Archive for Voice in the Dark

Funeral Cake


Ghosted #16

Wealthy old supernatural bastard Markus Schrecken has taken over-her-head medium Edzia Rusnak to a wedding in Italy — two families that have been feuding for generations are finally going to be united by the marriage of two of their children. Unfortunately, Schrecken has arranged for his own choice as minister to take care of the ceremony — the mad cult leader in Mexico who ran the Brotherhood of the Closed Book. And they’ve decided to create their own ghost town — a village where every single resident is ghost they can manipulate.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not a lot for the heroes to do, and lots of opportunity for Schrecken to show off what a scumbag he is, plus a decent twist on the Romeo and Juliet theme, too.


A Voice in the Dark: Get Your Gun #2

Zoey continues building her friendship with Rio, a fellow serial killer, while also effortlessly making it through a police interview as they try to find out who killed noxious sorority girl Mandy Jenkins and her thuggish boyfriend Brock. And Mandy’s father, obsessed with finding the killer himself, might be even worse than anyone else in the cast.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art by Larime Taylor, and great writing as well. There are lots of scenes of people sitting around and talking, which is just fine with me, because Taylor does dialogue and characterization very well.


Daredevil #12

The new Stunt-Master has faked the death of the old Stunt-Master, George Smith — and Smith has been forced to dress as the new guy, so he and Daredevil can have a motorcycle race up the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge. When Daredevil rescues George, the new guy tries to run — and Matt pursues him driving a car in city traffic while shifting gears with his feet, punching the gas with his cane, and steering with the hook of his baton! But who’s the secret villain pulling the new Stunt-Master’s strings?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Absolutely fantastic action — maybe one of the best car chases I’ve seen in comics — to go along with Mark Waid’s wonderful writing and Chris Samnee’s outstanding art.

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Queen of Swords


Red Sonja #12

Sonja has finally acquired all the great artisans — Gribaldi the chef, Aneva the courtesan, Rat the beast-tamer, Osric the swordsman, Plaitius the soothsayer, and finally, Rakaua the dancer. Emperor Samala seems pleased — but in fact, he plans to betray them all, kill all the slaves, kill Sonja, and have all the artisans buried with him when he dies. Can Sonja fight off an army? Can Sonja and the artisans fight off an army? Hmmm, maybe not…

Verdict: Thumbs up. This has been a gloriously fun storyarc — one of the best of the year. If you haven’t read it before, you should definitely watch for the collected edition. Don’t let the often-exploitative Dynamite name on the cover throw you off — this is definitely one worth reading.


A Voice in the Dark: Get your Gun #1

Someone knows Zoey is a serial killer — and as it turns out, it’s another serial killer. And he wants to meet her for a chat. His name’s Rio, and he’s a relatively nice guy — not interested in harming Zoey, who he sees as a true kindred spirit — but you know, still a serial killer. They have a nice conversation… about serial murder. And then they go their separate ways. But the cops aren’t the only people looking for the mysterious serial killers…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Larime Taylor’s art is still fantastic, with a bit of a change in appearance as Jay Savage is now working the colors. Besides that, very nice dialogue and a nice trick of making these two nutcases so dang charismatic and loveable.

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Speedy Reviews for a Sick Day/Holiday

Well, I feel like complete garbage, especially considering that I get to spend a holiday sick instead of, you know, being well. So I’m going to finish these as quickly as I can so I can go away and feel like garbage somewhere else.


Axe Cop: The American Choppers #1

Axe Cop gives up being President of the World so he can go back to fighting bad guys. He teams up with Super Axe and Captain Axe to defeat the Food Force Three and a bunch of alien monsters, then sing a song and eat some ham. They team up with Axe Girl, her mother, Axe Woman, Ralph Wrinkles, and a goat with axe horns to become… the American Choppers! But can they stop a bunch of evil axes controlled by demon lumberjacks?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So fantastically weird and funny.


Daredevil #3

Daredevil easily whups the Shroud’s ass, then learns that it was all a scheme to get the Shroud an audience with the Owl so he could kill him. But Matt has a different plan, involving Matt just walking right into the Owl’s mansion with a subpoena. But things never work out like they plan. Meanwhile, we learn a little more about the mystery of Foggy Nelson’s “death.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Beautiful art and a delightfully convoluted story — and Foggy Nelson! I was getting worried about Foggy…


Velvet #5

Most of this issue is a flashback to Velvet’s ex-husband, a fellow super-spy like Velvet, and how she maybe killed him or maybe didn’t because he was maybe a double-agent.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It doesn’t get the overarching mystery cleared up, but it’s a well-told and beautifully illustrated story, soaking in action and espionage coolness.


A Voice in the Dark #7

Zoey finally breaks down and murders again — and she pulls off a couple perfect crimes — except for one little serial killer eyewitness…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, amazing artwork. Fantastic focus on the tension and intricacy Zoey’s planning and execution of her murders.


The Witcher #3

Geralt the Witcher encounters bunches of monsters, doesn’t trust Vara the succubus, and is strangely trusting of Jakob the hunter.

Verdict: Ehh, don’t know. It’s wonderfully moody, but it just didn’t entertain me much. It felt oddly predictable.

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Devil in Disguise


A Voice in the Dark #6

Zoey has decided that she really wants to kill someone again, and she’s settled on manipulative sorority queen Mandy Jenkins as the target, because she’d tried to expel her friend Ash and considered charging Zoey with assault. So Zoey has to start spying on Mandy, trying to discover a time when she’d be by herself for long enough to get the murder done. Unfortunately, Mandy is very rarely alone — and worse, Zoey doesn’t know the layout of her house, so she doesn’t know the best way in and out. She hits on the idea to disguise herself for Halloween and attend Mandy’s party to scope out the entrances and exits. She meets a mysterious friend in a hockey mask — and discovers a very good reason to add Mandy’s boyfriend to her hit list.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a bit of a tense story, with some great dialogue and some seriously no-fun situations. If you’ve got problems with depictions of an attempted rape, you may want to pass on this one.


American Vampire: Second Cycle #2

Calvin Poole offers Pearl a position in the Vassals of the Morning Star, warning her that serious crises are on the horizon. And he’s right — the Gray Trader, an impossibly powerful and evil vampire. It’s coming for Pearl’s neighbors, it’s coming for Calvin, and it’s coming for Pearl and her young charges, too.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The first serious look we get of the Gray Trader, after a fairly long period of buildup — and it definitely does not disappoint. It’s monstrous and creepy at the same time, which is a very nice trick.

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Rocket Queen


Rocket Girl #4

A couple of Quintum Mechanics enforcers from the future, riding jetcycles, have traveled back to 1986 to kill teen future-cop Dayoung Johansson. This kicks off a desperate chase — Dayoung’s technology isn’t as good as Quintum’s, and in an attempt to take them away from civilians who could be harmed by the battle, she leads them into the subway. Of course, the problem with flying rockets in the subway is that eventually, you’re going to be facing a head-on collision with a train. Can Dayoung survive?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s not quite nonstop action, since we make a few side visits to the future and to present-day Quintum Mechanics, and those are a bit more talky — but beyond that, the chase scene is absolutely thrilling and amazing. Spectacular storytelling here from Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder.


Lazarus #7

While Forever continues her investigation into the thefts of her family’s holdings and a possible upcoming terror attack, the Barret family — classified as Waste by the Carlyles — are on their way to Denver for the Lift Selection, hoping they can be picked to work for the Carlyles, giving them a chance to survive into the future. But the way is treacherous, and an encounter with bandits goes disastrously.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A heartbreaking but beautiful story — and not just for what happens to the Barrets, but also the glimpse we get into Forever’s punishing, lonely childhood.


A Voice in the Dark #5

In the aftermath of the disastrous sorority party, two of Zoey’s roommates have suffered some unfortunate consequences. Krista had deeply upsetting contacts with some frat boys, and Ashley has gotten an ethics sanction because sorority queen-bee Mandy told the university that Ash had slept with a professor during her freshman year. And Zoey later overhears Mandy and her boyfriend talking about how their plot to charge her with assault fell through because her uncle was a cop. Speaking of her uncle, Zoey has a talk with him about the current serial killer case in the community — and unbeknownst to her, she also has a brief run-in with the killer herself. And all of this has Zoey’s murderous instincts flaring up more than ever…

Verdict: Thumbs up. As always, fantastic artwork and a very brainy story. There’s fantastic character work going on here — and while there’s not a lot that’s really frightening here, it’s all getting things set up for the horror to come — and we’re getting to know these characters very well, so it’s really gonna hurt when they get it in the neck. Y’all need to be picking this comic up.

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Voices from the Hellmouth


A Voice in the Dark #4

Zoey is still fighting her homicidal urges, but she has a much bigger problem on her mind now — one of her roommates has shanghaied her and another roomie into going to a sorority party. Well, it’s not like those’ll ever make you want to kill anyone, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Outstanding art and a fairly light story that still manages to give us some good doses of humor and tension. It’s a very wordy issue — we get four pages of a classroom discussion on the death penalty, which actually does a great job of reminding you this is all set on a college campus. There’s a lot of funny stuff in this issue, but there’s still an undercurrent of weird creepiness going on, too. After all, this is a college town with an unusual number of serial killers — including our lead character.


Ghosted #7

Jackson Winters is on the team for another supernatural heist. He and a small crew — his old friend Trick and two members of a Native American organized crime family — are looking to rescue a member of the family who’s been kidnapped by the Brotherhood of the Closed Book. They wanted her because she’s been possessed by an evil spirit, and they plan to use her for nefarious purposes both supernatural and carnal — and unfortunately, they know Jackson is in town.

After dodging a hit squad — with the help of the ghostly assassin Anderson — it’s decided that Jackson will have to infiltrate the Brotherhood’s compound because he’s the only one in the group who can pass for a generic American businessman looking to get his sexual kicks. But it turns out the kidnapped girl has some dire surprises in store for Jackson.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Art and story are still first-rate. I do wish the scares were a bit more plentiful this time — the new storyarc hasn’t yet hit the levels of creepiness that the first arc was hammering early on.

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Murder on the Airwaves


A Voice in the Dark #3

The beginning of Zoey Aarons’ college career has been busy. After getting away with murder and fending off constant temptation to kill again, she started her first call-in show at the university — and her first guest, who she feared was suicidal, actually murdered her parents live on the air. The police have exonerated her of any wrongdoing — she didn’t know the girl would kill her parents, and she’d been following police instructions at the time. And her boss at the radio station is protecting her anonymity, so she’ll be able to continue broadcasting her show. Life seems to be settling comfortably down, with a leisurely lunch with her roommates and a comforting visit with a psychotherapist. But her new hometown has a lot of dark secrets — it’s the serial killer capital of the world, for one thing — and Zoey’s urges to kill are just growing stronger as time passes.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nice story, slightly slower, but this is the beginning of a new storyarc. Lots of background on the college town Zoey lives in, along with more characterization for Zoey’s roommates and boss. Larime Taylor’s art is still just gorgeous. His characters look great and realistic — no cookie-cutter faces or Barbie-doll bodies. Zoey and her roommates are attractive, but not pin-ups. Her boss wears glasses that make her eyes look much larger. Her therapist is realistically paunchy. It’s refreshing to see comic art of people who look like actual people.


Velvet #3

Velvet is still on the run from the agency that thinks she killed their best agent. She has one ally, a former agent gone to seed. Not willing to simply go into hiding, she decides to retrace the late Jefferson Keller’s steps. She travels to Europe to infiltrate a society party and meet with one of his conquests, the wife of a Yugoslavian general. But the wife is missing, and she soon learns that her affair with Keller was found out, and she was shipped off to prison. Can Velvet get the woman out of the gulag and learn her story? Or should she expect complications?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent espionage stuff, wonderful art, a nice twisty story, and lots of fun dialogue, action, and characterization. Ed Brubaker’s pretty good at this stuff, ain’t he?

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So Very Many Comics…

I’m still trying to clear space for more holiday gift recommendations, so I’m gonna see if I can clear all my regular comics reviews all at once. Strap on your seat belt, kids — we’re gonna do a review marathon…


FF #15

The Future Foundation has everything planned out, and they’re ready to take down Doctor Doom. They send in a bunch of robots controlled by the kids to distract Doom and his robots and to wreck up his Latverian castle, while the grownups and their allies infiltrate and sabotage Doom behind the scenes before finally moving in for the final confrontation. But will all their preparation allow them to succeed against Doom the Annihilating Conqueror?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Great action, great humor, intrigue, drama — and thanks to co-writer and scripter Lee Allred, the story is jam-packed with in-jokes geared directly to fans of the late, lamented City of Heroes, the best dang superhero MMO ever. I loved it, and I want a lot more of it, so I’m crossing my fingers that the series will continue, despite its predicted demise.


Red Sonja #6

Sonja was prepared to duel Dark Annisia to the death, but they’ve both been surprised by the re-emergence of the genocidal tyrant Bazrat, who reveals that the plague that afflicted Sonja and the kingdom wasn’t actually a plague at all — it was all poison administered secretly to the populace. Can Sonja and Annisia stop fighting long enough to stop the madman?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action, drama, and art, and a genuinely smart story, all wrapped up in a nice chainmail bow.


Itty Bitty Hellboy #5

Abe’s little sister Eve is having a birthday, and everyone is invited to the party! Hellboy, Liz, the Rogers, Baba (and her chicken-leg hut), Hecate, Lobster Johnson, Johann Kraus, and many more all show up. Presents are opened, seaweed cake is devoured, hot sauce is splashed on people, and Hellboy gets turned into a chicken. Just like every other day then, right?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Very funny, very cute — it’s too bad this is the final issue, because Art Baltazar and Franco did a great job making Hellboy and his supporting cast look so adorable.


Young Avengers #14

Evil has been vanquished, and it’s time for the after party. A wide selection of artists are on hand to help document the first half of the Young Avengers’ last big party, along with most of the other young superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Wiccan and Hulkling reconcile for good, we learn more of Miss America’s origin and about her secret connection to Wiccan, and Kate Bishop decides where she stands with Noh-Varr.

Verdict: Thumbs up. A bunch of excellently crafted stories about relationships — both romantic and familial — all backed up by a bunch of cool artists. I’m gonna miss this series, but it’s nice to see they’re going out pushing the envelope.


A Voice in the Dark #2

Zoey is worried that her urges to commit murder are going to get the better of her, so she starts up a campus talk-radio show, hoping she’ll be able to quell her homicidal desires by basking in other people’s darkness. And her very first caller is someone who’s contemplating suicide. Can Zoey keep her from killing herself? Can her uncle and his fellow police officers find the girl in time?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic art and a great story that does not go where we expect it to go. Is there anything Zoey can do to keep from getting completely washed over in blood? Maybe not — and it’ll be fun seeing how it all turns out for her…


Daredevil #34

Matt Murdock wants to strike a serious blow against the racist Sons of the Serpent — and he particularly wants to take their ally, the Jester, out of circulation. He’s managed to obtain the Darkhold, an ancient mystical book that the Sons consider their Bible, and he’s also gotten hold of a device that will allow him to broadcast to every TV, radio, and web browser in New York City. He enlists the aid of Kirsten McDuffie and then makes his broadcast, warning New Yorkers about the Sons and threatening to destroy the Darkhold if they don’t turn over the Jester. Can the gamble pay off? Or will the Sons kill McDuffie as revenge?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an excellent story, with some real shining moments for McDuffie. The action is quite nice, and as always, Javier Rodriguez’s artwork is phenomenally beautiful.


Revival #16

The authorities are now exterminating the local livestock, which has gotten a serious dose of whatever is causing the revivals, and Ramin and Sheriff Cypress are the targets of a low-level terrorist attack. Dana Cypress enlists her ex-husband Derrick and her sister Em — a secret Reviver — to help investigate whoever murdered Em. And Derrick runs into a mysteriously deformed arsonist. What the heck’s going on?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The series is definitely trending away from horror right now and back toward noir. Not a bad thing at all — great characterization and art, and I’m still loving the story.


Pretty Deadly #3

Ya know, I’m not sure I could tell you the plot in a way that’ll really make sense. But we learn more about Ginny and Fox and Death, how they got the way they are, and what may be coming up for them eventually.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I liked this issue a lot more. It made a lot more sense, I could keep track of who the characters were, and there were multiple really good, really powerful scenes. I hope they can keep the quality high on this one.

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The Voice of Death


A Voice in the Dark #1

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot in my heart for radio — I worked as a DJ and quasi-news dude for years, and despite the fact that radio station owners are, without exception, morally bereft, incompetent morons, I still have lots of fond memories of my radio days. So a story based around radio is something that’s gonna grab my interest.

Our lead character is Zoey Aarons, a young college student with a newly adopted little sister — one of her best friends, Seven, who was outed as a lesbian by a schoolmate and then disowned by her family. Zoey’s family adopted her, and Seven is very glad to be part of the family. Oh, but that’s not the important part of the story. See, Zoey murdered the girl who outed Seven, and she has nearly constant temptations to kill again. She’s a budding serial killer, and she has no idea how she’s going to make it through college without killing someone else.

Her lone strategy for keeping her inner psycho at bay is to run her own late night talk radio program on the campus station, encouraging people to call in anonymously and talk about whatever dark thoughts are on their minds. Can wallowing in other people’s darkness keep her own murderous urges under control?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I absolutely love the characters and dialogue, and our very unconventional serial killing heroine is really fun. She’s clearly keeping her emotions knuckled down, partly to keep herself from just going stabby on everyone, partly because her uncle, a homicide detective, lives in town and checks up on her periodically.

And maybe more fascinating than the story and the characters is the comic’s creator. Larime Taylor has arthrogryposis, a birth defect that leaves his joints in locked positions. He has almost no use of his arms or legs, so he draws with his mouth. And the artwork is absolutely fantastic.

So in other words, great story, great characters, great art, a great creator — and radio. Worth picking up, y’all.


Young Avengers #12

Mother and Leah plan to tear the earth apart with an invasion of alternate-reality evil Young Avengers — and with Mother’s mind-warping powers, the grownups will believe that all the bad guys are really the Young Avengers. Luckily, our heroes have some backup — almost every teenaged superhero on the planet. Can they stop the invasion? Can the Young Avengers fight through Mother’s hand-picked, shallow supervillain guardians to rescue Hulkling and save the world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A fun, action-packed, characterization-rich story told with incredible style. You’ve likely already heard that Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie will end this comic in a few issues — I actually don’t feel that bad about that. Great storytellers should be allowed to tell their stories their way — and I also have faith that the Young Avengers will return before long.

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