Action, Adventure, and Angst Await in These Comic Collections

All right, so, I’ve fallen painfully far behind on my reviews as of late.

Painfully far behind.

So to make up for it I’m going to be doing a series of reviews over the course of the next week or so. There’s little rhyme or reason to which TPB reviews go into which ’round up’ post. These are just some books I’ve gotten review copies of in the past six months that I’m hoping you lot will enjoy reading about! In this round up you’ll find books from Dark House, Image, IDW, and Dynamite. If you’re a fan of old school pulp adventures or post-apocalyptic stories you’re bound to find something here!

My top pick is Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray Vol. 1 but see what you think.

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The Last of Us: American Dreams

18101264Author: Neil Bruckman
Illustrator: Faith Erin Hicks
Release Date: October 30, 2013
Publisher: Dark Horse
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Based On characters and situations from Naughty Dogs’ The Last of Us

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers:  Low
GoodReads | Amazon

I freakin’ love Riley. Can I start with that? I absolutely love her. She’s quite possibly the best thing about American Dreams and I can’t wait to get around to downloading the Left Behind DLC. (I’m kind of waiting to see how the PS4 port turns out now, though.)

Anyway, American Dreams is a prequel comic to the game featuring a young Ellie who has recently become the ward of a military school in a post apocalyptic world where her choices for a future are very limited. At the school she meets Riley and the two become close. At her new friend’s insistence Ellie ventures out into the real world. Riley tells Ellie about the fireflies and how she hopes to join them and the two start off on a journey together to try and track down the rebels.

Of course, things aren’t exactly easy for them. And they don’t exactly turn out the way Riley was hoping either.

On it’s own, the story wouldn’t hold much weight. It’s short but full of interesting stuff, sure, but if you haven’t played the game you won’t get as much out of it as people who have. You don’t need to have played the DLC, of course. Just the main game. But it does help to read this before you play Left Behind because from what I understand Left Behind draws a lot from this comic. At the very least it will give you a bit more insight into Ellie and Riley’s relationship.

If nothing else, the artwork is gorgeous. Faith Hicks is a genius and she really captures characters and setting perfectly. I almost wish they would make a graphic novel version of the entire game with her at the helm. It would be a thing of beauty.

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Thumbprint

Thumbprint01_cvr-300x455

Author: Jason Ciaramella
Illustrator: Vic Malhorta
Release Date: December 24, 2013
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Drama
Based on a short story by Joe Hill

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Review Spoilers:  Low
GoodReads | Amazon

Before we get started let me just say that Thumbprint is a very heavy, serious book that doesn’t shy away from the points it’s trying to make. I should also say that I ultimately did not like it but I respect the attempt Hill made in trying to tell a compelling story.

Based on a short story he had written earlier, I guess, the graphic novel follows a young, female soldier back from the Iraq war who tried to grapple with the atrocities she had committed while a prison guard at Abu Ghraib. She’s not really a sympathetic character and the frequent, disturbing flashbacks don’t help with that. I did not appreciate the way the military was portrayed not because it was necessarily portrayed in an unfavorable light but because Hill and the adapting author and illustrators’ understanding of the military is just fundamentally wrong.

I really don’t have a whole lot to say about this book.

I gave up on it pretty early on. It might be your thing, it might not be. One thing, though: don’t execpt any supernatural elements in this story like you’ll find in Hill’s other works. He’s tried to spin a fully human horror but really just wound up creating a stereotypical, biased look at things. I can’t in good conscience recommend it.

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Doomsday.1

19172090Author: John Byrne
Release Date: November 20, 2013
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Post-Apocalypse, Remake

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers:  Low
GoodReads | Amazon

Don’t let the relatively simplistic cover of the first issue turn you off. This is a really great read. Not only that, it’s a pretty fantastic looking read. It’s rare that I really enjoy a story and the artwork so this one gets pretty high marks from me. I mean, sure, it’s a bit dated of an art style but that’s beacuse Doomsday.1 is a reimagining for an older series by the same author called Doomsday + 1. So it sticks true to it’s roots in a lot of ways.

The story follows the crew of  the International Space Station after a powerful solar flare turns the planet into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. They ultimately return to the surface of the planet and have to find a way to survive. The characters themselves are a bit stereotypical as are some of the situations in which the survivors find themselves. But the story is very well paced and well enough developed that you can forgive that.

A little bit harder to accept is the fact that science doesn’t necessarily agree with what would happen in such a situation but psh. Who cares about science in a comic book? I just appreciate that it’s a decent post-apocalyptic series that doesn’t involve zombies or vampires or robots or something. It’s a very solid, straight forward apocalypse and that in itself is enjoyable.

I definitely recommend picking this one up unless you’re not a fan of 70s/80s comic throwbacks.

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Five Ghosts Vol. 1:
The Haunting of Fabian Gray

18070208Author: Frank Barbiere
Illustrator: Chris Mooneyham
Release Date: September 18, 2013
Publisher: Image Comics
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Retro Pulp, Action, Adventure, Supernatural

Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Spoilers:  Low
GoodReads | Amazon

A truly modern pulp action concept at it’s core, Five Ghosts is an absolute gem. It helps that the plot is solid – if simple – and the books move at a fantastic pace.

Fabian Gray is an adventurer and treasure hunter in the 1930s who comes in contact with a mysterious artifact called the Dreamstone. That artifact infests whim with five literary ghosts in the form of Robin Hood, Merlin, Draclua, Sherlock Holmes, and some guy named Miyamoto Musashi who I’m pretty sure was a real person so I’m not sure how he’s a “literary ghost” but whatever. Each of the ghosts imbues him with a particular ability that helps him in his adventures.

That’s really the whole point of the story – the adventures.

Fabian is running around trying to find a way to bring back his sister, Silvia, and to fix his own unfortunate predicament. All along the way he runs into crazy situations that I’m sure harken back to the old dime novel sort of adventures you’d find it old paperbacks and magazines at the turn of the century. Fabian is that sort of classic adventurer and the stories follow along with it. It’s all crazy artifacts, lost tribes, evil Nazis and that sort of thing. Granted there’s a lot more to it with others trying to track him down.

But the artwork is a lot more modern and cleaner and the dialogue and storytelling feel more together. It reminds me a lot of Indiana Jones with a dash of supernatural thriller thrown in. Honestly, this is one of the most exciting series I’ve come across in a long while. I can’t recommend it enough.

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Have you read any of these?

What did you think of them?

Let us know in the comments.

3 responses to “Action, Adventure, and Angst Await in These Comic Collections

    • I know, right? Image is just nailing it these days. I’m looking forward to picking up the first issue of Shutter tomorrow. (I think it’s tomorrow. I’ll have to check.)

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