Comic Review: Coffin Bound

Published: August 7th, 2019 – November 6th, 2019
Written by: Dan Watters
Art by: Dani, Brad Simpson

Image Comics, 142 Pages

Review:

When I first saw that this series was coming out, I added it to my pull list.

The main reason is that I loved the art style. It’s well drawn with a unique style and the colors reminded me of something very giallo-esque.

Also, the story looked like it was a sort of mashup of the gothic horror and neo-western genres.

Now I absolutely loved the art, which was illustrated by Dani and colored by Brad Simpson. But it’s the story that mostly didn’t work for me.

This comic is full of cool ideas and concepts but I found the story hard to follow and a little too outside of the box that it became distracting and hard to focus on some of the details.

Frankly, I was looking for that piece to grasp onto but I just couldn’t find it and from a narrative standpoint, this fell flat and seemed kind of aimless and as if it were struggling to find itself.

And this is coming from a guy that loves really weird shit.

I honestly don’t know if I’ll give the followup miniseries a shot. I’ll probably wait until I hear some feedback from other people I trust.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: most of the modern Image Comics stuff.

Vids I Dig 156: Strip Panel Naked: A History of Colors on Sean Phillips

 

From Strip Panel Naked’s YouTube description: On this episode I look at how colorists have adapted to Sean Phillips’ work over the years, from Sleeper to Criminal to The Fade Out, Kill or be Killed, and the new Criminal series. Seeing how the search for a more expressionist look finally landed with Jacob Phillips and his painterly approach.

Comic Review: Criminal, Vol. 1: Coward

Published: January 28th, 2015
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Sean Phillips, Val Staples

Marvel Comics, Image Comics (reprint), 143 Pages

Review:

I’ve read a lot of Ed Brubaker’s crime comics up to this point but I still hadn’t picked up an issue or trade paperback of Criminal. So what better place to start than the first collected volume?

The story pretty much starts off with a bang and gives a lot of insight into the main character, his background and his personal motivations. It doesn’t take long before he is roped into a heist, which brings in a bunch of unsavory characters.

Like most crime stories with a noir flavor, there are twists and swerves.

Up until the heist, I wasn’t sold on this story. It started out okay but it doesn’t really come alive until the heist pops off and turns into an absolute clusterfuck full of rules being broken and double crosses.

It’s the heist itself and everything that happens after that makes this story so great. The first act was merely used for setup but once you get to the end of that act, everything goes high octane and then the characters develop quite beautifully.

The second and third acts are superb, mainly because the story veers into a direction you don’t expect and because Brubaker did such a stupendous job at making you care about the two main people in the story.

The danger feels real and the stakes are incredibly high and if this is how Criminal starts, I can’t wait to read the other stories in this neo-noir, crime anthology.

I loved this book and a lot of the credit also has to go to the fabulous art of Sean Phillips, who is always the perfect creative partner for Brubaker’s crime tales.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the Criminal anthology series, as well as other crime comics by Ed Brubaker.

Comic Review: Scene of the Crime

Published: 1999
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Michael Lark, Sean Phillips

Vertigo Comics, Image Comics (reprint), 132 Pages

Review:

I’ve been catching up on a lot of Ed Burbaker’s crime comics because I missed a lot of the old ones and because it is the month of Noirvember.

Scene of the Crime was the comic that put him on the map. It led to him working on Gotham Central and also paved the way for his future crime comics like Criminal, Kill Or Be Killed, The Fade Out and Fatale, just to name a few.

This one was highly regarded at the time that it came out and while it is pretty good, it isn’t my favorite of the Brubaker lot.

I can see how he developed his style here and it is a good, solid and competent story but it didn’t capture my attention like The Fade Out or Kill Or Be Killed did.

At its core, this is a noir tale set in contemporary times that sees a young private detective try to locate a girl that’s gone missing. However, he finds her fairly quickly, she’s then killed and we’re then treated to a pretty grandiose mystery story with lots of layers and twists.

This is a really dark tale but fans of Brubaker’s crime work shouldn’t expect anything different. I can’t go into more detail without feeling like I’d spoil too much but this is a pretty decent read with solid art by Brubaker’s top collaborators Michael Lark and Sean Phillips.

Despite this not being my favorite, it is still a good comic miniseries and a solid tale in the crime and noir genres.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: Ed Brubaker’s other crime comics.

Comic Review: Kill Or Be Killed

Published: 2016-2018
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser

Image Comics, 582 Pages

Review:

I have yet to steer myself wrong with Ed Brubaker’s crime comics. And like most of the others, this one has a very strong noir vibe to it.

This seems to have more in common with Fatale than The Fade Out, as it has some supernatural elements in it. Or what one initially presumes is supernatural. In the end, it’s not really clear but that’s kind of what’s cool about this twenty issue comic book series.

First of all, the series’ vigilante “hero” has some serious mental health issues. In fact, the demon he sees could very well be a figment of his imagination.

But there is a demon here and whether or not he’s real kind of doesn’t matter. The demon claims to have saved Dylan from a suicide attempt and in return, tells Dylan that he has to pay his debt by taking the life or a terrible person, once a month. Otherwise, he will become deathly ill and die.

Dylan is obviously resistant to this but ultimately, gets really damn good at it. So in a way, this is kind of like a combination of Death Note and The Punisher. But it still feels wholly original, even if it feels like it was strongly influenced by both of those things.

My only real issue with the series is that the conclusion felt kind of abrupt. As if this was supposed to go on beyond twenty issues but Brubaker decided to move on to other projects. And I can’t really call the ending a satisfying one.

But what really captivated me more than the story, was the creative team. Every time Brubaker works with Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser, we are guaranteed a comic series that works on every level.

While not my favorite comic from this team, it is still a damn good one and my eyes were glued to every page.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: other crime comics by Ed Brubaker.

Top 30 Comic Series That Aren’t Marvel or DC

Marvel and DC have the comic book market pretty much on lockdown. They are the Coke and Pepsi of their industry and probably always will be. That being said, there are a ridiculous amount of great comic books out there that don’t fall under the Marvel and DC banner. This is a list of my thirty favorite comic books series put out by the smaller and more independent comic book publishers.

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
2. Cerebus
3. Maus
4. Hellboy
5. Bone
6. The Walking Dead
7. Love & Rockets
8. The Fade Out
9. Star Wars (the Dark Horse era)
10. Madman
11. Spawn
12. Hawaiian Dick
13. Kill Or Be Killed
14. The Wicked Righteous
15. It Came Out On a Wednesday
16. Hack/Slash
17. Fatale
18. The Umbrella Academy
19. Red Sonja
20. Wolverton: Thief of Impossible Objects
21. Vampirella
22. Scud, the Disposable Assassin
23. Jawbreakers
24. The Maxx
25. Iron Sights
26. Feast Or Famine
27. Doctor Who (IDW era)
28. Tokyo Ghost
29. Cyberfrog
30. Black Hammer

Comic Review: The Walking Dead – Compendium Four

Published on: October 8th, 2019
Written by: Robert Kirkman
Art by: Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn, Dave Stewart

Image Comics, 1159 Pages

Review:

I hated having to wait so long to read this, as it’s been a few years since the last compendium. However, I’ve found that I prefer reading The Walking Dead this way, as it works great for the binge reading model. Plus, it helps me to retain all the smaller details, as I get older and that gets harder. Especially, when I’m reading a dozen or more comics per week.

This is the final compendium, as the comic book series surprisingly came to an end a few months back. The end was unexpected and it was kind of sad. Frankly, I had hoped that this series would’ve gone on to surpass 300 issues ala Dave Sims’ Cerebus and Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. But alas, The Walking Dead, at least in this form, es finito.

This picks up in the middle of the Whisperers storyline, so it actually starts at the same point that the AMC TV show is at. Granted, the comic is very different but the show still takes its major cues from it. And frankly, I’m not a big fan of the Whisperers, so I’m looking forward to what happens after, as once this book gets beyond that storyline, it gets really damn good. In fact, the New World Order story is probably the best this series has ever been.

It actually amazes me that this somehow got better, this far into the series’ run. Robert Kirkman is a special talent and I think that this collection is his magnum opus, thus far into his already impressive career.

Unlike most things that run on for this long, The Walking Dead provides longtime readers with a damn good conclusion. The ending here was spectacular and it made this long journey worth it. It ends in a way that is satisfying while truly bringing the epic story some proper closure.

Now I’d assume that there will be some spinoffs or other miniseries after Kirkman takes a good break. He did write an afterword in the final issue that made sure to point out that Negan was still alive. While that might not mean anything, I hope it does, as the character was left in a way that makes you want to see him fully redeem himself in some way. Plus, he’s a complex and dynamic character that probably deserves a swan song.

I hope that this isn’t dead in the comic book medium but even if Kirkman never dusts this series off to give us some other side stories, it still ended in a way that feels complete and gratifying.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: The other Walking Dead collections.