Medieval Spawn and Witchblade – first taste of the mainstream lines in a long while!

Ok so today I bring you something that perhaps will be a bit bizarre for me. You know how I don’t really follow these days much of their mainstream coming book lines? Well! The thing is just a couple of months ago – in fact to be precise as of May this year – Image decided to do a wonderful mashup of two of their main characters I love: SPAWN and Witchblade. And I have been thoroughly enjoying this so far – I think I am one number behind, but even so. The thing is mediaeval or dark ages spawn was always cool with you know the metal armour, weapons, the cape that flows like an absolute badass that sometimes you don’t really get the texture of it quite right in the more modern comic storylines. And of course Witchblade has always been cool through and through, no matter what – she’s awesome. And simply because of the very nature of the Witchblade and and how this evolves and interacts with the user this fits perfectly into the medieval setting. It just draws you in: armour, metal, shine, grip, monsters, death, Darkness – you know the drill.

So, of course I was not expecting it would disappoint, not at all, but I was certainly curious to see how they were going to take it because, well, the personalities of SPAWN and Witchblade could be somewhat conflicting and I wasn’t entirely sure of exactly what excuse they were going to give for the characters to join up storylines. And perhaps – as far as my reading goes – this is my hardest criticism. The first volume essentially tells you the story as to how SPAWN appears in this mediaeval setting which, by the way, doesn’t have any specific real Middle Ages locations to it. They leave it fairly vague which I’m cool with cause, you know, the scenery and the characters scream medieval of some form and that works. (You don’t really need to know the exact world/timeline names and background, the bits and bobs suffice if you see what I mean). The second volume is specifically dedicated to explaining how which plate comes into this story, which is fair, but because of the ascetics and introduction of both characters at separate stages, it is not the easiest thing to relate and assume they are in the same place/time/story. There is one only thing that ties them up together which is the presence of this particular villain, but that’s about it. In my opinion, perhaps it would have worked out better if instead of splitting them in #1 SPAWN #2 Witchblade, they would have put them together. I think it would have made it flow a bit better just so the reader could actually understand that these two storylines are happening in parallel correlation to each other. That is really that one thing that I thought “hmm, okay, I guess”. Well, that and the fact that, unlike in the case of Witchblade, you do not get a clear definite reason and to why and how is SPAWN here. (Neither at the end of either volume which I found a bit irritating but that could be the completionist in me…plus, like I said, one volume behind…though if I have to wait for #3 to get what I perceive to be an important part of the story…it better be decent plot development…anyway, I ramble!).

In any case, I think it’s pretty cool and I am really enjoying it. I really like the art work: but that is obvious, you know, a classic Brian Haberlin piece. He is a legend and has developed this aesthetic over years. I believe it’s the reason why it fits the medieval setting so well: not because of the dark and gloomy feel, which we could agree to a point to be cliche. But I think he adds to that romantic, stoic, hard core valiant epicness, full of blues and shiny silvers and golds. The balance and contrast in colour is delightful, even in scenes where you could get a certain feeling of monochromatic look, everything is distinct, and outlined to fit together harmoniously. In fact, at stages the general graphic composition starts reminding me of videogames of a fantasy setting – I’m particularly thinking of Skyrim here. It is difficult to explain without showing you the pictures, so just go buy the thing. The other thing that I liked was that with just a few lines of succinct and precise text, all the characters are well defined and understood. There is a bit of.an archetypal thing going on in that regards, but it does suit the genre and makes good use of tropes and motives in the medieval/fantasy sphere so, it works 🙂

Therefore, if you want something current, mainstream, and yet with a twist to read and enjoy visually, go get ’em Medieval Spawn and Witchblade – and then drop by tell me what you think.

My Comics about the Vikings: One Step Further

If you are reading this, chances are that you have come seeking further knowledge from my previous post regarding comics about the Vikings and where to begin. If not, well, you are in for a double bill and you can find the first part of this here: https://manaburnt.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/my-comics-about-the-vikings-where-to-begin/

So, you have gone around reading about Thorsfinn, Sven the Badass, the reckless Siegfried and our daring Valkyrie and you have thought to yourself: I need more. I need that extra layer. Then, you are now part of the brotherhood and I shall guide you throughout this process. The next three pieces I present you with provide different looks on to Early Scandinavian society and the Viking Age. The vary in tone and style. But I think, above all, what they provide us with is a further degree of immersion. Now I appreciate Northlanders is pretty good for that…but I never said it was about better quality: this is just about the extra bits.

Gods of Asgard

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Monstress: It Is InSide You

I finally got some me time and managed to read Monstress, which I has really been looking forward for a long time. And let me tell you something: it was better than what I wished it would be, what I had read it was, and what it could potentially be. I mean every word.

This is not just a story heavily powered by the third wave of feminism, and a pretty bleak commentary on earlier feminism:  this is a comic written and drawn by women, about women, but not necessarily just for women: Monstress is a Warning. Monstress is about what lies inside and you don’t want to know about, and fight to keep within. Monstress is also, the crudest example of – please excuse my vulgar terminology – “bitches be crazy, bitches be powerful”. I do not think there is a single male character in this volume that has more lines than a female one. And I guarantee you every single one of them passes the Bechdel Test. In fact, I do not think a single woman talks to another about a guy…People are dying here! There are far more important things to talk about. There is magic, mystery, conspiracy, politics, idealism…But mostly Lies. Pretty much everything that drags the argument forward is a very deep and elaborate lie someone created for their convenience – and yeah, that someone seems to me always a woman. Again, I could sit here and tell you how the dialogue is brilliant, how the narrative combines elements of Western and Eastern storytelling. How the art work is with is the prettiest steam punk/fantasy/art decoish thing you can buy currently…But Why? You don’t need me to tell you that. It is Obvious. You just need to open and look at a page.

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Geek Economy: Comics & the Market

Today I come back with a subject that affects my pocket regularly, and possibly yours too. Of course, comics; I never have enough. I do have a double problem with this subject because I buy comics for research, and because I want them. So being practical about how I invest my earnings on this respect is pretty important and has defined the way I collect comics.

I was never into number serials. It never felt like value for money: just a few pages for all my weekend money. The economy if a child is limited. In addition, most of these comics were – and still are – superheroes. I still have the same problem with these. I don’t buy superhero comics much these days, except very specific stuff. My dad owns lots so I guess I never really felt the need to buy some, I could just grab whatever he had at hand. In addition, we have such a great culture for Francophone BD in Spain that a lot of the comics that ended in my hands at a very young age were volumes rather than serials, therefore the stories were pretty self-contained. I think it made more sense for me to purchase/read these even though periodically as it felt I was getting more value: longer read, usually cheaper price, easier format to keep – better “vol.1” than 100 “#1-#100” stacked up in a precarious way somewhere in my room.

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Reading Rat Queens Vol. 3: Demons

For my birthday one of my friends bought me the third instalment of this great series by Image – Rat Queens. You’ve already heard me talk about the series and its characters before,  https://manaburnt.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/theratqueens/ so today I am just going to go over some of the features that have caught my attention. Must warn you though: This May Contain Spoilers!

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Pretty Deadly: What Good Stories and Comics Are Made Off

I found myself yesterday in Megacity Comics (Candem, London). I came home with a comic I had already eyed out in Outland during my visit to Oslo, called Ragnarok: Last God Standing. And Pretty Deadly. It is no secret that I am a big fan of Image. I was pretty thrilled when they announced that Kelly Deconnick and Emma Rios were teaming up for this one. They are kickass; only something epic could come out of this union – yet I’d never guessed how this would be achieved. They had already worked together in Osborn (2010). Deconnick’s reputation working with Marvel precedes her, as well as her fabulous work in manga adaptation – and The Witching Hour which I love! Rios is a talented compatriot whose art amazes me – Spiderman and Runaways. So I knew things would go well. But this?… This was something different. Train time comes and I think to myself “got an hour to kill”. Rganarok was ticker so I grabbed the Image volume. I have a page and a half when the train got home…I did not stop reading until I was done.

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Wytches & Scott Snyder’s Magical Narrative

Today I come back with a comic book that has really marked me and which I would happily considered one of the best written comics of the 21st century: Wytches. It is interesting too because it is the type of story I wouldn’t normally read – in fact, horror/thriller comics are a pretty niche subgenre in general. Personally, though, you’d never see me going nearby scary things – I don’t do spooky very well. Yet here I was reading Wytches in one go as I could not find the courage to actually stop reading. For those of you who have read it, I hope you agree. But for those of you who haven’t, please let me tell you that this will completely change your perspective of horror comics.

First things first – everyone knows Scott Snyder is amazing. American Vampire hit the market like a bomb, and has been a great long running series since its release in 2010. We are currently on the second cycle of the story, and the intensity of the writing has not changed at all. Simply great, thrilling and refreshing. Snyder and King make a fantastic team, and their styles compliment each other like bread and butter. I remember buying a serial magazine that is now out of print in the UK just for the promotional poster in my first year of university. It was vampires made new, and made right, with a touch of Western – thank you for thinking of something new! Now, I must admit, I lost track of Snyder for a little while, perhaps I was too concentrated on other publications at the time, and to my shame, I almost forgot about it. Then I was at Waterstones’ one good day and to my surprise I see volume 1 of Wytches – who did this escape me?! I read the premise and my first thought was “Nuh-Huh. I don’t do Scary”.

Here I was presented with the idea that the Rook family move to a deeper part of the American woods after the daughter, Sailor, is accused or suspected of having murdered this girl who used to bully her at her previous school. Dad – Charlie is a writer, a man who seems to be trying to do the right thing for his family and that ultimately you know he is scared and terrified of what the change, the possibilities and his capability to deal with the situation. Mum – Lucy is currently on a wheelchair due to an accident, seemingly a car crash. And a deep, dark broody witch cult runs in the background. Then I opened the book and Jock’s amazing artwork just compelled me to perhaps reconsider. I have seen few such good matches of narrative and art style like this one. The flashes of colour, the gradual change, moving from psychedelic to the darkest type of new gothic, bleak yet bright. The colour was the work of the fantastic Mark Hollingsworth. It was amazing. Then I notice it’s written by Mr Snyder…And how I could not take it home?

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Wrecking Palisade – The Rat Queens are Coming!

With the upcoming release of volume 3, I saw it fitting to dedicate this post to talk about a comic series that has captivated me not only on a personal but an academic level. I am of course talking about the biggest badassess ever known to inhabit Palisade: the Rat Queens!!

Since 2010 Image Comics has been in a roll of good releases, more innovative, fascinating and generally speaking, “New” in comparison with the other two titans ( DC & Marvel). Saga, Wyches, Pretty Deadly, East of West, The Wicked and the Divine, Monstress, etc,etc. Image Comics is Booming with fresh content. And Rat Queens is just another example. I mean we are talking of such a radical success since its release in 2013 that there have even been discussions to adapt the series to a cartoon for TV. What else you want?!?!

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