Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Unwritten #8 review and DC Holiday Special!

The Unwritten #8
Written by Mike Carey
Art by Peter Gross
Colors by Chris Chuckry and Jeanne McGee
Letters byt Todd Lkein
Cover by Yuko Shimizu
Published by Vertigo Comics
Review by Lan Pitts

"Find your torch, and your wantd. It's up to us, Peter Price. If you're brave enough....we're going to rescue him."

While this issue doesn't resolve the cliffhanger from the last one, it does add a bit of depth to the story and shed some light on Governor Claude Chadron and his family. The action and fantasy level is grounded a bit, but Carey once again provides excellent story-telling that adds a little something extra to this already amazing cast of characters. Even though I was a bit agitated thatwe don't find out what happens to Tommy and Savoy or Chadron himself, the issue plays out like a prelude and has some fantastic character work here.

Tom himself only appears in a few panels since it retells events in the past issue when he arrives at the prison and explains why the Governor was so cold to him. He's not a bad guy or the cliche corrupted politician, it's just the Tommy Taylor books have affected his children (his daughter especially) in a negative way and Carey gives us a taste of the bad side of things in which otherwise had been pleasant family bonding with those stories. I really have to hand it to Carey for making me actually care about an otherwise background character. It expands to the suspense and does so without having to add anything supernatural.

These next 30 days to wait for the next installment are going to be painful.

I also have to say I love what Peter Gross did with the art here. He could have taken the easy (read: lazy) way and just swiped what he did in earlier issues, but he doesn't He rearranged panels, added new angles which just build on the experience of reading this title. The art is strong and meshed with Chuckry and McGee's use of coloring to add the proper mood and tone, it's just all the more amazing.

I can't wait to return to the main story, but The Unwritten #8 continues to build more and more in what is becoming my favorite book of the year. If you haven't experienced this book by now, I could not recommend it enough. However, be warned you cannot just simply pick up this book now if you haven't read the previous seven issues. It would be sort of like reading "Deathly Hallows" without reading books 1-6, and you wouldn't want that sort of confusion.

DC Holiday Special '09
Written by Various
Art by Various
Published by DC Comics
Review by Amanda McDonald and Lan Pitts

In a household where the collection of Batgirl figures now includes a variety of Santas and pine-scented candles, and the Nativity scene has one of Joker's Henchman riding a camel, Lan and Amanda take some time to review the DC Holiday Special for 2009.

Batman in Silent Knight: This story is. . . silent! Jay Faerber provides a wordless script for this first story of the book. What better way to start a collection of comic book stories than with a true example of sequential art? Peter Nguyen's art and colors nail this one, and set a great tone for the book.

Superman in Man of Snow: On his way to pick up a couple tins of caramel corn for Ma Kent, Superman encounters a Golem made of snow in this heart-warming story. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other winter holiday-- this story exemplifies how this season lifts our spirits.

Flash in the Flash Before Christmas: Now is this a great story. The Flash, Wally West, has a lot on his Christmas to-do list, and things don't always go according to plan for the Fastest Man Alive. However, all's well that ends well for the West clan for "the best Christmas ever". Creative panel construction and just an all-around feel good tale in this one. For a chuckle, notice who Wally delivers mail to.

Beast Boy & Doom Patrol in The Christmas of Doom: Sterling Gates (writer), Jonboy Meyers (art), and Chuck Pires (colors) team up to tell the story of why Beast Boy hates Christmas, and how he ends up getting the ultimate Christmas gift. A bit of a tear-jerker, but in an "awwww, how sweet" sort of way that so many classic holiday tales end.

Superboy in Party Gift: At a mystery party where rogues celebrate the Christmas spirit, nobody knows who is the gracious host, until Bizarro Superboy appears and confesses to be the one who had the idea. One thing that annoys me in comics today is the Bizarro syntax, especially in large doses. While a clever story, I only sort of "get it". I love Rodney Buchemi's pencils and character design. I just wonder how Superboy knew where to send all those invites.

Martian Manhunter in Reason for the Season: As a member of the Middleton City Homicide Squad, Detective "Jones" uses his skills to impress his coworkers, but finds himself missing home. The red of the season reminds him of the dunes of Mars, the green reminds him of his Martian race, even though he explains why the holiday messages were unnecessary due to their mind set. While the reader finds themselves idealizing that life, Jones comes around to the human way and finds himself surrounded by new friends from the force celebrating the season.

Angel & the Ape: In this short 5-panel story by Andrew Pepoy and Paul Mounts starring Angel O'Day and Sam Simeon, I love how Pepoy captured the Bob Oksner style of the characters. When asked by Angel to make a donation, a snotty businessman rejects her offer, but is intimidated by Sam into making a generable donation. Now that's teamwork.

Sgt. Rock in A Peace on Earth: Billy Tucci. Sgt. Rock. Christmas. 'Nuff said. The admiration Tucci has for Rock has been showcased before, but in this Christmas tale, there's just a little something extra. I love the use of grayscale and that the story of two soldiers from opposite sides can share a Christmas and exchange cognac and cigarettes. Peace on Earth, indeed.

Enemy Ace in Stille Nacht: I have limited knowledge and have had just as much exposure to Enemy Ace, but what I got out of this story, really stirred me. Howard Chaykin's art is astonishing and Edgar Delgado's coloring skills are superb. The best thing about this story is that it could have been anybody, and the message is the same.

B'wana Beast in The Hunt for Christmas: Nothing says Christmas like B'wana Beast. He stops a group of poachers and brings presents to a small village. He even wears a Santa hat. While the imagery is just utterly ridiculous, it strikes the right chord and is downright enjoyable.

Captain Marvel in Home for Christmas: In a one page short, Captain Marvel and Ibac face off, destroying a homeless shelter in the process. Agreeing to break from fighting, they rebuild the shelter and the relationship between them changes, right in line with the holiday spirit.

Deadman in Unbearable Loss: Suicidal over her son's actions, Scarecrow's mother encounters Deadman at precisely the right time in her life. Encouraging her to 'choose life,' not only does she embrace her own life, she changes the life of someone in great need.

Red Tornado in A Night Before Christmas Story: Picture this-- several last minute shoppers and a couple of apathetic store employees are trapped in a toy store with a Red Tornado in seek of the season's "it" toy for his daughter. Hrm. . . who do you think walks out of the store with a wrapped "Ecko Gecko"? The end of this story is a bit saccharine. But what the heck. . . that's par for the course this time of year.

Huntress in Naughty or Nice: J. Torres and Hubert Khan Michael turn out a great Huntress story that displays she can kick ass with the best of them. It's short, sweet, to the point and looks great.

Ragman in Seeing the Light: Wow, a Ragman story. You don't come across these much. I love how this goes back and forth between the story of the Maccabees and Ragman handing out some street justice. Rob Levin really delivered on the script and Brian Ching just nailed the art.

Adam Strange in Auld Lang Syne: Man, do I love me some Adam Strange. Shannon Eric Denton really knows how to tell a story and it is just solid. Now it's not really a Christmas story or anything like that, but since this is the last story in issue, I guess it's fitting it's sort of New Years related.

Yes, the Holiday Special is pricier than average books-- but it is the perfect stocking stuffer for the comic lover on your list. Errr. . . or for yourself. Or you know, there's nothing wrong with enjoying it before gifting it. Happy Holidays, 'Rama Readers!

1 comment:

BeauSmith said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review THE DC HOLIDAY SPECIAL with my B'Wana Beast story. I truly appreciate it. Thank you for your honesty. I hope to continue to entertain you with my next roll of the DC dice.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch