Review: Low Vol. 1 – The Delirium of Hope, by Rick Remender

Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of HopeLow, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope by Rick Remender
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The artwork here grows on you a fair bit, especially when you realize it’s like Heavy Metal crossed with Conan the Barbarian set in Waterworld.

It’s no secret to any of the Shallows gang, RR is one of my faves. The intro talks about his pessimism and how therapy helped him be optimistic and how it changed his whole world. I’m happy for him, but I can see how sometimes tortured artists produce better work.

This is not a bad book at all, but the one thing Remender usually had going for him in spades was his humour. Never did I worry he was going to go write for DC…however, Low is lacking any sort of humour. This is a major problem. For a book about optimism and positive thinking and hope, it was devoid of humour. Does this mean that humour is tied into being negative or pessimistic? I wonder, because people think I’m funny, and I’m not a wild optimist. I’m a defeated idealist who uses sarcasm to gloss over how much humanity disappoints me. However, my misery usually makes others laugh?
Either way, without the humour, this is just another slightly above average dystopian sci-fi book.

Humanity lives in cities under the ocean, as the sun expands and ruins the Earth…one woman is optimistic and full of hope…so,naturally all the bad shit happens to her and her family.

Her hubby dies, kids kidnapped, and her son descends into depression. Then a glimmer of hope 10 yrs later, and we are off on our merry or not so merry way…
For a book about optimism, it sure wasn’t happy. Ironic, no?

That being said, it is interesting enough to pursue, but not aggressively.

Thanks for the free copy NetGalley!


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Review: Deadly Class Vol. 1; by Rick Remender

Deadly Class Vol. 1: Reagan YouthDeadly Class Vol. 1: Reagan Youth by Rick Remender
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Another fine Indy feature from the wonderful folks of Humble Bundle and the great creative minds at Image…

Rick Remender is one of my faves, (X-Force, Venom, Fear Agent) so after reading great reviews from both Kat (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…) and Jeff (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…), I added it to my Must Reads.

Lo and Behold, the wonderful and happy coincidence that it was included in the 2nd Image Humble Bundle I bought a while back!

So load it up to the iPad, and away we go!

It started off well, muted colours, kinda sepia tones, or just minimal colours per page, so the polar opposite of SAGA (at least until the Acid Trip). It had lots of colours sure, but the way they were laid out made it look muted and dull, which fit the feel of the book.

Marcus is a homeless teen, and we see the horrific backstory that led him to where he was. I found this to be some of the strongest writing in the whole collection, and giving a powerful reality to the struggle of people in Reagan era America. Especially the part about cutting funds to mental health facilities, which lead to releasing 100s-1000s of unstable, unwell people onto the streets with literally no where else to go.

We see Marcus is struggling, but we also see an early instance of him holding onto his humanity in the heat of the moment, which I believe is important for context in the rest of the book.

This is not fun, funny, or anything like that; I expected some cool riff on the Breakfast Club with Assassins, and it does have the cliques and such, but there’s not much lightness…for example:

“Happiness is just the absence of pain. It’s the best I can hope for.”

Wow. That’s heavy. RR is usually a bit more fun, light than this when he mixes in the serious stuff, usually there’s a balance.

The book then shifts into overdrive of hyper-violence and shitty situations for Marcus, when he finds himself admitted to a training academy for assassins…and the thing is, that’s actually the best thing that could happen to him.

We get hints at Marcus’ actions before the book begins, so we know he’s not snow white squeaky clean, but given the traumatic events that befell (haha little joke) his parents…it’s no wonder. I think this might be more like what would have happened to Bruce Wayne if he didn’t have billions of dollars and a support system. Just food for thought here…

Then it takes a right turn, into an examination of High School, and the metaphorical survival fight to make it through in one piece.

You might call Marcus self-destructive, but then again, given his outlook on how bullshit society is, I could see myself behaving in similar ways at certain points, if I had seen what he saw and had the same context of life.

The last few issues seem kinda bogged down with too much over the top violence and crazy shit fueled by six tabs of strong acid, but when you think you’ll die tomorrow, fuck, why not take six hits? Especially if you think it’s not the real thing.

Marcus makes enemies, and sort of friends, but he also reveals himself to be utterly pragmatic about it, that it’s a societal requirement for survival, not a choice for pleasant company. Brutal, but true in this context.

I wasn’t enjoying it too much because it was just not fun, it was heavy and dark and kinda rather depressing, so I thought maybe it was a DC book (haha!). But then by the end of the volume, Marcus’ main antagonist has revealed himself from his past, and he’s found a new renewal of interest in living, having been surrounded by all the death.

Perversely, the uber violence did something in him that made him long for a return to the tranquility and peace of innocence, even though it’s long gone in that regard, he seems to abandon his nihilism by the end and decide he’s just somewhat interested in wanting to live.

I was going to give this 3 stars at first, because I felt like it kinda lost the plot and went downhill for me from a promising start…
But then I read Rick Remender’s afterward, and he spells it out pretty much that this book is an amped up metaphorical look at his High School years and experience, and the rampant violence and outsider status he himself lived through.

If you think comic writers are just dweebs and geeks and nerds, then check this out:

“Phoenix was a violent place in the late 80s early 90s, and standing out in a city like that led to numerous beatings, stabbings and shootings amongst my friends. I’ve seen a man shot in the head, I had a friend shot in the back while trying to flee a gunfight, had a friend overdose on heroin before he shot himself in the head, another was stabbed, and I was personally jumped and brutally beaten by gangbangers twice.

Violence was just something you got used to being around.”

That was Rick’s own words from the afterward.
Holy shit. I think I only saw like 5 fights in my whole high school experience.

After that, I realized what a personal piece of work Deadly Class is, and why it’s so violent and filled with what otherwise would be insanity; maybe it’s some sort of catharsis for him? I hope so, and that’s the joy of creator-owned and independent works, they come from a very real place.

So kudos for sharing your story with us Rick, and by being open about it, I was able to understand it a lot better.

This isn’t your usual Rick Remender, but if you like his work, you owe it to him to read this.


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X-Force Vol. 1 Dirty/Tricks by Simon Spurrier (who? exactly.)

X-Force Volume 1: Dirty/TricksX-Force Volume 1: Dirty/Tricks by Simon Spurrier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Ugh. Anyone who has read Remender’s X-Force run? Do Not Read This. It’s lame. Who the fuck is Marrow? Is she on meds or some shit? Frankly I’d much rather Cable, Betsy or Fantomex. However, the art, I’m just not feeling it at all. Fantomex also just becomes a 1 dimensional dog trying to hump Betsy’s leg. He deserves far better. Cable is not at all interesting or appealing here. I only give it 2 instead of 1 because I might have missed stuff since I pretty much scanned the 2nd half of this…just not for me at all. I guess Remender spoiled me.


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Review: Southern Bastards – Here was a Man; by Jason Aaron

Southern Bastards, Vol. 1: Here Was a ManSouthern Bastards, Vol. 1: Here Was a Man by Jason Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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My first Indy Week Buddy Read Shallows. Thanks to Humble Bundle for their last and superb Image Bundle. I will be flowing forth with tons of IMAGE reviews as such! (especially since I figured out how to load them onto my iPad!)

So this non-mainstream slice of Jason Aaron is his first since the glory days of SCALPED, a certain masterpiece of modern noir crime fiction. (I’m only in the middle of that series and I’m already hooked like a junkie for my next fix).

Aaron is in my Top 2-3 writers in the industry right now, no doubt. So when I read the jacket on the back of this one and look at all the names giving quotes and recommending this: Brubaker, Hickman, Fraction, Remender, Snyder; well holy fuck, that’s just like the 1927 Yankees talking about Gehrig or Ruth…a regular murderers row of talent. The best in the bizz.

Between that and the fairly accepted praise from friends on here who’s opinions I truly value, this was set up for greatness…

And boy, does it deliver.

Earl Tubb is one badass mofo. Having left the small Alabama town where his daddy was sheriff 40yrs ago, never to return…until now.
He comes back conflicted, and within hours, is knee deep in local bullshit all over again.
This feels like a Clint Eastwood movie just waiting to be made.
Cross Deliverance with Walking Tall and give ole’ Squint the reins.

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The county his father kept clean until his death is the usual Southern Hellhole, run by Coach Boss, a combination of Boss Hogg and the Coach in Varsity Blues, except filtered through Satan. The use of heavy reds and browns and yellows really give the feel of hell on Earth, heat, and damned souls.

Try as he might, Earl wants nothing more than to pack up his family house, and get the fuck out…but the murder of an old acquaintance is just a little too much for Earl to take when he sees the current Sheriff isn’t fixin’ to do a Good Goddamn thing about it.

This is the same kind of unflinching look at the real America of the South, that Scalped gave us of the Western/Plains Native Reserves. This is noir so dark, it’s black. It takes a chunk of you just to read it. Make no mistake, this isn’t some comic book, this is pure American Noir in the hands of a modern master.

If you haven’t already, grab yourself some fast, because like the best Ribs/BBQ, you DO NOT want to miss out on this.


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Review: Age of Ulton Companion, by Various Artists (including Rick Remender and Mark Waid)

Age of Ultron CompanionAge of Ultron Companion by Marvel Comics
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another book where I have like no context, except that I know who Ultron is, and what he likes to do.

This book is like one of those packs of 10 mini boxes of cereal you used to eat on vacation as a kid; there’s a lot of Corn Flakes and Bran Flakes and Rice Krispies, but not enough Fruit Loops or Corn Pops, and Frosted Flakes taste shitty after the first few bites.

That’s what this is, a grab bag, some good, some not, and some meh-ish.

The Uncanny Avengers one (Remender of course) is interesting, the FF is a rehash for me (Matt Fraction, but still powerful in its own way) and then theres some Superior Spider Man, Wolvie and the X, and Mark Waid closes the volume with a story about Ultron’s daddy; Hank Pym.

The Waid story might have the most lasting value; pretty much it explains how his parents weren’t all that supportive, wanting practicality, and it was his grandma Pym who encouraged him to think outside the norms…so far in fact, that it was a Catch-22, because Ultron happens, and he reveals how he solved that, but also the last panel is a truly terrifying vision of what Pym’s renewed confidence will lead to.

Waid uses the book to paint the layers of Pym’s psyche, and reveal why he might be the most dangerous man in the Marvel U.

Other high points: Ultron outthinking Otto-Spidey; Captain Marvel going out in a blaze of glory, and alternative reality Havok being martyred.

It was interesting, and for each bite that tasted like filler and horse-meat byproduct, there was just enough tasty gluctose-fructose corn syrup-y Red #6 goodness.


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