Sunday, February 17, 2013
This is by far the all out funniest comic I have read in a while. Ok, to be honest it might not click with people who are unfamiliar with the less then A list marvel characters Valkyrie and Misty Knight but given the Marvel.com website and Wikipedia you could read some comics history without breaking the pocketbook. Fearless Defenders by Cullen Bunn ( see last nights Wanted.... for another Cullen Bunn called The Sixth Gun comic that is alsopretty great) captures the whimsical fun of movies like Evil Dead, Army of Darkness and the Indiana Jones series in graphic format and I do not even mind the cost of entry in anime where comic collecting is no longer even a moderately expensive hobby.
The "Defenders" title has always been kind of a strange and non team team book from its beginnings back in the seventies with Doctor Strange, The Hulk, Namor and the Silver Surfer. That is a lot of potential power and it never really fell into the Superman trap of having to come up witha reason as to why the hero(s) might fail. In the eighties the team got bigger and more team like with the group that included Valkyrie, Xmens Angel, the Gargoyle and odd new characters like Cloud many of which are now sadly absent. I did not read the most recent incarnation because of its cost but I think I will have to remidee that mistake somehow since I'm really enjoying Red She Hulk right now and Iron Fist is one of my all time favorites. That brings me to one of the leads in this new era Misty Knight was Danny Rand, Iron Fist's, girlfriend who was kind of a mix of a blackspoiltation private eye and the bionic woman which was was cool but mostly just a background character in the Powerman and Iron Fist book. I know she's been a bigger player in the last few years but its great to see her as a lead character in this book as a PI and Adventurer in her own right.
I also liked seeing one of my old favorites from the good old Defender days in the character of Valkyrie, the comic opens with her and a one page narration that kind of makes me wish I had read the Fear itself storyline that leads into her current situation, being the lone shield maiden of Asgard. The ominous tone of that page contrasts well with the otherwise fast pulp adventure tone of the reast of the issue. The interplay between Ms. Knight and the Teutonic warrioress defys their male counterparts, they meet, trade quips rather then fisticuffs and get on with business, that being fighting the undead around them. We don't get the testosterone melee that made my laugh out loud in the Avengers film mainly because of the predictability of the buddy fight thrown down. The beats between the lead characters here are much less brawn though its still a great melee. Along with Journey into Mystery and Captain Marvel this is another female centric title that breaks with many of the problems that some other heroine comics have, ones that will remain un-named here.
I for one am was hooked by this one; Cullen Bunn writes women characters that don't just act like men with breasts and female pluming. Sure it is a very pretty comic to look at that I will admit but its more the that. It's a return to fun in storytelling and hat I welcome over the relentless grimness of some books.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Dancy Flammarion, the albino monster hunter called Alabaster, is a combination of the kickass monster hunter like Buffy and the lone vigilante that is among the few that can see the horrors that live among us like Nick from Grimm. She may well be insane seeing herself as the tool of a many faced flaming sword wielding seraph, doing "gods" will in erasing the monsters from the lands of the southern US. She's a totally believe able young woman struggling to hold on to the few prescious items from her troubled past and and very much lie Bruce Banner from the 70s Hulk tv show possibly misunderstood and definitely dangerous. After reading the graphic novel Alabaster :wolves I'm hooked on this knife wielding pulp heroine.
"Wolves" takes Dancy into a southern town that seems in perpetual gloom, that there may be to way to leave even greyhound service is apparently stopped. Dancy has only a talking red wing blackbird for companionship until the other late teen girl shows up. The tale includes a great "bromance" and buddy fight knife fights in various settings including a mass combat in a church. The story involves history of the south and the darkest most evil parts of it. The dark and moody art fits it so well and Steve Leiber draws believable young women that don't pose in back aching poses.
Caitlín R. Kiernan is a writer I remember wanting to read years ago when her acclaimed novel Silk came out and rediscovered when her later novel The Red Tree was on everyone's to read or best of list a couple years back too and because of net galley I finally got the opportunity to give her graphic novel through Net Galley and I think I've found another urban horror writer to follow. She gives her characters real and relatable needs and desires. The story of Dancy Flammarion, albino monster hunter with an angel companion in the contemporary United States gives a great introduction to modern American gothic fiction. Dancy is a character out of Caitlín's novel Threshold from the late 90's aged a few more years and more weary and more suspicious of her own perceptions. I so much want to read the older stories now.
The art and the story's atmosphere mesh so well, Steve Lieber, both a dark brooding and often bloody. His characters are realistic without heading into the uncanny valley and so appealing even when filthy and wounded. His monsters and his seraph are equally disturbing in their almost humanity both slightly alluring and repulsive.
Caitlín deftly throws in moments of levity within all the gothic pulp horror, just enough to make both the satire and the horror effective This story of Dancy and her possibly many faced "guardian angel" traveling the south much like the Bill Bixby Hulk with few possessions and a none too peaceful past following her. I think the story is easily accessible to a nubie like me and fans of something among the lines of the Angel series with just a but more grit will likely love it.
The tale takes Alabaster into unsafe places, one where she faces werewolves, festering wounds, temptation, friendship (if you could call it that) and betrayal. There is an unintentional ancient evil created by witchcraft, books to foul to speak of, and tons of great art and story with characters that are often surprising and wonderfully flawed people. This fun fest of knives and blood and werewolves comes out laterthis month in a likely to be gorgeous hard cover volume from the people at Dar Horse Books.... I'm likely going to track down the first volume in this series. Dancy is a character that's easy too like though she may be a totally unreliable narrator but that is kind of half the fun of pulpy stories like this.
And hey what's that mention of Blood Oranges above about?
Well the night I finished up Alabaster and was looking up books from Caitlín I came across a mention of a new novel from her, under a pseudo name, one that looks like terribly great fun and is also due this month. The book, penned under the name Kathleen Tierney, looks to be a book that will "take the piss" when it comes to urban fantasy heroines being all that proficient and clever. Here is the blurb see what you think...
My name’s Quinn.
If you buy into my reputation, I’m the most notorious demon hunter in New England. But rumors of my badassery have been slightly exaggerated. Instead of having kung-fu skills and a closet full of medieval weapons, I’m an ex-junkie with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time. Or the right place at the wrong time. Or…whatever.
Wanted for crimes against inhumanity I (mostly) didn’t commit, I was nearly a midnight snack for a werewolf until I was “saved” by a vampire calling itself the Bride of Quiet. Already cursed by a werewolf bite, the vamp took a pint out of me too.
So now…now, well, you wouldn’t think it could get worse, but you’d be dead wrong.
Just the concept sounds like great fun to me.... Here is the link to the original post on Tor for you to check out too. It does a much more thorough job of selling it then I ever could.... Souns like salacious adult comedy with some incidental violence thrown in for good measure. I have hopes it will live up to fun it sounds like....
Anyhow I know it's not totally in line with the western them I'd posited for the month but Alabaster does happen in the south and to completely pulp adventure so it kind of fits....
Take care and beware those werewolf scratches, they aren't the cleanest of creatures...
Click here to check out the solicitation on Dark Horse Comics for the graphic novel and view a preview of the book
To read about the history of the Alabaster character and the creation of the comic click here
For Caitlín R Kiernan' s web site whe you can check out her recent novels including The Drowning Girl and the Red Tree simple click the link on her name