Sunday, February 20, 2011

All Star Recommends!

Welcome back to this weeks round of recommendations. As usual, let us know what you think by leaving feedback below, in the appropriate Facebook thread or by Tweeting us. All prices listed below are Australian shelf price, standing order customers receive a 10% discount.

Cinderella: Fables are Forever
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Shawn McManus
Recommended by: Jess

For those of you familiar with Fables, you might have read the previous mini series starring Cinderella, entitled From Fabletown With Love, released in 2009. Fables Are Forever is the follow up, bringing back the same team of writer Chris Roberson and artist Shawn McManus, along with a delicious looking cover by Chrissie Zullo.

Cinderella's spin off follows an almost film noir style, fashioning gangsters out of fairytale thugs and allowing our golden haired black ops agent to gun her way through countries that don't often get a mention in the original series. Issue 1 of Fables are Forever starts off with Cindy in a bikini in a Russian bathhouse with a gaggle of Ukrainian women and some sleazy men of ill repute, on the trail of a 'Shadow Fabletown', hidden from the world by organised crime. From there, with the help of Cindy's dry, Chandler-esque narration and the well-rounded artwork of McManus, we jump to the present storyline of Fables and start delving into a mystery worthy of some of the better class of espionage stories.

The art is dynamic, colourful and expressive, with subtle scene framing reminiscent of the 70s spy films. The writing is a short departure from the parent comic, allowing for a more sly sense of humour in the characters and a more realistic plot progression. While Fables are Forever does still contain the mythology and magic, it approaches these elements through the no-nonsense and somewhat cold perspective it's main character. Cindy believes in her gun and her ability to sort stuff out.

Highly recommended for anyone eager to flesh out their Fables metaknowledge, or for those who just want some spy-girl action.

Cinderella: Fables are Forever #1 is available at All Star Comics now for $4.50.

Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Various
Recommended by: Dom

DMZ began as a series written in the wake of 9/11 and the second Iraq war. Like a number of great Science Fiction works, it is a reaction to political tensions of the time. The story depicts New York City as the titular DMZ, a lawless environment in the middle of a modern American civil war. As the series has evolved, politics within the United States have continued to be more divisive than ever. As a result of this the book has taken shape of something that could be more prescient than its original intent was perhaps expected.

With the series now coming to its conclusion, Brian Wood continues to focus on some of the diverse characters he has introduced througout the overall story. It's because of this attention to keeping its main characters in view that the book has had such a wide appeal to readers. Wood's stories are character focused making the series feel almost documentary like in its depiction of a post war New York City. The artwork which acompanies these stories will often remain on the ground level with the characters, giving the reader a sense of being a tourist.

DMZ is a series that captures the feel of life during wartime but it never loses focus of its characters. It is quite an accomplishment on Brian Wood's part in that he has been able to contain a story dealing with large and complex issues and yet keep it grounded to its core characters, particularly main character Matty Roth. If you want to see a scary depiction of a future not entirely out of the realm of possibility, DMZ is a great start.

DMZ Volume 9: MIA is available at All Star Comics for $19.95. Volumes 1-8 are also available and they range between $14.95 and $22.95.

Locke and Key
Writer: Joe Hill 
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Recommended by: Luke

Many authors are blessed with the luxury of having their work speak for itself, but in the case of Joe Hill his lineage carries an unfortunately weighty amount of expectation being the son of one Stephen King. In his comic series Locke and Key he seems to embrace his heritage by telling a story that wouldn’t be out of place in his father’s oeuvre. Bold yes, but Locke and Key delivers in its exploration of a supernatural aura centered upon an old house in the town of Lovecraft. The mansion itself hides a dark legacy which continues to affect the family of recently widowed Mrs Locke and her three children, two boys Bode and Tyler and daughter Kinsey.

The strength of the series lies in its ability to straddle tone; In one instance the mystical goings on are thoroughly magical, akin to the childlike wonder captured in the early films of Steven Spieleberg and M. Night Shyamalan; While in the next you can be pulled back into reality by stark violence permeated by a creeping dread more commonly seen in the darker work of a Clive Barker or David Cronenberg.

At its core, it remains a horror book with certain hooks and tropes alluding to something that took place in the deceased father’s past coming back to challenge his unsuspecting family; but by funneling much of the story through the children’s perspective we get a less cynical view of proceedings which creates true menace when their innocence is confronted by the more insidious forces that seek to possess the house’ treasures.

LOCKE & KEY Vol. 1 & 2 can be ordered in at All Star Comics now for $26.95. Single issues are also available for $6.

Casanova, Infinite Vacation #1 and Invincible Iron Man #500.1 

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