Tag Archive | "Vertigo"

The Unwritten: Volume One

Book: The Unwritten- Volume One
Publisher: Vertigo
Price: $9.99
Author: Mike Carey
Art: Peter Gross
Colors: Chris Chuckery & Jeanne McGee
Letters: Todd Klein
Covers: Yuko Shimizu

What if everything around you
Isn’t quite as it seems?
What if all the world you think you know
Is an elaborate dream?

You know who you are, right? You can see yourself in the mirror. You feel pain and pleasure. Oh sure, memories are a little vague from before you were seven or eight, but everyone has that problem, right?  You had a mother and father, with a birth certificate. Moreover, you have a name.

But are you sure? Mothers and fathers can be strangers, documents can be forged and a name is just a made-up gift, a fiction. Here is the thing, you can’t be absolutely positive, can you? Maybe it is all just a story, but…is it your story?

If anyone knows the power of stories it is Mike Carey, who gave us over six years of universe creation starring Lucifer the Lightbringer. A main theme Carey brings to Lightbringer, Hellblazer, Sandman, Faker and now The Unwritten, is the embryonic genesis of stories.

Words and stories have power. The Japanese believed in Kotodama, translated as the ‘spirit of language’ where words have power to alter the world. Robert Heinlein wrote about alternate realities created from the minds of fiction writers. Jorges Borges wrote a story in which a secret organization of men wrote about a fictional world, that slowly started to overtake the “real” world. Carey had Lucifer create an entire universe from a “letter” from God. These tropes of metafiction and magical realism enhance the mystery of the story and make for an exciting read.

Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity

Tom Taylor is the son of writer Wilson Taylor, but more importantly, he is the basis for Tommy Taylor, Wilson’s magic-wielding fictional protagonist. Tom is dealing with some daddy issues, after his father not just abandoned him, but completely disappeared. Dad did leave behind an legion of crazed fans who are willing to help Tom pay the bills with signings and appearances. Things are fine until a Birther conspiracy rears its head, questioning Tom’s legitimacy. Then Lizzie Hexam starts to poke and prod, pushing Tom towards a truth he doesn’t want to know, and soon he too starts to question his origins.

Reading The Unwritten was like going back to that comfortable place where you can relax, where the rest of the world is taken over by the story. I attribute this mostly to Peter Gross’s art. After reading Books of Magic and Lucifer for so many years, Gross’s art and colors are familiar and perfectly suited towards the tale being told. Gross is able to blend reality and fantasy without making us question its realism.

These first five issues set the background for a fantastic story and demands that you join Tom Taylor on his journey to discover the rest of his unwritten story.

*The rest of this series if already up to issue #10, go get them now

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Release Of The Week: Scalped #35

Scalped #35 by Jason Aaron, Daniel Zezelj, Jock

I’ve made no secret about the fact that Scalped is the best comic being printed today.  If I could only read one comic, this would be it. The intertwining narratives of the different crime genre staples, such as undercover feds, gang warfare, betrayals, family secrets, and unlikely alliances are deftly woven against the backdrop of an Indian reservation.  This unique twist of using the loose governance of such a setting, gives Aaron the room to draw a wide tapestry of multi-layered characters and story lines with depth.  The art of R.M. Guera is absolutely perfect for this book, and the overall execution and quality of the visuals cannot be understated.  Jock continues to put his ankle in it on cover duty.  Not since Ennis’ Preacher, have I seen such a perfect blend of character development, noir, humor, violence, mystery, and action.  With Aaron just wrapping up an action packed arc in issue #34, this single story issue is as good a time as any to jump on board.  Then do yourself a favor and pick up the trades and catch up after you buy this.

In a special stand-alone issue, we meet a couple of characters for the first and last time – an aging husband and wife who eke out a living in the harsh and rugged heart of the Badlands. Learn what it means to reside in the poorest community in the entire United States – and what it means to survive.

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Interview: Joshua Dysart writer of Unknown Soldier

One of Vertigo’s most raved about books is “Unknown Soldier” written by the incredibly talented Joshua Dysart.  Josh was kind enough to sit down with me at the Long Beach Comic Expo on Saturday, February 20th, to discuss Unknown Soldier, his previous work on HellBoy: “B.P.R.D. 1946” & “1947″, his upcoming book with Neil Young, “Greendale“, and a look back at “Tex“, his satiric take on George W. Bush before it was vogue to have one.  Be sure to follow Joshua on twitter at twitter.com/joshuadysart and visit his site at www.joshuadysart.com.

Download issue #1 of “Unknown Soldier” in PDF format for free.

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Staff Pick Mondays 2/22/10

Mike’s Picks

Unknown Soldier #17

Vertigo is sort of like the AMC of comics, not a lot of shows, but what is there is high quality.   Unknown Soldier is no different.  Forget the capes and powers for a second and allow yourself to be entertained with gritty, pulpy drama while learning a thing or two about the world.  Josh Dysart has immersed himself in this conflict to bring you a story you won’t forget.

Secret Warriors #13

Jonathan Hickman has been doing a great job of reintroducing Nick Fury and Hydra post-Secret Invasion into the Marvel U.  Nick Fury has always been one of my favorite characters, and his sparse use has elevated him to a legend.  Hickman, and his reputation for attention to detail, is in full effect here.  Stefano Caselli on pencils doesn’t hurt either.  He is a strong talent who is a perfect fit for the material.

Rob’s Picks

The Walking Dead 70

This is the most consistently great comic I have read in a long time. Whether you have read Kirkman’s other work or not, this is his magnum opus. publisher Image comics says, “Behind these walls everyone has their place; everyone has their job. There is no danger, there are no threats… everyone has hope. Will it last?” The cover shows us a melancholy foreboding, a sense of dread just under the surface of the quiet suburban town. I can’t wait.

Usagi Yojimbo 126

Curious about the rabbit ninja and this long-running comic? This might be the perfect place to jump in: “The rabbit ronin faces a terrifying creature from Japanese mythology in this creepy, self-contained story! Nukekubi are supernatural monsters that take the form of normal humans during the day, but at night can detach their heads to attack their unsuspecting prey.” The cover and subject matter alone make me want to grab this book right up.

Chris’s Picks

Avengers: The Initiative #33

This has been a pretty great series so far.  I am not usually an Avengers fan, but this Civil War story has been highly addictive.  I am really looking forward to seeing how the resistance handles taking on camp H.A.M.M.E.R..

Strange Girl: Limited Edition Complete Series

This is a great apocalyptic type series.  This series took on many questions of religion, while delivering a great story set in a dark time.  Keep an open mind and follow this awesome twisting tale down the rabit hole.  This is the series that started the careers of greats like Rick Remender and Eric Nguyen.  Snag this if you see it as only 1000 limited editions will be printed!

Tyler’s Picks

Flash: Rebirth #6

For a book about the Speed Force and the Fastest Man Alive, it feels like it has taken a year for this puppy to wrap up. And in fact, it nearly has. The first issue came out in April of last year. Whether it was the meticulous work of Ethan van Scriver or Geoff Johns forgot which story he was trying to tell between this and Blackest Night (in which Barry Allen is a significant participant), this book has as much energy and pulpiness as can possibly fit underneath the yellow boots.

The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade: The 11 1/2 Anniversary Edition (HC)

There isn’t a point in me pimping this book. Go and buy it you ninny. If you don’t know Gabe and Tycho, or the men behind their justified sense of gaming hubris, then you know nothing. Vapid little mindflayer that you are.

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The Pull List – Issue Three

So, every week we look forward to the new comics on the shelf. We also look forward to new trade paperbacks, or new anthologies, and maybe even older books or back issues we haven’t gotten to, yet. Could be digital comics on the PSP or the iPhone, or they could be dead tree editions. Regardless, we look forward to each new week as long as comics are being created and published. So, each week, we’ll present to you our “pull list.” The book or books that we’re most looking forward to this week – new, old, classic, retro, whatever. This week, Mike does his thang.

Sweet Tooth Written by Jeff Lemire; Art and Cover by Jeff Lemire

Sweet Tooth, by Canadian Jeff Lemire, can be described as ‘The Road’ meets ‘Bambi’ crossed with ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’.  Much like David Lapham (Stray Bullets, Young Liars), Lemire both writes and draws his vision so you know you are getting exactly what the creator intended.  There is a consensus that there are seven stories and twenty basic plots in the world and post-apocalyptic jouney tales are far from sparse, but Lemire’s take on it feels fresh.  Much like Kirkman’s ‘The Walking Dead”, you quickly stop caring about what caused the apocalypse and start caring about the characters.   Here there are two:  Jeppard, a gruff hard ass with a concious and Gus, a bizarre animal human hybrid with antlers, whom Jeppard nicknames ‘Sweet Tooth’ as the deer-boy likes candy.   The juxtaposition of  the road-toughened Jeppard against the naive and innocent Gus makes up most of the first arc as they make their to what Gus hopes is a safe haven.  There are two mysteries at work early on in this series, just what is Gus and who is Jeppard?  The appeal of the book is the slow burn that Lemire allows between the two main protagonists, as they build some trust before the first arc ends, but this is not decompression.  The story moves along and drops clues and informational nuggets at the right times to keep you enthralled. Do not expect to open the book and see a Bendis-like flood of word balloons.  The issues are a quick read, but the artwork begs you to slow down and really look at what Lemire has drawn.  His sketch lines, use of shadow, and somewhat abstract style really work well with this material and it’s quite an achievement the emotional aspects he is able to convey.  Like ‘Chew’, this is an offbeat and well done series that needs to reach an wider audience so we can keep it around.  The first issue of the 2nd arc just came out and is a great jumping on point if you are a fan of this genre.

G.I. Joe Cobra II; Written by Mike Costa and Christos N. Gage;  Art by Antonio Fuso; Variant Covers by Howard Chaykin

For a lot of comic fans in their mid-30′s, Marvel’s G.I. Joe was a gateway book to other titles.  Almost exclusively written by Larry Hama, the original 50 issues are considered classics.  The license has changed hands around 4 times and is now with IDW (Devil’s Due really struggled with their World War Three finale) and while even Hama himself is back on board, the real standout title with the reboot was G.I. Joe Cobra.  Counter to what had come before, the first mini-series went for a realistic, gritty approach and took both Chuckle’s undercover mission and the ruthlessness of Cobra very seriously.  Costa and Gage took advantage of the clean slate and made previously thought of as ridiculous characters like Chuckles, Jinx, and Xamot & Tomax, into hardcore players in this world of espionage and counter-intelligence.  Antonio Fuso also returns on art, and his style is reminiscent of Steve Epting and fits the grimey feel of the book perfectly.  Not to spoil anything, but from the cover of the first issue of the second arc (to the right), you can tell things didn’t work out so well for our boy Chuckles.  Part II begins similar it Part I, with Hawk coldly recruiting some fresh meat for the infiltration grinder, and whose goal is to ‘get Chuckles’.  This time around we also get a Cobra point of view from the assistant of Xamot & Tomax, Erika La Tene.  In another brilliant stroke, Costa and Gage manage to make the Croc Master actually work as a creepy Dr. Doolittle of deadly reptiles.  Any fan of GI Joe who long for a serious take with no black and white, good and evil archetypes, but instead some real gray areas that reflect the world today, this series is a must have.  ’Joe has been real hit or miss (mostly miss) lately, but Cobra really takes chances and deserves to be rewarded for it’s brave and mature reworking of this strip mined material.  And, those Howard Chaykin covers don’t hurt either.

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Monday Staff Picks for February 7

Chris’ Picks:
Choker #1
Having started to follow Ben Templesmith, I am excited for this comic.  The comic follows a private detective who is looking to nail a drug dealer.  The artwork should be phenomenal and the writing top notch.  I am very excited for this new comic!

Haunt #5
I am a big McFarlane fan.  I have enjoyed him since Spawn #1.  Haunt follows more death and suspense in the usual McFarlane way.  This issues is “supposed” to end a story arc that has been running for four issues.  Really stoked for this one.

Rob’s Picks:
Since Chris stole my Choker pick, here’s where I”m landing this week:

Known for his covers, Jock takes his special techniques to inside art, complementing Jamie Delano’s return to the famous supernatural detective, John Constantine, in Hellblazer: Pandemonium. I don’t think I can wait all the way to Wednesday to check this one out.

Giving in to my inner child is tons of fun, and this week, I may check out what many folks are raving about: The Muppet Show Comic Book #2. Of course, my ACTUAL children will want to give this one a read, and I’ll probably pick up #1 while I’m at the shop, if they have it.

Tyler’s Picks:

This week is all about the sublime delineations of Frank Quietly and increasingly complex archetype adjustments by Grant Morrison.

Batman and Robin #8 might only have a Quietly cover, but new penciler Cameron Stewart is doing his best to keep the book looking good. With Damien down for the count and Dick Grayson finding out just how difficult it is wearing Bruce’s cowl and following his primal desires, this book has become the go-to spot for the ongoing evolution in the new Batman mythos. And seeing as Morrison is the bastard who killed Bruce Wayne, its only fitting we get excited to see what crawls out of the long lost Lazarus Pit beneath London town.

Staying true to form, my softcover graphic novel pick of the week is All-Star Superman Vol. 2. Instead of alienating both fans and casual readers like Frank Miller did with All Star Batman and Robin, Morrison actually deepens the Superman lore and gives it a fresh universal appeal. With a tapestry of subtle quests, Superman is faced with his own impending death and sets out to accomplish 12 significant tasks, ranging from creating life to fixing the Sun’s heart. Morrison and Quietly deliver on a massive level with thoughtful and brilliant storytelling. If you missed these in issue form, now is the time to pick up both volumes.

Mike’s Pick:

I know the Punisher has been done to death, but Jason Aaron’s take on the birth of the MAX universe version of the Kingpin is as fresh and entertaining as the Frankencastle pulp tale that Rick Remender is telling in the 616 universe.  Steve Dillon’s heavy and deliberate line work, that worked so well on Ennis’ Preacher run, is in full effect here.  All the violence and sex that the MAX line allows is fully exploited here by Aaron in telling a witty and intelligent tale of a possible origin of one of the criminal legends of the Marvel U.  Do not miss Punisher MAX #4.

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Holy Crap It’s Hellblazer!

Written by Jamie Delano; Art and cover by Jock

Hellblazer is the second comic I ever collected, browsing my way through comic shops in the greater Los Angeles area as i attended UCLA in the early 1990s. Pulled in by Ennis, I got back issues whenever I could afford them, some by a writer I hadn’t heard of before by the name of Jamie Delano. Fast f

orward to NOW, and guess what’s happening? Vertigo says,

Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the first appearance of John Constantine, Jamie Delano – the very first HELLBLAZER writer – returns for a new original graphic novel! Joining him for the occasion is fan-favorite artist Jock (THE LOSERS), who – for the first time ever – uses the meticulous techniques he’s developed for his Eisner-nominated covers to illustrate a gripping horror story tailor-made for the 21st century.

You can be sure I’ve got my $25 tucked away for what will probably prove to be a fantastic and nostalgic romp thorugh the horror that is Delano’s Hellblazer. Stay tuned for our review, once I’ve devoured the book a couple of times.

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Joe The Barbarian #1 Review

Book: Joe The Barbarian #1
Publisher: Vertigo
Price: $1.00
Author: Grant Morrison
Art: Sean Murphy
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover: Sean Murphy
Verdict: Worth every cent; storytelling with depth

I’ve been a fan of Grant Morrison since The Invisibles. I bought the entire run of 52 in trade paperback due to his being on the title. Sadly it wasn’t enough to save that series from a big fat “meh.” I’ve been a fan of Vertigo since way the hell back when Neil Gaiman wrote the Books of Magic series, through the Hellblazer by Ennis, and then Ennis’ Preacher series.

So it was with great joy I read that Morrison was writing an 8 issue miniseries called Joe The Barbarian, about a young man who, well, I didn’t know who. Which is part of the joy.

So, for a dollar, I grabbed this book at the shop today, to check it out. The pdf preview up at Vertigo had intrigued me, especially with Sean Murphy’s On The Ledge column about how he had furnished this kid’s room with retro cool stuff like Atari, even though it’s set in the modern world. And, being a fan of MR. Morrison, I figured it would be a wham-bam crazy-fest bursting out of the front cover like a lost psillocybin weekend.

The Story:
Fascinatingly, this first issue is a slow burn full of set up and what I can only assume to be foreshadowing and visual hints at the story to come. The big comics-style Morrison wackiness happens late in the book, and is similarly paced at what I can only describe as a stretched out speed. The book begins with a glimpse into Joe Manson’s life: he draws comic-book looking robots, he’s a nerd being bullied by the jocks at school; the stereotypical surprisingly good looking girl who sees through her social conditioning is interested in him. His mom is really busy at work, but loves him, reminding him to eat his candy bar — which is then stolen from him by the aforementioned jocks, possibly setting up the story of hypoglycemic Joe, I figure. We learn, indirectly and gently, that Joe’s dad is dead and buried at the VA cemetery. We learn that they’re having to move out of the house they’re in now, and that Joe’s pretty bummed out.

There’s a back and forth between reality and not-reality that I found to be extremely compelling. I felt that there was a kinship with some of the better Philip K. Dick short stories, though it’s more me as reader that has to figure out what’s going on, as well as the character of Joe himself. Not knowing what’s happening definitely brings another level of depth to the read-through: every image and background detail could mean something tremendous.

The Artwork:
This is some brilliantly drawn and colored art. The muted tones of the coloring job, along with the crunchy, sketchy look of the pencils and inks, really bring a tone of sadness to the whole book. Honestly, I get the sense of the whole team working at the top of their game – art and words working together as a whole to tell the story. I might even feel comfortable in using the word, “immersive,” for this book. Time and future issues will tell, of course, and we’ll be bringing you the reviews as the books are released right here on Comics Are Evil.

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Exclusive first look at Three New Vertigo Covers

Today, Pamela Mullin at the Vertigo Blog (see the post here) is going to reveal covers to three graphic novels that are coming out this Fall.

The first one today is the (not-final) cover to the upcoming Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland, by Bill Willingham and artists Jim Fern and Craig Hamilton. Bigby Wolf searches for  a new home for Fabletown, in a book where he is apparently the star. We’ll keep updating this post as Vertigo reveals their three covers.

The second cover today is A SICKNESS IN THE FAMILY by award winning crime novelist Denise Mina in her first graphic novel and artist Antonio Fuso for Vertigo Crime.

Sometimes the greatest mysteries, and the most frightening horrors, occur right at home. I’m sure some of us can attest to that. Well, together, Mina and Fuso unravel a dark story of a family destroying itself from the inside out.

Third Cover Exclusive, right here, for How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less:

Like many bright, young Jewish Americans, Sarah Glidden participated in a Birthright trip to Israel. HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS by Glidden is her first person account of that journey. Here, she questions everything she knows, or thinks she knows, about Israel and being Jewish and everything her tour guides tell her about Israel and being Jewish.

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