Like most people who wish they read more than they actually do, the to-be-read-next pile next to my bed is a veritable tower. Luckily for me, about half of my stack consists of comic trade paperbacks which take considerably less reading time. Here’re a few of my recents.
The Marquis: Inferno: C+: I picked this one up because it is written and illustrated by the illustrator of B.P.R.D., one of my favorite comic series. The art was on par with his work there, especially given the similar subject matter. The story, however, was a bit tedious. When the titular character was hunting down his infernal quarry, the pacing was fast and frantic, usually over within a few pages, but the one-way dialogs he would have with either himself or the statue of his patron saint were repetitive, overly wordy, and boring. The conversations between the captain of the city guard and his inquisitor boss were equally painful, and always the same, and occurred far too often.
Gravel Vol. 1: Bloody Liars: A-: I’ve added yet another in the vast collection of works by my favorite comic author, Warren Ellis. Sometimes I wish he wasn’t quite so prolific, not for sake of quality, but for the sake of my wallet. Gravel is another success. Like many of Ellis’ stories, it’s a revenge tale as the protagonist bloodily confronts all those who wronged him. The art wonderfully matches the epic, gory, and fast-paced story, and leaves you wanting more. I’ll definitely get the other volumes.
Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft: C+: The story centers around a house in which various keys are hidden that do different fantastical things when used to open doors. It’s a great premise, but isn’t used enough. Instead, we see kids whose father was brutally murdered and relocate to this house only to re-confront the murderer and a ghost imprisoned in a well(I think it’s a ghost…it isn’t really clear.) I understand that this is only the first volume, but very little closure is given. The characters don’t really “win” per se nor is anything explained about the origins of all the magic house stuff, or even how much of it works. The art is standard fare, though bit cartoony for the grisly subject matter. Finally, I assume Lovecraft, the town in which the house resides, was bait to get those like myself to pick up the comic, since it had virtually nothing “Lovecraftian” about it.
Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale: B: The unfortunate cancellation of Firefly left many questions unanswered. One of those I thought was best left unanswered was the back-story of Shepherd Book. The movie, Serenity, hinted that he may have had a similar background to the assassin character but never explicitly stated it. This comic answers his story, and though penned by the show’s author and his brother, it was disappointing and cliche. The story revealed itself in an engaging Memento fashion, starting with his role in Serenity, then jumping back in time every few pages to reveal his motivations. This continues all the way to his childhood. The structure and page layouts were great, but I felt as if Book was far more interesting when his past was mysterious and possibly disturbing. Unfortunately, it was neither.