Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lucifer: Devil in the Gateway

Title: Lucifer: Devil in the Gateway

ISBN: 9781563897337
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2001
Artist: Scott Hampton, Chris Weston, James Hodgkins, Warren Pleece, Dean Ormston
Writer: Mike Carey
Collects: The Sandman Presents: Lucifer #1-3, Lucifer #1-4

Rating: 2.5/5

I'll admit that I've been on a Vertigo kick recently. I've been so wrapped up with reading Fables that I wanted to continue down the path. I'm not playing favorites, and I will write reviews for other publishers soon.

I remember reading Lucifer's first appearance in the Season of Mist trade from Sandman. Lucifer decided to close Hell and start a new life. This trade is where we get our first glimpses at Lucifer's new life away from Hell. What's in store for The Lightbringer? What would earth be like with him walking the streets?

My biggest problem with this trade is the lettering. At times, it became very difficult to interpret what I was supposed to be reading. Thankfully, this was remedied about halfway through. The reason for the odd lettering is to show the differences between characters, I do understand that. This is perfectly fine if the lettering were legible.

The first half of this trade... the section from The Sandman Presents: Lucifer... is where we find this lettering and poor penciling. The art looks like it was taking from basic sketches and the inker(s) didn't provide any depth or clarity. As a person who has taken up quill and ink in the past, and knowing what resources are available for digitally inking, I'm quite surprised that this was accepted for publication. Fortunately, it seems as though the regular series doesn't have this problem.

After dredging through the first half of this trade, I was almost ready to put it down for good. I'm glad I didn't. The storyline entitled "A Six Card Spread" shows Lucifer on a personal mission to find out if the letter of passage, given to him for his recent service to Heaven, is legit and what strings are attached. Could the former lord of Hell be going back to his first home? That would make for a very short series now, wouldn't it?

The last part of this trade is only remotely tied to Lucifer himself, but involves 2 young girls. One of these girls is attempting to find the others murderer, and stops at nothing to find the answers. This perseverance nearly costs the young girl her life, and that's where Lucifer steps in. This story is a very interesting look into what it must feel like for a young girl who can see the dead and has a spark of magick in her from her Grandmother's.

If you can get through the first half of this trade, the rest is well worth the read. I've glanced over the next couple of volumes, and it looks as though the art is fairly consistent. No telling what the lettering will be like. I'll keep you updated.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fables: Wolves

Title: Fables: Wolves

ISBN: 9781401210014

Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2006
Artist: Mark Buckingham, Shawn McManus
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #'s 48-51

Rating: 4/5

At the end of Fables: Homelands, Prince Charming sent Mowgli on a mission that would allow him to free Bagheera; find Bigby Wolf. The only problem is, Bigby doesn't want to be found.

Mowgli follows Bigby's trail all over the world, but when he realizes that he's looking in all the wrong places, Mowgli goes native. It's good that he was raised by wolves. As is suggested by the title of this particular volume, there is a great deal of wolves. From normal wolves to Bigby and Snow White's children.

When Bigby finally returns, Prince Charming sets him to the task of going back to the Homelands to deliver a message to the Emperor. In a nutshell, the message is "You screw with us, we'll screw you right back... only worse." How do you think that went over? How do you think it was delivered? This part of the trade brings Bigby back to his days in the wars.

When Bigby returns from his mission, then we see why he took such a life endangering mission. Do you believe that Bigby Wolf could live a tale happily ever after? Pick this trade up and read it to find out the answer.

The last part of this volume envolves Cinderella in a diplomatic capacity with the folk from the Cloud Kingdoms. Is aparent that Cindy is not cut out for diplomacy and should keep to being a spy. And everything takes 3 days to accomplish. Since I've always believed that 3 is a magic number and has been used in so many fairy tales, I found this incedibly funny. (i.e. 3 Bears, 3 Little Pigs, 3 Blind Mice, etc.)

I enjoyed reading this volume as much as I have the previous volumes. I hope they never end this series, and I will always have something good to read.

Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days)

Title: Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days)

ISBN: 9781401210007

Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2006
Artist: Mark Buckingham, Jim Fern
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #'s 42-47

Rating: 4/5

Sinbad, Ali Baba, Alladin. We finally get to see some fables from outside of the European genre, and it's not necessarily a plesant visit when a D'Jinn is let loose on the world. Imagine an entity with near limitless magical power being let out of their bottle from years of captivity, and specifically set towards ending the peace of Fabletown.
Thank goodness for the foresight of Frau Totenkinder. But why is this witch from the Hansel and Gretel story be so helpful? Why does it seem as though she has her own agenda running behind the scenes? The world may never know the truth.

In the final part of this particular volume, we pay a visit to one of the wooden soldiers in the Emperor's army. What happens when he experiences human emotions and thusly wants to become human? It worked well for Pinocchio, didn't it? This is a tale that clearly illustrates the old proverb, "Be careful what you wish for."

As always, the Fables line does not fail to entertain. It's no wonder that the title has one so many Eisner awards. Bill Willingham has found a niche in this series, and I continue to look forward to reading more of this series. I recently noticed that volume 14 has a release date of December 7, 2010. At the rate I've been reading through these trades, I'm going to have a long wait between 13 and 14. I guess I'll just have to read and review some other titles in the meantime.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fables: Homelands

Title: Fables: Homelands
ISBN: 9781401205003

Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2005
Artist: Mark Buckingham, David Hahn, Lan Medina
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #'s 34-41

Rating: 4/5

This volume of the Fables series starts off with a story about Jack of the Tales. He's recently absconded with a ton of treasure from one of Bluebeard's treasure rooms (see Fables: The Mean Seasons), and has left Fabletown for Hollywood to make it big. Jack makes a run at becoming immortal by starting his own production company to produce 3 movies base on his own life. I'm pretty sure some of the tales have been elaborated to make for better movie watching, but they seems to become bigger that the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars combined.

The next tale in this trade revolves around Bot Blue and his quest in the Homelands to free Red Riding Hood. With the Witching Cloak and Vorpal Sword in his arsenal, Blue is a seemingly unstoppable force. It's in this tale that we finally get to meet the Adversary/Emperor. I'll be honest, I wasn't surprised about who the Adversary was, but I was about how they actually came to power. This tales proves the old adage: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

There is one small section in this trade which features a story that includes a new character which I found missing since Animal Farm. We are finally introduced to Mowgli from the Jungle Book. In Animal Farm, we saw Shere Khan and Bagheera, and now we also find Baloo. Jungle Book has always been one of my favorite tales, so I am very appreciative of this inclusion into the Fables series.

We find that Mowgli has been acting as one of Bigby's "tourists" (read: spies), and Beast has recalled him to Fabletown to give him a new mission: Find and bring Bigby Wolf back to Fabletown. What does Beast have in mind for Bigby? Are the stresses of being sheriff getting to him? Perhaps he has more questions for the former constable now that he's had some time to walk in Bigby's shoes. We have to wait and find out.

Again, I close another Fables review with my recommendation to read them all. I'm looking forward to the next volume, and hope to pick it up soon.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fables: The Mean Seasons

Title: Fables: The Mean Seasons

ISBN: 9781401204860
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2005
Artist: Mark Buckingham, Tony Akins
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #'s 22, 28-33

Rating: 4/5

This next volume of the Fables series includes a behind the scenes look at plans that Bigby has brewing that nobody is aware of, as well as a glimpse into his past. There was mention of Bigby playing a part in several war's in one of the previous volumes. Here we get to see what part he played during World War 2 against the Nazi's. You may be surprised.

This trade also gives us the winner in the mayoral race, and some of the aftermath. Does Prince Charming charm his way into the high office of Fabletown, or does King Cole manage to keep his job? Both profess to be the "Hero of the Battle of Fabletown." Who will be in control of all of Bluebeard's treasure?

You will also find the story of Snow White having her children and what happens to her after the election. Let's just say that Snow gets more than she bargains for, but that doesn't stop her from loving all of her children. Several of the children take after their father, and that means that Snow can't live in Fabletown any longer. We also find out that they all received a special gift from their father's side of the family... specifically their Grandfather. How does a single mother take care of 6 children that can float and fly? Luckily, the fables at the farm have trained and are prepared to provide the help Snow will need. We also find out that Snow may have had more children than she knows, which foreshadows to a possible interesting story with Bigby. We'll see what happens.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Fabletown, many of the fables have decided to leave, and Boy Blue has decided to take on a crusade back in the homelands. It also seems that someone's taken the contents of one of Bluebeard's treasure room, estimated between 2 and 6 billion dollars! Yes, billion with a "B". Who would do something like that and what are their intentions? I'll give you a hint... you'll find out in Homelands, the next volume in this well written and beautifully illustrated series.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers

Title: Fables: March of the Wooden Soldiers
ISBN: 9781401202224

Price: $17.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2004
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #'s 19-21 & 23-27

Rating: 4/5

The Adversary has decided to invade Fabletown, with Red Riding Hood as the General. We also learn a little bit out Boy Blue, who is more than a simple trumpet player. Prince Charming also believes that he can run the town better than King Cole, as he throws all of Fabletown into its first election in centuries. You can no doubt see a pregnant Snow White on the front cover.

It seems like with every new trade, Buckingham includes a few more fables to the mix. I wonder how far they're going to go. Where's Rapunzel? The 3 Blind Mice? Maybe that's going a little too far, or maybe I missed the mice in Animal Farm. Are they going to go all out like they have with the various Shrek movies? Include the Gingerbread Man? Why not?

Pinocchio has always seemed to be a background character in these first trades. Here, he becomes a central focus behind the invasion of the wooden soldiers. They want to take Pinocchio back to the Homelands. There's a letter from the Emperor that gives a little foreshadowing to events that will happen in volume 6; Homelands.

You never read about politics in the various tales these fables are taken from, but apparently democracy has seeped its way into Fabletown as Prince Charming politics for King Cole's position of mayor. What does this say for the future of Fabletown? As with all political races, this one is fueled by the new found treasures left by Bluebeard's untimely demise. Ironic that Prince Charming's crime... which King Cole found him not guilty, by lack of evidence in the previous volume; Storybook Love... provided Fabletown with a hearty boost to the coffers, that inspired Charming to run for mayor.

As always, pick this trade up and add it to you collection. You won't be dissapointed.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fables: Storybook Love

Title: Fables: Storybook Love

ISBN: 9781401202569
Price: $14.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2004
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #'s 11-18

Rating: 3.5/5

The next volume in the Fables series does not disappoint. In this trade, you learn a few things about Jack's history, figure out how the various fables unite against a common foe, and see the results of a Bluebeard/Goldilocks plot against Snow and Bigby.

The story keeps you interested. The art keeps you wanting more. Except for the last part. The last section of this trade has art that reminds me of something you would find in the Sunday paper. I'm not sure who to credit for this, but I have yet to see similar art in other volumes of Fables, thank goodness.

What happens when one of the mundy's tries to blackmail Bigby with the exposure of Fabletown itself? Does Bigby Wolf stand by and let Fabletown fall? Of course not. That would really ruin the series. But how he goes about stopping this mundy is a tale to enjoy. This really gives you a look into what Bigby Wolf is capable of accomplishing.

When a Bluebeard/Goldilocks plot comes close to being exposed, what does Bluebeard do to ensure his anonymity? Move ahead with the attempt to kill 2 major players in Fabletown: Snow White and Bigby Wolf. Do Bluebeard and Goldilocks get their dreams fulfilled? what happens when Bigby and Snow are put under a spell by Bluebeard? I'll give you a big hint: You should read the next volume: March of the Wooden Soldiers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fables: Animal Farm

Title: Fables: Animal Farm

ISBN: 9781401200770
Price: $12.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2003
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #'s 6-10

Rating: 4/5

If human looking fables get to live in Fabletown in New York, where do the 3 Little Pigs, Shere Khan and the 3 Bears live? With the rest of the inhuman fables... upstate New York on a farm, of course.

As we've learned in history class, segregation never works the way people hope it to. When you keep a group of individuals secluded without any freedom to leave, you generally think of a prison. Other people could think of this like a concentration camp or commune. In either case, the people being held tend to become resentful. Now take that resentment and brew it for several hundred years, and you get yourselves some very unhappy animals.

Viva la revolution. All these fables want is the ability to go outside the boundaries of their fair farm... and they are willing to kill for this freedom. The 2nd amendment of the United States constitution give us the right to bear arms. Those on the farm have taken this as the right to arm bears. Scary thought, huh?

In this trade, we also find out what happened with Goldilocks. She's living on the farm, and is a human supporter of the animal revolution. How far is she willing to go? How committed to this cause is she? Only one way to find out. Read this trade.

As I read through each volume in the Fables series, I've noticed that even though the artists change, the art actually stays fairly consistent. It's not like reading the X-Men series where for several months you have Jim Lee providing the art, and the next thing you know, John Romita Jr. has taken the reign. You can definitely tell the difference between their unique pencil styles.

I've already read through the first 4 volumes, and am currently working on the 5th. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. At the time of this writing, there are currently 13 volumes to the Fables series. You can count on the fact that I will provide a write-up for each volume.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fables: Legends in Exile

Title: Fables: Legends in Exile

ISBN: 9781563899423
Price: $9.99
Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2005
Artist: Lan Medina
Writer: Bill Willingham
Collects: Fables #'s 1-5

Rating: 4/5

Ever wonder what would happen if your favorite faerie tale characters were real? Did you ever wonder what happened to them after the stories ended? Did you ever think "I wonder what they would be like as real people?" This series helps to provide a good view of what those answers would be.

I don't know of too many Vertigo titles that I haven't liked. Take characters such as Snow White, Old King Cole, Prince Charming and the Big Bad Wolf and put them in a modern New York City setting. This trade is an excellent opening to the series, and has a great story that kept me riveted and waiting for more. The same day I was done reading this trade, I picked-up the next volume and began reading it.

The art by Lan Medina is very typical of the Vertigo line. This is not the kind of art you find in Superman, X-Men or Transformers. If you only read comics/trades that include a female cast who have huge endowments and wearing spandex, perhaps this isn't for you.

If you like well written storylines with plot and substance, then I highly recommend this trade. From Jack of the Tales to Bigby Wolf, this trade keeps you interested, Enjoy in good health.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Gotham City Sirens Vol. 1: Union

Title: Gotham City Sirens Vol. 1: Union
ISBN: 9781401225704

Price: $19.99
Publisher/Year: DC, 2010
Artist: Guillem March, David Lopez & Alvaro Lopez
Writer: Paul Dini & Scott Lobdell
Collects: Gotham City Sirens #'s 1-7

Rating: 4/5

After the Battle for the Cowl, Gotham needed to return to "normal". This began several new titles for DC, including Gotham City Sirens. This is a dream come true for hundreds (possibly thousands) of fan boys all around the world. Bringing three of Batman's femme fatale's together in a team-up.

Poison Ivy (Pamela Lillian Isley), Harley Quinn (Dr. Harleen Quinzel) and Catwoman (Selina Kyle). In my opinion, the only way this series could be any better is to throw artist Adam Hughes in the mix on pencils and covers. I absolutely love Hughes' previous work on Catwoman covers. He has a great eye for making these ladies look smoking hot, while keeping them appearing deadly serious. The combination of March and both Lopez's are an excellent fit for these ladies. There is a cover that has a feel of Adam Hughes work.

Harley was one of my favorite characters from the Batman animated series. You never really get a good understanding of the characters... other than the main character, of course... when you only get 22-minute episodes. This is the perfect avenue for new information about Harley Quinn, including where she comes from. This come in the last issue of the trade. You get to meet her mother, brother and her always on the con father.

The trio make an unlikely, but wonderful, team. If these ladies decide to work towards a better Gotham, I think they could turn themselves around from their former villainous ways. Could you really see Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn helping the likes of Batman? We've already seen Catwoman jump from good to bad, so it's not too hard to see her as a force for good in Gotham.

If this series continues as strong as this trade lets on, I look forward to reading more. I've enjoyed Lobdell's work on other titles, and Paul Dini has a nice touch with his writing skills. I recommend this trade, for Batman fans and those who have yet to step foot into Gotham. In this trade, you even get a little back story on the Joker.