I declare Chloe Neill to be a ballsy bitch. I’m thinking loophole because of one detail in the final pages, but that’s all I’ll discuss about the endiI declare Chloe Neill to be a ballsy bitch. I’m thinking loophole because of one detail in the final pages, but that’s all I’ll discuss about the ending.
I had some problems with the third installment. I’m pleased to say they didn't crop up again in Hard Bitten. Merit’s snark was back up to par, Ethan garnered the right amount of sympathy, and Mallory was a friend rather than an irritation. Recapping was kept to a minimum, with Neill dishing out just enough to jar my memory. The pacing was smooth and quick, with every chapter offering progress. Following Merit on her investigation was wholly enjoyable, and my mind was working double-time to figure out the criminals’ motivations. The big reveal was shocking in several ways; Neill showed excellent timing and skill in doling out details while still withholding one or two puzzle pieces until the very end.
We get a little more information on magic, which makes me hopeful that the sorcerer contingent will soon be coming to the fore. (Although, if every sorcerer’s personality is as abrasive as Mal's and Catcher’s, maybe that’s not a good thing.) We also catch glimpses of Gabriel and Tonya, as well as members of other supernatural communities; it’s nice to have the races rounded out, even if they mostly stick to the background. And Neill once again makes Chicago an important character unto itself. Though I’m not familiar with the city, I continue to feel the author’s fondness and knowledge of its many neighborhoods, its people, and its traditions. It’s nice to read a series where the setting is not just a cardboard backdrop, especially because Merit is so fiercely attached to her hometown.
I don’t know where the series is going at this stage, though I have some vague guesses. My experience with Chicago Vampires has included some frustration, but I am grateful for one thing: Ms. Neill does her best to let the story unfold naturally. She does not telegraph her next move. She keeps the plot fresh and us readers on our toes. There’s a lot of fodder for speculation after this one - the events are game-changing - but Chloe Neill has won my respect. I think I can trust her to make all the shock and drama worthwhile....more
Ahhh, Kate and Curran. They hold a very special space in my heart, the kind that made me run out and buy this on release day and avoid most of**4.5**
Ahhh, Kate and Curran. They hold a very special space in my heart, the kind that made me run out and buy this on release day and avoid most of Goodreads for fear of spoilers. Now I’m both elated and sad - the former because this installment was exciting, the latter because I have to wait a whole year for more.
Through dry humor and fluid dialogue, brisk action scenes, and well-balanced moments of introspection, Ilona and Gordon make their characters come alive. I know this is said of many writers, but I rarely come across a more solid example than this duo provides. They have a wonderful talent for making me feel every emotion with their characters: When Kate is full of mischief and glee, I find myself smirking and chuckling. When she’s fearful or filled with rage, my throat gets tight and my body tenses up. And when she wants to cry, my eyes brim with tears.
It helps, of course, that Kate is utterly likable. In Magic Slays, she proves herself time and again to be a loyal friend, a fair leader, and a logical thinker - not to mention a kick-ass fighter. She’s stubborn, but she never allows her misgivings or grudges to control her behaviour. In other words, she’ll never be the type to walk around with her head up her ass waffling over every little decision or relationship. She knows that life is too short and time too precious to deal with things that way.
Kate’s habit of confronting fears head-on comes into play often in this book. As if settling into her position in the Pack weren’t stressful enough, she also discovers heaps of new information regarding her background. Add to this a horrifying enemy and several disturbing, traumatic events and Magic Slays is chock-full of drama that moves the story forward and kept me captivated.
Though Kate is a steady force, the writers keep the series fresh by introducing new characters, changing certain dynamics, and dropping tantalizing hints for what might lie ahead. This last is another reason I’m such a fan of the series: no clue-by-fours here. Thank heavens!
Ilona works a great deal of Russian mythology into this book. I’m not well-read in this area, but what I encountered here makes me want to do some research. She also expands our understanding of Atlanta’s magic community; hopefully Kate will have more interactions with these folks down the line. I love that this world can sustain many different magic and belief systems, creating a multi-cultural environment in which each faction holds sway.
Kate and Curran’s relationship adds a great deal to the story. They’re believable. They suffer misunderstandings and frustrations like any couple, and they work hard at meeting somewhere in the middle. They respect each other immensely and always attempt to see the other’s point of view. There’s a nice balance forged between them, and it’s just as much fun watching them duke it out as it is witnessing them make up.
The fear inspired by this book is a good precursor for the Big Fight Kate and her cohorts will have to endure. The tension is steadily building, and I’m becoming increasingly anxious about what’s to come. The Andrews duo has no qualms about killing off or maiming characters for the sake of realism, and that makes the future showdown potentially devastating. Bring it on! I can’t wait!...more
Powell continues to surprise me. It bears repeating that when I read the first volume of The Goon, I didn’t think very much of it. It seemed a thing oPowell continues to surprise me. It bears repeating that when I read the first volume of The Goon, I didn’t think very much of it. It seemed a thing of tough guys and bravado--and while that can be great in its own right, I pegged it as an entertaining but shallow tale of a sorta nice thug and his diminutive sidekick.
Then came the story of the Buzzard and I began to change my tune. I admired the level of despair conveyed through well-chosen words, poignant flashbacks and somber character reactions.
Chinatown ups the drama once again, proving Powell capable of showcasing the most painful of emotions. Here we understand the origins of The Goon’s pain, his mistrust of women, his inability to let anyone except Franky get really close to him. In a remarkable series of full-page panels, Powell gives us the slow breakdown from numbing shock to complete anguish. It’s a perfect depiction, heartbreaking in its accuracy and its ability to dredge up my own moments of misery. And isn’t that the hallmark of any talented writer or artist: that his creation inspires an emotional response in his audience? Powell succeeds, ensuring my continued attention....more
Virtue and the Grim Consequences Thereof is an incredibly apt name for this volume. Time and again, the Goon shows his kinder nature and helps**3.5**
Virtue and the Grim Consequences Thereof is an incredibly apt name for this volume. Time and again, the Goon shows his kinder nature and helps someone out of a jam, only to pay for it later. With all of these bad results, you’d think he’d be more likely to tell them to scram!
In the first story, the Goon joins a football team. That’s right, the Goon being athletic! When a washed-up football player shows up with plans to raise the townspeople’s self-worth and dignity by giving them a local team to root for, the Goon can’t help but pitch in. They create quite a stir, coming under the scrutiny of two of the local crime families. What follows is tragic, but inadvertently allows for the Goon to expand his powerbase.
I’m always fascinated by the regular Joe’s reaction to the Goon. Even though we know he’s a thug who breaks legs and bashes heads, the normal person on the street doesn’t fear him as much as respect him. As one business owner says: “Only you keep the Black Hand off my back, Goon! They would have broken me by now if not for you! Sure, I pay you, but you keep it reasonable! And it is well worth it to know The Goon is keeping me safe! My mother, she pray for you every night!” I get the impression the man truly means it, rather than merely trying to butter up a dangerous ruffian. In the Goon’s world, this kind of logic makes sense. He’s sort of akin to the gentleman gangster who only picks on those who have voluntarily inserted themselves into a rough life. His turning a blind eye to small-time crooks also wins him favors--a few of which he cashes in on to build up the team roster. According to today’s standards, I probably shouldn’t approve of the racket he runs, and yet I still find the Goon an immensely likable character. He sticks his neck out for the little guy and despite the grim consequences, he’ll continue to do so.
In the next story, “the cast of The Goon would like to present…Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (a complete bastardization of a piece of classic holiday literature).” Although the artwork is great as always, this one fell a bit flat. The most enjoyable part was seeing the Goon in the traditional furred green robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present--made more amusing by the inclusion of his own customary cap and a glimpse of polka-dot boxers!
Moving on, we see the return of Dr. Heironymous Alloy, certainly one of my favorite characters in the Goon-verse. Sending the Goon through what looks suspiciously like a Stargate, Alloy asks him to retrieve an element from a parallel universe. A parallel universe! The landscape and effects of which come off as an homage to a painfully bad acid trip, which only partially explains why we are treated to a panel of Franky wearing a top hat and tails, daintily sipping tea and sporting a rather distinguished monocle. Bizarre but fun.
As with everything involving the misguided Dr. Alloy, everything goes horribly wrong and mayhem ensues. Ohhhh, Dr. Alloy. If only everyone would purchase his genetically modified cream corn, things would go so much smoother.
Lastly, we have a prose story by Thomas Lennon. (I had to google him. He seems to be best known as an actor on Reno 911 and as a screenwriter for Night at the Museum. Thank you, google, oh massive aggregator of sometimes sketchy knowledge.) Franky is the narrator, and while I generally like the humor the misguided pipsqueak brings to the Goon, I didn’t particularly like this story. I think that without the Goon at his side, Franky is much more into straight up thuggery. He doesn’t have the aforementioned gentleman aspect that saves the Goon from my disapproval. Strange, since he had a solid upbringing compared to the titular character’s roving carnival childhood. They’re an argument for the fact that strength of character is not necessarily something you learn, but might be an inherent part of your being which is then cultivated through experience.
To sum up, five issues--three of which are great, two of which fall flat (oh, and a two page spoof ad for a character called The Atomic Rage which is just plain disturbing). An okay showing but worth it for the Goon’s continued effort to help out the people around him. ...more
Heaps of Ruination brought The Goon to life for me. Powell's humor is top-notch, much of the art is fabulous, and the character development drives homHeaps of Ruination brought The Goon to life for me. Powell's humor is top-notch, much of the art is fabulous, and the character development drives home that this series has more to it than just thuggery-centered capers. The return of the Buzzard brings a deeper layer by showcasing both his desperation and the Goon's empathetic nature. An appearance from Hellboy makes for an incredibly fun cross-over. An homage to old monster movies (where's the beast of a thousand bosoms?!) made me laugh aloud. The final story involving a succubus reveals more of the Goon's heartache--I'm eager to learn about this mysterious lady-love he's pining for!
This volume solidified my interest in the series!...more
Miéville’s creation of an alternate London existing just beyond a veil is not unique. We’ve seen many similar places across the urban fantasy lan*3.5*
Miéville’s creation of an alternate London existing just beyond a veil is not unique. We’ve seen many similar places across the urban fantasy landscape - the most frequent comparison being Gaiman’s Neverwhere - where ideas, people, and things cross from side to side, each location influencing the trajectory of the other. When dealing with this trope, it’s not the generalizations that are important but the details: Do we believe this place exists? Do we care about the residents? Do we wish we could crossover, too?
Focusing on Un Lun Dun, the answers are yes, yes, and most certainly. It’s a place where words have power, rubbish has a purpose, and destiny can be turned on its head when pitted against imagination, logic and determination.
This took me a long time to get through, and perhaps the pacing is partly to blame. It’s uneven in places, as the characters hurtle from one challenge to the next in search of the best way to defeat their enemy. However, this very same hither and thither action allows us to better explore the city itself, solidifying it in our minds and making the reader all the more eager that it be saved.
To go into greater detail would mean major spoilers; Miéville presents some plot twists early on that are better experienced firsthand. Instead, I’ll speak to the language. Much of the delight of Un Lun Dun comes from the descriptors. Deceptively simple phrases conjure vivid images, so that we’re quietly and effortlessly submerged in this otherworld. From “the manic wet rustle of the predatory rubbish” to each building of Wraithtown “cocooned in its older, deader selves,” this city across the Odd becomes real not just to the mind’s eye but to other senses as well. Miéville knows that immersion means stimulating all facets of sensory experience and he endeavours to do so.
I’ve seen Un Lun Dun referred to as the “poor man’s Neverwhere.” While I obviously understand the comparison, I can’t accede to the snub; of the two books, I prefer Un Lun Dun. Though I admit to Gaiman being a wonderful writer I can’t claim Neverwhere as a favourite, particularly because I never felt connected to the characters or fully immersed in the setting. I do care about the inhabitants of Miéville’s world and as I’ve already stated I’d explore Un Lun Dun in a blink if I could.
Is this going on my list of Absolute Favourites? Will I be peer pressure wenching it across the interwebs? No, I’m afraid not. But it’s an entertaining story, a different spin on the traditional quest, and includes a world I enjoyed discovering - and wouldn’t mind visiting again. It’s also made me curious about Miéville’s other offerings, so I consider it a job well-done. ...more
Predators and Prey focuses on the terrible image the Slayers now have in the public eye. It furthers the action in that it establishes added, non-paraPredators and Prey focuses on the terrible image the Slayers now have in the public eye. It furthers the action in that it establishes added, non-paranormal threats to the group. However, I'm still not thrilled with the pacing of the story so far. Transitions are improved from the last volume, and the plot is more solid, which will encourage me to keep reading, but I'm not sure how much longer I'll last.
Harmony makes an appearance as a reality TV star. Silly, but it's a relatively fun way of making the Slayers' existence mainstream knowledge. The best part about it is Clem is in her entourage--I'd wondered what happened to that baggy demon.
We learn more about Simone and her rogue Slayers, following them to Italy in Andrew's misguided attempt to rein in his former charges. This aspect doesn't do much for me. They cause so much chaos, it seems strange that Buffy hasn't handled this group by now. The one bright moment in this sequence is Andrew rambling on about Buffy having traded up when she moved on to Spike, who’s much edgier than Angel. Team Spike!
At this point, I’d rather see more of Faith and Giles (immensely surprising to me, since I was never a Faith fan). Their segment brings the slayage back to basics as they travel through Europe killing baddies and following leads on new chosen ones. Their dynamic has improved. Faith is more genuine, and Giles is, well, Giles--infinitely reliable, great in a fight, and always a favorite of mine.
There‘s one bit of closure in Predators and Prey that I’m particularly thankful for: the end of Dawn’s silly transformations. She experiences the last here, in a sequence mainly designed to get the sisters to reconnect. Since we’ve heard Buffy pledge her love and interest to her sister before, the resulting scene lacks emotional weight. I think this thread was a completely wasted effort.
Even though these GNs are on target when it comes to the snark and the general personalities of the characters, the magic is missing. I’m desperately hoping for an exciting turn-around, but I’m starting to think it will never come! ...more
I'm not feeling this volume at all. Plot lines are a jumble, the dialogue is off, and there is no sense of urgency. For now, I'm at a loss for why itI'm not feeling this volume at all. Plot lines are a jumble, the dialogue is off, and there is no sense of urgency. For now, I'm at a loss for why it was included.
Beginning with an attempt to regroup after recent tragedies, Time of Your Life quickly shifts to a trip to New York complete with temporal anomalies. The result is Buffy suddenly finding herself in a future version of Manhattan.
Fray, the slayer of the future, is an interesting character. She's funky and much edgier than Buffy, with her purple and blue hair and her dynamic fighting style (flying cars and a more vertical city layout lead to some boggling leaps--think mid-air hopscotch). Her speech patterns represented an evolution of language that reminded me of cockney conventions.
But even though the character was appealing, I didn't care about her fate--or anyone else's for that matter. Perhaps the story would mean more to me if I'd read Fray's own volume. However, that doesn't change the serious problems in flow. Transitions were choppy. Hath seemed like an add-on. All attempts at banter made Buffy seem incredibly vapid. And did we REALLY need to re-use that particular Big Bad?
Although I enjoyed the first few installments, I'm getting disheartened with this season. It seems as if the writers are taking the versatility of the GN format for granted, using it as an excuse to create ever more fantastical plots that would require huge budget special effects were they duplicated on-screen. It's to their detriment as it moves them further away from the campy fun that made Buffy a cult favorite....more
Only two more Sookie books after this. I’d forgotten that when I first sat down to read, but the knowledge does put my complaints into perspective.
EvOnly two more Sookie books after this. I’d forgotten that when I first sat down to read, but the knowledge does put my complaints into perspective.
Even though a fair amount happened in Dead Reckoning, the pacing was often stilted and jerky. Charlaine Harris is very obviously prepping for the end - repositioning characters and tying up loose ends - and some of her choices could be described as convenient. I’m not left with the feeling that a grand plan is finally unfolding. Instead, I fear that the answers are going to be deposited in my lap with little fanfare.
First, the random character cameos. Former major (and minor) players pop up right and left in a bid to re-establish our relationships with them. That’s okay in theory, but when they visit merely to annoy Sookie then vanish again, I have to question the wisdom of putting them in at all. One in particular served little purpose in this installment; he simply mucked things up then toddled off page. Another - an enemy I’d forgotten existed (and never gave a damn about anyway) - shows up sporadically through the book to shriek maniacally. The purpose was heightened tension, I suppose, but at no time did I actually fear for Sook & co’s lives, so…meh. This last reminded me of True Blood complaints: what the hell is this fool storyline and why are we wasting time on it? Boot and rally, bitches! Back to Vampire Business!
There’s plenty of underhandedness going on in the vamp world. Unfortunately, Sookie is only privy to the bare minimum. (Damn you, Eric, share more! I need dark plots to ponder!) This makes our enemy, Victor, a less effective foe and I could only muster up enough oomph to wish someone would smoosh him in the face. Stake him? Depose him? Yeah, I guess. If you feel like it. I don’t care much either way. This saddens me, since I’ve always felt Vampire Business was Ms. Harris’ forte.
The resolutions: I like answers to puzzles. I don’t like to be left wondering. All the same, some of the reveals in Dead Reckoning were delivered too easily. Blood bond, check. Heritage, check. Vamp politics SNAFU, check. Origin and purpose of strange gift, check check check. Who knew we’d get so many answers at once! Yes, we’re nearing the end of the line but…I expected more drama. The subtitle of this book could be Big Reveals Delivered Over Ham Sandwiches and Coffee.
I list all these complaints, and yet I gave it a three. Here’s the thing: I like practical, no-nonsense Sookie (oh, how True Blood has ruined you, girl). I adore Eric. I get a huge kick out of Pam. Even Bill, in all his lecherous pig-headed glory, has won himself a degree of affection. Though I yearn for the days of amnesia spells and exploding hotels, it’s still nice to visit with these characters and discover what life/undeadness has in store for them. After spending so many years with them, they’ve earned that clichéd title of Old Friends and I’ll stay with them to the very end. ...more
Returning to Cassie Palmer’s whirlwind life was fantastic. There were a few problems here and there, mostly centering on slig**4.5**
Worth waiting for!
Returning to Cassie Palmer’s whirlwind life was fantastic. There were a few problems here and there, mostly centering on slight continuity errors within the text and a recurring gag of “Who’s on first?”-type conversations that got a little old. But those paled in comparison to the non-stop action, the thrilling confusion, the tantalizingly sexy scenes, and most of all the Answers.
Because, yes, folks, we get some Answers. Not to everything, of course, but Chance provides us with countless tidbits in this volume. The kinds of tidbits that make everything so much more complicated, yet oddly make sense in the larger scheme of things.
Before starting on this book, I made a list of plot threads still hanging in the air. I’m pleased to say that almost all of them were addressed in some manner, leaving a sense of progress and a deep hunger for more. We finally get a huge chunk of Pritkin’s backstory as well as Mircea’s (much of which we know from Dory’s series, but still) and Cassie’s relationship with each continues to grow and change. More important though is what we learn about Cassie’s own past. She’s been desperate to know more about her parents and her wish is finally granted. It’s a suitably crazy tale, as only Chance is capable of putting out. Game-changing information comes to light, and Cassie has to come to terms with a lot. But this heroine is resilient. Despite her self-doubt and anxiety, nothing much will stop her once she sets her stubborn little mind to something. In the face of shocking revelations, she ends up thriving. Hunt the Moon leaves her poised to become a different sort of heroine - one who knows she’s fully within her rights to do what she wants and kick ass along the way. Whoo hoo!
I’ve heard people claim this ends on a cliffhanger, but I’d have to argue. Chance leaves us on the cusp of another adventure, something she’s done in almost every story so far. Granted, this next adventure is bound to be a doozy, but I’m left with a feeling of pleasant, tingly anticipation as I contemplate how Cassie is going to handle her next trial.
Whatever she does, it’s bound to give Mircea a heart attack.
Ahhh, Mircea. Ahhh, Pritkin. Mmmmm, such deliciousness.
Chance’s humor is in good form, bringing her trademark sarcasm and slapstick to numerous scenes. It adds a welcome balance to a story filled with the usual peril and nastiness. I often imagine Cassie and co. sporting Indiana Jones-style looks of “Why me?” exasperation. Of particular note are Marco’s scenes, which expand his character into a friend who genuinely cares about Cassie as opposed to a haggard and put-upon bodyguard. Sure, he’s still frustrated, but he radiates sympathy, laughter and concern and I found myself loving his character all the more. Cassie states that Mircea’s vampires are family; her interactions with Marco emphasize that in a priceless way.
Cassie’s over-thinking still annoys me, but there are passages here to justify her thought-processes - they make sense once she explains them, though I still think she take things a hair too far. Nonetheless, I like her character. Frankly, I adore almost every character Chance creates, mostly because she imbues them with such life, with so many layers of emotion that they seem complicated and real. Even the side characters are granted distinct personalities, making Hunt to Moon feel like a visit with old friends. There’s a comfort to Chance’s consistently reliable portrayal: the people in Cassie’s life remain who they are - I just understand them better with each installment.
Hunt the Moon was, as I said, worth waiting for. It made me giggle with glee, gasp in sympathy, and widen my eyes in concern. It gave me more information than I’d hoped for and made me so anxious to learn more. At over 400 pages it’s no slim tome, yet I desperately didn’t want it to end. Needless to say, I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. Please, Ms. Chance. Tell me I don’t have long to wait!...more
As with the first installment, my favorite panels are the sepia-toned descriptions of the past. The artwork for the covers is also fabulously done, wiAs with the first installment, my favorite panels are the sepia-toned descriptions of the past. The artwork for the covers is also fabulously done, with a hazy wash that belies the context: monster killing and zombie smashing.
I appreciated getting a glimpse into the Goon's past, learning how he became an enforcer and how he established himself as a figure to be both feared and respected. He's not exactly what I thought he'd be, as highlighted by his initial meeting with Franky. As much as the Goon is a thug, he's also always looking out for the little guy.
One of the best scenes of this volume centers on Franky. Powell clearly lays out the precise moment he changes from wimpy kid afraid of his own shadow to scrappy little guy willing to run headlong into the fray. It's a great show of how the Goon inspires him to stand up for himself.
As opposed to volume one, the in-between parody ads and segues of this aren't so amusing. The new "villain," however, is very entertaining. Dr. Alloy is a droll, misguided mad scientist who really does want the best for everyone. He just doesn't quite get why people wouldn't want to be genetically modified for their own good. Silly people.
The Goon is not the sort of story I want to read multiple volumes of in one sitting, but it certainly makes for a diverting break from other more serious GNs. ...more
I have to hand it to Rachel Vincent - she's got teen angst down pat, and My Soul to Steal is brimming with it. Kaylee is finding drama at every turn,I have to hand it to Rachel Vincent - she's got teen angst down pat, and My Soul to Steal is brimming with it. Kaylee is finding drama at every turn, and that's not taking into account interference from the Netherworld.
As the blurb says, Kaylee and Nash are already struggling to determine their future when in swoops Nash's ex.
Sabine, first introduced in the novella Reaper (not required reading), is troubled to say the least. She's a tough-talking, creepy girl. From her long black hair to her fixation on sex and viciously blunt nature, she bears a startling resemblance to Faith from Buffy. As with Faith, I didn't particularly like her. However, she serves as a great comparison to Kaylee whose goody-two-shoes attitude can get boring.
As Kaylee tries to keep Sabine away from Nash, she's also dealing with horrors of a different kind. Chaos has errupted at her school. Teachers are dropping like flies. Alec is having trouble adjusting to the real world. There are problems everywhere. I liked this, especially compared to the previous book where the plot took far too long to get moving. Here, we have action from the get-go and Vincent does a pretty good job balancing it all.
I was also thankful that the foreshadowing tidbits were not clue-by-fours this time round. There were plenty of hints, but it was plausible that the characters wouldn't pick up on them right away. Also, although I guessed certain aspects of the plot from early on, there were still some surprises in store.
Finally, my usual complaint - I want Tod to get more page time! He's so amusing, practical, and crush-worthy that Nash pales by comparison. Perhaps it's that his snark and not-so-alive status lend him a more mature attitude, appealing to my aged self? Whatever it is, I love him.
I have no idea what the next book will bring, but this installment was diverting enough that I'll definitely continue with the series.
P.S. Back to the Buffy comment. So if Sabine is Faith, that makes Kaylee Buffy. Which fits quite nicely with her moralizing martyrdom. Too bad she doesn't use puns. Nash is obviously Angel, because of the hero complex. Tod - he's dead, a smartass, very blonde, tends to do the right things but in the wrong manner, and I love him...ohhh, who could he be? Sophie is obviously early Cordie...
Powell's The Goon: Nothin' But Misery is an entertaining enough tale of neighbourhood thug vs. zombies (and more). Through 30s and 40s pastiche**3.5**
Powell's The Goon: Nothin' But Misery is an entertaining enough tale of neighbourhood thug vs. zombies (and more). Through 30s and 40s pastiche, Powell creates a character who's probably more bad than good by our modern standards. He runs a protection racket, buys shipments of stolen goods off the docks, and flattens anyone who doesn't pay his debts on time. However, in a town where zombies roam free, ghosts hold people captive, and little green men make children into snacks, the Goon serves his purpose. He protects the regular folk from the less savory elements lurking in the shadows; from the amount of respect he's shown, he must be very good at his job.
The stories collected in this volume are extremely episodic. There are a few running themes, such as the zombie priest, but overall any one of them could be read out of order without losing the general thread of the piece. Mostly it's the Goon and his pal Franky meeting something formidable and getting knocked about a bit, then the Goon triumphing and teaching the baddie a lesson. It made for a quick read, and though I enjoyed the set-up for my introduction to the series, I hope later volumes include more details on the Goon himself and perhaps an overarching plot. I always derive more enjoyment from piecing together drawn-out mysteries as opposed to reading about the monster of the week.
The artwork depicts a treacherous, urban landscape that perfectly reflects the darkness the Goon battles. The areas inhabited by zombies are even worse off, as if the buildings themselves are decaying at the same pace as the undead. Powell's color palette reinforces the idea of illness and death through muted tones of sickly green and broad strokes of grey.
When it comes to flashbacks, Powell changes his style. One transition from present to past is particularly memorable: The Buzzard's background story begins in ink but quickly changes to sepia-toned pencil work, highlighting not just the difference in time period, but also the change in landscape and a switch to a more sober tone. I was impressed by the skillful changeover and look forward to seeing more of it from Powell.
Another fun touch comes between the stories. Scattered throughout the volume are advertisements done in the same 30s and 40s style as the rest of the comic. My favorite of these is the advert for the Billy Lobotomy Kit (contains one human head, one medical saw, a suture kit, and a manual entitled “Removing the Vile Minions of Satan Through Cerebral Dissection“). I imagine this could provide hours of fun for the whole family!
All in all, Nothin’ But Misery was amusing and twisted enough to keep me reading, and the unique characteristics and possibilities of Powell’s world warrant a further look-see. ...more
Brian K. Vaughan's intro seemed to be directed right at me: "Wait, you're just reading Crown of Shadows now? What the hell took you so long?"
StupidityBrian K. Vaughan's intro seemed to be directed right at me: "Wait, you're just reading Crown of Shadows now? What the hell took you so long?"
From the very beginning of the series, both Hill and Rodriguez revealed themselves as amazing, imaginative storytellers. They have a keen insight into not just thrill-and-gore horror and the wonder of the supernatural, but into the innate terrors that haunt us daily: death, abandonment, loss of self, the inability to cope, the willful blindness we can succumb to when the pain of life's unfairness becomes too hard to bear. Joe Hill's heartbreaking story echos within all of us. Gabriel Rodriguez' incredibly detailed illustrations make the emotions palpable and present. Together they create a story so bleak, rich, fantastic - made all the moreso because of how relatable the characters are in their attempts to carry on.
Crown of Shadows, the third installment of the series, introduces more keys and the frightening wonders they produce. Perhaps more important though is its focus on Nina and the shattered woman she's become. She's much like a shadow herself, skulking through the halls of Keyhouse, unable to connect with her children and completely drowning in both booze and despair. The entire family has been through so much, but the children's resilience is made all the more poignant when compared to the living ghost within their midst. Ty points out that they've all discussed the loss of their father, but they've never talked about what happened to Nina. It's high time we did.
Seeing her unraveling up close and personal brings a new layer of sorrow to the story. We feel how trapped she is in a cycle of fear and self-loathing and inadequacy and anger. She's fallen so far since the horrendous home-invasion and become so filled with bitterness and hate, damaging her children all the more in the process. I closed my eyes, wishing she could see what she's become, wishing she could find a way to glue herself back together. I'm still hopeful that she will. After all, Keyhouse is a place where magical things happen.
Kinsey, Ty, and Bode remain well-rounded, engrossing characters. In many ways they're just like all other kids: they have friends, crushes, they do inadvisable things that put them in danger, they hope to find a place they belong. They're easy to connect to on that level. They're also incredibly strong and open-minded. They've chosen to embrace what they've learned about Keyhouse and use it to their advantage, knowing that it's the only way to keep their family safe. They are a very close-knit bunch, and that too adds to their likability.
Hill and Rodriguez craft a perfect balance between humanity and the supernatural. The layers of the mysteries of magic and family are pulled back bit by tantalizing bit - always giving us enough to speculate on what's to come while still allowing events to unfold naturally. It's a pleasure (a sadistic one, perhaps) to get into these characters' heads and become immersed in what they're feeling and experiencing.
Part of me doesn't want the answers...because I don't want this thrill ride to end.
Readers love fantasy, but we need horror. Smart horror. Truthful horror. Horror that helps us make sense of a cruelly senseless world. Locke & Key is all of those things...and somehow, every so often, it's also really goddamn funny. Now that's just showing off.
Whatever, we've wasted too much time already. What the hell are you waiting for? Come on in.
Just re-read this and it's still intriguing. The mix of gore and mystery is thrilling. The amount of detail in each frame is sometimes astounding andJust re-read this and it's still intriguing. The mix of gore and mystery is thrilling. The amount of detail in each frame is sometimes astounding and I noticed even more clues this time around. One of the themes of this installment is that memories are unreliable things; I'm so pleased to say this series is just as great as I remember! ___________________________________________
So far, this series has impressed me. Both the story and the artwork display a wonderful level of imagination and a strong sense of mystery and suspense. Head Games furthers the enigma of the keys, shows more flashbacks from the time of Rendell Locke, and gives us a peek into the heads of many of the characters--literally!
With every piece of the puzzle, I am more enthralled. I'm anxious to get the next volume in August!