Rainmaker – The Wild Storm #17 Review

The Wild Storm 17 - coverAnother month, another stop on the John Lynch/Gen-12 reunion tour. While the general level of quality in terms of writing and art continues to remain extraordinarily high in this series, there’s little doubt that Ellis’ decision to shift focus from both the brewing IO/Skywatch war and Jacob Marlowe’s WildCAT to Jenny Mae Sparks’ Authority-building and Lynch’s trek down memory lane has resulted in a slowing down of pace and a certain structural repetition that, personally, I could do without. This issue sees Lynch visit yet another Project Thunderbook subject. Let’s see how he gets on…

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Biting Off More Than We Can Chew… – Electric Warriors #3 Review

Electric Warriors 3 coverA state of post-flu weakness – light-headed, enervated, lacking appetite, gullible – might actually be the ideal condition in which to read a Steve Orlando comic. Too feeble to rant and rail against the excesses of the script, one tends to just let the story flow on, absently noting its inconsistencies and heavy-handedness while not being able to summon up even the smallest shred of indignation about how silly it all is. And so it has been with Electric Warriors 3. Last month’s cliffhanger is about to be resolved. And a couple of significant mysteries are about to be revealed. (The mysteries themselves, that is – any explanation of them is some way off yet.) Buckle up, pilgrims! It’s going to be a ludicrous – and curiously chewy – ride…

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Smouldering – Martian Manhunter 2 Review

Martian Manhunter 2 coverDC’s second twelve-issue series in a row featuring characters whose initials are ‘MM’ trundles on this week. After a quite frankly bizarre first issue which mixed noirish sensibilities with an (at times very) intimate look at pre-catastrophe Martian society, will things settle down this issue or will the madness keep on coming? There’s only one way to find out…

(This review first appeared on the Weird Science DC Comics website.)

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Fairy Tale In Emerald – The Green Lantern #7 Review

The Green Lantern 7 coverTo date, Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s run on DC’s The Green Lantern has been a lot of fun. Billed from the start as a space police procedural, its initial six issue arc has been suffused with the kind of sharpness, creativity, cleverness and borderline silliness that can justly be described as quintessential Morrison. In the hands of a lesser artist, this approach might have ended up more confusing and silly than clever and sharp, but Liam Sharp’s art is uniquely suited to the demands of Morrison’s scripts. The fecundity of his imagination and his consummate skill as an artist are on display in boldly-crafted layouts, jaw-dropping alien vistas and bold alien designs that, despite their strangeness, never lose their sense of physical presence.

Issue 7, however, is a whole other level of storytelling.

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The Wild Storm #15 – Review

The Wild Storm 15 - coverAnother month, another slice of beautifully rendered, elegantly presented sci-fi comic goodness. John Lynch’s road trip across America and through the secret history of the Wild Storm universe continues as do the ramifications of the cold war between IO and Skywatch turning hot. Last month we saw Lynch meet Fairchild’s mother. Who will it be this time around? Will Lucy Blaze’s single-handed slaughter of two IO Razor CATs go unanswered? And will Jack Hawksmoor finally work out who he is? There is only one way to find out…

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Waiting Room – The Wild Storm #10 (Review)

The Wild Storm 10 coverWhy do we love comics so much? (I know I’m assuming here, but you’ve just started reading a comic book review so I’m reasonably sure there’s some comic love going on in that heart of yours.) I would imagine that there as many answers as there are comic book fans, but for me, it’s the coming together of a number of different factors. First, there’s the whole extended universe thing – the excitement you get from being plunged into a world that is rich and varied and capable of expanding in often surprisingly new directions. Then, there’s the fact that it’s a hybrid medium, a unique combination of image and text. Much has been made of comics’ increasingly filmic qualities and I get excited about that too, but a page of comic art can be studied in ways that a film scene can’t. That each figure is drawn, is deliberately posed, gives the artist greater control and, potentially, subtlety when it comes to conveying meaning (and, yes, we’ll be getting to some specific examples in a moment). Although, like film and television, the comic is a collaborative medium, the creative aspects of that collaboration are smaller-scale, meaning that the story can be created more precisely. Plus, comics are fun. Their potential to surprise, to play with narrative form and structure, is exciting. Anything can happen in comics. Anything at all.

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All About Angie – The Wild Storm #9 (DC Comics)

The Wild Storm 9 coverAfter the startling expansion of the Wild Storm universe last issue and the brutal action of the one before it, we’re probably due a bit of a rest and that’s more or less what we get with this ninth issue of the Wild Storm. That’s not to say that this issue is dull, boring or without incident, though. Far from it. It’s just that, whereas the last couple of issues have broadened the series’ focus, this one deepens it. Allow me to explain…

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Girls On The Run – Barbarella #2 (Dynamite)

Barbarella0202041DDaltonHaving crash-landed on Parosia a planet ruled by religious fundamentalists who subsequently confiscated her reproductive organs, Barbarella is on the run, aided by an Earth agent, Jury Quire, whose cybernetic body holds a host of secrets. This issue promises to build on the first’s intriguing premise and expand on the creative team’s already impressive world-building. Barbarella and Jury just have to survive that life-threatening fall first…

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Dangerous Girls – Barbarella #1 (Dynamite)

Barbarella01Cov01051EWuI guess I’m fairly typical in that I know the character of Barbarella almost entirely because of the eponymous movie starring Jane Fonda and directed by her then-husband Roger Vadim. While I’m aware of the character’s comic book roots, I’m a little ashamed to admit that this is the first time I’ve encountered her in her original format. I might be this comic book’s ideal reader, actually: aware of the character enough to be interested in picking the comic up; not sufficiently familiar with her previous comic book appearances to get worked up about whether her portrayal here is faithful or not. So, given that I don’t have much in the way of expectations, how does Mike Carey and Kenan Yarar’s first issue with the character hold up? Let’s find out…

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The Kalaz’an Conspiray – Prologue (Part 6)

Later, Marris would feel a sense of satisfaction that the first instinct of every member of her team had been to move toward the unnatural screaming darkness rather than away from it.

At the time, however, all she felt was surging adrenaline, cold terror and the fierce determination to keep both firmly under control.

It was difficult in the face of that howling void – a gaping blackness framed, almost incongruously, by the drably painted laboratory wall – but she kept her voice level, willing it to communicate a confidence and certainty she only dimly felt.  “Albright, Devereux, keep to the rear. Five metre gap. Coleridge, De Santos, Garrison with me. Coleridge, you’re on point. With me.”

Fortunately, the orders required little thought, as did the automatic flipping of her sidearm’s safety as she unholstered it. The pistol purred contentedly then settled into a barely perceptible hum. She paused for just a moment at the threshold of the corridor.

The screaming had been steadily rising in pitch since the blackness had first appeared. She couldn’t be certain, but she thought she heard distinct voices. Gomez and Hendrickson, perhaps? It was difficult to tell. She didn’t want to think about what might be happening to them to cause that agonising, desperate shrieking. She didn’t want to think about what waited for them beyond the threshold, the stark dividing line between light and…

The screaming stopped.

The silence that rushed to fill its place seemed almost obscene in comparison. There were no whimpers or sobs or moans. There was nothing. One moment their ears had been assaulted by sounds wrenched from the pain-wracked depths of somebody’s being. The next, a crawling silence flowed over them like a suffocating shroud, terrible in its implications.

She cleared her throat.

“Any readings, Garrison?”

It took a moment for the science officer to reply.

“My scanner is registering this section of the laboratory as perfectly normal. Matter consistent with the rest of this section of the ship. No unusual radiation waves. There’s a concentration of phased particles ahead of us, but it’s diminishing quite quickly. Almost as if they’re being absorbed into the fabric of the… whatever that is.”

Garrison sounded rattled. Marris didn’t blame him. She examined the darkness for a moment. It had substance, a troubling suggestion of solidity that scratched painfully on the blackboard of her mind. The light beams of her helmet seemed to sink into it, fading from her sight perhaps half a metre or so in.

She took a breath. And stepped over. Into the darkness.

She was aware of Coleridge beside her, aware of his breathing – controlled but louder than normal. Most of all, however, she was aware of the darkness, aware of the manner in which it clung to the walls, seeming to congeal upon them, seep through the fabric of them, leak out through them from some unfathomable reservoir of liquid night.

The sensation of envelopment, of incipient claustrophobia, threatened to take hold of her limbs. She made herself take the next step. And the next.

And then, like filthy suffocating curtains, the darkness parted.

In her ear, Coleridge swore; she couldn’t bring herself to reprimand him.

*

With awakening had come awareness.

With awareness had come a jumble of sensations, emotions and thoughts.

The voice continued to speak, its words soothing and reassuring, although there was an undercurrent of urgency to them that threatened to destabilise and disrupt its gentle crooning.

“Open your mind.”

It quivered, sensation rippling across its skin in soft undulations.

“You will be free…. Open your mind.”

What did the voice mean? How could a mind be opened? How could it be closed?

“Allow my thoughts to enfold yours. You will be free.”

Free?

Free of what?

“I will show you. It will hurt. Be prepared.”