COMIC REVIEW: TREES (2014) #1

Trees_01-1“Ten years after they landed. All over the world. And they did nothing, standing on the surface of the Earth like trees, exerting their silent pressure on the world, as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. Ten years since we learned that there is intelligent life in the universe, but that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive. Beginning a new science fiction graphic novel by WARREN ELLIS and JASON HOWARD.”

This is one of those comics where you’ll find yourself drawn in unexpectedly.  As I picked up Trees Issue #1 in my hands it was the cover that first drew me in.  It’s simplicity made me want to flip the page open and by the time I got to page four I already knew that this is the series that I have been waiting for.  Between the beautifully laid out panel work and Jason Howard’s ability to capture movement lays just enough text strategically laid out for the reader’s eyes to chase.

The reader is introduced to two scenarios in two different locations.  Although the two environmentsguard1 may seem random, Warren Ellis is a genius for picking the locations that he did.  In only a few pages he is able to establish a solid foundation for whatever is to come. Both locations seem confined and as the city guard outside of Shu says, the city is “like a big dish left alone on a shelf; [just left there and watching what] grows in it.” Yet I wonder if it’s the human race that is really being studied.

Within the city walls the reader gets glimpses of a chaotic environment expressed through moss greens, yellows, blues and shades of orange. One of the first characters we are introduced to is Tian Chenglei who seems so untainted and motivated to be an artist.  I’m intrigued to see the path that this character takes and the character development that goes along with the choices he may be forced to make.  I also found the second location Spitzberger interesting.  One of the first panels for this destination shows a black poppy type flower scattered around the “tree” pillars and with roots that can grow through metal.  What’s pure genius about this second location is that with a bit of research you will find that Spitsbergen, Norwegian  is near the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. This is the home to approximately 1.5 million distinct seed samples of agricultural crops. According to The Economist, “the Svalbard vault is a backup for the world’s 1,750 seed banks, storehouses of agricultural biodiversity.”  Whoever this intelligent life form is they couldn’t have picked a better place to land.

I really enjoyed reading Trees Issue #1 and I am very excited to see where Ellis takes this story.  The comic itself was only $2.99 and even though I normally cringe when I find ads in my comics I feel like I got my money’s worth.  I am definitely sold on this series and looking forward to Issue #2 which is being released June 25th.  Thank you Image for continuing to produce great comics!

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COMIC REVIEW: TRILLIUM (2013) #1

Trillium02If you haven’t made your way to your local comic book store today make sure you add Jeff Lemire’s Trillium Issue #1 to your pile of “goodies”!  I have been waiting for this series since last October when it was first announced and believe me when I tell you that it was worth the wait.

Anyone that is a Lemire fan knows that Lemire’s books have never been about complex artwork but rather about his use of visual simplicity and his talent to seduce the reader through storytelling.

When I heard about the title and saw the first few images I could not help but feel proud and even a bit patriotic. The white Trillium serves as the emblem and official flower of the Canadian province of Ontario; my home.🙂 For those who don’t already know, Jeff Lemire lives in Ontario, Canada.  If you have been following his work and you are a “local”, every so often you will catch the little references in his work.

In Trillium Issue #1 there are two stories that are taking place. The first story is about a character named Nika in 3797 who is searching for a cure to stop a virus while in the second story the reader is introduced to a WWI veteran named William on an archaeological “journey”.

TRILL_Cv1_3vf5lr6cju_In this issue the reader is introduced to two characters who are complete opposites. You have Nika who is searching for a way to save the human race and in search of preservation while William has already come face to face with death and has given up on life.

On the surface both characters may seen heroic and stable but if you look closer it’s not heroism; it’s induced lunacy.

Nika’s actions and eagerness unveil a naive inexperienced girl that walks into danger not knowing what she’s up against.  As she walks blindly into situations she shouldn’t be walking into, she experiences visions of her dead mother encouraging her to keep going.

At the same time William does the exact same thing only his hallucinations involve images from encounters during the war.  Lemire and Jose Villarrubia do a fantastic job showing the hallucinations for both characters by adding a faded blurry colour effect every time a hallucination takes place. It’s a simple effect yet it’s just enough for the reader to get glimpses of their fabricated reality.

When I got to the last page I felt a feeling of balance and was left wanting more.  You’re just going to have to read it to find out why!

If you love a good story then this series is definitely one to consider. You won’t find the breath-taking interior art that you see in some of the comics today but I feel that the story makes up for it. I am really looking forward to seeing where this story takes us; Jeff Lemire is a genius.

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UPCOMING: BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE – RETURNS (September 2013)

The Eisner Award-winning Batman: Black and White returns in September with a new six-issue mini-series.

silvestri-b&w

The original 1996 anthology has been described as “one of the most celebrated anthologies in the history of mainstream comics”.  For those who are not familiar, the original Batman: Black and White refers to two Volumes; a four issue comic book limited series (all containing new material) which was originally published in 1996 and a three collections of 8-page stories (made by backup stories from Batman: Gotham Knights #1-16with five new tales).  Each of the four issues in Volume 1 featured several self-contained short-stories, all written and drawn by a diverse group of comic artists and writers, most of whom had previously worked on Batman.   Each story varied in theme, setting, and tone (depending on the creative team involved), offering multiple interpretations of Batman.

The first issue of the new miniseries coming out this September will feature stories and work done by Chip Kidd and Michael Cho, Neal Adams, Joe Quinones and Maris Wicks, John Arcudi and Sean Murphy, and Howard Mackie and Chris Samnee.

DC has managed to get me pumped about another one of their series.   The fact that it’s being released on my birthday makes me very happy (thank you DC!!) but what makes me even happier are the names associated with this project.  I can’t help but get goose bumps at the thought of this “dream team” that’s going to be working on this series.  It’s also no suprise that Marc Silvestri does a phenomenal job on the B&W variant cover; you should really take the time and look at the cover up close and appreciate his skill and detail.

Anyone that is a Batman fan is definitely in for a real treat!  I am definetely adding this series to my list of purchases and will be purchasing issue #1 in September.  If DC continues like this I may have to start looking for a second job to support my comic book habit.

BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE #1
Written by CHIP KIDD, NEAL ADAMS, JOE QUINONES, MARIS WICKS, JOHN ARCUDI and HOWARD MACKIE
Art by MICHAEL CHO, NEAL ADAMS, JOE QUINONES, SEAN MURPHY and CHRIS SAMNEE
Cover by MARC SILVESTRI
1:25 Variant cover by TBD
1:200 B&W Variant cover by MARC SILVESTRI
“We Can Be Heroes” Blank variant cover also available.
On sale SEPTEMBER 4 • 48 pg, 1 of 6, B&W, $4.99 US • RATED T
“The legendary, Eisner Award-winning series BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE returns in a brand-new six-issue miniseries featuring tales of The Dark Knight by some of comics’ greatest writers and artists! This first issue kicks off with stories by Chip Kidd and Michael Cho, Neal Adams, Joe Quinones and Maris Wicks, John Arcudi and Sean Murphy, and Howard Mackie and Chris Samnee!”

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Comic Review: BATMAN / SUPERMAN (2013) #1

BATMANSUPERMAN #1“A new epic begins with the debut of this new, ongoing series! Don’t miss the first fateful meeting of Batman and Superman in The New 52!”

I haven’t been excited for a new series in a long time.   I’ll admit I thought I was going to be disappointed but reading Issue #1 of The New 52 Batman/Superman has given me a sense of hope that good things are to come.

I would be lying if I were to say that I understand the pressure and stress that Greg Pak must have felt having to create dialogue for the two iconic characters.  I admire him for being able to pull it off.  It was a situation where it was going to turn out amazing like it did versus ending up very terribly and then having to be known as “that guy” that couldn’t follow through.  I don’t think some readers realize how “rough” some of these writer’s have it when they have to live under someone’s shadow until they are given the chance to shine.

Pak did a great job giving each character a unique voice and that uniqueness is extended through visual imagery by both Jae Lee’s and Ben Oliver’s art work.  The reader is continually introduced to two-sides and duality seems to be the theme of this issue.  On the one side of the spectrum you have a pessimist with a doom and gloom kind of attitude and on the other side you have an optimist who almost looks like an angel walking through the “gates of hell” as he enters Gotham City.  During the fight scene between Batman and Superman the reader isn’t just witnessing a simple fight;  for me it felt like it was a ritualistic dance as Pak weaves his masterpiece.  The two-page spread in the middle of the issue as shown below is a visual tapestry of the two iconic characters weaved into a single entity. “We only survive by coming together” Kent says at the very start of the story and that’s going to be their strength.

batman_supermanThere really isn’t much to say about the art that most of you don’t already know.  Anyone that knows Jae Lee’s work knows that his work is breath-taking and that he is at his peak.   Many are upset that he did not handle the art from cover to cover but I feel that Ben Oliver was a great choice as a fill-in artist for the second half of the issue.  Oliver’s photo-realistic style fits really well with the story line and I didn’t feel that there was a need for him to hold up to Lee’s work.  His backgrounds felt a bit lacking but in the end I think it worked to his advantage because by the time  the reader gets to the end of the issue he/she is focused on the characters and any additional detail would take away from that focus.  The colourists June Chung and Daniel Brown also played a huge part in bringing the art to life and I feel did a phenomenal job complimenting Lee’s and Oliver’s work.

Overall I feel that this is a series worth spending your money on even though there was only 25 pages of content.  At the back of the issue there are two variant covers as bonus material and you get a peek at next month’s cover!

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COMIC REVIEW: Hellblazer Vol. 5: Dangerous Habits TPB (2013) #1

HELLBLAZER VOL. 5: DANGEROUS HABITS TPB (2013) #1“This new edition of a classic HELLBLAZER collection features several tales never before collected, including a look at John Constantine’s rough and tumble childhood and the beginnings of his unique skills.  Then, in early stories from PREACHER writer Garth Ennis, John Constantine is dying. As a sorcerer literally haunted by the demons of his past, John is no stranger to mystic bedevilment or supernatural horror. But it’s his chain smoking that ultimately brings death to Constantine’s door. Collecting HELLBLAZER #34-46″

So what’s so good about this release you ask?

They are claiming it includes some issues that have never been collected before. I’m very curious to see which ones. What’s really odd is that they have taken Delano’s ending and have made it into the front half, and then continue by collecting the Dangerous Habits story-arc.  The more I think about it the more I want to believe that there is a catch.  Delano writes a self-contained ending to his run, while Ennis ignores that and basically restarts the series all over again.

I think it’s odd that DC isn’t putting out the last seven Delano issues out on their own  which would also include the extra sized #40.  There is definitely enough material there for a decent TPB especially if they bundled issue #84 with it.

With artist changes mid-book why print a traded comic series with more than one writer on one traded volume and pair two unrelated Dangerous Habits?

I just don’t feel that Delano or Ennis will benefit from this.  I feel that Ennis’ Dangerous Habits is a complete standalone. I would go as far as considering  it the best single introduction to Hellblazer for any new readers.  In my opinion DC should just invest the money and print a “Hellblazer by Jamie Delano” and a “Hellblazer by Garth Ennis”.

At this point I just hope they trade the whole series in a respectful way to say our goodbyes, but I can see them reprinting Ennis’ run and just stopping there.

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