While the story moves forward and the format of how the story is being told makes more sense now, I still am finding it difficult to get my emotional footing. Kingsway is a killer, or at least war turned him into one, but the one thing that was keeping him human was the love of his life, his wife Sonia. Now, she’s been chased off and Kingsway and a kind of crazy guide, Zozo, along with her pet dragon are helping him find Sonia again. Even though Kingsway doesn’t want to kill, his hand is being forced and that’s drawing the attention of The United States of New York. See, this story is an alternate universe story where not everything has worked out as our own history has. Western and fantasy mythologies are shaking hands, all friendly like.
While the Engineer will continue on in Issue #1 of Aliens: Life and Death, the enigmatic creature was in the background for most of its own title. In Dan Abnett’s otherwise capable hands (His work so far with the Aliens, who I’m a huge fan of, and Predators, who I’m not a particular fan of, has been enjoyable.), a creature that deals with the manipulation of the beginnings of life became nothing more than Frankenstein’s Monster. The only motivation for this supposedly highly intelligent creature is simply to make it more difficult for our Colonial Marines to escape the planet. A slow-moving, grunting plot device. It gives me little hope for exploring what it is and what it wants in the forthcoming Alien title.
Tyler Crook’s artwork is lush and teeming with life, making the world of Harrow County one of the most fully realized landscapes in fiction today. His images are raw and breathtaking. They are both beautiful and haunting. They enliven the imagination by not only showing you what’s on the page, but making you wonder what’s beyond the panels. Without Crook’s artwork, I don’t believe Harrow County would be half as good as it is.
Joelle Jones takes time to mix in some flavorful ingredients into Issue#2 of Lady Killer 2, and it already begins to pay off. The best thing about good storytelling isn’t always in the payoff, but the feeling during the journey that things could go very wrong. That foreboding tickle at the back of your cranium that raises the blood pressure ever so slightly. The excitement and fear of the danger that is about to come. This second issue reminded me in many ways of an episode of Breaking Bad in its cadence and tone, finding a perfect balance between intelligence and enjoyment. It’s everything that this book has the potential to be.
For five issues now, Sarah Winchester has been fighting the literal and figurative demons caused by the violent deaths of the moneymaking and life-ending machine that is the Winchester Rifle. I’ve turned every page with wide-eyed fascination. This part-Western, part-horror story told by Peter J. Tomasi, Ian Bertram, Dave Stewart, and company is fueled by the anger and sadness at the state of the world we live in. This takes on a vivid clarity as the bitter irony of Sarah’s final, hopeful words are spoken. This hope prompts the feeling that we are still living out this tragedy today.
Margaret Atwood takes to comics, and, while at times charming, her Angel Catbird graphic novel lacks commitment to the absurdity of her idea and the logic within the story.
This first issue of Kingsway West jumps around a bit before we find our footing in the present story. Greg Pak (House of Penance) has created a brand new, but awfully familiar, world. It’s the era of the gold rush, the US is split between the Chinese and Mexicans, and the gold is red. Yes, Red Gold. This Red Gold powers a phenomenon that science cannot explain, especially since it can be used as a weapon. Everyone wants it, badly enough to go to war.
In the first issue of Conan the Slayer by Cullen Bunn (Harrow County) and Sergio Dávila, we followed a wounded Conan into a community of Kozaki warriors. After some grandstanding, Conan earned their trust and caused a divide between the father (leader of the pack) with his older son. The older son does not trust Conan. Conan trusts none of them.
I’ve spent many an hour both onstage and backstage creating impassioned pieces of live theatre, probably more hours than I care to admit. James Tynion IV is a writer whom I like very much; his Memetic and Cognetic books are trippy, David Cronenberg-esque sci-fi horror films that play as social satire, his UFOlogy harkens back to '80s films in which kids have to become the heroes, and his runs on a few different Batman titles - now specifically Detective Comics - have all been inspired. The Backstagers is nothing like any of them. It’s more of a Young Adult fantasy about the people who really bring to life the plays you might see or be a part in when you were in high school.
Reading House of Penance is like bathing in madness. It creeps into your psychological cracks like a good David Lynch film. This current issue finds that Sarah’s sister has returned to have her carted off to the madhouse. This inspires the first instance of violence we’ve seen on the Winchester’s mansion. You see, Sarah Winchester, who owns half of the Winchester fortune (the guns) has hired on a platoon of killers to work on her mansion. The workers create and recreate this maze of a mansion. Some doors lead nowhere, and some hallways and stairways lead nowhere. The banging of the hammers are supposed to keep the vengeful spirits that haunt Sarah at bay, but with that first instance of outright violence, order begins to lose against the chaos.