I can stand. I didn’t find any of the characters, especially the title ones, to be interesting or captivating, and while I read what happened to them, I can’t say I cared about any of it. The Humanoids line, of which this book is a part, has some good people and word-of-mouth behind it, but this one left me very cold.
Legends From Darkwood – I got this based on TJ’s recommendation and I did enjoy it. It’s another neo-medieval tale, this one about a forest filled with fantastic creatures and very real problems. Seems the unicorns, which the town has been killing and making money off of, are dying out. And the top unicorn hunter, using a certain asset to lure her prey in, has been tricked into, erm, losing that asset. The town leader’s daughter, having discovered what’s going on with the unicorns, seeks to stop the slaughter. But things don’t always go as planned… Done in a manga-style, this is a darkly humorous book with a load of interesting characters.
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life – Here’s the promotional blurb for this book: “Scott Pilgrim’s life is totally sweet. He’s 23 years old, in a rock band, “between jobs,” AND dating a cute high school girl. Everything’s fantastic until a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. Will Scott’s awesome life get turned upside-down? Will he have to face Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle? Short answer: yes.” I reprint it here because there’s not much more to be said. Possibly the funnest comic book ever, it offers everything promised in that paragraph and more!. I can’t wait for volume two!
The Tomb – Another graphic novel from one of my favorite publishers, Oni Press, The Tomb is, essentially, a horror/action movie. One of the members of the Tutankhamen dig disappeared years ago. Now his house has been discovered. But it’s full of traps for the unwary, some more subtle than others. Did he end up taking something out of the tomb he shouldn’t have? Is there more to the house than it seems? And how can he possibly still be alive, as the house’s mysterious servants insist? Nice art, a good story, but a little too pricey for what’s there. If it were ten bucks, it’d be perfect.
Usagi Yojimbo – “Come on,” you’re saying. “Surely you’ve read Usagi Yojimbo before!” I had, true. I tried it out a few years ago, getting a couple of trades that seemed to stand alone. I Was a little intimidated by the sheer volume of it, and neither wanted to dive in the middle nor buy 15 trade paperbacks (the first few of which, at the time, were out of print) to catch up. I really liked it, but didn’t know how to proceed. Well, it turns out TJ has all the volumes and has been kind enough to loan them to me in waves. I’m about a dozen volumes in now. This stuff is amazing, and I now believe that any list of modern comics masters that doesn’t include Stan Sakai is grossly lacking. His art, this storylines, his characterizations, all are spot-on perfect. From broad epics to touching vignettes, from political intrigue to slapstick humor, these stories of a 17th century ronin rabbit contain literally something for everyone. And now that I’ve started from the beginning, let me assure anyone in a similar situation to the one I was that you can really jump on just about anywhere. While there is a strong continuity and recurring characters, Sakai deftly writes so that a newer reader won’t be completely lost. If you don’t like Usagi Yojimbo, I’m not sure how you like comics, period.
Tales From the Bully Pulpit – Another surprise from Image. This is a bizarre and hilarious story about Teddy Roosevelt and the ghost of Thomas Edison and their adventures with a time machine. There are Martians, Nazis, and pop-culture references galore. It’s a lot of wacky fun and contains a contender for Year’s Best Line in Comics, but I can’t tell you what it is or who says it, because that would give something away. If you like the fun of Street Angel, this is a book you should take note of.
So there you go. a little sampling of what I’ve been up to lately, comics-wise. Currently I’m re-reading the Bone series, then I’ll read the entire Love Fights series, and then I’m diving into more Usagi Yojimbo. Sure, I’ve also been getting and enjoying my usuals: Powers, Walking Dead, Ex Machina, KODT, and the rest. I haven’t talked much about comics lately, but I’m still reading them!