The Wicked and the Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act

The Wicked and the Divine Vol. 1 written by Kieron Gillen and art by Jamie McKelvie encompasses the first five issues of the series which follow twelve gods who are reborn into the world every ninety years but within another two years are dead.

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I was first introduced to W + D on Panels where it was listed as great holiday gift for ‘for your cousin who only reads literary fiction’ – it was also on a ‘best of 2014‘ list and ‘best of women in comics in 2014‘. How could I go wrong (aside from literary fiction bit HA)? I wanted to like W + D, I really did. The artwork is gorgeous, the costuming (for lack of a better word) of the gods is beautiful i.e. the individual issue covers. I just didn’t connect with the characters. It wasn’t a page turner for me, I wasn’t dying to read the next issue and I even skimmed issues #4 and #5. Sad but true. Part of the problem is me, I’m not the biggest fan of various mythologies. Maybe I need to start smaller, like Percy Jackson?

What’s next for me and comics? I am really excited to read Lady Thor #3 and #4, Locke and Key Vol. 4, as well as the next couple of Nailbiter and the graphic novel Seconds. What are you reading?

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Wytches

As I looked down at the cover of Wytches #1 (written by Scott Synder and art by Jock) I found myself waiting for an eerie soundtrack to cue up (i.e. American Horror Story) but what I got instead was an eerie silence punctuated by the rattling of my lopsided dryer.

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This is gonna be good!

The first scene, right off the bat – holy shit! Timothy isn’t effing around.

Holy crap I was just blown away by the first issue. Oh my god I want more more more more – good thing I have #2 and #3 right next to me!!! Just a few quick thoughts on the Rook family: Sail, I love the way she is drawn and her style in particular, Sail’s dad is pretty damn cool and he has a ferris wheel tattoo, and lastly Sail’s mom, super fashionable and upbeat about their intense streak of bad luck. The art, the surprises, the gore – I think I have a new favorite comic!! Oh and lastly, Annie deserved it.

What do I say about #2 except that it was over soooooo fast!! Ah! We really see the wytches for the first and damn, they are unlike anything I’ve seen before in the horror genre. The art is breathtakingly creepy and fantastic, it’s giving me goosebumps!! Ooo #2 and #3 take place on my birthday, I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

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It’s getting dark outside, the wind is howling and our outdoor stray black cat is meowing for food, my surroundings are getting creepier by the moment. There is a scene in #3 that is so completely out there, I was just thinking like ‘wtf is happening’ horrified. I can’t wait to read more of this series, #4 due out later this month (so says #3).

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I’m gonna go hide under a blanket now.

Killer Unicorns, Need I Say More?

I have decided that I need to start a Ridiculous Premise Book Club. Right now I have a total of two books which fit this category perfectly – Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith and Rampant by Diana Peterfreund. I read Grasshopper Jungle last September after meeting Andrew Smith at the 2014 Decatur Book Festival. Quick synopsis: a 16 year old boy is torn between being in love with his girlfriend and his best friend (also a boy) while giant grasshoppers are on the verge of taking over the planet. Clearly Grasshopper Jungle perfectly fits into my Ridiculous Premise Book Club. However, long story short, for a super-hyped book (problem #1), I was very underwhelmed (Grasshopper Jungle Review).

Fast forward a couple months to the December Not-So-YA book club. For Christmas we decided on a white elephant book exchange and after much swapping and stealing of books, I ended up with Rampant (Killer Unicorns #1).

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Let me share with you the synopsis (from Goodreads):

Astrid had always scoffed at her eccentric mother’s stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend—thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom—Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to—perhaps most dangerously of all—her growing attraction to a handsome art student … an attraction that could jeopardize everything

I’m sorry what???

Illustration by Commanderofthedead on DeviantArt

Illustration by Commanderofthedead on DeviantArt

No really what???

Commanderofthedead on DeviantArt

Illustration by Commanderofthedead on DeviantArt

Following the book exchange, Rampant was about as far down the list on my TBR as you could get. I told my co-workers about it over lunch one Friday then I found out the following Monday that one of them borrowed it from the library over the weekend and started reading it! Well if he was reading it, I wanted to read it so we could talk about the insanity together. I read the book in about a week and no one was more surprised than me that I actually really enjoyed this book. I liked a book about murderous unicorns and the teenage virgins with the powers to slay them! It was like a bizarro Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 with the Slayerettes.

Rampant was fast paced with a colorful cast of characters and certainly a unique take on one of the most well known mythical creatures. There were some issues with the book, namely that the girls not only had to have the right unicorn hunting lineage but also had to be virgins. I had a hard time accepting the lack of freedom these young women had over their own bodies and lives. However, that’s a heavy topic I’m not going to get into further at this time. Also, I didn’t realize how ingrained the idea of pure, kind unicorns was in my psyche. It was difficult to accept them as violent creatures and even root for their destruction. I’m not even sure I ever condoned violence against them but with five different species of unicorns, it was kind of easy to pretend they were a different mythical creature all together. For instant, I referred to the largest species of unicorn as a mammoth with a horn or a horned Snuffleupagus.

I’m not going to lie, I want to read Ascendant (Killers Unicorns #2) so clearly Peterfreund is doing something right with her ridiculous premise.

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What suggestions do you have for the Ridiculous Premise Book Club?

Locke and Key Volume 3: Crown of Shadows

Horror descends upon the Locke children not only with a key this time but with a crown in Volume 3 of the Locke and Key series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Ty, Kinsey, and Bode are in serious trouble when Zack unleashes a shadow army inside the Keyhouse Mansion to find the key to the black door. The shadows take the shape of everything you were afraid of that went bump in the night. I was impressed at the artwork of the shadows, I had no idea you could create such imagery out of the color black and more black. Not only do the shadows materialize as frightful creatues but they also are endowed with mass and the subsequent ability to inflict pain *yikes*

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This time around I was really concerned for little Bode – the way Kinsey takes care of him, the way Bode clings to her for support and protection just made my heart ache. Now in hindsight, I am bummed that Ellie and Rufus (mostly Rufus) did not make an appearance in Volume 3 especially after that surprise ending to Head Games. The epilogue of Crown of Shadows was particularly depressing – titled ‘Beyond Repair’ Mrs. Locke continues to spiral downward in a haze of alcoholism and depression as she is unable to cope with the horrors of the past two volumes. Her children don’t know how to help her and I fear she hasn’t hit rock bottom quite yet 😦

I’m half way done with the series and it is one of my favorites since beginning my adventures in comic booking. It is really taking all my willpower to space out the remaining issues (not because I want to prolong the story but because at $20/volume my wallet requires it). The story is so creative and I find myself flipping back to previous issues to reexamine scenes or look at the detail of the artwork. I have no idea where the remaining half of the story will go but I know it can only get more intense. I am eager to learn how Zach came to be the ‘person’ he is presently – and WTF with that creature attached to his ghost/soul??? The story isn’t over with Sam Lesser yet either – I know all these characters have an important role to play in the next volumes and I CAN’T WAIT!

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Side note: this latest trip to the comic book store also yielded issues #2 and #3 of Wytches and the first volume of The Wicked and The Divine.

Locke & Key Volume 2: Head Games

If there was a way to unlock your mind, to remove all the bad memories and add in all the knowledge from all the textbooks in the world would you do it? This is the situation the Locke children face in Locke & Key Volume 2: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.

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In Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft, the Locke children – Bode, Kinsey, and Tyler – are relocated across the country after their father is brutally murdered by one of his students, Sam. The young serial killer pursues the kids to Lovecraft Island in search of a magic key. Once the kids and mother move into the family mansion, Keyhouse, things start to get supernaturally weird. Bode finds a key and a corresponding door – when he walks through the open door, he appears to die and his ghost roams the grounds…

On the heels of finding the Ghost Key, Bode finds the Head Key in Volume 2. After trying all the keyholes in Keyhouse, Bode determines the key fits in the back of his head allowing the literal removal of the top half of his skull where he can poke around inside. Tyler and Kinsey are horrified but jump at the chance to unlock their own heads. The scenes in which the Head Key is inserted at the base of someone’s skull and opened up is the best artwork of the book, hands down. Each scene is a 2 page spread, so detailed in encompassing happy memories, sad/scary memories, the works (I was going to include an example, but I don’t want to ruin the experience for any future readers!).

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I was also excited to learn about Ellie’s past and how she knows Luke/Zack – more clues as to how this all began. And her son! Rufus was solidified as one of my favorite characters in this volume. Rufus is a young teenage boy who has trouble communicating without the use of military action figures. I did not see that ending coming at all! The only storyline I was not a fan of was Duncan’s. Uncle Duncan left Lovecraft after the Locke’s settled in to resume his teaching position in nearby Provincetown and to return to his boyfriend Brian. His boyfriend kind of sucked and the 2 homophobic redneck women seemed exaggerated and I became disinterested. Luckily these scenes weren’t too long and rest of the comic was phenomenal. I can’t wait to get my hands on Volume 3 – hopefully this weekend I can hit up the comic book store!

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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Almost exactly one year ago, I saw Laurie Halse Anderson speak at the Georgia Center for the Book and was blown away by her presence. I read Wintergirls for my January book club pick and I was reduced to tears over how heartbreaking it was (please see my earlier entry from January 2014 expounding upon the gut wrenching sadness that is Wintergirls). It has taken a whole year but I finally read my second LHA book – Speak and again I was deeply moved. There may have been tears but I plead the fifth.

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Melinda is a severely depressed high school student and Speak unfolds in the aftermath of her sexual assault and rape the summer before high school. As time progresses, Melinda speaks less and less, folding in on herself as she is unable to come to terms with her assault and the alienation from her friends (the result of calling 911 during the very party in which the assault took place). LHA drew on her own experiences when writing Speak and the result is an extremely authentic, heartbreaking novel.

Via the magic of Pinterest, I have learned that Speak is currently in the process of being adapted into a graphic novel and LHA is overseeing the adaptation. The illustration below is a piece of sample art by Emily Carroll who will be illustrating the graphic novel. Needless to say, I am very excited – the graphic novel is tentatively due out Fall 2016.

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I think my next LHA book will be The Impossible Knife of Memory. Speak also marks the first book I nabbed off my sister’s bookshelf rather than the other way around.

Courtney Crumrin Volume 1: The Night Things by Ted Naifeh

Originally published in 2002, Courtney Crumrin Volume 1: The Night Things is the first four chapters of the series starring Courtney – a Daria-like middle schooler who is uprooted from her middle class suburban neighborhood to live with her eccentric Uncle Aloysius in his creepy mansion. A tried and true premise, I wanted to like this book more than I did.

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I really liked the color palate – purple purple everywhere! I enjoyed the Dark Market scene in Chapter 3, it’s what I imagine Knockturn Alley would look like if it was the size of Diagon Alley. The drawings of the people were not my favorite. I kept getting distracted from the storyline staring at the bulky drawn faces and the claw like hands. The characters themselves were interesting – Courtney, her money grubbing social ladder climbing parents, Uncle Aloysius, and the parade of night creatures.

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I think I will pick up the subsequent volumes to read because I did like the storyline but the drawing wasn’t doing it for me.