Deadly Class – Vol. 7: Love Like Blood by by Rick Remender · Wes Craig – Comic Book Review

Deadly Class – Vol. 7: Love Like Blood by by Rick Remender · Wes Craig - Comic Book Cover

If you were a school psychologist at the King’s Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts, you would definitely be stuffing benzodiazepines into your own mouth by the handful. Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s Deadly Class seems perfect for apprentice assassins at first glance, but in reality, it wouldn’t work.

A high school for the children of criminals? Where students trained for killing roam armed?! Come on!

You’ve probably heard of the dramaturgical principle that if a loaded gun appears on stage, sooner or later it will be fired. Well, for those attending the assassin class, firing the gun – with classmates in the crosshairs – is part of the prescribed curriculum.

The King’s Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts is essentially a psychopath training ground, which would only work until the first freshly graduated seniors returned home to mommy and daddy. However, instead of a resourceful karate champion, ninja, or commando, the parents could welcome home unpredictable wrecks devoid of any human emotions. Afterward, dissatisfied ancestors from all over the world would flock to San Francisco to demand a refund of tuition… and incidentally, to chop the entire teaching staff into tiny pieces.

Rick Remender, the master of the most unbelievable twists, organizes a class trip to Mexico in the seventh part of the Deadly Class. And you, the reader, are supposed to believe that Marcus, one of the most repulsive protagonists in comic literature, successfully takes on a group of Yakuza. Man, he got expelled! Not to mention that he only attended for a year, most of which he was totally high on drugs!

Read more

Saga: Volume Three by Brian K. Vaughan – Fiona Staples – Comic Book Review

Saga: Volume Three by Brian K. Vaughan - Fiona Staples - Comic Book Cover

The Pace of Saga Slows Down

Our favorite, scandalous space opera, Saga, continues its journey. However, by the third installment, the pace seems to have slowed down a bit. Of course, the never-ending war taking place in a galaxy populated with surreal and bizarre creatures and locations provides a solid foundation that can handle some deceleration.

Still, while most of the events previously felt life-changing for our heroes, now there are episodes that seem more like filler, such as the bickering between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, or various characters’ hallucinations. The only positive aspect of these is the appearance of the series’ (so far) best character, The Stalk, whom the authors clearly can’t let go of. You might rightfully ask, why the hell did those damn fools kill her off in the first place?

The Impact is Gone, but It’s Still Highly Entertaining

In the third part of Saga, the introduction of new characters feels the most unnecessary. The two pesky tabloid journalists won’t uncover anything you haven’t known for a long time. Except perhaps that Alana is an even bigger bitch than you thought.

Read more

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda – Comic Book Review

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda - Comic Book Cover

In Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda’s Monstress comic series, a 17-year-old girl explores her own past after a devastating war waged by humans against the Arcanics, who are roughly similar to humans. Roughly. This usually leads to bloodshed. Especially since many Arcanics possess animal characteristics, such as fox tails and ears, wings, or goat heads on their necks. (So it might easily happen that you yourself would strike first and ask questions later if you encounter one in a rougher neighborhood.)

Fortunately, Maika Halfwolf belongs to the more striking Arcanics. And not only has she been sold into slavery, but an ancient entity resides within her, seeking to take control over her. So, Maika has plenty to do and problems to solve as she embarks on a Kill Bill-esque revenge spree against her enemies, while Monstress – Volume 1: Awakening touches on themes such as genocide, reckless lust for power, or humanity in an inhuman world.

But what can be said about a comic that appeals to both amputation fetishists and cat lovers? Perhaps that it’s beautiful? Yes. Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening is beautiful, occasionally hauntingly erotic, with some panels that resemble detailed, baroque paintings created seemingly just for the joy of drawing. And you haven’t seen characters exuding such ethereal beauty in a comic before. Compared to them, even the equally beautiful characters of Locke & Key look like simple gnomes.

Read more

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore – Comic Book Review

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore - Comic Book Cover

The England of the 1980s wasn’t exactly a cheerful place (hello, Mrs. Thatcher). But Alan Moore anticipated that it will be even less cheerful in the future — although in hindsight, the nightmare vision of complete fascism seems a bit exaggerated. Anyway, the main message of “V for Vendetta,” which essentially says, “Fascism is bad, mmkay?” remains relevant forever. However, the other essential part of the message, which claims, “Anarchy is good, mmkay?” not so much.

V, the vengeance-seeking vigilante with a Guy Fawkes mask, sets out to dismantle the system like a crazy kid smashing a snowball, increasing your satisfaction with the repugnant demise of the dictatorship’s revolting figures in the opening chapters. For a while. Then you start to worry that okay, okay, but this is a bit one-dimensional, when the detective subplot intensifies and the mystery factor briefly elevates the whole thing, and you REALLY start to wonder who this immensely theatrical character behind the mask really is:

A mad genius, a master strategist, a bulletproof martial artist, and the luckiest guy alive, who’s good at EVERYTHING? Untouchable by anyone? Yes. And that’s precisely what diminishes the enjoyment of “V for Vendetta.” The many evil bastards are no match for V. The outcome of the game cannot be in doubt.

In the final third of the comic, as V’s master plan reaches its climax, and you observe the machinations of the insignificant, petty side characters, you might start to grow weary of the whole shebang. Especially when you realize that they’re all chess pieces on V’s board. Sometimes, unfortunately, you can’t even distinguish one from another due to the blurred, faded drawings. These drawings, however, provide an excellent BACKGROUND for the dark, gray, oppressive England, where radioactive ash falls from the sky, and Nazi propaganda blares from the speakers.

Regarding Detective Finch’s case, the grand plan stretches the bounds of credibility, as it’s highly unlikely for a drugged, deranged individual to stumble exactly where you cleverly calculated. Likewise, it’s highly debatable whether the most suitable person for the task is the one you’ve prepared for it.

According to Alan Moore’s philosophy, there are two types of anarchy: destructive, which breaks down the undeserving system, and constructive, which ideally follows afterward — during which people take control of their destiny. Now that’s something you really wouldn’t want to bet heavily on. It is highly likely, however, that these upstanding citizens, in the midst of constructive anarchy, would trample over each other’s heels to rally under the banner of the first nauseating figure promising them a “brighter future”.

6.5/10

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd (Illustrator)
296 pages, Hardcover
Published in 2005 by Vertigo

Saga: Volume Two by Brian K. Vaughan · Fiona Staples – Comic Book Review

Saga: Volume Two by Brian K. Vaughan · Fiona Staples - Comic Book cover

Well, if you thought Brian K. Vaughan slowed down the pace for the second installment of Saga, then you’re mistaken. The two enamoured deserters from Landfall and Wreath’s galaxy wide war continue their rampage – now accompanied by the mama-in-law and papa-in-law of the new mother. The introduction isn’t exactly smooth sailing, but who can resist melting at the sight of a brand new grandchild – especially when they see the horn buds on the little one’s noggin.

The mother-in-law blasted baby Hazel’s new, ghost-babysitter (with her dangling out intestines) out of the game at the end of the previous installment – and you couldn’t help but lament what a loss it was. She was such a cool character. Well, what can we say, she’s not the only one flying into the void.

Of course, there are new characters to fill the gaps left behind, (though it’s obvious that The Stalk can NEVER be replaced). For instance, seeing Marko’s ex-fiancee, you seriously ponder how this dull ass swapped out that gorgeous, fiery chocolate baby for this not-so-morally-solid current wife. (Well, probably because he’s a dull ass.) Gwendolyn would have GUARANTEED you’d never be bored for a second with her. Although, hm, it’ll probably work out with Alana too, at least until she gets bored of him…

You won’t miss shocking twists either, in fact, it feels like they may have overdone it with the story’s twisting this time around, a slightly slower pace might have suited the story better. Although you might think so just because you can reach the end of this slender volume in moments, which is a few pages shorter than its predecessor.

However, Prince Robot IV. is – now confirmed! – a genuine douchebag. Well, so that no human feeling gets caught in his circuits! Hopefully, someone will smash his screen in the next installment!

What you noticeably encounter less of compared to the first volume is the in-your-face primary sexual characteristics. (That’s right, maybe in the next volume.) Until then – even if quantity doesn’t make up for quality – presumably, Fard’s not-too-trustworthy testicles will hover in your mind’s eye.

8/10

Saga: Volume Two by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
144 pages, Paperback
Published in 2013 by Image Comics

(Saga: Volume Two collects: Saga #7-12.)

Review of the previous volume:
Saga: Volume One

Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan · Fiona Staples – Comic Book Review

Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan · Fiona Staples - comic book cover

“Am I shitting? It feels like I’m shitting!”

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ comic series “Saga” begins with these remarkeble words, right in the midst of a childbirth, and if you gather from all this that MAYBE shocking you is the goal, you’re not entirely wrong… But of course, this is the 21st century, hello, who doesn’t give a FUCK? who doesn’t give a good goddamn?

However, I wouldn’t particularly recommend this work to the prudish, as this is not the ONLY case. For example, since you see dangling male genitalia several times, you also visit a brothel planet where you stumble upon an orgy. Then there’s a character with more legs than arms and more eyes than ears – and you might start to doubt yourself whether is it possible that you’re aberrant a bit when you think that this beautiful creature is very sexy?

But yes, it’s very possible!

Moreover, she goes through all her scenes in a monokini. So, if you didn’t know what arachnophilia is, now you definitely will!

And that’s not even the point.

The point is, there is the largest planet in the universe, and it has a moon, and they are at war with each other. To avoid destroying their own celestial bodies, they OUTSOURCE the war to ALL other planets. This is, of course, nonsense because it would be enough if they didn’t go near each other, and that’s it, but other than that, almost everything is fine in the comic series “Saga.”

The two main characters on opposing sides fall in love (one has wings and is SUSPECTED to be a huge slut, the other one is a conscientious objector with horns on his head and a cool little magic sword). They have a child, and from now on, the three of them are against the world(s).

On these worlds, you encounter a tremendous brainstorm of ideas: from screen-headed noblemen to ghost-babysitters, spaceships that are bred in the forest, EVERYTHING is there like in an amusement park. As if they mixed The Fifth Element with Star Wars, Harry Potter, and a trophy catalog, but just to be safe, they threw in a bit of Lone Wolf and Cub.

If you really wanted to nitpick about the work, you would find very few handles: You know since Once upon a time that every spell has a price, but this price shouldn’t be any random stupidity. Oh, and the part set on Sextillion is slightly out of character.

But otherwise, it’s adorable.

8.5/10 (85%)

Saga: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
160 pages, Paperback
Published in 2012 by Image Comics

(Saga: Volume One collects Saga #1-6.)

Review of the next volume:
Saga: Volume Two

Locke ​& Key Master Edition 1. by Joe Hill · Gabriel Rodriguez – Comic Book Review

Locke ​& Key Master Edition 1. (Locke & Key 1-2.) by Joe Hill · Gabriel Rodriguez

A mother, after the tragic death of her husband, moves back to her childhood home, the KEY HOUSE, with her three children… where various keys scattered throughout the house open different doors, leading to physical places, like our dear Aunt Maggie’s pantry, or sometimes, right into someone’s BRAIN… Clever!

However, someone else is also looking for these darn keys.

Who is it? Well, that person is certainly a scumbag…

And this is probably the first comic book I didn’t get bored reading. Despite Joe Hill’s dreadfully overwritten, seemingly novel-like, hefty brick (Spore, NOS4A2), the story is particularly tight. It’s thrilling, twisty, dramatic, touching, funny. And occasionally a bit sexy too.

(I only encountered one problem during my enjoyment: the text bubbles were filled with such tiny letters that I had to borrow my hundred-year-old grandma’s eyeglasses from about six or seven eyeglass generations ago. From then on, I could view the font size quite differently, thankfully.)

I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend Hill and Rodriguez’s work to homophobes due to the prominent LGBTQ+ elements.

Nor to the faint-hearted due to the killings.

As for the visuals? Well, damn beautiful.

8.5/10

Locke ​& Key Master Edition 1. (Locke & Key 1-2.) by Joe Hill · Gabriel Rodriguez
328 pages, Hardcover
Published: June 2, 2015 by IDW Publishing

The Locke & Key Master Edition Volume 1 features the first two story arcs, “Welcome to Lovecraft” and “Headgames”