Welcome to the very first ever Bibliomantics new comic book day roundup! In which our comic book loving contributor Cassie-la reviews the newest batch of comic books from your local comic book shop. Because she didn’t have enough on her plate already.
In this post, from Dark Horse Comics: Orchid #9 and The Strain #8, DC Comics: Before Watchmen: Comedian #3, Septagon Studios: Archeologists of Shadows Volume 2: Once a Nightmare, and from Vertigo: American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #4.
Dark Horse Comics
Orchid #9 by Tom Morello, illustrated by Scott Hepburn, cover by Dan Jackson, Massimo Carnevale
Genre: Fiction, dystopia, action, post-apocalypse
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The war has begun, with prostitute turned rebel leader and titular character Orchid leading the charge against the twisted Fortress Penuel. Armed, or rather faced with the mask of feared leader General China, Orchid harvests the power of the Last Saints, using her position as a disenfranchised member of the Bridge People to (hopefully) lead the lower classes to victory against the post-apocalyptic megalomaniac Tomo Wolfe. Go team underdog slash team girl who works hard for the money!
As with all issues of Orchid, Tom Morello focuses on the distinctions between the social classes- culminating in this epic war. On the one side is Tomo Wolfe, who suits himself to be a new world emperor and desires to wipe out the “baser” lower classes merely for their refusal to stay where they are. In the gutter. In response, the Bridge People, who are not satisfied with their lot in life, struggle to close the social gap, hoping to destroy class distinctions with their rebellion. Peppered with Scott Hepburn’s amazing mutant monsters (porcupine monkeys anyone?), this action packed issue may signal the beginning of the end for this post-apocalyptic world. Would that make the new world post-post-apocalyptic?
The Strain #8 by David Lapham, illustrated by Mike Huddleston, cover by Dan Jackson, E.M. Gist
Genre: Fiction, horror, vampires, apocalyptic
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
If you thought regular old-school vampires were scary, you have yet to see the vamps from The Strain. Think extremely pale eating machines with enormous slimy pulsating tongues. Yuck. Based on the book series from Chuck Hogan and Guillermo Del Toro, and adapted by my indie comic book hero David Lapham, this is one comic horror series you do not want to miss. Especially because horror meets flawed human relationships in a terrifying world where vampire metaphors abound and marriages are literally life-sucking.
While three unlikely heroes try to stop the master of vampires before the disease spreads outside Manhattan by exposing a possible coverup, across the city other unlikely heroes fight the scourge. Thank goodness they have the power of UV rays and are fighting vamps that don’t sparkle or the human race would be well and truly fucked. It doesn’t help that one of our possible saviors is an absentee workaholic/alcoholic father, but beggars can’t be choosers. Bonus points if you can spot the Hellboy Easter Egg!
Before Watchmen: Comedian #3 by Brian Azzarello, Len Wein, illustrated by J.G. Jones, John Higgins, cover by J.G. Jones, John Paul Leon
Genre: Fiction, war, Vietnam, prequel
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
I am currently in a love/hate relationship with this series, this title which focuses on the Comedian in-particular. While I appreciate his fictional ties to history (who knew he had a hand in offing Marilyn Monroe), his inclusion in the Vietnam War is more off-putting than exciting for this reader. Maybe because I’m not a fan of the war genre? I don’t quite care for the focus on the Kennedy family (now that JFK is gone) and while the Comedian’s continued spiral to the dark side and loss of patriotism is intriguing, it’s not enough to hold my focus.
We already know the Comedian is flawed, back from when he was in the Minutemen and his actions with Sally, it seems inconsequential to focus this prequel on on his further misdeeds. He’s a traumatic figure who comes back from war to a country damaged by civilians fighting civilians (one of whom reminds him of Laurie- there’s a lot of “humanizing” moments like that) and this is somehow the catalyst for the Comedian’s progression, all the way to his part in some race riots. Yaaaaawn. Maybe I’m desensitized, but I feel like we’re being told a story we already know, rather than positively building on the Watchmen mythos. Alan Moore is rolling in his grave. Which he sleeps in every night.
Archeologists of Shadows Volume 2: Once a Nightmare by Lara Fuentes, illustrated by Patricio Clarey, cover by Patricio Clarey
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, steampunk, dystopia, graphic novel
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Mechanized vigilantes Alix and Baltimo are on the run from the government and on a hunt for the Gods. Transported to a magical new world of lush landscapes and overgrown ancient cities left to decay, our heroes are on a race against the clock to find the “alter egos”. Set in a dystopic society where the government forces its individuals to become more man than machine, Alix and Baltimo may hold the key to saving the fleshy world.
Volume 2 continues where Volume 1: Resistance left off, combining Lara Fuentes impressive storytelling with the amazingly inventive artwork of Patricio Clarey. A merging of photography, sculpture, and photo manipulation, Clarey’s work is like nothing you will ever see, incorporating household objects with digital art to create an insane and wholly imaginative new world. Trapped in a living nightmare, Alix and Baltimo must struggle against their fears to help the Resistance, confronting their souls, themselves, and a new possible Big Bad. At all times intriguing, magical, and engaging, the A.O.S. Series is everything modern comics should be.
American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #4 by Scott Snyder, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, cover by Dustin Nguyen
Genre: Fiction, horror, vampires, action
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
What’s not to love about this series from Scott Snyder? The man can do no wrong! I might be a little biased, just a heads up. In this issue, the Carpathian vampire line is trying to wipe out all other vampires species- because ethnic cleansing isn’t just for humanity anymore. While this genocide is being led by the famed/legendary Dracula (“Buffy” did it, “Buffy” did it), the damaged vampire fighting agent Hobbes is on death’s door after seeking the non-Carpathians to warn them of Dracula’s nefarious plans. You’re welcome ex-enemies.
Maybe it’s my double review of vampire themed comics, but this plot of a master vampire seems awfully similar to the plot of The Strain. Although it has the added bonus of including a vampire on vampire war and a plot of dividing loyalties and working together for the greater good. Come on vampires, ignore the fact that the VMS has been killing off your species even worse than Dracula! Who are the bad guys here again? And for that matter, who are we supposed to root for? Oh well, at least we get a glimpse at Hobbe’s oh so tragic past. Van Helsing wishes he had this back story.