ROAR BACK: Reviews of Books Gone By

We can’t put ’em all in the pull box.  I mean, unless you’re a money tree that is.  I’m not.  So yeah, I’ve got to pick and choose what goes on my sub list.  It’s sad, but reality none the less.  BUUUUT thanks to the magic of the TRADE PAPER BACK/COLLECTED EDITIONS I can still catch stories that I wanted to, or thought were intriguing … on the flip side.  Some are from a few years ago and some are within the last year or two.  MOSTLY these books will be within the last five years to decade.

First up, a catch up binge I did on some IMAGE titles:

A cop, family, zombie?, horror, investigative, and all around complex story all rolled into one.  The backdrop is simple enough.  The dead have come back to life in rural nowhere Wisconsin.  While daddy and angel daughter are on a bit of a fritz, they’ve got to come together to figure it out because they’re both with the town’s police force.  Toss in the other daughter that’s got a little bit more experience with the issue than she should, the ever closing walls of a quarantined town, and the natural curiosity of the outside world and you’ve got a nice little pressure cooker.  In VOL 1 of Revival we get just enough to get a grasp of it all but it leaves off with plenty for the reader to keep searching for.  Demons?  The baby?  Seems like there’s some secrets to the place/people.

Only real issue I had was the pacing was a bit quick and chopped (no pun intended) in places.  I felt rushed into caring about certain characters or that I needed to feel more for a couple of instances than I did.  It doesn’t keep Revival from being a good book.  It is.  The setting and premise call for a slow burn and instead we get a slow burn with someone fanning the embers to get the fire going already.  I’m glad I went back and checked it out though.  I guess by the time I’d gotten to it I had more in mind.

This has immediately become one of my favorite books in a long while.  I will be tracking down the other two volumes post haste.  Concept is pretty rad.  Fabian Gray is possessed by five literary ghosts after his encounter with the “dreamstone.”  Imbued with the power of said ghosts, the treasure hunter is on a quest of redemption.  Using a wonderfully drawn/colored framework that puts this puppy in a wonderfully pulp presentation, the adventure doesn’t disappoint.  Yes, it clearly borrows from other pulp entries but what it does do is introduce its own little bit into that trope.  All of us (people) are connected in the dream-realm where Gods and Demons live.  They can come forth through the stones and it is also the stones that allow people like Fabian to “control” said entities.  All sorts of fun ensues.

I originally wanted to pick this up when it hit in 2013.  I couldn’t add it at the time and I’m bummed at that fact having now read the first volume.  This is a damn fun book.  While there’s a *tinge of rush here and there with the story (the sister bit specifically in this first volume considering she’s apparently a rather big point of it all) BUT I kept flipping the pages out of want, not necessity.  The entire thing comes off amazingly well.  I’m drawn into it like I am Francesco Francavilla pulp efforts (and, for me that’s the modern measuring stick in that genre).  If you haven’t, pick it up … and don’t be swayed by the “reviews” that say it’s just a rehash of things.  It isn’t.  Frank J Barbiere takes classic elements and ingredients to craft his own serving of pulp/mystic goodness.  Chris Mooneyham does a wonderful job of making it look every bit the part that it is.  I want all of this.

Potential is the best summation of this one.  Like 5G above, I wanted to put it on the list when it debuted but didn’t have the room for it.  This time around I’m glad because these reads so well collected like this.  Our story, is that of first contact with Aliens.  Though this is quite the social commentary as these guys are here on BUSINESS.  Just like BIG CORP/BIG BUSINESS/BIG INDUSTRY does in society today, we’ve got a sleazeball up front and center acting like nothing is going wrong … and then down playing the hell out of things.  He’s being quite obtuse about the fact that this giant gas (our water) station of a space port that the aliens came to Earth to negotiate, isn’t secure.  Aliens aren’t following protocol (imagine that) and there have been consequences world wide.  It is a direct reflection of how things have gone for forever in real life.  While there’s a story being set up between our two main characters (officers in the Earth Security Agency) I’m more interested in the much bigger expanse that has been slow roasted in this first arc.

Where this thing COULD go is why I’m into it.  The potential here is pretty astounding.  The approach is a new take on bringing Aliens and humans into the fold together.  It is a fresher take on social commentary.  There’s plenty of room left to flesh out the actual human elements of our main characters, but I’m looking past that as I’m hoping that the book jumps head first into everything else that could be going on.  The sleazeball in charge of the port either knows something, is part of something, or is covering up something bigger.  Whatever it is I’ll be checking it out and hopefully Zack Kaplan is able to start delving into the bigger picture.

An event, “The Midnight” sends the world crashing down.  It’s just apocalyptic at this point as we’re three hundred years down the road and our main character has a device that can make things work again (very similar to Revolution tv show).  Paradiso itself is a living? city that is an alleged haven for people … but what I’ve gathered from the first VOL is that it maybe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Clearly, this is an involved and deep story.  There is a whole hell of a lot going on.  This is a GRAND idea.  I just don’t get it, I guess … I’m not really sure.  I mean it seems simple enough but as I said, there’s A LOT going on.  Who exactly resides where?  How is the city living?  The girl and the big dude with tubes?  The “guardians?”  What is this dead zone around the city?  What the hell happened in the first place?

I WANT to like this.  The artwork is perfect for detailing and highlighting the absolute grandiose prose that is being attempted here.  The sheer grittiness comes through delightfully but I just don’t know what I’m reading in parts of it.  I’m certainly not discouraging anyone from picking this up.  For the visuals alone you’ll be glad you did.  Ultimately this falls into the “too much at once” pitfall for me.

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