Review Day Tuesday: Shadowbinders, Book 1

shadowbinders headerShadowbinders, Book 1 is one of the few books I picked up at Intervention Con over a month ago. Before I go into my review, let me talk about what the story is.

The book I got is actually a collection of the first four chapters of the webcomic Shadowbinders. The story follows Mia, a 17-year-old high school girl with average teen girl problems… until she receives a gift from her grandmother. The gift is an old book full of drawings and a ring, both of which belonged to her late grandfather. However, when she tries on the magic ring, she’s whisked away to a fantasy world – the same world shown in the drawings of the book!

Now, before I read this, I did not know what to expect, really. I didn’t even know who the target audience was. I mean, the art looked relatively friendly to everybody, but I didn’t want to make assumptions – I’ve seen relatively child-friendly art illustrate blood and gore (thanks Hunter x Hunter).

With that said, Shadowbinders is actually pretty safe for everyone to read. This is what I would call an all-ages series, even with one or two innuendos and one scene with someone getting stabbed. It’s not even all that graphic.

Anyway, the set-up is sort of cliched, but the world is at least imaginative. It has a steampunk aesthetic with crazy types of animals and fun magic that is easy to understand. Even the action scenes are fun, and thankfully they’re easy to follow. So many artists can make an action scene unreadable in comics, but thankfully that is not the case in Shadowbinders.

The story and characters are…slow to develop. I didn’t really get invested in the characters until the end of Chapter 2. I do, however, want to stick around with this series to see how it goes.

I did have the chance to talk to the artist of the series at Intervention Con (the writer was out at a panel). I remember when I picked up this book, he expressed what I like to call, “The Artist’s First Book Lament.” I suffer from this, as well: it’s when an artist looks at the first book and goes, “AUGH, the art looks so awful! I’m glad I improved, but geez!”

Since he said that, I’m actually pretty excited to read the rest of the series. I want to see where it goes and see the progression of the art style. As fun as it is, I can see it only getting better.

So have you read Shadowbinders? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

And if you have any suggestions for comics or books to read, please leave them in comments as well.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on Friday.

Review Day Tuesday: Mass Marvel Special

Today is a special Review Day Tuesday. Rather than reviewing one book, I’m reviewing a slew of Marvel (and other) books at once! All of these books have been out for a while, whether it’s a year, a month, or a week. Still, if you don’t visit a comic shop very often, I hope these are helpful.

Now, since I’m reviewing more than one book, these reviews are going to be as concise and short as possible. Like, one paragraph (ish) each.

Let’s go!

captain marvel number 1

Captain Marvel #1

Writing by Kelly Sue DeConnick and art by David Lopez and Lee Loughridge.

The colors are a softer quality to me, but it works well with the dialogue and the environments the characters are in. The characters themselves are fabulously relatable and have great moments with each other. The first issue doesn’t have a whole lot of action in it, but for a first issue, it doesn’t have to. It can just show off the characters, and this issue does it well.

Fun fact: Kelly Sue DeConnick is married to Matt Fraction? What the hell?

rocket raccoon number 1

Rocket Raccoon #1

Writing and art by Skottie Young.

It’s good to see Skottie Young do something besides Oz titles (but after reading this book I really want to read them). His playful lines and vibrant colors makes the sci-fi space adventure really stand out in comparison to other sci-fi space titles. Seriously, it’s a breath of fresh air in a genre full of gritty technological realism and drama.

Plus, you know, Rocket Raccoon and Groot are fun characters in general.

miss marvel issues 1 and 2

Ms. Marvel #1 and #2

I have to review these two together because reasons.

Writing by G. Willow Wilson (whom you might remember as my favorite comics author after I read Cairo, another title of hers). Art by Adrian Alphona and Ian Herring.

I adore this series. Absolutely adore it. G. Willow Wilson’s writing is, of course, stellar. I wasn’t sure how she would write these teen characters, but she did a lovely job. I also love seeing into the life of an Islamic family in America because it’s not a perspective you see often (there need to be more of those stories in general, not just comics).

Also, the art is bright, softly lit, and full of great expressions and character moments. These are great gestures captured here in this comic.

I’ve blathered on enough. READ THE DAMN THING.

rat queens number 1

Rat Queens

Writing by Kurtis J. Wiebe. Art by Roc Upchurch.

Oh hey! An IMAGE title!

Anyway, if you’re a woman who loves playing Dungeons and Dragons, this is a must read. It reads like a D&D session, but without a pesky DM (or if the DM is there, the presence is weak). Reading the adventures of these ladies is risque, raunchy, and even very bloody at times thanks to a group of assassins out to get them for some reason. I’m sure future issues will explore what the assassins’ intentions are, and I look forward to reading them because these ladies (though not fully developed yet) give enough of a glimpse of their characters to keep me intrigued.

Have you read any of these titles? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow with some new sketches.

Review Day Tuesday: Bartez

bartez book cover

Bartez is a comic I found at Intervention Con, mostly because the author, Ryan, was right across the aisle from me. I never heard of the project before that weekend, so I bought a copy of the book. Once the convention madness died down, I finally sat down to read it.

And you know what? I like it.

Is it life-altering? No. Is it fun? Yes, and delightfully silly to boot.

The story follows Jimmy Barton, an average guy who works in IT, who still hangs out with a lot of his old high school buddies, and lives in the town he’s always grown up in. He’s also a bit of a quitter – he tries new things, but he never sticks to them for very long. Tae Kwon Do? Wrestling? Parkour? Nope, nope, and nope.

That is, until he discovers one of his old friends was murdered by a rogue member of a secret society. And now, Jimmy might be next on the murderer’s hit list! Will he be able to actually stick to something and learn how to save himself?

The book I read is the first volume in a series, but I don’t know how long the series will be. It’s a series I want to read, though! Now let me tell you why.

bartez by ryan peraro and gale williams

bartez by ryan peraro and gale williams

The art, which seems (very) influenced by the likes of Bryan Lee O’Malley and Vera Brosgol, is sharp, clean, and easy to read. In an art style like this it can be easy to make the characters look alike. Thankfully, the artist (Gale Williams) does a wonderful job creating unique character visuals. I could tell Jimmy apart from his friends, and even the ladies look varied and stylized.

The action scenes are sporadic, but are drawn very well. I look forward to seeing what future action scenes in later volumes will look like!

The writing is, at the start, slow. The writer definitely takes his time developing the characters and scenarios, which isn’t a bad thing. I appreciate the slowness a bit because in too many comics nowadays people are rushing to get to the action. In Bartez you’re supposed to see what life is like before things get crazy. And Ryan Peraro does a great job showing everyday situations.

Once things start getting crazy, Ryan has built up the characters and the scenario enough that you believe what happens in the story. It’s actually pretty brilliant.

And you know what? The art and the writing work fantastically together in this comic. There are two creators on the project but it feels like one unified voice. That, to me, is wonderful.

If you want to read Bartez, they have the comic online and in print. My vote? It’s worth the $10 to get the first volume.

Have you found any comics worth reading? Did you read Bartez? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow with new artwork.

Review: Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred


Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred is a young adult graphic novel published by Tor Books. It’s been out for a while, so I’m sure there are other reviews of this out there. I just wanted to add my two cents for new readers who may have never heard of this comic book before.

The story is set in the near-ish future. It follows a young man named Robin Plotnik, as he goes onboard a starship in space to be a mechanic. But the surprise? His boss is actually a gorilla! Mac, his boss, is part of a race of gorillas whose intelligence had been accelerated to help the human race. That’s a good thing, because nearly 3/4 of the human population had been killed in a surprise alien attack. The starship Robin and Mac work on is actually a battle ship preparing for war, in case the aliens strike back.

If you’re expecting a lot of action…don’t. This story has occasional action sequences, mostly in the training exercises between the fighter pilot squadrons. But this story is more slice-of-life, following the day-to-day adventures of Robin as he grows up far away from home.

With that said, this is still an enjoyable read. I really grew to love the characters – the female fighter pilots of Barbarian squadron, the gorilla janitor who knows all the ship’s secrets, the commander of the ship; everyone is fun to read about and they’re very well-rounded. You can see their excitement, their anger, their frustration at bureaucratic rules enforced on them on the ship, the ways they blow off steam.

What surprises me is how well the artist handles difficult subjects like race. As the book progresses, you can see how relations between humans and gorillas can get intense, but not so intense that you stop reading the book. The artist handles the subject in sometimes off-handed ways, like when Robin talks to Mac about historical figures in the gorilla community. That’s pretty masterful.

So Tim’s writing is great, but his art is stellar. I love the character designs, especially Mac’s because he has a shirt that just says NO CRAP, which is a perfect reflection of his personality. Tim also draws amazing space ships – in between chapters he actually has really cool diagrams breaking down the ships and their component parts. And even though you expect a carrier space ship to be really minimalist and boring, Tim’s is wonderfully drawn, with high arches, a casino, a theater, and even growing trees and bushes. The environments are drawn so well that you just get absorbed into the book.

If I had to complain about anything, it’s the fact that I want more! The artist, Tim Eldred, is working on a sequel last time I checked, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I hope it comes out soon, though: I read about the history of the book, and how it had gone from publisher to publisher before FINALLY being published in its current form. Let’s hope for the best!

I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of young adult sci-fi comics. Get Grease Monkey on Amazon and give it a try!

P.S. Yes, the link above is an Amazon Affiliate link. If you clink that link and buy the book, I get a portion of the sale, and that’ll help pay for keeping this blog running. However, I’m only going to offer Amazon purchases for books that I like. I won’t sell you a book if I don’t like it. Fair enough?