Friday, September 30, 2011

Pope Hats #2

by Ethan Rilly

It's been more than two years since I bought the first issue of Pope Hats at TCAF, and in the intervening time, creator Ethan Rilly has secured a publisher (the bastion of quality, Adhouse), and has vastly refined the aim and scope of the comic.  This new issue does not require that the first has been read - it's pretty easy to pick up the characters from the previous issue.

The main story focuses on Francis, who works as a law clerk at a high-powered Bay Street firm in Toronto.  She receives a pseudo-promotion, as she is moved under the purview of Marcel Castonguay, a major player in the firm, who is also a workaholic, and pretty eccentric.  Frances is not too happy about the promotion - she isn't all that ambitious, and is prone to anxiety, which is keeping her up at night.

Her roommate, Vickie, is as always unconcerned about this, or just about anything else.  Rilly keeps the story tightly focused on Frances, and it works as a very strong character study.  Gone are the more supernatural aspects of the comic (previously, Frances was visited by a ghost), and the humour is ironic.

There is a second story in the book - Gould Speaks, wherein a man taking a bus from Toronto to Montreal (a good eight hour journey) muses on a variety of things, including hair smudged windows, apparently out loud.  The book ends with a pair of one-page strips, for a total of forty pages of comics.

Rilly reminds me of Adrian Tomine here more than any other cartoonist, although with the focus being on employment and other external constraints on the spirit, instead of relationships.  There are some great insights in this comic, and reading it made me feel very happy that I decided on a career path that never led me towards working in an office environment.  These people are nuts, and lacking balance.

Pope Hats is a great comic, proving once again that I live in one of the premier cities for indie comics.  Toronto is less prevalent in this issue than the first, but it's still a thrill recognizing the landscape in a comic.  I can't recommend this book enough.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Moment in the Sun

by John Sayles

I know before I even begin to write about this book that my skills are nowhere near adequate to the task of expressing how much I have loved reading this book.  John Sayles has written a sweeping (and rather damning) gigantic (955 pages) novel about America in the closing days of the 19th century - a time of imperialism, racial conflict, greed, and somehow, optimism.  The book is mammoth, having more in common with a cinder block than anything else on my bookshelf (except perhaps the work of William T. Vollmann), with an equally long list of characters that I came to have great affection for.

If this book were to have a geographical centre, it would be Wilmington North Carolina, the place where most of the characters began their lives.  Much of the early parts of the book are set there, until what amounts to a white supremacist coup sends most of the black, and many of the white characters out of the town.  While the heart of the book is Wilmington, the story also takes place in the Klondike, Cuba, the Philippines, New York, Colorado, Texas, and a lot of other places.  Among the topics covered, the reader is given a grounds-eye view of America's war with Spain (played out in Cuba and the Philippines, the latter also the sight of a protracted guerrilla insurgency by the people the Americans 'liberated'), the Gold Rush, the newspaper industry, including how political cartoons were crafted, New York sweatshops, the mining industry, the birth of the motion picture industry, the plight of Chinese prostitutes in Japan, the New York dead horse removal industry, Filipino resistance, and the execution of the man who assassinated President McKinley.

Sayles never glosses over anything in this book, preferring to stop and explore a new element to the story to his satisfaction.  When the character of Mei, a Chinese washerwoman working at a hospital in the Philippines is introduced, Sayles spends fifty pages exploring her past, which began when her mother decided not to have her feet bound.  When the assassination of McKinley happens, Sayles introduces Shoe, a prisoner at the prison where the assassin, Leon Czolgosz, is held.  Shoe gets around forty pages of the book to himself, despite the fact that the novel is almost over.

I can see where things like this could annoy some readers (I think there are probably thirty central characters in this book), but I love it.  These digressions made the book ever more rewarding to read, as they helped Sayles achieve his goal of portraying as rich and full a snapshot of that time and place as possible.

Reading a book like this, it's hard to not look for parallels to the America of today.  I think that there are many easy comparisons to make between the US in the last decade of the 19th century with the America that began the 21st.  There are the same wars fought for dubious reasons which turn into protracted insurgencies, and the same pompous belief in personal and national infallibility.

I've spent the last couple months with this book (it being something to savor and not devour), and know that I'm going to miss many of these characters a great deal.  While working to portray such a broad portrait, through his comfortable prose, he made many of these characters people that I began to care about.  This is an incredible novel.  I only hope that Amigo, Sayles's new film, which I believe serves as a companion to this book, plays in Toronto.

Wasteland #31

Written by Antony Johnston
Art by Remington Veteto

We haven't seen an issue of Wasteland since February, which makes this story, which unfolds over a long period of time and intertwines with other 'recent' issues, a little difficult to follow.  Regardless of that, Wasteland continues to be a very good comic.  In this issue, Golden Voice, the spiritual leader of the outlawed Sunner religion, is arrested while plotting to set off bombs throughout Newbegin.  In Marcus's city, there is no such thing as a fair trial, and Goldy is taken to be publicly executed.

A lot happens in this issue - Skot and Jakob have a very interesting conversation, wherein Skot's Sunner status is revealed, and Jakob learns that Abi, his adopted mother, is still alive.  I feel like, were this issue to be read as part of a trade, all of the momentum that Antony Johnston built into the story, but which was eroded by the long wait between issues, will make this a pivotal chapter in the longer story.  The last page of this book has me intrigued.

I hope that whatever is going on with this series is getting resolved.  I know that Christopher Mitten left the title, and his announced replacement, Remington Veteto has done a fine job with this issue and the previous ones, but nothing seems to be getting the book back on track.  The next issue is going to be guest-drawn by Brian Hurtt, a known and reliable artist, but I don't know where things will go from there.  This issue does not have a letters column or text piece (aside from the usual excellent Ankya Ofsteen story) explaining what is happening.  For a long time, this comic was just about the most reliable monthly indie on the stands; it's too bad that it can't seem to reclaim that status.

American Vampire #19

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Jordi Bernet

There were a few times while reading this latest issue of American Vampire that I had to remind myself that I wasn't reading an issue of Jonah Hex.  That title having been canceled and replaced by All-Star Western, I wondered where I was going to get my semi-regular Jordi Bernet Western fix, but I need look no further than this arc.

The Best in the Cave is set in 1871 (with a prelude happening before that), and features young Skinner Sweet as a soldier in the American army pursuing Hole in the Sky, a Geronimo-style Apache leader.

Sweet is accompanied by Jim Book, who was first introduced to us in the first issue of this comic, when he took Sweet into custody.  As it turns out, the two grew up together, Book's family having adopted Sweet after his parents were killed in the States War.  We see that Sweet has always been reckless and unpredictable, as he argues with his commanding officer about how to proceed in attacking the Apache, who are holed up on a cliff.  What no one knows is that something else lives on the same mountain...

I'm not sure how I feel about Book and Sweet being so close.  I want to reread Stephen King's chapters of the first arc, to see if this relationship was hinted at, or if it has been 'retconned' into the story.  I also wonder if we're going to see how Sweet was turned into a vampire in this arc.

It's great seeing Bernet draw a story like this.  As I said, the look and feel is very Jonah Hex, but Bernet's pencils seem a little tighter than in his Hex work.  He's a master when it comes to portraying this time period, and while I love Rafael Albuquerque on this comic, I can't imagine a better artist for this story than Bernet (perhaps John Severin).

The Sixth Gun #15

Written by Cullen Bunn
Art by Brian Hurtt

It's often difficult to write about a comic once its most recent story arc has reached the half-way point, as the story is usually firmly established, and there's nothing much new to say.  Bound, the current storyline in The Sixth Gun defies that.  Last issue it focused exclusively on a new character, filling in his back story and providing him with motivation.  I thought it was an interlude issue, and was surprised to see that it counted as the third chapter of this story.

Now, we get the fourth chapter, and that same sense of interlude-ness permeates the book, although in a different way.  The issue opens on Gord Cantrell, who we haven't seen for a while.  He's returning to the plantation where he grew up a slave, and Bunn and Hurtt make his scenes in the book particularly interesting.  The plantation is deserted and slowly rotting away when Gord arrives, and then is suddenly brought to life, populated by all the people that Gord remembers from childhood, including his former master.  I love the way Hurtt changes the backgrounds depending on where Gord is looking - when he is gazing at something, it's shown as vibrant and alive, while everything behind him is decaying.

The rest of the book is given over to Becky Montcrief, the owner of the titular sixth gun.  She's under the protection of the Sword of Abraham, who have taken her to their stronghold.  She's concerned that the gun won't show her anything of what became of Drake Sinclair two issues ago, and it's not long before she starts seeing ghosts of her own.  I'm very curious to learn more about the Sword of Abraham.  The character we've seen the most from this order is portrayed as a priest, yet we clearly see Muslims praying on the grounds.  I hope that this group's history is explored in more detail soon.

As always, this is an excellent issue of an excellent series.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Elephantmen #35

Written by Richard Starkings
Art by Boo Cook and Axel Medellin

This is a nice thick issue of Elephantmen, which is nothing but comics.  There are no ads (yay!), and also none of the text pages that Starkings usually provides, which is a shame, because I do enjoy them.  Of course, the first choice would always be to have more comics, especially when they look this good.

The main story (drawn by Cook) continues to examine Yvette, the heroine of the War Toys stories.  In this issue, she continues to lead a group of human soldiers into China, pursuing Mappo's forces.  Her crew capture a big Robotech like Elephantmen robot thing, and Yvette gets to pilot it.  At the same time, the Mappo forces are ambushed by the Chinese tiger creatures we met last issue.

There was something that happened here that I need clarification on.  I thought that the Elephantmen were not given their names until after they were rescued from Mappo, and that many of them were named by Sahara, the woman who aided in their rehabilitation.  However, in this issue, Hip and Ebony call each other by those names, and show a level of concern for one another that I didn't think they would have had at this point in their story.  I could be wrong (and don't have time to dig out all my back issues to check).

Cook's art looks great through here.  He usually has a good command of the proportions of the characters, although I'm a little unclear about the horses that Hip and company are riding - I'm going to assume they are larger than normal horses, and otherwise enhanced, or the Elephantmen wouldn't be able to ride them.

The back up story, with art by Axel Medellin covers familiar ground, but looks phenomenal, as does the back cover.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Written by Pat McGreal
Art by Stephen John Phillips, Rebecca Guay, and José Villarrubia

So, in a week where most internet comics discussion has been about how women are portrayed, I thought it might be interesting to read this little discussed graphic novel from 1999 - a time where Vertigo was much more experimental, rampant Islamophobia hadn't engulfed the Western world, and women in comics, well actually, they were generally pretty ridiculous then too.

Veils is a strange book no matter how you look at it.  It's a blend of fumetti (photo comic) and traditional, drawn material, with some digital effects thrown in for good measure.  It tells two stories.  The photographed one is about Vivian Pearse-Packard, the wife of the son of an ambassador or diplomat to the court of a Sultan.  It's not clear where or when this is taking place - it's vaguely set in Victorian times, at the height of the British Empire.  Vivian and her new husband, whom it's clear she doesn't think much of, are new to the Sultan's lands, and are invited to the Seraglio to meet with the Sadrazam - the Sultan's chief diplomat.  It's not seemly for Vivian to attend this meeting, so she is sent into the harem, where she passes time with Pakize, a woman who can speak English.

Pakize begins to tell her the story of Rosalind, another British woman who, in another time, became a member of a former Sultan's harem, eventually rising to the spot of his favourite.  As Rosalind's story is spread over Vivian's visits, the two tales take on a number of parallels.  Vivian's interest in, or adoption of, Eastern ways lead to conflict in her own household.

The story, by the writer of the excellent Chiaroscuro, is very good, but it is the visual effects that suck the reader into the tale.  The photographs, by Stephen John Phillps, with digital effects by José Villarubia, work very well at evoking the exotic settings and people of this book.  Rosalind's story is drawn by Rebecca Guay, who I wish hadn't departed from comics for other realms of art.  Her work is lush and lovely, reminding me of Michael Zulli and Charles Vess, with a splash of P. Craig Russell. 

It's refreshing to read a book so centred on women outside of their elements, who learn to exert their authority and inner strength.  It's sad that the themes are almost as rare as North American photo-graphic novels.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Freakangels Vol. 5

Written by Warren Ellis
Art by Paul Duffield

Early on, Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield's webcomic about a dozen powered twenty-somethings living in a wrecked version of London seemed to be just about the interpersonal relations within the group.  These twelve, all born at the same time, don't really get along (or only rarely), but because of their similar abilities and purple eyes, had banded together to keep the Whitechapel neighbourhood together when the rest of London was flooded.

Since that beginning, which was marked with strong characterization despite the often confusing similarities of the characters, we've learned a little more about how London (and perhaps the world) were destroyed, and what role out heroes had to play in it.  We also learned about how they ejected one of their number when he proved dangerous, and how two of the Freakangels believed that they had killed them.

When this volume opens (thankfully with a recap, as it's been a while since I read the last one), we learn that shooting a Freakangel in the head (such as happened to Luke) is not exactly fatal, and that the Freakangel package - the abilities specific to each member of the group - can be upgraded through near-death experiences.  There's a lot of mystical mumbo-jumbo going on in this volume, but I found it so compelling as to burn through the book in one evening.

Duffield's large, expansive panels and detailed approach to the art has served this series well from the beginning.  Now, he stars to really play with the colouring, giving much of this volume a psychedelic feel.  I believe that the sixth volume has the end of the series - I'm going to have to track down a copy quickly.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Neil Young's Greendale

Written by Joshua Dysart
Art by Cliff Chiang

I will confess that I'm not a Neil Young fan.  I know that, for a Canadian, I'm risking a lot in making such a statement, but his music is not my thing, and I didn't know until I read this book that he's made movies.  So there.  Why buy the comic then?  I have a lot of respect for Joshua Dysart's Unknown Soldier, which was one of the best books Vertigo published in the last decade, and Cliff Chiang is an amazing artist.

The story, which is based on a concept album and film of the same name, works as an interesting study of a young girl from a family filled with mysterious and powerful women who have a tendency to disappear.  Sun Green, the youngest of the family after whom the town of Greendale California is named, is torn up inside, trying to understand her place in the world, and the strange elemental-like abilities she exhibits.  Her female ancestors all had similar abilities, and they all have more or less disappeared.

The book explores Sun's relationship with her grandfather, who has Alzheimer's, her cousin, who is an angry drug runner, and her parents, who are artists but don't quite understand her.  Then, a mysterious man starts showing up in town, and things get harder for Sun.

There's a lot to like about this book.  The characters and their relationships to each other are fully realized, and setting Sun's environmentalism against the backdrop of the beginning of the war in Iraq helps show how America's priorities were shifting at that time.

Chiang's art is as beautiful as it always is, although the colours of the book were purposely washed out, in a way that I don't think works all that well.  I'm not sure how this material worked as an album or film, because it seems perfect for comics.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Spontaneous #4

Written by Joe Harris
Art by Brett Weldele

There are a few unexpected things that happen in this month's issue of Spontaneous, the terrific mini-series about spontaneous human combustion, and the young man who has been investigating it in his home town.  We've known for a while now that there is a connection between the victims of this horrible phenomenon and Grumm Industries, a military contractor for whom they all worked in the past.

The issue opens on a flashback to a time when Melvin's dad had to meet with Mr. Grumm (it would have been nice if the art had somehow made the flashback clearer), and the rest of the issue is spent having characters put together some of the clues that Harris has been dropping since the first issue.

This is a very good comic, with some unexpected twists along the way.  Weldele's art is great, and I am looking forward to seeing how all of this is going to turn out.

Witch Doctor #3

Written by Brandon Seifert
Art by Lukas Ketner

The creators of Witch Doctor change tactics some with this issue, abandoning the done-in-one format of the first three issues (remember, there was a 'zero issue' preview in The Walking Dead) for a two-part story framed with our doctor having to explain himself to two creepy looking older people who I assume are like a witchy medical board.

This issue also gives us the secret history of the world, which is based very much on Lovecraftian creatures called Archaeons, reveals that the doctor has a 'destiny', and explains the story behind Penny, his odd, gothy assistant.  Amid all this exposition, we get a story about fish people, and see more of the relationship between the doctor and Absinthe O'Riley, who appears to be a potential rival and love interest.

What made this series work so well in the beginning was the application of medical procedures, terminology, and equipment to mystical phenomena and monsters.  With this issue, we're moving into a different territory, already familiar from books like Hellboy, but Seifert and Ketner are giving us a very well-constructed comic, with very strong characters.  So, while I liked where it was, I'm also very okay with where it's going.

Severed #2

Written by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft
Art by Attila Futaki

This mini-series is striking all the right notes for me.  It's a historical drama/serial killer comic with very strong character work.  The main character is Jack, a twelve year old who learned a year previously that he was adopted, and that his father is a traveling musician.  He began to correspond with him, and has now left home to try to find him.  In the first issue, Jack ran afoul of a corrupt railroad bull, and when this issue opens, he wants to go back and retrieve his possessions.

Jack is hanging out with a new friend - Sam, who helps him get his stuff, find lodging when they get to Chicago, and travel to the theatre where his father is supposed to be performing.  I don't know yet why Sam is so knowledgeable and capable for such a young kid, but I look forward to finding out more of Sam's story as the comic progresses.

Were this all there was to the comic, I would still be as interested in it, but running parallel to Sam's story is that of the Salesman, a cannibalistic serial killer.  This character is pretty creepy, and I'm sure we're going to learn more about him in the future.

This comic is very nicely put together, with great art by Futaki.  It strikes a nice balance between historical detail and ease of storytelling.  I love period pieces, so this book is right up my alley.

The Red Wing #3

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Nick Pitarra

I'm going to admit up front to being totally left behind by the comic book time travel pseudo-science that permeates this comic, and yet I still find this to be one of the most compelling and entertaining books on the stands this week.

In this issue, the bad guys (do we know their name?) attack the gigantic satellite that our heroes live in, while the father of one of our heroes has a conversation with the enemies at another point in time.

So, if I don't understand everything that's happening on a macro level, why am I so enamored with this book?  Largely because, since I was a small child, I've loved space battles.  Were Star Wars set entirely in X-Wings and the Millennium Falcon, I would have loved it more.  As much as I enjoyed Battlestar Galactica, it needed more Viper-based stories.  Here, The Red Wing satisfies with some truly great spaceship scenes, while also providing all the character work and actual plot that such stories require.

This book looks terrific, and Hickman makes some very head-scratching ideas palatable and dramatic.  Great stuff.

All Nighter #4

by David Hahn

Hahn's slackerish college life drama series keeps taking some unexpected turns.  Where before, things were mostly about Kat, a girl who sometimes steals, feels responsible for her mother's death and is secretly seeing her housemate's boyfriend, now the comic is just as much about Martha, the mousy new housemate who we know very little about.

In this issue, Martha and Kat share a moment on the rough of the All Nighter diner, as Kat finally talks about how her mother died, and how she feels like it's her fault.  After that, Martha disappears.  Previously, she's claimed  be Kat's guardian angel, and was shown doing something that looks a lot like casting a love spell on her.

I've been enjoying this book.  Sure, it keeps defying my expectations, which is always a good thing, but it's also just a very well-drawn series with strong and consistent characterizations.  It's worth checking out.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Big Lie #1

Written by Rick Veitch
Art by Rick Veitch and Gary Erskine

I don't understand why Rick Veitch is not more revered in the comics world.  Even setting aside his ground-breaking and extremely controversial work on Swamp Thing, he has maintained a viewpoint and set of opinions that don't fit with the mainstream, while also pushing the boundaries of comic books for years.  I fondly remember his Brat Pack as the high point of dark and gritty satire, and his Rare Bit Fiends dream journals were bizarre and inspired.

With The Big Lie (which came out a couple of weeks ago, but which my comic store only got this week), Veitch returns to ground and themes that he previously touched on in his bizarre graphic novel Can't Get No, and his Vertigo war/romance satire series Army@Love.

The Big Lie is a bit of a master class in 9/11 conspiracy theory, wrapped in a time travel story.  A scientist moves back in time to rescue her husband, who was in a meeting at the World Trade Center on the morning of the famous attacks.  When she tries to convince him that he is in danger, the husband and the risk management company he works for decide instead to grill her and examine her evidence.  Basically, this provides Veitch the opportunity to lay out any number of the unexplained facts and contradictory evidence that has accumulated over the last ten years.

As a story, this comic can be a little clunky in parts, but that's not really a concern.  I don't want to weigh in on the whole 'Truther' movement, or what I personally believe, as I don't feel very qualified to discuss it.  What I will say is that this comic provides a lot of food for thought, and does it in an easily-digestible manner.  Veitch is a comics god when it comes to forcing people to question some of their assumptions, and it's nice to see him continuing to raise his voice in such a compelling way.

Northlanders #44

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Paul Azaceta

With this issue, the first third of the Icelandic Trilogy has ended, establishing Ulf Hauksson's control of Iceland, as his campaign against his rival clan, the Belgarssons goes well for him. All of this is mostly pointless though, as Ulf and his wife, the freed Irish slave Una have not been able to produce a child yet.

Wood has created an interesting family drama in this arc.  Ulf is a vicious, paranoid, and controlling man, but also a ruthless leader and successful military schemer.  He's the type of person who worries about creating a legacy though, and so this situation causes him a lot of concern.

I'm curious to see where things go next, as the next third of the trilogy looks to jump a hundred years or so, to the turn of the millennium, which should put things right around the time of Eric the Red, and the discovery of Greenland.  I thought that Paul Azaceta, who has done a wonderful job on this arc, was going to be drawing the entire trilogy, but I guess that's not going to be the case.  I've liked upcoming artist Declan Shalvey's work on Marvel's Thunderbolts, and am curious to see how he does with Medieval Vikings.

Dark Horse Presents #4

Written by Evan Dorkin, Chuck Brown, Felipe Melo, Robert Love, David Walker, Peter Hogan, Steve Niles, Howard Chaykin, Ricardo Delgado, Carla Speed McNeil, and Dara Naraghi
Art by Jill Thompson, Sanford Greene, Juan Cavia, Robert Love, Steve Parkhouse, Christopher Mitten, Howard Chaykin, Ricardo Delgado, Carla Speed McNeil, and Victor Santos

Now this is a lot more of what I was expecting from the beginning with Dark Horse Presents.  This issue launches a few new stories, and misses some of the others that have been annoying me, creating a much more balanced book, which made me much happier.

Of course, there are three stories in here that make the whole thing worth buying: a Beasts of Burden story, another chapter of Finder, and The Protest, a memoir.  The Beasts are as great as always, as two of the wise dogs (of course, one is Orphan the cat) go hunting for a Goblin that has been eating chickens in the town.  Beasts of Burden is beautiful, and this story is both amusing, and a little darker than some of the previous ones.  The Finder story was a little unclear (I miss McNeil's annotations, which would have come in handy here), but reinforces that I should really be getting the Finder Library collections.

The Protest is terrific.  It is about Dara Naraghi's life in Tehran, shortly after the Revolution.  He and his friend are supposed to attend a protest march with their school, but the bully who usually tortures them helps them out.  It's a subtle and interesting work, and would work alongside Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi's comic memoir which deals with the same material.  I love the way Victor Santos drew this - it reminds me a lot of Rafael Albuquerque.

The Adventures of Dog Mendonca and Pizzaboy didn't look too interesting, until we established that the private eye main character has been around for a really long time, and is a werewolf.  The art is nice, and I'm curious to see where this story goes.

Resident Alien, by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse shows a lot of promise.  It's about an extraterrestrial who is trying to live in secret on Earth, but who has now been tapped by the police in the middle of nowhere area he lives to help with a murder case.  I'm looking forward to the rest of this one.

Ricardo Delgado's Age of Reptiles is pretty, but silent, so I found it didn't do a whole lot for me.  I think I just don't care about dinosaurs, really.

I'm continuing to really enjoy Love and Walker's Number 13, and was surprised to find myself getting more interested in Howard Chaykin's Marked Man.  The new Criminal Macabre story did nothing for me, despite having art by Christopher Mitten, and I continue to not really get Rotten Apples.

I missed Concrete this month, but was very happy to see that Neal Adams's Blood was not to be seen.  I feel like this anthology is on the right track.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

DMZ #69

Written by Brian Wood
Art by Riccardo Burchielli

My, but sometimes a twenty-page story can feel very short.  In this issue, Matty Roth continues his good-bye tour of Manhattan before both he and us, the readers, leave it forever.  Matty knows that he's going to be detained (or perhaps disappeared) as part of the deal he arranged with the US government, but is using his remaining time to finish organizing his notes and to visit each of the 'Five Nations' of the new New York.

We travel with him first to Chinatown, where the residents are holding a memorial service for Wilson, their leader and protector through the years of conflict.  Wilson was always one of the more interesting characters in this comic - he seemed almost other-worldly at times, but there was an issue that focused on him about a year ago (I think) that revealed a great deal about his character.  What I like in this part of this comic (aside from the terrific crowd scenes drawn by Buchielli), is the way in which Matty wrestles with his feelings for Wilson, and the surprise he feels upon learning that Wilson viewed him as a friend, as opposed to a convenient partner at times.

After that, Matty and Zee make their way to Parktown, the region surrounding and including Central Park.  It was the way Wood made use of the Park in the earliest issues of this comic that helped solidify my loyalty, but now the Ghosts who looked after it are gone, or in the case of Soames, ghosts of their former selves.

Perhaps its indulgent to spend the last five issues of a series running this long saying good-bye to characters and locales, but being the sentimental creature that I am, I'm enjoying it a great deal.

BPRD Hell on Earth: Russia #1

Written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art by Tyler Crook

After spending a little too long focusing over the last two BPRD mini-series on Liz Sherman, it's nice to return to the core cast of characters in this book, as Johann and Kate head off to Russia to meet with the Russian counterparts to the BPRD.

Now, this is always something that I liked about comics growing up as a kid - every organization or team has a Russian counterpart.  It's always led to some pretty derivative characters, but some great stories (of course, as of right now the only example I can think of is the Soviet Super-Soldiers, but I know there are more - help!).

Since changing the name of this comic to incorporate the Hell on Earth concept, I've enjoyed seeing just how messed up things have become around the world.  As Corrigan and Johann travel to their meeting in Moscow, they are suddenly attacked by a man who has undergone a strange conversion into a scabrous, hunchbacked creature.  What makes this scene work so well is the utter indifference of all the Russians, for whom we assume this is a common event.

Tyler Crook, the new artist, is continuing to impress me.  He draws Johann much like Guy Davis did - as an actual bag of gas, with wobbly arms that bend wherever it is convenient, instead of at an ectoplasmic elbow.  I'm liking this new arc a great deal, and look forward to seeing where it heads.

The Stuff of Legend Vol. 3: A Jester's Tale #2

Written by Mike Raicht and Brian Smith
Art by Charles Paul Wilson

Last issue, we were introduced to a second jester in The Dark, the world in which all of the action in this comic takes place.  Unlike our regular charming, ass-kicking Jester, this one is more of a pirate and scourge of the Dark.  This issue gives us his origin, and makes our Jester aware of him.

The Stuff of Legend is turning out to be a much longer series than I anticipated when I got on board, but I'm finding it to be a pretty rewarding read.  Having split the good toys up, Raicht and Smith have a lot more happening in each issue, as we check in on the group of toys trying to leave the Dark, the Jester's journey into the land of dolls (why isn't this The Valley of The Dolls?  too obvious?), and we also see the Boy, the person all the toys are trying to rescue, who is still on the train he was riding when last we saw him.

This series is sharply written, and has great art.

Fables #109

Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha

Most months I praise this comic, and for the most part, this issue is also very good, but for one element that makes it a tough read.

Bill Willingham should not write child characters.  Now that the North Wind has left us, his servants are looking for his replacement among Snow White and Bigby Wolf's children.  They have separated the kids, and are going to be putting them through trials, to determine which of the six (I'm assuming that the zephyr child is disqualified, although will probably end up being the final choice) will assume this new mantle.

Each kid gets their own scene, and the writing is like a combination of Family Circus and Kids Say the Darndest Things.  I'm not sure what Willingham is trying to achieve here, but it threw me completely out of the book.  The later scene, where the kids return from their first trial is fine, but the earlier pages, especially considering that aside from Ambrose and Darien, the kids aren't very well developed before now, were painful.

The rest of the book is pretty good though, as Blufkin continues his time in Oz, Rose Red reports back from the Farm, and the newly-pretty Nurse Spratt discusses the joys of dressing for dinner.

The Li'l Depressed Boy #6

Written by S. Steven Struble
Art by Sina Grace

It's been a little while since we saw the last issue of LDB, so I was pleased to see this in my pile this week.  I especially like the cover by Charlie Adlard, of Walking Dead fame.  I'm sure it was tempting to make the state trooper look a little more like Rick Grimes...

This is another solid issue of this series where not a whole lot happens, but what there is, is very enjoyable and damn charming.  When we last saw LDB, he was on a road trip with his friend Drew, and they were getting pulled over.  It turns out that Drew has a warrant out for his arrest (something to do with writing bad cheques), and so he is taken in, but not before being allowed to drive into town, as LDB can't drive.

Once again, we see LDB in a state of helplessness, as he's stuck in a truck outside the police station, with no clear idea of what to do.  So, he phones his dad, which is I think the first that his parents have been mentioned in this series.

For another month, charm wins out of quantity of story, and LDB continues to be a book that I enjoy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story

Written by Mat Johnson
Art by Simon Gane

I'd been looking forward to reading this graphic novel for a while.  I have been going through a bit of a New Orleans phase, precipitated by the brilliance of things like the HBO show Treme, Dave Eggers's Zeitoun, and Spike Lee's documentaries When the Levee Broke and If God is Willing and the Creek Don't Rise, not to mention some excellent magazine reporting on the rebuilding and recovery efforts.  Also, I really enjoyed Mat Johnson's last graphic novel, Incognegro, and Simon Gane's recent issue of Northlanders.

And so, with all of this foreknowledge and anticipation, the book is pretty much destined to disappoint, right?  That's how I felt for the first thirty pages or so, as Johnson struggled to introduce his cast and get the story underway.  Once things were established though, the story kind of took over, and I ended up finishing the book in a single night, staying up much later than I'd intended.

The book is about two characters - Emmit and Dabny, both ex-cons.  Emmit once worked at an independent bank in the Lower Ninth Ward, and sees the flood that followed Hurricane Katrina as his chance to pay back the boss he felt framed him, and to be able to spread the riches his former employers had hoarded for criminals around the community.  He enlists his roommate Dabny, an ex-soldier who he thinks can hook him up with Dark Rain, an independent military contractor he hopes will help him pull off the job.  Of course, Dark Rain is run by a psychopath, who decides to run the mission without him.

Now Emmit and Dabny are rushing into the city to try to rob the bank before Dark Rain can get there.  The problem is that along the way, Dabny feels that they should be rescuing people stuck on their roofs and generally helping with the unorganized and disastrous rescue efforts in the city.

There are plenty of great character moments, and a general sense of the disarray that followed the hurricane.  Gane uses a nice clean approach to the art, and a monochromatic colour scheme that helps emphasize just how much of the city is under water.  It's a good read - recommended.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Echo Vol. 2: Atomic Dreams

by Terry Moore

I'm very glad that I decided to check this series out.  Terry Moore has crafted a very good military weapon/espionage/super hero/fugitive story with Echo, and by making it so character driven, he's created a series that is very hard to put down.

The first volume established the parameters of the story.  Julie, a divorcing and unhappy woman witnessed a strange explosion in the sky, and was pelted with bits of a strange metal, which then bonded with her skin.  The metal came from a military battlesuit that exploded during a test (if you can call firing missiles at a flying woman a test).

Now Julie is running from the military, and from a bizarre homeless man who also has some of the suit.  She is with the Dillon, the boyfriend of the woman that had been testing the suit.

As this volume opens, the two were hiding out with a group of bikers, but that doesn't last for long, as the homeless dude finds them, and things get pretty bloody.  Julie is being pursued by Ivy Raven, from the National Security Branch.  She appears to be a gifted profiler, and makes contact with Julie in this book.  The problem is, it's very hard to tell whose side she's really on, or what her agenda might be.

Echo moves very quickly, but still packs in a number of strong character moments.  Moore's clean and clear artwork helps propel the story.  I haven't really followed Moore's career, but based on this, am starting to pick up Strangers in Paradise, and should probably check out his new comic, Rachel Rising.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Paying For It

by Chester Brown

It's been a few days since I've finished reading this book, but I wanted to take a while before writing about it, as I'm not sure how I feel about it.

Basically, Chester Brown gives us a journal of his experiences with prostitutes and escorts, in both in-call and out-call situations.  We also get to read a fair amount about his justifications and rationale for this behaviour, and the reactions of some of this closest friends with regards to it.

After having a slow breakup with his last girlfriend (they continued to live together, but her new boyfriend moved in), Brown decided to use prostitutes to satisfy his sexual needs, and to no longer seek relationships with women beyond the monetary kind.  We follow him through a few years of his whoring, as he goes from being a timid john utilizing a pseudonym, to developing a monogamous relationship with one particular woman who he loves, but continues to pay for services rendered.

While the book avoids being particularly graphic, it is indeed pretty explicit in a number of places.  This is definitely not a book for someone who enjoyed Louis Riel and wanted to read more of his stuff (although that's more or less how I came to read it).  Brown gives each woman their own chapter, and gives us as faithful a rendition of their encounter as he can, allowing for the shoddiness of memory, and his desire to protect the identities of these women.  It does seem like he's getting (and paying for) a lot of sex, but it's worth paying attention to the dates listed, as he has carefully organized the time between his encounters.

A book like this is sure to raise all sorts of opinions and questions.  I can see how this arrangement worked for Brown, but recognize that it's not for me.  He doesn't shy away from issues of human trafficking and sexual slavery, but also appear to ever reject a woman if she suspects that her involvement with him is not purely consensual.  Brown fills the last twenty-five pages of the book (before his voluminous notes) with 23 appendices designed to share his views on topics like exploitation, pimping, violence, and Nevada's brothels.  It's a very informative book, opening a window onto a world I am pretty unaware of.  The fact that Brown lives in my city adds particular relevance to the book for me.

This is probably the most honest in a long line of autobiographical and confessional graphic novels completed by Brown and his circle.  I have no doubt that it's an important book; I'm just not sure how much I enjoyed it.  I did find it compulsively readable, but like Brown's meetings with Anne in the book, it left me feeling kind of empty afterwards.

Hellblazer #275 - 279

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Stefano Landini, and Simon Bisley

I find it odd that I enjoy Milligan's run on Hellblazer, but actually have no desire to purchase the book each month.  Instead, I scour bargain bins at poke around used book stores for it, and usually score small runs at conventions.  That's how I amassed these five issues, which start with John's wedding to Epiphany, and move through their first few challenges as a married couple.

The notion of Constantine being married is an interesting one, especially since he married the alchemist daughter of a notorious gangster.  There is a lot of story potential in that sentence, and Milligan is slowly unpacking it.  We see the desire they both have to remain independent in dealing with their own issues, the first of which is John wanting to retrieve the thumb he cut off a little while ago.  This leads to an odd sequence of events involving crashed cars, thieving art managers, and Epiphany's father.

This comic remains fun (when it's not dealing with topics like John's demonic side molesting his niece Gemma at the wedding), and very well put together, but for whatever reason, it's not enough to attract me to it on a more regular basis.  I'm also not sure what it would need to do that.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent #4

Written by Ed Brubacker
Art by Sean Phillips

I don't know why, but I thought that this was a five-issue arc of Criminal (maybe because they all have been up to this point), so as I got closer and closer to the end of the book, I kept expecting something totally unexpected to happen.  I kept thinking that everything was wrapping up too soon, and so I'm sure this skewed my perception of the comic somehow.

But then, it really did wrap up nicely.  Riley feels like he's in the clear when the issue opens, and he receives his inheritance and gets back together with his previous high school girlfriend.  Shortly though, he learns that a few people are on to him, some of whom are completely unexpected.  At that point, our understanding of just how ruthless Riley really is gets tested.

This has been a very cool arc on the best Brubaker/Phillips series.  The Archie-comics style flashbacks perhaps give the story a more gentle appearance, but in a lot of ways, this is one of the more cold-hearted Criminal stories yet.

I've read before that Brubaker doesn't plan out his conclusions completely when he starts a new arc, and that makes final issues more interesting to read.  That this one ended so neatly is a testament to his skill.

The Unwritten #29

Written by Mike Carey
Art by Peter Gross and Vince Locke

The covers of this comic are always nice, but during this latest arc, 'On To Genesis', they have been particularly good.  Last month, cover artist Yuko Shimizu gave us an homage to the Golden Age, and this month designs a wonderful pulp cover that matches what's going on in the story while perfectly evoking the era in which it takes place.

This whole arc has been running very smoothly, as Tom continues to track his father's involvement in the Cabal, and the slowed growth of comics as an art form almost immediately upon the creation of the superhero genre.  It's been clear from the start of the series that Wilson Taylor was never a very good person, and it's interesting to see what choices and events led him to becoming the man he is.

There's a great surprise at the end of the issue, which has me looking forward to next month's chapter.

American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #4

Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Sean Murphy

Scott Snyder is spending a lot of time fleshing out the diversity of vampires in his series.  Between this spin-off mini and the main title, we've seen a variety of species of vampire, each different in a variety of ways, and each tied to the region of their genesis.  Now, with this issue, we are beginning to get glimpses of the evolutionary history of the vamps as well.

The scientist that Vassals of the Morning Star agents Cash and Book were sent to retrieve from Nazi-occupied Romania has found three ancient vampires, who are as immobile as statues.  Of course, after a suitable pause for exposition, the Nazis who are pursuing our heroes make their appearance, and stuff gets all crazy again.

I've been enjoying this mini-series just fine, especially with Sean Murphy's art gracing its pages, but I think I prefer the main title.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pigs #1

Written by Nate Cosby and Ben McCool
Art by Breno Tamura

The high concept for this comic is pretty awesome.  A group of KGB sleeper agents, with orders to take down the American government were installed in Cuba back in the 1960s, and are still there, awaiting orders to begin their mission, and passing it on to their children.  You know, despite the fact that the Soviet Union has fallen, and Castro is retired.

It sounds like Cosby and McCool are really taking the long view on this comic, and so take their time establishing some of the characters, and some of the conflicts between them.  When the senior member of the cabal, Vidlen, dies of a heart attack, there is new uncertainty in the group, just as they are finally activated.

The story jumps around in time quite a bit, with the most recent part involving a pair of police interrogating a woman who looks to be in her fifties or sixties.  The cops seem to know a lot about this KGB stuff, and the last page contains a pretty big surprise that definitely has me coming back for the next issue.

This is the type of comic I like to read - the cover by Jock immediately reminds me of DC/Vertigo's The Losers (which is MUCH better than the movie) but the comic itself continued that feeling of familiarity in tone and appearance, if not in details.  Tamura, who I'm not familiar with, has a Jock-ish vibe to his art.  Cosby and McCool explain a little about the book's genesis in the back-matter, and what I read there gives me comfort that there is a highly-detailed plan for this comic, and that it's been exceptionally well-laid out.

Which brings me to my main concern.  I've read bits of McCool's other comics - Choker and Memoir, and haven't been all that impressed. I'm also pretty sure that neither one of those titles have finished yet, and are months behind schedule.  On the other hand, I've enjoyed many books that Cosby has edited for Marvel, and feel confident that his editing skills will help him keep the book on track.  I'm definitely interested in sticking with this title, so long as it keeps coming out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Twenty-Seven: Second Set #1

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Reno Podesta

The first volume of Twenty-Seven was a pretty cool comic.  It was about the habit of musicians to die at the age of twenty-seven (and was published before Amy Winehouse was added to the list).  The main character, Will Garland, was a musical sensation, playing guitar and singing, before nerve damage left his left hand unable to play the guitar.  Wracked with pain, he explored a number of strange cures, including one that involved him making a deal with the embodiment of the number nine; a god-like creature that embedded a panel on his chest, with buttons which, when pressed, gift him with new creative abilities for a period of three hours (although he can only push the buttons 27 times before he dies).

Now, Garland is back in this new series.  He has attempted to reorient his playing style, but is not meeting with any real success.  He's struggling, but still refuses to shorten his life span by pushing the buttons.  At least, at first.  Like in the beginning of the first volume, Garland is at a serious low point in his life, and is beginning to become desperate to change his situation once again.

Soule's writing on this series is strong, and I really enjoy Podesta's art.  There are a few terrific pages, when Will lets loose later in the book.  I wasn't sure there would be enough to make a second volume (or set) worthwhile, but I can see that there is definitely a plan here.

Baltimore: The Curse Bells #2

Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Art by Ben Stenbeck

When in the mood for melancholic, uber-gothic vampire comics, you can't go wrong with Baltimore.  In this issue, we are really treated by artist Ben Stenbeck to a number of fantastic visuals, as Lord Baltimore investigates a convent that had been taken over by his enemy, Haigus, although that's not the case anymore.

There are great scenes of Baltimore infiltrating the convent as the nuns stand sentry on the roof.  There's an even better scene, where Baltimore and his new companion, the journalist Hodge, attempt to consecrate their weapons at a church, only to learn that it has been taken over by another entity.  I also loved the shout-out to Madame Blavatsky.

In a lot of ways, I find that I prefer Stenbeck's brand of creepiness to Mignola's.  They are similar artists, but having seen Mignola work on much the same stock of images for so many years, Stenbeck's approach feels fresher and more interesting.

Despite having collected comics my whole life, I've never started collecting original artwork, and have only rarely felt the need to.  That said, I would love to own the last page of this comic.

Scalped #52

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by RM Guera

I recently re-watched the HBO series Deadwood, which was set in the town of the same name during the Gold Rush, and which followed the lives of a variety of historical and fictional characters as they schemed and swindled, until the twin greater evils of American annexation and amalgamation under the aegis of George Hearst forced everyone to begin working together.  While watching it, I thought of Scalped a couple of times.  In many ways, the Deadwood character Al Swearingen, played by Ian McShane, reminds me of Chief Lincoln Red Crow.  Both men are ruthless villains, but they are also both immensely more complex than anyone else in their series, and both of them emerge as the true stars of their series, which it slowly becomes clear, is more about their redemption than anything else.

With this issue's arrival comes the knowledge that Scalped, one of my two favourite monthly comic books, is only going to be around for another eight issues.  It is clear though that Jason Aaron is reaching the climax of his story on his own terms though.  In this issue, Red Crow continues to defy and piss off just about everyone he's worked with, as he continues to shut down the criminal elements that he previously employed on the res.  His fellow councilmen are annoyed, and most importantly, so is Shunka, his bodyguard and aide-de-camp, who is a very dangerous man to cross.

While Red Crow is cleaning up his act, his enemies are coming out of the woodwork to take him down.  Even the joke of a local sheriff puts him on notice, as he himself takes a stab at redemption.  More importantly, FBI agent Nitz is ready to make his move, although it's very unclear whether or not he can count on Dash Bad Horse for support (having your jaw wired shut does interfere with communication).  Dash is more interested in tracking down the man who killed his mother.

Big things are happening in this issue (I'm not going to talk about the last page), and as usual, it's very well balanced and impressive.  I've been unhappy with Jason Aaron's Marvel work of late, as I feel like he's phoning it in compared to the work he's doing on this series.  I feel like I'm really going to enjoy these last eight issues, as almost five years of character work heads towards its pay-off.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Mulatu Astatke

Mochilla's Timeless series is a real treat.  Each entry in the series comes in a handsome hardcover booklet, with a CD and DVD, which feature a concert.  I have (and cherish) the Suite For Ma Dukes J. Dilla tribute album (which features an orchestra conducted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson playing Dilla's songs, as he arranged them for them).

Now, I finally tracked down a copy of the Mulatu Astatke entry.  I've come late to Astatke's genius, first becoming aware of him when the Heliocentrics collaborated with him in 2009.  Since then, I've picked up a few of his own albums, and have come to love his Ethio-jazz genre.

These discs were recorded at a concert in Los Angeles in February of 2009, and feature Astatke on the vibraphone and a number of other (I suppose) well-known jazz musicians making up the band.  Miguel Atwood-Ferguson appears on the violin.  There are nine tracks on the CD, and each of these songs are shown on the DVD as one long concert.  By watching the DVD extras, it is clear that at least three more numbers were performed.

The music is lovely - jazzy, funky, and quite beautiful.  It was amusing to see the white musicians singing in Amharic, but I am not qualified to comment as to how well they managed.  I highly recommend this collection.

Case Files: Sam & Twitch #20 - 25: Fathers and Daughters

Written by Marc Andreyko
Art by Greg Scott, Rodel Noora, and Bing Cansino

It took me a little while to track down the one issue of this series that I was missing, but upon finding it, I was finally able to finish off my reading of the second Sam and Twitch series.

And to be honest, this last arc was a bit of a disappointment.  The two detectives get involved in the murder of a young girl actress in the Miley Cyrus mold.  They work their way through the usual group of obsessed fans as suspects, before finding the truth to be much darker than they could have expected.  Unless, of course, they'd ever read a comic or story by Andrew Vachss, in which case, they would have known who was responsible for her death right at the beginning. 

There is a stab at relating the case to Twitch's own recent tragedies (the loss of a daughter and son), but it feels more forced than genuine, as his marital problems have evaporated completely.

The art by Greg Scott is nice, but too static.  When the girl's body is discovered, I wasn't even sure that she was dead - I had to read the next issue to find out.  That's not a way to build up suspense or interest in a story.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sgt. Rock: Between Hell & A Hard Place

Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Joe Kubert

It seemed fitting, in the same week that DC returns to both regular war comics and to the Rock family to headline them, that I would read this 2004 graphic novel.

It's November of 1944, and the American Army, in the form of the 22nd Infantry, is working its way through the Hürtgen Forest on the border between Germany and Belgium, on their way to Berlin.  The going is slow, as they have to deal with mines, artillery, German patrols, and towns with Tiger tanks and active machine gun nests.

Right in the thick of it, as always, is Sgt. Rock and Easy Company.  They've been saddled with some very green replacements, and later with four German officers who they wish to take in for interrogation.  During an attack, three of the Germans end up dead, and the other goes missing.  Now suspicion is falling on every member of Rock's usual crew.

The comic is well written, but the reason why anyone is going to come out for it has to do with Joe Kubert's art.  Kubert invented Rock, and its nice to see him working on one of his most famous characters once again.  He hasn't lost any of his skill, but he is drawing things much looser these days.

There is a nice blend of character moments and action, and there are no annoying sound effects in the book.  It falls into a lot of the usual war comics tropes, but it's still a very good read.

Casanova: Avaritia #1

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Gabriel Bá

It was pretty exciting to see that Matt Fraction and Gabriel Bá were going to publish new Casanova comics; the last two volumes of the series were reprints of the original Image Comics run of the title.  In anticipation of the new series, and with the intervention of a little bargain-hunting serendipity (although, with Casanova, it was probably part of a plan taking place at a greater scale), I reread the first two volumes over the last week or two, so I'd be caught up and in the right headspace for this book.

Of course, I'm confused as all get out, but am loving it nonetheless.  Cass is being sent into infinite mutant universes to kill himself, and then cauterize the entire timeline.  This has been going on for a while, and Cass is getting pretty tired of it, which is understandable.  He is assisted in this endeavor by Sasa Lisi, who reveals a little something behind why Quinn's father and boss, Cornelius Quinn is in such a rush to get this job done.

As always, this book is a thing of beauty, with Bá having improved his already fantastic art skills in the years since Casanova first saw publication, and having expanded the colour palette for this new series.  If you like highly intelligent comics, sophisticated plots, beautiful art, and tons and tons of casual nudity, this is the comic for you.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sweet Tooth #25

by Jeff Lemire

We continue, in this issue, to see into Gus's dream or vision while Dr. Singh is operating on him after his gun shot wound of a couple of issues ago.  He finds himself in a creepy tower having to make a choice between Mr. Jeppard and Buddy, Jeppard's son who we believe is dead.

While this is going on in Gus's head, tensions between the rest of his group are spilling over in the real world.  Everyone except Jeppard and Singh want to stay in the dam they have found, and they don't really want Jeppard around.  What's not clear is how Gus is going to react to this when he wakes up.

Oh, and the last page has a couple of interesting surprises.

As always, Lemire is delivering a quality comic.  I'm impressed that, what with his writing two other books for DC, he has the time to paint the dream sequence pages, and continue to put together such a great, and great-looking comic.  Of course, Matt Kindt is coming on to handle the art for a few issues, so I guess that will give Lemire time to catch up.  I can't think of a better fill-in artist for this comic.

iZombie #17

Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Michael Allred

Even as this current arc concludes, a lot stands revealed to the characters of iZombie.  Horatio learns that Gwen is a zombie, Gwen learns that she knew Amon before she died (and that he has some responsibility for her death), while the people of Eugene learn of the existence of zombies, and we, the readers, learn what we always suspected - that Dixie, the owner of the diner that Gwen and her friends like to eat at, can kick ass.

There are more characters than ever in this book (Ellie even makes a new friend), and the storyline seems to be getting more complicated with each issue (the Russian brain in a coffee maker makes his return), but it's still very clear that Roberson and Allred are having a lot of fun with this book, and that makes it a pleasure to read.