Monday, 10 February 2014

A Review of Sweet Tooth, Out of the Woods, by Jeff Lemire and Jose Villarubia

Out of the Woods is the first story arc in Sweet Tooth, a Vertigo comic by Jeff Lemire and Jose Villarubia. 

The first thing to grab me was just how beautiful this book is. Both Lemire’s art and Jose Villarubia’s muted colour palette set the tone for this bleak, post-apocalyptic tale.

The first story arc is called Out of the Woods and it introduces us to Gus, a hybrid child with antlers. We find out that his mother has died and his dad is keeping him in a cabin in the woods away from the rest of the world. Because of what his father has told him, Gus believes the outside world to be dangerous.
Having spent his entire existence in seclusion, Gus’ life is suddenly thrown into turmoil when his father dies. The boy knows nothing of the world and now has to survive in it. 

We find out very quickly that Gus’ antlers means he’s a hybrid. This makes him valuable to other people. Although, it’s not clear why. It creates wonderful intrigue as it makes the reader question every person’s motives that he comes into contact with. 
When Gus is approached by poachers, Jeppard, a haggard Clint Eastwood kind of character, rescues him. With the promise of being taken to a safe place, Gus goes with Jeppard. 
Seeing the world through Gus’ eyes gives the reader a naive view on things. You can see that the other characters have motives, but you can’t understand them because Gus doesn’t. 
It’s wonderful storytelling.

The set up of this book reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. We have a man and a boy trying to exist in a savage world where there are no rules. The biggest threat are the other survivors. 

I’ve always been impressed with Lemire’s story telling skills and Sweet Tooth is my favourite so far. The tale moves at quite a clip and the naivety of Gus broke my heart. He’s such a pure soul in a broken and violent world. 

I will definitely be reading more of this story. 

5 out of 5 stars! 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A Review of FVZA (Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency) by David Hine, Roy Allen Martinez, Kinsun Loh and Jerry Choo

FVZA is written by David Hine, illustrated by Roy Allan Martinez and painted by Kinsun Loh and Jerry Choo. 

FVZA (Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency) is a three-issue miniseries by Radical. Although it’s only three-issues, each issue is about three times the length of a normal comic book. 
The story follows a woman called Landra, who, with her brother, Vidal, is raised by her Grandad. Her Grandad used to be a director at the FVZA before it was disbanded, the threat of zombies and vampires seeming to have vanished. 
Not confident this was the case, the Grandfather trains Landra and Vidal on how to kill zombies and vampires, so if the threat returned they would be ready. 
The inevitable happens and the government calls on the Grandfather’s expertise to deal with the matter. Landra and Vidal follow their grandfather into setting up the FVZA once again. 

I love zombie stories, but vampire tales can leave me dry. I have to say, this book has made me want to read more vampire fiction. Instead of beautiful and pallid goths walking around in long coats, these vampires are fierce monsters. Ruthless and detached killers.
The zombies are also presented with a slight twist. Very early on, I found myself questioning who the real monsters were as I saw what the humans were doing to these creatures. To give zombies personality is quite tricky, and I thought this book did it in a very clever way by showing traces of who they used to be.
The intrigue running through this story and the human relationships kept me going, and even with the first issue delivering a lot of back story, I was fascinated by it and wanted to know more. 

The art is beautiful. It has a painted style, which can sometimes fall flat for me, but the story telling in this book remained dynamic and I could always tell which character was which. My fear was that I would get confused with the vampires and zombies, because they all look similar, but subtle differences between the creatures meant I was never unsure as to who I was looking at. 

The story wraps up well to a satisfying conclusion with a lot of heart. The first issue set me up with an expectation of what was going to happen, but by the end I’d gone on a completely different journey. 

This is a great book for those looking for a solid vampire and zombie story without-okay I have to say it-sparkling skin or teenage angst. 

4 out of 5 stars!