Monday, June 23, 2014

SXSW 2014 Starter Pack Review Part II

Back in March, I purchased the SXSW 2014 Submit Starter Pack, 100 digital comics/graphic novels for 10 bucks. I thought it would be fun to review the entire bundle..... slowly, ten titles at a time. This is going to take several weeks months, so bear with me here. 

My rules: if it’s a more-or-less standard individual issue (roughly 32 pages), it gets a one-sentence review. If it’s a graphic novel or longer work, I’m allowed to write more. I’ll start each entry with the title and creators, the copy in italics as it appeared on ComiXology, followed by my review. Here we go - hope you enjoy it.

(Part I can be found here.)

Evil Inc Monthly Vol. 7 
Brad Guigar

Captain Heroic faces his daddy issues, and the Real Housewives of Transylvania are introduced in a special, two-week Halloween story. Also included in this edition is "Tales from the Evil Inc Archive!" This trip into the Evil Inc vault re-lives the death of an old nemesis, Mister Shiver -- but not before one of the best intro sequences in Evil Inc history!

The opening story - that of a superhero dad and his adult superhero son trying to express their love for each other - has some good moments, but the remainder of the stories are filled with well-worn puns/wordplay, and not very funny plots.


Nathan Sorry Vol. 1 
Rich Barrett 

Nathan Sorry did not die on 9/11. He ran. A missed flight saves Nathan Sorry from being in his office in the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11 and leaves him with an inadvertently stolen laptop that contains the key to $20 million and a new identity. Two months later, Nathan is hiding out in a small town, calling himself “James Goode”, and is slowly losing his grasp of who he really is and what he's really running from.


Footprints Vol. 1
Joey Esposito, Jonathan Moore

Bigfoot and his gang of cryptozoological deviants enter a crime noir world full of mystery, horror, monsters and conspiracy. When Foot’s estranged brother Yeti is murdered in the Arctic, Foot reunites his old team of Jersey Devil, Nessy, and Megaldon for one last case that spans back to their very long history together.

Footprints is one of those graphic novels that simply should not work at all. I mean, come on, Bigfoot as a hardboiled detective looking for the murderer of his brother Yeti? And Bigfoot’s buddies helping him on the case - The Jersey Devil, Loch Ness Monster, and Megaldon? How in the world could this work on any level?

I’m not sure, but it does. Esposito provides just the right amount of humor in this gritty noir tale and Jonathan Moore’s art is somewhat reminiscent of that of Sean Phillips. Worth a look.


Kung Fu Skratch! #1
Adrian Thomas Engmann, Erwin Prasetva

Fifteen year old Jason Stonewall and his father, Raymond Stonewall return to the American town of Brickhaven after a year long training sojourn overseas in the East. Now the young martial arts prodigy must deal with his first day as a freshman in high school, b-boy bullies, girls, Brickhaven High's most notorious gang, the SHO'GUNNZ and their menacing leader, the Banchō Gangsta - - FA'SHO!

Fairly engaging tale of sibling rivalry amidst a kung fu background, but since I’m not really a fan of kung fu, I found this one fairly slight.  


Armarauders #1
Dan Taylor, Don Figuerca

Humanity was on the brink of extinction when an alien race brought remarkable technology in the form of massive weapons of war. As mankind stepped into the galactic arena, they encountered the WASTERS, a threat unlike any seen before. In a final mission on a distant world, a squadron of mecha pilots get cut off from reinforcements and have to battle against all odds for survival as they discover dark secrets about their allies... secrets that could alter the balance of power in the universe!

Transformers fans will probably dig this for the action and visuals, but there’s not enough plot for me to continue the series.   


The Antler Boy and Other Stories
Jake Parker

Flying whales, giant imaginary pink bunnies, friendly robots, curious aliens, space explorers, and adventures all find a home between the covers of this book. The Antler Boy and Other Stories collects ten short stories written and illustrated by Jake Parker, New York Times bestselling illustrator and creator of the Missile Mouse graphic novel series from Scholastic.

Nice collection of stories from Jake Parker, many of them previously published in Flight, Flight Explorer and other publications. The most famous character in this collection is undoubtedly Missle Mouse, but the collection also includes two stories each featuring Hugo Earhart and Lucy Nova, as well as several other gems. (My favorites are "The Robot and the Sparrow" and "The Antler Boy.") 

Many of these stories are sweet and touching (maybe too much so at times), yet Parker's imagination is the star of this volume, reflected in some excellent artwork. 


Chloe Noonan: Monster Hunter: Digital Omnibus
Marc Ellerby

Chloe Noonan is a monster hunter, but she doesn't have any powers. She can't beat up bad guys, she can't run without getting a stitch. She's kinda flakey and really not bothered about saving the world. Especially when she has to get the bus everywhere. Set in the fictional British town of Ravensdale, this ongoing series of comics and short stories sees our eponymous hero Chloe Noonan team up with a government led squad of Monster Hunters to solve the ever growing monster problem. This digital omnibus collects every Chloe Noonan story to date in full colour and comes complete with a cover illustration gallery, fan art section and a look into creator Marc (Ellerbisms, Love The Way You Love) Ellerby's sketchbook designs.

I like the concept of Chloe as sort of Buffy the Vampire Slayer without any special powers. The humor - very British - works well enough, but gets old fast. A fun read that I might explore further.


Scam #1
Joe Mulvey

SCAM is "X-Men meets Oceans 11″ and involves a team of super-powered grifters on the biggest con of their lives...taking down a Vegas casino and getting revenge on a former teammate who double-crossed them. "It's better to die a conman, than live like a mark!"

I love tales about con men, grifters and the like, so Scam certainly piqued my interest. The story gets a little confusing at times, mainly because some of the characters look a little too much alike. Oceans 11 is a good comparison, so if you liked those films, I’d recommend this 5-issue volume. 


Anathema #1
Rachel Deering, Christopher Mooneyham

When her world is turned upside down and she is stripped of everything she loves, Mercy must take on dark powers to help save the soul of her beloved Sarah.

Anathema has a great visual style, similar to Mike Mignola’s, with a story by Rachel Deering - who knows a thing or two about horror - that’s both culturally relevant and chilling. 


The Mire
Becky Cloonan

On the eve of a great battle, a humble squire is tasked with delivering a letter to a seemingly abandoned castle at the heart of an ill-famed swamp. Met with mysterious apparitions on the way, he slowly unveils the truth behind his journey as his past is re-written over the course of the story.

Cloonan makes the most of a fairly simple premise with wonderfully detailed illustrations and several wordless panels that allow the reader to pause and reflect upon this tale that showcases Cloonan’s amazing storytelling/illustrating abilities. 


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