Horsemen #1: A Review

Horsemen1CoverHorsemen #1 has a whole team behind this book: writers Mark C. Frankel and Joshua L.A. Jones, Christopher Manchey on art, Rich Cardoso on colors, and Cary Kelley on letters. It’s published by indie company Wayward Raven Media (I’ll be reviewing two other titles of theirs soon). Now let me tell you why I like it.

Horsemen is a reimagining of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They still have their names (Death, War, etc), but they don’t bring the end of the world. Rather, they are defending the universe and protecting Free Will against the forces of Fate and Destiny.

The horsemen are chosen from different races in the universe (though I can’t help but notice at least two of them are human). We open the story with a battle: War, Death, and Death’s race are fighting the armies of Destiny. War retreats because the battle is lost, but Death stays to fight to the end, because he wants to defend his people. So now the Horsemen need a new death. Destruction is sent to Earth and he grabs a man from Hiroshima just moments before the bomb hits. With much trepidation, the new man accepts the position and embarks on his first mission.

One of my favorite things about indie comics is their imagination, and I’m a big fan of how imaginative this comic is. The story is exciting and the characters memorable. It also amuses me that most of the characters have the standard speech balloons but Death and War have different colors and shapes to theirs. I love that design touch.

The art, for me, is hit and miss in some places, but that’s because I’m an artist myself and notice these things. For what it is, it matches the tone of the comic. And I have to say it again, I LOVE the design! When there are worlds touched by Fate and Destiny, you see the stylistic difference. Fate/Destiny is black and white while Free Will is full of color. Now that’s great!

It’s my hope that the penciller/inker of this series, Christopher Manchey, improves in his art over time, which I have the feeling that he will.

I recommend this series. If you want to, get a copy over at Warward Raven’s shop. Or get it digital.

My Boyfriend is a Monster: A Review

my-boyfriendMy Boyfriend is a Monster #1: I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang and Janina Görrissen is the book I didn’t know I needed. Unlike Rise of the Magi #0, this book feels like it was targeted for me (a young adult, comics-reading, genderqueer lady person). But first, the plot.

The story follows two Florida high school students: Dicey, a star baseball player, and Jack Chen, the science student prodigy working on a paper about fungi with some of the best scientists in university. They both are made to work together for a class project – taking care of an egg (it’s basically a test to see if you’ll be a good parent, as public schools in the USA do. Like a baby behaves like an egg or something).

As the project draws to a close, they realize they want to spend more time together, even though they’re not really too much alike. So they go out on their first date only to realize that everyone in the town is evacuating – because of ZOMBIES! Soon it becomes a fight for their life to get out of town and save each other.

I’m usually very leery of premises like this one. I’ve read too many manga with similar ideas that disappointed me in the past. So what makes this one stand out?

For one thing, the art is gorgeous, but I’ll get to that momentarily.

The important thing to realize is that this comic is character-driven in the most marvelous way. I read the first page and knew immediately that I would love the main characters. That’s a rarity for me nowadays outside of the realm of webcomics. These two and everyone else in the cast had me laughing in the best way, and I became legitimately concerned when the zombies hit.

The art in this book is absolutely delicious. I’m a sucker for bold lines and expressive body language, and this comic has both. Some of the art does get a bit hard to read in some early zombie attack scenes, mostly because of the deep shadows, but in later sequences it’s easier to read.

I love this book, but I do have two complaints.

Complaint #1: The zombie element came almost out of nowhere. The only foreshadowing that may have tipped us off was that Jack Chen and his parents are doing research on a particular kind of fungus. When the first zombie came out I was like, “WOAH WHAT? Zombie what?” I know that the cover of the book gives away that this is a zombie comic, but still.

Complaint #2: This is a minor one, but this stands out to me because I’m a comic artist. There are a few instances where the tails of the speech balloons cross. Please please please don’t do this. I could still read it, but anytime I came across them, it was mildly jarring. When I saw the crossed tails, I would be initially confused because I wondered who said what. It’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of the work as a whole, I know this. It’s just a pet peeve.

The comic as a whole does work, though. Despite my only two complaints, it’s a solid comic, and you should give it a read. You can get My Boyfriend Is a Monster 1: I Love Him to Pieces on Amazon (yes, that is a link to buy it. You don’t have to get it, but if you do, I get a teeny percentage, which will help keep the blog running. Any little bit helps).

Rise of the Magi #0: A Review

Rise_of_the_Magi_web-Rise of the Magi #0 by Marc Silvestri, Sumeyye Kesgin, and Jasen Smith is a comic book made available for Free Comic Book Day from Image and Top Cow Productions, Inc. Before I get into my deeply divided thoughts on this book, I’ll tell you the basic premise.

Before I do, though, it must be noted that the cover of the book has nothing to do with the interior story. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Asa is a young man in…a fantasy world somewhere?…who longs to do something meaningful with his life besides being a carpet repair boy. His father, of course, berates him for being a dreamer instead of being practical, even going so far as to tell him to stop reading comic books because it’s “a waste of time!”

So one day Asa decides to get on the magic carpet of one his father’s clients and fly over to this palace of Spell Guards, where his brother works as a guard. Guess what Asa wants to be instead of a carpet repair boy? If you guessed a Spell Guard, congrats! You get 50 useless internet points.

Using an invisibility spell, Asa sneaks in and discovers that this magical orb of…magic, is in peril, because the guards guarding it are now ex-guards. That’s right, they’re either dead or dying, and Asa’s brother tells him to get out before the bad guys find him.

Ok, how do I sort out my feelings towards this book?

It’s not…BAD. But it’s not fantastic, either. Then again, I’m not the target audience for this book.

Here’s the deceptive thing – you would NEVER guess the story is about a young boy named Asa and a magical world by looking at the cover of this book. Who thought this cover was a good idea? It tells nothing of the story inside. The character on the cover isn’t even anywhere else in the book! This would be a great poster, but don’t put it on a comic book unless you’re making a story about wizards who use spray painting for spells or something. I was expecting that! And that’s not what I got.

Instead, what I got was an alright but worn-out story about a “misfit” boy who wants something greater and gets more than he expected in the realm of magic and shenanigans. Also, a parent who berates his son about reading comic books? I feel like that’s the clichè-est of clichè’s to ever clichè.

Ok, so I’ve said all the things I DON’T like about this. What do I like about it?

Well the art is solid. Once you get past that the interior art does not match the cover art (seriously, whoever made that executive decision needs slapped), the art inside the book is serviceable. Dare I say, it’s even good. The colors really pop and all the characters have unique designs. The layouts of the pages are even fun, but not complex enough to lose the reader. I really appreciate how easily readable this comic is, once I got past the story.

(I should note though, that I should NEVER have to say something like that. The story needs to be compelling at all times).

I would recommend this for any reader younger than 13 or 14. This book is really more for them than it is for me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to write a comic about wizards who use spray paint magic…

Post-FCBD News

I didn’t update yesterday because I was out all day for Free Comic Book Day. Now I can tell you how it went!

The Apache Junction Public Library was not only in a cool building, but the staff was nice and very helpful. We got set up without too much trouble and then I gave two presentations. Everyone who came was AWESOME.

I wish I took more pictures, but I got this one for posterity:

I got my own sign! WHAAAAAT?
I got my own sign! WHAAAAAT?

Afterwards I hung out with some of the kids who went to my presentation. They were nice enough to teach me how to play Magic: The Gathering, which is fantastic! They taught me way better than the last person who tried to, because the last person who tried to was a college-age boy who was super baffled that a girl wanted to learn how to play a card game.

At least the boys at the library were nice enough to gift me a card deck. How cool is that?!

Anyway, now that the event’s over, I have some new merch to post up at my store. Expect to see new things coming up over this next week!

Thanks to Free Comic Book Day, publishers contacting me, and the awesomeness of public libraries, I now have an abundance of comics to read and review.

Since I have so many comics to read through, every day for the month of May, here on the blog, will be book reviews. You’ll still get updates on art and any future guest appearances! But be prepared for BOOKS. BOOKS EVERYWHERE.

Thanks for reading! Here’s a sneak peek at some comics I’ll be reviewing this week:

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