One Mad Dog

[B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs Collection, Vol. 1 HC] – (Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Tom Sniegoski, Ryan Sook, Matt Smith, Brian McDonald, Derek Thompson, Miles Gunter, Michael Avon Oeming, Brian Augustyn, Guy Davis, Geoff Johns, Scott Kollins, Dave Stewart, Joe Harris, Cameron Stewart, Dave Stewart )

This hardcover collects the TPB’s “Hollow Earth”, “The Soul of Venice”, and “Plague of Frogs” and includes the first appearances of Lobster Johnson and Johann Kraus.

Hollow Earth Contains:

“Hollow Earth” was written by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski with art by Ryan Sook.   After Hellboy leaves the BPRD, Liz checks into a monastery to try to learn to control her powers.  Whilst there she is captured by a strange race of creatures who live under the earth and BPRD agents Abe Sapien,  Roger and Johann Kraus  embark on a mission to get her back. “Hollow Earth” is a good read that has the same feel as other Hellboy books but doesn’t have that same special spark. Ryan Sook does a remarkable job of capturing Mike Mignola’s hellboy universe art style in this story.

“Hollow Earth Dark Horse Extra” was written by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski with art by Ryan Sook. This is a short story that explains the origin of  Johann Kraus but it suffers from a rather confusing panel layout.

“The Killer In My Skull” was written by Mike Mignola with art by Matt Smith.  This story features the first appearance of Lobster Jonson who attempts to solve a baffling paranormal closed door murder detective case.  I didn’t really get a feel for the character here but Matt Smith did an excellent job of capturing the Mignola art style,

“Abe Sapien Versus Science”  was written by Mike Mignola with art by “Matt Smith”.  This is a story of scientific vivisection where the subject is Roger. Abe Sapien attempts to rescue roger from this fate worse than death itself.  This is sort of an origin story for Roger and I enjoyed both it and Matt Smith’s artwork.

“Drums of the Dead” was written by Brian McDonald with art by Derek Thompson. Abe and new character Garret are called to investigate paranormal activities besetting cargo ships in an area with a certain link to triangles.  This story features a different art style to the rest of “Hollow earth” but it uses a similar color palette and hence does not look out of place. I enjoyed both the art and story.

“The Soul of Venice” contains:

“The Soul of Venice” was written by Miles Gunter, Michael Avon Oeming and Mike Mignola with art by Michael Avon Oeming. It is the story of an evil vampire who has taken the soul of Venice to win favor with a demon. I enjoyed this story and the art was pretty good too.

“Dark Waters” was written by Brian Augustyn with art by Guy Davis. This is the story of 3 witches that come to light when a town pond is drained and a terrible evil is awakened.  This was my favorite story in the “Soul of Venice” chapter and it also had my favorite art.  I really liked Guy Davis’s pencils especially in combination with and Dave Stewarts coloring.

“Night Train” was written by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins with art by Scott Kollins and Dave Stewart.  It is the story of a train crash back in the time of Lobster Johnson that leaves a train full of ghosts hell bent on revenge. This is a pretty good story but the best part of it is the really good artwork and use of colors.

“There’s Something Under My Bed” was written by Joe Harris with art by Adam Pollina.  It is a short and fun story based upon the childhood fear of monsters under the bed.

“Another Day At the Office” was written by Mike Mignola with art by Cameron Stewart. It is another short story but this one features zombies and only average art.

Plague of Frogs:

The third TPB collected in this hard cover is “Plague of Frogs”. Unlike the other two volumes collected in this Omnibus, “Plague of Frogs” is  one long story arc rather than a collection of short stories. I think this longer story marks a turning point in the series where when given room to breathe B.P.R.D really finds its own direction. This story features the return of Sadu-Hem and the frog monsters first seen in “Hellboy – Seed of Destruction”, the fulfillment of prophecies and vengeance from “Hellboy – Wake the Devil” and my personal favorite, the origin of Abe Sapien.

 Not only is Plague a great story but it has really good art to. Although Guy Davis’s art does mimic Mike Mignola it has a more delicate and detailed look which when coupled with Dave Stewarts excellent coloring is very pleasing to the eye. I love the way Guy creates a sort of Quasi Victorian steam punk look to things and I love his background work. I have no problem with Guy penciling B.P.R.D especially if Dave is coloring.

 This collected edition also has an extensive extras section with some great sketches and articles all which help this to be a must buy book for Hellboy fans. ISBN-13: 978-1595826091. 8/10

[Scars] – (Warren Ellis, Jacen Burrows)
May 14, 2011, 1:35 pm
Filed under: 8 Stars, Jacen Burrows, Warren Ellis

This is a book that reminds me of chilling British Crime dramas like “Cracker” or “Wire in the Blood”. It is a gritty and dirty in a way that most comics stay well clear of.  It is the story of a detective (John Cain) who is very close to breaking point after his wife and unborn child had been gunned down and killed. He is tipped over the edge when he is called to a an incident where he finds the remains of a little girl that has been chopped up and put into 3 cardboard boxes.  Cain makes a promise to the dead child’s parents  that he will find the killer using any means necessary and bring him/her to justice.

This is a really enjoyable and at the same time disturbing book. Ellis paints the picture of a central character that really has nothing left to lose and it makes for a good read. The subject matter is pretty horrific especially as it is dealt with in a realistic way.  It never ceases to amaze me what one human being will do to another and this is a book that really makes you take a step back and think about humanity.

Although the artwork in Scars is just greyscale, Jacen Burrows has managed to do an excellent job of illustrating such a desperate and gruesome tale.  I am a big fan of his artwork and his work in scars is no exception.

The subject matter may be a little too much for some people but if you liked the UK version of the TV series Cracker you should enjoy this. The artwork is also excellent. ISBN-13: 978-1592910519. 8/10

[Alan Moore’s The Courtyard (Color Edition)] – (Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows)
May 11, 2011, 6:52 pm
Filed under: 6 Stars, Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows

This TPB is really just an over sized comic with a fancy cover and it weighs in at only 52 pages .  It is the story of an undercover FBI guy trying to find a connection between a gruesome set of murders where no connection seems to exist.  It is set in a very run down inner city and Aldo Sax  (the FBI guy) lives in the worst part of it. The book opens with him trying to have a shave only to find that someone has defecated  all over the sink.

The story is told in an unusual two vertical panels per page layout and I really enjoyed it up until the point where Aldo sampled the drug. From then onwards it became a confusing homage to Lovecraft with barely pronounceable words and obscure and abstract concepts.   The story totally lost me at this point and for me it spoiled what was actually a pretty good ending.

Jacen Burrow’s art was fantastic throughout this book especially in the later half with his illustrations of the demonic hallucinations.    It seems that it wouldn’t be a Jacen illustrated book without depictions of extreme violence and this book is no exception.

Its hard for me to recommend this book as the story will probably only really appeal to Lovecraft junkies and devout Alan Moore fans. For me it was just a bit too mystic and arty for its own good in the story department but the art itself was first rate. This special collected edition featured an introduction by Garth Ennis (of whom I am a huge fan) that was probably the worst book introduction I have ever read.  ISBN-13: 978-1592910601. 6/10

[Dark Blue] – (Warren Ellis, Jacen Burrows)
May 10, 2011, 10:49 am
Filed under: 7 stars, Jacen Burrows, Warren Ellis

“Dark Blue”  is a pretty thin B/W trade paper  back weighing in at only 72 pages. It is the story of a violent and disturbed cop, Frank Christchurch, who appears to be borderline insane. His partner is convinced that he’s mentally ill, his fellow officers are into all types of illegal activities and  his commanding officer is addicted to drugs.  Frank is in pursuit a serial killer that only he seems interested in catching.  His mental decline leads to violent and psychotic outbursts spiced up with vivid hallucinations and to cap it all off, the world seems to be falling apart around him. 

“Dark Blue”  is a great short story with nice twists and turns and it is also very violent in nature. It features the artwork of one of my favorite artists (Jacen Burrows) although in this book his drawings are not as detailed as in his later work. Considering the use of simple B/W drawings with limited shading, Jacen still manages to portray some pretty gruesome images that wouldn’t be out of place in a something like Crossed. I don’t think it ranks amongst his best work but it does the job well.  I am not very familiar with Warren Ellis’s work although he had input to one of my all time favorite TPB’s “Hotwire – Requiem For The Dead”. Some elements of “Dark Blue” remind me of Hotwire. His explanation at the end of the book of where he got inspiration for this story is fascinating.

 It is a short read but worth picking up if you like your comic book action gritty and full of blood and gore. ISBN-13: 978-0970678430. 7/10

[The Sword Complete Collected Deluxe Hardcover] – (Joshua Luna, Jonathan Luna)
May 9, 2011, 1:03 pm
Filed under: 9 stars, Jonathan Luna, Joshua Luna

This deluxe edition collects the complete run of The Sword in an oversized hardcover and slipcase format, and contains all covers, including rare versions from extra printings. Collects The Sword #1-24.

The sword is the story of a young woman who discovers a mysteriously powerful sword that allows her to seek revenge on the three elemental gods who brutally murdered her family. It is very difficult to reveal any more of the story without spoling it. The sword is a book that has to be read in order and where staying away from spoilers will enhance your enjoyment 100 fold.

This is a monster of a book and it is almost too big and heavy to read comfortably in bed which is a problem because once you pick it up you will not want to put it down. The story gradually reveals itself ike peeling layers from an onion but with many suprises and plot twists thrown in for good measure. The story doesnt have an over abundance of text so it isnt a very long read considering its size but this doesnt matter as the art is excellent.

The sword is a pretty gory book with people doing all sorts of nasty things to each other in glorious detail. The crisp clean art work and coloring is made even better by the large format and good quality glossy paper stock. The sword is an easy read that gave me much pleasure especially as I kept away from any type of spoiler. It is a monster of a book that I highly reccomend. ISBN-13: 978-1607062806. 9/10