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Friday, January 13, 2012

What Women Like Part 4

Well it's a new year, so it's time for a new list of Suggested Reading! As long-time followers of us here at the Comix Connection Blog will recall, this sort of (often long-winded and rambling!) assemblage of comic book recommendations by myself focuses on books that are specifically selected to appeal to those ladies who may not be especially familiar with comic books...but, nine times out of ten, these are just good books, and I do think you'll all enjoy them, whether you're a guy, a girl, an androgynous alien, android, or anything in between!

To start off, let me update some things from the last list: First off, let's revisit Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which has not only just started Season Nine (which is off to a great start, incidentally -- what do you do when all the magic's gone?), but has also branched off into the brand new series, Angel and Faith, starring -- well, do I really have to spell it out? That's right, not only is Season Nine going to be too big for just one Slayer, it's too big for just one book! Of course, with the massive aftermath of Season Eight to clean up--from Willow's powers to Giles's life -- is that really any surprise? Nope. So check it out!

Then of course, there's The Walking Dead. Anyone watching the new series on TV? Well, if you haven't checked out the comic book yet, now is the time to do so, because it just keeps on getting better. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't point out another first for this survival comic-turned-television-hit: Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor came out a little while ago, and it is Robert Kirkman's first prose novel! Kirkman teamed up with acclaimed thriller writer Jay Bonansinga to bring us the backstory of The Walking Dead's most sadistic, fascinating villain to date -- the Governor -- and for all of you show fans who are behind on the comic's continuity, take my word for it: once he shows up, you won't forget him in a hurry! So check out Rise and, again, now is the time to start reading the comic if you aren't, yet...issue 100 is coming, and it's sure to be a doozy!

Fables is about to have a tie-in/spin-off as well, although this one is a comic book, rather than a prose novel: Fairest will be out soon, and will be written by Bill Willingham, too, with Phil Jimenez on the art-chores. They'll be joined eventually by Lauren Beukes, Chris Roberson, and some of the best artists in the business. Adam Hughes is doing the covers, because who else could capture these beauties? This series will explore the secret backstories of Fabletown's fairest ladies: Snow White, Rose Red, Thumbelina, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and many more. The first arc will focus on Briar Rose, so if anyone was wondering what happened after the Sleeping Beauty was stolen by's where you'll get to find out!

The world of Bill Willingham's Fables just keeps on getting bigger. Volume Sixteen just came out, wherein the members of the Fables community decide that their last-ditch effort to survive their newest threat needs something they've never had before...a team of super heroes! That's right. And it was all Pinocchio's idea. Because the War with the Adversary is well-over, but that doesn't mean these fairytale refugees safe. In fact, according to Willingham himself, the end of that dire war just means that the prelude is finally out of the way, and the real story can start at last.That's right, there were eighty issues of prelude. You know a story has to be good when it's that epic!

Anyway, how would you like to hear about some brand new stuff?

First up, let's talk about The Unwritten. This one is written (or unwritten -- ha!) by Mike Carey, whom you may be familiar with from Lucifer or Crossing Midnight, both series that I tend to babble about excitedly. Well, The Unwritten is no exception; it's every bit as exceptional as everything else Carey creates. The premise this time is all about stories, and the telling thereof. In the world of The Unwritten (which is very, very much like our own), there are a series of books about Tommy Taylor, a young bespectacled wizard, whose adventures form a bestselling series (sound familiar?). The author of the Taylor novels has a son named Tom, who very much hates being mistaken for his fictional alter-ego, but now his dad has disappeared and the world starts to get a bit weird. Turns out Tom might be Tommy after all...or he might not even exist...or maybe he's a weapon that his dad created in order to fight the literati that control the world by telling (and tweaking, and terminating) stories.

Whatever the truth turns out to be, it's sure to be exquisite, because the ride has been an amazing one so far. Between the messianic cult that's sprung up to worship him, the gullet of the white whale he's fallen down, Frankenstein's enigmatic creature, the magical flying cat, the girl who may or may not be real, and his stalker who's alternately a crazed fan and a megalomaniacal vampire, Tom has more than enough to deal with before he gets arrested for murder, let alone after! You won't think about stories -- or the world we describe with them, or the people they make us into--the same way ever again.

Speaking of stories, if you enjoy those of the literary variety, or have any interest in history (or both), then you absolutely have to check out Hark! A Vagrant, a brilliant new collection of hilarious, madcap comic strips about everything from Ben Franklin to Jane Austin and Tesla to Shakespeare, and every bit of humor, commentary, and comedy you can squeeze in in between. There are style-conscious Vikings, Canadian heroes, and heads on pikes. Plus, Hark! A Vagrant comes highly recommended to you by not one, but two Counter Monkeys--Nicky and Joe!--both of whom quite actually cackled with unrestrained glee when they got their grubby little hands* on it at last!

(*Note: Counter Monkeys' hands are not actually grubby. Your comics are safe.)

Speaking of literary about Sherlock Holmes? Anyone a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle's adventurous detective? I know I am, and I've been enjoying all the appearances of Sherlock in comics lately (even Victorian Undead, surprisingly...Sherlock Holmes meets up with zombies and vampires, check it out, it was actually quite good!). However I have to say, my favorite Sherlockian comic doesn't even feature Sherlock, not exactly. The detective in this case is named Simon Archard, and he's even more acerbic and socially disinterested than Sherlock, but just as genius at the science of deduction. He even has a Watson, although in this case, Watson's name is Emma Bishop, and she gets quite put-out at being referred to as a mere assistant rather than a partner. Of course, with the writing being handled by Mark Waid, you know you're going to get snappy dialogue and scathing repartee, and you get that in spades.

Now, if that all sounds familiar, don't worry, it should...Ruse was originally published ten years ago by Crossgen, who then went bankrupt and disappeared. Marvel now has the rights to their books, and is starting to tease things out with little mini-series to see what people are interested in seeing return. Ruse works brilliantly; the original writer is back (that Mark guy I mentioned), and this time he gets to tell the story exactly how he wanted to: no magic, just logic and deduction and sarcasm. Oh, and brilliance -- did I mention that part?

While we're on the subject of brilliance, and speaking about Crossgen, let me beg your indulgence while I get way, way too excited about these next two books. Again, we're dealing with four-issue mini-series from Marvel, this time books called Sigil and Mystic, although they're a little bit different from their original inception. Same basic premise, but...

We'll start with Sigil. The book begins in North Carolina with an ordinary high school girl named Samantha Rey who has a strange birthmark on her chest and a recently-deceased mother. Her normal life ends when the sigil on her chest lights up and drags her into the middle of a seventeenth century fight with pirates. She finds out that her mom was a combatant in an inter-dimensional, time travel war, and now Sam is, too! The story is written by Mike Carey and drawn by Leonard Kirk, both of whom rank as Personal Favorites in my book, so you know it has to be good -- and it really, really is! Check this book out, because it is the epitome of storytelling, and with any luck, it's just the beginning of Sam's adventures, and Carey and Kirk's story.

And then we have Mystic, a book where my initial apathetic lack of interest turned into full-blown adoration before I'd even finished reading the first preview! This book is good. It's been described (by me, much to Joe's amusement) as a medley of "Cinderella and Les Miserables as an action-adventure story with magic." It starts with two orphan girls in a steampunk-type world where only the nobility are allowed to learn magic. These two waifs run away to the castle looking for jobs, and one of them is accidentally invited to join the magical apprentices; while the other gets banished to the streets, where she gets caught up in the working-class revolution to overthrow said nobility, which now includes her best friend. And, again, these four issues are -- hopefully -- just the beginning!

All three of the first Crossgen minis have now been collected into graphic novels, so if you missed them the first time around, you can jump on board now and prepare yourself for a brand new kind of everything-old-is-new-again comic book adventure.

That ends today's lecture, students, but stay tuned, because there are plenty more books still to be talked come back tomorrow: same bat-time, same bat-website!

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At 1/14/2012 6:17 PM, Blogger hkphan said...

Agreed! Rise of the Governor was a really fun read for the long term Walking Dead fan that I am. My only complaint, they fubar-ed the comic timeline with the crap about the 2011 (?) Cadillac. WTF?!

At 1/16/2012 10:07 AM, Anonymous Nicky said...

Ahhh..the continuity of comic book timelines. Always fun.


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