Thursday, February 07, 2008

Five Books You Should Be Reading

For this post I have decided to focus on five books that I think you should be reading. If you are on a limited budget, than at a bare minimum you need to drop a Marvel or DC book and try out one of these titles. The structure of the post was to take the solicitation for each comic’s first issue and then add my two cents.

I believe in each one of these series so strongly that I’m tempted to offer a money back guarantee, but I have no easy method to be able to do that and if this post got linked to all sorts of places I may not have enough money to make it actually happen. What I can do is tell you that the creators behind these series are people who are sincere in trying to deliver high quality entertainment.

Proof - Image
Story Alex Grecian art & cover Riley Rossmo : When FBI agent Ginger Brown got a promotion, she didn’t expect her new duties would involve tracking down the world’s most mysterious creatures. The Loch Ness Monster, Mothman and El Chupacabra are now on her "most wanted" list and her new partner looks an awful lot like… Bigfoot! TAGLINE: If you believe in monsters, you need Proof!

We are four issues into this series and this book is one that I look forward to every month. The art is a mix of a gritty edgy almost unfinished feel, with a sense of the dramatic. The layouts are solid and the emotions of the characters are conveyed well. Our Bigfoot (Proof) has such a unique look to him, that is both powerful and yet gentle.

The first story line itself is about Ginger and Proof trying to capture “El Cupacabra” a creature that kills people and then wears their skin. As you read the writer has little factoids dropped in telling you about the mythological creatures and about facts as to what is happening in the scene. In issue four we are given information about what a “high tea” is and why it is okay to serve a meal with a high tea. So it is an educational book as well as entertaining.

Ginger is Proof’s new partner and is a point of view character for the reader as she is new to all these creatures of myth being real and being kept in a holding area by the government. Proof is not only helping the government, but seems to have his own agenda as he searches for his own people.

This series is a fun mixture of X-Files, monster hunting and drama, with a liberal dose of humor when appropriate. What is even better, as much as I enjoy the series, I don’t think I’m having have half as much fun as the creators seem to be having. They pack so much into every issue you never feel cheated and often feel like you got a great bargain for you dollar.

The Circle - Image
Story Brian Reed art & cover Ian Hosfeld: The pulse-pounding adventures in the world of international espionage! “THE GOLIATH TRAP,” Part One A stringer for MI6 has stumbled into a continent spanning battle between the deadly mercenary group, "The Circle," and a rogue CIA assassin hell bent on revenge. The prize: a stolen nuclear missile train!

I’m going to start with the art again. Ian Hosfeld was an unknown to me, but he is an obvious professional talent. His art work immediately reminded me of Jordi Benet and that is one hell of a compliment. It has a fluid feel to it, and yet captures enough realism to keep the dramatic edge and tension this type of series demands. Equally at home with over the top action sequences as he is in portraying the quiet scenes, Hosfeld is a true talent.

The story is also well done and is my favorite work by Brian Reed. To be fair I dropped his Ms. Marvel book and have been only moderately taken with the Captain Marvel series, but this is a story that I think has his interest and now has mine.

I’m disappointed that this week’s issue was shorted at my store and I have to wait a week for it, but good things come to those who wait (right?). This is an action/adventure book with foreign settings, political intrigue and plots that could make a “Die Hard” movie seem tame in comparison.

Infinite Horizon - Image
Story Gerry Dugan & Phil Noto : Image presents a re-imagining of The Odyssey: A soldier's long journey home after years of war in the Middle East. In the not-too-distant future a small group of abandoned soldiers are lead home by one man: The Captain. To get back he will have to cross half the globe and endure deadly encounters with many enemies including the Cyclops, and the Sirens...but first he will have to survive the final hours of the war!

We are two issues into this six part mini-series and I encourage you to go back and pick up the first two issues. Oh you could wait for the inevitable trade, but if the floppy sales don’t warrant it, it could take time before the trade hits the stands. By then you may have forgotten about the series and have to discover it years later and wonder how the heck you missed the boat on this book.

The story has an epic feel to it as you start reading it. The Captain is stuck in a foreign land and the world we know has suddenly changed creating an impossible task for the Captain to find his way back home. With a small group of his soldiers the Captain is working his way though many dangers to try and get back home to his wife. The emotional attachment he feels to his wife comes across so well that you know that nothing on Earth, short of his death, will keep him from getting back to her and his son.

We also get to see her story, as she has to fend off neighbors who are scared as resources have suddenly dried up due to the new world order (essentially a major war has erupted and it appears that everyone is on their own). She is intelligent, beautiful and a strong warrior in her own right. Not so much in physical force, but in emotional fortitude and the willingness to be hard when needed. Her belief in the Captain is as strong as the Captain’s love for her.
Phil Noto’s minimalist style and the muted palette (which is done in a non-standard coloring style) give this book a unique look. Excellent story telling and panel design add to the enhancement and feel of the book. An updated epic, that is itself of epic quality.

Cemetery Blues - Image
Story Ryan Rubio art & cover by Thomas Boatwright "THE HAUNTING OF HERNESBURG" Bumbling monster hunters Ridley and Falstaff are hot on the trail of their nemesis, the mysterious sorcerer Orlok. The trail leads them to the town of Hernesburg, where the heroes are asked to dispose of a lurking evil in the woods?only because the town's own hunter has turned up dead! An off-kilter story sure to make you chuckle with delight!

Thomas Boatwright’s art is the thing that initially sold me on trying out this series and after only the first issue, I very happy I came onboard. Thomas Boatwright has a cartoonist style that is mixed with a strong sense of drama. It is like loony tunes with a sense of gravitas. The art is filled with great poses by the characters, enormous details and a wonderful sense of whimsy.

This is a book that I came for the art and now love the story. Our two erstwhile companions are a classical comical physical paring, with one taller and lanky and the other a shorter and “Igor” type character without the hunchback. Both are slackers and would rather get drunk at a bar then do a lick of work.

Our “stars” of the series are monster hunters doing so at the behest of a rather prim and proper older ghost type who must be forever frustrated in trying to achieve results from them.
A buddy story filled with all the things that go bump in the night and enough laughs to wake up the graveyard.

The Foundation - BOOM Studios
Created by Kody ChamberlainWritten by John Rozum Art by Chee Cover by Paul Azacetafull color, 24 pages History shows that in the 1500s, Nostradamus' three volumes of prophesies were best-sellers, making him a rich man. But what the world doesn't know is he took his vast treasure trove of riches and invested them in creating a foundation to prevent his prophesies from occurring... This secret team still functions today, using Nostradamus' published and unpublished tomes to predict threats to worldwide security!

We did an extensive review on this series already and that can be seem here.

This book in one issue has such an excellent vibe to it, that you can’t wait to see the next issue. It focused on a single individual, yet gave you a sense as to the scope of the entire Foundation.

Dark Horse has built their company on a lot of franchises. It is the new wave in comics to have a series of mini-series, yet inter-locking and creating an even bigger scope. What the Foundation has done is establish itself to be a series that could have episodic stories and they could be set in the present or the past.

In one issue this book has established a premise that has more potential and possibilities that almost any other series out there. A drama with wide ranging conspiracy theories and star chamber type things going on, that has piqued my curiosity.

If this mini-series is as good as the first issue and they do subsequnet mini-series, it could rival a TV show like Lost for holding your interest.

Well there you have it, five series that I hope you all try at least one of them. I tried to give this post more of my gut level impression and emotional review as oppossed to a strick review of a book. What I want to impress upon each of you is the energy, passion and fun these books generate.

Atomic Robo, Neozoic, Fell, Wormwood Genlemen Corspe, North Wind, Dominion, Bad Planet, Crawl Space, Walking Dead, Sorrow, Goon, Robotica, Killer, Scalped, Crossing Midnight and so many others are all out there and all have something different to offer.

When you are looking for more then capes or even a different take on capes some of the publishers to look at are Image, BOOM Studios, Dark Horse, Red 5, Archaia, IDW, Avatar, Zenoscope, Oni and many others.

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