Archive for the 'science fiction' Category

03
Sep
07

Doktor Sleepless #1

Written by Warren Ellis

Art by Ivan Rodriguez

Avatar Press $2.99

  I think science fiction is most effective when it creates paranoia about the present with presentations of the near future.  Doktor Sleepless does this rather well.  Although no real year is given, or I totally missed it, everything to appear to be slightly in the future, but things haven’t much changed.  Graffiti is all over the city with bitter slogans like, “not my future”, or “where’s my flying car”, indicating that technology hasn’t progressed in the way that people want, but Doktor Sleepless, a mysterious, yet famous figure, has reemerged onto the scene and has shown up to yell at everyone over their apathy and discontent.  Though there are no flying cars, there are wireless instant messaging systems programmed into contact lenses that allow everyone to know where their friends are and what they’re up to at all times.  This system is called clatter.

In addition to his anger over the unappreciated technology that virtually no one has worked for, Doktor Sleepless is also annoyed that youth culture, Grinders, have taken to modifying their bodies with no concern over what the effects will be and what that means when it comes to science.  This seems to be a direct commentary on current body modification, like tattoos, piercings, scarification and the like.  I haven’t entirely figured out what Ellis is trying to say about this current trends and what they will ultimately lead to when trendiness grows more and more extreme when it lends mass “individuality” an easy way to feel(although it’s an artificial feeling) different.

So for a first issue you get some commentary about a modern phenomenon(body mods) and how we are unappreciative towards technology and demand much while inputting virtually nothing(which I essentially wholly agree with).   The art is really great, especially the busy ass covers, but I’m really intrigued by the writing.  It has the makings of a very thought-provoking science fiction dystopia mixed up in a rather interesting universe with some diverse and twisted ass characters.  Couple all of this with the knowledge that this isn’t a miniseries, but an ongoing series that will hopefully see at least fifty issues, and this could turn out to be a really great thing.

I’m just happy I have an awesome comic shop that was willing me to order a copy because they sold out and I didn’t even realize this was coming out.  READ THIS BOOK

27
Aug
07

Black Summer #2 of 7

Written by Warren Ellis

Art by Juan Rose Ryp

Avatar Press $2.99 

Some readers seem to have a problem with Warren Ellis because, like most of the English, he doesn’t particularly abide by the nonsensical adoration and respect toward superheroes and formula storytelling that Americans are used to.  It’s actually because of this that I really enjoy his superhero stories.  Like Garth Ennis or Grant Morrison, you get an outside perspective on an old theme, but getting a superhero story from someone who doesn’t particularly like superheroes is great because you get to witness a writer take something bland and make it stand out.  Not just to the reader, but to the writer as well.

Black Summer is about the most powerful superhero in the world, John Horus, who has just killed the president and endangered the superhero team he’s part of by involving them by association in the event.  This issue mostly focuses on what we do when we’re backed into corners, when we’re scared and when we’re forced to fight.  The outcome is generally bad.

Ryp has seriously cleaned up his art for this issue, which improves the look quite a lot.  Instead of a messy, cluttered panel, you get a neat, clean one like above. This is far less a distraction from the story and more like an additional dialog you get visually, which only aids the story’s progression.

All in all, this was a great issue where Ellis tries to humanize the superhero by showing  them under pressure and terrified, not knowing what to do.  By doing this, showing human beings who happen to be superpowered, he comes very close to what Alan Moore did in Watchmen, making the fact that the main characters are heroes secondary and making the fact that they are people with problems primary.

26
Aug
07

Batman/Lobo: Deadly Serious #1 of 2

Written by, drawn by and cover art by Sam Kieth

DC Comics $5.99 

Batman/Lobo #1

YES!

Okay, so I was really excited when I saw this in my pile on Wednesday.  First of all, I was obsessed with Kieth’s The Maxx when I was younger.  I stopped reading comic books around the age of 16 when I started to become obsessed with music, but I continued to reread the Maxx series and eventually ended up buying a bootlegged version of the television series from Ebay.  It was well worth it.  I had noticed though, in my previous two years of rediscovering comic books, that Sam Kieth seemed to be missing entirely from the scene, but Jim Lee, the Kuberts, Chris Claremont and most of the people who were making my favorite books in the nineties.

So, again, I was seriously fucking jazzed when I saw this in Previews a few months back.  It comes at a time when I’ve been reading Grant Morrison Batman for almost a year, so I feel like I’m not at a point where Batman is strange territory for me.  Another great writer/artist on a character I’ve come to like quite a bit.  Excellent.

So, Sam Kieth, Batman, Lobo, Spaceships, Alien disease that makes women turn into homicidal maniacs, explosions, lots of guns, aliens.  As long as you aren’t expecting a super serious Batman story, this is made of 100% win.  Batman, against his will, is brought to a spaceship light years from earth to stop a disease that makes women act out and go on insane killing sprees.  All the men have left the ship and so all of these women are being killed.  Kieth’s women are, of course, beautiful and the story is fun as well as morbidly funny.  Of course, Lobo just happens to be there for some reason, trying to make some money.

Although this is only a two issue series, it’s being published in the prestige format, so each issue is 48 pages.  That means this won’t be a short little story, it will be almost 100 pages, easily the size of four or five issues published as a regular comic series.  I think it’s going to be a blast.

20
Aug
07

Metal Men #1 of 8

Written by Duncan Rouleau

Art and Cover by Rouleau

DC Comics $2.99 

Metal Men Cover

This was recommended to me by my comic shop owner and, though I’d never heard of it and wasn’t familiar with the concept or characters, I really liked this first issue.  This article does a pretty good job of catching one up.  So Dr. Magnus wants to be a successful scientist and he has some great ideas involving the time stream and alternative physics, but his robotic assistants get much more attention than the ideas he’s actually interested in.  I like the concept of the unhappy, unappreciated scientist whose creations, which are made to help him, actually turn out to be a major problem.

The comic features seven robots, all fashioned after different metals, who have differing personalities and make up a sort of super team.  A rival team of robots is, of course, trying to destroy the world and Magnus is at odds with his creations.  Overall, it’s enough conflict and characterization to make the story interesting.

I’ll definitely keep reading.  The art is great and mildly cartoonish, which is a nice change for a DC book, and the writing is entertaining, not trying too hard to be funny or serious.  I’d pick it up if I were you.

13
Aug
07

Warren Ellis’ The Sunday Hangover #7

I’ve decided to expand this blog to things outside of just comics, including, but not limited to, all kinds of writing, art, movies and the very small collection of television programs I’m interested in.

The  Sunday Hangover is a column by one of my favorite comic writers, Warren Ellis, it appears on the Suicide Girls website weekly and I think it’s quite good and occasionally inspirational.  He has a new book out called Crooked Little Vein, which I intend on buying and finishing this weekend.  A review will surely be posted.  Carry on.

THE SUNDAY HANGOVER
007
WARREN ELLIS

“The other week I made reference to “the Philip K Dick Condition.”

Philip Dick, to my mind, was the great visionary writer of the 20th Century. Alan Moore thinks it’s Lovecraft, but I think Dick contains Lovecraft, and Kafka, and in his own visions recontextualises and adds to them both. He was a visionary in both senses: he saw the future, and suffered his own instructive hallucinations.

And never doubt the power of seeing things that aren’t there. Rene Descartes, the father of modern mathematics, had his whole method explicated to him by an angel he saw in a dream. Mathematical logic as we understand it today is a hypnogogic vision.

Which is as good a way as any to understand Philip Dick and the 21st Century. What makes Philip Dick more relevant to today is not necessarily the quality of his fantasy, but the complexity of it. And him. Philip Dick was as much an anti-hero as any of his characters. He’s a counter-cultural hero whose personality was forged in the fifties, not the sixties. He was a champion of the drug culture who attempted to sell out friends and acquaintances to the FBI. He saw into people, but knew himself not at all. This is a guy who took speed every day for years, and then was told by a doctor that his liver was so fantastically efficient that it processed out any drugs in his system before they had a chance to affect his central nervous system. To which he replied, well, I guess that explains why I like to take speed before I go to bed. The only writer on earth who’d write for ninety-six hours straight and then pass out on the office floor due to the placebo effect.

He was religious, in that slightly creepy near-agnostic way that seems to affect middle-aged American science fiction writers. Whitley Strieber’s another one — before he got into the whole anal-probe stage of his career, Strieber freely admitted to having tried every religion on the shelf. He actually said out loud the words “I have experimented with worshipping the earth.” He spent a significant chunk of his life looking for something bigger to give responsibility to. As did Philip Dick, who went through various denominations of Christian church in the hunt for something. Which he found in 1974. Just as Whitley Strieber supposedly found Anal Aliens, Philip Dick found his own science-fictional epiphany. He swore blind, in fact, that a satellite was firing into his brain an information-rich pink laser from orbit.

Like many middle-aged American science fiction writers, he needed more spaceships in his life.

He wrote a million-word diary, termed his Exegesis, where he tried to understand what he perceived to be happening to him. Something was streaming data into his head. He needed to understand what. He believed — and this is hardly unique to him — that something was seriously wrong with the nature of reality, and he needed to understand that. (His problems with reality extended to considering that a chunk of history actually hadn’t happened at all. For a good piece of his later life, he thought we were all living in the early years of the first millennium. That in fact we were stuck in the emergent years of Christianity and everything we think we know is fake. Most of you will recall this notion from THE MATRIX.)

Phil Dick didn’t need a vast invisible satellite to explain away the fact that he finally started paying his bills and chasing his agent for slipped royalties. But it helped to think so. He suddenly “knew”, one day, that his son had some kind of undiagnosed physical defect and took him to get checked out. Which is either knowledge from beyond or the sudden paranoia of someone who was both a famed nutcase and drenched in amphetamines and also wrote some of the most paranoid fiction of the 20th century.

And make no mistake, Phil Dick was mental. As mad as Lovecraft, who was afraid of everything. Phil Dick used to leave notes for the FBI, informing on his friends, under his garbage cans, certain that that was where the FBI were checking. On the street, he’d be almost overwhelmed by the compulsion to surrender to passing police officers. If he were around today, he’d be holding up handpainted signs reading “I give up” to security cameras. In Britain, there are plans to erect listening posts running software coded to pick out criminal phrases and terroristic language. Trust me: as scary as it seems here, George Bush’s America doesn’t have a monopoly on the Philip K Dick condition.

I honestly think Phil Dick was hearing the same thing that Terence McKenna was hearing when he thought the mushroom was speaking to him, and which magicians hear when they enter into conversation with angels or demons. I’ll return to this another time, if I for some reason have another lucid Sunday morning soon.”

Read all of Warren Ellis’ column here

11
Aug
07

Star Trek: Klingons Blood Will Tell #4

Written by Scott Tipton & David Tipton

Art by David Messina and Elena Casagrande

IDW $3.99
stklingonb.jpg

The miniseries winds down with the apparent conflict or resolution between the Klingons and the Federation quickly approaching. Morglar, an old comrade of Kahnrah’s recounts a tale, for no apparent reason, about his interaction and experience actually murdering human beings, which impresses K’ahlynn to no end. His story is about an encounter with the Enterprise, Kirk and company and a brutal sword fight among dozens of members of both the Federation and the Klingon soldiers who are trying to take it over in retaliation for being attacked by the Enterprise. Of course, the Klingon’s see this as Kirk’s fault and he utterly refuses to back down until a truce is called by both sides.
again1.jpg

Again, in the end everyone ends up having drinks and telling jokes. This issue is a retelling of the Original Series episode, day of the dove, but it tries to be more multifaceted in it’s portrayal of the Klingons, showing them as a race trying to secure a military advantage instead of the fascist way that they have often been portrayed in the television series. In the end, Morglar tells them to take up arms with the humans, that they should work together, because his battle on that day showed him that the humans can be trusted, but they are also incredibly strong and deserve the right to be respected.

Without a doubt, this series has been 200% better than the TNG series. I hope Tiptons get another Trek series, because they definitely know what they’re doing.

06
Aug
07

Black Summer #1 of 7

Written by Warren Ellis

Art by Juan Jose Ryp

Avatar Press $2.99

bsum1.jpg

Easily some of the busiest work I’ve seen in a while, his detail has to be respected, it’s great and obviously well thought-out, highly conceptualized, but as sprawling as it can sometimes be, it occasionally feels out of place in this science fiction work. Being an Avatar comic, you get the annoying randomized distribution of several covers, so I couldn’t actually find a scan of the wraparound cover that I have, which is considerably more interesting that the scan above, as well as a good example of his busy style.

That said, I still like the art, I just don’t really know if it is suited for this book. But we’ll see, I anticipate this to be a thoughtful little book, which should wrap up sometime in February with it’s seventh and final issue.