Review – House of Night #5

Story: P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast
Script: Kent Dalian
Art: Joëlle Jones and Eric Canete
Colors: Ryan Hill and Eric Canete
Letters: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover: Jenny Frison
Published By: Dark Horse

This issue begins with Zoey and her friends relived of stress and worry after having a snowball fight and acting like average, everyday kids. That is , until one of them, Stevie Rae begins coughing up blood. We soon see that this was all just a nightmare, but it does give some back story which allows us to understand the dangers all these kids face in going through the transition from fledgling to vampyre. We begin to understand just how scared they are and how much the fear weighs on their shoulders. We also get a glimpse into Zoey’s love-life, both past drama of exes and present giddiness of new love. Most importantly though, Zoey is about to embark on her final lesson, spirit, with the Goddess Nyx. Zoey’s lesson is taught through Amazon vampyre Queen, Hippolyte and the immortal hero Herakles, enemies who wage a war against each other only to come together through love in the end. Their love however cannot last and Hippolyte must take drastic measures to sever their ties. Zoey believes she understands and has learned her final lesson and thinks she knows what she has to do, but she really doesn’t. The application of her newly learned lesson will come later and she will find out that it is much more important than what she originally thought.

This issue is great, I really love the way Zoey’s lessons are taught and how the stories are told. I really like that there is so much woman power within the pages, something that is lacking within our society a lot of the time and is a great message to send to younger girls. I also enjoyed the little bit of back story we are given on Zoey’s love-life, it really helps to flush out the character and helps us to realize there is more to her than her school life. The art is gorgeous and really breathtaking as are the vibrant and beautiful colors. This series has really come into its own and I’m really enjoying the richness of the characters, the story and its message. Each issue is better than the last and I can’t wait to find out where these characters are going to go.

Release Date: March 14th, 2012

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

Review – House of Night #3

Story: P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast
Script: Kent Dalian
Art: Joëlle Jones& Daniel Krall
Colors: Ryan Hill & Daniel Krall
Cover: Jenny Frison
Published By: Dark Horse

Jenny Frison Cover

The life of a fledgling vampyre is never easy and this issue shows us what these students have to go through. “The People of Faith” is a religious group that believes that the House of Night school is an abomination. The thought is the children are stolen, marked and then cursed and the religious group will not rest until the school is destroyed. As Zoey watches the protest from her bedroom window she sees her parents (stepdad) and little brother. We then see a flashback of the day Zoey was marked and that her family did not support her. As she approaches the protest she reaches out to her brother who screams and jumps back. Understandably this upsets Zoey and she does something that she shouldn’t do! Her actions make her realize that her next Dark Daughters lesson is that of Circe.

This issue of House of Night is he best one so far. I love the Circe/Odysseus lesson and the little bits of humor sprinkled here and there. The dialog is great and the art again is fantastic. I really like that Zoey is a strong girl, even when she falters she admits her mistakes and keeps trying. Very often teenage girls are portrayed as ditsy, weak and mellow-dramatic but that is not the case here. Zoey’s not perfect but she is trying to do her best! This was a fun read and I recommend checking it out.

Release Date: January 11th, 2012

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

Review: House of Night #2

Story: P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast
Script: Kent Dalian
Art Joëlle Jones and Joshua Covey
Colors: Ryan Hill and Dan Jackson
Cover: Jenny Frison
Published By: Dark Horse

The second issue begins with Zoey and Damien in their fencing class which quickly transitions into Damien having to fence against his ex dorm mate Thor (!).  We learn some more about Damien, the one boy in the Dark Daughters.  We find out he’s gay, as if that isn’t hard enough for a teenager, he’s also a     vampyre…from Texas no less.  Zoey is waiting for her next lesson from the Goddess Nyx and in the meantime she makes sure to thank her friends for helping and believing in her when she was ready to give up.  This issue manages to capture the uncertainty and insecurities that teenagers go through at this age, minus the whole vampyre/magic aspect of it all.  The bullies, Thor (!) and Aphrodite are reminiscent of bullies in Anytown U.S.A.  They have their own issues but don’t have the support group (mainly because they are mean) that the regular kids do.  As Zoey soon finds out that the next lesson she must learn is air, we are given a flashback about a mother and her two daughters.  This flashback is extremely sad and very compelling.  Zoey and her crew learn about air, its powers, and the origins of The Dark Daughters.

I liked this issue a lot.  I like the depth and juxtaposition being used to flush out Aphrodite’s character.  As stated previously, I really enjoyed the humor in this issue, it was cute and witty.  I could hear these characters actually delivering these lines.  The art is fantastic and really captures the emotion and moods wonderfully.  I think this series has a lot of promise and is definitely worth picking up, I would recommend buying the first issue to begin.  There is a lot of back story that is important and I think if the reader just jumps in he/she may feel a little lost.

Release Date: December 14th, 2011

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

Review – Valve Presents: The Sacrifice and Other Steam-Powered Stories

Writer: Various
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming, Various

VALVE has crafted a group of stories in the past years, the Left 4 Dead universe, Portal and even Team Fortress got a personalized story to it. During that time, VALVE also released mini-comics for Team Fortress 2 and Portal 2, showcasing the back story to certain events or releases. Today we got a greater look at the whole picture, starting off with the original Left 4 Dead crew in The Sacrifice.

For many, this is a tense and frustrating map in the DLC released with Left 4 Dead, having to pick a member of the team to go back and them having no hope to return, even worse if that survivor can’t actually make it to all the stops in time. In this case we find out how it really breaks down, a story not just of The Sacrifice, but everything revolving around the survivors and the real state of the world. For fans of the series, this brings some emotional twists and background to the original team, for those who always wanted to know more it’ll give that and so much extra.

Quality wise, the art is a bit wild, very raw but very detailed and keeping to the tone that made the series so eerie. The dialogue expands upon the one liners that guide players through the series including an in depth look into Bill and the limitless optimism of Francis. Everyone gets a moment in the spotlight and we even meet some outsiders along the way.

Team Fortress 2 takes over the reigns as The Sacrifice Wraps up, tackling the friendship conflict announced when the Soldier and Demoman got their new weapon load outs. After a dark passage for the survivors, the Team Fortress crew picks up the pace with some of the most insane moments. The history between the two sides is revealed, the mysteries of Mann Co are blown out and all out war fills the air. If you read the friendship comic, you’ll love how the rest of this pans out as even Saxon Hale sneaks in with his retro themed pages.

Fans of Team Fortress 2 will no doubt eat up all the amazing bits they’ve managed to store in the book, with so much explained it’s a must for any player to have.

Portal 2 wraps up the book, covering many comics already well known to the public, a few chapters do seem to wrap up the loose ends though, we learn about the mysterious doctor behind the scenes and even more on Chell and the battle with GLaDOS. For many this might not be worth the sole investment into the book, for VALVE fans though, this really is the icing on a delicious cake that we finally get to taste. The art is wild as is the story, the pace and control varies in the moment of the story and reads as a tale of madness until we find ourselves at the end.

Hopefully VALVE can incorporate these into continued volumes or at least use the thought put into these to segway their own games into new avenues. Look for it to arrive just in time for the holidays this year. Unfortunately, while amazing, don’t expect it to drop teasers on a certain Mr. Freeman though.

Publication Date: November 16, 2011
Price: $24.99

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