Lucifer, vol. 1

Lucifer, Vol. 1Lucifer, Vol. 1 by Holly Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Received from Netgalley for review.)

I requested this on a whim, mostly because I really liked the cover. It’s such an unusual style for a Big Two cover. And I was at least somewhat familiar with this version of Lucifer, from Sandman. As it turns out, not nearly familiar enough. It seems to continue directly after the end of the previous Lucifer series, and I do mean directly. I never read that series, so the book keeps going back to things that happened before. I wasn’t necessarily lost (maybe a bit confused at times), because Black did a fairly good job of trying to explain what she’d brought in from previous books. Even so, it’s like hearing something third hand, so I can’t be sure I really understand all the nuances that she may or may not be playing off of. I can imagine that having read the previous incarnation of the series would be enormously helpful, especially early in the book.

The story itself is a bit meandering at times. When Lucifer and Gabriel go to Dreaming, it felt almost like a digression (though maybe that was intentional) and not an integral part of the story. I’m not sure if Black felt obligated to enter Dream’s realm, or just really wanted to, but either way it felt more like a time out from the story than a continuation of it. Things get really interesting in the last couple of issues, enough so that I’ll probably read the next volume, when it comes out. And interspersing the story with scenes of humans kind of puzzled me at first, but I ended up becoming really attached to them. Overall, there’s some rough spots here, and I think I probably wasn’t quite prepared for the book, but it is good.

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Review: Rat Catcher

Rat CatcherRat Catcher by Andy Diggle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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This one’s another from the short list of worthwhile entries from the Vertigo Crime imprint. Andy Diggle’s Rat Catcher is his own version of a “Keyser Soze”-like criminal that’s been killing informants in the witness protection program for years. Pretty solid story that takes a lot of the mandatory twists and turns along the way before the final climax. The conclusion may not deliver for some, but I liked it, so there. I also appreciate Diggle’s ability to write conversation. He’s really able to sell his characters as real people to me in that regard and this had me hooked early on.

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Who is Victor Ibanez and why the hell isn’t he doing more comic work? The real crime here is this guy isn’t doing more stuff. I really liked his art here and I’m shocked to see that he hasn’t done anything else per Goodreads. (Turns out he’s done some stuff for Marvel on Storm, but not much else.)

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Pretty good comic that crime fans should probably check out. Andy Diggle hasn’t been the most consistent writer, but I think this one falls on the “worthwhile” side of the fence when compared with the rest of his body of work. And will someone from Marvel, Image, DC, or Dark Horse get Victor Ibanez some regular work…What a waste.

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Review: Area 10

Area 10Area 10 by Christos Gage

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Vertigo Crime imprint hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype for me. No stupid-great noir tales despite having some pretty talented folks writing and/or drawing a few of them. That said, Area 10 is pretty good. Not off the hook, but certainly an entertaining read.

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Christos Gage’s fast paced book focuses on the hunt for a serial killer dubbed “Henry the Eighth” and the one cop in particular that’s trying to bring him in. Fairly standard fare. The thing that makes this a little more unique is the cringe-worthy injury that allows the killer to stay one step ahead of the law. Couple of twists that I didn’t see coming and the characters ultimately grew on me.

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Not overly psyched about the art. I like a lot of black and white stuff, but it took a while for me to come around to Chris Samnee’s work in this one and I enjoyed his recent run on Daredevil. In the end it was certainly serviceable enough.

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While it’s built on a familiar foundation, Area 10 does do a couple of things different and has enough originality to warrant a read if you’re a fan of serial killer fiction or noir comics. I was unaware that Gage had written for Law & Order: SVU prior to reading this. SVU is one of my wife’s favorite shows and this sorta reads a little like one of their episodes. And that’s not a bad thing.

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Review: Fables, Vol. 6 – Homelands; by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 6: Homelands (Fables, #6)Fables, Vol. 6: Homelands by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So this volume collects 3 different threads, woven somewhat together for us.

1) Jack left Fabletown in an earlier volume, here we see him go to Hollywood and make it big in the movies, with stolen wealth from his fellow fables. He’s tracked down by Beast, the new Sheriff, and allowed to escape, but never to return to Fabletown. I believe this sets up the whole spin-off series Jack of Fables, which Willingham also writes. This Jack isn’t a minor screw up like the previous volumes show, this shows him being pretty savvy, and just a bit of an egomaniac. I will be interested to see his solo adventures.

2)Boy Blue took off with the magic cloak and sword, and makes his way through the original Homelands, on a personal quest for numerous reasons. Along the way we have many revelations, as well as finally, the Adversary himself! I won’t give it away, but it’s a great idea in many ways, taken sort of from another famous story…at least interpreted similarly. It’s explained very well too, and helps set up the Adversary as how he started innocently enough, yet slipped into full out evil monster by the end.

3)Mowgli arrives back in Fabletown, he was away, as a traveller of the world (a spy for Fabletown and Bigby) when he returns, we see that his best friend Bagheera the Panther is still locked up from his role in the attempted coup at the Farm. Mayor Prince Charming offers Mowgli a deal: go find Bigby and bring him back to Fabletown, because Bigby is the only one who can lead the Fables into war against the Adversary.

So I liked this volume a lot; no Snow White, not tons of fables, no Bigby was a downside, but his mere mention holds power over the book, so I don’t worry that he’s not going to be back. Beast and Charming have done pretty well taking over from Bigby and Cole, who we also don’t see.

I liked it a lot, and at this point I’ve just come to enjoy it altogether the whole series. In some ways it takes from Hellboy by updating myth/fable/etc. into reality, but not nearly as Gothic or Dark.

That being said, Boy Blue really makes a name for himself, and I’m looking forward to more Mowgli adventures.


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Review: The Wake, by Scott Snyder

The WakeThe Wake by Scott Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK I’m still on indies…yup.

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So, Scott Snyder, pretty darn good writer, never embarrasses himself, always seems to have things thought out 5 steps ahead, much like his Batman…well I am here to tell you amigos…Mr. Scott done gone and fell upon his ass here.

Something can be great, really interesting, suspenseful, and have you wanting more…The Wake did that. It was like the best parts of The Abyss and Alien mashed up. I loved that the strong main character was female, kudos for that for sure. I liked the idea, ya OK, why not? I even liked the execution of the first half.

The second half was a departure, moving forward 200yrs in time from the end of the events at the first half. There’s still a strong female character, but it’s not like the Abyss, it’s like Waterworld and Mad Max (which Waterworld without water would be…except awesome). I don’t really understand the motivation for the villain here (another female character, good job Mr. Snyder!) she never gets explained much to me, and that’s mildly problematic.

The male characters are all well done too, though some very easy cliches they all fit into, but that’s OK, because this book is like a summer action blockbuster, it needs to move forward at a good pace.

Unfortunately, it all comes apart in the end, much like my Shallow friends who’ve read this have already pointed out (and the comparisons to Abyss and Waterworld I see as well, so obviously that was a blatant similarity). The idea was kooky but I was willing to invest, especially for the explanation of Humanity itself, but the last little bits? Nope. I had more willingness to believe the Fonz could jump his motorcycle over a shark.

So what are we left with here? A very well drawn and coloured book (nice shades of blue, green, super dark shades of water (blues, blacks, greens) and some pretty good writing for the first part. We’re left with a fun setup that gives an unsatisfactory ending…

I suppose it would be like getting turned on, getting into it, and ending up with a sad handjob. It has the end result the same, but you just cannot enjoy it when you were expecting something else, y’know?

So thanks for the great Foreplay Mr. Synder, but next time, realize most of us don’t enjoy the sad handjobs…


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Review: The Wake by Scott Snyder, Sean Murphy (Illustrations)

The WakeThe Wake by Scott Snyder

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was pretty invested in the story for the majority of this book.
It kind of ran off the rails toward the finish line, and (in my opinion) never really recovered the momentum it had during the first half.
The ending?
I’m not even sure what the hell happened…

So, it starts off in present day (or the past, depending on how you look at it) with a cetologist whale/dolphin/porpoise expert named Lee Archer. She gets an offer she can’t refuse from a government agentish guy, to help them with something they’ve discovered in the ocean that is making a whale-like call. They have the ‘animal’ hidden away in an illegal deep-sea drilling rig, and they need Archer to take a peek at it.
Hint: Turns out, it’s not a whale.

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Archer isn’t the only one who’s been called into check out this sucker out. There’s a folklore expert, a deep-sea hunter, and another scientist who happens to be the guy who got her thrown off of her last project.
Anyway, it soon becomes apparent that this creature is some sort of a chompy-mermaid with a hallucinogenic venom that squirts out of it’s eyes.
Worse, it’s got friends.
Lots and lots of friends that are tearing the underwater rig apart. And it looks like once they’re done eating Archer & Co., they’re headed toward the shoreline.
*cue dramatic music*

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Fast forward a couple of hundred years, and now we’re following the story of Leeward. A young lady with a dolphin who hunts the mermaids…and sells their eyeballs.

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The creatures have taken over the world (sort of) by causing tsunamis that flooded the shores, and drove the puny humans into their mouths.
Leeward is searching for this Lost Voice on the airwaves that she thinks holds the key to stopping the mer…whatevers
The government (such as it is) is after her, and she has to band together with pirates to find this Lost Message.
Oddly enough, it seems like this voice on the airwaves is coming from Archer.
But that can’t be true.
Or can it?

*cue the damn music again.*

Alright. If you haven’t read this, but plan to? Please don’t click the spoiler tag. The whole book hinges on keeping you in suspense as to what the hell these things are, and why they’re trying to eat us.
If you’ve read this, then you might understand why I think the ending jumped the shark just a little bit.
(view spoiler) https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1094534535

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Review: Preacher Vol. 8 – a Long-Winded Bag o’Shite’s a Comin. by Garth Ennis

Preacher, Volume 8: All Hell's a-ComingPreacher, Volume 8: All Hell’s a-Coming by Garth Ennis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is another Ennis book that has been dragged on too long…the last volume, Salvation, was great…this? Not so much…back to homophobia, vampires, and the Church…oh and stupid violence. I rate this as 2 stars because Tulip has a great backstory, and because Jesse is still ok. Cassidy has always been a dick, how is this a revelation??? Thanks for the horrible reading day Garth!!


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Review: Scalped: Vol. 6 – The Gnawing…by Jason Aaron

Scalped, Vol. 6: The GnawingScalped, Vol. 6: The Gnawing by Jason Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Compared to this, the dark knight is like My Little Pony. Holy fuck, noir. This is dark, this is grit. This is 150 shades of grey. Layer upon layer of complexity and interwoven relationships. It really is cranked up to 11 and then never stops. You want some bad ass motherfuckers? Try Red Crow…guy is stone cold. Takes out the Hmongs’ man, while on the phone with him. Then tells him to come and get it…then takes a beating like Rocky fucking Balboa. Saves the Rez, and still gets the last laugh…oh and the whole time? Nitz and the FBI are on him like brown on rice…oh, and he finds out there’s a rat from the FBI in his inner circle…oh and his daughter is a train wreck too, but he tried to save her…

Catcher…fuuuuck.

Dash is a Bad Bad Baaaaaad Horse. Manages to get revenge on Diesel, evade being caught as the rat, stops another guy fro. Ratting him out to Red Crow, and dodges Nitz, gets saved from Red Crow’s #2 by Catcher, and still manages to come out positively on the karmic scale…

I agree with Mike and Sam on their reviews…there aren’t enough words…Jason Aaron…fuuuuck. This volume alone gives you a decade of freedom for me to not ever disparage your work.

READ. THIS. NOW.


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Review: Fables, Vol. 5: The Mean Seasons; by Bill Willingham

Fables, Vol. 5: The Mean Seasons (Fables, #5)Fables, Vol. 5: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Volume 5 picks up in the aftermath of the invasion of Fabletown. This collection ushers in a great deal of changes, but first we discover a secret agent that Bigby has working, and how ruthless the big bad mofo will be to protect everyone else.
We then get a fun mini interlude, featuring Mr. Wolf during WWII as a spy, fighting the Nazis and a certain famous monster…who went to pieces.

The election results usher in changes, as Snow gives birth to about 6 babies, only to discover a major obstacle between her and Bigby being able to raise their family together.

We also have a number of main characters leave town, which shakes up the status quo…

We end with a few revelations, the most major being the introduction of a certain character’s father, and grandfather of others….

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Review: Preacher Vol. 7: Salvation, by Garth Ennis

Preacher, Volume 7: SalvationPreacher, Volume 7: Salvation by Garth Ennis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The cover is hideous and makes this look like a stupid volume.
Luckily, the stupidity is toned down in this one, and actually, is more enjoyable than the last few were…no fat jokes, no crazy interactions with God, spirits, religion or otherwise.
Oh, and did I mention, there’s no Irish vampire and no trigger happy blonde girlfriend in this one? That might actually be the best part of this…
Without all that baggage weighing him down, Jesse Custer can get back to business…which is to totally avoid his mission in a Podunk Texas town called…Salvation…how appropriate.
We get a lot of new characters, who are actually interesting for the most part, and only a little ridiculous in places. the insane sex is toned down, and that’s a good thing.
This one just feels like a quirky version of Walking Tall, with some rather larger revelations for Jesse, especially regarding his family.

I have no idea where things go from here, but in my opinion, this could have been a place to end things on short notice if they’d had to.

Instead we get treated to Sheriff Jesse and the bad guys. This book saved his character for me, as I had come to almost despise his whiny nature and stupid companions…this book made me actually think Ennis took this one a bit more seriously than the last ones, and I appreciate that.

Certainly not a place to dive in, but a definite upswing for me.

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