Judas Tree


Trees #1

A new science fiction series from Warren Ellis is always worth checking out. Our premise here is that a decade ago, the aliens showed up on Earth. They drove thousands of implausibly gigantic metal towers into the planet, reaching who knows how deep or how high — and they’ve never bothered to say a word to us. They’ve completely ignored every attempt to communicate. So now, humanity has to live with the gigantic Trees that have scarred entire cities. In Rio de Janeiro, they release some sort of waste product that kills thousands of people; in New York, the city has been wrecked and divided between haves and have-nots; in China, a whole city has sprung up around one of the Trees; and in the Arctic, the Trees have started producing their own life. What does it all mean?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Most of this issue is about establishing our premise and our setting — and they’re very, very interesting. The art by Jason Howard does a lot for establishing how grand and how brain-breaking the Trees are and for creating this world that’s impossibly strange and perfectly familiar. Let’s all enjoy this one, folks.


Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #1

Do you know how much I loved “Nightbreed” when I saw it — gee whiz, all the way back in 1990? I loved that movie so blasted much. Yeah, it was flawed in some really important ways, but I still loved it, loved the monsters, loved the setting, loved the characters, loved the bits I read about in Fangoria that never made it into the actual film, loved the Clive Barker story it was based on. Oh, they’re making a new comic about it? Yes, I’ll be down with that.

Our first issue follows the Nightbreed through the past. We watch a couple escaped slaves trying to flee through the Louisiana swamps — until one of them is bitten by the tentacle-haired Peloquin and turned into a new Nightbreed. And in Boston in 1945, a clean-living senator pays a secret visit to a house of ill repute — and the beautiful but prickly Shuna Sassi.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a nice start to the series — and Nightbreed-in-History format looks like it’ll be a nice way to avoid trying to make a not-a-sequel sequel. It might be a little disappointing not to get to roam around Midian itself, this approach seems like it’ll be promising, too.


Southern Bastards #2

Earl Tubb is really looking forward to getting out of Craw County, Alabama. He wasn’t able to chop down the tree growing out of his daddy’s grave, but he’s got the old homestead packed up and ready to leave in the morning. All he needs to do is find something to keep him occupied on one Friday night. So he goes to the local high school football game. He’d played for the Rebs years ago, but things are different now. Coach Boss runs the team, Coach Boss runs the town, Coach Boss runs everything. And when Earl’s old friend Dusty winds up on the field beat to death by Coach Boss’s goons, and the local law won’t do anything because they don’t want to make Coach Boss mad, Earl is still planning on letting it go and getting the hell out of town — until a storm and a bolt of lightning help change his mind.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Such grimy, rotten, chicken-fried noir — it’s pert-near perfect. It feels hot and humid and bloody and chaw-stained, like it’s all baked right into the pages. Southern noir doesn’t get done often enough for my tastes, and it’s nice to see it done so wonderfully here.

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