Review: The Walking Dead: Compendium One

You think that we hide behind walls to protect us from the walking dead? Don’t you get it? We are the walking dead!

I think it was 2014 or 2015 when I caught up with The Walking Dead TV show. I was obsessed and I’m not even joking when I say that. I was sharing Daryl Dixon pictures on my Facebook page, I bought the Telltale game (which I have yet to play fully) and you can guess the rest. Then the show tanked, it got so bad and the only good things left were Michonne and Negan. It’s taken me until now to read the comics. Surprise surprise, they are far better.

In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living. With The Walking Dead #1-48, this compendium features more than one thousand pages chronicling the start of Robert Kirkman’s Eisner Award-winning story of zombie horror, from Rick Grimes waking up alone in a hospital, his band of survivors seeking refuge on an isolated farm and the controversial introduction of Woodbury despot, The Governor.

*****Trigger Warnings for body horror, gore, mutilation, death of a parent, rape, physical and sexual assault, suicide, self-harm and domestic abuse******

So lets get this out of the way first, this is a complete tome that is over 1000 pages and I was reading this for a while. However, something I really enjoyed was once I sat down and opened this sheer brick of a collection, it was very easy to be sucked in to the story. So if the sheer length of it scared you, it is very easy to sail through it.

This is a sad and bitter world with people reduced to relying on survival instincts. Trusting your fellow man isn’t an option and there are no laws or government. Nothing of our old world remains and there is this constant unknowing if there is a government still there and if society will return if at all. I really liked the bleak reality of it and it was done far better in the comics. I think this has a lot to do with the pacing (more on that shortly) but there is less exposition on when things will be fixed which I do prefer and more ‘we need to survive this, let’s get moving.’ to the world as a whole.

This is mostly told from Rick Grime’s perspective and the creators have advised before that this is his story. Rick is the main focus of the plot driving the whole story as he begins in this compendium as the small town cop who is looking for his family and how he becomes the ruthless leader of a group of survivors. Rick has always interested me since he can be very realistic, and he is by no means an always good man. He has genuinely frightening moments that make him just as much of a problematic character as the people he is trying to defend himself from. Kirkman made a really good point about Rick in an interview where he described him as much more of an every-man who is very gentle, making him the perfect one to challenge in this world where the zombies don’t disappear after the credits roll. This series is what happens after that.

Obviously the “zombies” aren’t the main threat, more of an annoyance and a challenge for these people. If you like genuinely scary villains with messed up agendas and stories that really go there, you will probably love this. In terms of story arc, this book covers Rick and his awakening from his coma to the end of The Governor story line. The Governor wasn’t as compelling to me in the show the further it went on but the comics go there. He is frightening right from the start , he does everything the vilest human being you can think of could do and he takes it that step further. There is also the best damn revenge plot for him I will add. If it spoils sorry, but you might need to know.

Some smaller things stopped me from giving this a full 5 stars. One of them being that there are a few characters that are a bit too weird for me, not helping that I am comparing them to their TV counterparts. The other small thing I did have an issue with was the lack of emotional connection I had with any of the characters with how fast the plot moved. But that is to be expected so that’s just me.

The art is standout in this book. It’s black and white, totally scaled back and it really works to keep you consistently engaged in the story. This was a choice on behalf of the creators for both budget and the level of gore they wanted to go for. But even besides the fact it hides the very large amounts of blood, it really fits the mood of the story. You’re not going to care if this was done in any colour scheme once you get sucked into this story. Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard after him really managed a feat here with defining characters with limited options which does not take away from defining each character from each other. Yuo can easilt tell who is who and their feelings, it’s literally perfect.

This is the first 48 issues of the series and the culmination of the story cut through me. I honestly can’t wait to start the next compendium (thank you to my friend who lended these to me and who is super patient with me reading these slowly) Again, the size of these shouldn’t put you off. These are perfect for starting off while also being easy to get into. Do let me know if you are a fan! Happy reading all!

★★★★/5

Review: Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo

Now it has been a WHILE since I covered comics on the blog. It has also been a while since I read a Teen Titans story. This book also was one of the graphic novels I couldn’t wait for last year since I have been following Gabriel Picolo and his amazing art for years. So naturally, I only read it last week.

When a tragic accident takes the life of 17-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom–and Raven’s memory–she moves to New Orleans to recover and finish her senior year of high school. Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers everyday stuff like how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. And when impossible things start happening, Raven begins to think it might even be better not to know who she was before. But as she grows closer to her new friends, her foster sister, Max, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past…and the darkness building inside her.

Re-imagining characters in a new way is a hard thing to pull off, especially in comics. People always come to a comic with the idea in their heads of how they experienced a character for the first time and how the new version compares. Like many, my first time meeting Raven was the Teen Titans cartoon on Cartoon Network and the subsequent DC animated works after. This vision of Raven measures up to everything and more that i was hoping for.

For a start, Garcia is the perfect choice for writing this. Choosing a YA writer to write a teenage character is generally always a good choice but here I think it works best of all with Raven being a character who is accessible now to younger readers. I think this is also a great jumping on point for adults too actually, especially if you never read a Teen Titans book.

Something that I find can be done very poorly in classic comics being brought into the current day is new characters that have never existed before. Both Garcia and Picolo together have created Max, Raven’s foster sister and new friend. I wish characters like Max had existed when I started reading comics, she is such a realistic teenager but she is also one of the few teens I have seen in comics who has a good relationship with her mother. Also as is revealed later on, Max has enough of her own shit going on and she handles it like a champ. Note, if you are a long time DC fan, you will spot a well known character connected with the titans here too!

Now to my favourite part. The art. Noone draws the Teen Titans like Gabriel Picolo. I will die on that hill. There are other amazing artists like Jen Bartel who draw the Teen Titans regularly but their appearance does tend to be based on Picolo’s vision. He draws them like teens would be dressed, in the style of Snapchats and just doing normal teen things. This was al before Raven was announced and I imagine that I wasn’t the only one that cheered.

There is a very particular palette as well in the story that keeps with Raven and her aesthetic and I honestly hope this becomes more common across other comics and graphic novels. There are generally two palettes I see in DC, and named them in my head. We have ‘the muddy’ for the edgier stories that are more along the kine of the Black Label and then ‘the bold’ for all the others. Some have both (looking at you Suicide Squad). This was a blessing to see.

I can’t not talk about the clothes. Holy shit if anyone can do fashion besides Kevin Wada, it is Gabriel Picolo. The way Raven dresses makes me long for that wardrobe in my own life. I think some of my favourites are her raven hoodie/jacket and her ‘Black is my happy colour’ shirt. Those shoes too, talk about goals.

There is thankfully a sequel being published this year (hopefully, looking at you Rona) that follows Beast Boy and I think I am safe to assume Raven will make another appearance there. But more importantly, I can’t wait to see what else this team has to offer.

I think I made the best decision to read this now of all times and get me back to reading. Again this is definitely a good place to start if you are reading either graphic novels and comics or to the Teen Titans. Stay safe everyone and happy reading to you all!

★★★★★/5

Immersive SFF for Social Distancing

None of us can avoid the C word (not my C word) anymore. I was going to avoid putting any mention of the virus here on my blog but lets be honest that this isn’t possible anymore. I’ve been working from home for nearly a week and as of today, Ireland has recorded another death from Covid-19. But we do need to live and keep our heads somehow. Science fiction and fantasy is my chosen escape.

I’m making this list (for once, more than books will be on it) for anyone who like me, is a big fan of SFF and needs some head space. I’m also doing this since I intend on using my blog to escape a little while also using the extra time at home to develop what I write about here. So in here we will have books, comics, movies, a TV show and even a podcast.

Warning: Some items in here deal with apocalyptic elements and may be triggering to others at this moment in time. Mind yourself and make good choices.

So without further ado;

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Now, lets get this out of the way. Neil Gaiman is my favourite. Yes. And yes I love all his books equally. But I honestly think this book is a great starting point for anyone who wants to get into his writing while also completely escape from reality. The plot is one massive story that is running from place to place with characters that are vibrant and unique. Its also not a very typical fantasy for anyone new to fantasy.

The Magnus Archives-Rusty Quill: Now this is more of a horror podcast but it is definitely immersive. It is statements recorded to tape that summarise events people have experienced that verge on the paranormal. It has this great Twilight Zone adjacent feel to it at the start. Then a story becomes apparent and suddenly you are scared for all the characters and you’re scared of doors and plugholes. I am planning to do a post on this anyway but I would be lost without the absorption this podcast gives me for commutes as well as remote working.

The Hellboy movies: I would recommend avoiding the dog rough version that was released last year but they original pair of movies made so beautifully by Guillermo Del Toro (and their animated counterpart) These movies are such a happy place for me but they are also incredibly easy to get lost in. The creatures, the characters, right down to the signature Del Toro leaves on anything he makes are so incredible that its hard not to get lost in them.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples: If you somehow avoided what Saga is or how vital it is to comics, now is your time to read it and get caught up. Space Opera about star crossed lovers from warring nations as narrated by their child, with weird creatures, other races and robot royals along their way. That is barely the tip of this very big iceberg.This series is hard on the emotions but has such a well written story with some VERY detailed art that its hard not to get caught up in this world. Also, giant cats and cute seal people.

Good Omens (Book and TV Show) by Neil Gaiman&Terry Pratchett: Warning: This is about the end of the world and the Antichrist which might be far too on the nose and quite triggering for some people at this moment in time.
I don’t think anyone missed the success of this beauty last year but in case you did, it is great, wonderful and ineffable. I recommend the book just as much as the show since both are pieces of art in themselves. Both of these despite the nihilistic subject matter are very comforting (I can’t explain it for some reason) and very easy to get drawn into.

That is only a small list but still, just wanted to rattle off the things that are currently saving my sanity a little bit and in general are comforting for me to return to even when I’m anxious.

I hope everyone who can work from home, is doing so and everyone is safe and sound. If you have any very immersive SFF yourself you would like to recommend, of ANY kind, then please feel free to do so. We all need an escape and we all need a little comfort.

Stay safe everyone and happy reading!

Locke and Key: Volumes 1&2 by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez Review

Joe Hill is one of my favourite authors of all time and his work in comics is no different to the wonderful writing of his novels. I was lucky enough to meet him at World Con this year and I felt it high time I read Locke and Key again.

Locke and Key takes place across 6 main volumes whole following the Locke family living in Keyhouse. After the sudden death of their father, the Locke family find themselves moving to the town of Lovecraft. What should be the fresh start they need is replaced with some mysterious keys, a monster in a well and a

Both the first and second volume of this series set up the town of Lovecraft and Keyhouse for us. Lovecraft is your typical small town with an undisclosed past that we are currently only given glimpses of through various characters. Keyhouse however is very present on the page with it’s many unraveling mysteries. First off the house has a well house, that’s your first red flag. Among other things there’s a door that with the right key you can become a ghost when you unlock it.

The keys are the true highlight alongside the 3 Locke children; Bode, Kinsey and Tyler. By the end of Volume 2:Head Games we know that names and functions of 5 keys, with the mention of another. I intend to review 2 volumes at a time with this series so I will expand on them all once I finish the series. As mentioned the real standout is the Locke family themselves. I do think that the keys are tied to young people somehow since there are flashbacks of the previous lives of the parents of the Locke children and their peers but I will have to wait and see.

Dodge however is my favourite character so far. Dodge is the villian of the series so far. Introduced as a woman who lives in the wellhouse (I did warn you) who only talks to Bode, the youngest Locke child, then later is freed and changes both gender and identity and befriends Tyler, the eldest. Dodge has a few identities and changes gender with one of the keys to suit his/her agenda. Dodge also comes back to settle some kind of score with the previous generation of Lovecraft and I can’t wait to see what he/she has in store.

Hill and Rodriguez have a unique pairing that I have only seen once or twice in comics, where the art is made real by the writing and the writing is useless without the art. Hill is a fantastic novelist with a gift for pacing and the horrific but honestly this wouldn’t work without the unique way it is brought to life by Rodriguez and his unique style.

Thank you for reading, have you read Locke and Key? Have you read the whole series? Tell me below as I continue to unravel the mystery of Keyhouse.

  • Locke and Key Vol 1: Welcome to Lovecraft -★★★★/5
  • Locke and Key Vol 2: Head Games – ★★★★.5/5

Doomsday Clock overview; The clock is ticking!

Comics! They are great, I love them and now I am going to write about some here!

So recently I re-read and caught back up with Doomsday Clock and for the first time since it began I have an opinion on the direction of the story. I have thoughts. Doomsday Clock is a 12 issue limited event published by DC comics. The series began back in 2017 and is currently as I write this, still ongoing. The series is written by Geoff Johns with art by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson and I’m finally up to date on the story.

****SPOILER WARNING. SPOILERS FOR DOOMSDAY CLOCK, WATCHMEN AND DC REBIRTH EVENT FROM HERE ON*****

Doomsday Clock works both as a semi sequel to Alan Moore’s&Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen series from 1986-1987 and explores the ending to the DC Rebirth issue from 2016 which dropped the bombshell that characters from Watchmen have been tampering with the timelines and lives of the characters within the DCU. The series functions outside of the main DC continuity and also began the reboot of all the DC titles.

So here’s the thing, this series is taking way too long to get to the point. Doomsday Clock was very exciting when it was first announced and I was itching to get it into my hands. However, the series at the time was monthly. Then it got moved to bi monthly. THEN it had several delays and breaks….yep. Patience is the virtue of the faithful comic reader.

Now that I am caught up I have a few small things to mention. The art is still the shining jewel of the series. I follow Gary Frank on Twitter and he does reveal the drawings for the covers there frequently in case you are interested. The way he handles the characters and the movement is sharp and solid without being generic. His style is very present in the story and is definitely suits the noir-esque world that Watchmen came from. I also really like seeing characters from Watchmen again especially the Comedian. He is a diabolical human being and him being alive at the end of issue 4 was one of the better turns of the story. Dr. Manhattan vs the entire DC super hero slate in issue 9 was absolutely brilliant, a testament to Frank and Anderson.

The story however is really suffering with the delays. 12 issues over almost 2 years is killing the cliffhangers that the issues are ending on and it is clear that Johns has come to rely on them to maintain the story’s impact. The characters do remain consistent but I feel like they are getting lost in the lagging tempo of the overall arc. The enitre ‘Superman Theory’ is the only thing keeping me interested. That and there are only 2 issues left. I haven’t been up to date since issue 5 so now we will wait and see where it goes. The only thing I can see that will end this well is the upcoming clash between Manhattan and Superman.

I’ll be reading Watchmen again soon and I will post how it informs my opinions of Doomsday Clock but honestly, it will depend on the last upcoming issues. As of now issue 11 is due out in September.