Monday, September 3, 2012

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 8/29

American Vampire #30
Story: Scott Snyder
Art: Rafael Albuquerque

The current arc of American Vampire continues, taking us deeper into the 50s and one of the title vampires Pearl's hunt for the coven of vampires who attacked and nearly killed her human husband.  Pearl continues working with her sire, the first American vampire, former wild west outlaw Skinner Sweet, who is now forced to work with the anti-vampire organization the Vassals of the Morning Star. The fight between Pearl, Skinner, and the vampires is a beautifully choreographed fight sequence, and artist Rafael Albuquerque does an amazing job with it. The fact that the vampires now know the one weakness of the American breed makes the battle all the deadlier, and makes Skinner's treachery all the worse. Scott Snyder does a great job of balancing the incredible action scenes with the more personal moments of Pearl's time at Henry's bedside, her flashback to when he proposed, and the choice she makes at the end. The cliffhanger is heartrending, not an action based one, but one that has deep resonance with the personal lives of all of the principal characters of the series. Snyder promised in interviews that this is the arc that will change everything in the world of the series, and it looks like he's not pulling any punches, and I can't wait to see where he goes with it.

Before Watchmen: Minutemen #3
Story & Art: Darwyn Cooke

 Darwyn Cooke is a master storyteller, and this, the third issue of his written and drawn Before Watchmen: Minutemen mini-series, showcases his talents as both writer and artist. The issue is told primarily in a classic nine panel grid, which is used so infrequently in modern comics, but was the way Dave Gibbons structured the original Watchmen, making this issue as much an homage as a prequel. The issue also uses an interesting narrative; part of it told by Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl, through his recollections and memoir, while it is also told by a narrator who is not revealed until the end of the issue. Cooke plays with expectations on the second narrative, starting it off as seemingly a sexual encounter before using the story to reveal it's something else entirely. While Cooke is clearly using Nite Owl the most, being he is the narrator of much of the story, he has done an excellent job of fleshing out Silhouette, the female vigilante who was one of the minor characters from the original series. Her quest to protect children from those who would abuse them is noble, and she is dedicated to doing real good far more than most of her teammates. Knowing Silhouette's tragic end just makes the development of her character more tragic, and the story all the more engaging.

Locke & Key: Grindhouse
Story: Joe Hill
Art: Gabriel Rodriguez

Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's Locke & Key is one of the best modern horror comics on the market, and the inspiration for the best un-picked up TV pilot I have ever seen (Thank you IDW and NYCC 2011 ), and one of the comics I look forward to most when it comes out. This is a book that is going to get a full recommended reading come November, when the final mini-series chronicling the current generation of the Locke family is released, but I had to do a review of this one shot. Locke & Key is a series that has always done an amazing job of balancing the truly frightening with the very human, a coming of age story with magic keys and things from beyond reality. But as the title suggests, this is not a story that is going to be full of tender moments. In the 1930s, a trio of criminals attempt to use Keyhouse, the home of the Locke family and the magical keys, as a point to escape the law, and when they take the family hostage, things go poorly. For the criminals. The comic has the feel of a classic, pre-code horror comic, with the criminals receiving their due comeuppance. Artist Gabriel Rodriguez's style, while clearly recognizable as his own, has an edge here that fits the grittier tale he's telling. The backmatter in the issue is a treat for any fan of the series: architectural layouts of the entirety of Keyhouse, with views of the interior and exterior, with annotations from series writer Joe Hill. If you like horror comics and have never tried Locke & Key, or have already visited Key House, this is an issue not to be missed.

The Sixth Gun #24
Story: Cullen Bunn
Art: Brian Hurtt

"Winter Wolves" the new arc of The Sixth Gun, begins with this issue, and it seems like the cast of this weird western are in for a hard road. The Sword of Abraham, the order of warrior priests attempting the stave  off the apocalypse, are given a prophecy of doom from the mouth of the corpse of General Hume, the undead villain who has sought the six magical guns. Gord Cantrell, separated from the rest of the cast, continues to try to find his allies, while something has found him. But it's our hero and heroine, ne'er do well Drake Sinclair and possessor of the titular Sixth Gun Becky Montcrief, who are in the worst way. Drake and Becky are being pursued through a suddenly (and mystically) winter environment by the namesake of the arc, frightening mystical wolves. Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt are one of those great writer/artist teams who work together seamlessly. The story moves at a breakneck pace without seeming rushed, and the art is clean and cool, mixing both realistic looking characters with a great ability to showcase magic and monsters. They produce a great comic that blends horror and western into a dish that leaves you wanting more. Comics have always done a great job of blending these genres (DC's Jonah Hex stories over the years have been key examples), but The Sixth Gun takes it to a new level, building a continuing narrative and mythology that deepens with each arc.

No comments: