REVIEW – I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young

Basically, I Hate Fairyland is the end of the world

Skottie Young has a way of infusing cute with crazy in a way that no one else can. While his artwork is well-known, I Hate Fairyland is a welcomed introduction to his writing and storytelling skills. Image Comics, the biggest indie publisher stays on brand by getting behind this title.
I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young is the story of young Gertrude getting trapped in the magical Fairyland on a quest to get home. Unfortunately she is awful at quests and decades have passed forging once adorable and idealistic Gert in a foul-mouthed (as foul as the magic in Fairyland allows), sadistic, one woman (in the body of a child) Apocalypse carving her way through every delightful and dangerous neighborhood in the land to find the Key that will get her home.
She’s the only one of her kind, trapped in another world and forced to fend for herself – It may be just for one little girl, but it’s the end of the world.
Gert is assigned a little fairy guide named Larry who is 50% storage solution, 25% useless guide, and 25% link to the audience to help offer perspective.
Continue reading “REVIEW – I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young”

My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces (by Evonne Tsang)

On a whim I picked up a graphic novel from the 80% off shelf at Comicopia with low expectations and a piqued curiosity for something apocalyptic (as always). One of the books I grabbed was My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang. This is one in a series of books about girls who love boys lacking some of the qualifications to make them human. Most of these boys are also deadly dangerous and in the case of I love Him to Pieces, deadly contagious. Le Sigh. Dumb bitches live for love.
In I Love Him to Pieces Dicey is a Jock (the only girl on the school baseball team) and Jack Chen (always referred to using his full name) is a nerd. They’re paired up together on a project to raise an egg for health class and end up getting along swimmingly. Jack Chen is awkward and doesn’t have many friends in school. He’s an only child and his parents are always away on business because they’re both scientists. Dicey on the other hand, is popular with a super close relationship with her widowed father and young brother.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because that what the books is about mostly. Page after page of a cutesy, high school relationship in its budding stages. It was well crafted and well drawn and well… if you’re looking for a zombie tale, it’s well boring.
So, against all odds (expect not really at all), Dicey and Jack decide to be a couple and go on a corny date during the school day. They ditch school and take the bus to a park where they hear police and stuff going places… Finally, the zombies!?
Psych, this is where we spend time chatting with their parents and being lame as shit.
So I won’t spoil it but this is like three quarters into the book so it’s not exactly a riveting tale of survival and mayhem.

Final Thoughts on My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces [SPOILERS]

  1. I get why this was 80% off. It’s nothing that would call for high demand. A very ordinary tale on both the romance and zombie fronts.
  2. Jack Chen’s parent’s know exactly what caused the zombie outbreak, and how to cure it and it’s totally a non-issue and all the fucks can go back in the box because there was no need to give them.
  3. The characters are kind of stick figures (not because of the art, which is good) in that they’re just very basic outlines of individuals. Jock and Nerd. Jock carries bat all the time, Nerd knows everything about all the things.
  4. This isn’t a BAD book per se. It’s just not a good book or graphic novel or story… I think a middle school girl might like it. It has that simplistic story telling and happy-go-lucky outlook that’s just not realistic for those of us well versed in the apocalyptic fiction.
  5. For 80% off, I Love Him to Pieces was worth a read. It was easy and light and good looking.

REVIEW: Awakening #1 (Archaia)

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Awakening, like all zombie stories, starts the same way. Someone notices that something isn’t right and  they either ignore it or try to do something about it. They tell someone who’s skeptical and then, suddenly, it’s undeniable.
However, in Awakening there’s no suddenly. The build is slow and magnified by the artwork. It’s hard to tell what you’re seeing, just as it’s hard to tell what’s really happening in the city of Park Falls.
The art is some beautiful hybrid between sketching and collage. At first I thought it was messy, but then I realized it was like a good score or well dome lighting in a movie. My inability to fully see detail in Awakening enhanced my experience of the story. Much like the artwork in 30 Days of Night.
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But the artwork isn’t Awakening’s only selling point. The ground felt familiar but not over done. The story doesn’t jump straight from confusion to panic. The only person (aside from the post-omnipotent narrator) who believes the increase in murders in Park Falls is due to anything aside from bad days is a crazy ex-scientist who runs around in a surgical mask…
There’s room for this type of character because of the slow build and the the fact that the rest of the world isn’t yet in on the new world order. There’s no prepping or fighting. It’s all suspicion and finger pointing.
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The detectives are trying to solve the murders, the crazy lady is trying to convince our protagonist she’s a reliable source and our protagonist just wants to go about his day like the sky was secure.
Park Falls calls in a specialist and there might be a little less skepticism going around.
The first issue of Awakening is free on ComiXology. Subsequent issues are are $1.99.
[rating:4/5]

The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West (BDI)

Well this didn’t look like any Oz I’d ever seen and this Dorothy was no dainty farm girl desperate to go home an iron the wrinkles from her dress. No, the Dorothy in The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West is a hardened, take charge, no nonsense kind of cowgirl who still just wants to get to Oz.

Have you ever heard of BDI (big dog ink) the comic publisher? What about The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West? I hadn’t heard of either of them. I feel like I’ve seen the BDI logo before but can’t say I remembered it or them or what they make.
Not their fault, there are a lot of publishers out there and hundreds more comics.
Lucky for BDI, I’m a shelf appeal kind of girl. Also lucky for them, Free Comic Book Day was made for people like me. People who just can’t go into a local shop and take free stuff then not buy anything at all.
This is how I came to own a copy of BDI‘s The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West. There on the shelf, right with in reach of my short little arms (I’ve been known to not buy something rather than ask for help getting it down– what if they take it down and I don’t like it? Panic!) was a bad ass looking cowgirl with ruby pistols on her hip claiming to be Dorothy Gale in Oz of all places.

[Note: This review was previously published here]

Well this didn’t look like any Oz I’d ever seen and this Dorothy was no dainty farm girl desperate to go home an iron the wrinkles from her dress. No, the Dorothy in The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West is a hardened, take charge, no nonsense kind of cowgirl who still just wants to get to Oz.wickedwestannouncement
The story introduces savvy but worn out cowgirl, Dorothy, and her loyal steed, Toto, trudging their way down what’s left of the yellow brick road. Most of the golden bricks that made up the road have been stolen over the years and the path to The Emerald City is hard to follow both mentally and physically.
This version of Oz reminds me a lot of the Scissor Sisters song Return To Oz. “Where The grass is dead, the gold is brown, and the sky has claws. There’s a wind-up man walking round and round. What once was Emerald City’s now a crystal town.”
Hoping to take a breather and considering calling it quits on her search for Oz, Dorthy quickly lands herself on the radar of some shape-shifting brutes in the form or drunks and then winged gorillas. Quick on the draw with her of ruby-encrusted pistols, Dorothy and her whip-fast reflexes make quick work of the gorillas, an ally, and a few enemies in the process.
If you’re not into buxom ladies in the tightest of clothes, BDI‘s take on L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz might rub you wrong. But then again, so would most comics…
I didn’t feel her fanservice figure detracted from the story or the character. On the contrary, I felt the illustration by  Alisson Borges and Kate Finnegan (colors) were fantastic and added great levels of depth to the world Tom Hutchenson was building through the story.
It’s a glossy little number. Well illustrated and well written. However, the issue felt way short (28 pages) for a $3.50 comic. I wish it was available digitally and at a lower price point or with longer issues.
I was intrigued by The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West and I’d buy another issue –but with caution.

Review: Hawken: Genesis (Archaia)

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Hawken: Genesis (Archaia)answers the question “What’s my motivation?” for payers of Hawken the game.
Hawken by Adhesive Games and Meteor Entertainment is part Total Recall, in that it’s set in a ruined dystopian planet; part my desperate hopes for what Pacific Rim will be, a ridiculous mecha battle royal; and part Gundam where everyone is fighting for or against a team but no one is really right.
But then Hawken: Genesis adds in a heaping helping of Top Gun.
It sounds like chaos on the surface but it’s actually a brilliant premise.
Everyone fled Earth for a brighter future on Illal but their hopes overwhelmed the new planet, destroying it faster than they destroyed Earth. Unfortunately for the poor planet, devastation isn’t enough and they’ve found one more resource to pry from the corps of their new home.
Already in the midst of an inter-corporation world war the citizens now have reason to stay and fight too. Not for honor or freedom but for their own slice of the pie. That is why they came after all.
From the jump, “the Hawken” is mentioned in a laundry list of terrible things that shouldn’t have happened, terrible things that ruined a once optimistic planet. I’m not clear what it is though… But I am curious.
I’m always drawn to a good premise, a well thought out backstory make most things that much more wonderful for me. And when I read the Hawken: Genesis issues put out by Archaia Black Label for the franchise, I was blown away.
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Review: Orchid Volume 1 (Dark Horse)

When I first heard about Orchid (blurb and facts are down below), the brain child of Rage Against The Machine‘s Tom Morello, I had low expectations. Admittedly, I thought he was already skilled in one area, music, what were the chances he would be skilled in another completely unrelated one, comics.

I’d read interviews and press releases that made me think Orchid would be a heavy-handed political and social diatribe vilifying politicians and the rich and babying the rest of us, barely held together with pictures– pretty much a Chick Tract for social revolution.
When I finally got my hands and eyes on Orchid Volume 1[1. A copy of this title was provided for review by Dark Horse Comics.] I found myself wrapped up in a fast-paced action-adventure starring the quirky and blindly optimistic nerd, Simon, and the surly whore, Orchid, with nothing and everything to lose.
Volume one, covering issues 1-5, is a proper set up of the characters and why we should care about them. This post-apocalyptic world is vast, feeling vaster than the current world at times.
The first couple issues start with historical exposition set over elaborate, intricate scenes. I was reading on my kindle fire and often found myself zooming in to see what all was going on. Tom Morello (writer) and Scott Hepburn (artist) brought this somewhat over done setting new life. From fascinating creatures roaming the wild to the concept of people spending generations on “the derelict barges,” it all felt fresh and exciting.

But once the characters took center-stage it was hard to notice much else– though the art stays well done throughout– with the snappy dialogue and constant progress.
Orchid, Simon, and The Mask (this is an actual, literal mask but with so much legend and power it is pretty much a character in its own right) face more than their fair share of foes and near misses. At some points the adventuring hits a lull and I realized this is seriously heavy, seriously sad, and just generally serious.
That’s one of the greatest things about Orchid; it takes the path of children’s stories and parables, the lesson and the story work so well together that I didn’t realize I was being taught.
I was attached to the story and the characters and the world as not only a fantastic place but also the home of these people who deserved better. Before I knew it, after experiencing their world, watching their struggles, triumphs, and failures, and even getting a glimpse at the antagonists, I’d joined their revolution.
Almost every character — the exception being some villains who do seem to be more symbolic power hoarders than individuals– is fleshed out with a back story, from being a simple bridge folk whore to a nerd who wouldn’t be so out of place elsewhere where he was a slave specially trained because of his aptitude[2. I thought Simon was a time traveler when he was first introduced, until his manner of being was explained away sufficiently enough to re-suspend my disbelief].
You’ll be hard pressed to read Orchid and not to be moved or inspired on some level. Maybe simply by Simon’s unwavering courage and idealism, maybe by Orchid as a strong woman, or even by one of the “villains[3. Issue #5 SPOILER: I’m not willing to call Don Barrabas an actual villain so much as a survivor/victim/pawn who aligned with a man, Tomo Wolfe, willing to do right by him to accomplish much greater wrongs.]” who was somewhat of an ugly duckling (if the ugly duckling turned out to be a duck hunter-chef).
Sure, you might not feel you’re now expertly educated about class warfare or moved to “damn the man, save the empire.” But I can definitely say through Tom Morello telling Orchid’s story I felt heard, and seen, and important as a woman, and a person of color, and a nobody with no power or clout. Generally, as a person with things that can be or have been used to marginalize me. In Orchid, all those things that they use against us were the building blocks to make powerful characters, powerful ideas.
At the end of most comics the writer includes a short essay about their thoughts on the work. While I don’t really I care about nearly any issues, including class, in the real world, the passion Tom Morello shows for this project and this message is the kind of passion that can only create great things.

I’ve always been drawn to epic tales. Beowulf, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. But for me, there was always something missing. I could never entirely get behind the goal. “C’mon, subjects! Let’s get the king back on the throne!” Or “To arms, vassals! Let’s return the princess to glory!” In my book, kings and princesses are the bad guys. But what was really missing from these epic tales was the unspoken but ever present dirty five-letter word: CLASS. Who rules and why? Who has a lot and who has nothing? And why the hell doesn’t somebody do something about it?! In Orchid the cool monsters, the narrow escapes, and epic battles are front and center, but somebody finally does something about the remorseless inequality that mirrors our own world. And that somebody is Orchid.

Orchid is successful as something new and different, something intriguing and engaging, and something worth reading.
I’d stand up to The Hangman for it.
[rating:5/5]
 

The facts about Orchid Volume 1 direct from Dark Horse:

When the seas rose, genetic codes were smashed. Human settlements are ringed by a dense wilderness from which ferocious new animal species prey on the helpless. The high ground belongs to the rich and powerful that overlook swampland shantytowns from their fortress-like cities. Iron-fisted rule ensures order and allows the wealthy to harvest the poor as slaves.
Delve into the first chapter of Orchid, the tale of a teenage prostitute who learns that she is more than the role society has imposed upon her.
CREATORS
Writer: Tom Morello
Artist: Scott Hepburn
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Cover Artist: Massimo Carnevale
Genre: Action/Adventure

Publication Date: July 11, 2012
Format: FC, 112 pages; TP, 7″ x 10″
Price: $17.99
Age range: 14
ISBN-10: 1-59582-965-2
ISBN-13: 978-1-59582-965-8