Archive for Saucer Country

The Hypno-Hustler

Saucer Country #5

New Mexico Governor and presidential candidate Arcadia Alvarado pays a visit to shady hypnotherapist Dr. Glass with a specific plan — to let him hypnotize her so she can learn more about what happened when she was abducted by aliens, and at the same time, to lie to Glass — yes, even under hypnosis — to make sure that the revelations he got from her ex-husband’s hypnotherapy session are discredited. Glass is, of course, furious, but his conspiracy-theory co-conspirators seem to be happy with what little they’ve learned. Meanwhile, Gov. Alvarado and her staff begin making plans for how they can use the campaign as cover to investigate the aliens and find more evidence.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, interesting dialogue, nice characterization. Lots of interesting stuff happening here — just five issues in, and we’re already seeing the main characters taking control of their destinies, whereas in many other comics, they’ll spend at least six issues reacting to everything…

American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #2

Agent Hobbes of the Vassals of the Morning Star reveals to former Agent Felicia Book that the secret that had previously been kept under the organization’s London headquarters was… Dracula. Well, maybe not the fictional character, but the first and most powerful of the Carpathian vampires, able to control the mind of almost any Carpathian, able to survive being staked through the heart and even able to control minds while dormant. The Russians are about to get their hands on him — they don’t want to revive him, they just don’t want the Brits to have him — but Tommy Glass, the bespectacled American Renfield, has a plan to help revive his master — and if he’s successful, the whole world is in danger…

Verdict: Thumbs up. A lot of exposition here, but it’s all really interesting exposition, and it’s balanced with plenty of plot movement, too. Wow, this Dracula vampire sounds like serious bad business, don’t he?

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Massive Attack

The Massive #1

In the first issue of this new series (though it got some short previews in previous issues of “Dark Horse Presents,” the ecology of the planet is finally falling apart due to environmental damage, leaving billions of people starving and dying. Into the chaos of this new world sails a small ship called the Kapital. Its crew used to be part of a radical environmental group called the Ninth Wave, but their old mission has mostly solved itself — not a lot of whalers around anymore, and mass fishing operations have disappeared. Of course, that’s not a lot of comfort in a world where everything’s dying.

The crew of the Kapital — Callum Israel, Mag Nagendra, a woman who just goes by the name Mary, and a few others — have new missions — survive, and try to find their sister ship, a larger vessel called the Massive, which vanished mysteriously during a storm. The crew of the Kapital doesn’t think the Massive has been destroyed or sunk, because they keep getting brief radar signals that appear to be the Massive, but they’ve never managed to track down or communicate with it.

Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of desperation in the world, and the Kapital must keep an eye out for marauding pirates — and though Callum Israel wants them to remain a pacifist ship, the rest of the crew recognizes that they don’t have that luxury anymore. Can they avoid their enemies, find supplies, find their sister ship, and still have a chance to save the earth?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A great set-up for a new series. Excellent mood, too, with the ever-present and ominous fog helping to bring home the idea that the Earth’s environment and atmosphere have undergone critical and potentially deadly changes. We get some small background on the current state of the world, but most of the emphasis here is on characters, dialogue, and plot developments. And the art’s nice, too. So this one goes in the Win column

Saucer Country #4

There’s so much stuff going on in this issue — Governor Alvarado’s ex-husband recounts his outlandish post-hypnosis memories of his abduction by aliens, but Professor Kidd recognizes the name of the hypnotherapist — a UFO fanatic and publicity hound who may have implanted false memories under hypnosis. The governor’s bodyguards clash with the Secret Service. The hypnotherapist has some shady contacts with a paranoid talk-radio host and a conspiracy-minded ex-military man.

Verdict: Thumbs up — really, this issue felt like a bunch of tiny stories that were there mostly to advance the main plot — no serious developments or action sequences or freaky stuff. But I still liked it. Sometimes, you just gotta do an issue that’s a little slow for the sake of plot advancement. Besides that, the dialogue is nice, the characterization seems very good, and I’m still quite happy with how things are going.

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Space Bunnies

Saucer Country #3

Michael Alvarado, ex-husband of New Mexico governor and Democratic presidential candidate Arcadia Alvarado, has gone to see his not-entirely-ethical hypnotherapist, who is helping him relive his last abduction experience. Michael’s terrified subconscious insists on seeing the aliens as giant bunnies — but before he gets too far into his account, the governor’s bodyguard bursts in, knocks Michael around, and hauls him out. Meanwhile, disgraced professor Joshua Kidd meets Harry Brooks, the governor’s chief of staff, and Chloe Saunders, the Republican consultant working for the Alvarado campaign, immediately proves his bona fides on the question of alien abductions and gets a lot of his suspicions confirmed when he meets the governor herself. And the shady hypnotherapist breaks a few patient confidentiality agreements by calling up a Limbaughesque conspiracy-minded talk radio host to spill the beans on the Alvarados’ experiences. And Michael is about to get one more abduction experience, too…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Holy zippers, I’m loving this series so much. It’s fun for me, as a former New Mexican, to watch the setting details from the Land of Enchantment flash by, and we’re about to get even more fun background on UFO abductee culture. The art is fun, and there are just trainloads of excellent weirdness getting dropped into our laps. Are you reading this? You need to be reading this. Go read this now.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth – The Devil’s Engine #1

Andrew Devon, estranged agent of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, is traveling with Fenix, a girl who might be psychic and might just be crazy. They’re getting ready to board a train that will take them to the BPRD’s headquarters when Fenix gets one of her feelings and decides they shouldn’t ride the train after all. Unfortunately, her dog is already packed into cargo, and she won’t go anywhere without him. Elsewhere, the diabolical Nazi-loving Zinco corporation is up to its old tricks — including hanging out with Nazis who should’ve died decades ago. And Fenix’s premonitions about the train continue as the trip goes from bad to worse.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see Fenix again. Not so nice to see Andrew Devon, who’s still a jerk. The developing mood of doom is very well-done, too — we don’t get anything quite as horrific as the cover suggests, but it’s still looking to be a hard road forward for our heroes.

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Aliens and Sedition Acts

Saucer Country #2

Arcadia Alvarado, Democratic Governor of New Mexico, has just announced she’s running for president — mere moments after realizing that she’d recently been abducted by aliens and that they are definitely not coming in peace. Harry, her chief-of-staff, and Chloe, the Republican consultant who’s helping troubleshoot her campaign, don’t really believe her, but Harry’s loyal to his boss, and Arcadia offers Chloe permission to write a tell-all book about her if her campaign fails. They hire Professor Kidd, a disgraced academic who can talk to the invisible spirits of the Pioneer 10 couple, to see if he can assist on the quest. And Arcadia’s ex-husband, who apparently has a past history of seeing weird stuff, goes to see a hypnotherapist to help him straighten out his head — and gets it messed up worse than before.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This series has just barely started, so there is still time for you to jump on board and enjoy this one — so go get it. The story is fantastic, the mystery is developing excellently, and the entire thing is even more fun than I was expecting. Go get it, people, go get it.

The Unwritten #36

The Tinker, elderly Golden-Age superhero, wakes up from being dead to find himself on an endless, decaying staircase. Eventually, he falls off — and falls and falls and falls — before landing on a great plain where a vast number of refugees — all from various forms of fiction — are fleeing something they call “the Wave” that will completely annihilate anything it reaches. Soon afterwards, the Tinker meets up with our old pal Pauly Bruckner, furiously foul-mouthed storybook rabbit, still desperate to regain his human form. The superhero and the bunny wander the countryside, encountering a castle of Pauly’s children, going through the Tinker’s inventory of legendary swords, and withstanding a stampede of the most famous locations in fiction. But do they have any chance against the Wave itself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s great to see both Pauly and the Tinker again, and just as fun to watch some of the great elements of fiction track past, too — the Lone Ranger, Alice in Wonderland, Sancho Panza, Stormbringer, the Eye of Zoltec, the House of Secrets, the House of Leaves, and so many more. I think I love these once-a-year visits with Pauly more than anything else in this comic…

Batwoman #8

Once again, we’ve got several different stories told around different characters and time periods. Batwoman fight off a bunch of Gotham’s urban legends, Agent Chase pressures Kate to use her relationship with Maggie Sawyer to get info for her kidnapping of Sune from police custody. We also get to see the Hook’s origin, Jacob Kane keeps trying to rouse Bette from her coma, and Batwoman gets an unexpected ally in the fight against Medusa.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great story, great art, loads of creepy stuff and excellent action. My lone complaint is that this is the last issue we’ll get to enjoy Amy Reeder‘s fantastic artwork.

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Saucer Invasion

Saucer Country #1

This is a new Vertigo series, written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Ryan Kelly. The initial description really grabbed me for two reasons — first, I’ve got a weakness for all things New Mexico because I lived in the Land of Enchantment for a couple decades, and second, I’ve been a colossal cynic and disbeliever in UFOs, which is very big business in parts of the state. So yeah, this one was almost designed to make me want to read it.

Our lead character is Arcadia Alvarado, Democratic Governor of New Mexico. She’s preparing to announce that she’s running for President, making preparations with her chief-of-staff and a Republican consultant who’s agreed to help her campaign, dealing with an alcoholic ex-husband… and she’s just been abducted by aliens. Is this going to end the campaign before it even begins, or does this make things even more urgent?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very fun story, very engaging, with great dialogue and characterization. The art makes the scenery look genuinely New Mexican, and it has plenty of wonderfully creepy moments as well. Alvarado’s announcement speech is a barnburner, too — some smart candidate could hire Paul Cornell as a speechwriter. All that, plus we get to meet the Pioneer 10 couple! All told, it’s a great first issue, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Batgirl #1

Frustrated by her difficulty in getting re-adjusted to beating up criminals, Batgirl goes to see Black Canary in the hopes that sparring with her will help her get her fighting spirit back. Dinah gives her a mission to handle for the Birds of Prey — a gang leader called Grotesque is holding up a high-society party, and Batgirl needs to bring him down. Unfortunately, the villain kills the party host while demanding an incredibly rare bottle of wine. She’s able to beat down his goons, but Grotesque still almost kills Batgirl in the sewers — and then she discovers something awful about one of his henchmen.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story, excellent dialogue. Erm, not a lot else I can think to say about it, but I was happy with what I read.

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