Monday, May 30, 2016

REVIEW: RAT QUEENS VOLUME 3: DEMONS

INTRODUCTION 
If you've read my reviews of RAT QUEENS VOLUME 1: SASS AND SORCERY and RAT QUEENS VOLUME 2: THE FAR REACHING TENTACLES OF N'RYGOTH, then you know that I'm a big fan of this series. The story is charmingly irreverent, the characters are an embodiment of everything feminism should be, and the art is positively stunning. I've never felt that it was a perfect comic series, but it's definitely one that I get a lot of entertainment out of and didn't think I could get enough of. That was, until I finally picked up RAT QUEENS VOLUME 3: DEMONS, the third collection which I've been highly anticipating. For some reason, the series has taken a rather troubling turn and I'm no longer sure if I am as excited about the series as I once was. 

HOW I RATED IT 
3/5 I was highly tempted to rate this volume at a two based on how much disappointment it caused me, but after some contemplation, I've settled on a three. Effectively, I feel as though the series has fallen into a depressingly mediocre state and while it's not awful, this is certainly not the series that I have come to know and love. 

CHARACTERS
Tonally,  I'd say most of the characters are about the same. The main difference is that they are not represented as evenly as they have been in the past. Hannah gets the spotlight here, which is fine since she's a great character, but given that I also love the other Queens, I wanted a bit more of them. Dee's becoming the new priestess of N'rygoth is certainly addressed, but nothing of enormous consequence happens in regards to this rather life changing shift. Violet is pretty much shafted throughout the entire volume and just serves as comic relief. She's also sporting her beard for some reason which feels off given how much drama surrounded the flashback in VOLUME 2 where she first cuts it off. There are finally some breadcrumbs dropped which hint at Betty's past. She doesn't get a nice flashback or anything, but her past does come to find her in the present and some things about her are explained which have been largely ignored in the past two volumes. It was nice to see her developed a little more, but ultimately it wasn't as much as I really wanted. 

There's trouble in paradise

As I said before, this is really Hannah's story. The Queens visit the school that she attended to find her father and along the way she has to confront various figures from her past. It's tough to really say too much about all of this without spoiling things, but I will mention that we see a far darker Hannah than before. While some things were definitely hinted at previously, I got blindsided by others mostly because they didn't really seem to fit in with how her character has been up until now. In the end, I guess I just wasn't happy with where she ended up by the time I turned the final pages. 

Betty's fundamental truth on life

The real disappointment for me came from how a lot of the minor characters don't show up at all. I know that it's tough to include them all since this story doesn't take place in Pallisade, but I missed characters like Sawyer, Lola, and The Daves. The writer did a fair job of at least mentioning a couple of them and even bringing others to the school in person. I simply wanted more of them especially since the newly introduced characters were mostly forgettable. 

WORLD/SETTING 
If you haven't guessed it by now, I miss Pallisade. The mage school in which much of the story takes place is fine enough, but it lacks the living and breathing quality that Pallisade has. Part of this may just have to do with the visuals, but a lot of it is that I've come to know the citizens of that city so well that moving to a new one feels kind of sad. For what it's worth, readers do get to see a fair amount of the school and the city which surrounds it. There's a bustling market, a hazy tavern, the school itself, and a lavish home, along with other, more mystical locations. There's definitely enough variety here and it was nice to see a snowy sort of landscape, it's just that I didn't feel particularly attached to any of it. I also never felt like any part of this place was ever in peril, but that largely has to do with the narrative.

PLOT/TONE 
Easily the second most disappointing element of the work. The writer hasn't changed, but it seems as
Taking off on a highly questionable direction
though his direction for the series has. Whereas the second volume was obnoxiously adult, this one is so hopelessly campy. It's one cheesy joke after another and the dirtier dialogue didn't really fit with the imagery accompanying it. The story also just isn't all that exciting. It feels as though the plot is floundering a little to move forward from the cataclysmic events of the previous installment and although it tries to tell a more personal story, it fails to even make that feel meaningful or at least intense. The only real suspense I was kept in was in wondering when the story would actually pick up and go somewhere which it never seems to do. Given the smaller scope, I expected there to be a little more focus and perhaps a bit more haste, but there just isn't. We meander through Hannah's past without too much indication as to what any of it has to do with her present situation and then watch her undergo a transformation that felt inconsistent with who I understand her to be. Sadly, this isn't where her inconsistencies end either. In her flashback from the second volume, we witness the death of her mother and it is quite clear that Hannah is in her preteens. But when that same moment is revisited here, those visuals are ignored and Hannah suddenly becomes a toddler for when those events took place. I don't know why they thought they could just redo this part of the story and not think people would notice, but that's what they wanted to go with I guess.



I know I just bashed basically every element of the plot, but  that's mostly my disappointment talking. From a purely objective standpoint, the story is average in every way, my bitterness comes only from the fact that it's such a huge step down from what it was before. I also wasn't pleased with the bonus issue featuring Braga. It just made no sense. I get that the writer tries to be inclusive and all that, but given that this is a medieval-ish world, I don't understand how this character used to be a male. The issue does nothing to explain this jump either, it just flashes back and forth to Braga in the past vs. Braga in the present. It's also implied that she's been lying to the human Dave about her past since he clearly thinks she's always been a female - which seems wrong to me. Ultimately it was just extremely confusing, it added nothing to the main storyline, and I was already miffed at the rest of the volume so I probably came into this with an already negative mood which it did nothing to abate. 
A shot from Braga's mostly useless volume

ART
Possibly the most horrendous change in the entire volume, the art has taken a HUGE dip in quality.
Now, that's a very harsh comment and I'm NOT at all saying that the new artist doesn't have talent, it's just that it is so much more flat and cartoony than it was before. I miss the expert lifework, the brilliant light rendering, and the highly articulated poses. The new style also just doesn't fit with the overall tone of the narrative. I could see this working in a more childish, fun, happy sort of adventure, but it is absolutely not a worthy replacement for the way the series has been illustrated so far. I guess I don't understand why they decided to change it at all. The art has always been one of my favorite parts of the series and I missed it A LOT when reading through this volume. I did like that the queens get some new looks, but I just don't like their less detailed makeovers. I also miss the dramatic action shots of the previous installments. There's some posturing here, but no actual fighting to speak of.

CONCLUSION 
I'm sad to say that this might be the end of the line for me when it comes to the Queens. I enjoyed my first two adventures with them, but am not pleased at all with the new narrative and artistic direction that the series has taken. I'll certainly check out VOLUME 4 when it comes out, but if it looks anything like this one, then I won't be purchasing it. I'd like nothing more than for this to just be an awkward interlude in the series and hope to see it returned to it's former glory, but am going to be quite skeptical of any and all future installments. 

REVIEW ROUNDUP: DAYS OF FCBD'S PAST

INTRODUCTION:
If you haven't already seen my post on Free Comic Book Day 2016, then definitely go and check that out. If you have, then you may remember that I tentatively promised to do a review roundup of what I was able to get for free online during that day. I'm here now to deliver on that and discuss some of the great digital comics which I was able to read thanks to the power of free stuff. Four of these came from 2015's FCBD and one of them looks like it was from 2014, but I included it in this list anyway.


THE COMICS

1) Stanl Lee's Chakra The Invincible Special 2015 
It was interesting to me that this work include's the immortal Stan Lee's name right in the title. For
those that live under a rock so far as superheroes are concerned, Stan Lee is the father of some of the most famous heroes in the Marvel universe like Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, and The X-men. With a pantheon of iconic characters and a countless number of movie cameos under his belt, it was  just very interesting to see his name on a more recent work of comic fiction. 

It's surprising too that this is a far humbler sort of comic book than fans of the Marvel universe are probably accustomed to. It employs a charming, yet cartoony set of art styles and has a story-line that hearkens back to comics of old. It stars a young Indian boy who dons a powerful suit invented by a scientist he works for which is then supercharged by an aptly comic-booky event. Chakra channels the power of ... well his chakras through the suit and becomes quite the kick-ass little kid. One of the best things about this story-line is that is feels so Stan Lee. Everything follows the classic style and format of comics of old and it was great to see something that combined old with new so elegantly.

This particular issue of the comic features a variety of shorter spreads. It's not a sampler, just sort of a series of snapshot of this character in struggles with various villains whom are largely inspired by different aspects of Indian culture. The main trouble with this approach is that I'm not actually sure that I want to buy into the series. The shorts were fun, but I ultimately would want something of a bit more substance if I was paying for an issue. 

Those coming into it for the elements which are related to India may also want something a little more refined. The Indian elements felt kind of superficial to me and didn't really appear to celebrate some of the cultural differences between India and the United States. This is a VERY Western take on this portion of the world and while it is certainly very cool that Marvel is trying to diversify it's heroes, this just felt like it wasn't as committed to really making the hero as diverse as he should be. I'll also say that looking at the individual issues, it seems like this series is a bit pricey considering what you actually get with it. It's nice to have a kid-friendly, culturally inclusive line of comics, but I guess you kind of have to shell out some cash if that's what you're looking for. 

2) Doctor Who: Three Doctors!
First off, let me just say that I'm not actually a fan of the Doctor Who television series, I don't think I've ever even seen a full episode of it. So I came into this issue not really expecting it to make much sense at all, but was pleasantly surprised when I realized it was written in such a way that I had no problem following it at all. There was even a note left by the creators stating that they wanted this to still be an inviting work of fiction even if you were a complete newcomer to the story-line. Given how many seasons that show has had, I've got to give the writers big props for making this a palatable experience for strangers to the universe. 

I was also quite pleased with how charming the characters are. Seeing previews for the show, I wasn't sure if the campy-ness would really suit me and I guess I'm still not sure that I'd love the show, but after reading through this series of three adventures, I can say that I'm a lot more likely to give it a try. The comic features three short adventures each featuring one of the different incarnations of The Doctor as well as three different aesthetics. Two of the styles looked pretty good while the other was quite a bit rougher in my opinion. Since this is sort of meant to be a promo for a series featuring these three Doctors, I'd hope that they picked one of the cleaner looks for the main series. All-in-all though, I definitely enjoyed this, and would probably look into either reading more of the series or checking out the show. 

3) Divergence # 1 
Another three-part sampler, but this one focuses on the most recent versions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (their segments organized in that order). The sections focusing on Batman and Superman capture moments in time which reflect on events of the past while also hinting at things to come in those characters' futures. There's nothing overly exciting that happens, but there are some interesting developments on both sides. Wonder Woman's segment is actually not really about Wonder Woman. It instead tells the story of an important event which coincides with her birth, an event which sees the birth of a powerful enemy which she will have to face in her adulthood. This part felt really fun because it was just so Greek. Visions, prophesies, exotic mountainous landscapes, dramatic thunder storms, and questions of duty and honor all made it feel like something straight out of mythology, which I loved. It was also very interesting to get the origin story for a hero's villain for a change and this odd choice suggests that said villain is an integral part of who Wonder Woman is and/or what she becomes. 



All three art styles were pretty good, with the Wonder Woman portion being the best in that it was the most detailed and colorful. The illustrations for Superman's portion were a bit grungy and not really to my liking. Batman's was pretty dark and grey-ish as well and done in a style which didn't look all that different from BATMAN VOLUME 1: THE COURT OF OWLS which makes me think that maybe this is happening in that same world.

In general, I will always like these big name heroes, but I just can't seem to get into their comics. There's too much going on and I rarely understand them the way I want to even in the allegedly rebooted versions of the characters. While this is definitely a good sampler for anyone looking to read newer comics featuring these characters, I'm not too sure it is enough to make me want to get into their respective series. 

4) Captain Canuck # 0 
I guess Captain Canuck is an older hero who got a shiny new reboot. From what I could tell, they aren't reinventing his story so much as they are updating it and continuing it from wherever it left off. Sadly, I didn't really get a great grasp of what this new series has to offer since the events of this issue are largely inconsequential. Things play out like a generic action movie where there's a lot of self-assured banter, some dramatic shots, and not much else. There's also just literally nothing that happens. The whole thing is just the hero in his jet with his crew on an unspecified mission to do unspecified things. It leaves off with Captain Canuck diving out of the jet dramatically and then a big advertisement for finding out what happens next in Issue # 1. It's basically just a glorified teaser. The art is passable, but not great, and I really just don't see myself being all that eager to give this series a serious look.

The second half of the issue is actually a recap of the old version of Canuck. It gives readers a snapshot of who he is, what he can do, and summarizes the events of his past. Oddly enough, I actually enjoyed this section of the issue much more. Part of it is probably that there was an actual story being told even if it was just an exposition dump, but the other part was that I actually thought the art looked better. Yeah it was old and sure the costumes were cheesy, but it had a certain character which this rebooted series did not possess. I think I would actually be more enticed to read this version of the character than I am the new one. 

5) Guardians of the Galaxy
Technically, this one is from 2014's FCBD, but since I picked it up this year, I've included it in the list. From what I can tell,  this is sort of an extended promo for a new series featuring what used to be one of Marvel's most obscure teams. The comic features Tony Stark.(aka Iron Man)  speaking with a soldier who isn't a character I am familiar with. They are discussing the guardians and much of the issue is just Tony's explanation of who the Guardians are and what they can do. The ending leaves off with a setup for a new adventure featuring the Guardians working with this soldier. I don't know of if I am really sold on diving any further into the series, but this was a pretty decent summary of who all of these characters are for those who aren't familiar with them.  


The art in this is pretty good and the effects are brilliantly done.  I also liked that the guardians kind of looked like their movie counterparts, but we're not an exact match. I'm not sure how worthwhile the story-line will be but it certainly promises to offer a colorful and highly detailed adventure that's unlike any the Guardians have seen before (maybe). As an added bonus, this issue also comes with previews for a comic staring Thanos (the big, purple guy who shows up during those post-credits scenes in the Avengers) and one that looks at different Spidermen across the Spiderverse. I was actually  pretty intrigued by the Spiderman one so I may go back and look at that at a later time.

CONCLUSION
It's a good batch overall. I think I was definitely more successful with the physical comics I picked up in terms of finding series that I'm actually interested in buying into, but free is free and there was definitely some entertainment value even in those comics I've described above which I have no interest in reading more of. I will say that I don't know if these issues are free all the time or not. You can look for them on Amazon and/or Comixology. Even though the two companies are tied in with one another, there are still some differences in what each offers. There's also comics that are just randomly free whether or not they belonged to any of the prior FCBD's. In the future, I'll look to do more roundups on things I find for free. Since I'm a little bit ahead of my 2016 Goodreads challenge, I feel like it would be fun to mix it up and read more of comic issues and short fiction which I'll blog about, but not count toward my reading challenge.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

REVIEW: STARDUST

INTRODUCTION 
The magic of fairy tales captivates our youth and manages to stick with us in adulthood as fondly kept memories. Lately, adultified or simply modernized incarnations of classic fairy tales or the fairy tale format has been a popular means by which adults can revisit those classic tales or introduce them to their own children. One author capitalizing off of the world's love for re-imagined fairy tales is Neil Gaiman. His novel, STARDUST is the first that I've read of him and given all the love this guy gets, it goes without saying that I went in with some pretty high expectations. STARDUST is a story written in the style of childhood stories and fables, but it is definitely not written for a younger audience. Gaiman takes the iconic storybook narrative format and embellishes it with richly mature vocabulary, a cast of morally ambiguous characters, and plenty of R-rated content. This is the adult fairy tale I didn't know I wanted, but now that I've read it, I'm very glad something like this exists.

HOW I RATED IT 
4/5 A painfully dull opening couple of chapters and excessive use of passive verbage did slightly detract from my overall enjoyment of this work, but as a whole, this is one of the most well-composed and engrossing pieces of fiction I've read and it definitely managed to recapture the charm of fairy tales from my childhood.

WORLD/SETTING 
Normally, I begin a review with the characters, but since this is a fairy tale and fairy tales are all about the world in which a story takes place, I'll begin with this category instead. The story opens in a small English town known as Wall. It's won this peculiar name because of the impressive rock wall that stands beside it. This wall is all that divides the human world from the lands of the Fairy. The novel never really specifies what precisely is the defining difference between these species, but it seems like Fairy come equipped with certain magical qualities from birth. The Fairy are a far more diverse group of beings than humans in that they come in all shapes, sizes, and anatomical compositions. The world in which they live is equally as varied and in spite of all the fascinating places this book took me to, I still got the impression like there was so much additional terrain that I never even saw. There are dark forests, light forests, quaint forest villages, peaceful brook-side paths, a towering kingdom, and of course, the exotic market fair that serves as the catalyst for the events of this story.

There are a lot of little corners and pockets of this world that make the adventure feel utterly unique. In each area, there are also several key factions that each have their own motivations based off of the section of the world that they live in. It was really cool to get all these different perspectives on the world, making it feel truly alive. The location is also interesting in that it appears to shift around. The rules of geography don't seem to apply here in the way that they do in the human world. Places are always the same but their relation to one another is a bit more fluid. This eerie quality made the space feel even more mystical and added some fun intrigue to the overall tale. If there's one complaint I had about the setting, it's that the town of Wall is just not that great. It does offer nice contrast to the the enchanting world of the Fairy, but it's dullness is definitely a big part of what made the opening chapters so tough to plot through.


CHARACTERS
The story pulls a bit of a bait and switch on readers when it comes to the main character. It begins with a boy named Dustan Thorn who lives in the town of Wall. We meet Dustan right around the point in time where the world of the Fairy and the Human world intermingle for one day every nine years. This is where he meets a mysterious lady as answer to a promise for being shown what he desires, per a deal with a stranger whom he grants lodging to. Later on, Tristan Thorn, the son of Dustan Thorn, takes center stage as the leading man. He's not quite as handsome or well off with the ladies as his father, but he's got a big heart and is hopelessly in love with a Victoria Forester. Sadly the object of his affections doesn't seem to reciprocate them in spite of all the grand promises that Tristan makes to her. One such promise is to bring her back a star that they see falling from the sky into the lands of the Fairy and he agrees to fetch it for her in exchange for whatever he desires. Thus his foolhardy journey begins.

Fortunately, there's much more going on here than the single quest of a lovesick young man. Readers find out that there are several parties whom are interested in retrieving the fallen star, namely, a group of young princes competing for the throne of their recently deceased father, the king, and an ancient witch who belongs to a trio of hags. For the princes, whomever finds the star can become king, and for the witches, they can use the star to restore their youth. The story actively switches between these different parties which provides some nice variety when it comes to character building and interpersonal interactions. There are also a number of characters that pop up along the way both as guides to the young Tristan and as antagonists to his quest. Demonic, people eating trees, a small hairy man with a big hat and bottomless pack, a ruddy skyship captain, and even a unicorn all play a part in this grand adventure. There's one other pretty important character that I'm leaving out here due to spoilers, but she's also a very cool.

PLOT/TONE 
Honestly, the plot is pretty basic but that's kind of par for the course when it comes to fairy tales. The idea of going out and risking one's life based on the whim of a girl and the somewhat obsessive puppy love they have for her is as lame a narrative as you could hope for. Fortunately, Gaiman largely uses it ironically here and never did the main mission feel like it was being presented to me in earnest, even if the main character was hopelessly sincere in his actions. Where much of the depth comes from is how Gaiman moves all of the different characters around, shifting the action from one party to another. Much of the fun for me was in having this constant back and forth of different perspectives. I found that it helped shape the world as well as provide more context to the narrative than I would have had if I was only following Tristan. The other great thing is how neatly Gaiman connects all of the different characters that he's introduced. Everything wraps up neatly at the end in a way that felt rewarding and it was great fun to slowly discover the method to this story's madness. It's this connectivity that made the story feel even more like a fairy tale of old.

But in many ways, this is not at all like the stories I knew as a child. The action is extremely bloody to such an extent that I was pretty shocked at just how graphic Gaiman was willing to take the violence. Many of the characters are quite brutal in both their actions and intents which does make Tristan seem a bit more likable than he probably would be otherwise. Sex and nudity isn't necessarily prevalent, but there is a pretty explicit scene early on.There is also a bit of choice language scattered throughout, but nothing that I'd consider to be all that extreme and it's placed amid the typically innocent dialogue such that the full impact of any non-PG word is truly felt. I also have to wonder if the author doesn't have some sort of fetish with chained up women since the two most prominent female characters are seen bound to their respective captors via the use of a thin, silver chain. I tried looking for some kind of symbolism when it came to this imagery, but didn't come up with a figurative meaning of any kind. There is  this idea toward the end that there are different sorts of chains that bind us, but because entrapment/enslavement isn't all that huge a theme in the story's events, that feels like a rather thin straw to grasp at. All in all, suffice it to say that this is a very adult fairy tale indeed.

CONCLUSION 
This wasn't a book that immediately had me hooked, but after a rocky opening sequence, the story really takes off into places that I've never before seen explored. It's magical and whimsical while also bearing the severity of a more adult narrative. The adventure is as wild as one could hope for, the characters are vibrantly depicted, and the world is every bit as enchanting as the fables that I remember from my childhood. I would have preferred more active, snappy prose since the passive voice that denotes many fairy tales just doesn't hold up so well in a full-length novel, but once things got going, I noticed it less and less. STARDUST is both reminiscent of stories I already know and love as well as something new entirely. It's not quite a fairy tale parody in the way that something like SHREK is, but I did enjoy how the story pokes fun at the stories that have inspired it. It's just an enchanting ride that I'd definitely encourage anyone to take.

STARDUST is available in pretty much any format on Amazon.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

REVIEW ROUNDUP: FREE COMIC BOOK DAY


2016

Happy Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) 2016 to all! For those who don't know, Free Comic Book Day happens on the first Saturday of May each year, that being today (the date of this post). I've taken advantage of some of the days digital offerings on Amazon and Comixology before, but in general, those are digital booklets of comics from past FCBDs, issues that are always free, or just comics that happen to be free on that day (Comixology always has a rotating selection of freebies for download). But this year, I joined a couple of friends and actually attended the event in person at a local comic shop. 

It was pretty cool to see so many people out for this specific event and the comic shop I went to did a nice job of funneling people in and out so that they could check out the other things happening on the street (the city made a nice little event out of the day). I snagged my two free comics (groups were allowed up to four) and purchased a graphic novel while I was there - gotta support the shop after all!


WHAT I BOUGHT: 

DESCENDER VOLUME 2: MACHINE MOON
I've been anxious for this one to come out and since I was already at a  comic shop, I decided to pick up this new release. It's good for the shop and better for me! I won't be reviewing this one here, but am very excited to read and review it very soon! Anyone who read my review of DESCENDER VOLUME 1: TIN STARS will know that I'm obsessed with this series.

FCBD ISSUES:

As pictured above, I got two free comics from the event, "FCBD Lady Mechanika" and "Spectrum #0." Since coming home from the event, I have read through both and wanted to share my thoughts on them here.

1) Lady Mechanika (FCBD)
Honestly, it would have taken everything I had not to pick this one up since it has one of the most spectacular covers ever. Fortunately, the beauty persists throughout the pages of this issue that follows the hero (or maybe a rogue) known as Lady Mechanika as she hunts a creature that people
take for some kind a demon. The issue is pretty short so I won't give away too much more than that, but will say that the idea of a steampunk, cyborg hero is a very cool one and I loved how Mechanika kind of dresses like a stylish, Victorian Catwoman. The art that graces these pages is intensely detailed and really pops off the page in an exciting way.


One thing to note is that this issue is sort of heavy on the advertisement side in that it's more of a sampler which serves to promote VOLUME 1 and VOLUME 2 of the LADY MECHANICA series. The first half or so IS a standalone adventure that could potentially lead into new developments in the series proper, with the second being made up of an excerpt from each of the currently available volumes. Some people might be a little turned off by this, but I was already aware of and passively interested in the series, so for me, it was a nice snapshot of some of the gorgeous visuals and fun action that it has to offer. After finishing this, I think I will be looking into reading more from Mechanika in the not too distant future.

2) Spectrum #0
What was perhaps most eye-catching about this one's cover was that I swore that I saw a cartoon version of Nathan Fillion's face on it. It turns out, I wasn't wrong. After flipping through the pages I saw both Fillion's animated face and Alan Tudyk's picture within the pages of this issue. And the art was charmingly stylized so I snagged this one up without much further thought.

Apparently Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk have their own web series called CON MAN which features washed up actors that used to play on a cancelled science fiction television show. For those that don't recognize the names of these gentlemen, they were both actors who starred in the show FIREFLY, a space western that was cut criminally short and tied up with the follow up film, SERENITY. While I found it funny that the two decided to make a web show that essentially just makes fun of themselves, I also really liked the comic which is I guess based on the fake TV show that their fictional selves starred on.

Having read issue # 0 (a pilot issue) I have to say I was pretty impressed. The comic itself makes no reference to the web-based show that it comes from, but does seem to draw from some popular contemporary science fiction movies, shows, and games, FIREFLY not excluded. It's kind of a typical alien invasion plot-line, but there are some indicators that there is some larger stuff at play as well. It's not entirely clear to me just where this series will go, but I had a lot of fun going on this short joyride and would definitely not be averse to having more of it. The art style alone is something I definitely crave more of. It's a lovely mix of TREASURE PLANET (animated film) and TRANSITOR (videogame) mixed in with a westernized anime inking style similar to the way Nickelodeon's AVATAR series are done

Overall, I am very happy with both of these choices and think I may have found a couple of new series to enjoy.

FCBD DIGITAL ISSUES:
As I mentioned before, I also managed to pick up a number of different comic issues through Kindle and Comixology. None of these were on the list of 2016's offerings but there were a couple of neat ones from last year like "Doctor Who: Free Comic Book Day" featuring three of the doctors, and "Stan Lee's Chakra The Invincible Free Comic Book Day Special." I haven't looked any any of these yet, but might do another blog-exclusive review roundup for these comics in the near future. 

UPDATE: GOT GAIMAN?


Neil Gaiman is one of the most widely praised and beloved authors of our time, not to mention one of the most diverse in terms of his writing resume. His work spans from novels to comics and even illustrated children's books. All of this said, I've never actually read much of his work. The only thing I've ever sampled was his comic issue, "A Black and White World" from the BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE series, which was really just okay. It was kind of a prolonged gag or spoof that wasn't as clever as it thought it was. So as far as first impressions go, I was woefully underwhelmed and it doesn't help matters that I rarely enjoy things that are widely celebrated. I'm not a hipster or anything, I think stuff just gets over-hyped for me and then fails to live up to the grandiose expectations that I've set for it. Ultimately though, I DO want to give some of his work a fair shake, so I've decided to do so with one of his novels and one of his comics/graphic novels.



STARDUST is an adult novel that takes inspiration from fairy tales. It's written in a whimsical, almost childish, style, though the prose is anything but kid-friendly. MARVEL 1602 was an eight issue series of comics that featured some of Marvel's most iconic figures existing centuries before their time. To the best of my knowledge, it's now only available in it's trade, graphic novel format. As anyone familiar with this blog knows, I've read a good number of comic compilations, but this one will be kind of special since it's not really a volume of something much larger. The story begins and ends in between these covers which is something that I am very excited about indeed. 

I'm anxious to see how I like these works and have actually started in on both. STARDUST is still kind of picking up for me. I'm only fifty or so pages in, so the story is just getting going, but seems to be moving in an interesting direction. MARVEL 1602 has hooked me after reading just one issue. The artwork is spectacular, the story is captivating, and the myriad of different Marvel heroes popping up as altered versions of themselves is just fantastic. I can't wait to see where these works will take me. 



GIVEAWAY: DIGITARUM



In honor of Free Comic Book Day, I've got the eBook edition of Digitarum up for free on Amazon. No, Digitarum isn't a comic, but hey, in the spirit of giving out free stuff, I figured I'd run a free promotion day all the same.

You can pick it up at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VDHMDY0 if you'd like and I hope you have a happy FCBD!