Sunday, February 27, 2011

All Star Recommends!

Another week of recommendations. Please remember that all prices are shelf price, standing order customers receive a 10% discount. 

Morning Glories Vol 1 
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Joe Eisma
Recommended by: Dom

Writer Nick Spencer manages to maintain a fine balancing act with Morning Glories by giving the reader both a sense the familiar and original. As the beginning of an ongoing series, Spencer is building a rich and complex world from which to form characters and stories. This opening arc to his story successfully starts the formation of this world, but not at the expense of its characters. 

Morning Glories is the story of six new students who quickly discover that the academy they have been brought to contains some rather dark secrets. Rather than the slow build and reveal to the characters, Spencer opts to put them through punishment quickly, keeping them as much in the loop as the reader. The science fiction/horror undertones when combined with the setting of a school based teenage drama prove to be engaging. It is the characters that draw in the reader though with each of the six new students taking on familiar archetypes. This isn’t to say they’re unoriginal though with personal quirks quickly revealed. Each character is introduced with just two story pages which offer hints as to the roles they will take both later in the volume and potentially, the series.

The key to a book that has as many questions as the first volume of Morning Glories is capturing the reader’s desire to want answers to them. Here, Spencer lays the questions on thick and fast, but he always makes sure that the reader is kept as enlightened as the majority of the main characters. While there aren’t a great deal of answers to be found within the narrative of this first collection, the questions aren’t so obscure as to stop the reader from wanting to come back. 

Morning Glories vol. 1 is available at All Star Comics now for $14.95. This volume collects issues 1 to 6. Issue 7 is also available now for $4.50.

American Vampire Vol 1
Writers: Scott Snyder and Stephen King
Artist: Rafael Alburquerque
Recommended by: Brian

You can’t turn a corner these days without running into the newest Vampire fad. American Vampire by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and that unheard of little gem Stephen King stands apart from an ocean of over-used cannon by providing a unique take on an old mythos.

One half of the book, penned by King, centres around the Anti-hero, Skinner Sweet, the first of a new breed of Vampires that seem to be native to American soil. Set in the lawless years of America’s Wild West, Sweet’s story is your classic outlaw western with bank robberies and shoot-outs in the canyon. Amidst the badassery though, there is also a strange tenderness between characters, no doubt setting up for future blood-drenched stories of revenge.

The other half of the book is set thirty years later, in Los Angeles, and has a Madmen-meets-Boardwalk-Empire feel. It’s not quite ‘noire’, but it does flawlessly carry with it that certain essence that comes with 1920’s America. Focusing on Pearl Jones, a young woman fresh from the country, looking to break it big in Hollywood, Snyder slowly pulls the reader in before things begin to get supernatural. Felled by some old-world Vampires, and brought back to delicious unlife by Skinner Sweet, the reader learns along with Pearl about her new powers, and weaknesses.

Although they were born decades apart, and appear as completely separate people, it just so happens that Miss Jones and Mister Sweet have far more in common that it would initially appear. It’s all part of being an American Vampire. The book is refreshing Vampire fiction, and has a lot of potential to grow into something phenomenal. So what are you waiting for? Take a bite.

American Vampire Vol 1 Hard Cover is now available at All Star Comics Melbourne for $32.95. Single issues are also available for $4.50.

Age of X 
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Various
Recommended By: Jess

Ah, those X-Men, they love their alternate dimensions, don’t they? Age of X which started last week is yet another incarnation of the team, this time in a world where mutants fight off a worldwide human assault from behind a psychic shield, living in a fortress that is part haven, part prison. Humans (or as they’re cleverly called ‘Precursors’ or ‘Preaks’) have hemmed the mutants in. They’re the same group, young and older members, as the ‘regular’ timeline, but characters are different, dead, imprisoned.

This is your standard ‘alternate/altered Universe’, which cancels all bets on relationships, factions and alliances and reforges a world that never knew the X-Men. Art wise, it’s fairly standard; you’re meant to identify characters by their standard ‘looks’ rather than actions or direct names or contact. It’s a grim, dark look at a very emotionally controlled setting adding to the mystery. The writing jumps from introspective narrative to action well, giving you tantalising glimpses into these alternate mutants. Age of X Wolverine is a small but interesting snapshot of a man afraid to fight. But that’s why we read these ‘What If’ comics, right? To feed that desire to see different storylines, a remix of our favourites. Considering it’s meant to be all teams and individuals of the X-Men involved, (and part one is packed full of blink-and-you'll-miss 'em character spots) it’ll be interesting to see how they all mesh.

This event promises to be an intriguing and dark jump into another world, and anyone should be able to pick up the first issue without having read the previous event ‘Second Coming’ or much of the previous year’s main storyline. This is a good all-encompassing story and it will be interesting to see if the Age of X- Avengers title they’re hinting at also comes to pass.

Age of X Alpha is available at All Star Comics now for $5.40. Chapter 1 can be found in X-men: Legacy #245 and Chapter 2 in New Mutants #22, both are $4.50. 

Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Various 
Recommended by: Eddie

Bit sad that Buffy season 8 finished? Or just after a solid read? Perhaps it’s time to check out the fantastic cult book Hack/Slash! For those that haven’t heard about this book it follows the adventures of Cassandra Hack (think Buffy meets Suicide Girls) and Vlad (think Jason Voorhees with a heart of gold) as they travel the roads taking out “Slashers”. “Slashers” being angry souls returned from the dead who kill not entirely virtuous, drug smoking teenagers. You know, your typical villain from a slasher film.

Out right now is the Hack/Slash omnibus vol 1, collecting Hack/Slash right from its early days at Devils Due. This volume Features early works of artists Steven Caselli (Amazing Spider-Man) Skottie Young (Wizard of Oz) and Mike Norton (Young Justice) and any Robert Kirkman fans may want to check this book out. The volume also has Cass and Vlad facing off with some famous film slashers. Maybe try Hack/Slash: My First Maniac TPB, a sort of Cassandra Hack: Year One. This book is the perfect spot to discover the origin of what drives someone to keep going into these horror film style situations as opposed to living a normal life. Finally Hack/Slash has recently launched a new ongoing series. This is as good a place as any to jump in to the continuing story of one of the most three dimensional female characters in comics.

Any one looking for strong but not stereotypical female characters, stories with consequence (not every character is assured to make it to the next story) or just some solid one off stories with a bigger mythology to tie it together, these different Hack/Slash volumes offer great jumping on points for the interested reader.

Hack/Slash Omnibus Vol. 1 is available at All Star Comics now for $39.95, My First Maniac is available for order. Issue one of the new Hack/Slash Ongoing title is $5.25, also available for $5.25 is the one shot Hack/Slash: Me Without You.

For Older Recommendations please see our Archive.