Monday, February 8, 2016

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 2/3

Nailbiter #19
Story: Joshua Williamson
Art: Mike Henderson & Adam Guzowski

So, for every answer we get in Nailbiter, two more questions get asked. "Devil Went Down to Georgia" wraps up with the answer to who is the Devil Killer, and we finally pay off Agent Barker's continued homicidal fantasies. The payoff on the identity of the Devil Killer is perfect, and made so much sense when I saw it I don't know how I hadn't put two and two together on it before; I want to reread the arc and see if there were clues laid out that I completely missed the first time. But that answer opens up a bigger question involving The Master (who I've called The Doctor in the past) and The Butcher, the serial killers who seemingly protect or control Buckaroo's secrets. Whatever they're doing, we now know that while it is tied to  Buckaroo, it is not exclusively linked to that locale, which adds a whole new level of creepy, knowing they can turn people wherever they want, or so it seems. So many questions! But beyond the plot, there's the usual excellent character work this book does. Alice finally wakes up from her coma, with Sheriff Crane waiting by her bedside, and the fact that Alice is about to learn about the truth of who her parents are can only mean big things for her next arc. Finch continues to be the rock the book rests on, the most stable (which is saying something since he has crazy rage issues himself)of the lot, but his interview with Edward Charles Warren, the Nailbiter himself, opens up with a question that I never thought to ask: How many of Warren's forty-six victims did he really kill? I've always chalked Warren's odd behavior to him being a serial killer with a code of ethics, but now I'm wondering how much of a serial killer he is. And we get to finally see more of Agent Carroll, who is now back in FBI care, since he had his legs and arms cut off in Buckaroo, presumably by The Butcher. And without spoiling anything, if you thought things couldn't get any worse for him, it can. I want to take a minute and really call out Mike Henderson's art on this issue and this title in general. This book is a synthesis of story and art like all comics, but Williamson and Henderson work together perfectly, Henderson has a sense of pacing that works really well in the horror scenes, like the confrontation between Barker and Carroll at the end of the issue, and he draws precise, intimate fight scenes; they're not your big superhero slugfests, but down-and-dirty, up close and personal fights. And his faces! This issue, there were some really great expressions, specifically a panel of Barker as she gets hit with the news there is no cure for what happens in Buckaroo, Finch as her begins to interview Warren, and pretty much all of Warren during that interview. The raw emotion or sly satisfaction are played out in a way that few other artists can capture. Nailbiter is taking a two month break between issues, one for the new trade and one for a hardcover of the first two arcs. I'm planning a full recommended reading for the book in between now and then to really spread the word, so if you like horror or suspense, really give it a shot. You won't be disappointed.

Princeless- Raven: The Pirate Princess #5
Story: Jeremy Whitley
Art: Rosy Higgins & Ted Brandt

I'm about to speak a blasphemy. As much as I love Princeless, and I love Princeless, I think I'm starting to love the spinoff, Raven: The Pirate Princess, even more. It has everything Princeless has, all the amazing female characters, social commentary, smart plots, only there's even more of it. This issue takes place on Raven's pirate ship as the all female crew of pirates she took on last issue are just getting their sea legs. Before this issue, the women were pretty much just first mate Katie's role-playing friends, but this issue we get to tour the ship with Ximena, Raven's former best friend and current navigator of the ship, and get a brief moment with most of the crew. There are women who are physically fit and looking for challenges that way, there are some who are playing games, some who are just working around the ship. One is deaf, one is lounging around, one is wearing something akin to traditional hijab, and there's a brief discussion about the choice to wear that, and how others might view it as oppression but in many cases, the women who wear them are doing so by their choice, which was something that got Ximena to think, and me too. This really impressed me, since it would be so easy to have a ship full of red shirts, since it's an entire crew, and just focus on Raven, Ximena, Katie, Sunshine, and Jayla, the five characters we met in the first arc. Giving these characters in the crew fuller personality means the reader has more buy in, and I know I don't want to see any of them die or be hurt; I don't think I felt that about any random crewman on the Enterprise. A lot of Raven's part of this issue sees her getting her feet under her as a captain. There's a lot about Raven that I like. Despite being captain, she's willing to make much of what the ship does a democracy, as long as her crew remembers who's in charge during battle; democracy during fights gets people killed. She wants to be the best captain she can be. And when she has to deal with Jayla, resident scientist and doctor of sorts, who is being something of a complete brat, when she stops to think, she gives Jayla a shot, and assures her that people will listen. Jayla is the youngest of the crew, and a lot of her bratiness comes from wanting to be taken seriously. This is the first issue of the series with the whole cast, and we're already getting relationships building, be it Sunshine befriending Jayla after Jayla put together a seasickness cure, or the continually frayed relationship between Raven and Ximena. I'm also impressed by the fact that Rosy Higgins has created a crew of I think sixteen characters all with diverse ethnicity and body type who are also facially distinct. Each issue of Raven: The Pirate Princess builds off the last and gives us more and more characters to love, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when the crew does their first pirating. That has to be coming, after all, because they're pirates, but for now, this issue is a wonderful calm before the storm.

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