Sunday, July 28, 2013

Nemo: Heart of Ice

Janni knows that her father cast quite the long shadow. Being the daughter of Captain Nemo could make you feel like you can never quite measure up, especially when following in dad's footsteps pillaging different lands.

Nemo: Heart of Ice is like a summer action flick: full of action, fast-paced, full of amazing things to look at. Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill have shown that at this point the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen stories can and will be about anything that they please. That being said, I found Nemo to be much more immediately enjoyable than the wild ride that was LXG: Century. Whereas that series was so ambitious and wide ranging, it was really nice to see everything so settled down for this latest graphic novel. This is not Alan Moore writing in the way that he usually does. You could almost suspect him of dialing it in but it still is a grand adventure story. 

Janni has a crew on the Nautilus just as her father once did. She is obviously full of ambition and decides that it is time to do something amazing. "It's about finding some purpose that's more than just piracy," she says. "Ready, the Nautilus...she's going back to the South Pole."

Unfortunately for Janni, others are chasing the Nautilus into Antarctica in order to sabotage them. What follows is a game of cat and mouse in a wondrous and newly discovered location in Antarctica. Some particularly nonhuman ancient buildings and artifacts are uncovered, but that doesn't mean that there are any concrete answers given.

Janni's mission of exploration does not end particularly well. Lives are lost, dangers are met, and by the end of it all it seems that Nemo's daughter is too rattled to try it all again. Sure, it is a realistic outcome, but I wish that Janni was stronger and that she could pick herself up again by the last page. I don't know what the next phase of plans is for the LXG tapestry, or if one even exists at this point, but I sincerely hope that we get to see more of the exploits of Janni. I really liked her character and her strength up until everything went awry toward the end.

Alan Moore let his artistic partner show off even more than in any previous LXG outing. I think it is safe to say that there were never more splash pages in one of their earlier books. Moore provides the space for O'Neill to dazzle with his great landscapes and dizzying alien monuments. Heart of Ice is a book that is thrilling just to look at, and if it is in fact a quick read, it is well worth the price to go back and pore over the illustrations.

Of course there are always some "guest appearances" in any book in the series, and this one sees a visit from none other than "She" from H. Rider Haggard's novel. It's probably just because I have fond memories of the novel that I was so glad the character was included in this comic.

Overall I found myself really hoping that there is more LXG in this style coming down the pike. This was a straightforward adventure yarn, and all of the excesses of Century have been whittled down.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Revival: You're Among Friends

“Don’t worry, Dana...I know you’re going to find out who murdered me.”

That isn’t quite a typical thing to be said in a conversation between two sisters. This is the world of Revival, or at least for right now just the small town in Wisconsin in which the dead just won’t stay dead. Answers are scarce in this book, but the first five issues of the series do a lot to ramp up the excitement for what is coming next.

Dana Cypress is a police officer in a pretty small and boring place. Things start to change as the town becomes known on national TV. Across the world people want to know what is going on in the tiny blip in the universe that is Wausau, Wisconsin. Some people who have died are coming back to life. Not necessarily as scary monstery zombie-like beings. Some are actually pretty harmless and “normal.” But events are certainly causing a stir. Dana suddenly has a lot to deal with as the cases grow and she is appointed to be in charge of them (thanks to her father who is also her boss).

Dana has done a lot to try and make herself look better in the eyes of dad. Ever since that teenage pregnancy things haven’t been too great. Now she’s the single mom and a cop and life has had its fair share of challenges. Then all of this starts happening, with people getting worried about the “revivers” in general and downright scared when some of them start causing problems. 

Arlene Dittman is one of those problem causers. Ever since she died she has been like a creature possessed, looking for some kind of child and raiding the maternity ward of the hospital to find the right one. This sort of thing is really not good for the citizens of Wausau.

Dana has a sister named Martha who was supposed to be dead. She can sustain any kind of injuries and heal right up. She hasn’t changed from her “living” persona and that is mainly just a matter of luck. 

The guys behind the curtain here are Tim Seeley and Mike Norton, and it’s pretty obvious that they are really excited about the chance to make a comic like Revival. It’s a big story with a lot of characters and plot movement and everything moves along very nicely. At this point, just one trade in, I really found myself wishing I had more to read. The tale of Dana and the revivers is only just getting started...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Star Wars: Darth Vader And The Ghost Prison

This was one of the darkest Star Wars stories I've ever come across.

It probably should have been an obvious assumption to make about a miniseries starring the Dark Lord of the Sith. Lots of death, lots of betrayal, secrets, Jedi not really sounding all too heroic...

The first issue is perhaps a little bit too much in the way of setup. Before Vader is even seen we are introduced to a character named Laurita Tohm, one of the Empire's first graduating officers. He's done a great job and is happy to offer his loyalty to the galaxy's newest superpower.

When Vader meets Tohm, there is a real Doctor Who-esque vibe to the scene. I had to wonder if it was deliberate. Tohm is our everyman, and he is about to go on a wild adventure with a mysterious and dangerous man. Does he even consider for a second that he might not go? Of course not. Vader shares some secrets with Tohm by reactivating some old holocrons stored in the abandoned Jedi Temple.

The mission that Vader takes Tohm on is to stop a threat that has emerged from within the Empire itself. The very man who trained the Empire's cadets wants to be the Emperor himself. Palapatine is poisoned; Coruscant is threatened, and Vader needs a solution to the problems.

That problem winds up getting solved with the help of the Ghost Prison. As a Jedi general in the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker had helped to fill the secret prison with many enemies of the Republic. Now the prisoners are the best chance that Darth Vader has for assembling a quick army to take care of the insurgence. It's a crazy plan maybe, but it sure does work. The prisoners are eager to do anything that will get them out of their cells, and defeating a rebellion is almost too easy for Vader and company.

Vader hates the Jedi for many reasons and the Ghost Prison is just one of them. His former masters locked people up with no real impetus to ever put people on trial. It was just a place to send people with no consequences. It was a place that was designed to be all but forgotten. All it took to run the facility was a single Jedi and a hundred droids.

Darth Vader is every bit as menacing as you remember him from the movies. He kills and kills and kills. It is all that he knows after all of the blood that was shed in the Clone Wars. He is loyal to the Emperor, but at all times he is looking out for his own best interests (see the story's shock ending to find out what I mean).

Although it has a slow opening chapter, the rest of Ghost Prison rolls along like any good Star Wars tale. Reading it all in one sitting, it really did seem like I was taking in a cool brand new SW movie.