In this post, from IDW Publishing: Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland #1, Image Comics: The Walking Dead #116 and from Marvel Comics: Avengers Arena #17. Basically, the theme of this week is charismatic villains and why we love to loathe them.
Wraith: Welcome to Christmasland #1 by Joe Hill, illustrated by Charles Paul Wilson III, cover by Gabriel Rodriguez
Genre: Fiction, horror, Christmas, vampires
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The prequel to the fabulous Joe Hill novel NOS4A2 (REVIEW HERE) has arrived, complete with an amazing variant cover from his Locke & Key partner in crime Gabriel Rodriguez. And suddenly I’m sad about Locke & Key being almost over. WHY CRUEL WORLD, WHY!?! Anyway, this issue serves as both a prologue to the short series Wraith, which in itself serves as an introduction to the novel, and a look at our sinister narrator’s tragic back story and discovery of how to travel the inscapes of the mind. Just be warned, if you read this first certain information about the world in which the characters inhabit will be given away right at the outset. Such as how Charlie Manx is able to use his vintage Rolls-Royce Wraith to steal children and take them to a magical and sinister place called Christmasland. Also why he does it at all.
If it’s possible, the illustrated Charlie Manx is even more frightening than the one I was able to conjure up in my imagination, yet his stories remain just as charming. He’s a masterful storyteller that crazed psychopath and you can’t help but be sucked in by the tales he weaves, which is directly contrasted by the illustrations we’re presented with. Stroke of genius that decision, because you immediately know you have an untrustworthy narrator on your hands. Albeit one with a very painful past. Oh Charlie, didn’t anyone ever tell you Hell is paved with good intentions? Perfection.
The Walking Dead #116 by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Charlie Adlard, cover by Charlie Adlard
Genre: Fiction, post-apocalyptic, zombies, horror
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The “All Out War” arc has begun (in #115) and with it the two issues a month release frenzy has started. Meaning #117 will be out in a mere two weeks. In this issue, the three communities of the Alexandria Safe-Zone, the Hilltop and the Kingdom have joined forces to take on Negan and the Saviors. Rick being the stand up guy he is has given Negan the opportunity to surrender to spare the innocents (you know, those silly women and children) but if you think he’s going to take Rick up on that you don’t know Negan. In true Negan fashion he tells Rick and company, “I’ve considered your kind offer … And I’m thinking of an answer somewhere between no motherfucking way and go fucking fuck yourself!” Oh Governor 2.0, you’re so sassy.
The great thing about this issue is is that we the reader are kept entirely in the dark as to Rick’s plans. We don’t know what he’s going to do until he has his people do it and that’s where the enormous surprise factor comes in. (Even occasionally for Rick when things don’t go according to plan or his soldiers act out.) It’s only the first stage of war, but already things are heating up. I foresee no rest or relaxation in the future for these survivors.
Avengers Arena #17 by Dennis Hopeless, illustrated by Kev Walker, cover by Francesco Francavilla
Genre: Fiction, superheroes, violence, action
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
The penultimate issue of Avengers Arena is here and the kids finds themselves fighting to live through the 29th of their 30 days in Murder World. If you recall, after 30 days have elapsed the villainous Arcade plans to kill everyone, unless our heroes can find a way to escape the Thunderdome they find themselves trapped in. I’m thinking at least some of them will make it since Marvel has touted the finale of this series as a jumping off pad for another one. Because why wouldn’t they use that tried and true marketing technique? Ugh, comics, sometimes you frustrate me with your inability to end things.
In addition to a talking Triceratops (which is infinitely awesome), this issue is bursting with the charming and evil machinations of Arcade, who is armed with smarts and a way with words to worm his way into the graces of the kids who have managed to sneak into the inner-workings of Murder World. As evil as he is, he argues a good point (it helps that we witnessed his sad back story for why he created Murder World in the first place) not that I should be giving him any outs. He’s just a fun villain and I can’t help but enjoy him at his most humorously evil. You know, he also just happens to be bat shit crazy and have a penchant for bloodshed. Regardless, kinda hope he lives to kill another day.