Review – Trekker: Rites of Passage

  • Story: Ron Randall
  • Art: Ron Randall
  • Colors: Ron Randall
  • Lettering: Ron Randall
  • Cover Art: Ron Randall with Jeremy Colwell
  • Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Intergalactic politics are never easy, getting caught in the black-ops dirty deeds of a big political storm is even more problematic. Trekker takes readers into the shoes of Mercy St. Clair, a Trekker / Head Hunter that doesn’t mind tangling with the worst the galaxy has to offer. The TPB edition is a full collection that covers a rough dance with the larger world that Mercy has put aside, seeking a simpler isolated lifestyle it’s not long before everything breaks down and her past emerges again.

Trekker spins off into secret government military operations, overthrows of outside territories and a rough ride through space with intense action and gun battles.

Ron Randall creates a complex web of relationships through the pages of Trekker, following Mercy through the pages there’s a huge struggle within as she fights constantly to shut the world and everyone in it out of her life. Creating a character that isn’t ice-cold but carries that on their shoulders because it’s what they know of the world is an interesting read, there’s sympathy and encouragement even while knowing it could all lead to dreadfully bad situations.

The art syncs up perfectly with the scenes, conveying careful energy and gesture to sell just the right read. From Mercy and her partner having some drinks (a few too many actually) to her expressions fighting predators in the wild with everything on the line. When you’re writing and illustrating that’s certainly a unique perk to have. Ron Randall creates momentum in the panels and emotion that helps keep characters alive and readers engaged.

Few moments ever manage to fall out of the constant friction in the story. The characters are flung from one bad scenario to the next all while holding on for dear life, Randall makes sure it’s not an easy ride and even in the most secure of moments, the floor falls right out from underneath Mercy and the reader. It’s unique in the mixture of cultures and a sci-fi manifest destiny gone wrong. Readers see the good and the bad not just in the shadowy government actions but in the people and their inherent desire for more.

Trekker is an interesting read, the art lands on point with carefully crafted pages that blend with the words on each page and give an expanded  understanding of the characters and world. For those looking to mix up their sci-fi experiences Trekker delivers, the character development is a very strong suit for the book and Ron Randall keeps a firm grasp on everything he wants readers privy to during the ride which makes it all the more interesting.

Preview: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: Out Now

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★★ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Dragon Age Adult Coloring Book

Artist: Pablo Churin, Juan Frigeri, Gabriel Guzman, Fernando Melek, Facundo Percio
Writer: Bioware
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Fans of Dragon Age looking to another way to pass the time get a treat this month. Rolling in at 96 pages the book carries quotes and images from characters throughout the Dragon Age Universe including Alistar, Morrigan, Varric and more. The artists on the book worked to deliver iconic images from the trilogy in detailed black and white pages.

Observing the 45 pages of art the pages range in difficulty for details, some approach landscape and worlds with a generous freedom for those coloring while others are incredibly detailed down to some of the finest points with contour lines to navigate every fold of clothing or tapestry. While at first glance it’s easy to appreciate heavy detail, it does take a finer touch to fill in those areas as they carry such tight-knit accents.

For fans with an itch to color it’s worth checking out, for those just interested in the art and owning pieces of the Dragon Age universe though, it’s a unique entry that’s pleasant to view and read quotes through and just own as part of a collection, the artists brought drama and power to their work placed into the book.

Currently I’m still navigating my action page with Leliana, being able to get the colors and shading right easily occupy hours at a time and it’s an image at the very start of the book. For those seeking a detailed authentic experience I’d suggest investing in a wider range of pencils, markers or if you’re going digital, a tablet to make sure you get the depth you’re looking for.

Release date: February 8, 2017
Preview: Dark Horse Comics

Review – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 #4

  • Script: Christos Gage
  • Pencils: Georges Jeanty
  • Ink: Dexter Vines
  • Colorist: Dan Jackson
  • Cover Artist: Steve Morris
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

Mystical creatures, the destruction of San Francisco and government internment camps. It’s Buffy Season 11 and it’s only getting messier as Buffy, Spike and Willow touch down in the federal camps for otherworldly powered and born inhabitants. After having a showdown with past slayers now turned government contractors the team decided to stop coming to clash with the law and see what they could do within the system. Tired of running and tearing apart the lives of everyone involved we saw Buffy take a stand to give Dawn and Xander a shot at their life as they took care of the reborn Giles.

Issue 4 “Desperate Times” takes readers under the veil of the safe zone with Buffy as she makes her rounds and learns the landscape. With a tiny camp stuffed to the brim with monsters what could go wrong? We learn about the strain showing in Spike and Buffy as they adapt to this new world and see how confinement and neglect can really turn problems up to 11.

Christos Gage tells a story of hardship and struggle for the demons and monsters in the safe zone, some problems never go away even if they’re under “guard” until the situation improves. Tidbits of Willow, Dawn and others come about and give light to the growing storyline. It’s bleak and tensions are only getting worse for Buffy and her friends, something has to give if they’re going to make it through this.

The shift to Georges Jeanty happens in this issue, with Rebekah Isaacs leading the style out of the gate the shift was easy to catch as the two artists approach gestures, character design and their worlds with their own sense of flair. The change to Jeanty makes sense as the story takes a darker turn into what inhabitants of the safe zone face. Hopefully Dark Horse is able to continue shifting between the duo through the series as they both bring so much to the books.

That said, unfortunately Buffy and the crew have their work cut out for them, Desperate Times is a fitting title for the issue given the challenges ahead in this story arc.

Release date: February 15, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW
Preview: Dark Horse Comics

Story:★★★★★ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Angel Season 11 #2 – Out of The Past Part 2

  • Script: Corinna Bechko
  • Artist: Geraldo Borges
  • Colorist: Michelle Madsen
  • Cover Artist: Scott Fischer
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

Season 11 of Angel kicked off with a mess, hard disturbing flashbacks / visions, inter-dimensional infestations and the fragile balance of working with Fred / Illyria created a whirlwind of trouble in just a few pages. Angel looks to face his past as Angelus and find out where the visions are directing him, but only if things play out well with Illyria as she’s the resident time traveler.

Issue 2 drops the duo out of the vortex and back…. way back into the past. The duo (trio) must face an entirely new set of challenges including finding some shade for our resident vampire. Goals get a bit mixed and a flowing theme of past mistakes fills the story, Angel isn’t the only one lugging around some heavy baggage from their past and since he’s not the one wielding the power of time and space the journey will get a bit longer with a new detour.

The upshot for fans and new readers is the continued character development of the new group, Angel and Faith had a good run which developed their characters and now we’ll see this dynamic with Fred and Illyria come around with Angel and see how much they can get solved while working together. Given how guarded Illyria is about her past and just her presence in general there’s no doubt some good stories are awaiting readers as the group battles to tackle her past in this journey too.

Corinna Bechko has some relatively fast pacing even if unintentional for the book, with the challenges brought about by issue 2 the story passes in the blink of an eye. Part of that pacing comes by Geraldo Borges art, panel designs and direction for the read, Michelle Madsen continues to play with the temperatures to create interesting focal points and set the general mood of a given scene.

Angel Season 11 #2 continues a wild spiral of action and dark secrets and it hasn’t even touched on the original investigation yet. For fans of the series it’s worth the read as the group digs in deeper for the road ahead.

Release date: February 15, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW
Preview: Dark Horse Comics

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Angel Catbird Vol. 2: To Castle Catula

  • Story: Margaret Atwood
  • Illustrations: Johnnie Christmas
  • Colorist: Tamara Bonvillain
  • Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
  • Editor: Da Niel Chabon
  • Published by: Dark Horse Comics

When worlds collide… well you get something like Angel Catbird. Margaret Atwood is at it in the latest volume of Angel Catbird with another dose of chimera antics as the group try to seek refuge in Castle Catula.

Volume 2 brings readers into the forests as they seek shelter from the crazed Professor Muroid and his rat armies hunting them seeking only their destruction. It’s a wild situation to say the least and when a half-cat, half-bat vampire are in your squad it really puts the pressure on to get to safety before the sun rises and starts cooking away.

With the group thinning to find backup they face new troubles as the landscape eats away at their momentum and challenges emerge. New pacts begin, romances start to flourish and super rats of all sorts start to make trouble as they desperately seek sanctuary. A.C. finds himself in a triangle that even he can’t seem to navigate out of and the stability of it might be enough to create a turning point for the group.

The book brings in backstories to help pass the pages and give depth to the character ensemble, we get interesting twists and origin tales while Muroid goes through various levels of insanity trying to exterminate them while dabbling in fantasies of his victory life. As they close in on sanctuary the stakes get higher and the raw instincts of the team are tested, their biggest foe yet steps onto the stage and everything gets complicated in a hurry for cats and allies alike.

Angel Catbird Volume 2 has a general campy tone, it pokes fun at itself and tries to carry a lighter read. The characters face waves of situations and leap to action, swinging claws and some one liners. The volume also carries footnotes for facts on cats, birds, rats and other animals and where to read more, many of the items do manage to tie in so it’s not a total detour from the storyline.

With a bit of a crazy storyline it seems Johnnie Christmas and Tamara Bonvillain had their work cut out for them. With Castle Catula, cat traps, new hybrids and new experimental teams of military grade rats it certainly tested the imagination but the duo were able to meet the call and deliver some fun artwork that holds a strong level of consistency, a very controlled color palette and some very well placed facial and body expressions.

For fans of Volume 1, there’s much more to explore in the latest installment, for those on the fence, check out the preview pages and get a feel for the Angel Catbird world to see if matches up in taste. It’s certainly an interesting pursuit by Atwood with this series but it feels like Volume 2 is coming into a better pacing and development.

Release date: February 14, 2017
Pre-order: TFAW
P
review Pages: Dark Horse Comics

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Ether #1

  • Script: Matt Kindt
  • Artist: David Rubin
  • Cover Artist: David Rubin
  • Lettering: David Rubin
  • Editor: Daniel Chabon
  • Publisher: Mike Richardson

Crossing worldly or otherworldly planes of existence is a tricky thing, Boone Dias makes it part of his daily exploration though as readers dive through Ether. The unique tale from Matt Kindt plays with humor and shades of drama as the story follows Boone and his scientific exploits to unravel the mystery of the Ether and at times the crimes and conflicts within.

Issue one drops readers in mid-story, leaving readers straight to the punch as Boone has character traits revealed and starts meeting some of the center cast. Soon the world itself starts to open and develop into the heart of the conflict, Kindt is careful with the balance of Boone and his serious tone and the loose mannerisms of those in Ether and Agartha as each on their own could throw this first experience off. Having a scientist that carries a dry delivery and a disconnected relationship is hard on a story but with characters like Glum it helps with those hurdles.

In this latest trip to the Ether some tragedy and high level foul play are at work and waiting for him, as one who thrives on mysteries and challenges it’s hard for him to pass up the opportunity but just what he’s getting into might be bigger than he ever expected. So far he’s been able to rationalize the world and cases before him, now that he’s stepping into a darker side of the Ether it will be a question if he’s able to keep up that fortune.

The issue sets the stage for many of the characters and the large challenge ahead. As an entry to the series its tightly held and filled with the essentials to build the upcoming issues. The art from David Rubin holds consistent and panels sell to the story key moments and tone the book hopes to set. It’s a different book, not hard sci-fi or pure humor, when looking for a book that’s a mix of both but playful in delivery I’d say this delivers as an interesting read. We’ll just have to see how the story continues to develop from here.

Release date: Out Now

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 #3

  • Script: Christos Gage
  • Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
  • Colorist: Dan Jackson
  • Cover Artist: Steve Morris
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

The internment camp, basically the strongest moment to ring out of issue 2 of this season. As the government goes nuclear on supernatural beings in the country suddenly the walls start closing in on everyone. With Buffy standing firm to protect her friends and family it’ll be a rough ride ahead.

A House Divided dumps more problems on Buffy and the group, with new mandates from the government it’s only a matter of time before federal slayers come knocking on her door for those dearest. We see Buffy trying to micromanage the situation as much as possible and try to keep some control over what’s going down. Christos Gage paints a grim future for the group, even with their best efforts they can’t possibly keep the group going in the face of everything going on.

We see Willow take a firm stand in her beliefs after the chaos in issue 2, knowing the dangers to those who even barely met her, she makes the sacrifices she needs to. Buffy and Spike also face their own wall, given vampires aren’t a magical exemption to the rule Buffy knows they’re coming. It’s a charged issue as the group makes decisions for the best of all their futures given their climate. Rebekah Isaacs does well to pull out emotion from each character through the panels as each of them carefully set the tone with the gestures displayed. Dan Jackson does well with intensity and playing on saturation to show the mood of the world and the emotion within each character with subtle shifts in the panels.

It’s certainly not looking good, in this case the world or at least the nation might just be against Buffy now. We’ll have to wait and see what comes of all this next month.

Release date: Out Now

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 11 #2

  • Script: Christos Gage
  • Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
  • Colorist: Dan Jackson
  • Cover Artist: Steve Morris
  • Lettering: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
  • Executive Producer: Joss Whedon

With Buffy facing an internal crisis of where she’s at in life as other celebrate new milestones and life moments, the world itself faces another crisis that has already left a dark mark on her city. There really is never time for Buffy to just get a moment, and this tension and momentum carry into issue 2 as they try to sort out a Shenlong dragon attack after a massive tsunami strike.

Tension really soars in issue 2, the entire gang is swept up in angry mobs, hate crimes and rising political problems that look to impact supernatural beings across the nation with knee-jerk legislation and actions. We see the cast split amongst themselves throughout the issue, Spike and Willow fearing for the worst while others hope to tread lighter paths in hopes the situation will not spiral out nearly as far.

Old faces cross paths and social unrest rages on as the mystery behind the dragon drives everyone to the limit without an answer. Christos Gage really plays all angles here, the cast is struggling to stomach the potential future they face and the world gets very ugly in a short amount of time. Rebekah Isaacs does well in the chapter, only some of the panels gave a slight bump in the experience as thicker ink brought about weird inconsistencies. Dan Jackson plays between muted colors and careful splashes of vibrancy to highlight the actions and moods of each panel.

Season 11 isn’t getting any easier, hopefully Buffy and the rest of the group can figure out how to keep it together.

Release date: Out Now

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – The Paybacks #1

26259Writers: Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal
Art: Geoff Shaw
Colors: Lauren Affe
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover: Geoff Shaw and Lauren Affe
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Running around in the superhero business isn’t easy, gadgets, cars, jets and other equipment aren’t exactly easy to come across. Paybacks looks at the other side of the superhero world with what comes after your series goes bust or those great crimes turn out as pretty mundane. We see a vibrant cast of ex-heroes now acting as repo heroes that invade and reclaim all those wonderful toys and locations for their boss to help work off their own debts. It’s complicated to say the least but it carries a sense of action and humor that let it flow with sitcom quality.

Issue 1 of The Paybacks brings our team into the world of Night Knight and his amazing Unicorn. Saving the day while his mansion and secret lair get completely ransacked by the repo team. It’s a unique situation for sure, the lovely Night Knight isn’t quite a front-page hero although his situations are far from light-hearted or even innocent. It’s a welcoming introduction, pitting the classical hero pondering their profession and the world while they’re largely unaware of the rummaging through their estate until it’s too late.

Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal do a great job bringing the central characters to life while also slowly teasing the lives of the Payback team to readers, no one hogs up too much space to confuse the narrative and with the backstory coming in tidbits, it seems we’ll learn all about the team in due time.

Geoff Shaw and Lauren Affe bring to life the Night Mare and the world of The Paybacks, I think that’s how it goes… That said it’s a traditional presentation with sharper angles that accent the bodies and pages but it’s not so serious and rigid that punch lines and awkward moments can’t shine. The panels feel natural and the characters compliment the twists and quirks of the storyline as the moment itself catches them by surprise.

We’re only getting a tight sampling of The Paybacks in issue #1 but it’s enough to capture interest to see where this story and their radical lives and workplace hazards turn next.

Links: Preview | Pre-Order
Release Date: September 16, 2015

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★★ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review: Criminal Macabre: The Third Child #4

As Hemlock and his two demon Spawn Babies terrorize Los Angeles turning it to a living hell, Cal and the crew finally catch up with Hemlock, Cal tells the others to save the humans and non-humans that need to be protected from Hemlock, Meanwhile Hemlock is enjoying the world being turned upside down and he states that he can feel the three of them getting strong, but to his surprise the two demon babies don’t consider him the Third, they go on to him that he has only proved that he is fool and that he must kill the true third child and that happens to be Cal McDonald.

When Cal and Hemlock square off Cal easily handles him, Hemlock is no match for his strength and power and is taken down by Cal, on his knees and defeated Hemlock is prepared to die by Cal’s hands but Cal reverts to his old wise cracking self and informs Hemlock that he won’t be the one who will finish him instead he has a friend who wants that opportunity, and that friend turns out to be Wheatley who then walks up and shoots Hemlock in the hand finally ending and avenging Doris’s death.

With Hemlock out of the way the demon babies ask Cal to join them and help them turn the world into hell, Cal boldly states that he has no intensions to join them and in fact is going to take them out, the babies then fuse together by one eating the other and they turn into a colossuses size demon, Cal is out matched against the giant Demon, during their fight Cal gets his wings ripped off and looks as if he’s done for but through a burst of anger pops back and sprouts new wings and gets back into the fight, moments later Cal lands one final punch which causes him to blackout.

After his blackout Cal wakes up with Mo’Lock, Wheatley, Cal asks if the demon is dead and they reassure him that it is, he also seems surprised and happy to see that he is no longer a Ghoul. The issue ends with the group saying there good byes and Cal going to a bar for drinks and begins to reminisce on his experience as a ghoul, in the last to panels we see that Cal still has his wings and red eyes.

I’ve always been a fan of Steve Niles work on Criminal Macabre, he balances the comedic, horror and action wonderfully without killing the main story something not all writers can pull off.

Conclusion: CRIMINAL MACABRE: THE THIRD CHILD #4 is a solid final issue, there are some parts that seemed unfulfilling besides that The Third Child as a whole was great arc and a must pick up for fans.

Links: Preview | Buy
Release Date: December 17, 2014