Sunstone Vol.1 by Stjepan Šejić

Sunstone Vol. 1Sunstone Vol. 1 by Stjepan Šejić

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For some reason, I’ve decided this is the cat gif review. (shrugs)

Sunstone deals with what some people might call uncomfortable topics, but which will surprise no one who is acquainted with:
(a) fanfiction
(b) M/M romances
(c) anime fan-girls

I happen to be one of those people.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection Vol.1

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1 by Kevin Eastman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Hidden deep in the bottom of a cardboard box at the back of my closet was one of the most mortifying secrets of my adolescence. Nope, it wasn’t a stack of Hustler magazines (they were under my bed), a bag full of my neighbors underwear (not really my thing), or a rubber fist (I actually didn’t have one of those until I was in college). It was my collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics. There, I said it. I was/am a turtle fan. As if being an overweight role-player wasn’t enough to make losing my virginity a near impossible task.

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TMNT might have been my first exposure to indie comics and I LOVED it! My turtles didn’t skateboard around ordering Domino’s or shout COWABUNGA every other panel. My turtles were killers. The ninjas they didn’t cleaved with a katana or impaled on a sai got pushed off a roof top. My turtles all wore red masks and the only way you knew who was who was by actually paying attention (or their weapons, of course). A couple of things made the transition to the Hollywood version of the TMNT that continues to enthrall children everywhere. April made the cut. And as much as I enjoy staring at Megan Fox, she loses me as soon as she starts “acting”. Casey Jones made the first movie and some of the cartoons I believe, although the psychotic vigilante factor got toned wwaaayyy down. Vanilla Ice….I’ll just leave it at that. I know there were some other things as well. But that wasn’t my turtles. The comic really went for a more gritty tone, not quite Sin City, but it certainly wasn’t targeting little kids as its audience.

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This collection of the first 7 issues of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original masterpiece and the Raphael 1 issue micro-series is awesome. Eastman and Laird’s dark and cartoony vision of the turtles still does it for me. The first couple issues and Raph’s micro being the best of the bunch. Of course, Rapheal was my favorite of the group, the angry tough guy thing speaks to me. The stories aren’t exceptionally well written and the art is pretty basic by today’s standards and I don’t give a fuck. The original origin tale is a classic. Clearly they were riffing on other popular works of the day, but I can’t get enough. From Shredder, to the Foot Clan, to man-eating Mouser robots, this one’s got it all. I’m not as crazy about some of the sci-fi stuff the guys included towards the end of this one, but it was still fun.

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This book (along with a short list of others) was groundbreaking stuff for me. Little did I know that when Eastman and Laird would eventually make their mint and wisely sell their creations in return for what I hope was a butt-ton of money, I would be forced to hide my TMNT collection for fear of being doomed to rely on my right hand for companionship for the rest of my days.

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These oversized hardcovers are the only way to truly appreciate these books. Beautifully bound on nice paper with great extras including interviews with the creators and a couple sketches. I was actually lucky enough to stumble upon a “Red Label” edition super cheap that was signed by Eastman and had a kick-ass slip cover, but that stuff isn’t really necessary to enjoy this book. I would imagine that anyone with a fondness for the turtles will appreciate this collection and the beautiful black and white artwork it showcases so well. If you’re not a turtle fan or prefer the more mainstream version of the quartet, you might not appreciate this one as much as I do.

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Review: Irredeemable Vol. 1

Irredeemable, Vol. 1Irredeemable, Vol. 1 by Mark Waid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Superheroes gone bad has been done before (a bunch), but I have to give Mark Waid credit for doin’ it well. This was a recommendation from one of my Shallow Comic Reading life partners (Either The Incredible Jeff or my favorite Ontarioian, Gavin) I’m not exactly sure which one’na my shorties it was due to all the brain damage from years of recreational pharmaceuticals. But it was a damn good one.

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Volume 1 seems to be mostly set up for exactly what the Plutonian (this series rogue Superman) is capable of, how seemingly pointless it is to fight him, and just how fucked up my man is. NO ONE IS SAFE. Not his former allies, not his old enemies, and not the lady running for her life clutching her baby. Waid manages to cram in enough mass murder, psychotic breaks, weird-ass sexual shit, and infanticide to make me wonder if this is the same guy that’s writing Daredevil. Who knew Mark had a little Ennis in’em. Ultimately, he does manage to stifle the carnage and leave just enough heroes alive and questions unanswered to keep me interested in continuing with the series.

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Peter Krause’s artwork is good. Middle of the road in terms of verve for me, but I tend to lean more towards the highly stylized stuff. But it’s certainly serviceable.

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If you’ve enjoyed other books like Moore’s Watchman, Ennis’The Boys, or any one of the Superman as a baddie stories that have been told over the years you should probably check this out.
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Review: The Sixth Gun Vol. 2 Deluxe Edition

The Sixth Gun Volume 2 Deluxe EditionThe Sixth Gun Volume 2 Deluxe Edition by Cullen Bunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Even better than the first collection. This 2nd volume picks right up following the events of the last book and doesn’t waste any time gettin’ to it. In my blue-collar opinion, this is one of the best series being put out by anybody right now. Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, Tyler Crook, and Bill Crabtree’s particular blend of the western and horror genres continues to leave me fiending for more.

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Bunn briefly brings us up to speed with what everyone’s been doing since the conclusion of the last book and jumps straightaway into a train robbery sequence that is SO sick. Bunn’s pacing in this part of the story is great. Not only does he manage to introduce a couple of pretty dope new characters, but he does it without tapping the brakes for even a second during the first two chapters.

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Bunn slows thing down a little bit with the origin of Asher Cobb. What a cool take on an old trope. That’s him above. Loved it. Cullen follows this up with a peek into Gord Cantrell’s past. Bunn’s fleshing out of the characters he introduced in the last volume is probably why I enjoyed this one so much. And Gord’s return home was one of the highlights of the collection for me. Creepy.

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Of course, Becky, Drake, and the six guns continue to center stage for the most part. Sorta tough to talk about it here without gettin’ all spoilery and such, so I’ll just let you see for yourself. The Order of the Sword of Abraham gets some attention as well. And a new sect known as the Knights of Solomon also emerge with their own ominous ambitions. But don’t you worry, Bunn weaves in just enough mystery to make you question everyone’s motives when it comes down to the guns.

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Becky’s trip to the town of Penance was great. Loved the “Hills Have Eyes” vibe. So fuckin’ awesome. Great backdrop for that part of the story.

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Bunn’s finale in chapter 11 was just perfect. A blood-bath worthy of the best spaghetti western. And, of course, I’m not sure Bunn could have pulled it off so well without the fantastic work of Brian Hurtt. It was Hurtt’s art that kept me from taking this book to seriously before actually pickin’ it up. Well, shit on me, cuz Hurtt shines in this one. Sure, there are more detail oriented and flashy artists out there, but something about his simple, yet consistent, style is ideal for this title. He really gets a chance to strut his stuff in chapter ten where Bunn lets Hurtt tell the story without a single caption or written word. And it’s one of my favorite parts of the book. Brian Hurtt is crazy good. Tyler Crook provided the illustrations for a couple of chapters and is definitely serviceable. Sadly for him, it’s hard to look good next to Hurtt’s stuff. Crabtree’s back to color this bad-boy wall to wall and it’s nice. This edition also sports a butt-ton of extras that were a nice addition to the oversized hardcover. If you haven’t read this series yet, the deluxe editions are the way to go.

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Well, what in tarnation are you waitin’fer?  Get your wiggle on and scare yourself up a copy of this book PRONTO.

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Review: Manifest Destiny Vol. 1: Flora and Fauna

Manifest Destiny, Vol. 1: Flora & FaunaManifest Destiny, Vol. 1: Flora & Fauna by Chris Dingess
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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You know what I remember about U.S. History class? The shape of the girl’s ass that sat 2 seats in front of me and wore bike shorts (the 80’s answer to yoga pants) every…single…day…..and stealing the answers to the final exam out of the teacher’s desk to pass the class by the skin of my teeth. I guarantee that if History class had been more like Manifest Destiny this dip-shit would’ve gotten at least a “B” and probably had a lot fewer embarrassing erections.

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Manifest Destiny Vol.1: Flora and Fauna follows Captain Meriwether Lewis and 2nd Lieutenant William Clark’s trek into the then unexplored North American frontier. This time these guys have more than just angry Native Americans to worry about. Dingess adds to the adventure by mixing healthy portions of the fantasy and horror genres into the action to create something a lot more interesting. To me anyway.

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This first volume spends a lot of time fleshing out Lewis and Clark’s personalities, their histories, and just what their stakes are in this venture. Lewis, being the scientist of the pair, is constantly cataloguing and scribbling away in his journal, which also acts as the narrator for portions of the story. Clark is the war-hardened veteran. A brave, stoic, and no bullshit kinda guy that hands out lashes for even the most minor infractions. Surround them with a crew comprised of seasoned soldiers and paranoid convicts and shit really gets interesting.

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Then, to sweeten the pot even more, throw in some mythical beasts, lethal plants, a few bloody battles, some creepy elements, hints of what might be a shady government conspiracy, and the most interesting take on Sacagawea that I’ve ever read and the hook is set. I’m all in.

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Matthew Roberts is pretty darn good artist. Here’s another Image illustrator that’s totally new to me that I’ll be looking out for down the road. His style reminded me a bit of Tony Moore (of Fear Agent and early Walking Dead fame). Owen Gieni also did a wonderful job coloring the book.

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There are a bunch of excellent books out there that have been blending genres really well. Hellboy, The Sixth Gun, and Copperhead being some good examples. I’d say Manifest Destiny falls into this category as well. Another shout out to Image Comics for yet another creator owned title that’s certainly worth checking out if anything you read in this review interests you.

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Review: The Ghost Fleet Vol.1: Deadhead

Ghost Fleet Volume 1 DeadheadGhost Fleet Volume 1 Deadhead by Donnie Cates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another indie book that rocked. Marvel and DC had better watch their asses. Lately it’s been Image that’s been hookin’ it up for me. Nice to see Dark Horse comin’ out with something that’s exactly my bag. Being an action guy, this book hooked me quick. Not that I don’t appreciate the occasional thought provoking page turner, but for a quick fix, a little violence makes for an easy sell to me.

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Deadhead is a short introduction to the origins of the Ghost Fleet and a couple of characters I assume will be at the central to the storyline. In the spirit of continuing to provide short, spoiler free reviews, I’ll sum it up like this. The Ghost Fleet is a secret organization that has specialized in the secure transportation of secret cargo with no questions asked for the right price. The story focuses mainly on a pair of guys that act as security for the cargo. Of course, when you deal in what amounts to high profile smuggling and the cash and cargo that goes with it, something’s gonna go wrong. And it does. Really wrong.

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This book also focuses on the relationship between Trace and Ward. Their essentially a pair of couriers or armed escorts that are assigned to accompany one of the shipments the Ghost Fleet’s haulin’. They obviously have a history too. Donny Cates is taking his time getting to exactly what that is, but he did start pulling the curtain back just a bit in this book. I’m certainly curious to see more. There was also a weird, sorta supernatural thing goin’ on throughout and especially towards the end. Not sure where Donny intends to go with this, but I’m interested. Just not 100% sold I’m gonna ultimately dig it. We’ll see.

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As with most “origin” stories, it does suffer a bit from having to take the time to establish the framework necessary to support the rest of the ongoing tale. And this collection’s a bit short. I would have preferred a 6 or 8 issue volume versus the 4 issues collected here. I’m greedy like that.

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As far as the art, I liked it. Not familiar with Daniel Johnson, but I though he did a good job with the layouts, character designs, and most importantly, the action. He reminded me a bit of another artist that I was recently turned on to named Scott Godlewski. Scott’s currently drawing Image’s Copperhead. Another good book.

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If you’re a fan of mindless 80’s action movies with a bit of mystery/thriller mixed in, you might wanna give this one a try. It’s not required reading yet, but it definitely was a fun way for me to kill time. So I’ll be back to find out what happens down the road with the Ghost Fleet.

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Review: Son Of The Gun Vol. 1: Sinner

Son of the Gun: Sinner - Volume 1Son of the Gun: Sinner – Volume 1 by Alejandro Jodorowsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Uh, yeah. Eww. But it’s the kind of “eww” I couldn’t put down, twisted fuck that I am. And there were some moments I wanted to. Son of the Gun: Sinner is the cruelly bleak account of the life of Juan Solo. And let me tell you kids, this one is filled with some really hard to watch situations. Alexandro Jodorowsky pulls no punches when dishing out all manner of depravity. I mean he starts off with a newborn baby left to die in a South American dump, and while that might not mean a lot to some prom queens out there these days,  it’s pretty fucked up. And trust me when I tell you it just keeps going downhill from there. Listing all of appalling shit would just take away from the story and what I think Jodorowsky is hoping to convey. This one is not for the light hearted comic fan. It’s like a Greek tragedy addicted to meth, lingering in a subway restroom, ready to blow a filthy old man or slash his dick with a straight razor. Hate the term “hardcore”, but it applies.

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Georges Bess does a magnificent job of illustrating Jodorowsky’s distressing vision. This book would not have had the same impact without his beautifully disturbing illustrations.

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I have to think that Jodorowsky is trying to show the depths of horrific behavior that people are capable of in Sinner. He pretty much touches on just about every terrible thing a person could possibly do. Now whether or not he’ll be able to convince me that some people are capable of redemption in his next book, Saint, remains to be seen. One thing for sure, I’m gonna read it.

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And HELL YES, it’s a recommend. If you’ve got the stomach for it.

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Review: Dayblack by Keef Cross

DayBlackDayBlack by Keef Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

Totally different, in this case, a good thing.
Vampire lives. In a town where pollution makes it darkness all day long, so he can act normally.
He works as a Tattoo artist, and modified his tat tool to suck the blood from his customers, who are mostly big booty ladies…kinda funny.
He also has a son, who’s actually a vampire hunter, but because Merce saw the angry face on one of those feed the starving wretches commercials on TV, he sent money for years, until the boy grew up and came to see him, calls him his dad, and makes an exception against killing dad.
All the Hunters are Mexican, and it explains why they all work labour jobs with access to sharp implements that no one questions…

Don’t let Trump read this or he will think it’s fact and scare the fanatics.

Another crazy thing? HIV is actually the way to kill vampires, and that’s why it arrived, and killed many vampires.

Just a couple whoa moments that seemed to be an interesting idea for a piece of fiction.

Vampires are also colour blind, other than red.

When he wants to get high, he has to find his dealer, get her to get high, then he sucks her blood enough to get high himself and save her from ODing…

It’s a crazy thing all around, and such a change of pace, I really enjoyed it. I look forward to another volume, more of his past as a slave, and his mother and what happened to her…


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Review: Blacksad

BlacksadBlacksad by Juan Díaz Canales

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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1 part Walt Disney, 2 parts Raymond Chandler, and 3 parts Kentucky Bourbon. Blacksad is so good I’m definitely going back for a 2nd round. Almost took a pass on this one. Being a father, I’ve read my fair share of children’s books and when I saw that all the characters are animals I almost put this one back on the shelf. Stupid because this shit is GREAT and it’s NO fuckin’ kid’s book.

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