Saturday, April 14, 2012

REVIEWS: The Secret Service, Conan, Saga, Fatale, Glory

I’ve been a dyed in the wool Superhero comics reader for most of my comic reading life, rarely venturing out beyond those borders. But lately, cape free comics have never been better. There is so much diversity in comics today as compared to 20 or even 10 years ago and this weeks pull list is a bit of a testament to that...

Saga #2 from Image Comics

Case in point: Saga #2 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I had just assumed that there was no way that Vaughan and Staples would top their balls to the wall sci-fi fantasy romance debut adventure that began in Saga 1. But they did it. Boy did they ever do it. Issue 2 continues and exceeds the level of excitement set in issue 1. Our two star crossed lovers Alana and Marko and baby Hazel are still on the run, trying to make it off world while avoiding capture by their own people as well two free lancers sent to find and or kill them.
As in the first issue, Alana has the best lines. One laugh out loud moment not to be missed is when Marko needs Alana to tell him a secret, the secret being part of an ingredient to a magical spell he must cast to save their lives. We also meet another bizarre character in “The Stalk”, one of the mercenaries sent to kill them. This is one terrific comic book, not to be missed.

Fatale #4 from Image Comics
The next example of terrific cape free comics is Fatale #4, the stunning horror/noir by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. This is so good that I reread every previous issue before reading the current one. Seemingly ageless femme fatale Josephine, reporter Hank Raines and Walter, the corrupt cop and former lover of Josephine, are up to their necks in gruesome murders and creepy goings-on’s as they continue to uncover and elude a creepy cult of killers.
Walter, dying of cancer and stinging from losing the seductive Josephine, has made a deal to turn her over to the cult. Meanwhile, Hanks pregnant wife is caught in the middle and meets a horrific fate. A nice bonus are the mini bio’s of mystery writers after each story. This weeks back up feature is about Raymond Chandler and the possible inspirations for his detective Phillip Marlowe. A top notch comic from cover to cover.

Conan The Barbarian #3 from Dark Horse Comics
As much as I love comics, it’s rare that they make me swoon. But Brian Wood’s writing in Conan the Barbarian #3 makes me do just that. I have fallen in love with this book. Wood’s writing has never been better. Wood’s gift is being able to pack an amazing amount of story into one comic and never have it be forced or rushed or in any way top heavy. Issue three is just a lovely bit of dangerous romance as Conan comes to terms with his attraction to the deadly, infamous pirate queen Belit. Belit is a complex, beautiful and terrible force of nature but as Conan discovers from one of her crewmen, it is not just her savage beauty but her intelligence and the perspective that comes with it that has earned her the respect and unflagging loyalty of her crew.
Belit wants Conan to be King to her Queen, to sail the seas with unlimited freedom. It would seem that Conan has everything he’s ever wanted. So why does the old Shaman on board make him think twice about this new course he has chosen? This comic was a bit of a bittersweet experience as I discovered that artist Becky Cloonan will not be the artist on the next three issue story arc. This is incredibly disappointing as I have been bowled over by her interiors. I wasn’t a huge fan of Cloonan going into to this series but her work on Conan has made me a believer. I look forward to her return in issue 7.

Glory #25 from Image Comics
Like Fatale and Saga, Glory is also from Image Comics, a company that is really cranking out the hits lately. Glory #25 jumps ahead 500 years and takes the story to Mars where we find out that Glory and the war she is waging is responsible for some pretty horrific things going down on Earth. A 500 year old Riley finds Glory on Mars and takes her to task for her past deeds as well as finally meeting her own destiny.
This issue is a little quieter, a little more thoughtful a story than the previous two issues. Which is fine with me as it gave me a chance to examine Ross Campbell’s art which reminds me a bit of Heavy Metal artist Richard Corben with dashes of Paul Pope. Issue 25 doesn’t have the same level of action as the previous two issues, but it’s still a fun read and shows us that Glory might not be the hero we think she is.

The Secret Service #1 from Marvel Comics "Icon" imprint
One of the most pleasant and most hilarious surprises of the week had to be Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ The Secret Service. This is a very fun and witty spy spoof with a little social commentary and some dysfunctional family drama thrown in for good measure.
The first 8 pages of this comic had me laughing out loud. In issue one, a mysterious organization is kidnapping various actors from Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and Star Trek (the original series, not the JJ Abrams version). The conversation that the villains have with Mark Hamill about the Star Wars prequels more than make up for the price of this comic. The premise? Well, picture James Bond with a family who would be very much at home on the Jerry Springer show. On top of Millar’s fun dialogue, we also get the return of Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons and he is in top form here. Gibbons art is top notch as always, bold and detailed. Gibbons art is straightforward and real and his characters are all very distinct looking. I’ll be on board with this title for the long haul.

All of the above comics come highly recommended.  I'll also be reviewing Dynamite Entertainment's Bionic Man issue 8 and the debut issue of Bionic Woman later this week.  Thanks for stopping by!


  1. You're reviewing a lot of Image comic book here but I don't see any Darkhorse!

    1. Conan is put out by Dark Horse. That's probably the only Dark Horse title I've bought in ages. What Dark Horse titles are you getting?

      For me it's mostly Dynamite Entertainment, Image and Boom Studios. I've never read this much non superhero stuff before.

    2. So it is. I guess missed that lol

      I'm not getting that many Darkhorse titles at the moment. Just one.

      Avatar the last airbender. It's a look at what happened after the show. How Aang and his friends created the new peaceful world that Kora will live in.

      Currently the two comic companies other then Marvel and DC that's getting my money is Image and IDW.

      Just loving those ninja turtles all over again.

      Boom lost my vote/dollar when they canceled DuckTales and Darkwing Duck.

  2. Also, Cape Comics have been pretty good as well.

    1. True. I'm just buying so much non cape comic stuff that I can't afford to read them. I do like Aquaman and Justice League. And I don't care what anyone says, I'm looking forward to Avengers VS Xmen. But I'll probably wait for the trade. Avenging SpiderMan is also pretty good.

    2. What? What would Chris say lol?