JUST THE GOOD STUFF – IMAGE COMICS SERIES
JUST THE GOOD STUFF – IMAGE COMICS SERIES
This time around, I’m going to talk about some of the best series I’ve come across lately, all of them Good Stuff, i.e., comic books that I’d recommend to a majority of regular comics readers. All three are Image Comics series, and all titles are trade paperbacks except where noted. This review concludes with a gallery – it’s series art you have to see to believe – and a PUBLICATION INFORMATION section.
Let’s get right to it, starting with VIOLENT LOVE, with story by Frank J. Barbiere and art by Victor Santos.
I had high hopes for this series, because Frank J. Barbiere is the genius behind FIVE GHOSTS, another Image Comics series and a personal favorite of mine. VIOLENT LOVE is the story of two larger-than-life bank robbers, Rock Bradley and Daisy Jane, who meet and fall in love. From this basic premise, Barbiere crafts a compelling tale, a real page-turner with sparkling dialogue and characters that the reader can care about.
When I first got this book, I didn’t recognize Victor Santos’ name right off the top of my head, but no matter : I only had to open up to the first page of VIOLENT LOVE and – bam! – I was instantly a fan. The first word that comes to mind in describing Santos’ work is kinetic – Santos uses techniques like dramatic character blocking to create a dynamism that is central to this story of young lovers on the run.
All in all, a great start to a great series. Recommended to all comics readers – although it’s rated M for Mature, I didn’t see anything here that kids couldn’t get from prime-time TV. Also recommended to readers of crime fiction and fans of crime/action movies.
Next up is MANIFEST DESTINY, written by Chris Dingess, with Matthew Roberts on pencils and Owen Gieni on colors ; the inkers are Stefano Gaudiano and Tony Akins, and Pat Brosseau is the letterer.
Upon reading MANIFEST DESTINY VOLUME ONE : FLORA AND FAUNA for the first time, I was most impressed by the sheer originality of the story. I saw enormous potential in the story’s major premise, a secret history of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and I was not mistaken: that potential has been brilliantly realized, both in narrative and artistic terms.
Matthew Roberts creates a beautiful, fantastical wilderness, which the explorers must conquer even as the wilderness seems bent on destroying them with monstrous creatures. Roberts’ art perfectly visualizes wonder upon wonder as the expedition plunges into the unknown, each fantastical element enhanced by Owen Gieni’s amazing colors – Gieni is a master at imparting coloring bizarre enough to feel Gothic, and his talent is on full display here.
Moreover, I really enjoyed the way that the story re-writes the historical expedition, e.g., Sacagawea is re-imagined as a savvy monster-hunter. The whole thing is eminently satisfying.
Recommended to all regular comics readers, as well as to fans of historical melodrama in whatever format, particularly to fans of Westward Expansion action-adventure tales – buckskins and muskets, to coin a phrase.
This week, we wrap up with LOW, a series written by Rick Remender, whose series BLACK SCIENCE I’ve written about – I’m also a fan of his series TOKYO GHOST. The art in LOW is by Greg Tocchini, with colors by Dave McCaig and letters by Rus Wooton.
LOW is a story about hope, and the idea that we create reality by the way we think about it.
There’s little cause for hope in this series’ far-future dystopia: humanity has fled to the ocean bottoms to hide from a sun that has prematurely expanded – and will soon expand again, turning Earth into cinders.
The Caine family has a super-powered suit that it has always used in service to humanity, but they can no longer save humanity…until an interstellar probe finds its way back to Earth, carrying information about a habitable world, and Stel Caine decides that she’ll risk going to the surface, which no human has seen in millenia, to get the probe.
She pays a high price for that ambition, and what follows is a tale of tragedy and triumph. The word “epic” has been getting over-used a lot lately, but this tale does have much of the intergenerational saga about it, and it’s also got lots of epic action-adventure violence.
And when you factor in its amazing illustration, LOW is everything that you could want from a comic book.
Seriously, though: I particularly like Greg Tocchini’s clean, solid line and his genius for frame composition ; I also really like his elaborate variations in layout from page to page, so that the eye never gets bored. Dave McCaig likewise astonishes the eye by using a palette of remarkable depth and breadth.
I would recommend LOW to just about any comics reader, as well as to science fiction fans generally.
Well, folks, that’s it for now.
Please check out the gallery of images below, with some of my favorite art from VIOLENT LOVE, MANIFEST DESTINY, and LOW.
Catch you next week!
VIOLENT LOVE, VOLUME ONE : STAY DANGEROUS was released last May and collects VIOLENT LOVE #1-#5. VIOLENT LOVE #7 came out on August 9, with #8 and #9 slated for September 20 and October 18.
Besides the aforementioned MANIFEST DESTINY VOLUME ONE : FLORA AND FAUNA from 2014, there’s MANIFEST DESTINY VOLUME 2 : AMPHIBIA & INSECTA from January 2015, collecting MANIFEST DESTINY #7-12. MANIFEST DESTINY VOLUME 3 : CHIROPTERA & CARNIFORMAVES is from February 2016 and collects MANIFEST DESTINY #13-18, and MANIFEST DESTINY VOLUME 4 : SASQUATCH came out last December and collects MANIFEST DESTINY #19-24. MANIFEST DESTINY VOLUME 5 : MNEMOPHOBIA & CHRONOPHOBIA comes out on September 6 and will collect issues #25-30. Issue #30 came out on August 9, with #31 dropping on September 27 and #32 on October 18.
LOW VOLUME 1 : THE DELIRIUM OF HOPE and VOLUME 2 : BEFORE THE DAWN BURNS US are from 2015, and LOW VOLUME 3 : SHORE OF THE DYING LIGHT is from last year. LOW VOLUME 4 : OUTER ASPECTS OF INNER ATTITUDES comes out October 4, collecting issues #16-19; LOW, BOOK ONE, an oversized hard-cover edition, is scheduled for October 18 and will collect the first three volumes, i.e., issues #1-15, with many extras promised. Issue #19 came out August 9.
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All titles reviewed were provided by the Seattle Public Library.