The Red Wing - Jonathan Hickman

Hickman tends to come up with something really cool and then make me think he forgot to develop it. This story is about humanity fighting a war across time itself against an unknown adversary. Pretty cool, huh? So how come the story is little more than a clever idea devoid of the details and development that would lead it to actually being more than just a clever idea? Then again, maybe it is me, as I never feel time travel is written in any way that I can accept as potentially believable.

La Perdida - Jessica Abel

Unfortunately, I didn't care for this impressively long book about a young woman, Carla, who moves to Mexico to establish some connection to a largely non-existent part of her heritage. The problem was that with one briefly appearing exception of Carla's little brother, Rod, every single character in this story is a completely immature, moronic, loser. It's really hard to keep reading about a story filled with these idiot wannabe Marxists, writers, DJs, whatever. And it takes 150 of the 250+ pages before a plot really begins and by that time I really don't care what happens next despite how exciting and intense it should be. I also felt that Abel's early use of subtitles for the spanish didn't really work for me, just have it in english and let me know what parts are suppose to be spanish. Sorry, but if I knew anyone like any of these characters I would just ignore them, so don't make me read about them. 

Here - Richard McGuire

It seems like a very interesting and artistic idea. The comic focuses on one point in space and jumps around through time, from the distant past to the not so distant future. The problem is that the execution is boring as hell. I'm not even going to put a picture of this book on this review because the cover is boring also. It probably took forever to create this book and you can read it in five minutes.

Thunderbolt Jaxon - Dave Gibbons

In an attempt to update some old British comic characters, Gibbons tried to breath life into a tale about how a magical belt turns a boy into Thor, and how he uses that power for good. Sadly, while this seems to me to be awesome (a cross between the first Thor comic and Captain Marvel but originating earlier than either), Gibbons makes what should be a kids book far too dark, and has a horrible time with the pacing, plotting, and dialogue. There are a lot of good ideas and fun touches here (gods reenacting their wars as hoodlums, the MacBeth witches, a trio of kids), and none of it hold together well. Perhaps if it unfolded over a longer time than the handful of five issues. 

The Voyeurs - Gabrielle Bell

This is why this comic sucks: It's filled with name dropping that means nothing unless you waste your time memorizing the first names of alternative comic artists so you can attempt to figure out who is who; there is no actual plot, just random diary entries; there are no characters, unless you count the parade of superficial hipsters that whine that they have it so good yet seem to do nothing, or Bell herself who is frighteningly unstable (and if she is so unstable how does she actual produce anything?); and there is little information here, mainly recollections of events that are tangential to other--perhaps interesting--events. Ug.

Exquisite Corpse - Penelope Bagieu

I was sadly disappointed in this comic. The art is wonderful and it seem like a decent set up: an attractive, but uninspired girl meets a shut-in, older, author with writers block and a bizarre secret. Together, they inspire each other. Seems simple enough, but it takes about half the book before the story really starts and it's all leaning to what are supposed to be shocking twists, but none of the characters are good enough to make me really care about them, or bad enough to make me want anything negative to happen to them. Some of the events come out of nowhere (sorry, it is not a twist when there's no basis for an event to take place), and the whole book reads like a pitch idea for what might be a clever movie if any of the characters were actually developed. exquisite corpse

Stumptown: The Case of the Girl Who Took her Shampoo (But Left her Mini) - Greg Rucka

I liked this comic better when it was an episode of The Killing or done by Ed Brubaker;  okay, that's not fair, but it does seem very much like a desperate attempt to create a TV pilot done in the style of Brubaker. I'm sure a ton of people will love this comic, but I am not one of them and here's why: this story is about a woman named Dex, who by her own account is a complete and utter loser; she drinks too much, gambles foolishly, can't get into a relationship (doesn't even know her sexual orientation (but that's really just Rucka trying to be sexy)), flirts shamelessly with anyone she wants something from, and does not seem to be particularly good at her job, which is being a private investigator. We are supposed to like her though because of two things: she takes cares of her mentally disabled little brother (although not particularly well as throughout the story there's ample opportunity for the bad guys to use him as a bargaining chip (why they don't is simply beyond me)), and because she is sassy (although I don't think it's sassy so much as absolute stupidity when you mouth off to people who just attempted to murder you and obviously would have no problem trying again or at the very least raping and/or maiming you). The plot itself is that Dex (who lives in the world of The Killing) has to find a missing girl--the subtitle gives some basic information on that, but makes it seem like a joke, which is another problem I have with the comic as it wants to be dark and serious but obviously thinks everything is a joke. You want to write a crime comic? Fine, and I'm happy for it, but have it make sense. stumptown

Hark! A Vagrant - Kate Beaton

Admittedly, I know little about Canadian history or Nancy Drew books, but these cutely drawn comics that often use history and literature (including comics) as subject matter are rather delightful, even if it gets a little overwhelming sitting down to read an entire collection at once. I would say they should be more popular, but many of the references are just too obscure. Hark! A Vagrant  

Not sure why this first collection is being published here about three weeks after the sequel, but that's how I role (I guess).

Bad Island - Doug TenNapel

I actually read some of his work before, and I think I have the same problems with this one, and that is the characters are only developed on the superficial level. To make matters worse, I feel that this superficiality could easily be rectified with maybe just a couple of additional pages. Anyway, the main storyline is about a family on vacation that gets shipwrecked on an island and they must come together as a family in order to survive the strange and mysterious forces that haunt the island. No, this is not an episode of Lost, although with the jumps in time it might as well be. The art is cute and the story is not necessarily bad, but there's not enough here to move me. bad island

Step Aside, Pops (A Hark! A Vagrant Collection) - Kate Beaton

I had read another Hark! A Vagrant collection--I believe the first one--and really enjoyed it, so naturally I grabbed this one. For the first half I was pretty disappointed; maybe the comics just weren't as funny, or maybe the historical and literary references that are used as backdrops to these gags were just too unknown for me (sorry, my knowledge of Canada is limited). Luckily, I kept reading and really enjoyed the second half. Lots of fun, but obviously not for everyone. Vagrant

Supermutant Magic Academy - Jillian Tamaki

This is the Canadian Tamaki's first solo work and I've liked her other comics. I'm pretty sure this comic started out as a collection of absolutely random gags that largely involved teenagers in a school where everyone is either a Harry Potter witch or some sort of mutation. Eventually, our author realized she had enough to actually try to make a story out of them. So even though they are somewhat disjointed and rarely have a storyline more than a couple of pages (the longest one being the very end where she must've realized she needed some semblance of a plot), I got to say I really enjoyed it! The zany randomness of it all works so well with the teenage angst the characters have. If this was an X-Men comic about the students at school, it would be superb! Supermutant Magic Academy

Louise Brooks: Detective - Rick Geary

I greatly enjoy Geary's works, especially his historical recounts of murderers. Perhaps because of this I am less enamored by his fiction (especially one wherein certain plot details are hidden and the ending feels rushed). While this was a fine work about a has been actress who stumbles upon a mystery, I'm more eager to read about real people and real mysteries. Sorry that you've been typecast, Geary, but if you do something great why not stick with it? Louise Brooks

Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites - Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson

I swear I've read some of these stories before but don't know when or how. It is possible as many of them are reprinted from years ago. I'll start by saying that I enjoyed this collection, but at the same time I can't really say who I would recommended it for. "Okay, so there are beautifully illustrated, often very cute, pictures of dogs and occasionally cats, by Jill Thompson, and the story is about these dogs that go on adventures." So far, so good. "And the adventures the dogs engage in usually involve fighting supernatural, demonic creatures." Not the run-of-the-mill average mix of things. Still, I enjoyed it. Beasts of Burden

Mike's Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv - Jack Baxter, Joshua Faudem, & Koren Shadmi

I try to reserve October postings for horror themed works to go with the spirit of Halloween (not really sure why), and considering that this work is about a terrorist attack that takes place at a kind of hippie bar in Tel Aviv, it seems to fit. It is an interesting work describing the events that led up to, included, and the aftermath of just one of the seemingly endless bombings that take place in Israel, giving details on the lives, loves, and personalities of various people involved. Apparently, it is made by the same people and relates to the documentary: Blues by the Beach. I have not seen it and don't want to give false comparison, but I will say that while this work is very good it either needs to have several characters and events cut to streamline it, or it need to increase its length by about a third to do justice to the various characters. As is, it feels rushed and truncated, so that I felt I was missing some piece of information, or an important interaction that was cut from the final draft. This may not be true, but is the impression that I get. Still, a poignant and powerful read. mike's place

Snow Piecer (vol. 1): The Escape - Jacques Lob

I have no idea why there's any press behind this title; it is about a train carrying the survivors of humanity and is divided into classes, in other words, is it pretty uninspired metaphor of class struggles. Most of the comic is about an escapee who comes from the tail end and it is taken through the various train cars to meet the president towards the front. It is much more silly than poignant. Apparently, there's a crappy movie based on it, which, like the other volumes in this series, I will not be participating in. snow piecer

Beautiful Darkness - Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoet

At first glance it seems like a children's fairytale book and you might just go and give it to a small child. And that small child might kill itself over the horror of this story. Apparently, there were these fairy creatures that lived in a person who died and they all must now fend for themselves in the harsh reality of the world. Most of these fairies are either evil or simply very uncaring and the death toll is enormous. The book is somewhat nightmarish which turned me off, but that is more subjective. Objectively speaking, there aren't any characters in the story, just short hand so that your project personality upon them, and that, really, is what kills the story. beautiful darkness

Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story - Anne Rice - Adaptation by Ashley Marie Witter

It's been a generation since I read the original book, which I absolutely loved at the time, and obviously stuck with me enough that I could remember just about everything in this POV from the child turned vampire, Claudia. This comic version, which has a slight anime feel, nicely captures the story, although I don't think it would mean much to those who don't know the story it is from. Good job.