Friday, October 10, 2014

Mini comic reviews - misc Vertigo titles, mainly from The Books of Magic series

4 Horsemen - This mini-series was released at the beginning of 2000, and was apparently a bit of a joke related to all the hysteria that was happening related to the Y2K bug.  The premise is that the four horsemen of the apocalypse show up to  bring about the end of the world, and no one really cares because we're all jaded now.  I only have issues 1 and 4, 1 is Famine and 4 is Death.  Famine's issue involves him talking to a woman who worked at an abortion clinic, then left and became a pro-life extremist, then left that and eventually became a mother.  It was trying to make some kind of point,but also couldn't seem to commit to any side and therefore failed.  The Death issue was basically incomprehensible.  There was some kind of story about either terrorists or some kid stalking a rock star or I don't even know.  I literally gave up a few pages in because it was just a mess and I couldn't follow it.

Flinch - This is a horror anthology series, with three short stories per issue, all by different writers and artists.  As you would probably expect, that means they are a pretty big mix of quality.  One thing I also noticed very quickly is that the cover is also its own separate piece that has no relation to any of the stories inside - just another chance for artists to show off some horror work.  Given that the first issue features a guy about to stab himself in the eyeball, I was very, very glad for that.  I can't say there were any particular tales that stuck out to me as great.  There were a few that were clearly too complex for the short length, because they ended with me wondering just what exactly happened.  Ultimately, unless you find them super cheap I can't really recommend this collection.

The Books of Faerie: Auberon's Tale - While I had seen Auberon in one of the Sandman comics, this story is about his origin and therefore shows him as a youth.  It's a simple fantasy tale about the struggle for power after the death of the king in the land of Faerie, and there's also two tangentially related stories at the end of the volume.  Not a whole lot to say about it other than it was simple to follow and the art was nice.

The Books of Faerie: Molly's Story - I only have 2-4 of this mini-series but there's a recap in the beginning of the issue that tells you enough to get you going.  This series ties heavily into the Books of Magic series, which I had not read yet (this is what happens when you go in alphabetical order) and so I had no emotional ties to the main character Molly.  It also didn't help that I really didn't care for the art style at all.  Everyone was bended and distorted, which I'm sure was a style choice since this is set in Faerie, but I didn't like it.  The story itself is just okay.  I liked Molly's cat.

The Books of Magic: Bindings - This is the beginning of the ongoing series, written by John Ney Rieber.  There was a mini-series written by Neil Gaiman before this that set up the story, but I have not read it.  That said, it was not too difficult to follow this volume about young Tim Hunter and his confusion when he learns that the people who he thought were his parents are not.  He tries to pursue his real father and gets caught by a manticore along the way.  Because the manticore has a powerful poison, he ends up spending some time with Death of the Endless in her apartment before he is saved from it.  You can definitely tell this is not Gaiman writing her, as she's missing just a little bit extra of something that he normally brings to her.  But she's not so far off to be out of character, and Tim is your usual confused and fussy teenage protagonist.  I also thought the times with the manticore brought just the right amount of creepy horror to the story.  There's a story at the back of Auberon's Tale that actually works as an epilogue to some of the elements of this volume, so while I read them out of order I read them close enough together to put the pieces together.

The Books of Magic: Reckonings - This is the third volume of the ongoing series, so I'm not sure what I missed in the second.  The main plot here is that a demon kidnaps Tim's girlfriend Molly and brings her to hell, so he goes and rescues her.  There's also this weird stuff with another demon who wants to control him, and we see flashes of the future (specifically 2013, which was fun to read now) where Tim has become a bit of a mess and eventually chooses to live his life as a dragon.  The one thing I wasn't particularly clear on is if this hell is supposed to be the same as the one in the Sandman series.  I suppose you could say that hell is so vast these are just areas we haven't seen before.  But it definitely looks very, very different than what we saw there.  That said, it was a nice little tale with an interesting cast of characters.  I enjoyed it.

The Books of Magic #66-69, 71-75 - This section of the comic is from the time when Peter Gross took over as writer and artist for the book.  The gap in story was initially a little confusing for me as Tim is in hiding using a necklace to appear as a girl and no longer has any of his magic powers.  The stories feel a little more in line with Gaiman's Sandman universe, however, and as such I felt a little more "home" with these stories.  It's a good tale of a boy learning to accept who he is and trying to do some good with what he has.  He also wraps up the details of the future that we saw in those early stories as well.
I still have a couple other books in this series to read namely The Names of Magic and Hunter: The Age of Magic, but I found myself really wanting to read X-men comics instead.

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