Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sixth Annual CoKR Comic Book Awards

CONCLUSION
-Howard the Duck
-Cry Havoc
-Tokyo Ghost
-Chew
-Peter Panzerfaust

Winner: CHEW
We said goodbye to lots of good series this year, but none of them got me as much as Chew. I've read every issue of it's 60 issue run (plus the Poyo one-shots), and this series meant a lot of me. Issue 60 gave us a nice look at where all are characters ended up, and gave us one last character moment to give Tony some catharsis.

RELAUNCH
-The Vision
-Great Lake Avengers
-The Flash
-Black Widow
-Hulk

Winner: THE VISION
I don't think I've ever seen a Vision solo series, and this one did an awesome job to justify its existence. Somehow Tom King turned The Vision into a crazy combination of Breaking Bad and American Beauty, with a superhero twist. This book is like nothing you've ever read before, and you should definitely give it a shot.

BEST NEW SERIES
-Seven to Eternity
-Moonshine
-Motor Crush
-Pasty Walker AKA Hellcat
-Glitterbomb

Winner: SEVEN TO ETERNITY
There weren't as many big new Image series that grabbed me this year, but Seven to Eternity grabbed me in a big way. I think that this one has the strongest start of Remender's Image work, and the amazing art of Opena really helps build this interesting and compelling world that feels both familiar enough to jump into, but unique enough to get its hooks in you.

STORYLINE
-I Am Gotham - Batman
-Superfamous - Ms. Marvel
-Lightning Strikes Twice - The Flash
-Fluff My Life - I Hate Fairyland
-Baby Talk - Spider-Woman

Winner: SUPERFAMOUS - MS. MARVEL
I didn't get into the first volume of Ms. Marvel, but this one grabbed me right off the bat. G. Willow Wilson does such a great job of building out all the relationships in Ms. Marvel's life while creating a compelling challenge for her to go up against.

ARTIST
-Jerome Opena - Seven to Eternity
-Chris Samnee - Black Widow
-Jon Davis-Hunt - Clean Room
-Carmine Di Giandomenico - The Flash
-Mikel Janin - Batman

Winner: CHRIS SAMNEE
Samnee is the reason the new Black Widow series has been so outstanding. His dynamic layouts and crisp art style help sell both the shadowy nature of Black Widow's world and the pulse pounding action. She fights with so much precision and grace, and he is able to capture it perfectly.

WRITER
-Rick Remender - Seven to Eternity / Tokyo Ghost / Deadly Class / Black Science / Low
-Kate Leth - Vampirella / Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat / Spell on Wheels
-Jason Aaron - Mighty Thor / Doctor Strange / Southern Bastards
-Joshua Williamson - The Flash / Nailbiter / Birthright
-Tom King - The Vision / Batman

Winner: RICK REMENDER
Not only did I love Seven to Eternity, but I also took a dive back into all of his other recent Image work this year. Remender has created such diverse worlds, but is still able to very easily do so in his own unique voice. He finds awesome ways to take very human emotions, such as depression, and amplify them with crazy premises.

VILLAIN
-Godspeed - The Flash
-Weeping Lion - Black Widow
-God of Whispers - Seven to Eternity
-Empirikul - Doctor Strange
-Captain Marvel - Civil War II and crossovers

Winner: GOD OF WHISPERS
Part of what makes Seven to Eternity such a great book is the main antagonist, the God of Whispers. Remender does such a good job of giving him an interesting and unique set of powers while still making him menacing when he doesn't have them.

BEST SUPERHERO TITLE
-The Vision
-Black Widow
-Mighty Thor
-Ms. Marvel
-Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat

Winner: THE VISION
The tone of Vision almost made me put it on the non-superhero category, but this is firmly in the Marvel Universe and still has many elements of the genre. It's completely unique and really reinvents the character while creating new ones that really resonated with me.

BEST NON-SUPERHERO TITLE
-Clean Room
-Chew
-Seven to Eternity
-Nailbiter
-Paper Girls

Winner: CHEW
Throughout its long run, this series was always one of my favorites. The last portion of the series really amped up the stakes, forcing the characters to make some very heavy and emotional decisions, all while not losing its signature brand of humor. This series will be missed, but I can't wait to see what Layman does in the future.

BEST OVERALL TITLE
-The Vision
-Seven to Eternity
-Ms. Marvel
-Paper Girls
-Mighty Thor

Winner: THE VISION
Who would have thought that Vision would have ended up being one of the best books of the year?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Arc Reactor: Batman - I Am Suicide / Rooftops

Tom King's Batman has taken a little bit of time to get used to. As I wrote about in my look at the previous arc I Am Gotham, there was a bit of odd pacing and tone to the book so far. King's next arc I Am Suicide has some of the same problems, but also has some great high points, both in art and story.

The premise of this arc is perfect: Batman needs to retrieve Psycho Pirate from Bane, so he puts together his own version of the Suicide Squad to break into Santa Prisca and extract him. Hearing this premise, I was giddy to see Batman heading into Arkham to assemble his team from the rouge's gallery, but it ended up being a bit of a let down. Catwoman ended up being the only one of any notoriety (after her the second most prominent was Ventriloquist). Not only that, but they all kinda of faded into the background and only Batman, Bane and Catwoman doing anything of real emotional resonance.

King's version of Bane is an exciting one. At some point, Bane kicked Venom, but now needs Psycho Pirate to help him control his emotions. The back and forth game of one upsmanship that has always been at the core of Bane's character comes to the forefront here and plays out in an interesting fashion. His grasp of Catwoman is also great, using her to give emotional stakes for Batman while still adding a layer of unpredictability.

What is more inconsistent is his portrayal of Batman. During the issue where Batman was breaking into Santa Prisca, I was confused as to whether this was supposed to be Batman or someone posing as Batman. There is a very strong revelation that occurs partway through the arc that gives an interesting wrinkle to the Batman myth: young Bruce Wayne attempted suicide before his infamous "I shall become a Bat" moment. It gives the often indestructible Batman a believable moment of humanity, but comes at a strange place in an arc that didn't exactly relate to the moment.

Since he handled the Batman/Catwoman relationship so well, it's no surprise that the two-part aftermath story Rooftops was very strong. After the mission, Batman and Catwoman celebrate the last night before she has to report back to Arkham to be punished for the 200-some murders that she's accused of. The night sees them fighting crime, stealing things and making love on the rooftops in a sea of diamonds. Batman also delves into what actually happened with the murders and King reintroduces Selina's friend Holly, who has long been a part of her world. Not only is the tone of this two-parter perfectly capture their complicated relationship, showing how they can each be vulnerable in front of each other, but it has some really wonderful moments too. Each of them shares the story of how they remember meeting the other, and Batman remembers her Golden Age introduction, while Catwoman remembers how she met him in Year One.

King has been very fortunate to work with some wonderful artists on this book. David Finch set a great tone, but these two arcs really stepped it up. I Am Suicide featured art by Mikel Janin, an artist I was not familiar with. Janin's art certainly match King's more surreal and lyrical tone. He's got some really clean art with very innovative panel layouts. The high point issue featured nothing but awesome two page spreads with clever layouts and beautiful narration. I sincerely hope to see him return to the series sometime soon.



Mitch Gerads, King's collaborator on the Vertigo series Sheriff of Babylon, joined him for Rooftops, and it was clear that these two enjoy working together. They do a great job of finding a unique rhythm that perfectly blends the script with the panels. Several instances of repeated panels with slight variations do a good job of driving home the point of the script. Gerads also does an amazing job capturing the emotion on the faces of Batman and Catwoman throughout the issues. I'm really glad that they got to work together on this book, as it made this two part arc feel very special.

Overall, I Am Suicide took a bit getting used to, but once you get used to the tone King creates it clicks really well. I'm looking forward to re-reading it to see if it flows better all at once. This arc along with Rooftops sets things up really well for the next arc, titled I Am Bane and featuring the return of David Finch. Bane's back on the Venom and is launching a full scale war on Batman and his allies, and this could be the epic that really helps define his run.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Best Video Games of 2016

10. Let It Die
I haven't put a ton of time into Let It Die, but it seems like something that will be right up my alley. Suda51's style has always been something that has clicked with me, so for him to do a gonzo take on Dark Souls/Bloodborne-like ideas is very appealing. The game plays like a slower, clunkier Bloodborne set in a grimy world where you use irons, hammers, firework cannons and whatever else you can to defend yourself. I still haven't found the rhythm of the game, but I've learned a patience with these types. The free-to-play aspects of the game may eventually be something that bites it in the ass, but for now, I'm excited to see where it goes.

9. Invisible Inc
This is another one that I have only put a little bit of time into, but the time I have played makes me feel like this will connect with me. Klei Entertainment (Don't Starve, Mark of the Ninja) brings their signature polish to a cyberpunk world of corporate espionage. The gameplay melds stealth and turn-based combat in an innovative way with roguelike elements on top. I believe this one came out last year on PC, but its release on PS4 (it was also free on PS+ in December) give it a place on my list this year.

8. SUPERHOT
I don't think I've ever played a game that bleeds cool in the same way that SUPERHOT does. Not only does it have the amazing art direction, but it takes an innovative, yet simple, mechanic and turns it into a compelling overall package. The idea is that you are in action scenes, but time only moves when you do. This gives you the chance to look at the bullets on their way to you and lets you figure out the optimal path to make your way through the chaos. It's a brilliant idea that turns an FPS into something like a puzzle game, and makes you feel like a total action hero bad ass.

7. TitanFall 2
I've mentioned before that I'm not really a person who plays modern shooters, especially online, but TitanFall 2 grabbed me hard. I was going to pass on this, but it ended up on sale for half off and I decided to take a chance. The single player campaign of this game is so well constructed with a breakneck pace and truly wonderful set pieces. I can't imagine playing a shooter that FEELS better than TitanFall 2, from the feel of the shooting and gun to the incredible movement techniques. Not only was the campaign good, but the multiplayer was a blast too. The inclusion of the titans, which feel completely different from fighting on foot, gives battles a strong feeling of variety without ruining the balance. Top to bottom, this is a complete package of a first person shooter.

6. Batman: A Telltale Series
If you've been reading my reviews of the series, you know that I really liked this game. I felt a bit burned out on all the fighting and driving in Batman: Arkham Knight and ended up wishing I could just move forward in the story without having to beat up another set of random thugs. I had also been away from Telltale games, even after loving Walking Dead Season 1 so much. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to get both things I wanted, and I'm glad I jumped in. Telltale shows they aren't afraid to make big changes to the Batman mythology, and they really craft a story with lots of twists and turns. For once they give Bruce a time to shine and give him a lot of emotional depth. While it seems that some of the choices kinda went against the ethos of Batman, there were a lot of interesting decisions that I assume drastically change the game. The last two episodes were a little disappointing, especially with the inclusion of the Joker, who I feel like has been in every Batman game since the dawn of time, but overall this is a worthwhile experience if you're looking for more Batman in your life.

5. Darkest Dungeon
This game is a perfect stew of everything that I love. Turn based RPG combat. Check. XCOM like permadeath for the soldiers your grind to improve. Check. Gothic Lovecraftian theme. Check. The art style of this game is just so gorgeous, and all the classes are varied enough that it's worth learning the pluses and minuses of all of them. There's so much satisfaction in putting together a party that works perfectly together and running them up against one of the horrific bosses. The game is so good throughout, but ends up having some real problems with its end game. You have to put so much work into building the characters up to the highest level, and if you lose a whole party on a higher level mission when you hit a spot of bad luck it's completely devastating. There's just a bit too much randomness in the way things play out to make the higher level stuff feel fair. Despite all these complaints, I absolutely adore this game and will definitely be checking out the DLC that's scheduled for later this year.

4. Furi
If there's a game from this year that can get close to SUPERHOT in style, it's Furi. In this game you're an anime-esque solider armed with blaster and sword that's escaping from a neon hell/prison, fighting your way through the colorful characters that act as guards. Furi is comprised entirely of boss battles, and they never feel repetitive in visual design or gameplay. Since Bloodborne, I've really started to appreciate the craft of an excellent, long boss battle, and this game's 10 multistage fights deliver. The controls are so precise, and there's nothing quite as satisfying as finally beating a boss that you've tried dozens of times. I still have yet to take down the final boss, but can't wait until I break him.

3. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Naughty Dog probably puts out the most polished games in the industry, and their first PS4 game (not counting Last of Us Remastered) is the most gorgeous game on the system. They do what they do best in this game: guide us through a thrilling story with interesting characters. This game brings Nathan Drake's story to a conclusion in a very emotionally resonant way. It's interesting that some of the quieter moments, like sitting on a couch playing video games with your wife, are just as memorable as some of the more thrilling ones, like jumping from vehicle to vehicle in the middle of a high speed chase. I think this one might be my favorite Uncharted game, with 2 very close behind. Naughty Dog recently announced The Last of Us: Part II, and I can't wait to see what they've got up their sleeves for that one.

2. DOOM
It was really hard to put this game as number two; any other year this would have been number one with a bullet. There is SO MUCH to love about this new DOOM it's ridiculous. They took the feel of the old games and modernized them completely in a way that still feels old school. There's no regenerating health bar, hiding behind cover or two weapons limit (hell, the game doesn't even make you reload). Instead all of the mechanics in the game are built to make you play as aggressively as possible. In order to regain health, you have to do melee kills. Need more ammo? Use some of your limited chainsaw fuel to rip someone apart for billets. The story of the game is pretty simple, but there's enough there to help bring to life the gore-geous levels.  This change of pace could provide a difficult challenge for people used to modern shooters, but if you're up to it, DOOM is one hell of a ride.

1. XCOM 2
XCOM: Enemy Within was one of my top 5 games of all time, and this new version bumps its way into that spot. While the PS4 version isn't a perfect port (I had it crash after one particularly grueling mission), but this game improves on its predecessor in every way. Each class has specialized even further, giving you interesting options to upgrade your characters. Many of the missions have countdown timers, which force you to play hard and fast in your firefights and encourage more aggressive movement throughout the maps. The story was also more well developed with a more interesting beginning hook, casting you as the resistance for in a world taken over by aliens. It took me a couple starts to get used to the new mechanics of the overworld/base building part, but once I got the hang of it I was having a blast. I love this franchise so much, and hope that it was successful enough on consoles that they continue porting it over (and maybe even putting a little more polish on it).

Games I Wish I Played/Didn't Put Enough Time Into: Overwatch, Inside, No Man's Sky, Dishonored 2, The Witness, I Am Setsuna, Overcooked

MOST ANTICIPATED FOR 2017

5. Danganronpa 1 and 2: Reloaded
I've always heard how cool these games were on Vita, but I don't have the system, so I've never been able to experience that. These two twisted visual novels are being ported over to the PS4 in preparation for the their one coming out this year. I've dabbled in visual novels before, and I'm just starting to dip my toe into anime, so this is coming along at a perfect time for me to really sink my teeth into it.

4. Pyre
I have been a huge fan of Supergiant's first two games, especially Transistor, and Pyre looks like another wonderful entry into their body of work. They always manage to do something completely different while still creating something that is distinctly theirs. Pyre seems to be some sort of weird hybrid between RPG and sports game, with some interesting Telltale-like segments in between. These guys are really a developer to watch, and I can't wait to see how this turns out.

3. Persona 5
Another anime-esque game that's caught my eye is Persona 5. The incredibly stylish trailer immediately grabbed my attention, and I'm longing to see a turn based RPG set outside of a traditional fantasy setting. I've never played any other Persona games, but I loved Catherine, which is by the same developer. It sounds like the game scored very well upon its release in Japan, and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

2. Resident Evil VII
You know I'm always down for a good horror game, and Resident Evil is one of the most classic franchises in that genre. While its definitely lost sight of what made the original games so good, this one looks to be a bold step in the right direction. The game gets back to basics, this time set in a backwoods house inhabited by a creepy family. The demo introduced us to the new first-person perspective, which takes cues from games like Outlast, and it seems like the game will be right at home with its new mechanics.

1. Horizon Zero Dawn
When Sony introduced this game at E3 2015, I knew it was going to be something special. The game creates a unique setting where mankind has been pushed back into almost caveman times while robotic animals flourish. I'm kinda staying in the dark about this one for fear of being spoiled, but it looks like it will play like some combination of thrilling action game and RPG. This definitely looks like it has the makings of a new franchise for Sony, and I'm ready to jump in on the ground floor.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Arrival - Review



This was movie is exactly why I like to stick to my policy of knowing as little as possible about movies I'm interested in. The combination of Denis Villeneuve, director of Sicario and Prisoners, and Ted Chiang, who wrote the source material, was enough for me. I had previously read Chiang's Life Cycle of Software Objects and have always liked Villeneuve's visual style, so this seemed like a must-see.

Not having seen any extensive amount of advertising, I wasn't fully prepared for what this movie would be. I knew it was going to be an alien contact film that focused on the language barrier, but I wasn't prepared for how heady and emotional this film would end up being.

Amy Adams gives an excellent performance, probably my favorite in her filmography, as a high level specialist in the field of language that's haunted by emotional tragedy. Her character, Dr. Louise Banks, is such a fully drawn character, and Adams fleshes her out perfectly. All the other actors and characters do a great job playing their parts, but the focus is squarely on Louise.

Her journey throughout the film is definitely what took me by surprise. The brief glimpses I saw of TV commercials had it looking a bit more cold and intellectual, and the premise is one that certainly seems to want to focus on the global implications of aliens arriving on earth. While there is lots of talk about the geopolitical landscape that ratchets up the tension throughout, it's really about Louise and her interactions with the alien creatures as she tries to learn their language while teaching them ours. I wasn't sure how they were going to make this premise interesting throughout, but they managed to do it.

While there isn't any action in the film per se, it definitely has some thrilling moments, including one of the best uses of Hitchcockian suspense I've seen in quite some time. The direction throughout is masterful, and the designs of the creatures and ships truly convey a feeling of 'alien' in every sense of the word. The film is a little slow to get going, in a good way, but really picks up near the end. The last act of the film features some of the most innovative ideas I've seen in a sci-fi film in a while, as well as one of the most hard hitting emotional twists.

In a time where our country is divided thoroughly, it's so refreshing to see a film that's about the main characters striving to solve the problems with understanding and communication rather than violence. The film is about trying to keep people together in times of uncertainty and fear, and that message is one that we all need at a time like this. From script to acting to cinematography, this film is a knock out, and easily my favorite film of the year so far.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 3: New World Order - Review



I've been very happy with the schedule that Telltale has been able to keep up with their Batman series. If I remember correctly from my time playing The Walking Dead, it's usually a bit longer between episodes. This pace really makes it easier to play such plot heavy games, as it's easier to remember what happened last time. 

In the interest of staying spoiler-free, I think these reviews will get shorter as they go on. This new episodes doesn't do anything different from the previous episodes. You still have the neat investigation mechanic at the scenes. You still have well choreographed fight scenes. What really drives this series forward is the plot. 

And what a plot it is. They set up some really interesting emotional beats. This whole deconstruction of the Wayne legacy is really cool, and all signs seem to point at it not being a fake out. An great wrinkle is added to the Bruce Wayne story in this episode by drastically altering his standing within Wayne Enterprises. The Harvey Dent storyline also goes to interesting places, especially in relation to the love story with Selina Kyle (at least based on the choices I made). This part seems to be going a bit more traditionally in line with the comics, but the writing and acting is great so it works. 

There's also a big confrontation that I didn't anticipate coming in this early. Batman and Catwoman end up colliding head to head with the Children of Arkham and their mysterious leader. It definitely has an element of climax to it, with a big brawl that leads to you foiling what appears to be their master plan. I was very surprised to see something this large happen in episode three, but that wasn't even the end. 

The cliffhanger of this episode is excellent. It completely blindsided me with the reveal of the identity of the Children of Arkham's leader. I was excited when they introduced this villain, because there didn't seem to be any existing villain that was the model. When the identity was revealed, it really threw me for a loop. Much like the Arkham series, they aren't beholden to keeping the Batman story relatively status quo for the sake of the long term comic and the rest of the DC Universe. Telltale is really taking advantage of this freedom and telling a shocking story that feels like uncharted territory for the first time in a long time. I hope the wait for the next one is short, because I can't wait to see how this turns out. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

#7DaysOfHorror Day 7 - Horror Podcasts

In the last few years, I've learned to enjoy podcasts of the fictional variety. I started with Welcome to Night Vale, but eventually branched out as the format began to catch on. It's a format I would actually like to explore in my own creative endeavors. Here's a quick rundown of my favortie spooky podcasts.

THE BLACK TAPES
This is the one that really made me want to find more fictional podcasts. The Black Tapes sort of plays off the populatrity of nonfiction podcasts like Serial. It focuses on one person's investigation into a series of supernatural events that the enegmatic Dr. Richard Strand have looked into. Host Alex Regan and Dr. Strand have a great rapport, and the series does a good job of producing spooky stories. The episodes start out a bit more one-shot in nature, but the series quickly begins to connect the dots and make each case part of a larger picture. Most of the subjects are ghosts and demons, and the direction it takes ends up being an apocalyptic one.

LIMETOWN
Limetown also follows a Serial-type journalist, but this one focuses on a singular mystery: what happened to the titular town and all its residents? The story is definitely one of mad science gone wrong and shadowy conspiracies, and it's extremely effective. They also construct smart personal stakes for the protagonist to keep you emotionally engaged during all the weirdness. I'm a little worried about the future of this one. It only ran six episodes during its first season, and there hasn't been an episode since last December. Hopefully it returns soon, because it left off on a good cliffhanger.

THE MESSAGE
If you're looking for something quick and standalone, this is the series to try out first. There are only eight episodes, and they run about 12 to 22 minutes, so this one can be finished very quickly. The Message focuses on a group of people trying to figure out a strange message that came from outer space. From there, it takes lots of twists and turns until its excellent finale. There's some issues with the main character's voice acting, but once you get used to it, it's an engrossing listen. It didn't seem like there was anything really to follow up on with this one, and I think they would be smart to just let it stand as it is and make something else with the same crisp writing and high production value.

ARCHIVE 81
I like Archive 81 because it has a couple layers of story that work well in the audio format. The framing story of the podcast is that these are being released because the person that recorded them vanished without a trace. The recordings are an archivist listening to a bunch of old interview tapes about the strange and possibly sinister tenants of an apartment complex. The acting in this one is a little bit spotty, but the writing and sound design really make up for it. The season finale was really strong, so I hope they came back firing on all cylinders.

KNIFEPOINT HORROR
If you aren't looking for the longterm commitment of a serialized podcast, Knifepoint Horror probably has the best collection of horror shorts in the podcast sphere. All of the episodes are narrated from a first person perspective and have a palpable level of menace to them. I don't think they are still making them, and even when they did, they just kinda popped up out of nowhere, but there are so many to go back and listen to this isn't a problem. I would suggest POSSESSION, SOUNDS and PROOF as episodes to check out to start off. 

ALICE ISN'T DEAD
This was the first podcast that was released by Night Vale Presents in the wake of the massive success of Welcome to Night Vale. The series, though still quirky, has a much different tone than Night Vale, focusing much more on eerie horror and mood. Alice Isn't Dead follows a woman who takes a job as a trucker to try to find her missing wife and runs into some strange, otherworldly things. There's a really menacing antagonist throughout, and the performance of Jasika Nicole brings all the writing to life vividly. They recently wrapped up their first season, and I can't wait for more. Easily one of my favorites.

TANIS
For me, Tanis is probably the best fiction podcast out there. It's a sister podcast to Black Tapes, featuring a couple characters that crossover between the two. The host begins by looking into the vague mystery of Tanis, which barely has any information on the internet. The idea of trying to look into a mystery in an age when the internet has made so much information available that we really don't have true mystery any more is an awesome one. They find ways of creating their own fascinating mythology out of pieces of weird internet legends and creepypastas. This one felt more confident right out of the gate than Black Tapes and quickly built towards an engaging season finale. The second season followed up well and deepened everything from the first one, answering questions while leaving more; it's textbook mystery storytelling. They are on a between season break, but are still putting out mini-episodes every once in a while. I can't recommend this one higher.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

#7DaysOfHorror Day 6 - Glitterbomb



For today's entry, I'm going to recommend something that is earlier enough in its run that you can get in on the ground floor. Glitterbomb, which is on its second issue, is a new horror comic by Jim Zub, who is known for his long running fantasy series Skullkickers.

The comic follows an aging actress who ends up being the vessel for some sort of monster. She begins to use this newfound power to start to violently retaliate against Hollywood. The main character is such an interesting one because she brings up a problem that's so prevalent in Hollywood, the unfair treatment of women, particularly after they reach a certain age. I'm a sucker for any story about the entertainment industry, so for someone to make a book that is not a only a horror story set there, but also one that captures the anger and frustration of the system is very exciting.

Even without the horror elements, the book is very successful in presenting you with the dynamics of Hollywood. There's an exceptional scene in the first issue where the main character is waiting for an audition, striking up idle conversation with the younger actress sitting next to her. The conversation deftly moves from pleasant to biting, perfectly capturing the dog-eat-dog nature of show biz. Add in her home life, where she raises a son on her own with the meager earnings she gets from her rare roles, and you have the makings for good drama.

There's still quite a bit of mystery to the horror side of the book so far. The nature of the creature inside of her is still not yet known, but it's becoming clear that it comes out during times of stress or frustration. Newcomer Djibril Morrisette-Phan does a great job bringing this weirdness to life, especially in the shocking opening to the series. His confident linework also helps enhance the more mundane scenes, making for a visually appealing series all around.

It's always fun to get in at the start of something that becomes a big hit, and this one definitely has the potential to be something special. The drama is smart, the horror is creepy and the issues that the book address are an interesting one. I read in an interview that Zub is just going to do four issues, then take a break 'til next Fall. Hopefully that schedule doesn't end up hurting any momentum that the book has.