I’m always on the lookout for books from companies I’m not familiar with and with a penchant for stories geared towards things mystical, fantasy, and Dungeons & Dragons related this first issue seemed like something I would enjoy. Also I saw Matthew’s name attached and since I’ve been a fan of his work it seemed like a no-brainer to give it a go. Also with a little research the Muirwood novels these are based off of have made reading this issue all the more delightful as I do enjoy a good adaptation plus now i’m interested in possibly finding the novels and giving them a read. It should also be noted that Dave Justus who also worked on Fables and more recently on Public Relations, another first issue I really enjoyed and hope to find more of, is w
orking alongside Matthew again means this is going to be one for the books.
We open this story with Lady Marciana Soliven better known as Maia and her narration of her life thus far. Born a Princess and banished by her father, stripped of her title and privilege she’s kept in a room far away from the palace in the land of Comoros. This feels like a type of feudal society run by a King gone mad where women are property and uneducated so that she was secretly taught to read, write and use magic, also banned, means she’s a singularity. Having lost her privileged way of life she better understands what freedom is and that her unique situation is both valuable and dangerous.
The characterization here is flawlessly executed. As I read this I kept thinking this reads like a novel, hence the research after the fact, and that thrilled me because it has that whole sense of heaviness and thought provoking writing that engages the reader. Our first look at Maia’s interaction with her father really does go a long way in establishing boundaries and the complexity of the life they share, or don’t any longer as the case may be.
From there Maia goes for a walk to ponder the offer before her and as the fates would have it she sees first hand what has become of the city she grew up in. Yes this is more than likely a result of her father’s bad decision making but it’s also an important catalyst in her decision making. As well as getting to know the man her father has tasked with protecting her along the way. He’s by far an interesting fellow with a dark past and his presence is both comforting and frightening for the young woman. He is her father’s servant after all and owes her no allegiance.
So the stage has been set for this journey of self-discovery, adventure, and possibly a return to greatness for the land of Comoros. With the way the story progresses it’s easy to see what kind of story this is to become but having faith in the men writing this I’m sure there will be plenty that happens outside of my expectations. There’s a formula here to the writing and how things are presented that really maximizes the impact it has on the reader, sucking you into the story, the world and it’s inhabitants so you have that desire, innately or not, to see and learn more.
Alex and Lizzy do a marvelous job on the interiors. The attention to detail in the gorgeous scenery as well as the feeling you get off these characters really heighten the emotional response to what we are reading. Page layouts and panel usage are used to provide a wonderful flow to the unfolding events. Even though this is a darker tale, at least here and now, there’s still the sense of hope in their work and that is a huge accomplishment.
Okay I’ll be adding Jet City Comics to my list of companies to look for and hopefully work with in the future because it’s stories like this that remind you of the power of reading.
Editor’s Note: Head here to find out how you can acquire a copy of this issue!
Muirwood: The Lost Abbey #1 (of 5)
Jet City Comics 2015
Story by: Jeff Wheeler
Written by: Matthew Sturges & Dave Justus
Illustrated by: Alex Sheikman
Coloured by: Lizzy John
Lettered by: Deron Bennett
Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: Maia, the daughter of the king of Comoros, has been banished, her rank and station taken away. Although magic is forbidden of women in her world, Maia secretly learned…and now her desperate father has sent her on a dangerous quest to save their kingdom. Protected by a hired killer, Maia voyages to another realm—the cursed shores of Dahomey, where an ancient Blight has destroyed all the inhabitants. Maia believes she can restore the deadly lands by using her magic medallion, but if she’s discovered wielding her clandestine power, she will most certainly be hunted down and killed.
Zombie Tramp: XXX-Mas Special 2015 – Ongoing
Action Lab: Danger Zone
Writers: Jason Martin & Dan Mendoza
Pencilers: Marcelo Trom
Reviewer: Derrick T. Crow
Summary: She used to be Hollywood’s hottest high priced call girl, until the bite of an undead john changed her into something deadly different! Now Janey Belle – the street walking dead with supernatural abilities and a copy of the infamous Necronomicon – roams the highways searching for answers as the… ZOMBIE TRAMP!
Review: After the high point that was the Halloween Special from a few months ago, it’s not much of a jump to assume that this issue is going to be the same way. However something told me this wasn’t going to be the case as I was going into it and sadly that’s just what I found to be true.
While overall the issue isn’t bad, per se, it does feel rather bland in the overall grand scheme of things. Let me go ahead and get compliments out of the way however, credit where credit is due. First, I still really like Trom’s art. He just has a great aesthetic for the series and I hope to see him on the main series here some time soon. Trom draws a very slim, almost snake-like Janey that is fun to watch move and slink around as she stalks her prey in enclosed spaces.
So art wise, this special was on point.
Story wise, I give props for Janey spending this past Christmas essentially saving a bunch of girls from being taken into sex slavery but there’s something about this story that feels like it could have been told much better. When we first see Janey she’s showing up a night club where a Russian dressed as Santa is luring drunk, dumb blonde bimbos into sex slavery by giving them “presents” – drugs – but instead of forcing them to take the drugs he kind of just sends them into the bathroom where they’re all willing to inject the heroin into their system without any supervision. Which I assume there are plenty of women out there willing to do that, but for this issue I have a hard time buying it. Then again they’re all blond so we gotta assume they’re playing off the ole all blondes are dumb stereotype which is definitely in line with how this series works.
When Janey pretends to get high and passes out, finding herself waking up on a boat with a bunch of other trapped women, is when the story starts to move a lot faster as Janey goes all out on the Russian guards and then hunts down ole Santa Claus. It’s definitely fun seeing her go off on these guys, but there is a moment when she takes out the guards and the girls beg her to save them from their cell, she slams it shut and yells at them to save themselves.
This sudden animosity towards the girls is kind of out of left field for me. I’m not sure what they did to piss her off really, and it’s even more curious because you find out at the end that she was there to save them so… why yell at them? I mean, I know Janey is high strung, but for whatever reason I just didn’t like her acting that way towards them. Janey’s style as I see her would’ve been to just let them run wild as she abandons them to complete her mission.
Even the finale fight with Russian Santa is rushed and gruesome and not in a way that feels satisfying or wholly deserved. I mean he’s a sex trafficker, it’s definitely deserved, but we’ve spent such little time with this guy that he just feels more like a victim than a villain that Janey is forced to put on her hit list.
Overall the story feels rushed and like an after thought, something that was put together with little editing just so it could get to the printer in time for Christmas. I’m not really sure why that is, but I certainly hope the same treatment isn’t given to the Valentine’s Special that is advertised at the end of the book as coming in February.
I really like that Action Lab is allowing Mendoza and Martin to put out these holiday specials, and I would love nothing more to see Janey take on every major holiday every year from now until this series eventually ends. But putting the 2015 Halloween Special as the standard, these holiday issues need to be on par with the main series, and definitely not something that feels like a cash grab in the end.
Final Score: 2 XXX Specials out of 5
215 Ink. 2015
Written by: Tim Daniel
Illustrated by: Mehdi Cheggour
Lettered by: Lauren Norby
Reviewer: Steven Leitman
Summary: In seeking medical assistance to treat his daughter’s mysterious illness, James Coyle was forced to abandon his personal bunker, some miles from home, he was ambushed by a vengeful woman, claiming James had killed her mother. Meet the girl next door….
God I do love this series. What Mehdi is able to do here is utterly breathtaking in it’s scope I mean as we open and see the mutated, I’m going with wolf, through the helmet’s visor just demonstrates the kind of talent and skill involved in making this come to life. Though I have to say sheer size of this animal in question staggers the imagination. Not to mention how real and lifelike the cactus is or the dirt on the side of the road it all has this life and movement to it that makes you believe you are there.
I have to say Tim’s ability to get into this woman’s head and show us her return home and the effects it has on her well it’s so well depicted. When we see her pre-anger it’s pretty simple: a girl returning home after the crisis started to find her family. Guilt and remorse course through her like a fast flowing river and while Tim directs it Mehdi makes that come to life.
While we see her explore the house and what can happen to infected people, her family, when she finds them and has to deal with them in the way she can. Sure Bekkah has survived and a traumatized girl relates what happened to her sister. Now the family has a history that isn’t too favourable with the Coyles so it’s simple enough to understand why the worst is going to be believed right off the bat with no hesitation. There’s something about how Tim is able to really get inside her head and then get us in there with her is pretty damn spectacular. That we can experience the emotions and feelings she’s having can be attributed to not only Tim but Mehdi as well and together they make this the kind of read that you don’t walk away from scott free.
I have to say too the flashback was great. I like that it was basically done in black and white to give it that traditional feel. It’s going to be interesting to see if this is indeed the way it played out or if her view of things was skewed by their history. There are times like right now as i’m writing this that you have to stop because something on the page needs to be pointed out and in this case it’s James eyes so freakin wow.
Now when the two are in the present and she’s trying to kill him something else happens. I’m not sure whom to root for because the way it unfolds makes me flip-flop between them in thinking who is in the right. Sure James will say and do whatever it takes to stay alive and find help for his daughter but the ending had me second guessing him completely.
I think one of the more impressive aspects of the entire run of this series thus far, aside from the groundbreaking advancements with the interior artwork is the introduction to Tim and his ability to write. Granted I’m dying to learn more about the science stuff behind how all this happened, yeah I’m a geek in more ways than one, but in the meantime the personal growth, characterization, and development here is phenomenal.
Sci-Fi, horror, action/thriller’s don’t get any better than this!
Editor’s Note: Interested in checking out this awesome title for yourself? Head right here!