Hello darkness, my old friend.
There’s a new genre making itself known in the gaming sphere at the moment that is being termed as “immersive storytelling” by…people who name such things. This genre is defined by typically nonviolent, but highly engaging, single-person narratives that leave the player alone in spaces that have been uninhabited by other people. Games like Gone Home, Tacoma, and Firewatch are leading the forefront of this new space, and I bring them up because I see a lot of similarity between them and Simon Birks and Tom Eddy's Gone. With a protagonist whose presence is often dwarfed by the omnipresent heavy and mysterious atmosphere, the emptiness fights our little, robotic hero as ruthlessly as any antagonist, holding its secrets with a tenacity that engages the reader far more than you’d expect in such a simple presentation.
You seem familiar to me…
Titan’s blurb promoting their new series, The Chimera Brigade, seemed to imply a new super-verse for readers that would be set in World War II. I thought that this was going to be something new, with the powered individuals receiving their gifts by way of chemical and radiological weapons from the trenches of The Great War. Upon meeting this new group, however, it seems that things are going to more closely clone the Big Two than I had reasonably expected. At first I was taken aback by it, especially with how far artist Gess went to make sure that we knew the inspiration behind each superhuman (which I’ll get into in a second). It seems, instead, that this book will be focused more on the daughter of Madame Curie who seems slated to be a witness to history rather than its author as her mother was.
“I prefer not to know what it’s like to not be in awe of the stars.”
I love that Dark Horse has been collecting Eric Powell’s Goon trades into these library volumes. It’s a great way to see how his work evolves over time and really be able to appreciate the man as an artist with a longer perspective than just in the trades or single issues. This volume picks up right after the Chinatown storyline, and you can see the heavy influence of the story on our hero as well as the gravitas on Powell’s work. The result? First, we get a return to the crude humor and sensational horror that we’ve been used to, but we also get to see Powell open up more ideas, allowing himself more creative license within the framework to tell unique stories that continue the tradition of Chinatown’s growth, while still acknowledging the roots of the series as a whole, and turning it into something far greater than one may have expected from its humble knife-in-the-eye beginnings.
Friendship can light any darkness.
It happens to everyone: You’re in your home, safe in your bed, and, suddenly, you bolt upright. Something has moved, something made a noise, something is out there. You turn your light on, and you feel better. You may check your room, peek out the window, take a light-footed stroll through the house, but you allay your fears, the insidious fear of familiar spaces in the dark. Even places we’ve lived in our whole lives become otherworldly and alien when the lights go out; it’s part of us being creatures addicted to sight. The worst is being alone in the dark: no way to bring light and no one to comfort you. That’s the underlying thought behind Lyndon White’s all-ages book, Sparks and the Fallen Star, an adventure in total darkness, where you find that the bravest thing, sometimes, is just to stand with someone.
Will you just stand here? Mind your chin on the trapdoor then…
Skottie Young returns to his drawing duties, and we're given another fun turn as he explores one of the conventions he leans on heavily in this world: Larry's Hat of Holding. First off, this is the first he's referred to it, so the name made my polyhedral-rolling self squee a bit, but it's really entertaining that he takes the existence of it as an excuse to make an entire issue. Having been adventuring in Fairyland for three decades, lot of things have ended up in this magic chapeau: critters, weapons, people, and an unspeakable evil or two.
Honor is a tithe paid in blood.
I love westerns. It wasn’t always the case, but after I spent some time driving out west and seeing the land, I found an appreciation of the genre. Rick Remender has a new series that is draped in his sci-fi sensibilities but has the West at its heart, and it perfectly utilizes the slow burn to great effect. In Seven to Eternity, folks who haven’t sold out to the Mud King (equivalent to greedy landowners and bankers, but seemingly with more of the whole “your soul is mine” kind of vibe gong on) have been either subsumed in a great war or pushed to the outer boundaries of the world. One family has stayed out of his reach, but when their patriarch is brought low, they’ll have to decide how they’ll move on, and not everyone can agree how it should be done.
When last we met our intrepid heroes, Emporia, Tor, and Dane were trying to find their way back to the children who were about to get a good look at the inside of a grenade and then the vast expanse of the vacuum of space. Cheery. Things get explosive at the top of this one (Yeah, I sometimes want to slap me, too.), and we see the results. With the rash of insanity that we’ve seen so far, I can say there are a few moments of calm in this issue, but as you would expect, they don’t last long at all.
To the top of the roof, to the top of the wall…
Myths are an incredibly important part of the human condition. We weave tales into our collective consciousness that become the foundation of our shared experience. With the incredible increase of content outlets in the last decade, people are becoming much more fragmented in their entertainment options and the stories that bind us together, but myths are deeper than that. They envelope and transcend television, internet, and radio. The mythos of Santa Claus is one such, and though the holiday that’s associated with his story is Christian in nature, I’m a firm believer that it has spun away from that context to be its own unique, non-denominational entity, where the traditions that predate Christianity within his tale are coming to the fore every now and again. Jim Butcher has done it with a wonderfully joyful and sinister approach, and then there’s Action Lab’s Sleigher which is ridiculawesome, but Grant Morrison approaches this paragon of goodness and giving in his own way, putting his own unique touch on a story that lives within a large part of people.
Fol rol de ol rol.
I first read Neil Gaiman’s Troll Bridge in his short story collection, Smoke and Mirrors. In typical Gaiman fashion, it’s a story that is both familiar and disquieting, one where you feel like you’ve heard it before but you’re still surprised by events. In that way I’ve always found his writing to be a little like a nightmare, but one that I can’t stop myself from wanting more of. I’m not sure that this entirely makes sense, but it does convey the fact that I’m already familiar with the tale and that I find the original work terribly moving and upsetting (again, in a good way. It’s so hard to accurately describe this without the weight of word connotation misconstruing my meaning. Gaiman makes me have to redefine language.).