Archive for Shutter

Behind the Mask


Shutter #9

Kate Kristopher has met way too many siblings lately, and her newest one, Kalliyan, wants her to activate a mystic gate to a strange alternate world called Prospero. Only Kate — or her younger brother, Chris — can open the gate, and Kalliyan plans to take an armed expedition across to get what she wants from them. Kate has some other ideas, though, which Kalliyan may not like very much.

Verdict: Thumbs up, but I got a lot more enjoyment out of the prequel with the Prospero Society in 1889 Paris. It had all the weirdness and menace that the current storyline is presently lacking.


Ghosted #17

Jackson Winters and his team of ghost hunters use a “white room” to travel to the scene of the German wedding massacre from last issue. But they find Markus Schrecken and the Maestro waiting for them, along with a captive Edzia Rusnak and a bunch of angry ghosts. He wants to force Jackson to steal death itself for him — and some more betrayals from his own team puts Jackson in deep trouble on this one.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Also not as good as some previous issues have been, but you gotta give this one some points for the backstabbing and scheming going on here — it’s just a perfect synthesis of heist-caper shenanigans.


Southern Bastards #7

We continue with the backstory of Euless Boss, current crime boss and coach of the Runnin’ Rebs, back when he was just a lowly high school student desperate to play for the team. Last issue, a lowlife shot Euless in the foot, keeping him from finally getting to play for the Rebs. He slowly recovers, throws his thuggish father out of his life, and makes it back onto the field, where he’s a superstar player, getting all the big hits and never quitting, even when his leg’s broken on the field. But he’s still not getting any offers from any college teams — his only way out of the hell of Craw County, Alabama. Is Euless going to be stuck here forever?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I can barely believe it, but this storyarc is actually making me root for the loathsome Coach Boss. He just can’t seem to catch a break — and I think I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s going to get back at everyone who’s been holding him down.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Here’s a decent sale on a bunch of digital D&D books, from the boxed set all the way to the new fifth edition. Y’all go get your gaming on.
  • Y’all need some keen patriotic slogans? North Korea has got you covered.
  • Really interesting story about some small African villages that are using their mosquito nets for fishing, which puts a crimp on the fight against malaria and may also be harming fishing.

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Everyone Needs a Friend


Shutter #8

Kate Kristopher and her recently-discovered half-brother Chris have been captured by one of her other previously-unknown siblings, the vengeful Kalliyan, who takes them both to her home in Cambodia. Chris is making new friends, and he’s being treated a great deal better than Kate, who Kalliyan appears to blame for a lot of her misfortunes over the years. Meanwhile, Alarm Cat recently lost his head. He’s still functional, but he’s settling into a bout of serious depression. Can Chris help him recover?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It was all fine, but I found myself a lot more interested in the backstory of Alarm Cat (told through a bunch of excellently created comic strip knockoffs) and his struggles with the loss of his head.


Rat Queens Special: Braga #1

We get a story fully focused on the one-eyed orc princess Braga and her history — she started out as Broog, the son of an orc chieftan, and the mightiest orc warrior around. But he was less interested in battle and more in pushing orc society higher — and that meant education, less slavery, and a lot less war. But his father wasn’t happy with that, and his younger brother saw a way to advance his own cause. What finally pushed Broog out of his tribe and deprived him of the people he loved?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very cool story and great art, along with an unexpected story about a character we never knew was transgender ’til now. There’s action and intrigue and humor and smart dialogue and characterization and even a little sex. Worth picking up if you love the Rat Queens characters.


Lazarus #14

Forever Carlyle has been sent to kidnap her traitorous brother Jonah from the diabolical Jakob Hock — and then to kill him, while making it look like Hock did the deed himself. But Forever isn’t so keen on blindly following every order her father gives her anymore. So she helps Jonah escape — in a desperately risky way that makes it look like he’s dead. But they’ve gotten away with it — everyone thinks Hock had Jonah killed. But Hock has his allies among the families, and he’s going to order one of their Lazarii to fight Forever to the death.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic story and artwork, with lots of action, claustrophobic intrigue, devilish double-dealing. Jakob Hock is a desperately awful villain, and I hope he gets what’s coming to him.


Silver Surfer #8

Norrin gives Dawn Greenwood a chance to drive his board, and her entirely unpredictable surfing style accidentally leads them to a world the Surfer has never seen before — Newhaven, where the entire population is composed of the sole survivors of lost alien races — in fact, they’re all from worlds devoured by Galactus! And when they learn that Norrin is really the Silver Surfer, Herald of Galactus, they reveal to Dawn his history helping to slaughter entire worlds. Is this the end of their budding relationship? And is it the beginning of a new rampage by the Devourer of Worlds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent story and art — though I do wonder how Dawn never managed to hear about who Galactus was…

Today’s Cool Links:

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Which Planet?


Bitch Planet #1

Basically, it’s a women-in-prison comic — set in spaaaaace, and written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. It’s the horrible future, and there’s a whole planet where Earth sends women who are criminals or unpleasant or unattractive or inconvenient or no longer desired. Escape is questionable, survival is unlikely, and mercy is almost entirely impossible.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s still way too early — we don’t meet many characters — or at least we don’t meet them as anything other than stereotypes. But what we’re getting here is heavy focus on the setting and themes. We’ve got many issues to get to know the women here better, and if we know DeConnick, she’ll have lots of great surprises in store for us as to these people’s personalities.


Shutter #7

Kate Kristopher, her newly-discovered brother Chris, and her trusty robot cat pal are being attacked by a freakin’ gigantic dragon. But luckily, they don’t end up destroyed — they just get dragged off to Cambodia to meet up with another newly-discovered sibling — one with a particularly impolite method of greeting her long-lost sister.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of outstanding action and weirdness. Holy shmokes, the dragon is all kinds of freaky, and Kate’s sister is pretty dang weird, too.


Southern Bastards #6

More of the rotten childhood of Coach Boss, back when he was just a scrawny kid from the wrong side of the tracks who wanted desperately to play football. The coach didn’t want him, the other players didn’t want him, his dad didn’t want him. The only person willing to give him any help at all is Coach Big, an old blind black man who knows football better than anyone in Craw County. But even as he improves enough to let him play on the team, there may still be something serious that’ll keep him off the field.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More grungy Southern noir, with more emphasis on football and race in the South. And so very much more crime, seen close-up from Euless Boss’s point of view. It’s interesting to see the unloveable Coach Boss back when he still had a chance to be something other than a crime kingpin…

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Merry Christmas from the Avengers!
  • For your holiday sippin’, here’s Ike’s Eggnog.
  • This article about the ongoing D&D revival isn’t all bad, but it has a lot of the stuff that concerns me about the whole phenomenon. Ultimately, it’s not about much more than nostalgia, plus there’s a lot of weird anti-tech, anti-modernity, anti-younger generation bulldada wrapped up in this stuff. Playing in-person pen-and-paper RPGs won’t save the world, and the Internet won’t doom the world either. Anyone who thinks the younger generation is less imaginative because they grew up with computers instead of D&D is just playing the bash-the-youngsters game, and that’s one of the worst games out there.

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The Girl in the Spider Suit


Edge of Spider-Verse #2

Goodness knows there’ve been plenty of women who’ve taken on the mantle of Spider-Man over the years. There’ve been multiple Spider-Women and Spider-Girls and the occasional Araña — but this particular character has really seemed to grab a lot of attention, and though I haven’t been all that interested in the upcoming Spider-Verse crossover, this definitely looked like something worth checking out.

We’re visiting an alternate universe in this story, with an alternate spider-powered superhero. In this case, the person who got bitten by that radioactive spider was Gwen Stacy. She becomes the hoodie-wearing heroine Spider-Woman. Peter Parker, obsessed with getting back at bullies, turns himself into the Lizard, but dies when Gwen subdues him. As a result, she’s wanted by the police, including her father, Police Captain George Stacy. And Gwen tries to work out the frustrations of her life by drumming in Mary Jane Watson’s all-girl rock band, the Mary Janes.

Anyway, while Gwen is busy flaking out on her band, the Kingpin has hired the Rhino (through Matt Murdock — for shame, Daredevil!) to kill Captain Stacy. Can Gwen make it to her gig, save her father, and keep him from blowing her own head off?

Verdict: Thumbs up. There aren’t many characters who’ve gotten as bum a rap as Gwen Stacy — she’s still best known as the original Woman in a Refrigerator, killed primarily to motivate a male superhero. So this issue — giving her some real agency, giving her the real powers, giving her an awesome costume, even giving her an actual hobby, because her only previous hobby was being Peter Parker’s doomed pretty girlfriend — this is something that’s really kinda glorious.

I’d love to see her — and her entire supporting cast and universe — in an ongoing series. And frankly, if that’s not already in Marvel’s plans, they’re completely out of their minds. Buzz for this single issue has been incredible, and no smart publisher lets that much positive attention fade away.


The Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors from the Counter World #1

Alright, that’s gotta be the grand prize winner in the over-long title contest, don’t it?

On Earth-20, a great world war has just ended, and the planet’s greatest heroes — two-fisted spellslinger Doc Fate, roving adventurer Immortal Man, the barnstorming pilots of the all-girl Blackhawk Squadron, the sweater-vest-wearing Mighty Atom, and demonic-in-appearance Abin Sur — join together as the Society of Super-Heroes. But terrible challenges are on the horizon — there’s an invasion coming from an alternate universe, with supervillains who are near-perfect opposites of the heroes. Soon, Vandal Savage, Felix Faust, Lady Shiva, Count Sinestro, Blockbuster, and their armies of zombies are on a rampage across the planet. Can anything save them all from the unstoppable threat?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s grand pulp adventure, the kind of thing no one publishes anymore. Loved the characters (well, other than Count Sinestro, who we meet for just a single panel when he’s already unconscious, but I bet he woulda been fun), loved the dialogue and story, and of course, Chris Sprouse’s art was wonderfully pulptastic.


Shutter #6

Kate Kristopher and her surprise baby brother Chris are on the run. Ekland and Shaw are assigned to capture them alive — but that doesn’t turn out real well for them. Kate forces Ekland to tell her who hired her — and in answer, she hands over her phone and tells her if she calls the only number on the phone, the client will be able to track her. Kate decides to bargain with the client — and discovers that the client is very, very, very bad news.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wildly weird and violentastic. And the cliffhanger is a real jaw-dropper. It sucks that we’re going to have to wait ’til December to find out how this turns out.

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Our friend SpaceBooger has had a hectic life lately — but it sounds like things are going great right now.
  • A great long-read on the history of Wonder Woman and her original creators.
  • Writers who get mad at tropes are as nutty as people who get mad about breathing air.
  • Twitter users help track down a bunch of gay-bashing preppies.
  • Zoe Quinn writes for Cracked about what it’s like to be the target of the #GamerGate douchebags.
  • And speaking of #GamerGate, those guys are so nice and wholesome, they went and called in bomb threats on an award presentation that wasn’t being douchebaggy enough for them. You can always trust terrorists, right?

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Shuttering in the Cold


Shutter #5

Kate Kristopher has just met the little brother she never knew she had. He seems like a nice kid. Likes dinosaurs, is really nervous around Kate (she keeps cussing and yelling at all the other monsters in the mansion), and is just under nine years old — which sets off another round of cussing from Kate, because her dad died ten years ago — and, as we find out, in entirely shocking circumstances.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The real magic in this issue is the interaction between Kate and her newfound brother, Chris Jr. — as well as Kate’s more furious interaction with her former nanny. Which isn’t to say there isn’t some wonderfully weird action, particularly in the flashback to Kate’s final mission with her dad.


Coffin Hill #10

In the present day, Eve Coffin is in prison, hated by both the prisoners and the guards, while demonic monsters stalk teenaged girls in the forest. In the past, Officer Eve Coffin is working on a way to catch the serial killer prowling in Boston.

Verdict: Thumbs down. The main problem is that the story is all over the place, across two different time periods, nine different settings, and at least a dozen different characters. I felt worn out just trying to keep up with what was going on.

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Luke Cage’s Baadasssss Song


Mighty Avengers #11

So this is a crossover with the “Original Sin” thing, which is all kinds of irritating. Worst thing about it is how long it takes to describe what the whole thing is about. Basically, someone killed the Watcher and stole his eyeballs. A low-level villain called the Orb got hold of one of the eyes, and then it blew up like a bomb and somehow made a lot of people learn about secrets they’d never heard of before. Spider-Man finds out someone else got bit by his radioactive spider, Thor finds out he has a sister, and Luke Cage finds out his father ran some sort of street-level superteam back in the ’70s, which he is, for some reason, all freaked out about.

Anyway, most of this focuses on Luke’s dad, James Lucas, telling the story of his big team-up, which featured him, as a homicide detective, a reporter named Constance Molina, Blade the vampire slayer, Dr. Adam “Blue Marvel” Brashear, and Kaluu, Master of Black Magic, as they tried to track down a bunch of shapeshifting monsters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Other than Greg Land’s incredibly irritating tracing, I really do enjoy the blaxploitation vibe of this story. It’s actually really cool to see Blade in his old retro costume from the old “Tomb of Dracula” days.


Shutter #3

Kate Kristopher narrowly escapes serious injury in a rocket attack on her apartment, though her longtime friend Alain is hospitalized with extensive burns. She needs to go find some place where she won’t have to worry about assassins trying to kill her — so she goes to her father’s old homestead, meets up with the bony butler Harrington, and learns that there will be other guests at the mansion as well.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderfully weird stuff all the way through, but I was completely sold four pages, when a bunch of underworld lowlifes drawn to look like characters from a Richard Scarry book plot an assassination.


She-Hulk #5

She-Hulk has decided to investigate her mysterious blue file — a record of a lawsuit filed against her and a number of superheroes and villains. Unfortunately, she has no memory of the case at all. In the process of speaking to the other defendants, Shulkie talks to the Shocker, who doesn’t remember anything significant about the case. Hellcat talks to Tigra, who promptly freaks out and goes into robot attack mode as soon as Patsy mentions the case. Jennifer’s paralegal, Angie Huang, travels to North Dakota to research the case, finds some information, and unknowingly sends a clerk into freakout mode. And Shulkie, unaware that the case is making some people completely freak out, calls up Wyatt Wingfoot to quiz him about it — while he’s climbing a mountain…

Verdict: Thumbs up for the writing and story, which is deepening the mystery about this case wonderfully — but thumbs down for the fill-in art, which is often really, really unattractive.

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Eyes Wide Shutter


Shutter #2

Kate Kristopher, once the world’s greatest explorer, has been kidnapped by a robot and a bunch of ghost ninjas, while little mouse people imprison her in a crystal gem prison. And then a bunch of lion gangsters driving a flying car attack, all while the NYPD’s saucer police try to contain the mayhem. Kate makes a narrow escape, but winds up in the hospital, while the lions and ninjas go to jail. But powerful sorcerous interests want Kate — and they may be closer to her than she suspects.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Such a wonderfully weird, bizarre book. But I do hope Kate starts acting a bit more proactively — she doesn’t do much in this issue.


Hellboy in Hell #6

Hellboy is still trapped in Hell, and it seems that his punishment is to hang around listening to 19th-century fops rattle on. But then he gets attacked by a vampire, and there’s a great big brawl all over Hell. Does this great battle mean anything to the future of Hell — or is it all a dispute over an old card game?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s ultimately a light, fun story — and there’s still some interesting hints about Hell’s future being talked about at the very end. Ahh, yes, plus we also get to enjoy Mike Mignola’s artwork — that’s always a big plus.


The Returning #3

Beth Turner has been cornered by a horde of changers — people who’ve had a near-death experience and are now dangerous homicidal maniacs — and they really want her dead. But somehow, Beth discovers that she’s able to fight them all off and even kill a couple of them, even though she’s just taken a bullet to the shoulder and has never been a fighter. She makes her escape and goes to a local diner, hoping to get cleaned up and get on her way. But the local folks recognize her, and one of them shoots her in the stomach. After she fights them off, too, she runs into Marcus Harmon, her mysterious benefactor. He tells her that changers are actually possessed by demons, he and she are both possessed by angels instead, and it’s their job to destroy the changers based on the names that appear on their bodies wherever they’ve been wounded. So why has Marcus’ name appeared on Beth now?

Verdict: Still not really sure about this one. Usually by this point in a short horror series, the explanations are all out of the way, but in this case, there are just more and more mysteries piling up. Don’t know how they’re going to wrap it all up next issue…

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Shutter Island


Shutter #1

Kate Kristopher is the daughter of one of the most famous explorers in the world. Her father discovered wild and bizarre miracles across the planet and worked hard to instill his own sense of enthusiastic curiosity into her. But at the age of 27, Kate is a professional photographer — she gave up the exploration biz years ago, despite her own colossal fame. She really seems to crave normalcy, despite living in a world of almost endless wonders. But when Kate is unexpectedly attacked by ninjas and defended by electro-telekinetic steampunk robots, it seems her life will never be boring.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very fun storytelling and art by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca. Kate and her father are excellent characters, but the best thing about this comic is just plain checking out all the absolute weirdness going on in the background, whether on the monster-filled streets of New York City or in the framed photos on her father’s wall. I’m hoping this comic is going to be a lot of fun.


Daredevil #1.50

Number 1.50? Marvel, you’ve really got to quit the stupid numbering stunts.

What we’ve got here is a trio of odd little stories, two set in the future, one in the past. In the first, Matt Murdock has just had his 50th birthday, his son is sighted but has his sensory powers and a bad case of permanent jumpiness, and Foggy Nelson is alive, healthy, and skinny. And then almost everyone in San Francisco suddenly goes blind. Who’s behind it? The daughter of the Owl, who apparently has a weird case of the hots for Matt. Can Matt save San Francisco? Not without a serious sacrifice.

The second story is a text story about Matt’s future wife, and the third comes in the form of a video recorded by Mike Murdock, who was apparently a stunt pulled by Matt years ago in which he pretended to be his own twin brother to keep people from believing he was Daredevil. That’s just weirder’n spit, man.

Verdict: Man, I don’t know. I wasn’t a big fan of the Mike Murdock story or of the text story. The first story was pretty good, but I’m not a big fan of these “Here’s how we’re going to screw with the hero’s life in the coming years” stories. Just surprise us — don’t try to make predictions that we know will eventually be tossed down the memory hole.


Manifest Destiny #6

The Lewis and Clark expedition is besieged by plant-zombies from all possible species. They’re able to use Greek fire to stop some of the monsters, but the zombies take their own toll on the group. And even worse is what Lewis and Clark themselves encounter — a giant, hyper-intelligent alien flower that wants to digest the explorers alive. Can anyone save them from destruction?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of zombie killin’ and an unexpectedly Lovecraftian end to the first storyarc. The series will continue in a month or two — hope it stays fun, creepy, and faux-historical.

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