Irregular Reconnaissance is Geek Native’s catch up with those comic book and graphic novels that have wrestled their way to the top of the pile. This is a collection of micro-reviews, chance to swap notes on what’s worth reading and what’s best left on the shelf.
Recommend any comic books or graphic novels? Share your tips in the comments below.
Archaeologists of Shadows
This is a remarkable comic book series that makes use of drawing, photography, model making and digital painting. I don’t know of anything that looks like.
The visual appeal of the Archaeologists of Shadow should not dismiss from the plot either. We’re dealing with a strange world where people are becoming mechanised – somehow – and live under a veil of fear, tyranny and religious fever. Our heroes, if they’re heroes rather than just misguided fools, find themselves involved in a Resistance who look for alternative answers.
This is a series that demands your attention. A lot happens and you have to keep up. This isn’t a plot you can skim. Volume 2 is prettier but more complex whereas volume 3 is paced more carefully, easier to follow but does not have the same chance to show remarkable vistas and characters.
Geek Native published a full review, with pictures, of Archeologists of Shadow: The Resistance back in 2012.
Status: Strongly recommended.
Penguins vs Possums
Episode 5 (Fanboy Comics)
PvP – sometimes that means Player versus Player but sometimes it means Penguins vs Possums. The series from Fanboy Comics was surprisingly engaging and dark. This isn’t a battle of cute and d’aww. These penguins are bloody warriors and the possums are equally brutal.
Geek Native reviewed the first volume in June of this year and I gave it thumbs up. Volume 5 keeps the quality up and the plot moving. I want to read volume 6. Humans are getting involved – or rather, there’s the risk of it – and peace between the warring sides seems impossible. The possum hero could be a flop and the penguin emperor might be insane; all good for drama and tension.
The added perk with PvP, or anything from Fanboy, is that you’re supporting indie creators. PvP certainly feels like the curveball scenario with expert finish that could only come out of the indie scene.
Episodes: 2 and 3 (Amazon)
Snow Piercer vol 1: The Escape was brutal, different and good. Reviewed in March, I called it chilling and speculated that the first book would have made for a powerful ending. Volumes 2 and 3 are good too but suffer the fate of having to continue on from the bleak conclusion of the first.
There’s no doubt that Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette’s Snow Piercer series should be read. Comic book, sci-fi and anyone with a bit of imagination should leap on board. This is a graphic novel that you give to someone who insists comics are for kids and it’ll change their mind.
You might wonder how to get hold of Volume 3. Snowpiercer Vol3: The Crossing is actually tucked away in the back of Volume 2. I suspect the lack of promotion around the third in the series is due to the implication of there being more Snow Piercer being left by the conclusion of the second book (or Snowpiercer, are they both right?) .
Status: Good, just not as good as Snow Piercer: The Escape.
Baltimore: Chapel of Bones
Episodes: 1 and 2 (Dark Horse)
I picked on Chapel of Bones on a whim – and Mike Mignola being one of the writers. It’s a two part series following the tormented Lord Baltimore although the headline character is pretty much missing from the first comic book. Here’s we’ve got a gothic vampire hunter up against a curse.
Not every random read works out well. Baltimore: Chapel of Bones fell somewhere in between my hopes and fears. I’ve come across plenty lower quality stuff in random browsing before but my expectations for the title had crept a little too high.
Oddly, it was discovering a whole range of Lord Baltimore title that gave me hope. So it’s not just a one off – there might be a character here who gets to grow and live a little bit more? I think I might pay Lord Baltimore another visit and see what happens.
Status: Not Hellboy, tempted to read more
Episodes: 1 to 5 (Comixology)
Pretty Deadly was okay and I actually feel guilty about not liking it more. Perhaps I read through the five comic books in the series when I was too tired. I did tend to read it late at night.
Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios team up to bring us a supernatural flavoured western – right up my street – and some pretty deadly characters. These are interesting characters too; with relationships, secrets, histories and motivations (rather than just powers).
The comic books flick between characters and dreams (I think they’re dreams) and the stories start to edge closer together. It’s well drawn and each plot strand held a lot of promise. I just couldn’t get my head into it and found myself struggling.
Despite not quite going with the flow I can still think of plenty of comic book reading friends who I would recommend Pretty Deadly too. Maybe I should do something I rarely do – and re-read the series.
Status: Pretty good, frustratingly close to being better.
Disclaimer: This edition of Irregular Reconnaissance includes reviews of comic books provided by publishers and authors.