Tag Archives: Spies

Review: SNOWDEN by Ted Rall

Snowden-Seven-Stories-Press

How important is the truth to you? In the new graphic biography, SNOWDEN, published by Seven Stories Press, Ted Rall presents to us not only the story of a whistleblower but an American intelligence system gone haywire. In Orwellian fashion, your laptop, home computer, smartphone, or television screen are being used as monitoring devices. As Rall states, “The National Security Agency’s goal is to gather every fact, every communication, about everybody on Earth.” And despite the best efforts of Edward Snowden to expose the abuse of power, the NSA continues to pretty much do as it pleases. Unlike the media’s personality-driven story, this story is only partly about a whistleblower.

Edward-Snowden-Ted-Rall

Ted Rall is known for his provocative political cartoons. For this book, he aims for clarity and a step-by-step approach. He does not draw horns and a tail on each of the bad guys. He tones it down for the sake of better conveying the facts. It’s a delicate balancing act as he goes about describing the enormity of the abuse, impressing upon the reader the large number of people who knew about it but remained quiet, and attempting to paint a portrait of the ideal personality to blow the whistle.

NSA-Surveillance

Given the number of key facts that need to be presented in an organized, and accessible fashion, Rall does a supreme job of giving the reader a primer on how their privacy is being violated and why a young man named Edward Snowden deserves to be given a chance to make his case.

Edward-Snowden-James-Clapper

The pace of the narrative is just right. It amounts to a panel per page. You feel a serious urgency tempered by a steady hand. It seems like each page has boiled down what it has to say to a very compelling level. Many pages can easily act as memes. One excellent example focuses on the duplicitous testimony before Congress by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He makes the ridiculous distinction that it’s alright to store an innocent person’s data as long as it’s not read.

Ted-Rall-Snowden-2015

Ted Rall has never drawn a convincing portrait of anyone. His depictions don’t really resemble Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or George W. Bush as much as look like a bunch of generic meat puppets. That helps create enough of a distance when dealing with these political fixtures. Maybe this story was a little different as it sees a former boy scout and defender of country turn into the most wanted man on the planet. Rall seems to have been moved by that fact.

Ted-Rall-Snowden

We mostly see Snowden depicted pretty much like any other Rall character but, at times, there is a less rushed, more careful, depiction. And, without a doubt, there is a certain specificity, and even warmth, for his cover art portrait of Edward Snowden. I think that was essential and will help draw readers into a most compelling read.

SNOWDEN is a 224-page trade paperback, published by Seven Stories Press, and available now. You can find it at Amazon right here.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Comics, Edward Snowden, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Seven Stories Press, Ted Rall

Review: NINJAK #1

Cover art by Lewis Larosa

Cover art by Lewis Larosa

It is a pleasure to see Matt Kindt’s mind at work. He’s always had a thing for intrigue and circuitous plots. His latest work on Ninjak is right in step with that. I love how this comic opens up with a dramatic fighting scene that turns out to be something from a movie that our main character was viewing when he was a kid. It’s one of those added touches you can expect from Matt Kindt (RAI, Mind MGMT). And you’ve got great follow through from artist Clay Mann (X-Men: Legacy, Gambit) in the first of two parallel stories running in our first issue.

Ninjak-Valiant-Comics

The idea is to show you Colin King from two perspectives: as a raw recruit; and, some years later, as a seasoned MI-6 master assassin. Kindt has a way with getting you deep into the story in unexpected ways. We next see Colin fight the sexy and deadly Roku. She’s been genetically enhanced. Her hair alone is a lethal weapon. It just takes three braided strands and her hair can “garrote or behead a man. It can cut through metal and it has incendiary capabilities.” Whoa, hang on there, how do you “garrote” a man? Yikes, that’s smarts. Quite quirky and memorable line. Kindt is definitely the guy to take Valiant’s Ninjak to new places.

Let’s linger just a bit more. Here’s the thing with a Kindt adventure, it just keeps building, twisting, and turning. That opening scene with the kid repeats itself in different ways to reveal a tumultuous and abused young life. But the kid keeps fighting.

We ultimately find Colin infiltrating the notorious Shadow Seven and then we make the jump to Colin as a raw recruit in North Korea, this time teaming up Kindt with artist Butch Guice (Captain America, Action Comics). The style is rougher and fits in well with that more gritty time in Colin’s life. This second ongoing story lacks some of the potency of the first but perhaps that balances things out. The thing I like most, so far, in this whole comic is the flipping back and forth between the 10 year-od Colin and the 30 year-old Colin in our first story. Overall, this is a well-executed first issue.

NINJAK #1 is available now. For more details, visit our friends at Valiant Entertainment right here.

2 Comments

Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Matt Kindt, Valiant Entertainment

Review: ‘Area 51: The Graphic History of America’s Most Secret Military Installation’

Area-51-Zenith-Press

What this book does is make a case for what happens at Area 51 is as compelling, even more so, than the lore of what is supposed to have happened at Area 51. You know, the infamous crash landing at Roswell of what many believe to have been a spaceship full of extraterrestrials. Well, that issue gets addressed right from the start since that’s when Area 51 began its uneasy relationship with the general public.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Area 51, Comics, graphic novels, History, Zenith Press

Review: THE JAMES BOND OMNIBUS, published by Titan Books

Titan-Books-James-Bond-Omnibus-comic-strips

James Bond came very close to only remaining a character in a series of novels by Ian Fleming. It was once hard to imagine James Bond in comics let alone as leading a magnificent movie franchise and recognized as a pop culture icon. Nice how things have a way of working out.

James-Bond-Omnibus-Titan-Books

You will find the Bond lifestyle in full gear in this comic strip, which began in 1958, Volume Five, the most recent, collects work by writer Jim Lawrence and artist Yaroslav Horak, which ran from 1966 to 1984. Published by Titan Books, this is a series of deluxe edition books. It is full of action, exotic locales, intrigue, villains, and sexy women.

The artwork and the dialogue are what you’d expect from an action comic strip. The Bond character is a hunk of a guy. He’s not necessarily reflecting the Bond on the big screen. Whoever the Bond is on the big screen is a tough act to follow. But that’s where the comic strip can claim some cred. It used to be the only Bond there was outside the novels.

Titan Books has collected the whole run of the James Bond comic strip into collectible volumes. Volume Five is 272 pages, priced at $19.95 US, and includes nine adventures: Till Death Do Us Part, The Torch-Time Affair, Hot-Shot, Nightbird, Ape of Diamonds, When The Wizard Awakes, Sea Dragon, Death Wing, and The Xanadu Connection.

Visit Titan Books for more details here.

Leave a comment

Filed under British Comics, Comics, European Comics, James Bond, Titan Books

Review: VELVET #1, published by Image Comics

Velvet-Brubaker-Image-Comics

“Velvet,” published by Image Comics, is your next spy thriller addiction. It is written by one of the best crime fiction writers that comics has ever known, Ed Brubaker. And he is teamed up with one of the best artists he’s ever worked with, Steve Epting. This new series blasts away from the start. We have the dark and moody color palette that Brubaker favors, provided by colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser. We have the nondescript lettering, as if out of typewriter or teletype machine, provided by letterer Chris Eliopoulos. Yes, this comic is like a good martini, shaken, not stirred.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Crime, Crime Fiction, Ed Brubaker, Image Comics, mystery, Pulp Fiction, Spy Thrillers

THE ACTIVITY, by IMAGE COMICS, Brings You Close to the Spy Action

Image-Comics-The-Activity-2013

Among American special operations, there is the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s SEAL Team Six. And there is also an elite group of Army spies known as the Intelligence Support Activity. The ISA has been involved in virtually all high-profile American special operations of the last 30 years. The Army does not acknowledge its existence.

Leave it to the world of comics to shed some light on this intriguing group of spies. Writer Nathan Edmondson and artist Mitch Gerads give you, “The Activity.” You can check out their website here. And you can visit Image Comics and learn more about it here.

“The Activity” comic book series has been around now for awhile so that’s no secret. It caught the attention of ABC news and you can read their report here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Action, Adventure, Comics, Image Comics, Spies