OMNIUM GATHERUM 71

Omnium Gatherum #71: Getting By With A Little Help From Friends

By Vincent S. Moore

Howdy there, folks, and welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.

This time out I want to use this forum to give a good buddy of mine a hand.

His name is David Walker.

I met David many moons ago at that Mecca of American Comics and Pop Culture known as Comic-Con. I met David dressed in a dashiki with a big afro wig on his head, pimping his great self published film magazine BadAzzMoFo. From there, a friendship was sparked over mutual interests in comics and blaxploitation. We would talk at every year at San Diego and hang out. We even sat in a number of blacks in comics panels, whether he was moderator or we both sat in the audience. David is on that short list of folks I always hope to see every year at SDCCI.

David Walker is good people.

And he has taken his love of comics and writing and his career to a new level with a worthwhile new project.

David Walker is now a novelist and his first book is Darius Logan: Super Justice Force.

As part of the early promotion for the book, David posted the early chapters on this very website. I read them there and only stopped because I didn’t want to spoil the experience of reading the full novel. Please take my word for it, this is a good book no matter your age. But David’s target audience is young men. And that is where his troubles began and led to self publishing.

See, there is an issue brewing under the radar about getting boys to read.

I won’t go into the topic here as there are much better folks out there talking about this. Some of whom David has listed on the website. Suffice it to say, one aspect of the shrinking of male readership in the young adult category is that publishers are mostly looking for “female friendly” books. It’s hard to make a book female friendly when your intent as writer is to have a young male protagonist and to reach boys as your chosen target audience. After a number of rejections, David has taken on the challenge of bringing his work the marketplace himself. It’s a good thing we live in times where that’s completely doable, if one is willing to sweat through the behind the scenes work.

Which David has done.

If you folks click on the link above you will be taken to the website David put together to promote the book. From there, you can buy it as a print book or as an ebook. Your choice. But please do take the time to look at what hard work and dedication and a belief in yourself and your mission can accomplish.

David Walker is a man on a mission, and a worthwhile one it is.

Check it out.

And thanks in advance.

Until next time, folks.

Namaste.

AVRIL VS VAMPIRES: PART 3

Julie Plec Interview

By Avril Brown

The second annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo was host to many a comic celebrity in addition to a few movie and television stars as well, including one producer and two of the breakaway characters from one of prime time’s greatest shows on the tube today, ‘The Vampire Diaries.’

This brilliantly entertaining and addictive fantasy/drama television show is based on several novels of the same title written by L.J. Smith, first released in the early nineties. Now in the midst of its second season having met with colossal success, ‘The Vampire Diaries’ is dark, sexy, twisted and remarkably captivating. Vampires, werewolves, witches and teen angst, oh my!, ‘Vampire Diaries’ also has plenty of steamy scenes, cliffhanger endings and a penchant for killing off characters.

The brains behind much of the magic generated on the show, Julie Plec is the executive producer of ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ Here she talks about the series’ affinity for heart stopping episode endings, how Jon Gilbert needs to be punched and teases a bit about the future of some of the characters.

Check out ‘The Vampire Diaries’ on the CW Network, new episodes beginning again on Thursday, April 7th at 7PM CST!

OMNIUM GATHERUM 70

Omnium Gatherum #70: Notes From The Sickbay

By Vincent S. Moore

Howdy, folks and welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.

I know this column has all but disappeared in the last year. I haven’t meant to be away for this long. However I was. In an effort to get this feature back on track I am going to engage in some experiments.

One of which is smaller columns. Just something to get the words moving.

That was the plan, until my cold decided to knock me down.

I won’t bore anyone with the details. Suffice it to say that I don’t have enough energy to really rant about any particular topic.

I only have enough energy to point out this.

That’s right. Yours truly is writing Total Recall for Dynamite. It is a great honor and was a lot of fun. I hope everybody enjoys what I came up with.

In upcoming columns I will give you readers some insights into my process creating this mini series.

For now, I want to say I’m coming back to CWR.

Just as soon as I kick this cold’s ass.

Namaste, y’all.

NEW DYNAMITE

NEW DYNAMITE
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Dynamite Entertainment

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Two new miniseries from the folks at DE…

THE LONE RANGER: THE DEATH OF ZORRO #1 is as unusual a crossover I’ve seen in a while. Writer Ande Parks and artist Esteve Polls bring together the Old West heroes in only the loosest sense: most of the story follows the now retired Zorro as he enjoys a life of retirement and relaxation. He has aged past his heroic prime, taken a wife, and is generally content. But when a rogue platoon of soldiers attacks a peaceful tribe of Native Americans, he once again dons the cape and picks up the sword. The results are the stuff of which comicbook titles are made of. Hearing of this, the Lone Ranger enters the fray to provide support for a hero that wore a mask long before he ever met Tonto. Pretty much everything here works, from page one onward. Zorro is charming and dashing, yet with a wisdom acquired by aging. The Ranger is in character as the rigid boy scout, prizing honor above all else. Polls’ art is terrific- he had drawn DE’s previous western series THE MAN WITH NO NAME and THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY, and his take on that era and place is visually striking. I wish all crossovers had this level of quality and consistency.

Staying in the literary realm, WARLORD OF MARS: DEJAH THORIS #1 focuses on one of the primary supporting characters from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ tales of John Carter on Mars. Here writer Arvid Nelson and artist Carlos Rafael take a look at Dejah’s life before meeting Carter, during a time when the city states of the planet were perpetually at war. But as Dejah’s family nears a final defeat of their foe, news arrives from the greater overlord that fighting is to cease. There’s a new plan to come, as pertains to how the cities will exist, and if you’re figuring that it probably involves some treachery, you’re right on target. I’ve been enjoying Nelson’s work on the primary WARLORD title, in part because this is my introduction to this material, and he has made it very accessible. He is successful in doing so here as well. Dejah comes across as a compelling character, and even though I saw the twist coming, I have confidence that the story will pay off in interesting ways. I also enjoyed the art- I’ve seen a lot of work from Rafael, but this is the best-looking comic book he’s ever produced.



AVRIL VS VAMPIRES: PART 2

Candice Accola Interview

By Avril Brown

The second annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo was host to many a comic celebrity in addition to a few movie and television stars as well, including one producer and two of the breakaway characters from one of prime time’s greatest shows on the tube today, ‘The Vampire Diaries.’

This brilliantly entertaining and addictive fantasy/drama television show is based on several novels of the same title written by L.J. Smith, first released in the early nineties. Now in the midst of its second season having met with colossal success, ‘The Vampire Diaries’ is dark, sexy, twisted and remarkably captivating. Vampires, werewolves, witches and teen angst, oh my!, ‘Vampire Diaries’ also has plenty of steamy scenes, cliffhanger endings and a penchant for killing off characters.

Candice Accola plays Caroline Forbes, daughter of the sheriff of Mystic Falls, and also former insensitive cheerleader and current vampire. Just as bubbly and energetic as she is on TV, Candice dishes about her reaction to her character’s metamorphosis into a vampire, the secrets behind a ‘biting’ scene, and some of her favorite movies and shows from the past.

Check out ‘The Vampire Diaries’ on the CW Network, new episodes beginning again on Thursday, April 7th at 7PM CST!

AVRIL VS VAMPIRES: PART 1

Michael Trevino Interview

By Avril Brown

The second annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo was host to many a comic celebrity in addition to a few movie and television stars as well, including one producer and two of the breakaway characters from one of prime time’s greatest shows on the tube today, ‘The Vampire Diaries.’

This brilliantly entertaining and addictive fantasy/drama television show is based on several novels of the same title written by L.J. Smith, first released in the early nineties. Now in the midst of its second season having met with colossal success, ‘The Vampire Diaries’ is dark, sexy, twisted and remarkably captivating. Vampires, werewolves, witches and teen angst, oh my!, ‘Vampire Diaries’ also has plenty of steamy scenes, cliffhanger endings and a penchant for killing off characters.

Michael Trevino plays Tyler Lockwood, son of the now deceased mayor of Mystic Falls, and also former jackass and current werewolf. Suave, polite and funny, Michael discusses his character’s transformation into a lunar-linked creature of legend, his hopes for Tyler’s future and how he first became interested in ‘The Vampire Diaries.’

Check out ‘The Vampire Diaries’ on the CW Network, new episodes beginning again on Thursday, April 7th at 7PM CST!

ROGUE ELEMENT 75

Rogue Element #75: C2E2 2011 aka Damn it Feels Good to Be a Cosplayer…

By Avril Brown

San Diego Comic Convention. Emerald City. Dragon Con. C2E2. That is how epically awesome the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo was this year: someday soon I believe it will rank as one of the most successful and sought after Comic Cons in the country. Once again hosted at the McCormick Place in downtown Chicago, this time in the West building (with perhaps a touch more square footage?), the floor was filled with vendors and artists, oodles of patrons flooding the aisles, and the presence of several Hollywood stars, boosting attendance numbers and soaking up the love from adoring fans. There were also swarms of creative cosplayers, a culture of nerdy folk I have admired from afar and never joined…until now.

I have always applauded and commended people who decide to don a costume for a comic convention, continuously impressed by their blatant lack of humility and obvious love of not only the character they are representing but of nerddom in general. This year, I finally fulfilled my promise to the comic cosmos to become one of them by strutting my stylish stuff across the puffy red carpet for a majority of the Con. Before the costume came out to play, however, I got to dive back into Chicago comic culture headfirst with audacious abandonment.

Thursday night, before C2E2 weekend began in earnest, was the first real chance the traveling professionals had to catch up with one another, and I had the opportunity to hang with my out of town buddies in the biz. Drinks were drained, stories were shared, and new friendships were forged as we overpaid for alcohol and cracked each other up in the Hyatt hotel bar. Hanging with these fantastic folk in the evenings typically is, at the very least, equally as enthralling as the Cons themselves.

Friday was the first day of the Con and my only one hundred percent, costume-free day, leaving me free to snag a few video interviews of local artists, wander the aisles largely unfettered and catch a mid-afternoon cocktail with some friends…which turned into a second drink shared with my favorite writer in the biz today, Mr. Garth Ennis, who is just as cool as you would expect him to be (feasibly even more so) given his literary portfolio. As my buddy Marc and I left the table leaving Garth to hang with the friend and business associate he walked in with, a neighboring table asked us in a hushed, reverent tone, “Excuse me, was that Garth Ennis you were sitting with?”, we couldn’t help but puff out our chests a little as we smiled, confirmed their suspicions and straight up swaggered out of the bar.

The rest of the day consisted of perusing the various vendors and Artist’s Alley, meeting the talent behind the iconic Gary Gnu from the eighties children’s show ‘The Great Space Coaster,’ and catching a panel on comic book podcasts (showing love for some friends as well as doing research for Comics Slumber Party). Then it was time to replenish calories lost and top off the ethanol tank at Reggie’s Music Joint, home of savory burgers and a bounty of beers.

Saturday was a red letter day: my very first day as a cosplayer, and Jesse’s first day at a Comic Convention period, let alone in costume. Given this is Chicago and not San Diego in the summer, I wore clothes over my costume for the commute downtown to the McCormick Place. Once we reached the entrance to the C2E2 wing, I ducked into the bathroom, stripped off my non-cos clothes while making sure certain parts were properly covered, gave a smile, nod and greeting to the women waiting in line for stalls and went out to greet the world as Leeloo Dallas.

Dressed in strategically placed white straps, a bright orange wig and the body my mother, Tae Bo and the ‘Leeloo Diet’ gave me, I hit the convention floor as a cosplayer. Ditching our sundry in Artist’s Alley (thanks to my pal Kurt Dinse for a) being awesome and b) watching my stuff! Check out his work at http://pungentbasementart.com/), Jesse, dressed as Korben Dallas in an orange tank, black pants and bronze hair (he tried to dye it blond, but his brown, industrial strength hair would only let him settle for a copper color) and I began our ambulation.

Jesse was completely absorbed by the fantastic artwork on display from the multitudes of talented artists present in AA, including famous pencilers, up-and-comers, web comic creators and local geniuses alike. Before long the patron population began to explode and the cosplayers, including Leeloo and Korben Dallas, were frequent subjects of photo requests. There were Phoenixes, Power Girls, Wolverines, Spider-Mans, the Firefly crew, a substantial amount of Star Wars folk, various villains of all origins, and anime, television and movie characters galore (including a second Leeloo in her slightly more modest outfit). There were plenty of costumed kids as well, including several Batgirls and boys, a father/son pair of Indiana Jones’ and a teenager dressed as Stan Lee.

Getting ones photograph taken is a part of coming in costume to a Con, therefore we did not begrudge any photo requests, simply viewing it as the compliments they were. There was an excessive amount of flattery absorbed by both of us (one gentleman noticed Jesse and went apeshit: “Wow, Korben Dallas! That’s so cool, man! You are totally rocking!” A brief glance in my direction: “Leeloo, right on.” Turns back to Jesse: “Man, Korben! That is so awesome! You have the coolest costume I’ve ever seen.”), not to mention several nuggets of hilarity (I ran into a few people I work with, one of which held up a poster in front of my half-naked form as she spoke to me, unable to talk and bear witness to my body at the same time).

Clothes were donned in order to maintain a semi-professional air as I joined other associates of the press to interview several cast members of ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ The orange wig, however, remained in place as it was a pain in the ass to get properly situated. Michael Trevino and I shared a moment after he complimented my neon hair and I inquired if he had ever seen ‘The Fifth Element.’ He immediately said yes and smiled, glancing slightly downwards at the top of my white straps peeking out from my zip up hoodie and said, “Ah, Leeloo Dallas, awesome.” He left me with a genuine ‘Pleased to meet you’ and an extra sultry smirk. Oh yea, he wants me.

The temperature was a minor issue given my state of undress, though it was dependent on where we were lingering. There were several industrial fans which did nothing to reduce my nipply-ness, and just outside the entrance of the Con the lack of congregated warm bodies dropped the temperature by around fifteen degrees. Adhering myself to Jesse served as a temporary solution to the cold, but the outfit itself was surprisingly comfortable and my plain white flip flops administered minimal damage to my feet, despite being on them all day.

Sunday brought another day of cosplay and an irresistible urge to shop, regardless of me hemorrhaging funds on food and booze the previous nights. I sated the desire with some trade paperbacks, a few individual issues and a couple of prints, including a beautiful, fiery portrait of Rogue and Gambit by Clay Mann and a picture of Leeloo in her thermal bandages by Dave Reynolds. More photos were posed for, this time with my Multipass prop I’d forgotten to bring to the Con on Saturday. Due to the timing of other events we missed both costume contests, my love of informative and geek-tastic panels trumping posing on stage and the potential for random prizes (though I do love me some prezzies). In addition to the ego boost of having several people compliment us on the level of excellence our costumes achieved and how great we looked, another perk of remaining in cosplay all weekend was a free print from the prodigiously talented Jon Hughes (I chose a copy of his gorgeous Goblin Queen; check out his work at http://overground-eic.deviantart.com/).

Though I bared a fair amount of flesh, everyone was on their best behavior and conducted themselves as ladies and gentlemen, the boldest of which was a young man who essentially elbowed Jesse out of the frame as his dad took a picture. I had a few requests for solo shots, a couple of hover hands (guys, mainly, who ask to have their picture taken with me and then hesitate to touch me) and a few women who may have been checking me out as much as I was them.

The Con wound to a close and we said our goodbyes, after which we demolished my ‘Leeloo Diet’ with Five Guys burgers and fries followed by gourmet chocolates from Windy City Sweets. Jesse had a great time at his first Con and once again I had a wonderfully nerd-a-licious weekend, leaving me with an empty wallet, a slightly inflated ego and new appreciation of cosplay culture. Fear not for the size of my head, however, for I shall not let it swell to inordinate proportions, but I will always remember how flattering it felt to be noticed in such a way by so many people who share my love of Leeloo, comics and Cons. Damn, it feels good to be a cosplayer.

JENNIFER BLOOD 1-2

JENNIFER BLOOD #1-2
Written by Garth Ennis and Illustrated by Adriano Batista
Published by Dynamite Entertainment

Reviewed by Avril Brown

Garth Ennis’s newest title JENNIFER BLOOD is on the shelves and starring a new breed of vigilante named Jennifer who is hell bent on whole-sale slaughter, bloody revenge, and housework. A total tongue-in-cheek story, Ennis is clearly already having a lot of fun with this one. Narrated via Jennifer’s diary, readers are given first hand insight into the mind of a woman who has to juggle a husband, two kids, keeping up appearances and completing her nighttime missions of piling up bodies.

Fast-paced, focused and a whiz at multi-tasking, Jennifer sounds like your ordinary housewife and in fact plays the part quite well during the day, when in fact she is slipping her family Valium at night and sneaking off to blow out the brains of bad guys. I do so love a good shoot ‘em up comic book that is sarcastically clever and free of any vein of seriousness, and JENNIFER BLOOD certainly delivers. Add in a dash of intrigue (namely Jennifer’s past: why does she do what she does?) and oodles of gore and Garth has another winning series.

Batista’s pencils are similar to Robertson’s artistic style on ‘The Boys’ if somewhat grittier, and it meshes well with Ennis’s latest project. He does a decent job of conveying the carnage and smoothly transitions Jennifer from super-wife to sexy assassin. JENNIFER BLOOD is a must-read for anyone seeking a funny (and brutal) as hell book starring a MILF with a mission and sporting a negative attitude towards nine millimeter guns (she prefers a larger bullet to get the job done). Admittedly I am an Ennis addict, but even if I remained woefully ignorant of his tendency towards over-the-top pugnacity and dark humor I would be enthusiastically recommending this title.


ARCHAIA TRIO

ARCHAIA TRIO
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Archaia

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Three new graphic novels from the folks at Archaia…

Let’s start with AN ELEGY FOR AMELIA JOHNSON by writer Andrew Rostan and artists Dave Valeza and Kate Kasenow. ELEGY isn’t the story of a young woman dying of cancer at age thirty. Instead, it is the story of her two best friends, a documentary filmmaker and a magazine writer who, thanks to their bi-coastal lifestyles, have never actually met. As Amelia nears her end, she brings the two together for a project: deliver videos she has made for some of those she is leaving behind and record their reactions. That’s a setup ripe for emotional moments, and ELEGY has plenty, but it’s also a setup for overwrought moments, and the book has more than a few of those as well. That’s not to say that the book isn’t skillfully executed- the art is very good, and the story certainly captures your attention and holds it to the very end. Yet you can see Amelia’s real goal right away and it takes away some of the impact that some of the story beats should have. I’d have liked to see some subtlety in how the story developed, because I think the book would have risen to the next level because of it. Recommended, but with the caveat that it wasted some potential.

Writer Rob Vollmar and artist MP Mann bring us INANNA’S TEARS, a story of early (pre-literate)-Sumerian civilization in turmoil. The primary religious leader- the En- is about to pass on, and when he names his successor, a young woman named Entika, slight changes in how the city of Birith is governed begin. But that is not enough for the factions that live outside the city walls, and one man has begun rousing the anger that lives within those who do not live a life of plenty, and the plot to depose the new En and end the worship of Inanna begins. There’s a lot to like about INNANA; the book has a sense of authenticity, as the creative team did their best to give an idea of what the people and places would look like at a time before recorded history. The ceremony to worship the goddess also rings quite true. But they really score in giving us a character in Entika that we can understand and empathize with. The conflict that arises between Birith and those that live outside her walls also feels real, and I was completely hooked in from the start. The ending gets a little unclear on the artistic side of things, but not so much that it gives me pause in recommending the book.

THE SECRET HISTORY OMNIBUS VOL.2 by write Jean-Pierre Pecau and artist Igor Kordey is one of the toughest graphic novels I’ve read in a while. I’ve actually tried to read this series in its single issues and been stymied, completely unable to follow the plot. However, in this larger, collected edition, I was able to get a better grasp on what was happening, as well as where the over-arching plot was going. That said- it sure wasn’t easy, and I’m sure it didn’t help that I haven’t seen/read volume one. SECRET is the story of four immortals known as Archons and how they have manipulated the world behind the scenes for centuries. But as this volume kicks in, a fifth Archon has joined the fray, and he is not content to stay behind the scenes. Thus the others must begin taking a greater hand in the planet’s day-to-day affairs. There are a ton of characters here, and with their various changes in clothing, hairstyles, and the occasional beard, keeping track of them is not easy. The book works best when it focuses on a simple plot within the larger structure, such as an issue where the Archons use their abilities to assist the Allies in preparation for the Battle of Midway. Other quiet moments, such as when one of the Archons takes on lovers who show great artistic ability in order to create a powerful tarot deck, also resonate. This is like reading a labyrinthine novel, and it requires an incredible amount of patience- truthfully, it tested mine on multiple occasions. Recommendable only for those who aren’t faint of heart.




IMAGE NUMBER ONES

IMAGE NEWBIES
Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Whole buncha new stuff coming out from the folks in NorCal. Let’s take a look at it…

THE MISSION #1 is written by Jon and Erich Hoeber and drawn by Werther Dell’Edera, and tells the story of an ordinary guy named Paul Haskell thrown into far from ordinary circumstances. One random day he is accosted in a parking garage by a man who tells him he has a mission in the war between good and evil, and that mission requires killing someone. Paul doesn’t take a single bit of it seriously- who would?- but when the man reappears and reminds him he has a deadline, he decides to look into the “target” he’s been given and find out just what the hell is going on. As it turns out, far more than meets the eye. THE MISSION left me wavering on how I felt about it; the dialogue is painfully clunky, and the initial story pieces feel warmed over from plenty of other sources. But the twist in the last couple of pages nearly redeems the entire book, and it left me genuinely curious about where the story was going to go. Time will tell, I suppose.

Nick Spencer and Christian Ward bring us INFINITE VACATION #1, and as with all Spencer products, the high concept is a doozy: in this comic, people have the capability to spend money to jump timelines and into other versions of their lives. Want to know what it would be like if you won the presidency? Pay the fee, click the button, pass through the gateway, and you’ll jump into a world where you did just that. However, Mark, our protagonist, is beginning to discern a bit of a problem: many of his counter-universal versions seem to be turning up dead at an alarming rate. Though his friends and therapist tell him not to worry, he just can’t let it go, and a late night knock on his door might just prove his worrying right. INFINITE VACATION has a clever idea at its core, sharp dialogue, and Ward’s art compliments the story quite nicely. Pretty much all I look for in a comic.

THE INTREPIDS #1 is written by Kurtis Wiebe and drawn by Scott Kowalchuk. A group of orphans is recruited by a crusading scientist and given a new purpose in life: track down and stop the blight of mad scientists scarring our world with their nasty and terrible experiments. Gotta say, there’s a lot here to like- fun idea, cool action, a couple of characters I was able to gain some rooting interest in… yet THE INTREPIDS never really quite grabbed me. I’m not sure why; I do think the execution wasn’t quite as strong as it should have been, and giving the Intrepids’ benefactor some seemingly not-benign motives felt tired. I also was baffled by them having their lead character wearing a dress and heels in on a mission in frozen Russia- that just didn’t make sense. The underlying feeling here is that this book should make for a perfect shelf companion to the excellent PERHAPANAUTS, but I think it’s going to take a while for this one to be ready for primetime.

I sure liked THE LI’L DEPRESSED BOY #1-2 a whole lot, though. Writer S. Steven Struble and artist Sina Grace tackle 20-something malaise with style and humor in this book, following the lead character through his drudgery of a life until something really positive happens: he meets the girl of his dreams. Of course, for LDB life is rarely that easy, so there will be plenty of obstacles to overcome, and issue two delivers a damned near perfect execution of his issues: as he prepares for his second date with her, he realizes that the bizarre circumstances of their first date (and how they met) precluded him from ever learning her name. Thus he spends their second night out trying to find a sneaky way of learning that rather important piece of information before she figures out he doesn’t know and walks away. It’s funny, it’s painful, and it’s real. Struble and Grace are doing something different here, and those looking for capes and pervert suits will let this one slide by. But those that enjoy something different- they’re in for a treat. Highly recommended.

When it comes to DAOMU #1-2, though, I’m not quite sure I understood it. Writer Kennedy Xu and artist Ken Chou are adapting a series of extremely popular novels in China. The novels are about tomb robbers, and the comic is as well. There’s a full page of text at the beginning of issue one explaining the background of the story, and that immediately made my brain go numb. I did my best to follow the story, though, and I think I got a decent chunk of it- it’s a classic “son inherits the father’s secret” tale, full of the supernatural and scary. The art is quite attractive, and the action sequences are handled well, and the coloring is absolutely gorgeous. But, again, the story could use more clarity. Too many moments of confusion per issue makes a book difficult to recommend. There’s potential here; I’d hate to see it wasted.

On the other hand, I couldn’t follow CARBONGREY #1 at all. It seems to take place in some sort of alternate steampunk timeline, and there are some sisters who are running afoul of the powers that be, but beyond that? Hey, if you can explain it to me, great. This feels like the direct result of too many cooks in the kitchen- there are four people credited with the story, one of whom is credited with the script, and three credited artists. Seven people for two jobs is just excessive. That isn’t to say that there aren’t moments here that I enjoyed- some of the art is very pretty. So hats off to either Khari Evans, Kinsun Loh or Hoang Nguyen. (See? When you don’t know who to credit, that’s a problem.) Ultimately, there’s just a lack of substance here. Pass.

Writer Nathan Edmondson, who previously worked with INFINITE VACATION’s Christian Ward, joins with artist Tonci Zonjic for WHO IS JAKE ELLIS #1-2, a high-quality spy thriller. CIA analyst Jon Moore is on the run, and it seems like every spook agency on the planet wants a piece of him and he doesn’t know why. Fortunately he has an ace in the hole- Jake Ellis, a dark apparition of a man whom only he can see. Jake is not only handy with information, he’s also precognitive; helpful when you need someone to tell you to duck because you’re about to get shot. The mysteries here are intriguing- is Ellis a remote viewer with an overactive interest in Moore? Is Moore insane? Is Moore really a precog and manifesting his powers as Ellis? The action is terrific, the dialogue is strong, and the art by Zonjic really delivers the goods. I dug JAKE ELLIS and can’t wait to see where it goes next.

TWILIGHT GUARDIAN #1-3 by writer Troy Hickman and artist Sid Kotian is a book that’s wide open for interpretation. A young woman, inspired by the comics she loved so much as a kid, has taken it upon herself to become a real-life superhero. At night she puts on a costume and patrols the nine blocks that surround her house. This brings her into conflict with… precisely no one. Hickman is playing an interesting game here; he doesn’t write her as being completely over the edge, yet it is clear she is not mentally healthy. Her daddy issues are almost overwhelming, her ideas of crime fighting revolve around taking notes, and the other people she meets who are doing the same thing aren’t any more stable than her. There is a subplot brewing beneath the surface about her ex-boyfriend being missing, and you can’t help but wonder if she blacked out and killed him. It’s rare that you see a comic try and have it both ways- paying homage to the silver age, yet dancing across the line into modern grim and gritty in clever ways. With one issue left, I’ll be intrigued to see what Hickman does.

And finally, we get the launch of a new ongoing series for HACK/SLASH. Issues one and two are out, and writer Tim Seeley and artist Daniel Leister are firing on all cylinders out of the gate. An old foe rises, exposing a rift between Cassie and Vlad, Cat Curio comes face to face with the man who put her into a coma, the Black Lamp Society is making its move, and Chris is cheating on Lisa. This is what you want from a new series- the characters in motion, the action exciting, and the plots moving along at a brisk pace. The front of each issue offers a character guide for newbies, meaning anyone can jump onboard the series and ride it out from here. At this point, you can just sit back and relax, because Seeley knows what he’s doing, and it shows. Always highly recommended.