Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Grim Leaper #1

Grim Leaper
Writer - Kurtis Weibe
Artwork - Aluisio C. Santos
Publisher - Shadowline/Image 

Like many of the new titles I encounter, this purchase was inspired by a few recommendations from independent sources on twitter, and the fact that the writer generally comes across as quite a nice guy on there. It helps that it has a tag of line "a love story to die for" and that the dot over the i of Grim is shaped like a little skull. Sometimes, it's the little things that count.

The basic premise (as I picked up through the first book any way) is that Lou (or Blake, or Paul) has a rather bad tendency to get killed in unfortunate ways - truck tyre to the face, anyone? - then come straight back to inhabit another body in his dead end town. I must admit I am already hoping that we will find what out happens to the prior inhabitants of these bodies, as it seems to have been brushed under the metaphorical carpet for now. He seems to have adapted to this lifestyle rather well, and has quite a flippant attitude to the entire scenario. Not sure that I'd be so casual about facing yet another impending death myself. The story has pulled me in though, not so much caring for the main character (he's a bit of an arse to be honest), but wanting to know why he has made certain decisions, such as at what point he anthropomorphised Death, how he recognised that Ella - otherwise a complete stranger - has the same "curse" as him and so on.

Stylistically, the use of colours and textures gives depth to the story, flicking between what I am assuming is the world as we would see it, and the world as Lou sees it. This helps keep the reader grounded, as the protagonists unfortunate tendency to change bodies regularly could cause problems otherwise. Judging by the cover we can look forward to a lot more of the many faces of Lou Collins, some of whom (punk, little boy) could well as some more depth to the story.

One thing I mustn't forget is the extra story that takes up the final few pages of the book. I found the transition slightly jarring at first, as it cut from one story the next without so much as a by-your-leave, but the rather cutesy tale of office/traffic based romance acts as a nice counter to the somewhat graphic main tale, and I look forward to seeing what they use to back-up the next instalment of Grim Leaper, and whether the duo of Joey Esposito (scripts) and Jeff McComsey (scribbles) will be back in the next issue is an added bonus to look forward to.

All in all, [yet] another one for the pull list. At some point I'll have to trim it down, but while good books like this keep getting produced, I for one will keep on buying them.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #1 - 3

Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child
Writer - Selwyn Seyfu Hinds
Penciller - Denys Cowan
Cover - Rafael Grampa & Dave Stewart
Inker - John Floyd
Publisher - Vertigo

Another new title from Vertigo, one that I have put off reading until I had a few issues in hand, as I had heard mixed reviews of the first instalment and wanted to base my judgement on something more meaty.

Having said that, I am still undecided on whether this title is for me or not. While I like the concept - having chosen to write a dissertation on voodoo in New Orleans whilst at university - I can't help but feel that they are trying to fit too much in too small a space. A number of the references to slightly obscure areas of the religion are fine by me [see earlier comment about studying] but I would imagine they would bypass the average reader, and simply confuse the storyline.

The basic concept - descendent of voodoo queen unaware of her ancestry but at risk from numerous others who know of her bloodline - seems like an over-used trope from bad pulp fiction, and sadly the first three issues don't seem to be adding much. We have a "love interest" who seems a bit trigger-happy, a mysterious, shadowed character known only by a pseudonym, a 'strong' woman acting like a bitch because she's scared of losing her power, etc etc. It's all been done before, often better.

The occasional narrator also makes me feel uneasy - which can never be a good thing. At times the voice is written in what I can only assume [having never visited] is supposed to be a New Orleans accent, but being from the south coast of England, it loses something in translation. On top of that, I can't decide if s/he is going to emerge as an established character, or if the musical references and insider knowledge are simply there to move the plot on.

The artistry and colouring themselves are committed well, with a nice differentiation between different areas of town, but there is nothing inherently gripping that made me finish issue 3 and wish I could pick up 4 straight away. 

I just can't get past the feeling that the creators here have been too ambitious, and have maybe bitten off more than they can chew, which is a shame. Here's hoping the next issue meets my expectations slightly better.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The New Deadwardians #1 & 2

The New Deadwardians
Writer - Dan Abnett
Artist - I.N.J. Culbard
Publisher - Vertigo

The New Deadwardians is a good old fashioned detective story, a murder-mystery with a twist. After reading issues 1 & 2 I have to say I'm glad I picked this up. The artwork cleverly depicts 1900s London in the aftermath of a zombie incursion, and there are numerous little graphic touches - eye colouring, the use of shade in daylight panels - that add further depth to what is essentially a classic story.

We are immediately introduced to our protagonist, George Suttle, via his "remarks", a sort of diary / internal monologue, and from the outset he is shown to be a classic detective, a flawed individual with a dark past and uncertain future. Set in a version of Edwardian England replete with the undead (zombies and vampires by another name), the comic is one of Vertigo's new season of comics, and a change from my usual fare of Marvel superheroes and re-told fairy tales.

Despite having a lot of back-story to include, Abnett manages to pace the first two issues wonderfully, moving the main mystery along smoothly whilst adding layers of story - such as the unfolding tale of Louisa the housemaid which adds a nice 'human' touch to an undead tale.

Visually, Culbard brings pseudo-Edwardian London to life, and although the entire comic uses an essentially dull palette - greys and brown dominate throughout - the occasional splashes of colour, especially where the "restless" are concerned, create a nice contrast and prevent the panels from becoming too similar.

I have high hopes for the rest of this short series (sadly there are only 8 issues), as Abnett already has me caring for Suttle, and my interest has well and truly been piqued by the turns the mystery has already taken.