LAKE OF FIRE-DEMONIC

LAKE OF FIRE/DEMONIC
Written by Nathan Fairbairn and Drawn by Matt Smith
Written by Christopher Sebela and Drawn by Niko Walter
Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by Marc Mason

A little talk about two books I’ve been reading and enjoying quite a bit as of late…

We are four issues in to the five-part LAKE OF FIRE and I have to admit to having some very mixed feelings about that. That’s because this thing is so good that I don’t want it to end. LoF is a book that does one of my favorite things: mix genres in a new and exciting way. For instance: we’ve seen any number of alien invasion stories over the years. But have we seen one set in thirteenth century France? Not to my knowledge.

And it is glorious.

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A young knight wanting to do his part for Christendom in wiping out heretics heads for the front lines, whereupon he is sent on a fool’s errand to roust some villagers. But unbeknownst to anyone, the villagers are not madmen or heretics; instead, they are the victims of a vicious alien race that functions off a hivemind and uses humans for breeding purposes. Hilarity does not ensue.

Rather, a series of terrible battles is undertaken, not only against the creatures but against rabidly insane clergy who see the creatures in the most suspicious of light. Yet at the same time, a path for hope is developed and explored in reconciling the prevailing religious classes of the day. It is thematically rich to watch it happen, and raises the book another notch in its execution.

Everything here absolutely works wonderfully. Nathan Fairbairn not only writes the book excellently (the script and characters are outstanding) he also colors and letters it as well. With Matt Smith’s incredible art and gift for smooth storytelling, the book is both a visual and mental feast. This is truly a collaboration between two guys who know how to play to each other’s strengths.

With only one issue still to come, I can only hope that these two are making plans to do something else in the future. It’d be a shame if they didn’t. Highly recommended.

There’s some interesting genre mixing in DEMONIC, too. Cops meets cults meets horror meets psychological thriller meets… well, there’s a whole lot going on here. But damn, it’s good. Dark. Seriously dark. But good.

The cop in question, Scott Graves, likes to think he has put his fucked up childhood behind him, but an encounter with a suspect changes all that. Suddenly it comes rushing back: he was raised in a cult that actually managed to raise a demon (or two). And oh, yeah, there’s one living inside of him that owns him, and now it’s gotten out and is demanding blood. Or Graves’s family will pay the price for his refusal.

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He complies (or there is no series, so this is not a spoiler) but the question lingers: is the demon really there? Or is he just imagining it and actually a serial killer?

That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

But it’s worth taking the ride to find out. There are four issues out of the planned six, and each one has been packed with incredible twists and turns, zesty dialogue, terrifically moody art, and enough intrigue to keep you wanting the next one immediately. I have genuinely no idea where the story is going to go over its last third, and that’s a great feeling to have. This one is maybe not for everyone, as again, it is damn dark, but for those who it is? You’re gonna love it.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Directed by Brian Singer

Reviewed by Avril Brown

Pardon me for a moment:

OHMYLORD X-Men Days of Future Past ILOVEYOU Brian Singer you fucking ROCK so many awesome mutants BLINK IS BADASS brilliant so well done great action geek girl squeal QUICKSILVER OWNS IT ‘My mom knew a guy who could do that’ hilarious love it Peter Dinklage! Mach I sentinels time travel Mystique being sneaky bone claws HUGH JACKMAN’S ASS thank you jeebus and EN FREAKING SABAH NUR!!!

Now please allow me to more coherently explain my feelings about ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past.’ To sum up: this is a wonderful X-Men comic book movie. It is fabulously fun, chock filled with mutant action and a joy to experience both for comic and movie fans. As the former, I was thrilled with the nuggets thrown in for those of us who are familiar with the printed version of the Marvel Universe. One of the people who was in my viewing party is X-Men ignorant, and while she confessed to being slightly confused as to how the events of this movie tie into the rest of the franchise, she was also thoroughly entertained.

The future is a bleak and barren hell. Mutant hunting robots called Sentinels have all but eliminated not only the mutant race, but all humans with any hint of the X gene in their DNA. The Sentinels have the ability to adapt to any mutant power, making them all but unbeatable. The only way the few ragtag survivors of the X-Men have been able to stay alive is because of Kitty Pryde, a mutant with the ability to phase through solid objects, and now through time. She has figured out how to phase one person’s consciousness back in time a few days, giving that individual plenty of time to scout out incoming Sentinels and warn the rest of the team to clear out before they arrive. Professor X and Magneto have realized the only way to end this war is to prevent it from ever starting, so utilizing Kitty’s power with the Wolverine’s, the only man with a brain capable of surviving a decades long trip through time, the X-Men set about saving the world.

Wolverine certainly has his work cut out for him back in the seventies. Xavier is an emotionally broken man who has given up not only teaching and leading, but also his impressive mutant ability to read and control minds. Erik Lehnsherr is still an angry, powerful, metal-wielding mutant focused solely on the survival and dominance of the mutant species…only his goals are harder to achieve when locked up in the most secure prison on the planet. Somehow Logan has to get the band back together in time to stop Mystique from murdering Bolivar Trask, the man behind the Sentinel program, and to keep her shape-shifting DNA from being utilized in helping create the invincible Sentinels of the future.

One of the most excellent aspects of catching a comic book movie as soon as it debuts in theaters is you are surrounded by hardcore comic book fans. There were X-Men t-shirts left and right, and I myself was sporting my Mystique bracelet, made from Age of Apocalypse X-Calibre comics. Seats filled up quickly as the hour drew nigh, and you could feel the buzz of excitement as the Twentieth Century Fox logo faded on the big screen, with the X on Fox being the last to go. The film hit the ground running in terms of action with amazing special effects, particularly Blink’s, who has localized teleporting abilities. When Wolverine wakes up back in the past, one of the first things we fans get to see is his glorious backside in all its natural glory. Thank you, jeebus.

Peter Maximoff aka Quicksilver received a round of applause from the viewers after his break out scene, which was completely deserved. Those of us in the know were tickled pink when he’s chatting with Magneto and says, “So you can control metal, huh? My mom knew a guy who could do that.” (Not-so-spoiler: Magneto is Quicksilver’s father) There is a deserved expectation of an extra nugget of film after the credits, so there were plenty of groans when those of us (essentially the entire theater) waited until the bitter end and saw nothing…at first. What initially appeared to be a fade to white turned out to be sand. Rolling hills of sand in ancient Egypt with thousands of people chanting ‘En Sabah Nur’ at a cloaked, pale figure standing on high with four mysterious figures on horses in the background. Translation: Apocalypse, the First Mutant, and one of the X-Men’s deadliest foes. I was unabashedly one of those people who punched her fists in the air and yelled, “YES!”

Though admittedly the movie felt a bit slow at times, there is not one moment I would consider expendable. There were plenty of fight scenes and displays of mutant powers, but it is also a slightly complicated plot which needs periodic explanations, particularly since it is essentially one story told in two different time periods with the same/different people. ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ delivered on every conceivable level, and my viewing experience was everything I hoped it would be: huge grin inducing, goosebump raising, pure geeky goodness kind of fun, shared with old friends and new. Thank you Brian Singer, Fox (though I never thought I’d say that) and Marvel, for getting this franchise back on track. To me, my X-Men!