Archive for July, 2009

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 6 – Vindication

July 27, 2009 | Trades

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 6 - Vindication John Jackson Miller, Bong Dazo, Brian Ching, Alan Robinson, Joe Pimentel Dark Horse Books $19.95 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) After being hunted across the galaxy for a crime he didn’t commit, Zayne Carrick may finally be able to clear his name and gain his freedom. But that won’t come without a fight. The former Jedi Padawan was made the scapegoat after witnessing the death of a group of his fellow apprentices at the hands of their masters — a secret group of Jedi Knight seers who call themselves the Covenant. Now, along with fellow fugitive/sidekick, Gryph, Carrick is headed to the centre of the Republic, right into the belly of the beast, the home of his former master, Lucien Draay, with a plan to find his way out of danger once and for all. When it all blows up, as things so often do for Carrick and Gryph, the duo find themselves dodging blasters and lightsabers as they get caught in the crossfire of a full-fledged Jedi insurrection as the true puppet master behind the Covenant’s actions is revealed at last. The sixth collection of this entertaining Star Wars monthly wraps up this three-year storyline fairly neatly and sets the stage for a new interesting new direction for Carrick and Gryph ahead.

Conan Vol. 7: Cimmeria

July 20, 2009 | Trades

Conan Vol. 7: Cimmeria Timothy Truman, Tomas Giorello, Richard Corben, Jose Villarrubia Dark Horse Books $17.95 U.S. (Paperback) **** (out of five) He has carried his sword to the ends of the earth and seen monsters, magic and treasures beyond compare. Now Conan is going home. This first collection of the rebranded Conan the Cimmerian series opens with a gorgeous prologue that uses creator Robert E. Howard’s original 1932 poem, Cimmeria, alongside stirring visuals by artist Tomas Giorello to set the stage for the warrior’s trip to his ancient homeland. The stories then take readers back and forth through time between the adventures of Conan’s grandfather, Connacht, the inspiration for the hero’s wanderings, and Conan’s trip back to his village and a meeting with Caollan, his first love. Will the lure of a good woman and the comforts of home be enough to keep this great warrior from returning to his life of adventure? Is it time to settle down as his grandfather did years before? Writer Tim Truman does a terrific job of simultaneously taking Conan back to his roots and blazing a trail for adventures to come in this pleasing blending of beauty and blood.

Bayou Vol. 1

July 13, 2009 | Trades

To pay, or not to pay: That is the question. Whether it’s better to read Jeremy Love’s award-winning webcomic series, Bayou, for free as it initially appears at or to pick up the new printed edition, Bayou Vol. 1 (Zuda Comics, $16.99, 160 pages), is a difficult choice. This spellbinding tale revolves around a poor, black girl named Lee Wagstaff, who’s being raised by her daddy on the edge of the bayou in Charon, Miss., in 1933. Lee has known for a long time that there’s something magical, and a little creepy, about the bayou, but she’s shocked to her core the day her friend, Lily, the white daughter of the woman who owns the property Lee and her dad live on, gets snatched up by a giant smiling swamp monster. When Lee’s dad is hauled away after being accused of kidnapping Lily, Lee embarks on a quest to clear her father by marching right into the heart of the bayou only to encounter an undreamt-of magical world filled with creatures dripping of old south lore — including a big, green blues-singing hulk of a creature who might be Lee’s only hope of success. While the free option is certainly a good one, the folk-tale quality of Bayou is somehow accentuated by holding it in your hands. While a little scary at times, it’d be almost perfect for reading to an older child on a warm summer night and is well worth owning. (This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

This Is A Souvenir: The Songs of Spearmint & Shirley Lee

July 13, 2009 | Graphic novels

It’s amazing to think about how many of our favourite songs are simply compelling stories put to music. Consider how, while we all like something with nice rhythm and a good beat, it’s often the lyrics of a song, their meanings and the stories they tell, that connects us so deeply with the artists delivering them. One of most entrancing lyricists over the past decade or so is Shirley Lee, frontman for the British indie pop band, Spearmint. Lee’s poignant reflections — on love, loss, friendship, family — deep introspection and quirky imagination have had faithful fans playing Spearmint tracks over and over to catch the nuances (and enjoy the aforementioned nice rhythm and good beat). Lee’s words have also inspired This Is A Souvenir: The Songs of Spearmint & Shirley Lee (Image Comics, $29.99 U.S., 208 pages), a provocative anthology that sees almost 40 creators reinterpret the lyrics of 19 Spearmint songs as short stories. While some of the visual translations follow the literal path of Lee’s lyrics, several — including standouts like Meet Mr. Marsden, a song about the monotony of life, reinterpreted by Brian Joines and Bob Rivard, and the titular This Is A Souvenir, a reflection on how music is the soundtrack of our lives, by Mike Holmes — both capture the original meaning and add some fresh ideas to the mix. (This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

G-Man Vol. 1: Learning To Fly

July 6, 2009 | Comics

G-Man Vol. 1: Learning To Fly Chris Giarrusso Image Comics $9.99 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) G-Man is the greatest kid super-hero around — just don't ask him to display his bullet-dodging skills. Chris Giarrusso, creator of the popular comic strip Mini Marvels (featuring the kid versions of all your favourite Marvel superstars), brings the laughs with this original series focused on Mikey, an average kid who fashions a magic blanket into a magic cape and takes to the skies as G-Man. Alongside his brother, Dave, who uses one of the blanket scraps as a magic belt to become Great Man (hence the matcing Gs on their costumes) and a host of other young heroes, G-Man has wild adventures at Sunnyside Superhero Summer camp (including a rather unfortunate performance during bullet-dodging drills), goes toe-to-toe with Evergreen, the deranged living Christmas tree and even takes a wild trip to Dimension-X. This nice mix of multi-page story arcs and one-page gags is a great starter book for young comic readers, who'll appreciate the slapstick, as well as providing lots of chuckles for long-time devotees who'll appreciate Giarrusso's wry sense of humour and tongue-in-cheek take on super-hero stereotypes.