Fables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham

Posted by on Jan 26, 2018 in 2018, 4.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Comics | 0 comments

Fables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill WillinghamFables Vol. 18: Cubs in Toyland by Bill Willingham with art by Mark Buckingham, Lee Loughridge, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #18 in the Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 192Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 18 is a compilation of issues 114-123 of the comic series
From the back cover:

Little Girl Lost

Her sister Winter was crowned the new North Wind, but all Therese Wolf got was a lousy toy boat.

She doesn’t much like the thing – and that’s before it starts whispering to her in the middle of the night, encouraging her to run away from home. But with her father preparing [sibling] for [their] new responsibilities and her mother busy with the rest of the brood, a magical journey might not be such a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Therese’s voyage takes her to the desolate shoreline of Toyland, where dwell the broken-down playthings of the Discardia. Wooden, metal, plastic or stuffed, they’re all looking for a queen to fix their bodies and their realm.

But these toys are broken in more ways than one.

As her family – led by her wild brother Dare – frantically searches for her, what will become of Therese when she discovers the terrible truth about Toyland? And what price must be paid to save her life – and her soul?

My Thoughts:
This was so good. It was both wonderful and horrible and probably one of the more complex and interesting books in the series. The prophecy about Snow White and Bigby Wolf’s seven cubs is starting to come true.

The first child will be a king.
The second child a pauper.
The third will do an evil thing.
The fourth will die to stop her.
The fifth will be a hero bold.
The sixth will judge the rest.
The seventh lives to ages old, and is by heaven blessed.

This is a grim and disturbing tale. These are not comics for children. This is not the pretty Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer.

The final two issues in this volume are about Bigby Wolf’s early days. It filled in some very interesting history about him.

As usual the artwork by Mark Buckingham and others is wonderful. Part of the story is only told in images. The way the images coordinate with and expand on this story works incredibly well.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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The Fade Out Act Three by Ed Brubaker

Posted by on Nov 21, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Ed Brubaker | 0 comments

The Fade Out, Act Three by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips
The Fade Out, Act Three by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips

Genre: Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: The Fade Out #3
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 126
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume collects issues 9-12 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Hollywood – 1948. A noir film stuck in endless reshoots. A writer plagued by nightmares from the war. An up-and-coming startlet’s suspicious death. And a mogul and his security chief who will do anything to keep the cameras rolling before the studio system comes crashing down.

My Thoughts:
I love old detective and mystery movies and this trilogy is like reading a noir book about the making of a noir movie so it’s right up my alley. It’s set in 1948 Hollywood with WWII in recent memories, McCarthy Communist hunting in full force and the Hollywood studio system in flux after Paramount lost an antitrust suit.

As this is the final volume in a three book series I can’t really say much about the plot without giving away things that happened in the first two volumes. I will say that questions are answered and a lot of background information is filled in. I will recommend that you get your hands on all three volumes and read them back to back. It’s what I intend to do now that I’ve finished.

The setting in old Hollywood and the artwork combine for a very atmospheric look and feel. Occasional real people are inserted into the story and it doesn’t feel too contrived at all.

The art throughout the series is wonderful. Sean Phillips has created an environment that looks just like the old movies and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s color work is fabulous.

If you want an excellent story without getting involved in an extended series I highly recommend this trilogy.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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The Fade Out Act Two by Ed Brubaker

Posted by on Nov 10, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Ed Brubaker | 0 comments

The Fade Out, Act Two by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips
The Fade Out, Act Two by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips

Genre: Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: The Fade Out #2
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 120
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume collects issues 5-8 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Hollywood – 1948. A noir film stuck in endless reshoots. A writer plagued by nightmares from the war. An up-and-coming startlet’s suspicious death. And a mogul and his security chief who will do anything to keep the cameras rolling before the studio system comes crashing down.

My Thoughts:
I love old detective and mystery movies and this trilogy is like reading a noir book about the making of a noir movie so it’s right up my alley. It’s set in 1948 Hollywood with WWII in recent memories, McCarthy Communist hunting in full force and the Hollywood studio system in flux after Paramount lost an antitrust suit.

The first volume set the stage and you don’t want to pick up this second one until you’ve read the first. As in a typical act two the focus is more on character development than advancing the solution of the murder. Occasional real people are inserted into the story and it doesn’t feel too contrived at all.

The setting in old Hollywood and the artwork combine for a very atmospheric look and feel. The art is wonderful. Sean Phillips has created an environment that looks just like the old movies and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s color work is fabulous.

I already got the third book out from the library because this one left me with way more questions than answers and I want to find out how it ends.

If you want an excellent story without getting involved in an extended series I highly recommend this trilogy.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Descender Book Four: Orbital Mechanics by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Sep 8, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Jeff Lemire | 2 comments

Descender Book Four: Orbital Mechanics by Jeff Lemire with art by Dustin NguyenDescender Book Four: Orbital Mechanics by Jeff Lemire with art by Dustin Nguyen

Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Descender #4
Format: Comics Collected Edition
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 120
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 4 is a compilation of issues 17-21 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

Tim-21, Telsa, and Quon finally escape the Machine Moon and head out on a quest to find the ancient robot who may hold the key to the Harvesters. Meanwhile Andy and his ragtag team close in on Tim, but their fragile alliance is shattered by Driller’s revelations.

My Thoughts:
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Jeff Lemire. This science fiction series he’s doing with Dustin Nguyen handling the artwork is wonderful.

This is volume 4 so the story is well in progress and the synopsis won’t make a lot of sense if you aren’t already reading the series.

My point here is to tell you to get your hands on this comics series and start reading it. You too will fall a little in love with a robot boy and have stronger than you expected feelings about a robot designed to drill mines.

The previous volume focused on the back stories of several of the main characters. This one jumps right back into the action and takes off.

The story is wonderful and the artwork is equally good. It’s done in watercolors which gives it a whole different feel than many comic series.

You need to read this series.

a9741-rating_5stars Rating 5/5

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Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags

Posted by on Jun 29, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg RuckaQueen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg Rucka with art by Mike Norton and Steve Rolston

Genre: Spy Thriller, Comics
Format: Collected Trade Paperback
Series: #7 in the Queen & Country series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 7 is a compilation of issues 25-28 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

Still recovering from the death of her co-worker and lover, Tara Chace is granted a brief reprieve from London’s rain and MI6’s bureaucracy. This emotionally charged vacation take Chace to the slopes of Switzerland for a visit with old friends and family. But being an agent for Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service leaves very little time for rest and Chace is quickly thrown into another mission of national importance. A junior minister with close ties to the Prime Minister appears to be selling state secrets to the Russians, and the Minders are assigned to quietly investigate. Tara is forced to walk a tight rope between the violent dangers inherent in the field of espionage and the discretion inherent in the bureaucracy of the government, all the while assuming the new position of Minder One and field-testing a new agent.

My Thoughts:
Another excellent volume in this well done spy thriller series.

Tara Chase is a spy for the British Government. She’s got issues and in the first issue she faces one of the major ones. Her mother. Tara’s time off is anyting but restful as she visits and clashes with her mother.

Once back at work, Tara is now the leader of her team. They have mission to find out what if anything a junior diplomat might be shopping to the Russians. Tara’s got a rookie agent with her on this one and things do not go well and not just because of the newbie. Real spies aren’t like James Bond. Sometimes they make mistakes.

This is tense and exciting spy thriller fiction. I like the recurring characters but there is always something and someone new with each story arc.

As is typical for this series there is a new artist for most of this story arc. While Steve Rolston returned for the first issue which has Tara’s trip to Switzerland. For the final three issues and the majority of the volume Mike Norton is the artist. I liked his work a lot. It’s all pretty stark black and white and the action in portrayed well.
You can see an excerpt here on Greg Rucka’s website

As I’ve said before, if you’re a fan of Homeland and/or The Americans you should check out this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Fairest Vol. 1: Wide Awake by Bill Willingham

Posted by on May 26, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Comics | 0 comments

Fairest Vol. 1: Wide Awake by Bill WillinghamFairest Vol. 1: Wide Awaye by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges with art by Phil Jiminez, Andy Lanning, et al.

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Format: Trade Paperback Comics Collected Edition
Series: #1 in the Fairest series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 160
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-7 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Love’s labors lost and found

They call her Sleeping Beauty, but life’s always been ugly for Princess Briar Rose. Cursed at birth by a pissed-off fairy godmother, she wound up acting as a one-woman weapon of mass destruction against the Adversary in the last days of his war against the Free Fables. She won the day, but at the cost of sending herself into a permanent nap from which one true love’s kiss can awaken her. Few would have guessed that it would be Ali Baba, Prince of Thieves, who would rise to the challenge–or that he;d be accompanied by an obnoxious, not-quite-a-genie sidekick. But as Briar Rose’s true origin is revealed, can this no-longer-sleeping beauty and her Prince Charmless escape the cold fury of the Adversary’s former right-hand woman–the icily regal Snow Queen?

My Thoughts:

The Fables spinoffs can be hit or miss. I never really liked Jack of Fables but I loved Cinderella’s spy adventures. This one was just OK. I’ll be curious to see what the subsequent books are alike because Willingham has brought in other authors for some of those.  

This one had good parts and not so good parts. For a series about the women of Fables there was a whole lot of Ali Baba. I enjoyed the telling of Briar Rose’s story and the way that ended up conjuring the evil fairy who had cursed her. That led to a pretty great battle scene and some surprises.    

The final issue was a one shot featuring Beast investigating some killings in 1946 Hollywood. It was a noir detective story with yet another rather surprising twist.   

The art in this volume was wonderful. Phil Jiminez did an amazing job portraying a wide variety of settings and characters. Shawn McManus created a black and white detective movie for the one shot finale of this volume.   

 

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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