Tag Archives: Fiona Staples

My Favorite Comics

Given that today is my birthday, I thought I’d share some of my favorite comics. Most of these are trade paperback or hardcover collections, but they’re also available in individual issues if anyone feels the need to hunt them all down. They are also in no particular order, aside from the order I found them on my book shelves. Continue reading

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Saturday Review: Saga #21

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I have been a devoted fan of Saga since issue #1. I still remember reading that first issue in my car and being blown away and wanting more, but knowing I’d have to wait a full month before I could have some. Since then, whenever a new Saga issue comes out, it is the first book I read. While I am still loving the book, I have to admit that I am even more lost than ever.

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Science Fiction Comics

Science fiction is, of course, a staple of geek culture and always has been, as has comic books. While these two have had a long and intertwined history, up until recently there had been a rather significant lack in quality science fiction comics. Thankfully in the last two years there has been a considerable resurgence in science fiction comics. Given all of these new choices, I’ve decided to go over a few of my personal favorites and some of the newest additions to my weekly pull.

20131219-232534.jpgSaga – Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

I’ve decided to start with Saga because every week it comes out, it’s the first book I read. Saga is an amazing space epic, but unlike most epics, it is character driven instead of focused on the events that happen around the characters. It’s a sort of modern Romeo and Juliet, with two star-crossed lovers from opposite sides of a generations long war; only they don’t commit suicide, they kick ass instead. I honestly have absolutely no idea where the book is going, both on the large scale and from issue to issue, and I don’t care. I am along for the ride, no matter where it takes me. Vaughan’s writing is fantastic and when paired with art by Staples it becomes something truly unbelievable.

20131219-232528.jpgManhattan Projects – Johnathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra

Imagine that the super-secret Manhattan Project was itself a cover for an even more super-secret science program. That’s the basic plot of Manhattan Projects, but there is far more to it than that. Anyone who is familiar with the real life Manhattan Project will recognize the cast of characters including Robert Oppenheimer, General Leslie Groves, Richard Feynman, and Enrico Fermi among others. That’s about where the similarities end though and Hickman takes characters and events to ever increasingly insane places. There is a lot of fantastic character work and a wonderful subtlety to the art that gives this book an unexpected depth.

20131219-232523.jpgEast of West – Johnathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

Where Manhattan Projects is crazy and filled with very weird characters, East of West is much more cerebral, in similar fashion to his current work on Avengers/New Avengers and his previous creator owned work. East of West is set in a near future, alternate reality where the United States has splintered into several different countries with competing ideologies. The political systems only provide a back drop for the larger story, one of the Biblical Four Horseman, Death, has abandoned the other three and now they have begun to hurt him down, to unknown ends. I like this book because it is similar enough to the work Hickman has done in the past, yet the plot remains novel. There have been several interesting plot twists that have made the month between issues seem very long indeed. Dragotta’s art is very clean with some hints of manga influence.

20131219-232512.jpgStar Wars – Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda

I love Star Wars, especially the original trilogy, and this book hits my Star Wars sweet spot. Set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back readers follow all of the familiar heroes as they search for a new home for the Rebel Alliance. Brian Wood has a great sense of who Han, Luke, and Leia are, and it feels like a perfect continuation of the films—only with better dialogue.  D’Anda’s art is perfect for this book. Not only is he capable of clear and exciting action sequences, but he also makes the heroes look just enough like their actors that you know precisely who is whom, but not so much that it looks like he just traced pictures of them.

20131219-232518.jpgThe Star Wars – Johnathan Rinzler and Mike Mayhew

Yes, this is a different book than Star Wars. This book is based on George Lucas’ original draft of Star Wars and it has been quite a treat. The Star Wars is full of familiar names and places, but they all apply to different things. It’s like the entire Star Wars universe has been turned on its head and shaken around a bit. Now to be honest, I don’t want this book to last forever and I’m looking forward to seeing the conclusion to the story (though I sense it is still a ways off). What makes this book great is that I never know what part of the Star Wars I know and love is going to show up somewhere unexpected. It’s also pretty crazy to think that this is where Star Wars started.

20131219-232538.jpgBlack Science – Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera

This is the newest addition to my pull list and truth be told I’m not 100% sold on it yet. Only being on issue two however, I’m not rushing to judgment just yet.  I am huge fan of Fear Agent, so I’m willing to give Remender the benefit of the doubt and stick this out at least through the first story arc. Black Science follows a group of scientists who have broken through reality into the chaos that lies beyond. Of course what they find there isn’t very nice, and just like black magic in fantasy, this black science makes things go awry. The art is strong with the exception that at times it was difficult to tell female characters apart, though once I get to know them better I suspect that problem will fade. Stay tuned for the inevitable update.

So these are the sci-fi books that I’m currently reading. They are not all the books I read with sci-fi elements and it is certainly not every book that exists (I just don’t have the money…/sad face), but they are the ones I consider pure science fiction. But enough about me, we want to hear about you. What books are you reading? Tell us about your favorites and maybe those that you’re not so fond of and of course, why.

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Editorial | Review: Saga

With the upcoming release of the thirteenth installment of Brian Vaughan’s Saga, now seems as good a time as any to briefly review the previous twelve issues.

As someone relatively new to comics in general, I was pleased to start Saga right at the beginning, before realities split and the universe has been reimagined with a new history four or five times (I’m looking at you, DC Comics).  Fiona Staples’ artwork in the book is simple, but not overly so.  Action is clear and it is easy to understand what is happening.

Their facial expressions capture the essence of these characters, but the controversial pose is unnecessary.

The story is narrated by the infant who is being born in the first frames of the book, as a memoir.  This makes the entire issue (and subsequent ones) feel like a prologue to the main storyline, but no main storyline ever actually appears.  Instead, the narrative follows the exploits (sexploits?) of Alana and Marko, two creatures who are defying a centuries long feud between their species to fall in love.  Alana gives birth to their daughter, Hazel, the story narrator and then the pair begins a mad dash to get somewhere that they and their daughter would be safe.

Alana is a winged creature from the planet Landfall.  She seems to be undereducated and has a brash attitude that has helped her survive a hard life, but makes me concerned for the survival of her marriage.  Her husband Marko’s character seems likeable and a little bit ordinary.  His people are from one of Landfall’s moons, called Wreath, and sport mountain goat horns growing from their heads.  He is disillusioned with violence and warfare but is torn between a pacifist life and protecting his new family.

The characters are all fairly believable, considering that the main couple has either wings or horns, and that the supporting cast includes an enormous half woman/half spider, and a race of humanoids with old fashioned tube television sets for heads.  The writing style is clear and concise.  The problem that I have is that there is no discernible plot line.  The adventures are told in a rambling fashion and feel as though they are leading up to some main plot, which never materializes.

The top half of a ghost wants to permanently bond with my infant’s soul? Sure! What could go wrong?

I appreciate the effort Vaughan makes to flavor Saga with unusual elements; and some of the strangeness of the characters and locations really appealed to my sense of whimsy.  I liked the idea of a spaceship forest, where the fruit of the trees is not edible, but rather rocket fueled.  Another interesting character was the Lying Cat, a large jungle cat who hisses, “Lie!” at anyone who attempts to twist the truth in its presence.

While the artwork is crisp and easy to follow, I did find that the art was occasionally unnecessarily graphic (read: lots of gratuitous sex).  Considering that the writing was not lazy and that the stories progressed well on their own, it seemed ridiculous that the book would work so hard to shock its audience.  The cover art especially seemed chosen to be deliberately controversial.

All in all, I enjoyed Saga, and I look forward to the next six issue story arc, but I do not see that it merits the critical acclaim it has received.  From me, it gets four out of five Death Stars.

4 Death Stars

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