Author: Scott VanderPloeg

Review | Conan Volume 7: Cimmeria

I was a faithful fan of Dark Horse’s Conan relaunch with Cary Nord as artist but after he left I drifted away.  Came across Conan: Cimmeria or Conan Volume 7, depending how you interpret the spine and title page of the book, at my local comic shop and it looked intriguing.  It’s a collection of Conan The Cimmerian issues 0-7 which tells a split story, written by Tim Truman with art by Tomas Giorello and Richard Corben.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb: Conan volume 7: Cimmeria marks a transitional period in young Conan’s life, as he spurns civilization — with its turncoats and legal trappings — and returns to the beloved, brutal country of Cimmeria, where he was born and raised. The dangers found in the snowy mountain passes of his barbaric homeland are a welcome change from the mind games and treachery Conan encountered in the cities of the East, but there are unfortunate lessons in treachery to be learned here, too. When a tentative truce with the Aesir is threatened by the actions of Caollan, the first woman Conan ever loved, Conan again finds himself at the heart of a larger conflict that will test not only his physical strength and cunning mind — but his passionate heart as well. The great thing about Conan is you don’t need an introduction or much of a back story: he’s...

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Review | The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects

I’m a big Mike Mignola fan, admiring his work since Marvel Fanfare.  The Amazing Screw-On Head was a one shot comic published in 2002 but somehow I missed it so I was anxious to pick up The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects hardcover.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb: When Emperor Zombie threatens the safety of all life on earth, President Lincoln enlists the aid of a mechanical head. With the help of associates Mr. Groin (a faithful manservant) and Mr. Dog (a dog), Screw–On Head must brave ancient tombs, a Victorian flying apparatus, and demons from a dimension inside a turnip. This new collection of oddball Mignola creations also includes “The Magician and the Snake” from Dark Horse Maverick: Happy Endings, and nearly fifty pages of brand new material, all as weird and hilarious as the beloved Screw-On Head. This is for the most part a collection of Mike Mignola humour pieces.  I’m not a humour fan and try to avoid “funny” books but Mignola is able to craft a smart and funny piece full of ridiculousness that just seems to work.  Screw-On Head is an agent of the U.S. government working for Abraham Lincoln: he’s a living mechanical head that uses different bodies to get the job done.  He’s called upon to thwart Emperor Zombie in his attempts to steal a turnip that contains a universe.  Yes,...

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Review | Siege: Embedded

I was perusing the new books at my local comic book shop and came across Siege: Embedded in softcover.  I noticed it because Chris Samnee had done the art: he’s been making a name and is doing the art on the recent Thor all ages series that I’m waiting to see in a trade paperback.  I gave it a quick thumbing and added it to my buy pile.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb: The SIEGE of Asgard has begun! And Norman Osborn and his Dark Avengers are leading the charge! Osborn’s savvy use of the media fueled his rise to power but the very tools he’s been using may turn against him. It’s time to expose Norman’s true face to the world and uncover the secrets behind the attack on the gods! Witness the changing of the Marvel Universe firsthand! I can’t believe how generic and off the mark that blurb is.  This is a unique story, telling Ben Urich’s adventures around the siege of Asgard.  He runs into an old media buddy Will Stern and together they rescue Volstagg, get arrested repeatedly, take part in the siege and save a bunch of people.  Weaving through that is the story of Todd Keller, a media personality that’s backing Norman Osborn as a true patriot.  It’s a rolling human interest story with a take from a non-superhuman perspective. Brian Reed gives...

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Review | I Am Legion

This one was a long time coming from its original French issues.  I picked up the first DC Humanoids imprint issue in 2004, but that cross publishing deal collapsed.  Devil’s Due Publishing picked up the series and published it as six issues in 2009 but the announced hardcover collected edition didn’t see light of day as Humanoids was entering the North American market again in September 2010 with I Am Legion, a 176 page 7.75×10.5″ hardcover.  Here is the publisher’s blurb: A supernatural take on World War II featuring lush artwork by John Cassaday (superstar artist of ASTONISHING X-MEN & PLANETARY) in a deluxe hardcover format. While the outcome of War is in doubt, the Nazis frantically search for Ana, a girl with the ability to possess other bodies. This story is a thriller of the highest caliber: it can easily be a best-selling story in print or on film.  We start with an occult murder in London and meet a special group of investigators, reunited with their leader Stanley who is back from a mental breakdown.  From there we go to Romania and meet the resistance fighters and the Nazis who are controlling the region, including Ana.  She is a girl from a small village with the ability to control other people and is definitely more than she appears.  Possession is the theme and leads the British team...

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Review | Adele Blanc-Sec Vol 1

Fantagraphics and Kim Thompson are back with another Jacques Tardi translated work: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec Volume 1.  Appearing in the early 1970s and published as single volumes in French around 1976, Adele Blanc-Sec has a cult following that we’re now privy to.  Thompson is a translation whirlwind, working through a good amount of foreign material for our English-speaking audience.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb: Both a rip-roaring adventure series set in pre-World War I Paris and a parody of same, Adèle Blanc-Sec has been enchanting, thrilling, and puzzling readers worldwide through four decades. In this premiere installment, Adèle becomes involved in an interlocking series of mysteries that involve a revived pterodactyl, a frightful on-stage murder, a looming execution by guillotine, and a demon from the depths of hell — plus of course moronic gendarmes, loyal (or perhaps traitorous?) henchmen, and a climax atop the Eiffel Tower. Two fourty-eight page stories are collected in this 8.5×11.5″ hardcover: Pterror Over Paris and The Eiffel Tower Demon.  I’m going to work this review from best to worst in my humble opinion. First thing that hit me: colour!  This is Fantagraphic’s first Tardi work in colour and I really enjoyed it: a muted palette that brings 1911 France to life.  Tardi’s art style is unique: lots of round, soft people with well designed costumes and detailed backgrounds.  Most men have mustaches...

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