Key of Z #1-2 Review

I must confess that I haven’t read a BOOM! comic for a while. In fact, the last series was DuckTales for our similarly themed podcast episode.

Key of Z intrigued me though, written as it is by partners Claudio Sanchez (of band Coheed & Cambria) and Chondra Echert, the pair behind writing the bold Kill Audio series about an immortal troll. Plus the artist here is Aaron Kuder is also responsible for Sanchez’s The Amory Wars. Time for another confession – I’ve read little of either, but I know both were filled with big ideas and daring art, so their take on zombies I had to see. Yes, I know zombies are the flavour of the month, or rather year, but having not been exposed to much Walking Dead (although I’m keen for Australia to get the TV series), I thought it was worth a look.

Opening with Nick Ewing and his family having a lovely time during Christmas Eve, they have their pleasant bonding interrupted by a zombie Santa outside their window, which is as freaky as it sounds. Jumping forward to 2012, the undead epidemic is underway and New York is divided into three fiefdoms, or Houses who live in the stadiums of the Mets, Yankees and Madison Square Garden. It’s an interesting setup to what could’ve been yet another predictable apocalyptic tale. Jumping forward to 2016, Ewing is out getting some fresh air (whereas most survivors prefer the safety of their sporting stadium). Seeing Ewing grow a beard and muscles over the span of 5 years is a nice and realistic touch, and it’s here that he meets Eddie Alvarez, a skinny, scared collector who lives at a library, and is virtually ignored by his own gang. They slowly befriend one another and exchange recent life stories before a detour to a cave of antique weapons and a surprise attack  by a mass of flesh eaters.

Editor Matt Gagnon’s letter mentions what is fairly obvious, with comic DMZ, Walking Dead and cult film The Warriors being an influence on this story, and I get the feeling that only being vaguely aware of those 2 series has helped me enjoy this more. Gagnon also mentions that Ewing’s wife and boy were murdered, although that’s not overtly stated in this first issue.

In the second issue which is set two years before the debut ish, we get to know the three houses more. Atwater is the more educated leader and reminds me of Morpheus in the last Matrix film, whereas Lavoe is far less interested in the needs of others and resembles Scarface, in his tax charging and brutal regime. The pair meet for a treaty and Lavoe bluntly states that he isn’t interested in any altruistic deal with Atwater and Jackson. In the aftermath of the devastation, Ewing learns that a silver harmonica his son gave him on that fateful Christmas has magical properties. Well, perhaps magical’s not the best word, but it’s certainly unique and when played properly, give shim the powers of a putrified Pied Piper, bringing the zombies right to him. It seems like an odd ability, but I guess Ewing is stronger and faster than the zombies, so at least he knows where they are and can destroy them so as not to be surprised later.

Ending with more interaction between Ewing and Alvarez, and a mission for revenge steers the last two issues of this mini-series to a good place.

Kuder’s art has to be mentioned. With its fluid linework, and simple, yet effective details such as textures it evokes Frank Quitely. Coupled with Charlie Kirchoff’s col0ur choices (subdued and quite hazy during dramatic scenes, bold during the zombie bashing) it looks pretty and never ventures into bloodthirtsy territory. Yes, there’s teeth flying and charred corpses, but it never looks over the top.

These 2 issues mark the halfway mark, but I’m already sold and I’m glad I let my curiosity get the better of me. Key of Z #1 and 2 are out now, and #3 will be released on December 28.

Read Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors #1 for Free

This rather charming and visually infectious series (thanks to artist Armand Villavert) from Image centres on a school that trains would-be supervillains. It’s a fun, all-ages read with moments of drama done well, and is actually the only Image series I’m currently reading regularly. Writer Mark Andrew Smith (The Amazing Joy Buzzards) has generously put up the entire first issue for free on Tumblr. Yes, it’s a bit awkward to read, but if you start here, scroll up to read the next few pages, then back down again and hit Newer on the bottom right, you’ll get through it fine. It’s worth your time, especially when you get to the last few pages and the juicy secret contained within.

Oh, and the TPB collecting the first 6 issues was released this week if you’d like to read more, which I suggest you do.

Elfhunter at Sea Lion Books

It’s a bit unclear by this press release but it appears that relatively new comics publisher Sea Lion Books is creating new comics based on the fantasy book series, Elfhunter. There’s no mention on format (OGN, monthly series), writer or artist, but either way, it sounds kinda cool.

Sea Lion Books is proud to announce a multi-book deal with acclaimed fantasy fiction author C.S. Marks, whose highly successful self-published series has already garnered high praise from readers and critics alike. Set in the remarkable realm of Alterra, ELFHUNTER is the first novel in this three book series, which has sold over 35,000 copies in the United States and UK. An epic fantasy filled with adventure, danger, and suspense, it is scheduled for release Spring 2012.

The Tales of Alterra – The World That Is

A monster roams the last refuge of the Elves–a creature who has sworn to destroy them one by one until none remain. One headstrong heroine is determined to stand between her people and extinction–Wood-elf Gaelen Taldin. When powerful dark magic creates a terrible and irrevocable spiritual link between them, the result is a journey of terrifying transformation. Elfhunter tells a story of savage combat between predator and prey–a deadly dance wherein the hunter becomes the hunted. Who will prevail?

A fantasy setting rich in imagery and very human conflict, the world of ELFHUNTER pits friendship, loyalty, and love against hatred, prejudice, and despair. In a monster-hunt of epic proportions, it sets one small but determined Wood-elf against a complex and fascinating villain to yield a timeless tale that has captivated young readers and parents alike. Join the Company of Elves, dwarves, mortal men, and delightfully intelligent horses. Come to Alterra – the “World That Is”

“We are thrilled to bring the world of C.S. Marks’ ELFHUNTER TRILOGY to new life.” said Derek Ruiz, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Sea Lion Books. “An amazing new talent, a powerful storyteller, she and her series (newly illustrated by the incomparable Hope Hoover) have an exciting and brilliant future at Sea Lion Books.”

The Vault TPB in January 2012

Granted, I only read the first issue of this intriguing undersea adventure/mystery tale from Image, but I was very impressed. The Trade Paperback collecting all 3 issues will be released in January.

THE VAULT TRADE OPENS IN JANUARY

Collecting the sold out 3-issue miniseries

Debuting in the Summer of 2011, THE VAULT miniseries received critical acclaim and quickly sold out of each issue within days of their release. Fans, looking to catch up on THE VAULT, won’t have to wait much longer. Image Comics announces that THE VAULT VOL. 1 TP,written by Sam Sarkar (Caliber: First Canon of Justice), illustrated by Garrie Gastonny (Warren Ellis’ Supergod) and edited by Dave Elliott will be on sale January 18th, 2012.

THE VAULT, recently optioned for a feature film adaptation from Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and Graham King’s GK Films, is about a small team of treasure hunters, struggling to excavate a dangerous and legendary treasure pit before a massive storm hits Sable Island, the “Graveyard of the North Atlantic.” Equipped with all the latest technology, the scientists believe they are prepared against all of nature’s fury, but nothing can prepare them for what they are about to unleash.

THE VAULT has garnered rave attention from retailers, reviewers and fans:

“THE VAULT lays the groundwork for an exciting heist gone horribly wrong. You don’t want to miss out on this deep-sea adventure!” – Fangoria

“Sam Sarkar and Garrie Gastonny are giving us something very genuine and very scary with this book, and it’s an event I personally haven’t seen the likes of in a long time.” – Comic Attack
“The comic delivers the goods in terms of horror.” – Famous Monsters of Filmland
“I enjoyed this enough that I know I am all in for a follow-up series. If you like slasher flicks or science fiction horror then this is the series for you.” – Comic List
“The Vault is a must read on my list so make it a part of yours… NOW!” – Decapitated Dan Royer (decapitateddan.com)
“What a gem of a book! I can totally recommend The Vault. Get it now.” – Weekly Comic Book Review
“You can judge a book by its cover, because The Vault is a hell of a read, promising even more hell to come.” – Comic Book Bin

THE VAULT VOL. 1 TP, a 96-page full-color paperback, will be on sale in stores January 18, 2012 for $9.99 and is available to order in the November 2011 edition of Diamond Previews (NOV110420, ISBN: 978-1-60706-485-5). For more information, please visitwww.facebook.com/thevaultcomic or www.twitter.com/thevaultcomic.

99c Teen Titans Sale

Following on from Dark Horse’s very cheap Star Wars comics sale is DC’s version, which is on now until November 20. You can get a whole bunch of classic and modern Teen Titans comics for only 99 cents each. Go here to check it out.

134 Star Wars Comics for $100

Now that’s a bargain.

STAR WARS BLACK FRIDAY

DARK HORSE DIGITAL OFFERS 134 COMICS FOR $100!

Dark Horse Comics is joining in on the Black Friday madness with a very exclusive limited offer to their digital comics readers…

On Black Friday, for 24 hours only – Dark Horse Digital will offer 134 single-issue Star Wars comics for $100!  A savings of over $166!

This sale will begin at midnight (PST), November 25th!

Dark Horse Digital is available through all modern web browsers and as an app in the iTunes Store for Mac devices. 

Stop by https://digital.darkhorse.com and get all the Star Wars comics you could want and more! 

Hunger Games Trailer

Understandably, with the success of Harry Potter, and Twilight, there are a lot of young adult books getting adapted into film these days. I’m not familiar with the Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins, but this March releasing film looks OK. It stars Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique in X-Men: First Class) and Liam Hemsworth (younger brother of Thor’s Chris) and does remind me of the Japanese film, Battle Royale. There’s also a nice list here of similar games to the death tales in comics and films.