Aztek's Vertigo Reviews for the Week of 03/10/2010

Posted by Asymmetrical (23748 posts) - - Show Bio

So I love reading Vertigo comics and I've always wanted to share my love with the world, try and get the awareness out there that there are great comics outside of Marvel and DC. Now, I'm not saying Vertigo is the only source, there's tons of other great comics by other publishers, I've read the works of dozens of different comic publishers and if you'd like to PM me about recommendations outside of Vertigo, feel free. However, Vertigo is basically the only publisher I pick up on a week-by-week basis so for all the people who love to pick up new comics every Wednesday, here are my thoughts on some items from last week:

Daytripper #4

G-Man actually reviewed the first issue of this comic in a video a few months ago and the big thing back then was that the comic ended with quite the unexpected surprise which he hyped up and then wouldn't reveal (don't you just hate it when people do that?), and it was definitely surprising. Now, I don't know if anyone knows what this surprise was, so I'll follow G-Man's example and avoid spoiling it (ha!), while still giving an overview of the comic. Basically the idea is, this comic is as Cameron Stewart put it in this week's podcast, a very personal comic you'd expect to find with an indie publisher. It just has that whole heartfelt, deep feel to it, it's not just some superhero fight scene, it's all about life. Each issue gives you a snapshot of a man's life, first at 32, then 21, then 28 and now 41. This issue adds a whole new aspect to Bras' life, fatherhood, and it also gives us more insight into his own father, a relationship that has seemed to weigh heavily on Bras' mind throughout the story. Life: what is it worth? what moments stand out? These are the questions the brilliant team of Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba answer. Grade A stuff right here. Btw, its a ten-issue limited series, so you don't need to worry about adding an ongoing to your pull list, consider it an investment.
Rating: 5 of 5, I am absolutely loving this comic, very well written and drawn and find myself excited for each new issue, the ending gets me every time so far and I can bet it will continue to do so.

DMZ #51

As Babs mentioned in an article last month, this comic has a lot of political concepts throughout, I mean its about a civil war erupting in the United States, so yeah, politics are obviously involved. But the actual story follows a somewhat former (at this point in the tale) reporter who was dropped in the DMZ of New York City and finds himself in a world filled with ordinary civilians that have been cut off from the rest of the world and try to make it through each day, to survive, and perhaps even thrive. Recently the DMZ elected themself a Mayor, and our protagonist ( Matty Roth) was one of his advisers, so when this Mayor announced that he had in his possession a nuclear weapon... Well, the rest is pretty obvious, the world and America specifically went ballistic, and since the cover to #49 gives it away already, I'll fill you in on something, a nuclear bomb has been detonated in the city. The arc following, beginning with this issue is the aftermath of this and I'd say probably a decent jumping-on point. It's a very interesting story, an interesting look at this world, one of those dystopian looks at society that makes people stop and think. And there's definitely some interesting character development, no superheroes again but there's no shortage of action, this is a war-torn country.
Rating: 4.5 of 5, the effect of the nuclear weapon's detonation is actually quite surprising (in a good way) but this is only the first issue after a very significant event, so I still need to read more to feel the full effect of this turning point

Greek Street Vol. 1: Blood Calls for Blood

I won't say too much about this release, simply because it technically is what you might call "old news" seeing as this is simply a collection of Greek Street #1-5 which were all released last year. I will say that it is written by Peter Milligan, a writer who I very much admire (mostly due to his 90's masterpiece: Shade, the Changing Man) and it deals with a modern day retelling of ancient Greek myths, sort of that whole history repeats itself thing. This is very obvious in the first issue with Eddie's parallels to the story of Oedipus (see famous play that was required reading in my high school English class) but I'd say as the story goes on the parallels seem to become more vague and the story takes on a life of its own. One problem I am having with this, is so far I have to admit, I'm still a little confused what's going on. Things are clearing up in the recent issues of the series, but I can't promise after reading this trade you'll feel any closure. But like Karen Berger said on vertigoblog last week, if you're one of those people who "wait to pick it up in trade", well, here's your time to shine.
Rating: 4 of 5, it has some high points and some low points, and like Greek myths, not everyone will be able to appreciate the stories but if you do have an interest in Greek mythology and stories about sex, death and gang wars check this out

House of Mystery #23

Ah, House of Mystery, one of my personal faves in the Vertigo armada, I was praising it quite highly in December with my wrap-up of 2009's bounty, and at that point I was a little unsure of the new direction the series was taking, and I have tossed aside all those feelings of doubt, this new direction is wonderful! Cain and Abel were always an entertaining duo in Gaiman's Sandman and there charm works beautifully as new additions to the regular cast (at least for now, I don't know how long this arrangement will last in the story). And this new character, Strawberry, is definitely one intriguingly effed up cookie. And like I've said before, this series has the best cliffhangers, you can't read an issue and not be excited for the next! I'm actually surprised how much I enjoy this comic sometimes since its advertised as horror and I'm normally not a horror fan at all, but maybe horror translates better for me in comic form? Anyways, if this series interests you, you're in luck! #21 was a perfect jumping on point, so it won't be hard to catch up and decide if this is for you but definitely give it a try, its a nice blend of comedy and tragedy. Plus, each issue has a story inside it (in the form of a character in the story, telling a story, often a one-shot story told my a customer at the House) and this story was great, I know I won't be trusting any homeless people under bridges anymore!
P.S. I realize I probably avoided an explanation of what this comic is all about, basically Cain's house (the House of Mystery) went missing and it seems to have taken on a life of its own, attracting an eclectic group of people to it who now work as employees at a bar filled with some of the oddest patrons you could ever expect. The villains remain somewhat mysterious, but the idea is the main character ( Fig Keele) is trying to break her unwanted bond with the House which at this point seems impossible so instead she has assumed the position of manager alongside Cain who wants at least some control over his own House.
Rating: 5 of 5, like I said I love this series, so I'm probably bias, but its very well-paced, it never goes stale for me, always new and exciting plot developments, Sturges has no shortage of creative juices

The Unwritten #11

I knew from before #1 even hit shelves that I would love this series and 11 issues later, my love remains steadfast! With a creative team like this comic has, that have already proven themselves to be an unstoppable duo, there was little question about with the comic being a success. But what is this comic about? It's about stories taking on life, a new aspect to them you could say. The protagonist, Tom Taylor, is suspected to be the popular literary character Tommy Taylor (think Harry Potter) in the flesh. A messiah to some and devil to others. He of course finds this whole idea ridiculous, but some of the events he has recently been going through make denial a little easier said then done. There's a whole conspiracy going on behind-the-scenes that dates back some time and involved such authors as Rudyard Kipling (Jungle Book). We're still about as much in the dark as Tom but he's been coming to some realizations, specifically in this issue, he did the impossible...
...and questions are being answered, and new ones taking their place. The story is moving forward, I recommend jumping onto this bandwagon before you get accused of being a conformist and instead be praised as a revolutionary!
Rating: 4.5 of 5, a brilliant new and original story, my only complaint, there aren't really any characters I feel attached to in the story, the story is good but it lacks any favorite characters at this point, at least none that are still alive...#8-9 broke my heart :( 
#1 Posted by Morpheus_ (29909 posts) - - Show Bio
It's great to see this is up and started. The analysis is well shaped, as I would have expected from you. I'm particularly interested in Daytripper, based on your brief outline of it. It sounds unconventional for a comic book, even a Vertigo one.
I've also heard you praise House of Mystery before, and I must say the development with Cain and Abel appearing intrigues me.
All in all, the review makes me rather anxious, since I tend to focus on established Vertigo masterpieces, and I often neglect the on-going titles.

#2 Edited by Final Arrow (24322 posts) - - Show Bio


House of Mystery #23 sweet as hell on a stick.... great reviews

#3 Posted by jloneblackheart (5876 posts) - - Show Bio

Great to see you finally did it. I'll have to pick up the Greek Street trade, I know we talked about it months ago. See how time passes when you forget all about stuff? Looks like you should be able to do this every week like you always wanted now that you have some extra help. Great reviews, keep it up.

#4 Posted by NightFang (10860 posts) - - Show Bio
@Final Arrow said:
House of Mystery #23 sweet as hell on a stick.... great reviews
#5 Posted by Gregomasta (358 posts) - - Show Bio

You've got me intrested in day tripper.  I don't know if House of Mystery is for me but I'll give it a look.

#6 Posted by Asymmetrical (23748 posts) - - Show Bio
@Morpheus_: I think a comic like Daytripper is a rarity in the comic book world in general, but to be perfectly honest, I think Vertigo's has had several mini's in the past with a similar theme (the pondering life's worth thing), but no, I'll agree, the way in which the story is written, the added twist, that makes it stand out. I really think everyone should be reading it, I don't see it ever being listed alongside Sandman, Preacher and Invisibles but it's a special story with a power all its own. As for the House of Mystery, I brought this picture up back when #21 came out as my way of saying "I like this new direction" but this image should seal your interest in the comic, as Cain and Abel are as great as ever. Not main characters mind you, they are secondary characters but each issue they have had at least one moment that makes their presence all worthwhile (and Cain has actually been an antagonist since the beginning, only he was masked at that point). And I can understand the habit of focusing on the epics of the past rather then the one's in the making, I used to do the same thing but last year I was somehow convinced new comics were where its at and I caught myself up on a dozen titles and now I'm hooked. I have to say that the month-to-month wait for comics is something I never took into account with things like Sandman or 100 Bullets (that's 10 years!) and it's an interesting sensation. Plus, it means I can prolong the inevitable sadness when the series must come to a close.
@Final Arrow: you know, I've never imagined what Hell on a stick tastes like, I would have described it as spicy but sweet could work!
All I have left to say about HoM #23...ABEL UNLEASHED!
@jloneblackheart: You're my success story in that my persistent reviews and advertising of Vertigo comics can pull more into the flock :D
And let me know what you think of the trade, I personally suspected the series would make more sense if read in trade form so I'm curious to see if you get more out of it reading it for the first time that way. Oh and Unknown Soldier has a trade coming out tomorrow if you're still interested in that series...but I'll get a review of that week's pull up next week. I'm hoping I'll be able to make this a weekly segment too because American Vampire #1 has me at the edge of my seat!

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