The Casual Geek

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Category: Worthy Reads

Animosity: A review

This is the title to show you that if you are an animal asshole, you better hope they don’t do anything about it.

Animosity is a new title (4 issues so far) from Aftershock Comics. Animosity is written by the marvelous Marguerite Bennett (DC Bombshells), drawn by the ruffian Rafael De Latorre (SuperZero), colored by the righteous Rob Schwager (Marvel 1602), and lettered by the meticulous Marshall Dillon (Street Fighter). The series is about a little girl named Jesse and her bloodhound Sandor (named after the Game of Thrones character) as they make their way across the country from New York to California to find Jesse’s estranged older brother. What makes it hard is that animals have gained complete sentience and the ability to speak. They all remember EVERYTHING and they are angry at the humans.

 

I happened to come across this series in the back of another aftershock comic and picked the whole series up at once. I was hooked within the first five pages. The story is razor sharp and highlights the whole gambit of human and animal reactions with the realization of well…realization. Bennett has shown once again how she is one of the masters (mistresses) of handling emotions, unique character voices, and situational awareness. The comic rewards the detailed minded with panels that harken back to Animal Farm, Planet of the Apes, and pop culture just to name a few. Latorre does a fantastic job with adapting animals to human items such as guns, kitchen, and my favorite, rocket launchers. Jesse and Sandor are strong characters that have a genuine bond, though at times it is unclear who is protecting who. I am sad that I do not have more issues to read but I am glad that I was able to start this title early and see where it goes.

 

I want to share a few of the very first pages of the book that blew me away, this was when the animals gained thought:

Pandas with Guns!!!

A Sleeper Hit: Rough Riders Vol 1

The one that started it all!

First off, full disclosure, I am very excited to write about this title. When I first say an article in Comic Shop News about a new title that had Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, AND Annie Oakley, my interest was peaked. I loved the idea of REAL figures of American history (still one of my favorite trivia subjects) being put in to a comic with a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen feel to it, I could not wait to read it. Unfortunately, after I did some digging I found out that the release date for #1 was not for several months. To make a long story short, none of the comic stores in Dallas (one of the largest cities in America) carried the title and I really was interested in reading it. Through the power of social media, I was able to receive a copy of the first volume last week from one of the artists and WOW! Is this a good book! Let me back up a little bit and give you some back history…

 

As a teenager in the early 2000’s I saw League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the film based on Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s 1999 comic series. While the movie left much to be desired, I loved the comic title and the following spin off series. The idea of famous literary characters coming together to save the world just resonated with me. What I also gravitated to, much to do with Alan Moore’s writing, was the non “marquee” characters that made up the team. Captain Nemo, Mina Harker, and Allan Quartermain, all from massively important books, but not characters that the ordinary person would think of when they recall heroes of literature. The blending of elements from different 19th century works fell perfectly together and was familiar yet new. Rough Riders continues in this spirit and definitely adds to it.

 

The basic arc of Rough Riders Vol. 1 is that a no-nonsense, brash, adventurous, scotch-drinking (Pre-President) Teddy Roosevelt, assembles a team to go to Cuba due to some questionable circumstances. What follows is an engaging look at the sides of very familiar names in American history that I doubt they would want you to see. Adam Glass does a great job with writing stories that are fast pace, memorable, and does not waste a panel. The action makes sense and I actually took a moment to realize that the amount of character development that is done in seven issues is huge. I understand that it is fictionalized, but to have Oakley’s drinking explained in two panels and you can understand why Teddy found her the way he did is satisfying for the reader more than I think the writer would believe. I do want to commend Glass for putting in some important details that really helped to sell the story. Peppered throughout the dialogue are comments about how Blacks, Jews, and Women are treated and viewed by society at this time. It shows that there is a sense of realism and acknowledgement that you rarely see in modern comments. Even having the main characters show bigotry demonstrates that the characters are not the best versions of themselves.

 

A book is only as good as the author, for a comic book, the art has to be just as good for a story to hold your attention. Patrick Olliffe makes some very interesting choices for his panels. You will not find a page of panels where characters just look at one another and nothing is conveyed. One of the details that Olliffe created especially well were the characters’ eyes. After I finished the book, I went back and looked at how the eyes were drawn corresponding with what was occurring in the story at that time. To compare, I flipped through a couple of popular current titles with well-regarded artists and looked at their eyes. I noticed in many cases that it was just a filler space. My two favorite artistic parts in the book were Teddy’s dream scene and Houdini freeing himself from a tree. With the art is the coloring. Gabe Eltaeb did phenomenal work creating color pallets of each character that were distinct yet cohesive. Annie Oakley’s (sorry if you are color blind) clothes could be pulled lickity split even if you are flipping through the pages. Eltaeb contributes just as much in the storytelling with his hues and shades as any other member of the team. The work that he puts in to the smallest thing to make a detail stand out for the betterment of the reader is something that Eltaeb does particularly well in all his titles.

 

In closing, I called Rough Riders a sleeper hit because I do not feel that a lot of people have read it just yet but when they do, they love it. It has the mix of all the elements that a reader wants in a title. The only sad part was that there aren’t any more issues to read. Thank you Gabe for letting me read this.

Final thought, it becomes more and more obvious to me that with smaller publishers, in this case Aftershock, live or die based on word of mouth about their titles. Please check them out, Aftershock has some amazing concepts and I am actually really interested to see some of the titles featured in the back of the book.

Click HERE to check out Aftershock

 

Worthy Reads: Marvel’s Civil War II Kingpin #4

 

Thanks for joining me! Here is my next installment of worthy reads. I am doing another, while much shorter than my last, issue of Kingpin. Enjoy!

If you are interested, I will start adding links for Comixology for the issues referred to. Just click the issue picture.

The story opens with Kingpin announced “dead”. We get to see a swath of Marvel characters react to the news. Punisher is of course smug with himself. I particularly got a kick out of Daredevil and Spider-man’s respective surprised reactions. DD is stopped in his track in court and Spidey is of course found to watch the news report upside down in supposedly Time Square. Small details like these can be found throughout this issue. For the most part, this issue is sluggish with a few bright spots. I understand that there would be a power vacuum when the Kingpin is thought to be out of the picture and it is interesting to see that Fisk will always find a way to reach out to advance and protect his empire. But I did not like the swift killing of people after they seemed to be working for Fisk by other Fisk goons. It did not seem that Fisk’s rehab was all that lengthy considering the extreme amount of damage sustained to him the previous issue. By the time it gets to the confrontation at the end, the Kingpin is back to full form, ready to take on all challengers. This issue is the last of this volume but on February 8th, a new volume of Kingpin will be published. I will keep you updated.

Worthy Reads: Marvel’s Civil War II Kingpin #3

I know it has been a while since I wrote anything but I am making a concerted effort so bare with me. With the support of some people close to me, I have the fire back to post a bunch of material in the coming weeks. The biggest hurdle that I faced was the fact that my laptop died and I do not have to a computer otherwise to use. I am borrowing a Mac but as a PC user for my whole life, there is a little adjustment. Plus, since I have been off for so long, I have forgotten a few things about website design and posting.

Over the Christmas break I wrote a few articles and polished some ideas for reoccurring titles. This is a short little series about comic titles I am reading that are worth a pick up. I will do my best to highlight but not spoil. Regardless, I think they are worth a pick up.

Back when Marvel introduced their Civil War II line, I picked up Matthew Rosenberg’s Kingpin #1. Wilson Fisk is a character that I have always found interesting. He was introduced as a Spider-man villain in Amazing Spider-man #50 and since then has been a thorn in the side of a smorgousboard of Marvel heroes. He is always calculated, uses people’s underestimation of him to his benefit, and I am impressed how he is a character that is given as much depth when he could just as easily be a crime boss that comes in and out of comics when an overarching villain is needed. I digress…

Rosenberg’s writing to this point is fast and sheds light into the train of thought of Wilson Fisk as he is trying to discover who betrayed him. Kingpin’s violence is depicted as much as for survival as it is a battle within himself with the man he wants to be and the image that the world expects of him. The issue is also well paired with Ricardo Lopez Ortiz and Hayden Sherman’s style of drawing. They are both able to depict very clear messages and highlight intensity of the characters actions. The one panel that stood out to me from the whole book was when The Punisher is hanging on to dear life to the knife handle embedded into Kingpin’s chest before it slips out. I got the sense of both the resiliency and strength that Kingpin is known for, and the vulnerability of what was about to happen. SHIELD coming at the end seemed over the top though on the last page. All in all, a great read

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