“The Philips Norelco OneBlade is a revolutionary new electric grooming technology designed for men who wear facial styles, beards, or stubble. OneBlade trims, edges, and shaves any length of hair. The unique OneBlade shaving technology integrates a fast moving cutter (200x per second) with a dual protection system to give you an efficient comfortable shave on longer hairs. OneBlade does not shave too close, so your skin stays comfortable. The replaceable OneBlades last up to 4 months (For best shaving experience. Based on 2 full shaves per week. Actual results may vary.) This special pack includes an offer from Philips for up to $13 towards one admission to see Marvel’s Doctor Strange in theaters November 4, 2016 in participating theaters. Expires December 31, 2016. Valid in U.S. Internet access and printer required. Details are on package. Marvel.com (2016 MARVEL)Rechargeable OneBlade can trim, edge, and shave any length of hair. This special pack includes an offer from Philips for up to $13 towards one admission to see Marvel’s Doctor Strange in participating theaters. Details below in product description.
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Replaceable OneBlade lasts up to 4 months. (For best shaving experience. Based on 2 full shaves per week. Actual results may vary.)
Welcome to the latest edition of Twitter Detective! Twitter activity has proved to mean something in the world of DC Comics movies, so I thought it’d be worth taking a look at the latest development.
Both DC Films co-head Geoff Johns, and star of The Batman, Joe Manganiello, have started following actor Armie Hammer on Twitter this week. Hammer, 30, certainly has the look of a guy who belongs in a superhero movie. Could he have joined the cast of Ben Affleck’s Batman movie, which is expected to start shooting next spring?
Obviously this is speculation, but as I mentioned, Twitter activity like this has meant something in the past. Who do you think Armie Hammer could play in The Batman, or perhaps a different movie in the DC Films universe? Let me know in the comments below!
Fun fact: Armie Hammer was cast as Batman in a 2007 Justice League movie that was cancelled due to a writer’s strike. He also starred in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. last year with Superman himself, Henry Cavill.
Courtesy of Tabula Rasa Films
In most probably the sales agent deal of 2016 Ventana Sur, Vicente Canales’ Film Factory Ent. has picked up worldwide sales rights outside the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to Jose Maria Cabral’s Sundance 2017 World Cinema Dramatic competitor, the prison-set drama “Carpinteros” (“Woodpeckers”).
Written, directed and executive-produced by Cabral (“Jaque Mate,” “Detective Willy”) at Santo Domingo-based outfit Tabula Rasa Films, “Woodpeckers” sparked a bidding war among sales agents – involving four, three from Europe, according to buzz – after its Dec. 1 industry screening at Copia Cero, the new section of Buenos Aires’ Ventana Sur Latin American market.
A story about star-crossed love with a social underbelly, set in the Dominican Republic’s Najayo prison, the film tells how cons Julian and Yanelly develop a love relationship through sign language, despite being separated b 150 meters and dozens of guards, and being in jail, at the Republic’s Najayo men and women penitentiary facilities. Julian has to win her love. But another of his major challenges is to keep this love a secret.
Cabral, who went daily to the Najayo jail during the nine months he spent in developing the script, also used the film to explore social issues.
“I wanted to portray reality, that’s why many of the actors were actual prisoners and many of its officers actual prison officials who work in the penitentiary,” Cabral said.
He added: “If I have a scene where there is a breakfast ,we shot at the breakfast, I didn’t manipulate the breakfast, I didn’t create any big production design. The film is very much based on what the prison gave to me,” he added.
“I think main distributors can release this film theatrically in every part of the world. The market is trying to find these kinds of films. Something fresh, different, the kind of movie that can be released in all the independent circuits in Europe and other parts of the world,” Canales told Variety.
To finance “Woodpeckers,” Tabula Rasa Films benefited from the attractive tax driven investment incentives the Dominican Republic put in place in 2010, said producer Omar de la Cruz.
Dominican production has grown fast. Some titles break out to significant audiences at home. The first Dominican film to screen at Sundance, a hot and Ventana Sur and now Film Factory pick-up, “Woodpeckers” reps the beginning, it is hoped, of a new era fir the Dominican Republic’s film industry: That of international recognition.
John Hopewell and Jamie Lang contributed to this article
illusttration: michael Hoeweler
Viggo Mortensen’s choice of roles demonstrates his broad range, eclectic point of view, and love of complex characters. In David Cronenberg films alone, he has played a hardened Russian gangster in London (2007’s “Eastern Promises”), Sigmund Freud (2011’s “A Dangerous Method”), and a quiet family man thrust into an unusual situation (2005’s “A History of Violence”). But perhaps Mortensen’s most famous role is that of the reluctant king, Aragorn, in “The Lord of the Rings.”
Now, he’s getting the best reviews of his career in “Captain Fantastic,” as a father raising six children off the grid who realizes that holding on too tightly to principles doesn’t always work.
Mortensen got his first mention — his name is misspelled in the credits! — in Variety on April 6, 1984, in a review of the CBS miniseries “George Washington.”
You arrived at acting later than most, as an adult.
I was 22, 23, 24, living in New York, taking acting classes. It was just something I wanted to try. “George Washington” was one of the first things I auditioned for. I only had a couple of lines. I was a French officer. I had to be on a horse the next morning to shoot my scenes.
How did that feel, landing a role in a big network show?
I think at the time I liked the idea. I figured I’d do it until I was 30 and then get a grown-up job.
Most actors would be intimidated by the horse.
I grew up riding horses, so that was OK. Most actors lie about what they can do anyway: Can you skydive? Sure. Can you rock climb? Sure!
What was it like, being on a big shoot for the first time?
I went from the train station to the park in Philadelphia where they were shooting. All the trailers were there. I went into makeup, and they kicked me out. They said Viggo had been here and tried on the wig and left. I went to wardrobe, and they said Viggo’s been here and got the costume. I said, “I’m Viggo!” There was an imposter. They found the other guy and got their stuff back.
So I went back to the hotel. Pressed the button, and the door opened, and there was this guy with a crazy grin who said, “Hi….” I let the door shut and went to the front desk and said there’s a man — he’s stalking me. I had one more day on the set. The next morning I had to get up early. It’s like 4 or 5 in the morning, and in red lipstick on the door of my room was scrawled, “I know where you are.” That crazy man! That was scary. I’ve never seen that man again. I didn’t know him. I wondered, “Why me?”
What was your takeaway from your first acting job?
Happy to be paid for a job, happy to have that experience. You’re on a set, and people are expecting you to hit your mark. You never get rid of the nerves, and you learn to make friends with the nerves. I like the collective aspect of it, the story-telling. You bring the best out of them, and they bring it out of you. Sometimes the business gets frustrating. But I am still seduced by the idea that if we all do everything right, lightning will strike. “Captain Fantastic” restores my faith in the business.
Why is that?
It’s still in theaters in New York. We have a really good distributor, but they don’t have a lot of money to force people to see the movie. Our movie is the opposite; people have seen it and recommended it to their friends. People have decided to see it.
You wear your own Jesse Jackson 1988 T-shirt in “Captain Fantastic.”
I actively campaigned for him. … I thought he was a really great voice at the time.
Seton Hall University’s WSOU radio is the only all-metal, all-the-time station currently broadcasting in the US, and as been a force in metal for DECADES. It’s also streamable online from anywhere in the world! Each week, the staff of WSOU shares their picks for the heaviest of the heavy, as well as the station’s charts for that week, right here on MetalSucks. Enjoy:
Candiria – “The Whole World Will Burn” (Nick D.)
One of my personal album of the year candidates, the Brooklyn squad’s new album While They Were Sleeping crushes. Grooves that’ll make you want to move, heaviness that will make you want to punch someone, random jazz parts that will make you want to snap your fingers, and whatever else they feel like throwing into each song. The chorus on this track is beautiful as well. These guys are extremely versatile musicians. Listen to the whole album; it’s a concept record.
Destrage – “Don’t Stare At The Edge” (Mike C.)
Italy’s Destrage certainly have their own unique sound; I don’t really know how to categorize them, but that doesn’t matter, since their new album is fun and just plain catchy! A Means To No End is out now on Metal Blade. Check out “Don’t Stare At The Edge” below. If you dig it, the rest of album is definitely worth a listen or ten.
Oni – “Barn Burner” (Garren L.)
Although Oni don’t have much music to their name, they are without a doubt crafting a unique sound with their new song “Barn Burner.” The track is fast, unrelenting, and brutal in its sound, and one might not even realize there’s unique instrument that Oni are using: a xylosynth. I feel pretty safe in saying that there aren’t many metal bands that make use of a xylosnyth, and its use is quite subtle, yet distinct. Although Oni haven’t crafted a completely new sound for progressive, technical death metal, I do believe that they are poising themselves to do innovative things in the future. If you’re interested in Oni, then you should check them out on their tour with Children of Bodom, Abbath and Exmortus.
Update, 3:53 p.m.: As promised, Gunn has released a statement via video. Watch that statement here.
I really, really hate guns. Even standing near an armed police officer makes me nervous. I fired a gun once and I hated it and I can’t imagine I’ll ever do it again.
I also really, really hate King 810. I think their music is abysmal and their image is clownish and crass.
All of that being said… this is silly.
The band had a show scheduled for December 18 at Thalia Hall in Chicago. That show has now been cancelled. The reason? Read this e-mail from Thalia’s booker:
King 810 vocalist David Gunn will be making a statement regarding the cancellation later today. In the meantime, let’s talk amongst ourselves, shall we?
I know people think that MetalSucks has attempted to stifle freedom of speech. This is the same ridiculous argument the right constantly makes about the left whenever the left calls something the right said “offensive.” The right’s argument is, of course, completely contradictory: they think they should be allowed to say whatever they like, but the left shouldn’t be allowed to comment on those statements. In effect, it is actually the right, and not the left, that are against freedom of speech. The left’s position is really just, “Yeah, you can say whatever you want, but we can say whatever we want about what you said, too.” If you want to follow that logic, the right can, naturally, say whatever they want about what the left said about what the right said, and then the left can… well, you get it. No one at MetalSucks is trying to end freedom of speech. Tim “Ripper” Owens and Phil Labonte and Dave Mustaine can all say whatever the hell they like — they just can’t expect us not to call them assholes for saying it.
To that end, I’d argue that what’s happening here with King 810 is still not censorship in its most dastardly form. It’s a community’s prerogative to say, “Hey, we don’t want this here.” Much as MetalSucks would never argue that Varg Vikernes can’t assert that Jews have horns and tails, King 810 aren’t being told they can’t continue to have dudes on stage holding guns while they recite violent lyrics… they’re just being told they can’t do it at the Thalia.
Okay, now, ready for this story’s big twist surprise ending? If I had my druthers, the show would go on. Like I said, I think King 810’s whole macho-gangsta-thug thing is ri-goddamn-diculous. But it’s considerably less ridiculous than, say, advocating the registration of all Muslims living in the United States. Ultimately, it’s theater, and it’s no more dangerous than action movies or violent video games. Anyone who watches a King 810 show and decides to go buy a firearm and murder someone was definitely a stupid crackpot before they saw King 810; King 810 didn’t brainwash them or whatever. I don’t think shutting this show down actually accomplishes anything…
…other than to give a major publicity boost to King 810, that is. Much as sales of Body Count’s debut album increased when police protests led to the label’s removal of the song “Cop Killer” from the record, I suspect this news will only make new fans for King 810. Metal fans are nothing if not a testament to the power of reverse psychology. When shit gets labeled “dangerous,” that’s when we all come running.
We’ll update this post with Gunn’s statement when it’s released. In the meantime, I wonder how the Thalia would feel about King 810 performing with priests holding babies in place of men holding guns?
Christmas comes early to Gotham, as the fifth Wednesday in November brought us Batman Annual #1, a collection of five tales of good to very good quality. DC’s New Talent Showcase had a few let-downs, but overall, it was an encouraging look at some of the writers and artists DC has in the bullpen.
We also got the tenth and final issue of Bryan Hitch’s JLA, almost eighteen months after the series debut, and it was a massive disappointment. It just wasn’t the same without Hitch scripting and drawing it himself, and even his story felt rushed and poorly-vetted. Oh well, at least we aren’t waiting for it to wrap up anymore. What did you think of the finale? What else did you read this week?
Batman Annual #1
A talented group of creators live up to their reputations, and even when I don’t love what someone is doing, I can still find something to appreciate.
– Brian (read the full review)
Batman, Vol. 3: Death of the Family
All things considered, the centrality of the family adds so much heart to this book that I’m able to get over my expectations for the Joker and enjoy the thrill of watching Batman strive against him.
– Brian (read the full review)
Break from the Bat #10: Warlords of Appalachia
If you need some distance from the political turmoil in America, then this might not be your bag. But if, like me, it helps you to clothe your problems in fiction—if it makes it easier for you to process what is happening out here—then you’ll find Warlords of Appalachia a timely aid.
– Brian (read the full review)
Building a Better ‘Haven: An interview with Nightwing’s Tim Seeley and Marcus To
Now, Tim Seeley is bringing Blüdhaven back, giving Nightwing a base of operations and place to hang his
hatmask once more. Joined by artist Marcus To, the duo were gracious enough to answer some questions about the return of Blüdhaven, Dick’s growth as a character, and their collaborative process.
– Jay (read the full interview)
Injustice: Year Five Annual #1
These three stories aren’t mind-bending or soul-crushing and their implication for the future of Injustice don’t seem to be that critical, but they are lots of fun and excellently well-rendered.
– Elena (read the full review)
While fun for a quick read, Justice League of America #10 is a boot to the face of a dying man.
– Brian (read the full review)
New Talent Showcase #1
Not all of the stories worked, be it from shaky dialogue to lazy plotting, but on average the writing was good with a few entries that were outright great
– Jay (read the full review)
Suicide Squad #7
It was a great chapter to temporarily pull us from the action and direness of what’s taking place, but I’ll be ready for things to “return to normal” next week.
– Josh (read the full review)
Shares of music-streaming provider Pandora shot up as much as 17% Friday, after CNBC reported the company was open to discussing a sale to satellite-radio service SiriusXM. more to come
Hello MetalSucks reader! Welcome to Shit That Comes Out Today, your Satanic bible of this week’s heavy new releases. We list ‘em, we spotlight ‘em, we link you to their preview jams and full streams all for your jammage. Now crank this shit up!
Still EP (Throatruiner)
On a playlist with: Oathbreaker, Young And In The Way, Dendritic Arbor
Listen Still EP full stream (here)
It’s kinda nuts, but MetalSucks favorites Cowards had even more awesome material than the ten jams that populated their 2015 juggernaut Rise To Infamy. But nearly 22 months later, here’s Still — three new cuts, two Rise-era cover songs — from the guys we count on to decode life in post-Bataclan Paris. Their reminagining of “Every Breath You Take” (titled “You Belong To Me”) is profound, yet far from the EP’s best moment. Watch this band, they’re on the verge.
On a playlist with: Kjeld, Darkthrone, Absu
Listen “Winterwalker” (here)
If ever an audit was made of MetalSucks coverage, some nerdbag analyist would spot an irregularity: There’s a massive disparity between our “play count” of Kjeld’s awesome 2015 album Skym and the amount of mentions of its authors in our pages. Let’s start correcting that right now by pointing you to Tarnkappe, a project that shares a member with Kjeld. Crank it up!!!!
Stench Price EP (Transcending Obscurity)
On a playlist with: Atheist’s Elements, Cynic, Cannabis Corpse
Listen Stench Price EP full stream (here)
Stench Price mastermind Peter Shallmin: “The primary idea [is] to mix raw death metal and grindcore with the relaxing warmth of bossa nova and lounge music … Being a long-time collector of unadapted Caribbean, Latin-American (mostly Brazilian) music, I’ve got a serious foundation in bossa nova and lounge. I desired to show a symbiosis of most intense fury and chilling atmosphere, which is inherent in bossa and lounge.” Sure, why the fuck not!
It wasn’t until 1999 that it felt good again to love Cheap Trick. Once America’s greatest power pop rockers, they had wilted in the wake of a mega-hit ballad — which succeeded despite (and to the detriment of) their down-to-earth vibe. Then came an awesome tour on which Rick Nielsen and crew performed each of their first four albums across multi-night stands in big markets. Since then and their theme for a hit sitcom, Cheap Trick is rightly a Mount Rushmore band in rock. Likewise, this fate awaits hook gods Enuff Z’nuff, but on a much smaller scale. Someday
Witchmaster / Voidhanger
Razing The Shrines Of Optimism (Third Eye Temple)
On a playlist with: Celtic Frost, Ravencult, Desaster
Listen “Burnout Hearts Exhibition” (NSFW) (here)
From STCOT author to STCOT reader, I offer a tip about new music discovery: If it’s on the video streaming service Vimeo that you encounter an advance song from some exciting new release — not on YouTube like usual — hold on to your lunch cuz the video is probably disturbing to the point of nausea.
The Irrepassable Gate (Profound Lore)
On a playlist with: Predatory Light, Krypts, Auroch
Listen The Irrepassable Gate full stream (here)
When it comes to tiny niche record labels, I wonder about the numbers. Of course there’s no shortage of amateur and emerging bands — just scope a roster of the thousands of awkward regional metal fests — but what number of hours and dollars must be stretched to discover and develop artists with zero profile? In our modest corner of the music world, how many demo submissions and insider tips yield each year’s worth of albums for any of the awesome little labels? Does either party get paid even a five-digit sum for a massive amount of work? In other words, all these questions amount to one inquiry: How is Profound Lore Records so awesome?
OTHER SHIT THAT COMES OUT TODAY
Arriver Emeritus (Scioto) listen
Atropas From Ashes EP (Wormholedeath) listen
Avenged Sevenfold The Best Of 2005-2013 (Warner Bros.) listen
Axis and Seraph The Light Axis and Seraph The Light EP (Good Fight) listen
Bethlehem Bethlehem (Prophecy) listen
Beyond Belief Rave The Abyss reissue (Hammerheart) listen
Crest Of Darkness Welcome The Dead (My Kingdom) listen
Crucify Me Gently Circles listen
Crystal Lake True North (Artery) listen
Csigo Rite Of Sounds listen
Dario Mollo’s Crossbones Rock The Cradle (Frontiers) listen
Eternal Idol Unrevealed Secret (Frontiers) listen
Famishgod Roots Of Darkness (Xtreem) listen
Feral From The Mortuary EP (Cyclone Empire) listen
Flidais Kazador listen listen
Fromhell March On Gravitation (Naturmacht) listen
Golden Rusk What Will Become Of Us? listen
GreyAblaze GreyAblaze (Ashen Dominion) listen
Hazzard’s Cure Smoke Iron Plunder (Lummox) listen
Hevidence Nobody’s Fault (Frontiers) listen
Hollow Earth Dead Planet (Good Fight) listen
Infinite Earths Into The Void listen
Korean Fire Drill More Badass Than Half Ass listen
Kratornas Devoured By Damnation (Grathila) listen
Krullur … Failure To Comply EP (HPGD) listen
The Loom Of Time NihilReich (ATMF) listen
Malacoda Ritualis Aeterna EP listen
Naberus The Lost Reveries (Eclipse) listen
Nails / Full Of Hell split (Closed Casket Activities) listen
NiteRain Vendetta (LiveManagement) listen
No More Fear Malamente (Memorial) listen
Ranger Speed & Violence (Spinefarm) listen
Razor Sharp Death Blizzard You Will Burn listen
Revel In Flesh Emissary Of All Plagues (Cyclone Empire) listen
Scum Garden Of Shadows (1996) (Blood) listen
Spore Lord In The Beginning listen
Stone Ship The Eye (Feuer) listen
SYK I-Optikon (Housecore) listen
Trivium Ember To Inferno reissue (Cooking Vinyl) listen listen listen
Turbo Shokk Get Radical (Edgewood) listen
Violet Cold Magic Night (Tridroid) listen
Violent Magic Orchestra Catastrophic Anonymous (Throatruiner) listen
Worm Ouroboros What Graceless Dawn (Profound Lore) listen
Boom’s Warlords of Appalachia is a four-issue mini set in a broken future where the “Affiliated States of America” have rebelled, started a religious civil war, and were then beaten into submission by the union. Our hero is Kade Mercer, a Kentucky man whose attempt at a peaceful life is upset by the contentious relations between his neighbors and the National Guardsmen serving the nation’s interest in his state. Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, with illustrations by Jonas Scharf, colors by Doug Garbark, and letters by Jim Campbell, Warlords is an anxiety-inducing thriller well-worth your attention. And it’s only two issues in, so you should have no trouble catching up!
A timely tale
Whatever you think of the outcome of the recent presidential election, I’m sure you’ll agree that the United States seems more divided than it has in quite some time. Warlords has likely been in the works for a year or more (I’m not privy to the timetable for developing a miniseries), but its tale of two Americas is as relevant today as it ever could be.
So who’s side should we be on? It’s easy to identify with Kade—he’s a family man, he tries to get along, and he’s our focal point. But then he seems to be outside of the wider conflict. Whether the citizens of Kentucky are right or wrong is a bit harder to decide. Left-leaning readers may be quicker to sympathize with the government, but its leaders here are portrayed as power-mad and sleazy, such that it is difficult to like them even if you agree with them. Some right-leaning readers will see themselves in the “God and guns” platform that drove the Affiliated States to rebel, or feel solidarity with the people of Kentucky when a government mouthpiece arrogantly describes them as “toothless illiterates.” And yet Kade himself suggests that his neighbors’ religious beliefs are a false hope, undermining the Affiliated’s primary reason for rebellion. What we end up with is a conflict in which both sides seem to have serious problems, either in ideology or action or both, and poor Kade Mercer and his family are caught up in the middle of it.
Characters we can believe in
While much of the backstory of the war comes in the form of a radio broadcast throughout the first issue, the tension of the two sides hinges on Johnson’s ability to craft believable dialogue and give us a window into what makes these characters tick. With the expostion covered in the voiceover, he doesn’t waste dialogue on what happened in the past, but gives us a number of meaningful interactions between key characters early on and throughout. Most importantly, the dialogue itself is believable—it reads very naturally, and having spent over a decade of my life in the South, it feels right. So often it seems like writers script dialogue with an eye toward conveying information, and then never bother to read it out loud to see how it lands on the ears; but in Warlords, Johnson seems to have given thorough attention to each line, ensuring that characters consistently sound as they ought to.
Scharf really helps sell it all, too. While his rendering of specific characters is sometimes inconsistent enough so as to make it difficult ro recognize the same character on different pages, his storytelling is right on the money. Expressions and posture say almost as much as the dialogue, and this is one of those books where you can get a lot of what’s going on without even looking at the word balloons.
A fertile wasteland
Scharf’s environments are also really well-done, whether it’s a war-demolished town or the green hills and flowing water above. Here, too, Garbark gets to show his worth. The pallette of the book is fairly bleak and washed out in general, which is appropriate. But as the sun sets, or Kade enters an old mine shaft and the light fades, Garbark and Scharf manage to create a greasier, less-defined look, like the color was smudged onto a black canvas. It’s an eerie effect that simultaneously makes the situation more peaceful and more mysterious. It’s hard to explain, but hopefully I’m making sense.
All-told, the artwork here is good storytelling, with an aesthetic that suits the subject matter at hand: rough, edgy, and drained of color and brightness. Warlords is fascinating, but it also feels like a study in hopelessness; even if Kade manages to rescue his family, the conflict threatening to boil over around them will surely make the quiet life an impossibility.
- You like stories about dystopian American futures.
- You don’t mind a story without hope, as long as it gives you something to think about.
If you need some distance from the political turmoil in America, then this might not be your bag. But if, like me, it helps you to clothe your problems in fiction—if it makes it easier for you to process what is happening out here—then you’ll find Warlords of Appalachia a timely aid. With plenty of action, tension, and character work, it’s a worthwhile read even if you’re outside the States. Excellent settings and visual storytelling provide a worthy interpretation of the script, yielding a book with as much to say between the balloons as in them.
That’s all for our look at Warlords of Appalachia. I hope you check it out, and that you let me know what you think in the comments. And as always, please let me know what non-Bat books you’re reading, or anything you’d like to see us cover here. Until next time, here’s a few more of our favorite things.
The story of Santa before he was Santa, Grant Morrison and Dan Mora’s Klaus is actually a pretty basic tale of the ascendance of the jolly old elf, though with more hacking, slashing, and underworld demons than you’re likely used to. The characters—even Klaus himself—are all fairly simplistic, and there isn’t a great deal of on-screen growth and development, but Klaus is nevertheless a fun take on the Santa mythos that would make a good yearly read, if only to thumb through Mora’s beautiful rendering of the snow-covered town of Grimsvig.
Mouse Guard (Boom)
Creating a fantasy world from scratch is difficult, to say the least. Go too far with the world-building and you run the risk of your story becoming esoteric and unreadable, while not going far enough can make the world feel small and run-of-the-mill.
With Mouse Guard, David Petersen walks that fine line perfectly, creating a world that feels lived-in without being unwelcoming to new readers. Debuting in 2006, the tales of Mouse Guard have been told over several miniseries, each typically focusing on a specific year and season or a historical legend. The idea is simple: anthropomorphic animals have their own society, and unfortunately that means they have war. The titular Guard were a group of some of the finest mouse warriors who valiantly battled oppressors in ages past, but now that it’s a time of relative peace they are appointed as escorts and patrolmen to keep the mouse country and its citizens safe from predators.
What makes the book so eminently readable is how confident Petersen’s writing is: he doesn’t bog down the narrative with strange sayings and phrases, or make unexplained references to past events just to make the world feel bigger. Instead, he tells simple tales of the mice and lets the lore develop at its own pace.
In fact, it’s almost shocking how involved and large his world feels when the narrative and dialogue is often spare. When characters speak, it’s because they have something to say; if they refer to some past event, it’s because it’s relevant to the situation at hand, not just thrown in as artifice. It’s hard to explain in words, but this is a small world that feels huge by simply going at its own pace. Petersen’s gorgeous visuals carry a lot of the narrative weight as well, with entire passages telling a clear story with scarcely a word spoken. With character designs that aren’t overly cute without being alarmingly realistic and some genuinely beautiful natural settings, this is a series that’s as great to look at as it is to read.
To date, there have been three main volumes written and illustrated by Petersen (Fall 1152, Winter 1152, and The Black Axe), a collection of short stories by Petersen (Baldwin the Brave and Other Tales), and three anthology collections by various writers and artists (Legends of the Guard). It’s perfectly suitable for children, though perhaps a bit much for younger kids, yet has a phenomenal storytelling and visual style to appeal to anyone and everyone.
I’m a sucker for an interesting concept, so I’m an easy sell for a #1 with a compelling angle. Time will tell if Savage can keep my attention, but I’m genuinely intrigued by the setup in this first issue, even if its “fighting-couple-united-by-catastrophe” formula is very familiar—in part because I like them both, and in part because that formula is seldom interrupted by a tyrannosaur in other stories. Lewis Larosa’s artwork is excellent, and skillfully inked by Clayton Henry, and Brian Reber varies his colors well between the prologue and what follows, the finishes looking more washed out and ragged or more smooth and shiny when appropriate. I’m anxious to see how the present day story catches up with the prologue, so I’m looking forward to Savage #2 in a few weeks.
Superman Annual #1
This is, pound-for-pound, the best-looking book I laid eyes on this week. Jorge Jimenez has wowed us on Superman before, but his rendition of Swamp Thing is a sight to behold. The story deals with one of the hidden consequences of another universe’s Superman soujourning in this one, and while it’s a bit thick, the artwork helps to keep things moving. This is an usually high-quality annual.
Superman is great.
Swamp Thing? Also great.
Seeing these two meet in the newest Superman annual? It’s… pretty good.
Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are always great. They’re one of my favorite creative teams these days, and I’ve even said they’ll go down as one of the great writer/artist duos when all is said and done. Their work on Superman has been absolutely fantastic, and while this story doesn’t reach their normal heights, it’s still enjoyable. It’s a relatively low-stakes affair, dealing with the inner turmoil of Superman and his place in the world rather than some external foe, and things don’t feel remarkably different after the issue is over. It’s interesting seeing Swamp Thing confront Superman about his anomalous nature, and there was definitely some room for some psychological back and forth. While there are shades of that, overall this just further cements what’s already been established over the past few months: the old Superman is now the Superman. Not a bad theme at all, just a repetitive one.
The true star is Jorge Jimenez, and man does this guy absolutely nail the visuals. Like I said, this is mostly a psychological conflict between Supes and Swamp Thing, but that just means there’s more room for some truly trippy scenes. Jimenez draws a striking Superman, and his Swamp Thing is appropriately earthy, weird, yet kind of regal just the same. He takes the above average script and elevates it to something truly memorable. If nothing else, this is a nice indicator of the dynamic Tomasi and Jimenez will have on Super Sons, and a fine enough story on its own.