Viking #2 Review

Viking #2The first issue of this rather special 9th century crime series from Image sold out, which was no surprise. This follow-up is not a suitable jumping on point for newcomers to the title, as they’ll be scratching their heads over what exactly is going on. Even regular readers may be too, with its bi-monthly release schedule. Saying that, this was almost as enjoyable as the debut ish. A lot less actually happens, and there is very little dialogue in the first half of the book, but that serves the desolation of not only the environment but also Egil’s loneliness well.

After the butchering last issue, Egil finds himself in a virtual battlefield surrounded by corpses and begins to make his way to his grandfather’s house, where his brother Finn also resides. Egil seeks forgiveness and acceptance but instead receives a beating. In between these events, half of the story is devoted to a king, his adventurous, yet almost imprisoned daughter and a humiliated servant. How this family mixes up with the viking brothers is yet to be seen, but as happiness seems to go unclaimed for characters in this series, I can’t imagine a prosperous future beckons.

Ivan Brandon’s dialogue is great here. He really knows how to create empathy and he does a superb job of capturing the inner turmoil of every character in this issue without being too wordy. That’s a rare skill for a writer. That means that Viking is not a mere blood soaked tale of revenge and redemption that we’ve all seen before. Brandon manages to make the past come alive with a rich world and fully rounded, believable men and women.

Nic Klein’s art is as jaw dropping as it was last issue. He makes full use of the larger format pages and mixes his painted and pencilled styles beautifully. His lighting choices must be mentioned too. With camp fires and torches, I could almost hear the crackle and feel the warmth of the embers. It all seems so – earthy. This isn’t the sort of tale I’d normally buy (even though it’s quite cheap for its size) but I’m glad I took a chance on it.

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Cheap Archaia TPBs

Archaia are back and to celebrate they’re releasing collections of some of their series for only $9.95. The Engineer: Konstrukt is the first one and it’s a great way to start. For a look at the unique sci-fi series, go here.



The_Engineer_HCIn a focused effort to give new readers an opportunity to discover Archaia’s unique library of titles, the publisher announced today a program to offer one new hardcover every quarter for the recession-friendly price of $9.95. Kicking off the venture will be the Vol. 1 hardcover collection of the acclaimed science-fiction thriller mini-series, The Engineer: Konstrukt, which will be available this August. 
Keeping with Archaia’s tradition of publishing high-quality, high-concept titles, The Engineer: Konstrukt, co-created by Brian Churilla and Jeremy Shepherd, tells the story of a reluctant hero who frantically races to defeat an ancient creature eating away at the very fabric of space and time. To do so, he must travel across dimensions and put together the scattered pieces of the Konstrukt, an old-world technology that allows the user to manipulate reality itself.
Dave Baxter from Broken Frontier says, “The Engineer: Konstrukt is yet another out-of-the-park homerun hit for Archaia…the story is very, very fun [and] wholly entertaining.”  
“In the great tradition that [Publisher] Mark [Smylie] started back in 2002, Archaia is still fully committed to bringing our fans the best quality product from cover to cover. And now with the $9.95 quarterly hardcovers, we are providing the best product for the best value,” boasted PJ Bickett, Archaia President. “We are very fortunate that scheduling allowed us to start this program with The Engineer. Churilla and Shepherd are an amazing team and the book is just pure entertainment from start to finish!”
Archaia plans to release the next $9.95 hardcover in the fourth quarter of 2009. That title will be announced at a later date. 

Ladies First At DC

Detective Comics #854I’m looking at my hefty haul of new comics this week, including the cheaper edition of the 2007 DC Comics Covergirls, which is a very pretty coffee table book focused on DC’s female stars from the last 7 decades. I’m also looking at three issues with strong female leads. Justice League of America #34 is the last ish written by Dwayne McDuffie, which is kind of a shame, especially since he’s just starting to introduce his Milestone characters into the DCU. However it’s no surprise, as he was getting rather vocal about the magic being created behind the curtain. However, at least there’s some strong female superheroes in the series now, with Dr. Light, Vixen, Zatanna, and half of Firestorm as regular cast members. 

DC, and especially boss man Dan DiDio, have copped a lot of flack over the years for killing off female characters, or just treating them with mild disdain. However, even the ardent naysayers must admit that steps are being made in the right direction. This week two new series debuted with leading female Gothamites. Sure, Batman had to die to make way for that to happen, but it’s bold move for DC. Hopefully fans will recognise that and support their risky venture. Are these new series worth supporting though? Yep.

Detective Comics #854 is a lush book. Greg Rucka knows crime tales and handles the new Batwoman terrifically. Kathy Kane made her mark in the pages of DC’s ambitious weekly series 52, but she didn’t have much to do, other than grabbing headlines for her lesbianism. (There’s a historical summary of the character here).Giving her her own series, and DC’s flagship book, no less is – out there. However Greg Rucka and artist J.H . Williams III – that’s a winning combo. The pair appear to be pulling out all the stops to show the fanboys and girls that Kathy Kane deserves this shot at fame.

Gotham City Sirens 1It begins with the leather clad redhead chasing a crim called Rush for information, before a brief encounter with the new Batman, ie, Dick Grayson, who gives her an unnecessary hair care tip. We then see Kathy have a breakup at a cafe before she talks to her stepfather, a Colonel who seems to be her Alfred stand-in. With the visit of pale Alice to Gotham, the new leader of the Religion of Crime and a gun-toting Batwoman staring her down it’s obvious that something odd is being set up. Odd in a good way though. With this new direction, it seems like a Vertigo book in the middle of Gotham. Williams’ fight scenes are beautifully choreographed and he makes the pages his own. When Batwoman kicks butt, wow is the only appropriate response. The dialogue and exposition scenes are designed with more restraint which makes the action scenes pack even more punch.

It makes sense for ex-Gotham cop Renee Montoya to appear as The Question in DC’s new co-feature in this series. Rucka knows Montoya well, having written her for years. With a mere 8 pages he forges a new path for The Question too, as a for-the-people heroine, who answers e-mails for help.

Gotham City Sirens #1 is by the always reliable Paul Dini and artist Guillem March. Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Catwoman have teamed up before, most noticeably in the web-toon Gotham Girls. In these pages they continue their hi-jinks. Unlike Detective Comics, this is fun, and funny. It’s not easy to bring laughs from Gotham, but Dini does it so well. The Riddler as Ivy’s catatonic room-mate, a dodgy villain by the name of Boneblaster and a real estate agent who specialises in themed villain hideouts. All this and more means this issue is like a sit-com. Like the three leads, it looks great and is suitably sassy.

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Old School Cartoons Competition

Those nice people at Madman Australia distribute a bunch of cool manga, anime, foreign films and 1980s cartoons, and I don’t think I need to tell you that the ’80s was the best decade of animated entertainment ever. To celebrate Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen they’re now holding a competition, with a very impressive swag, including collections of Transformers, He-Man, M.A.S.K, She-Ra and more. Go here for the rules (Australian and New Zealand residents only). It’s one of those 25 words or less deals, and the comp ends on July 31.



Blood: The Last Vampire Trailer

This live action film, based on the anime released in 2000, has already been seen in Japan and the UK and will be released in North American cinemas on July 10. It doesn’t look like it’s getting an Aussie theatrical release. Oh well.

Driven By Lemons Preview

Joshua Cotter came to fame with his OGN Skyscrapers of the Midwest and has a new book coming out in September from AdHouse Books. Basically, it’s a journal, which I’m always intrigued by. AdHouse describes it thusly;

“Up the stream of consciousness without a paddle.” — From the creator who brought you Skyscrapers of the Midwest comes a sketchbook replica of recent multimedia explorations in intuitive narrative. Won’t you be his neighbor?

Below are a few pages from the 104 page book.




Extra Sequential #3

Our farewell, or “see you later” issue, before we move to print in January has finally landed. It’s 40 pages of goodness including the obligatory perty pages and reviews. There’s also interviews with sci-fi author Robin Parrish, Brian Cronin from comicbookresources on his new book, Was Superman A Spy? and Wolfgang Bylsma from very successful indie publisher, Gestalt. Check it out below or here.

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