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The Walking Dead Volumes 1 – 3 (Image Comics) (BUY IT HERE!)

By Graig Kent

 Robert Kirkman gets it.  He totally understands what die-hard zombie fans have been clamoring for: a serialized story set in a zombie apocalypse.  In 28 Days Later fashion, our story’s hero, policeman Rick Grimes, awakens from a coma only to find that his town is abandoned save for the walking dead.  His only focus is finding his wife and son, taking him to Atlanta, where he finds a city infested with zombies, but also a small camp just outside city limits where he finds a group of survivors. 

Rick becomes firmly established as the group’s leader, taking them from their encampment to a gated community, a farmhouse and a seemingly abandoned prison.  Like any good zombie story, Kirkman understands that though zombies are the enemy, the real threat is the people around you.  You don’t know how anyone’s handling stress or loss, and you don’t know who’s going to snap or who has ulterior motivations.  Kirkman presents the Walking Dead more as drama than horror, although there’s plenty of zombie action.  If I had any exceptions to Kirkman’s writing, it’s that he writes too many diatribes where one person speaks down to another.  They’re all written well, there are just a lot of them.

Tony Moore’s art in Volume 1 is fabulous, with great character definition and wonderfully ugly zombies.  Charlie Adlard picks up the reigns for subsequent volumes, and although his art isn’t as clean or crisp as Moore’s, his scratchier style and use of black is more suited to the mood and genre.  In “Night of the Living Dead” fashion, these books are black and white with Cliff Rathburn providing gray tones.  The effect is perfect, the books working better with absence of color.  The Walking Dead is creepy, intense and endlessly digestible, the next volume can’t come soon enough.



We3 (DC/Vertigo) (BUY IT HERE!)

By Graig Kent

 There are two sides to Grant Morrison.  On the one side some of his works can be a little impenetrable, confusing or just obtuse.  There is such a thing as too high concept.  On the other hand, when Morrison is on, he can be the best at what he does, and of his best works, We3 if not tops the list, severely encroaches it.

After much research for his stint on Animal Man in the late ‘80’s/early ‘90’s, Morrison became a hardcore animal rights supporter, and it’s evident We3 is a love letter/revenge story for animals used in research as written by someone who genuinely cares.  The US Air Force has transformed a dog, a cat and a bunny into powerful cyborgs, to be used as remotely controlled, highly specialized weapons. But when Project AWE is decommissioned and the animals are slated for termination, their creator sets them loose, which naturally means the USAF is going to go after them and there’ll be a whole lot of bloodshed.

In oxymoronic fashion, We3 is sweetly violent.  The animals are given a limited range of speech through their cybernetics, endowing them with strong, endearing personalities.  Despite their violent tendencies, you root for them as they search for “home”.  Frank Quitely’s art is nothing short of perfection, utilizing new and unique storytelling tools and panel layouts, jumping from 18-panel grids to 2-page spreads to panels layered like mahjong tiles.  Jamie Grant’s colors and digital inks solidify the amazing visuals, and this is another reason why Todd Klein is regularly recognized as one of the industry’s best letterers.  A high-tech re-imagining of The Incredible Journey, We3 is a creative, touching and unforgettable read. 


Space Ghost (DC Comics) (BUY IT HERE!)

By Graig Kent

 I’m not a true Space Ghost fan.  I’ve only watched one of the original 1960’s cartoons and I can’t recall any of the 1981 television series.  I’m sure like many others, my love for Space Ghost comes from his “Coast to Coast” talk show, which is as far away from superhero adventure storytelling as you can get.  So I was curious to see how DC’s “origin” series would hold up to what I know and like about the ghost with the most.  And you know, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with his recent comedic hijinks, I loved it.

There are times during Space Ghost’s narrative portions when I remember why I’m not incredibly fond of Joe Kelly’s writing, but I have to give him credit for firmly returning Space Ghost’s heroic status.  With an origin story sliding between Batman’s and Punisher’s, Kelly takes interplanetary peacekeeper Thaddeus Bach into dark waters (thankfully without going “grim ‘n’ gritty”) and pulls him back out again.  Space Ghost is born after corrupt officers betray him, kill his pregnant wife, and leave him for dead on a desolate planet.  Thad is rescued by an alien who’s part James Bond’s Q and part Yoda.  He’s given the will to live and the strength and technology to enact his revenge.  In the midst of dishing his vengeance, Space Ghost becomes entangled in an alien invasion (led by a much different Zorak), and finds himself the mentor of two teenaged kids, Jan and Jace.  It’s they who remind him what it means to be a hero.

Thanks largely to Ariel Olivetti’s stellar artwork (with familiar cartoon referencing), Space Ghost reads as both authentic and fresh.  It’s a fun and exciting book, and I look forward to future stories with new takes on the remaining Council of Doom members.



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