Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of movies, toys, comics, collectibles, and anything else I can get my grubby hands on!

DVD Review- Nitro Circus: The Movie

Nitro Circus: The Movie is a DVD released today and something that is very difficult to explain. Anyone who is in touch with the Xtreme Sports culture, dating back to the 90’s when “extreme” began with an X, is probably already familiar with the Nitro Circus. The contemporary stunt show is populated with well known Xtreme athletes, including X-games household name and Nitro Circus poster boy Travis Pastrana. Nitro Circus also had a TV show that people familiar with this niche type of entertainment have no doubt seen before.

For people unfamiliar with the kind of things done in Nitro Circus: The Movie, no words are going to impart a full understanding. The members of Nitro Circus use objects with wheels and/or motors to do very dangerous things. The type of entertainment is very spiritually close to Jackass, except that the Nitro Circus team have the requisite skills to make the stunts work, sometimes. In fact, many of the Jackass cast and crew make some kind of appearance in the film, including an interview with Jackass front man Johnny Knoxville about the Nitro Circus.

The frame story of Nitro Circus: The Movie that’s supposed to separate it from any other video that the team records is that it plays itself up to be a documentary, following the Nitro Circus on its way to its first live show in Vegas. This documentary structure is thin and the movie seems to care about it even less than the audience will. After a brief introduction this movie is nothing but a solid hour or so of stunts with 15 second blocks of bad acting to set up each new feat.

The stunts featured range from grinding a rail with a car to being pulled down a giant slip in slide ramp by a motorcycle mounted on a boat. Long jumps are made between skyscrapers on a modified big wheel. There is a lot of flipping cars, property damage and severe injury. If it involves wheels and stupidity, it’s featured.

Continue reading DVD Review- Nitro Circus: The Movie

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DVD Review- Outpost: Black Sun

Outpost: Black Sun is a European horror movie recently released on DVD/Blu-Ray Combo Pack in the US. The movie is about a young woman Nazi hunter named Lena who, in pursuit of the last of a group of aging war criminals, is reunited with a theoretical physicist friend Wallace in Eastern Europe. Together they discover a group of former SS members who’ve turned themselves into immortal monsters using the power of electromagnets.

No part of the above paragraph is made up nor embellished for comedic purposes.

The plot of Outpost: Black Sun makes exactly no sense, as the above synopsis would indicate. The film is actually a sequel to the 2008 horror Outpost, which also makes no sense. I had actually seen Outpost previously, but the plot of both movies in the franchise are so disjoint and random that I did not mentally connect that they were part of the same story, in spite of the fact that they share very memorable Nazi-monsters. The indecipherable plot of the original turns out not to be a problem because Outpost: Black Sun assumes early on that no one watching could possible piece these movies together.

Within the first 15 minutes of the film, Lena is reintroduced to Wallace and the physicist explains the entire back story of the first movie using information he could not possibly know and footage he could not possibly have access to. Wallace makes no effort to explain how a Nazi hunter and a theoretical physicist became friends or accidentally ran into each other so often during the course of their world travels, but at least he brings the audience up to speed on all the crazy baggage from the last movie.

After the recap, however, the Outpost universe turns around and again drives off the insanity cliff with no hope of returning. As is expected in this kind of film, the plucky scientist/hunter of war criminals duo run into a rag-tag group of soldiers tasked with shutting down and securing the Nazi magnet machine that makes the SS soldiers immortal. Continue reading DVD Review- Outpost: Black Sun

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“Super History” Book Review

In the less than eight decades since Superman’s debut in 1938, comic book superheroes have become an indispensable part of American society and the nation’s dominant mythology. They represent America’s hopes, dreams, fears, and needs. As a form of popular literature, superhero narratives have closely mirrored trends and events in the nation. Today, we are reviewing “Super History”, a book that takes American history from 1938 to 2010 through the lens of comic books, revealing the spandex-clad guardians to be not only fictional characters but barometers of the place and time in which they reside.

Written by Jeffrey K. Johnson, a World War II historian for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Honolulu who also wrote a book on American Advertising in Poland (an odd jump in topics from that book to this one), “Super History” is one of my favorite comic-related books that I have reviewed from McFarland Publishing so far. With the perfect balance of images to text, and easily accessible text at that for readers of any level, this book is a whirlwind tour of America and it’s relation to the world and current events with sequential art being the narrative that moves it.

Comics have always been a mirror of the real world, and “Super History” spells it out in bite-sized portions with informative explanations that not only discuss socio-political topics, but also how the comic industry itself changed and modernized with what America wanted. When I say bite-sized, I mean that, as each chapter is broken up into very tiny sub-chapters that could be a page or two long, breaking the book up in a pleasant way that reminds me of panels in a comic book, a very fitting parallel to the subject matter.

I would say just about every fan of comics grasps the basic historical aspects of their reading material, and “Super History” is a concise examination of the repeated rise and fall of comics, it’s evolution, and how the world has evolved with it. While the book is not as detailed as “War, Politics and Superheroes”, I found it loaded with info and historical tidbits that whet my appetite to dive deeper into the past. Growing up in the ’80’s and ’90’s, the section on that era was one of my favorites, since it was a time of growth and maturity in comics, and essentially the end of innocence for the genre as a whole. Reaganomics, Frank Miller, The Cold War, and The X-men, to name a few, changed the way people looked at the world in more ways than one, and this book details how each one seamlessly played into our fictional and real worlds.

You can order Super-history: Comic Book Superheroes and American Society, 1938 to the Present from Amazon.com for $40. Like most of the books from this publisher, it’s meant for use as a textbook for college-level students. However, this book is still fine for non-students and I give it a high recommendation to read. It’s an easy read and one that opens up the readers to delve further into the past to see how art can truly shape the world, and how sometimes reality begins to mirror fiction. Pick it up today and get a good look at how America and sequential art has evolved from it’s conception to modern times.

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“Teaching Comics and Graphic Narratives” Book Review

Despite going to an art school for illustration, there was never a course on the history of comics. Sure, there was a sequential art class that I took repeatedly and my brilliant professor, who I long remember as one of my best teachers there, went into history here and there when it was applicable. I was forced to take art history and illustration history courses through my time in college, but never once did I see a class that taught the importance of comics as an art-form and storytelling medium. Some universities out there have that luxury, and for those that do, chances are you have seen the book we are reviewing today, “Teaching Comics and Graphic Narratives”.

Written by Lan Dong, an associate professor of English at the University of Illinois and author and editor for a number of journals and books on Asian American lit., children’s lit., and popular culture, has broken the teaching of comics down to six essential sections. They are American studies, Ethnic studies, Women’s studies, Cultural studies, Genre studies and lastly, the trio of composition, rhetoric and communication. The book references many comics throughout time, both old and new, to make it’s point, ranging from well-established sequential art masters such as Winsor McKay and Bob Kane, to modern indy book creators like Gene Luen Yang, Aaron McGruder, and Alison Bechdel, and tons more (way too many to list).

Examining specific works from a wide spectrum of artists, an equally vast amount of topics is discussed within those six main sections, jumping from how races are viewed and discussed, to sexuality, socio-economic statuses, and even the creation of a comic itself and it’s design and approach. It’s truly a fascinating way to look at sequential art, and is an excellent text book that is easily accessible to newcomers to the art form, as well as longtime readers.

I found the sections on teaching ethnic graphic narratives very interesting, especially in how it there are so many creators that have dealt with this issue in a variety of ways, some serious, some funny, and some a cross of both. As I have heard Will Eisner say in other interviews, and he is quoted in this book as well, “the stereotype is a fact of life in the comics medium. It is an accursed necessity – a tool of communication that is an inescapable ingredient in most cartoons”. Yet, in a video I saw of Sergio Aragones from the 90’s that Marvel Comics put out, the author of “Groo” stated that while he works with these cliched looks to successful achieve his story telling, it is only because society can not accept a different look for other characters, and it is up to society to make those stereotypes go away so he and others can draw how they please. While I am getting slightly off topic, I found this entire section to be one of the most engrossing, since I think everyone has at one time either stereotyped someone or been on the receiving end of it.

“Teaching Comics and Graphic Narratives” is a perfect entry point to comics for readers both young and old, and makes for a fine reference as well for critical-writing authors who use comics in their essays. Best of all, for those who are involved in more critical analysis, each chapter has a massive works cited page to help you dig deeper into higher thinking in comics, and it proves that time old adage we comic fans go by – that comics open up readers to a joy of reading they never knew they had.

You can order Teaching Comics and Graphic Narratives: Essays on Theory, Strategy and Practice from Amazon.com for around $40-45. Much like the other books from McFarland Publishing, they are meant as text books, so the price is higher than your average paperback book. As a textbook, it’s great (and includes some nice little homework assignments for you to do after you wrap up each chapter), and as a casual reading book, it works equally well. I could have used some more visual aids, but I just like looking at pictures and that can’t be helped. You will definitely learn about many comics you never heard of before and will want to read, so for that alone, it succeeds, but it excels more at teaching students about why the art form of comics is important and should be taken just as seriously as the so-called “high-art” world.

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“War, Politics and Superheroes” Book Review

It took decades after the creation of comics and cartoons for people to begin to take them as a serious art form, and a few decades more for casual viewers to realize that there were deeper messages within those funny pictures. Visionaries like Will Eisner, Frank Miller, and even Sergio Aragones were some of the more notable artists in their time that drew more attention to sequential art as a serious form of story telling, but those messages can be dated as far back as the turn of the 20th century. In “War, Politics and Superheroes” from McFarland Publishing, we take a trip through heroes and history to learn about how comic books truly are a mirror image of real life, and how sometimes, those comics can even change political views in our real world.

Written by Marc DiPaolo, an assistant professor of English and Film at Oklahoma City University, has broached a broad variety of socio-political topics and brought them into an accessible world for both comic fans and poly-sci students. Rather than running through things chronologically, the author instead chooses a character or series to discuss their real world implications and how their fictional actions affect the real world. A quick rundown of the chapters show some interesting parallels; Wonder Woman and the rise of feminism and how the view of women has changed over the course of several decades and how she started as a symbol for women to rally behind in WW II, the Punisher as a reflection of ultra-conservatism, how Superman is meant as an FDR-style figure with roots in Judaism, and much more.

I found this book extremely fascinating and taking some surprising twists and turns in how I would think about certain characters. Some characters you would think are more obvious than others, but DiPaolo throws a monkey wrench at you and feeds you thoughts that would have never crossed your mind before. For example, according to the author, Batman is a feudal prince living in a democratic society who seeks to protect people with his old way of thinking, and the Christopher Nolan movies especially deal with Batman as a means of fighting terrorism (a theme that is seen in essentially all three of those Nolan movies). On the other end of that spectrum is Spiderman, a “class warrior” who constantly struggles with everyday problems and was not born a hero but became one, and how his actions in Marvel’s Civil War storyline meant more than just that company’s take on The Patriot Act.

As a big fan of The Punisher, I greatly enjoyed the chapter on Frank Castle as a socially castigated Vietnam War veteran who, much like Rambo, can simply “not turn it off” and is not just after street thugs, but is also attempting to clean up the corrupted officials that work the system from within for their gain. For me to condense any chapters into a short sentence or two would not be giving justice to the work that the author put into this book. Chapters seven, eight and nine bring us closest into modern times, discussing the variety of ways the X-Men represent a modern America and their thoughts on civil rights, gay rights, and dealing with prejudice, how the tortured anti-hero has become more popular, and what the political landscape looks like in Obama’s America.

This book holds no bias to one political party or the other, and treats all the topics with an equal eye and opinion. Just the facts, no slant towards one side or the other, and I commend the author for keeping it neutral (for the most part anyway, once we get into the chapter on Obama, it does become more left-oriented). The sheer amount of characters discussed from both comics and TV ensures that everyone’s favorites will be discussed in some way, and is a great way for people who would normally not care for comics to become interested.

You can order War, Politics and Superheroes: Ethics and Propaganda in Comics and Film from Amazon.com for about $40-45 new. Keep in mind, it is meant as a textbook, and since college kids are loaded with cash, the price is slightly higher. Well, that’s not much of an excuse for the high price, but that is the intent of this product so I would say pick it up, but see if you can get it used so it will be slightly cheaper. I recommend picking this book up if you are a person who is into history or politics, and even if you are simply a fan of good comics, you will still get a lot out of this purchase. While you may have thought fleetingly about the deeper implications of certain stories, “War, Politics and Superheroes” gives you the tools you need to examine comics in a different way and will certainly change how you read those books and watch TV in a surprising way.

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“Death of WCW” Book Review

From 1988 to 2001, World Championship Wrestling was one of the top professional wrestling organizations in the world, constantly teetering between first place and second against it’s biggest rival, Vince McMahon’s WWF/ WWE. The two companies went back and forth for over a decade, always trying to one up each other to become the main show for wrestling on TV and pay-per-view. Needless to say, most fans know now who won the Monday Night Wars, with WWE still around while WCW is a relic of pro wrestling past. The question is, how come WCW, which had all the cards for a long time, wither and die in the pathetic and often embarrassing way they did? R.D. Reynolds of wrestlecrap.com and Bryan Alvarez of Figure Four Weekly asked that same question, and “The Death of WCW” is the book that answers it.

Reynolds and Alvarez meticulously researched the history of not only WCW, but the companies that it existed as before Ted Turner transformed it into WCW, as well as other very important regional promotions that helped build WCW or tried to compete against it, and a history of WWF, the two companies that fought to be the biggest show in pro wrestling. While many remember the Monday Night War’s as the big battle between WCW and WWF, the battle really began when Ted Turner bought WCW and began pumping tons of money into it. Vince Jr., after buying WWF from his father, was also trying to do a similar plan of attack, but it would take years of work and a ton of mistakes from WCW for Vince to claim top spot.

The book details the rise and fall of many men behind the scenes who helped build WCW, as well as set it back, like Jim Herd, Bill Watts, Vince Russo, and Eric Bischoff. Beyond that, we have the tales of the wrestlers, who were often just as involved as the higher-up’s to book matches and have creative input, including Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and plenty of others. Hearing the inside scoop on their plans and their many follies is great, and written in a humorous and often-sarcastic tone of voice that is sure to please wrestling fans.

There is plenty of non-backstage and business talk too, with explanations and backstory about all manner of WCW matches, like the “fingerpoke of Doom” and the epic fail that was the WCW debut of the Ultimate Warrior, and his consecutive headlining matches against Hogan on pay-per-view that were very underwhelming. Reading all of these stories made me jump right to Youtube to try and dig up some of these matches, although sadly Youtube has not caught up with every moment from the book so I have yet to see the fake belt Lex Luger wore when he won his first title from Barry Windham (because Flair took the actual belt with him to WWF in that era and had not yet returned it). More than the matches are the promos, and finally hearing explanations as to why some of these bizarre and over-funded video packages existed to begin with (hint: Ted Turner is very rich).

I would highly recommend this book to pro wrestling fans, both casual and hardcore. While it is about the death of a company, it’s not too negative on WCW and is pretty fair (although there is an obvious snarky bias against some of the stupidity that happened with the company, but there are plenty of high spots too). If you never thought WCW was a big deal and that WWF was always #1, you need to read this book to truly understand what a phenomenon WCW was, and how depressing it was to see them crumble the way they did.

You can order “The Death of WCW” from Amazon.com for under $13, which is a great deal for a great book on a critical time period in pro wrestling history. Grab it today and relive the good times, the bad times, and the just plain bizarre times!

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“Approaching the Possible: The World of Stargate SG-1” book review

Released by ECW Press in the far-away year of 2005, “Approaching the Possible: The World of Stargate SG-1” is author Jo Storm’s guide to the journey that is the first eight seasons of Stargate SG-1. For those of you living under a rock for the past decade or so, “Stargate SG-1” was the spin-off television series based on the 1994 film with Kurt Russell. The series started on Showtime and eventually found its home on the Sci-Fi channel (before they started that sy-fy crap), where it enjoyed two spin-off’s of its own as well as a cartoon series.

This book is the companion to the series, and is loaded with information that Stargate fans, or “Gaters” as they call themselves, will surely love to know. However, this is not just an episode-by-episode synopsis, this is a true guide to the series, as well as its origins, and examines things much deeper, such as the production and mythology that the show features. Beyond that, the book even discusses the international aspects of the show, such as filming in Canada and the issues that arose there, discussions of the expansion of the franchise itself, and the “fanchise” of hardcore viewers that have started websites, conventions, and spread their love of SG-1 around the globe.

The book also features exclusive interviews with cast members such as Teryl Rothery, Alex Zahara, and Christopher Judge, as well as writer Joseph Mallozzi and special effects supervisor James Tichenor, to give you the most in-depth and up-close info about what went on behind the scenes as much as what was happening in the continuity of the series.

The bulk of the book is the episode guide, taking up over 400 pages of the 530 page book (yes, it’s that enormous!). The guide is broken down by season, with each episode getting a full synopsis in regards to plot as well as production, and is scrutinized further in a piece-by-iece examination. Each episode gets a sectional treatment, starting with “Gods & Scientists” which looks at the historical or mythological aspects of the episode as well as any legitimate scientific info that was shown or referenced, “Interesting Facts” which is self-explanatory, “Why we’re space monkeys” which is a tidbit of info from behind the scenes, and lastly, “Parlez-Vous Gate?”, which is a fan-favorite quote.

“Approaching the Possible” was truly a labor of love for Jo Storm, and it shows in the content. The author left no stone unturned, speaking with whoever was willing to speak on the subject of SG-1 to create the most meticulous and complete compendium on the show out there. Well-written and easy to read, this book is brimming with knowledge that any Stargate fan needs to make the jump from casual to die-hard, or for the hardcore fans to learn even more than they ever thought they could on the topic. As a casual fan myself, I became more interested in the show as I read on, and even though the series has come to an end now, it’s never too late to jump back in thanks to Netflix and DVD’s, so I just might do that.

You can order “Approaching the Possible: The World of Stargate SG-1” from Amazon for $20, and is definitely worth it if you are a fan of SG-1. Heck, for $20, if you are a serious Gater and do not own this yet, I don’t know what you are waiting for! Great for entry-level fans or the self-proclaimed gater, jump through the stargate and make sure to bring along a copy of this book.

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“The Girl from The Naked Eye” Movie Review

When a high-class escort is murdered (Samantha Streets), her protector, Jake (Jason Yee) stops at nothing to find her killer. Leaving a bloody trail in his path, Jake risks everything to uncover the truth and avenge the death of the woman he loved. “The Girl from The Naked Eye” takes audiences through a thrilling action-packed ride in the underground world of sex and drugs where nothing is what it seems and everything is deadly. NerdNewsToday got a hold off this DVD from Anchor Bay, and here is your low-down on what to expect, and most importantly, if it is worth buying!

Imagine one of the tales from “Sin City” in color, and that is the quickest way to sum up “The Girl from The Naked Eye.” Of course, it’s nowhere near as amazing as Sin City, but what is when it comes to this type of genre? The movie is told with a series of flashbacks alluding to the history of Yee’s character and his relationship with Sandy, and what led him to his search now, along with present-day action and intrigue as he does his best to find the truth behind his quest.

A modern-day film noir, director David Ren did a pretty slick job in putting this film together, especially considering that this is his second film ever. The movie was written by Ren, Yee, and Larry Madill, who is the most experienced in terms of writing scripts. Too many cooks can ruin the soup as they say, and we will get to that in a minute. Visually, the movie is a wonderful throwback to the old noir movies, as well as how it is paced, but with a contemporary look and speed to the sequences. It can be both methodical but then jump from 0-60 when it needs to.

I can not blame Jason Yee for the movie being not so spectacular. Yee does his best with the material he was given, and being a still young actor, there is plenty of room for growth. He has the look, he has the martial arts skills, and he has the ability to improve his line reading. Sadly for him, the script for this movie generally falls flat, and does not give him much space to expand his skills, but it is a great piece on his resume that left him with a few nice highlights for his sizzle reel. To be totally fair, Yee was won nominated for Best actor at the 2011 Hoboken International Film Fair with his role in this flick, and I can see potential, but this movie was not the best place to spread his wings.

Ron Yuan steals the show for me as Simon, who is essentially Jake’s boss in the film, and is a surprisingly complicated role. He also has one of my favorite scenes in the movie, which is his failed exploits with a hooker in his room when Jake bursts in. It might be one of the best physical and verbal exchanges in a DVD I have watched all year between the trio, and I had to re-watch it after too since it was so awesome. Samantha Streets plays the woman that Jake is hunting for, Sandy, and is your sympathetic young prostitute with nothing in life to lose, and of course, Jake (being the enforcer with a heart of gold) falls for her. Their relationship grows nicely on-screen, even if some of the dialogue is forced.

There is plenty of action through the movie, and it’s not terribly exciting or special in any way, but it gets the job done. The best sequences are the ones with Yee fighting Latiff Crowder. The pair get three fight scenes together, and have great physical chemistry. It’s a clash of styles as Crowder is more of an acrobatic fighter while Yee is more gritty. The final fight scene in the movie is played out to Ravel’s “Bolero”, a very interesting choice, and absolutely one of the best-shot things in the entire film. It reminded me a lot of “Oldboy”, and is a great way to lead into the climax of the storyline.

My biggest complaint is the blatant false advertising. On the cover of the film, both Sasha Grey and Dominique Swain are given top billing and shown full-body on the packaging, yet both barely appear in the movie. Grey has about three lines in the single scene she is in (which is super short and barely worth a mention other than that she is in it), and Swain actually appears twice in the movie in slightly key scenes, but even then, in a 90-minute movie, appearing for a total of 60 seconds has never exactly been a reason to get your name in the credits as leading ladies. Worse since Samantha Streets and Gary Stretch, who have much more crucial roles, get no credit, and that must have been a horrible feeling to those actors to see that once they got their copies of the DVD.

I genuinely like Jason Yee as a leading man and look forward to seeing his work in the future, and there are a lot of very funny moments in this film, but the serious nature of the script hides those well and makes you yearn for more. The writing is nothing special (aside from those very funny scenes that are few and far between), and I commend the actors and actresses for doing so well with what they had to work with. The direction is very good visually, and just like Yee, I can not wait to see what he does next. This is a film with people that right now, might not be the greatest, but they are all going places, and this is your chance to see them now while they are still learning their craft.

You can order The Girl From the Naked Eye on Amazon.com for around $15. If you like film-noir style flicks with modern settings, decent action, and lots of boobs, then this is the movie for you. In a few years from now, I am confident that all of the people involved on this film will look back on it with fond memories of making it, and laugh about how far they have come since then. It’s a flawed movie, but it’s only because it was simply not the right time to make it, and had the crew been more experienced, this could have been a very good movie instead of just a good one.

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Comic Review: Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch

Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson come together to bring you the Eisner Award winner for Best Publication for Teens and Best Short Story, Beasts of Burden. This compilation of short stories (subtitled Neighborhood Watch), originally printed in Dark Horse Presents, features a canine and feline team who investigate different paranormal events that occur in their small and seemingly peaceful neighborhood of Burden Hill.

If you’re unfamiliar with Evan Dorkin’s previous projects, it’s alright. However, he is a veteran of comics among other media, and it’s not unlikely you’ve already enjoyed works he’s had his hands in. The projects he’s worked on span all across the spectrum of subject matter from comics like Predator: Big Game and Rom: Space Knight, to animation like the English adaption of Shin Chan and Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.

That’s not to say that Jill Thompson is a newbie when it comes to the world of entertainment; she certainly isn’t. She’s been around the proverbial block with multiple awards to prove it. Her illustration work can be found in many comic books and graphic novels like Spiderman: Shadows and Light and Death: At Death’s Door as well as in children’s books like the Magic Trixie series and Mick Foley’s Halloween Hijinx.

The track records of these two suggest a lot of diversity within subject matter and illustrative storytelling, and the short stories within this book do reflect that. Dorkin does a great job of bringing this band of characters through different levels of seriousness, suspense and humor in each short story that makes for a great read for adolescents and young adults alike. True, the idea of animals communicating with one another like people do isn’t anything ground breaking, but to take that and make something original is a feat within itself. It’s an even greater feat to use that to create something with appeal to both genders and the pre-teen to young adult age range, which Dorkin does successfully.

What really gives this one shot worth is Thompson’s illustrative work. Her watercolors are so crisp and clean with great color control successfully setting the tone for each scene. It’s tactfully goes hand and hand with the dynamic composition that’s intelligently set up for dramatic effect, but nowhere near to the point where it becomes unreadable. On top of that, it’s very well rendered but still stylized in a way that would appeal to youth. Each animal is successfully given anthropomorphic attributes without becoming silly looney tune-esque characters who carry on like people with animal traits, but they still give off a lot of personality through facial expression and body language.

Jill Thompson is telling a story here. The story she’s illustrating is so clear, this book would make sense without any words, but Jason Arthur does a great job of providing lettering overall; especially lettering that doesn’t step on Thompson’s work. In most cases, it’s the artist work that compliments the writer’s story. In this case, it really feels as though it’s the story that compliments the artist’s work, and the nearly half dozen awards Beasts of Burden has won just for its artwork reflects that.

Beasts of Burden makes for a good read for anyone over the age of twelve who may be a fan of suspenseful, action or horror reading, and its especially a great buy for any teenager or pre-teen with a visually artistic side to them. It’s a good story with even better artwork which makes it worth the $3.50 for the purchase. Beasts of Burden: Neighborhood Watch can be found at your comic book store on August 1st, or you can just as easily pre-order it on Dark Horse Comic’s website right now if there isn’t a comic shop close by for you to get a hold of it.

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Comic Review: White Devil

From the three-man crew of Matt Evans, Andrew Helinski, and Nate Burns comes the four part miniseries, White Devil. Evans describes the series in his own words as “what would happen if Cormac McCarthy wrote an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.” Aside from that brief description, there wasn’t any back story given to the creation of this comic. There wasn’t any information given on who Matt Evans, Andrew Helinski or Nate Burns are or what they do, so one can only assume that this comic is as independent as it gets.

This story starts following Sarah; the typical house wife with a typical loving husband with typical children who all come together to compile the typical working class family. Typically, family life has become stagnant for her, though she just recently found something to break up the monotony of her typical everyday life through means most would typically frown upon.

Sound cliché? That’s understandable. However, to the credit of Evans and Helinski, they do make a good attempt in giving Sarah some sort of individuality. The interactions she has with her family give a decent range of emotion, though still generally light hearted a mild mannered, that show it’s not their fault why she takes part in what happens in the second half of the comic.

The artwork is good, but it won’t blow you away. Though much of it is pleasing to the eye, there are times where it gets mucky and difficult to read at times. The sense of space sometimes becomes distorted and flat, and tactics used to create space and mood is inconsistent. Still, Burns still manages to create pretty pictures that go hand and hand with the story being illustrated. His brush inking shows skill and finesse that fit with the overall tone of the book. Though he didn’t hit the nail on the head it isn’t off target, but the biggest issue with this comic, aesthetically, is its typography. It isn’t pleasant at all and almost unreadable in many different areas, and instead of tearing into it further on how bad it is, let’s just say it’s a prime example on how not to deal with type in comics.

Reading this comic, one would imagine it fits into the horror genre. So if that’s your thing, I’d suggest checking this title out. Even better, if you like really indie comics and supporting the little guys in the graphic novel world, this would be worth a look. You never know. This just might be the comic that puts these three guys on the map, which will make you one of those hip folks that enjoyed their work before it was cool.

Realistically though, it’s free. It’s a free read. You can read this comic right now for free. I don’t know how many times or ways I can say it, but its free entertainment. You, as a reader, have nothing to lose by downloading and reading this comic on its blog site aside from five to ten minutes of your life you may have used watching a youtube video you may or may not enjoy anyway.

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