Review DC COMICS – THE NEW 52: THE POSTER COLLECTION from Insight Editions

DC Comics - The New 52: The Poster Collection

DC Comics – The New 52: The Poster Collection

This is one colossal book. It’s 40 posters featuring art from the biggest names in the DC Universe. This is “DC Comics – The New 52: The Poster Collection,” published by Insight Editions. All in one place, you get an eye full of iconic cover art from the most popular DC Comics titles since the launch of the New 52 in 2011. The book of posters is 12″ x 16″, priced at $24.99, and proves an excellent collection of contemporary DC Comics artwork.

Wonder Woman Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.

Wonder Woman Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.

If you love The New 52 comics, then this is a perfect companion piece. Here are some samples with the comic book alongside for comparison.

Action Comics Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.

Action Comics Poster with issue from comic book for comparison.

And, if you are somehow new to The New 52, this unique book will make an excellent introduction.

New 52 Batgirl Posters

New 52 Batgirl Posters

“DC Comics – The New 52: The Poster Collection” is available as of May 12, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions right here. You can also go here, here, and here.

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Filed under Comics, DC Comics, Insight Editions, The New 52

Review: Wonder Woman Hardcover Ruled Journal from Insight Editions

Wonder Woman Hardcover Ruled Journal

Wonder Woman Hardcover Ruled Journal

It’s always a pleasure to share with you items from Insight Editions. Here’s an inventive and useful item for superhero fans, the Wonder Woman Ruled Journal. Before it gives way to blank ruled pages, you get a few pages of Wonder Woman fighting Cheetah. In the midst of battle, she drops her journal with her strategic notes. The rest is yours to fill with your own adventure.

Wonder Woman Journal 1

The cover displays the Wonder Woman logo in silver against a red background with star patterns. The rugged and rubbery texture is reminiscent of a superhero costume. It is 192 pages, measuring 5.25″ x 8.25″. Who wouldn’t enjoy this distinctive journal? This is perfect for anyone on your gift-giving list. And, by the way, there’s a Superman version too!

Wonder Woman Journal 2

Insight Editions is dedicated to creating the very best illustrated books focusing on photography, musics, and pop culture. They are one of my favorite publishers and I look forward to sharing more of their exemplary work with you.

Wonder Woman Journal 3

The Wonder Woman Hardcover Ruled Journal is available as of May 19, 2015.

For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions right here. You can also visit here, here, and here.

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Filed under Comics, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Insight Editions, Wonder Woman

Review: Pablo: Art Masters Series

Pablo-Self-Made-Hero-Birmant

To explore the life of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) is to explore the life of a man who left a huge mark on art, so huge a mark that to take him out of the picture would be, well, unthinkable. To better understand the man, we have this new graphic novel, published by SelfMadeHero, simply entitled, “Pablo.”

How better to get a grip on the man behind the legend than to explore his early years. And who better to guide us than the woman in his young life, Fernande Olivier. This is no simple story of love, or friendship, or an artist’s development. This is the great Picasso, after all. However, with Fernande’s help, we get a down to earth look at him. The creators of this graphic novel have placed Fernande in the role she had always aspired to, that of storyteller. Through the script by Julie Birmant and the artwork by Clément Oubrerie, we get one of the most lucid depictions of the life of Picasso, one of the most celebrated and enigmatic of public figures.

Pablo-Picasso-Fernande-Oubrerie

Fernande. Who was this person? Fernande Olivier (born Amélie Lang; 1881–1966) would become a well-known artist’s model and, ultimately, a writer. She was involved with Picasso from 1904 to 1911. She was one of the models for Picasso’s landmark work, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” Picasso would paint her over one hundred times. Fernande’s memoir entitled, “Picasso and his Friends,” was published in 1930. It outraged Picasso and led to her agreeing not to publish any more details about their time together until after their deaths. Without a doubt, Picasso would not be pleased with this new graphic novel. Fernande is not a woman easily impressed with Picasso’s antics. As we see here, she is a veteran of Parisian art circles. And she proves quite a match for him.

Pablo-Picasso-SelfMadeHero-2015

Picasso. The world would know his name. But, as for Fernande, there came a point when she no longer had a place in his life. As his star ascended, she only reminded him of the hard times. Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie depict a career that began in poverty and reached its climax with the advent of cubism and modern art. We see Picasso’s art develop through friendships with poets Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, the painter Georges Braque, and his great rival Henri Matisse. And all through, arguably, the most fruitful and significant time in his career, there was Fernande.

This is a book that provides a fresh new look at Paris, the capital of the art world at the turn of the 20th century. Julie Birmant gives a nod to younger readers by including such terms and phrases as “awesome” and “kill me now” in the dialogue. It’s not overdone and adds a contemporary feel to the action. For the most part, the narrative is straightforward and peppered with intriguing bits of insight. Here, for instance, is a description of the first time that Fernande saw Picasso’s studio: “I still remember the smell: a mixture of wet dog, oil, dust and tobacco…the smell of work.”

This is a very honest and beautiful work. It will appeal to all ages from teen on up. It’s a frank look at the artist’s life and just goes to show that even the great Picasso had to start somewhere and he did not do it alone. In many ways, it’s the very same path that any young artist takes today, including the revelations from reading Rimbaud. Picasso lived that life long before Millennials and this book does a wonderful job of bridging that gap. The young Picasso is made quite relatable and would fit right in any coffee shop today.

“Pablo” is a 344-page trade paperback, published by SelfMadeHero. It is available as of May 5, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at SelfMadeHero right here. You can also find it at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Art, Art books, Comics, France, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Modern Art, Pablo Picasso, Paris, SelfMadeHero

Review: AMICULUS: A SECRET HISTORY: VOL. I: ROMA AETERNA

Amiculus-Travis-Horseman

“Amiculus: A Secret History: Vol. I: Roma Aeterna” is the first in a trilogy about the fall of the Roman empire. Not the decline, we go straight to the fall. And at the epicenter, so it would have seemed, was the boy king, Romulus, the last emperor of the west. As far as boy kings go, he was as inept and childish as they come and was easily manipulated by his overseer, the Magister. In this issue, we get to see the Magister make minced meat out of Romulus and anyone who proved to hinder the precarious western front of the Roman empire.

Creator and writer Travis Horseman does a wonderful job of bringing history to life. His narrative, along with the sharp artwork of Giancarlo Caracuzzo, reminds me of the historical graphic novels of Wayne Vansant. There’s that same urgency in the lines drawn along with a mission to get it right. In this case, Horseman is not attempting to organize actual facts. He is filling in the blanks to a nearly nonexistent story about the real Romulus. And to further propel the story, he has created the shadowy figure of Amiculus, a supernatural entity that controls events behind the scenes. It’s not quite clear what powers he has but it’s clear he’s feared and omnipresent.

Amiculus-Romulus

Rome was not built in a day nor did fall in one day. However, some days are more fateful than others like when Romulus ceased to reign in A.D. 476. Our story begins in March, A.D. 538. The armies of Justinian, the emperor of Constantinople, have retaken what was left of the Roman Empire. Procopius of Caesarea, is a historian embedded with the army to record events. He’s our narrator. Once Rome is secure, he sets out to find out why Romulus disappeared from the picture some sixty years prior. Of course, the boy king, if he should still be alive, would have quite a story to tell. For the meantime, Procopius has the next best thing, a book that outlines the last days of Romulus’s reign as written by Romulus himself.

You can see that Horseman and Caracuzzo are having a whale of a good time with this comic. I’m glad this title can be added to the noteworthy work being created in comics. Let me tell you one thing, and I’ll gladly say it again, if I hear or read one more person chirp that comics aren’t for kids anymore, I’ll slap them silly. Here, pick up a copy of Amiculus, and you can clearly see yet another example of the mighty power of the comics medium. Those who continue to use the lame catch phrase “Comics aren’t for kids anymore” are hiding under a rock. They have chosen to hide under that rock. Amiculus lives somewhere in the region of an “all-ages” comic. Not totally since, gosh darn it, there is some mature content. However, it boils down to PG-13 fare: mild language, relatively mild violence. Hey, it’s the fall of Rome. There will be some blood and some swearing. So, yeah, from teens on up.

As a great mystery and a gateway to history, “Amiculus: A Secret History” is a worthwhile read with colorful characters, intriguing elements, and one wild tale to tell. It will be fun to see how the story unfolds in the rest of the trilogy. For more details, visit the official Amiculus website right here.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, History

Review: FIGHT CLUB 2 #1

Cover Artist: David Mack

Cover Artist: David Mack

Chuck Palahniuk writes the sequel to Fight Club as a comic book. There has to be something highly ironic about that. What would Tyler Durden think? In this case, it works. Palahniuk doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. He just needs to show up. We’re picking up where we left off. Project Mayhem is history. After all the outrageous events from the hugely popular novel and movie, we find our main characters trying to live a normal life. Ah, and there’s the rub. Imagine it’s ten years later and Marla Singer has married Tyler Durden. Oh, he goes by “Sebastian” now and is very low-key.

Fight-Club-2-Chuck-Palahniuk-Dark-Horse-Comics

A quick refresh, if you saw the movie years ago: The characters played by Helena Bonham Carter and Edward Norton got married! And they’ve got a kid now who is very disturbed. And Marla is quite dissatisfied, to say the least, with a docile and settled Tyler, er, Sebastian. If it weren’t for the pills, well, Sebastian might lose control. He might even go back to being the crazed man Marla once knew. And that’s okay with Marla.

This first issue sets the stage with a hot streak of conflict carried down the line by Marla. Artist Cameron Stewart nails the look of a woman on the verge of a breakdown. We see Marla twist and turn as she hungers for excitement only to see a neutered Tyler/Sebastian. Where’s the sex? The violence? The mayhem? Desperately, Marla tries to relive the old days by visiting support groups. One she seems to like is a group for those with Progeria Syndrome, severe aging. Marla tries her best but it’s just not the same.

It would have been very tempting to have gotten Cameron Stewart to go ahead with directly depicting the stars who made these characters such icons. Sure, I wouldn’t have minded seeing Edward Norton back with Helena Bonham Carter as they collide with Brad Pitt. That said, Stewart provides us with the next best thing. Marla may be his best out of the three of his takes on the characters. And the other two hold their own. Nothing like a woman scorned. This first issue belongs to Marla.

Of course, that’s not to say we’re not also seeing some pretty crazy stuff going on once Marla has done her part to light the fuse. No doubt, if you’re a fan of the novel and/or movie, or even if you’re completely new to all this, FIGHT CLUB 2 will appeal to you with its lively and quirky action.

So, like I say, Palahniuk is not reinventing the wheel. He was ahead of his time with the original Fight Club and we’ve all been catching up since then. Crazed consumer culture, a twisted value system, a mass of humanity all insular and selfish, it’s all on a high boil now. Fight Club 2 is on a high boil indeed.

FIGHT CLUB 2 #1 is a 32-page comic book, priced at $3.99, and is available as of May 27, 2015. For more details, visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics right here. Also be sure to visit the official FIGHT CLUB 2 website and the official Chuck Palahniuk fansite right here.

Also of interest:

Fight-Club-Free-Comic-Book-Day

The FIGHT CLUB 2 experience takes off on May 2 with a special Free Comic Book Day promotion you won’t want to miss. On Saturday May 2nd, Dark Horse Comics will debut one of the most anticipated comic book and literary events of the year with a FIGHT CLUB 2 story written by NEW YORK TIMES bestselling novelist Chuck Palahniuk, illustrated by Eisner Award winning artist Cameron Stewart and colored by award winning Dave Stewart. The Dark Horse Comics Free Comic Book Day Sampler includes a 14-page story that adapts the ending of the FIGHT CLUB novel (which fans will recall is different than the ending of the acclaimed film) and leads into the upcoming Dark Horse Comics FIGHT CLUB 2 comic book series. The first issue of FIGHT CLUB 2 will be available at comics shops, select book stores and digitally via the Dark Horse digital store and app on May 27th.

Dark Horse Comics has encouraged fans to further contribute to the mayhem with a guerilla marketing campaign utilizing the phrases “Tyler Durden Lives” and “Rize or Die” in order to win Easton Press limited, leather-bound editions of Palahniuk’s novels BEAUTIFUL YOU, FIGHT CLUB and SURVIVOR. Fans are encouraged to e-mail their photos and letters using the phrases “Tyler Durden Lives” and “Rize or Die” to: projectmayhem@darkhorse.com.

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Filed under Chuck Palahniuk, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics

Review: A DARKE PHANTASTIQUE, edited by Jason V Brock

Cover Art by Samuel Araya

Cover Art by Samuel Araya

Jason V Brock provides a most invigorating and informative introduction to the anthology he has edited, “A Darke Phantastique.” Essentially, his aim is a return to basics, like Poe’s “unity of effect,” as well as achieve a finer focus on dark fantasy, horror, and magic realism. In his view, and he would certainly not be alone in this, the best horror includes, amid everyday reality, “a touch of the strange,” that dark matter which sets the wheels in motion.

Brock aspires to a more palpable dark fantasy, a fresh new look at the fantastic. Brock provides a chilling and inventive example with his own contribution, “A Darke Phantastique.” It sets the tone for the wide variety of content you’ll find here. Brock gives us a devilishly dark creation myth. We have an initial fear of the unknown that develops into something more. And, in the process, we find ourselves on a most unusual path from dark to light.

Illustration by Jason V Brock

Illustration by Jason V Brock

Leafing through, one story jumped right out at me, with its bravado mix of humor and horror, and I’m calling it this book’s mascot. That’s Ray Garton’s “Lizzard Man Dispatches.” It has a really nice slow boil. The characters are so banal and relatable that you’re quickly lulled into their world of blogging and pet reptiles. A little further in, and we can induldge in all manner of conspiracy theory. Where this leads us is a gradual acceptance of something supernatural and far beyond our control.

The book is broken down into five sections which helps give you more of sense of the book’s vision. There is “Magical Realities,” “Lost Innocence,” “Forbidden Knowledge,” “Hidden Truths,” and “Uncanny Encounters.”

William F. Nolan’s “The Last Witch” is another fine tale in the first section. It fits in quite well with the theme of magical realities as you come to find that even a witch is more than she may seem. With a touch of humor, Nolan lures us into the horror that will follow.

Don Webb’s “Lovecraft’s Pillow” is such a bittersweet ode to lost innocence. It is also a hilarious send-up to the whole horror book industry. A jaded best-selling horror author considers himself no better than a fraud. But he may find what he’s looking for when he acquires the death bed pillow of none other than H.P. Lovecraft.

Lois H. Gresh’s “Old Enough to Drink” is quite the creepy cautionary tale to forbidden knowledge. Told with such a gusto, this story blends fairy tales with vivid nightmares.

S. T. Joshi’s “You’ll Reach There in Time” confronts hidden truths in a fun story. A fractured narrative structure gradually reveals how a criminal gets what he deserves.

Tom Conoboy’s “Phoenix on the Orange River” gives us his answer to a series of uncanny encounters. It’s a kaleidoscopic journey and a protracted dance with Death. It’s the last of nearly 50 contributions in this 728-page book complete with story notes from each contributor. Conoboy’s tale is a fitting end to this remarkable collection.

Among other treats you’ll find here is “Genius,” a screenplay by Greg Bear. It’s the only screenplay in this anthology and it is quite a delight to read. Bear has made his mark in pop culture in many ways beginning as one of the five co-founders of the San Diego Comic-Con. In “Genius,” he gives us an intriguing look at characters caught up in something far bigger than themselves. And that’s the problem, this challenge is so big that it threatens to destroy them and all of humanity. This is a moving story of human connection amid very dark matter. It’s a very good example on what price is paid for genius.

And just one more, the first contribution, Paul Kane’s “Michael the Monster,” which is a glorious opener. This is an unabashed celebration of monsters. It is Halloween, and Michael, an actual boy monster, revels in the one night that he can be himself in plain sight. A time for monsters! This is a perfect way to start a book where monsters are so welcome.

And so there’s a taste of “A Darke Phantastique: Encounters with the Uncanny and Other Magical Things.” The book itself is a joy to hold and behold. Great care has been given to making this a pleasurable reading experience. Everything from choice of font to layout to use of illustrations guides the eye. The hardcover is a well-crafted treat. Given the book’s generous page count, it is an ideal size to leisurely pass the time with. This is a beautiful book full of deliciously scary and compelling work. I’m so glad that Jason V Brock put so much care into this collection of some of the best contemporary dark fantasy, horror, and magic realism.

The following lists the contents to the book with a link to or related to each contributor. I think the links are essential as they give you an opportunity to pause and appreciate this book some more:

Continue reading

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Filed under Anthologies, Bram Stoker Awards, Comics, Darke Phantastique, Edgar Allan Poe, Horror, Jason V. Brock, Weird Fiction, World Horror Con

Review: BLACK RIVER

Fantagraphics-Josh-Simmons

There is no Black River to be found in Josh Simmons’s graphic novel, “Black River,” but that’s besides the point. The characters are all post-apocalypse survivors with nary a need to know one river from another. Nihilism prevails. For such a bare bones story, there are plenty of compelling moments, both grim and poetic.

People can be pretty hostile and dangerous even in the best of times, so it is quite something to have a group of youth running wild into the wasteland. No zombies to contend with, if that’s any consolation. It’s more the drip, drip, drip, of too many lost and rough souls wandering. All this Simmons depicts well. It’s something any hip cartoonist can revel in, if he or she chooses, and he does a good job of it.

With all the jailhouse craziness that ensues, Simmons is a careful artist. He has a deft way of creating just the right amount of detail to evoke a landscape or a town that has been left in ruins. And I really enjoy his rendering of the Aurora Borealis. It comes up a number of times in panels, enough to add to the spacey energy that charges this work.

Much like a good old-fashioned horror movie, a comic such as this, to be any good, relies upon setting up an interesting mood and environment. Without a doubt, Simmons succeeds in this. He gives us some compelling characters among his ragtag group of hardened misfits. And we’re left wanting to turn the page as a morbid sense of curiosity sets in. Of course, things will get darker, as well as more disgusting. This is raw stuff, kids. Mature content. Those familiar with it, will not be disappointed.

Josh-Simmons-Black-River

And if you’re in Seattle, be sure to visit the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday, April 25, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm for a reception for the publication of Josh Simmons’s new graphic novel, Black River, and the release of the latest issue of Intruder, #15. Simmons will be joined by his colleagues from the Intruder comix collective. Simmons contributes a story in the latest issue illustrated by Joe Garber. Festivities include a display of Simmons’s original drawings, a black light room, short film screening, a book signing, and complimentary refreshments.

Black River is a 112-page trade paperback, priced at $18.99. For more details, visit our friends at Fantagraphics Books right here.

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Filed under Comics, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Horror, Josh Simmons

Review: THE REALIST by Asaf Hanuka

Hanuka-The-Realist

For the last four years, Asaf Hanuka has been doing auto-biographical webcomics about his life in Tel Aviv, Israel, entitled, “The Realist.” In many ways, this is a pretty straightforward narrative but, as in any life, things can gain, at any moment, a razor-sharp specificity and intensity. This is, after all, one of the most watched war-torn areas in the world.

So, when a morning can simply consist of a father goading his little boy to eat his toast, that already carries potentially more weight than a similar moment somewhere else. That said, Hanuka seems to carry himself like a man on a mission wherever he might live. The Realist has now been collected for the first time in English as a graphic novel, published by Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios.

The-Realist-Hanuka

Comparable to the work of R. Crumb and Daniel Clowes, Hanuka has a keen sense for depictions of everyday life. What really matters is that he’s FUNNY!

I actually laughed out loud from reading his comics. He wears his version of the average Joe quite well. There’s one strip where we follow Hanuka throughout his day, as if following the daily routine of a computer from start up to sleep mode. At each point of the day, he has options to choose: engage or ignore the bus driver, the neighbor, the co-worker, his son, his wife. End. Repeat the next day. It strikes close to home, and it’s hilarious.

They say that if if you try to call attention to your merits, people will gladly ignore you. However, if you revel in self-deprecation, suddenly you have a following. Well, Hanuka definitely has a following. But it’s more than having readers relate to your problems. Hanuka has an engaging style with his artwork. It’s a crisp rendering of his life that you can’t help but want to know more about.

“The Realist” is an original 192-page hardcover graphic novel, priced at $24.99, arriving in comic shops from Archaia on April 22nd with a cover by creator Asaf Hanuka. For more details, visit our friends at Boom! Studios right here.

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Filed under Archaia Entertainment, Asaf Hanuka, Boom! Studios, Comics, Family, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Israel, Middle East, War, Webcomics

Review: Insight Legends series and Marvel Comics

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THOR and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO IRON MAN.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THOR and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO IRON MAN.

Who is it that loves superhero comics the most? Kids! Yes, superhero comics are for kids. There are plenty of stories geared toward older readers but, at the heart of the matter, if you stray so far from your younger readers, you have really lost something vital. Well, the focus shifted many years ago to mature and dark content to say the least. While an all-ages sphere of influence would prove quite interesting, we’ve moved past that model. Whatever the content, ultimately it depends on the creative team as to merit of each project. That said, kids must get their due. In that regard, Insight Editions has come up with a series with young readers in mind.

Tony Stark takes it easy.

Tony Stark takes it easy.

I can well imagine books like these being warmly received, taken at face value, by younger readers. Sounds idealistic? No, it’s just the power of childhood. Each one of these books is part of the Insight Legends series from Insight Editions. The series kicks off with a focus on characters from the Marvel Comics universe.

Thor postage stamp stickers.

Thor postage stamp stickers.

Each book comes packed with extras like posters, stickers, and “top secret” documents. Pages are full of intriguing facts, maps, and family trees, providing a veritable guidebook on a particular character. That’s the theme: a focus on one character and that character’s view of the world. Included in the series are Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain America, and Thor. Each book is around 64 pages with about 10 inserts, varies with each book.

For more details, visit our friends at Insight Editions. You can find THE WORLD ACCORDING TO IRON MAN right here. You can find THE WORLD ACCORDING TO THOR right here.

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Filed under Avengers, Comics, Insight Editions, Marvel Comics, Superheroes

Review: MIGHTY STAR AND THE CASTLE OF THE CANCATERVATER

Mighty-Star-Koyama-Press

Alex Degen is working in a place that many cartoonists want to be working in. It’s a place of wonder and experimentation. He’s definitely someone I’d love to sit down and have a long talk with over tea, beer, whatever. What he does in this collection of comics hits close to home since it’s the sort of comics I like to create. I feel that I know a goodly amount about this as I’ve studied numerous similar work over the years and I know several cartoonists in a similar boat. That said, this is a pretty specific way of working.

Some label this type of cartooning as “dream logic” or “psychedelic.” What they mean is that the work evokes an anything-goes quality or follows a stream-of-consciousness narrative. This is seemingly loose work. But that doesn’t mean it’s a free pass to get sloppy. Instead, you want to be pretty clean and precise with your presentation in order to go to some weird places and have it read properly. All this Degen does quite well.

This book collects six parts of previous webcomics which add up to one wild journey. Each part ends with a “to be continued” and it provides an essential pause. I say this because that may help break things down a bit for you, if you’re totally new. What you’ll initially find is a world where it seems as if anything is liable to explode or melt or some such surreal craziness. Let’s get one thing straight, the definition of “cancatervater.” It means, “to heap into a pile.” Does that help? Well, does it? Okay, think of this Cancatervater as a most sinister force plotting to take over the world. Now, add Mighty Star, our superhero, to the mix.

A-Degen-Koyama-Press

What happens is, well, a little of everything. It’s science fiction, fantasy, manga, and bit of a bodice ripper. Twice, we have two pretty young women suddenly bare breasted. One is Bijoux, a typical manga type in skin-tight clothes. The other is far less obvious, an aerialist, Zoe Trala. In both cases, it seems that a certain amount of tension, made up of pent-up hormones and angst, has reached a point of no return. The women’s clothes are not ripped off of them. They simply find themselves without tops. So, needless to say, this book has mature content, more for older teens and above. In the end, this book is more cerebral than titillating.

It’s after this second incident with Zoe Trala’s missing top that more nudity is included but it has purpose. It’s always of a rather understated nature, not offensive or particularly gratuitous. And it leads us to one of the most compelling scenes in the narrative. Mighty Star’s journey leads him to a forest. And hanging from the trees are numerous naked bodies of both men and women. They aren’t hung dead bodies. No, instead, they fall from the trees just like apples. In fact, they each have a big apple stem where each head should be. This is the most explicit symbol of the forbidden knowledge that Mighty Star has been confronting all along.

Alex-Degen-comics

All the characters here are elusive and enigmatic. Moreover, the superhero motif is not obviously vigorous but mysterious. In a setting for action there is farce and ambiguity. The style here is a somewhat rougher version of King City’s Brandon Graham. Offbeat. Off–kilter. Dialed back to just the right frequency. When you expect conflict, you may end up with a muffled sedate response. Sex. Violence. Superheroes. Leave it to a cartoonist like Alex Degen to balance all that with such a wry and ironic sensibility.

Yes, Alex, I’ll be waiting with tea, beer, or whatever. I’m sure we’d have one hell of a good talk.

MIGHTY STAR AND THE CASTLE OF THE CANCATERVATER is a 172-page, black & white, trade paperback, priced at $15.00, published by Koyama Press. For more details, visit our friends at Koyama Press right here.

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Filed under Alex Degen, Brandon Graham, Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Koyama Press, Webcomics