Friday, August 13, 2010

Grendel: Red, White, & Black

Title: Grendel: Red, White, & Black
ISBN: 1593072015
Price: $19.95
Publisher/Year: Dark Horse, 2005
Artist: Matt Wagner, Jill Thompson, Cliff Chaing, Andy Kuhn, Mike Hawthorne, Tom Fowler, Andi Watson, Jim Mahfood, Kelley Jones, Phil Hester, Michael Avon Oeming, Farel Dalrymple, Stan Sakai, Zander Cannon, Mike Huddleston, Darick Robertson, John K. Snyder III, Phil Noto, Dan Brereton, Michael Zulli, Ashley Wood.
Writer: Matt Wanger

Collects: Grendel: Red, White, & Black #1-4, Decade: A Dark Horse Short Story Collection, Dark Horse Extra #49-50, Dark Horse Maverick 2001.

Rating: 3/5

I've been a fan of Matt Wanger for many years, being drawn to him initially because of Grendel. I just love the concept and the costume design. I know that when Wagner originally published Grendel with Comico, they were very low budget and only printed color on their covers. I'm not sure if this was the reason behind the simple colors for Grendel's costume, but it works very well. The cover of this trade is one of my favorite pictures of Hunter Rose as Grendel. The red of the roses and blood exemplify the simple black & white of the mask and tuxedo.

I remember actually having the fortune of meeting with Matt Wagner at one of the Portland Comic Book shows in Oregon many years ago; mid to late 90's. Much like every artist/writer I've ever spoken to, Wagner seemed like a very down-to-earth kind of guy. He knew that the multitudes of fanboys that were in line waiting to get his autograph on the many comic books they brought from far-and-wide, he didn't let that get to his head. We spoke about Grendel, his future work and (of course) I gushed a bit about being a fan of his.

This trade is a several stories written by Wagner and illustrated by various people. There are a few pieces that I feel the art could have been better to help the story. The different styles of art sometimes made it hard to stay interested in the story. I do enjoy that throughout the trade, red was used as an accent color to emphasize the black and white art. I prefered the more "traditional" art styles as opposed to the divergent styles depicted in the stories "Devil's Dash", "Devil's Karma" and "Devilish Escapades".

If you're not familiar with Grendel, I would suggest finding another trade to start with. This is a good book for someone who is a fan or just has a passing familiarity with the character.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Angel: Last Angel in Hell Volume 6

Title: Angel: Last Angel in Hell Volume 6

ISBN: 9781600107320
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2010
Artist: Franco Urru, Stephen Mooney
Writer: Brian Lynch, Juliet Landau
Collects: Angel #23-27, Angel: Last Angel in Hell Annual

Rating: 3/5
We begin this trade with Gunn as he's still in a coma from the battle that ended season 5. There are several demons that would like to lay claim on killing him, but Illyria won't have it. She's having a bit of a crisis herself as she's struggling with the memories from Wesley and Spike of Fred and her newfound humanity.

After that brief interlude, we have a short arc revolving around Drusilla and actually written by actress Juliet Landau. Drusilla was always one of my favorite vampire characters while watching both Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel, so this was a real treat for me. Some of the covers from the actual series that are in the gallery at the end of this trade are really great to look at. I'm thinking about picking up the 2 Frank Urru covers of Drusilla in her padded cell. The story gives you a good sense of what Dru is going through after her last appearance on TV. As you can probably guess by the clue I threw at you, she's been locked-up in a mental hospital to get help. Something tells me that she doesn't get the help the doctor's were expecting to provide.

The bulk of this trade revoles around the "Last Angel in Hell" storyline, which just so happens to be the title for the movie based on the quasi experiences of our heroes as L.A. went to hell and back. The first part is actually a throwback to an old episode of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer where people in costume become what they are costumed as. This is especially funny because the setting for this dibacle is a comic-con sytle event where so many people are in cosplay. And what happens when Spike is caught in the spell while he's costumed as Angel?

The tail end of this trade is the actual "movie" adaptation of "Last Angel in Hell". You get a fairly good idea of who the stars in this movie are supposed to be. Angel is portraited by Nicholas Cage and Jorge Garcia as Gunn. I can't quite figure out who plays the other characters, but in the adaptation Spike is female and in love with Angel. Pretty funny and campy, but worth the read.

Add this one to your collection.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Angel: Aftermath Volume 5

Title: Angel: Aftermath Volume 5

ISBN: 9781600105166
Price: $24.99
Publisher/Year: IDW, 2009
Artist: Dave Ross, Stefano Martino
Writer: Kelley Armstrong
Collects: Angel #18-21

Rating: 3/5

Los Angeles is back from Hell. Angel has a new team starting with a friend from the past. Everyone else seems to have gone their own ways. Gunn is in the hospital. Wesley is still dead. Lorne is watching over Gunn. Spike is gone and being Spike. And Illyria is watching over the comatose Gunn to make sure he doesn't get killed. Sounds like a typical Angel scenario, doesn't it?

This is not the old Angel Investigations. Not by a long shot.

Angel is the savior of L.A. and has a hard time finding serious work, at first. Then, along comes a pair from the government who offer Angel a contract to lead a "committee to handle the apocalyptic fall-out". The apocalypse may have been averted, but everyone still remembers what happened while L.A. was in Hell. Another fun fact is that Wolfram & Hart are no longer in L.A., and apparently never have been.

And then along came James and Desdemona. One is an actual angel trapped on Earth trying to find his brothers and figure out why they can't return to Heaven. Desdemona (Dez) is a jaguar that was turned human that is trying to revert other animals-turned-people back to their normal selves, though she's struggling to keep herself from going back to her native form.

It's one thing when Angel and company were going up against demons, but here they are going up against angels; a little too much for my taste. I feel that they're really working hard to find storylines for this series, and it's going downhill rapidly. The art is consistent throughout, which helps keep some interest in this trade. The best part would have to be the cover gallery at the end.

If you're a fan of this series, you may not like the direction this is taking.