Review: “Faith, Volume One: Hollywood and Vine” By Jody Houser, Francis Portella, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse

Review: “Faith, Volume One: Hollywood and Vine

A review by Amanda.

Faith Herbert is a sci-fi nerd, comic book lover, and an all-around geeky girl. She’s also a superhero. Faith is a psiot; a human with supernatural abilities. Orphaned at a young age and raised by her grandmother, Faith’s nerdy dreams came true when her special talents made themselves known. She joined a team of other psiots called the Renegades and created the alter ego Zephyr. She used her telekinetic ability to fly and move objects to help people and formed close relationships with her teammates.

When the story begins, Faith has left the Renegades for an unknown reason. She has created a new identity as Summer Smith, a journalist at an online magazine, and still uses her Zephyr persona to help people in Van Nuys, California. Bored and looking for superhero action, she stumbles across something dangerous involving missing psiots. Faith is determined to solve the mystery and save the day, but may have gotten in over her head…

Faith is a non-Marvel, non-DC superhero comic from Valiant. It stood out from other comics on a superficial level because the protagonist didn’t fit the standard superhero appearance – she was fat. Readers know this solely because of the art. Her weight was never mentioned by any character, not even in her own thoughts, which was both unexpected and invigorating. Faith, the character, was loveable and goofy. She was a Joss Whedon fan and made several nerd references that felt like nods to beloved franchises. She had a romantic life but it didn’t dominate the plot. The story was a bit slow to start and some aspects were not made entirely clear, such as why she left the Renegades. More background on the supporting characters would also have been beneficial. Perhaps future issues provide more depth. Overall, this was a nice comic – not action-heavy, and light on the details, but still a fun read. Its most attractive features are the humor and relatability of its main character. This volume is comprised of the first four issues.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Review: “Fight Club 2” by Chuck Palahniuk and David Mack

"Fight Club 2" by Chuck Palahniuk and David Mack

A review by Domoni.

Fight Club 2 picks up 10 years after the original ended. Sebastian, the nameless narrator from the first book, is now married to Marla and they have a son. Living a basic 9 to 5 lifestyle, full of work, family and psychiatric medications, his fight club days are long past. Marla however feels like their love life has gotten a little boring, so she has been switching out some of his meds for placebos. A little bit of Tyler Durden in the night keeps her happy. But crazy slips easily through the cracks. Tyler is back and up to no good.

Many people in the world, not just Marla, were out to bring Tyler back from Sebastian’s subconscious. Tyler Durden is a genetic mental illness that can spread apparently. He is still plotting the end of the world and can control not just Sebastian, but Sebastian and Marla’s son as well. When he kidnaps the boy the parents go separate ways to find him.

Sebastian returns to the club. He infiltrates the group to find out where Tyler is holding his son and what his plans are. Marla goes back to a support group. She connects with a group of kids with Progeria and manipulates them into becoming her own tiny aged army. When the boy is located and Tyler’s plan to create his own sort of Noah’s ark comes out, will they save the planet?

So this sequel is in graphic novel form, which I was excited about. Reading it in the serials will probably be more difficult than the full omnibus edition though, because this book is kind of a mess. I was very let down by the chaos and the poor storyline. The writer injecting himself in such an odd way and addressing his readers dislike of the series was even more odd.

Even discussing the book is difficult as it was all over the place and chaotic to read. I did not enjoy it and doubt I will return for the proposed fight club 3. The last portion of the omnibus edition contains some interesting art and bits from the original as well as conversations about the planning of the books and was somewhat interesting to read through.

The art style was very impressive and my favorite part of the book. I enjoyed the line work and the watercolor dividers. I wish the story had held up as well as the graphics.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review: “Suicide Squad Volume 1: Kicked in the Teeth” by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio and Clayton Henry

Review: "Suicide Squad Volume 1: Kicked in the Teeth" by Adam Glass, Federico Dallocchio and Clayton Henry

A review by Courtney.

The Suicide Squad does not entirely fit within the parameters of comics I am generally drawn too, especially considering that this book has one female character and it follows a team of bad guys. Luckily for the Suicide Squad, they have Harley Quinn and I am always looking for more stories about her because I find her character so interesting. With the new Suicide Squad movie releasing only a couple of weekends ago, I felt it would be a complete miss if I didn’t review the book that made me fall in love with the group in the first place.  

This comic starts the way it needs to by giving us a brief introduction to each of the characters on the Suicide Squad: Deadshot, El Diablo, Harley Quinn, King Shark, Voltaic, and a couple other minor characters. We quickly learn that these characters are the worst of the worst and that they are going to get called in for missions that the government wants nothing to do with. To give us a prime example of what exactly that looks like, their first task is to wipe out a stadium of 60,000 people. The people in the stadium have been taken over by electronics and have all turned into terrifying robot powered zombies. It is just as weird as it sounds. The squad has to keep the mess contained and avoid the media finding out about what took place inside the stadium. The squad goes on other missions in the book and we see more character development and interaction between them which brings their characters to life. We also get to know the character of Harley Quinn more and how she interacts with people in her group. By the end of volume 1, we learn why exactly she is the most dangerous character of them all, which is a solid accomplishment considering all the characters she’s competing with.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book; the art is not really my style and I’m not a fan of the way Harley Quinn is drawn in this book. I felt that the artist went out of his way to sexualize a character that in all honesty needs no help in that department. The storyline and character development were enough to help me stay interested and invested in some of the characters. This was my first time being introduced to the character of Deadshot and I appreciated how the writer walked the line in keeping him a bad guy yet showing us some of his heart. The characters are remarkably well rounded for the most part. I was unsure if I was going to be able to find characters I could root for in a team of all supervillains. However I was pleasantly surprised when I found the opposite to be true and in fact could root for all of them.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is over the age of 13 due to the violence and anyone who is on the fence about the new Suicide Squad movie.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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Review: “One Piece: Baroque Works Vol 16-18” by Eiichiro Oda

Review, "One Piece, Baroque Works Vol 16-18" by Eiichiro Oda

A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why this series of reviews will be broken up into three volume books. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

Luffy survives the avalanche relatively unscathed, however now he has to carry a sick Nami and a severely injured Sanji up the side of a cliff. They are being followed by Drum Island’s former king, Warpol, and his crew of pirates. At the top of the cliff, Luffy finds Dr. Kureha and her assistant Tony Tony Chopper. Chopper is a blue-nosed reindeer who ate the Hito (Human) Hito Fruit. Dr. Kureha gives medicine to Nami, fixes Sanji’s spine, and tells them about Chopper’s tragic backstory. After defeating Warpol in battle, Chopper joins the Straw Hats as their much-needed doctor.

On the way to Alabasta, the crew learns how Sir Crocodile is taking over the country by being a hero and undermining the trust the people have in the king. They also meet Bon Clay a.k.a. Mr. 2, who can transform into anyone he has seen. The crew devises a plan to counteract his power.

Alabasta is a desert island in the middle of a drought. In Alabasta, we meet Captain Smoker again (vol. 11) and Luffy’s older brother Ace. Ace is a member of White Beard’s crew on a mission of vengeance against Black Beard, who committed the most heinous of pirate crimes. He also ate a devil’s fruit after leaving Luffy a few years ago. After a quick visit, he leaves with a promise that they will meet again on the high seas, then promptly destroys five enemy pirate ships single-handedly.

The crew makes their way to Yuba, where we learn more about Vivi’s childhood. She was friends with the rebel leader, and now he is being manipulated by Baroque Works into starting a civil war. Will the crew be able to stop the bloodshed before it’s too late?

What’s fun about Luffy is that he has secrets. He is an upfront, honest character, but the more you get to know him, the more you realize you don’t know anything about him. He’s not even hiding anything. He just doesn’t think about the past that much.

On Ace’s back is a tattoo with a symbol that looks like a face over a reversed swastika. This is not a case of an artist being a Nazi. The symbol in question is called a manji. Manji is an ancient Buddhist symbol and is often used on older maps in Japan to indicate the location of a Buddhist temple. Usually, this symbol is used in a manga to indicate a bond between an individual and a family/institution. Often times an artist will use these symbols in the manga but any anime that follows will use some other symbol.

These three volumes are a build up. There is plenty of tension, but also plenty of laughs. We get to learn about Chopper, Princess Vivi, and Luffy. It’s a little slower than the other volumes so far, but it shows just how complicated the situation in Alabasta is.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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“Harley Quinn Volume 1: Hot in the City” by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Chad Hardin

Harley Quinn Volume 1- Hot in the City by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Chad Hardin

A review by Courtney.

Harley Quinn is a character that I have been drawn to for a couple years without entirely knowing why. My first cosplay was Harley and at the time all I knew about her was that she was the Joker’s girlfriend. As I started going to more conventions, I wanted to branch out to other characters but I still felt that pull to Harley and have revised that costume three times in new ways since then. I discovered a solo Harley book was being published so with slight terror and trepidation (because what if I hated this character). I bought volume one.

The story starts with Harley telling her (literal) stuffed beaver that she has inherited an apartment building in Coney Island. She thinks this will be terrific until she learns that the rent from her tenants is not enough to cover all the bills on the building, so she is going to have to get creative. Her solution is to be a therapist by day and a roller derby girl by night. On top of dealing with coming up with six grand for rent every month and working two jobs, we also learn that someone is sending assassins after Harley as well. Harley is working on being her own person and living her life without Mr. J.

I haven’t read a comic book that has made me laugh out loud like this one ever. My slight fear of not liking Harley was unfounded and I have never been more glad. This book packed plenty of action because of all the assassins after her, but it wasn’t done in a gross way and you almost forgot that she was killing people. The violence was there but very toned down. I enjoyed that one moment she would be saving a roomful of puppies from apparent doom and then laughing as she beaned a girl in the head playing roller derby. She also had to deal with life, the aspects like bill paying or animal poop, that superhero books generally ignore or gloss over, and it was done in such a fantastic way that you wanted to keep reading to see how she was going to deal with the next hiccup life threw at her. The art in the book is fantastic; Amanda Conner was able to show that Harley is a very sexy character who likes to have fun with her clothes without doing it in a way that made me feel like the character was being objectified. It was refreshing to get to know just Harley and I can’t wait to see what antics she gets up to next.

I recommend this comic to people ages 13 and up because of the violence and adult humor. I added this book to my pull list at my local comic book store after reading this volume.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “Fray” by Joss Whedon, Karl Moline, and Andy Owens

Fray by Joss Whedon, Karl Moline, and Andy Owens

A review by Courtney.

I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy was the first Joss Whedon show that had me falling down the rabbit hole that is the Joss Whedon fandom. So when I found out that he had written another comic book about a slayer that wasn’t Buffy, I was little hesitant. I had previously started Buffy Season 8, which is in comic book form and is fantastic, but I was still just a little worried that maybe this would be too much slayer or not different enough or just not something enough. But it was written by Joss and one of my missions in life is to consume everything he’s been a part of because it’s amazing; so I finally picked Fray up and gave it a chance.

Fray starts 200 years in the future after the last slayer has disappeared with the rest of the demons, after an epic battle upon which they also disappeared into another dimension never to be seen again. We meet Melaka Fray, known as “Mel” or “Fray” throughout most of the book. Mel believes that she is just very strong and that she knows how to take falls and position her body to take the least amount of pain and that that is how she survives everything that happens to her. She works as a thief for a fish monster, who is as creepy as you would imagine. The thing that haunts Mel the most is losing her twin brother to a vampire while on a job from her boss. The vampire threw Mel off of a roof and proceeded to kill her brother. Her sister holds her responsible for their brother’s death and that may be why Mel goes out of her way to protect and stand up for her tiny neighbor girl. A demon comes into Mel’s life and forces her to face the facts that she is a slayer and she needs to embrace her destiny in the coming war.

This comic book definitely has a Joss Whedon feel; there are surprising deaths and twists that I didn’t expect and had me gasping for breath at times. I appreciated that Joss went out of his way to make his leading female character look like an actual human girl. Fray’s curves are not exaggerated and neither are anyone else’s; it was refreshing to see actual people in a comic book. As a Whedon fan, I was not disappointed in this comic.

 I would recommend this comic book to people who like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and those who like strong female leads in their literature. I rate it five out of five stars, but I do add the following disclaimer that after you finish reading this, you will want more and at the moment Whedon has not written anything that follows this.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “Green Hornet #1: Bully Pulpit” by Mark Waid and Daniel Indro

Green Hornet, Bully Pulpit by Mark Waid and Daniel Indro

 A review by Courtney.

This volume came in a Comic Bento Box that I had to order because it was curated by Gail Simone. Gail is one of my favorite comic writers so I had to buy the box. I also wanted to try reading a comic with a male protagonist who has a male bestie to interact with. In the Green Hornet movie, I particularly enjoyed the banter between Green Hornet and Cato and was hoping something similar would be present in the comic as well.

Green Hornet starts off the volume by showing us that his alter ego, Brett Reid, is capable of controlling the city by the newspaper stories he chooses to print. Brett is the publisher of the newspaper the Daily Sentinel, one of the most respected newspapers in the city. Brett is able to alter stories and the way things are running in the city by appearing as the Green Hornet and witnessing the events first hand that he chooses to write about. Brett’s goal is to have Green Hornet appear as a criminal mastermind to the head gangsters of the city so he can maintain control easier. Cato serves as Brett’s trusted bodyguard/chauffeur until Cato believes that Brett is crossing too many of the wrong lines to maintain his control.

I wanted to like this book, I really did, especially when I found out that there were supposed to be pulp fiction-y noir vibes about it. Noir films are some of my favorite and occasionally I would get those vibes from the book during one of Brett’s long internal monologues; it wasn’t often enough to keep my interest. I was also hoping for a chummy witty dialogue between Brett and Cato and that was missing as well. I wanted to know more about the relationship between Cato and Brett and I never got it. Occasionally I was drawn into the story, but I never really felt like I cared about any of the characters enough to want to know what would happen to them next.

The art in this book was okay, but nothing amazing. If the book had been in black and white with pops of green color, that could have helped give it the noir feel they were going for; but they didn’t.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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