Archive for Trees

’50s Shades of Red


Lady Killer #1

It’s a fairly straightforward concept — a stereotypical 1950s housewife who lives a double life as an assassin for a secretive organization. She takes out a fellow housewife with her own secret past, cooks dinner for her family, tries to avoid her suspicious mother-in-law, and gets pressured into taking on another difficult hit by her superior in the organization.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The art by Joelle Jones is fantastic — rooted in the ’50s but wonderfully kinetic and fun. The seemingly docile but secretly murderous housewife is a trope that’s been used before, but this one looks like it’ll be pretty enjoyable.


Trees #8

It’s a major shakeup for this series, as various crises suddenly come to a head, and a lot of people we thought were main characters turn out to be a lot more expendable than anticipated. Yeah, not saying more — I don’t mind spoiling surprises sometimes, but these are so perfectly, breathtakingly unexpected that I don’t want to do much to reduce the shocks.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a gloriously shocking issue, and though I was genuinely sad to see some of these characters leave the stage, I’m eagerly anticipating what’s to come. Ellis raised the bar in very interesting ways in this issue.

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Closed for Business


Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #2

While the Mighty Avengers stomp on a gang of high-tech roller-bladers called the Fast Five, the newly villainous Captain America is plotting with the equally villainous Tony Stark to wipe out all the heroes. And the newly villainous businessman Luke Cage announces he’s just sold the Mighty Avengers, which gets him in trouble with the rest of the team and his wife. Luckily, the ever-savvy She-Hulk, the team’s lawyer, has a surprise for Luke — but he and Captain America have an even bigger surprise waiting in the wings…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m not entirely sold on the Axis morality-switching, but the story seems just fine. I’ve got some doubts about the art, particularly in the way that the Blue Marvel is looking whiter and whiter in almost every panel.


Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #7


Trees #7


Colder: The Bad Seed #2

Okay, it looks like I just don’t have the patience to dig through the convolutions of the plots in these three comics. It’s not that I disliked them at all — they were all pretty good — but there’s lots of twisty-plot things and side-stories and such-and-all going on, and I’m too lazy to mess with ’em right now.

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Over the Cliff


Daredevil #9

The Purple Man’s empowered children have gotten together and are using their mind-control powers to wreak havoc in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Matt Murdock is excitedly planning on writing his autobiography and looking forward to his $8 million advance. Kirsten and Foggy aren’t sure it’d ever work — Matt doesn’t have the patience to write a whole book, and his life has been, up to the last few years, spectacularly depressing, with most of his girlfriends dying, struggles with poverty, and repeated personal, emotional, and superheroic setbacks. Matt is assuring them he can handle it when he learns about the Purple Kids’ rampage through the city. Their combined emotion control powers, however, are a lot more than he can handle.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good story and fantastic art. The Purple Kids have a great combination of menace and pathos, and the idea of Matt revisiting the old rotten and depressing days is something that’s perversely appealing — he’s had it pretty good for quite a while, so it’ll be interesting to see how Mark Waid writes him over the next issue or two.


Loki: Agent of Asgard #7

Dr. Doom has captured Loki in a field of null-time, trapping him between seconds so he’s unable to come up with any spells or tricks to escape. Verity Willis, a human who can see through any lie, traveled to Latveria with Loki, but she managed to turn invisible with Loki’s amulet of invisibility, but Valeria Richards easily detects that she’s there — but she decides not to reveal her to Doom, who has his own troubles when he finds Latverians fighting amongst themselves — something which Doom has decreed must never happen. But the people refuse to listen to him, and Doom deduces that the Red Skull, now possessing Charles Xavier’s telepathic powers, is causing a worldwide outbreak of hatred and strife. Is there any way to stop the Skull’s hate plague before Latveria destroys itself?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not as much stuff about Loki this time, but a really excellent focus on Verity, Valeria, and Doom himself. It makes for a really entertaining story.


Trees #6

In the Chinese city of Shu, naive young artist Chenglei is questioning his sexuality and identity after a wild party when he realizes he’s falling in love with Zhen, a trans woman — all of this while the Chinese authorities are taking a new, ominous interest in the city. In Sicily, secret moves are underfoot against the local fascist gangs. And in the Arctic, the Tree-created flowers are a lot more difficult to eradicate than was expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The storyline in Shu is just plain outstanding. The scenes between Chenglei and Uncle and especially between Chenglei and Zhen are fantastic, poetic, absolutely beautiful. This is definitely turning out to be another great year for Warren Ellis comics.

Today’s Cool Links: 

  • Here’s a very nice one-minute-long horror movie for you.
  • You scared of Ebola? You scared of ISIS? You watch too much TV. Here are the things worth being afraid of.
  • And Texans, don’t forget, early voting begins today. Get out there and vote. Don’t you vote for that hyper-corrupt hypocritical weasel Greg Abbott. Dude’s so crooked he could hide behind a corkscrew.

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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy


The Wicked + the Divine #4

Laura and her “friend” Cassandra meet up with Baal, who’s basically classic-era Kanye West — incredibly arrogant because he’s incredibly good. He tells them he’s not Baal Hammon, the vengeful fiery sky-god — he’s Baal Hadad, who’s less vengeful and more electrical. He insists that Lucifer has to serve her time in jail because the gods are ultimately powerless to free her. He leaves Cassandra behind and brings Laura to meet a contingent of the gods, including Amaterasu, Sakhmet, Minerva, Woden, and the mysterious Ananke. They tell Laura that any of them could be the killer, but Lucifer has to stay in jail ’til the real killer is found — if she’s not the real killer anyway. If the rest of humanity realizes all the gods could be as loose-cannon as Luci is, the gods might never be able to return again. Lucifer doesn’t react well when Laura tells her what the rest of the Pantheon had to say.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a gorgeous story full of gorgeous people. Still loving the interpretations of the gods. I do wish the explanation for why the gods couldn’t interfere to free Lucifer, and why they were so uninspired to find the real killer — after all, he or she could kill again and leave them with the same problem all over again.


George Perez’s Sirens #1

Quite honestly, this one was a maze of nonsense. There’s tons of time-jumping, tons of different characters, most of them unidentified, with the ultimate goal being to bring these timelost heroines to the distant future to stop some cosmic threat.

Verdict: Thumbs down. Like I said, it’s a maze of nonsense. Gorgeous art, but not much else to recommend it.


Trees #5

A small African nation has gotten some serious international attention by placing weapons on top of one of the Trees so they can threaten a neighboring state they want to take over. In China, repressed young artist Tian Chenglei gets a bit less repressed — all just in time for the government to make a move on the city he’s in. In Cefalu, Sicily, the older man, with an unexpected knowledge of historical occultism, takes a younger rebellious woman as an apprentice. And in the Arctic, the flowers that sprang from the Trees are more persistent, infectious, and dangerous than anyone expected.

Verdict: Thumbs up. We’ve got a lot of different storylines, and they’re all right on the edge of jumping to the next segment of rising action. This seems to me that it’s going to be a very exciting and interesting story.

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Three Faces of Trouble


The Wicked + the Divine #3

Well, it looks like Baphomet has just murdered the Morrigan — but whoops, no, it’s just Baphomet using magic to make her look dead. In truth, the Morrigan, with three different hairstyles and three different personalities, is good and pissed, and the two gods are about to throw down and probably massacre all the mortals who came to see them — until Laura manages a desperate ploy to distract them from their fight and convince them to perform together instead. This may not be an improvement — everyone else may end up dying anyway. Then the cops show up and arrest everyone. Does any of this lead Laura any closer to finding out who framed Lucifer?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Morrigan is a lot of fun. Baphomet is alright, too, but the Morrigan is definitely the highlight of this issue. Laura’s gambit is appealingly deranged, too. Did I mention how awesome the art is, too? ‘Cause the art is just plain awesome.


Daredevil #7

Matt is trying to find out why Wakanda has kidnapped his mother, a nun called Sister Maggie, so he has S.H.I.E.L.D. airdrop him into the Wakandan jungle. Once he’s there, he’s captured pretty quickly — which turns out to be part of his plan. Otherwise, he’d have to trek through miles of jungle to get to the royal palace. Can Daredevil convince the new Black Panther to release his mother and the other nuns? And will he find out the secrets behind the vision he had of his mother and father?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Matt gets to demonstrate his greatest power once again — lawyering — and the backstory of his mother is interesting and points an excellent spotlight on the problems of post-partum depression.


Manifest Destiny #9

While Lewis is stuck aboard the boat trying futilely to kill the frog monster in the river, Clark and the rest of the expedition are roaming around the countryside getting into terrible trouble, mostly involving really large mosquitoes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not the best issue of this series, but there’s nice interaction between the characters and a lot of wonderfully gory scenes with giant mosquitoes.


Trees #4

As rural artist Tian Chenglei slowly gets accustomed to the weirdly anarchic city he’s moved to, Marsh and the scientists in the Arctic learn that the black flowers growing around the Trees are actually filled with wires.

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is, so far, a very slow moving story, but it’s really a great deal of fun to get to know all these characters and their settings, and by extension, the transformed Earth they all live in. The Trees never interact with humans, but they’ve still changed the world in entertainingly drastic ways.

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The Doom that Came to Riverdale


Afterlife with Archie #6

I’d initially skipped this series, ’cause it seemed like it was going to be nothing more than a publicity stunt series, but the buzz has been excellent, and I finally picked up the first trade paperback of this series. If you don’t know anything about it, the general idea is that Jughead’s dog Hot Dog is killed, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch decides to resurrect the mutt by casting a spell from the Necronomicon. Of course, this goes badly, and Jughead ends up being Patient Zero for a zombie plague. It’s a wonderful series, dark and grim and genuinely horrifying in all the ways a classic Archie story is not.

In this latest issue, we learn what’s happened to Sabrina since the first issue. Her aunts had learned that she’d dabbled in forbidden magic and cast her into a dimensional limbo as punishment. Here, she sees herself as an inmate at a mental institution, fighting delusions of having magical powers. Her fellow inmates include a musician named Erich Zann and an artist named Richard Pickman, and her counselors include Dr. Lovecraft and Dr. Machen — which is a really bad sign for Sabrina. Of course, they’re in league with the Great Old Ones, and as relentlessly pessimistic as this series is, there’s not much hope for Sabrina to get a happy ending…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and story, with lots of gloriously creepy stuff going on, both before the camera and off in the background. As much as I’ve enjoyed the zombified terrors of the previous storyarc, I think it’d be really cool for the rest of the series to have to deal with the perils of the Archie Gang facing the mind-breaking horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos.


The Goon: Occasion of Revenge #1

The Zombie Priests — yeah, there are more than just one or two — are moving in to Lonely Street, and the Goon, Franky, and all their allies have to face them down or watch everything get destroyed. Wrapped around this story is a tale of a beautiful but sociopathic woman and the vengeful spirit of a man who commits suicide over her love.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great to see a nice long Goon tale again. Some nice new villains. An absolutely excellent showdown scene. Wondering how all of this is going to end up getting tied together, but I also know I’m probably going to love the final result.


Trees #3

Two little storyarcs in this issue, one focusing on Italy, where the tough-minded gangster girl is trying to track down the mysterious vanishing professor, and one in China, where the talented rural artist is told he must get over his fear of the big city and stop locking himself in his apartment.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Yes, there’s actually a lot more to the stories here, but I’d really rather not spoil them. And yes, the entire issue is focused on people having conversations. It’s great to have interestingly talky comics from time to time, right?


Revival #22

Lots of little things going on — Lester Majak catches a ghost; Em discovers her new reviver boyfriend Rhodey mutilates himself for online sickos and has been filming the two of them when they have sex; Dana discovers the secret society behind the troubles in New York and even meets up with murderous reviver Anders Hine; Ramin gets hypnotized; and Sheriff Cypress discovers that his grandson may be in danger from a teabagging militia terrorist.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of stuff going on, and all of it held my interest, moved the story along, and deepened the mysteries surrounding the revivers.


Velvet #6

Knowing she’ll never discover who the mole inside ARC-7 while out of the country, Velvet secretly returns to London, collects a new cache of weapons, makes a few contacts, considers the likely suspects, and makes her move on the superspy headquarters.

Verdict: Thumbs up. More great espionage storytelling. Wonderful characters and dialogue, outstanding action, mysteries, and much, much more.

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Tree of Life


Trees #2

Strange things are going on — even for a world where aliens have planted impossibly gigantic columns — called trees by almost everyone — all over the world. In the arctic, scientists at a research station have discovered black poppies growing out of one of their research robots. A mysterious old man appears and then disappears outside Cefalu, Sicily. And the new president of Somalia hopes to use one of the trees for his military advantage.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of different locations, lots of different things happening — and seemingly no connection between them. I’m not even sure if we need a connection between them or not — it’s interesting enough just seeing the changes that have been made on this world because of these completely indifferent aliens. It’s interesting that there’s only one location repeated from the previous issue — the Arctic. Does that mean the only constant in this series will be the Arctic setting, with all the other locations being brand new every time? That alone might make it a pretty entertaining comic.


Ms. Marvel #5

Kamala Khan has the save her friend Bruno’s brother, Vick, who’s run afoul of some guy called the Inventor and is being held captive in the basement of the house of some punk called Doyle. So it’s Doyle’s rayguns and robots vs. Kamala’s shapeshifting — and Kamala loses pretty hard, having to shrink and run away to survive. She gets home, ravenously hungry, and gets caught by her furious mother and her much more calm father, who gives her a mild talking-to and a pep talk. Kamala gets together with Bruno and they do some serious training so she can get her powers working at their peak. But will it be enough to help her against a house full of laser-shooting robots?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great writing and art and hugely appealing characters. Kamala’s talk with her parents is definitely a high point — not just for this comic, but for comics in general. I can’t remember liking a superhero’s family this much since Jaime Reyes in “Blue Beetle.”

Today’s Cool Links:

  • Here’s a really nice essay about race — and race-flipping — in comics and superhero movies.
  • Cool article on film trends and predictions, and how Disney made “Frozen” into a giant hit by subverting everyone’s expectations.
  • A lot of folks have periodic air conditioning troubles during the summer months. This looks like a decent and cheap stopgap A/C, if you can handle the power tools…

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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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