Comics Roundup #6: I try some single issues

And they were okay, but one stood out from the rest. However, this experiment with single issues made me realize that I don’t like them. They’re too short. I prefer to read the bind-up of issues in a volume so the story continues for a while before it stops. I think I reacted this way to single issues because I’m not used to reading comics and am coming to them from reading books, which are much longer.

I read these during the spring, in April and May, when I teetered on the edge of a reading slump. The comics helped me stay out of it. I also read them on my way to BookCon in Chicago, which was handy because they didn’t take up much space in my luggage and were perfect for the short amount of time I had for reading that weekend.

Well then, here are three more comics I read so far this year.

Pisces 1

Pisces, #1 by Kurtis J. Wiebe, illus. by Johnnie Christmas

Genre: sci-fi, adult (I think I’ll start including these genre/age markers for stuff I read.)

Quick summary:

From Goodreads:

Former fighter pilot Dillon Carpenter found everything he wanted when he returned from the Vietnam War. A loving partner, a dream career training with NASA to travel through space, and soon, he will learn, a prime candidacy for a secret mission, one that will forever change the world: First Contact. But as Dillon prepares, his war trauma returns and he’s haunted by dark visions of his future. There is but one constant; the voice whispering from the stars. A sci-fi psychological body horror series from the writer of RAT QUEENS and the artist of SHELTERED.

My thoughts:

I had to use the Goodreads summary because I don’t know how to relay what happens in this issue. I picked it up randomly at a comic bookshop because the title of it is Pisces and I’m a Pisces so I thought we’d gel; but that didn’t happen. I was confused by it. I went in blind and couldn’t understand the story, though I admired the art. And since this is a single issue, the story stopped before I could grasp what’s going on. I didn’t like that. I read the Goodreads summary of it when done and only then did I get an idea of what’s going on, but I was still confused. I still am confused. There were too many threads and jumps in the story for the beginning, for a single issue.

As for the art, it is great. It’s clear, so I easily understood what occurs in scenes with a lot of action, and it’s easy to follow the flow of the story through the frames. My favorite parts are the two-page spreads when it seems that the character is being transported between worlds or is dreaming or something (I wasn’t sure) because of how the frames are used there. And I really like the characters’ faces and expressions. The lines are clean and not sketchy and the colors are superb and were done by Tamra Bonvillain. Of all the comics I’ve read thus far, I love the colors in this and The Wicked + The Divine. Another thing I like is how the colors are used to give some frames an orange tint. I think that’s pretty cool.

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

Despite my confusion, my interest was piqued, probably because the art was so great, and I’m curious to see what happens in a longer volume. Only then I think I’ll know if I like the story or not. There are some fighting and shooting in the story, since the protagonist is a military man, so there are some graphic scenes but they aren’t many.

From Under Mountains 1

From Under Mountains, #1 by Claire Gibson and Marian Churchland, illus. by Sloane Leong

Genre: fantasy, adult

Quick summary:

From Goodreads:

In the first issue of this new fantasy series, old feuds and new monsters rise up to haunt the isolated northern fortress of Karsgate.

My thoughts

That’s really all they wrote for the summary and there isn’t much I can add because, again, this is a single issue and is the set-up for the story, so characters are introduced and a few things happen but we aren’t given enough to know what’s going on. However, I am intrigued by the story because the set-up has a high fantasy feel to it. There is a magical threat, a king trying to manage his kingdom well and raise a strong heir, a willful prince, and a princess who wants to see and experience the world instead of being cooped up in the palace awaiting an arranged marriage. I like all these elements, but I wanted more before the story stopped.

As for the art, I’m not a fan. I didn’t like the illustrations or even how it’s colored. However, I like that the line work is clean and that the story is easy follow in the frames and understand.

Overall: ★★★☆☆

The story is strong but the art is weak, though I love the cover. As with Pisces, #1 above, I’d like to know more but am not sure if I’ll go purchase the volume.

Monstress 1

Monstress, #1 by Marjorie Liu, illus. by Sana Takeda

“How does one whom history has made a monster, escape her monstrosity? How does one overcome the monstrousness of others without succumbing to a rising monstrousness within?”

Genre: fantasy, adult

Quick summary:

A fantasy comic about young woman trying to learn about her past, her parents, and her mysterious, monstrous power.

My thoughts:

I loved this one. 😀 It’s a stronger start than the ones above because instead of a vague set-up, we’re immediately thrown into a situation and are trying to puzzle it out along with the protagonist, Maika. It also helps that this first, single issue is longer that the single issues above so we have more story before it stops. Still, I appreciate that a stronger plot is given to us when we are introduced to the world and its characters.

And I love the story though it’s all a mystery to me. Maika is pretty cool and I love how headstrong and determined she is. I also find her intriguing because of her weird “power” that she doesn’t know much about. The power makes her immensely hungry, and I like that. She seems to be a kind person, but I think her “power” might become an obstacle and help to make her develop into a morally complex character later on (I hope so).

The story is pretty dark because it hints at cannibalism, but there aren’t any graphic scenes. The art is okay and is easy to read and the actions flow smoothly from frame to frame. Lines are clean and what I love the most is the facial expressions of the characters. The colors are muted in tone, but I think that adds to the haunting atmosphere of the story. Both the art and the story hints at something lurking and the colors add to that feel. Also, because the colors aren’t outstanding, I paid more attention to the figures. And speaking of the figures, I love how they are styled — their hair and wardrobe. Actually, I love everything about the artwork. Everything. And the little fox creature is such a cutie!

Overall: ★★★★☆

I love it. I want more. I plan to get the volume when it comes out.

By the way, I met Marjorie Liu at BookCon! 😀 But guess who didn’t research the authors who would be at BookCon and so left her copy of Monstress in her hotel room and didn’t get it signed?? 😥 I was so upset about that. But Liu was sweet and she signed a poster for me, though I have nowhere to put it.

And one more thing, I appreciate the note Liu includes at the end of this issue about how the story came to her and what inspired it — her background as a Chinese-American and her grandparents’ experiences surviving WWII in China. The quote below and the one above are taken from that note.

“Surviving required a desire to live more powerful than any bomb or army, a summoning of superhuman resilience to keep going, day after day. Starvation, biological experimentation, rape camps, occupation, colonization — what ravaged Europe during WWII, also ravaged China and the rest of Asia. And the victims of this horror had to learn how to first survive…and then survive the surviving.”


11 thoughts on “Comics Roundup #6: I try some single issues

  1. I rarely do single issues of comics anymore, but I was so tempted when I saw Monstress! I did the next best thing and put the first volume on my wishlist right away, I am so excited that it’ll be out in July 🙂


  2. Love this post! I still want to read The Wicked + The Devine :). One of my friends keeps poking me about it, but I still haven’t gotten around to actually ordering it.


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