North 40 #1 Review

North 40 #1This new series from the DC imprint Wildstorm is a freak fest and I think it will continue to build upon the chills. Written by Aaron Williams (PS238) with art by Fiona Staples (Secret History of the Authority: Hawksmoor) the series is like a creepy European horror film that they’d only show on TV past midnight. With hints of BOOM! Studios’ Cthulhu Tales mixed with the nasty small town characters of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance North 40 launches from the gate like a crazed horse with flaring nostrils and bleeding hooves. We are the terrified jockey gasping for air and wondering where this strange beast beneath us is going.

The series is set in Conover County, which is the kind of town where everyone knows each other and where there’s nothing to do except drink, fight or gossip. That all changes after two foolish high schoolers open what looks like the book of the dead, Necronomicon. Now if you roll your eyes and start thinking this sounds like the plot of a cheesy ’80s film with bad lighting and rubber monsters, you’d be wrong. This is a genuinely atmospheric tale that happens at breakneck pace. Scenes never really last longer than to establish the various characters (veteran sheriff, bored young waitress, town outcast, etc) before horror knocks on their door in the form of flying vampire creatures, odd voices that order an arcane ritual and other assorted weirdness. Every character and scenario is interesting enough and Williams handles realistic dialogue colliding with fantastic chills with a superb blend. 

Staples’ art is reminiscent of the light touch of Phil Noto, with few lines and muted colours. It’s not an approach I thought would’ve worked in this context, but it really does. Staples sells the environment dutifully, with its parched lawns and endless sky. 

North 40 could just have easily been a Vertigo book and there’s an interesting behind the scenes 2 part look at how the series developed over at the new Wildstorm blog, with a glimpse below. Also included in this issue is a 3 page preview of August’s Red Herring 6 ish mini-series.

For fans of mature horror and people in desperate situations, North 40 will help you get freaky.

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Vertigo and Wildstorm Blogs

It’s awesome that DC Comics finally have a blog, called The Source. It’s not exactly a barrage of news but it makes up for it with almost daily previews of projects days, weeks or months away. Now, two of DC’s imprints also have their own dedicated blogs. The Bleed belongs to Wildstorm and it kicked off with the news that Planetary #27 would be the series’ last, produced by its creators Warren Ellis and John Cassady.

Vertigo’s blog, Graphic Content launches with an excerpt from October’s Fables novel. Peter and Max is written by the writer of the series, Bill Willingham with art by Steve Leiahola. Also on Graphic Content are  a few pages from DMZ #42, which is now on sale. This begins a new 3 part story entitled No Future, and is brought to us by writer Brian Wood and artist Ryan Kelly. Pics below.

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Perty Pics

wowcvrHere’s a sneak peek at the penultimate issue of the World of Warcraft: Ashbringer mini-series from Wildstorm/DC. It’s written by Micky Neilson, with art by Ludo Lullabi (how cool a name is that?!) and Tony Washington. You’d hope, or at least DC would, that many gamers would flock to their LCS to get tie-in comics like this that expand the concept beyond the console. Wildstorm is becoming a good imprint and showcase for DC lately, with franchises that appeal to non-fanboys. They also have comics based on the Gears of War game which is awesome, and the Mirror’s Edge game, which unfortunately didn’t live up to the great parkour concept. They also have the first ish of the PS3 game, Resistance launching next month.

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Mirror’s Edge #1 Review

DC’s Wildstorm inprint know their way around a good game licence, especially with Gears of War and World of Warcraft under their belt. Comics based on games usually fare  a lot better than films based on games, so it’s  a good thing we’re seeing  a lot of adaptations lately. Mirror’s Edge is developed from the November 13 released game based on a sci-fi version of parkour. If you’ve seen the opening of Casino Royale or the excellent French film, District B-13, you’ll know what that is – a unique style of constant motion and acrobatic movement. Basing a game on the concept seems crazy enough that it just might work, especially considering the popularity of every Spider-Man game. Hopefully the game will be about more than just running and diving and rolling though, as that novelty would soon wear out its welcome. Hopefully there’s some FPS stuff in there too.

Back to the comic – it’s not bad. There’s no set-up or introduction of the main characters, but there’s only a few so that’s not  a problem. Artist Matthew Dow Smith will be unfamiliar to most, but his body of work is quite impressive, outside of the superhero realm for the most part. I was expecting something with more flowing, organic lines to compliment the story, such as Bart Sears’ or Kyle Hotz’ style, but Smith’s hard edges, and Jim Charalampidis’ colour palette works well in the dystopian city context. Rhianna Pratchett’s script is bare but gives us the necessary details – runner/messenger Faith is learning the ropes from the older Merc in an underground resistance movement when she soon realises that her father is somehow involved. Pratchett wrote the script for the game (and is the daughter of Discworld writer, Terry Pratchett) and lays an intriguing foundation for this world, with further details to come in future issues of this mini-series I’d gather.

The game looks great and has many fans already. The comic so far appears to be a nice intro with a similar visual style and simplicity. Plus, who could resist that cover?

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