Sunday, 17 July 2016

Morning Glories, vol. 1

I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure where I picked up Morning Glories. We're Comixology giving it away? Was it on sale? Was it a gift? I seriously don't remember. All I know is that I have it within my library.

As a result, I figured it was high time to read through it and, therefore, decided that amongst this weekend's large reading list was as good a time as any to read the first volume.

Now, I'll admit, I wasn't sure what to make of Morning Glories as all I knew about it (and still do to some degree) was that it was about 6 kids starting at a new, very unusual school. However, this was one of those times where taking a leap of faith paid off as I really enjoyed this title almost immediately.
I can't say why I enjoyed it as Spencer seems to be keeping things close to his chest, but I found every page incredibly captivating and finding myself more and more intrigued about Morning Glory Academy with every new situation. This was also helped by the characters, all of whom came across as very interesting, especially the stoic Jun, the psychotic Ike and most definitely the teachers.
I'll admit the art was less of the draw for me here, but Joe Eisma's art is solid, with the soft pencils and Alex Sollazzo's light colours giving everything a bright look, even despite the troubling circumstances the main characters appear to be in.
If there's any bad points to this comic it was in the final chapter, which seemed to just be a complete departure to the rest of the book. However, it still had some connections and left me with still more questions which I need answering.
Nick Spencer is a writer whose work I've never gotten onboard with, such as with Ant-Man. However, with Morning Glories I think I've been turned around and so will need to get a few more of the trades, if only to figure out what the hell is going on.

Black Magick #1-5 - Awakening

To me, Black Magick could be considered my unicorn or even my Eleanor (if you're a fan of Gone in 60 Seconds) because my attempts to read the issues of this title so far have been fraught with obstacles.

For, while I read the first issue without trouble upon release, my LCS had major trouble with acquiring the following instalments, causing me to go on a major hunt. Then, at least six months after the initial release, having found all the issues, I still was prevented from reading them due to life in general.

Suffice to say, this has been a difficult book to read.

Well, finally, I've gotten an hour to sit and plough through Black Magick's first five issues and, boy, was it worth the wait!

I loved reading this series, it was truly fantastic in every sense of the word. The story is really great, coming across to me more as a crime story with magical elements as I read through it. Of course, say I that kind of diminishes Rucka's skill because the supernatural elements are there and show off a great level of detail in his research (which I know because my friend, a Wiccan, said to me that's exactly right when I showed her issue 1). Nonetheless, Rucka makes this perfectly plotted and paced and, as a result, I'd say this is superior to Lazarus (which I didn't think was possible).

Of course, while I think the draw for most people was Rucka's name, I know the reason they'd stay is Nicola Scott's art. I found her stuff on Earth 2 and thought it was awe
some but the art here is on a whole different level, it's that incredible as the each panel is so detailed and realistic to an almost photographic extent. Honestly, I am in love with this art!

(P.S. I'm certain her issue 1 bad guy is a perfect image of the Riddler).

Shockingly, this isn't the most gorgeous panel in the
first five issues (although it is in the top five)!
Not that Scott is alone in its creation as the colouring, while sparingly used just makes the art incredible when it is implemented. I realised that in issue 3 that the colour was connected to everything magic, from candles to the eyes of the possessed but so seamless is its use that it barely registered beyond its making terrific panels. Also, I thought the fiery splash in issue 1 was good but Scott and Colorist Chiara Arena just go one better with a splash page in every successive issue.

Also, I have to give props to Letterer Jodi Wynne. I don't usually praise letterers, not because they don't deserve it but because I'm not that good at critiquing their work, but her use of colour when a mobile rings amongst other things really caught my eye and only added to the books enjoyment.

To be honest, I could possibly go on and on about Black Magick. For me, it was as perfect a comic as I think I've ever read, with absolutely no faults in my eyes. The only downside is that there won't be any new issues until next year as Rucka and Scott help make Wonder a woman great again.

But it's a small price to pay. Besides, this first arc was worth the wait, therefore so will the next one be.

I am Fire

Early on last year, I picked up House Party from Rachael Smith and now, after reading it, still consider it to be in my top five small press comics which I have ever read (my full thoughts on it are somewhere in the past).

Flash forward to earlier this year and, encountering Smith at True Believes, I discovered that she had another book on the way called Artifical Flowers, starring not only one of the House Party characters, but also a character from one of her other books, I am Fire.

Therefore, to prepare getting that new release (which I suspect will be old by the time I do get it) I picked up I am Fire and now, only six months after purchasing it, I finally gotten around to reading it.

Well, I've now read it and I must say that I am Fire is a rather funny book. About two work experience workers, one of whom is a pyromaniac during a fire drill at a department store, if it seems like I find that surprising then that's because I do given that House Party was such a different kind of tale.

However, unlike House Party, I thought I am Fire was hilarious to the point of absurdity with many of the characters being so over the top and every scenario confirming to me that the story obviously doesn't take itself too seriously.

(In fact, I do wonder if this is based on a 'real life event' that the creator experienced because can you make this stuff up?)

Of course, some of the characters are a bit one dimensional, especially the two apparent leads who I didn't like all that much, but given this is a one shot that's to be expected and, besides, they all did the job of adding humour to the mad chain of events.

In fact, while before I wrote this post, I wasn't sure what to think of this comic, I now realise that I really enjoyed I am Fire, even if House Party is still the better between them. Reading it also makes me me very curious as to how Artifical Flowers will read, something I'll have to wait until the next True Believers to find out.

Black Panther: The Client

For some time now, I've been interested in reading through Christopher Priest's Black Panther as a result of the amount of praise Comic Geek Speaks' Chris Eberly heaps on the series. This desire has since become more important for me to achieve, due to Comixology offering the first volume of the complete collection in a sale.

However, my wife, ever the logical thinker, suggested that maybe I get a taste for the series before buying (either on sale or at full price), something I could actually do as I had bought 'the client' as a trade a very long time ago.

Therefore, I've pulled that trade out of my longboxes, blown away the (metaphorical) cobwebs and re-read Priest's first arc to see if his run is something I might fancy.

And thank goodness that I did because, after reading the client, I'm not. Sure that Priest's run is for me.

The Client tells of Black Panther travelling to America to investigate the murder of a child but, as he does, discovers that enemies are moving to ursurp him from the throne of Wakanda.

Now, this should sound right up my alley. A political-like thriller which, given the lead character, should be very grounded as well being free (it was a Marvel Knights book) to do whatever it wanted.

However, I struggled with this trade because, mainly, the plot seem very convoluted. Now, it wasn't that the story was completely unreadable, but it did seem to imbue a lot of traits I commonly see in a Tarantino movie and, while I have no problem with those, I do prefer my reads to be a little more linear.

That said, there were things I enjoyed doing this book and they were primarily character related. The main draw was that Priest certainly 'got' the Panther, depicting him as quite the bad ass as well as a rather fitting mimicry of Batman (although I might prefer this Panther over the Bat). Also, this arc seemed to draw so many of the Panther's supporting cast and rogues gallery into it, from the Dora Milaje and Zuri to the White Wolf and the Hatut Zeraze, that it seemed like a character history lesson in one book.

Then there was the art, which was a mixed bag as I did enjoy the very unique style which had a very supernatural kind of tone to it which looked particularly awesome for some full length panels. However, by the same token, a few panels made me think that the art looked a little hallucinating and, as such, off putting. As a result, I'm in two minds over the artwork (obviously).

So, Priest's Black Panther wasn't a bad read overall, just not as good as I hoped or was suggested. I guess that's the joy of everyone having various tastes but, for now, I think I'll pass on that complete collection.

Darth Vader: Vader

Much like Star Wars vol. 1, Darth Vader's first trade I picked up during a Comixology sale in order to give it a second try. The reason I say 'second' try is that I'd bought the first issue of both series and while Star Wars impressed, Vader didn't so much.

Well, after reading 'Vader' their fortunes seemed to reverse with me as, unlike Star Wars, Vader was a really great story which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.

I've no idea why this is the better book given that both this and Star Wars' plots run somewhat concurrently, however, everything about this trade just screams 'superior' to me.

A big factor could be the storyline which, at its core, reads more like a very house of cards style political thriller. That's certainly how I see it as it basically sees Vader doing his job while one upping everyone to come out on top. If that isn't Frank Underwood then I don't what is.

Speaking of Vader, while I thought Jason Aaron had a good grasp of the Star Wars cast, Gillen does it much better as both Vader and the Emperor read like they should, to the point that I actually hear James Earl Jones in my head when Vader speaks (which has to be proof of perfect characterisation).

And finally there is the art which I find to be just fantastic! I often hear on Comic Geek Speak that geeks think that Salvador Larocca draws the best Vader and I agree but that isn't the half of it. In truth, I think Larocca's style perfectly encapsulates the a Star Wars universe to the point that this should be considered the universe standard.

I seriously loved the Darth Vader trade, to the point that (and I may be in the minority) I think it may be superior to the main book. As a result, I think I'll be getting the follow up trades for Vader over Star Wars, though I may have to reconsider when I get to the crossover.

Star Wars: Skywalker Strikes

I picked up Star Wars during Comixology's May the 4th sale along with Darth Vader, due mainly because I'd heard so much good stuff about both series as well as the fact that A. I like Star Wars and B. the Princess Leia and Lando trades weren't half bad.

Well, having now read it Star Wars' first volume, I didn't think it was that bad, although I'm not sure if it's as good as many raved about it.

The problem with it is its plot. There was nothing inherently bad about it, but it was just something I really struggled to get into as the rebels went from destroying a base to going on separate missions. In fact, this division of the story might have been my problem as it took away from the necessary focus on the book overall.

That said, there was plenty of stuff in here I did like, such as Cassaday's which, while not quite Star Wars in look, certainly gave the universe a different vibe in my eyes. Also, Aaron seemed to pick up the various characters' respective voices quite accurately.

Of course, the real selling points to me were the hints of the Vader related events, such as Boba Fett's interrogation of the Rodian gang, which I found much more compelling (and probably hinted at my thoughts on the Vader book).

Of course, the revelation of what was in Luke's box from Obi-Wan has me extremely tempted to come back for seconds, but that really is it. This was a good comic, but I'm not sure it is one that I can't live without.