Conservative Comic Book Pundit

Friday, June 03, 2005

Wednesday review on a Friday - June 3rd, 2005

Yeah, yeah. Comics didn't come out until Thursday this week, due to the holiday.

Lots of great stuff. Here's two I particularly enjoyed:

Ballad of Sleeping Beauty TPB

This came out last week, but I didn't buy it until this week. I already have all (but one) of the original issues, but I figured I could spring for this collected version, especially since my local comic shop was having a sale.

There are two types of comic book tales I am a sucker for. One is a good magic based tale - like Dr. Strange or Ghost Rider - and the other is a good western. Alas, both types are rare lately. Dr. Strange and Ghost Rider comics come and go, but seem to lack permanent staying power, whereas Western comics seem to have died out a few decades ago. Marvel tried to revitalize the genre with their brilliant "Blaze of Glory" and "Apache Skies" series, but then ruined any chance of a Western Revival with the campy and poorly written "Rawhide." (This has nothing to do with the main character being gay in the "Rawhide" series - it was just badly written - sexual orientation had nothing to do with it).

Here, I managed to get an excellent blend of both fantasy and western genres. The translation from a generic feudal Europe to an American frontier works very well, as does the "splitting" of the prince. In this version of the tale, the prince figure is split in two - one is the typical western outlaw with a heart of gold and a checkered past, and the other is more of the traditional, if naive, prince. Add in a group of mystic Indians and an evil warlock of a U.S. Marshall, and this epic tale satisfies.

A few loose ends don't quite get resolved, and I got the feeling the writer changed his mind about an important plot point in the second issue, but overall this was a great series, and the artwork is absolutely stunning and beautiful. If you want a break from the comic extremes of traditional super heroics or more modern Goth based "mature" tales, read this fresh spin on a classic tale.

King Arthur vs. Dracula #1

Here we have another non-superhero (unless you count King Arthur as one) tale. Lately the industry seems to be exploding into these underutilized genres, and that's a good thing. I love super hero comics and hope the will always dominate the market to some extent, but these other genres are often worth exploring.

This comic reads like a really good action flick. Yeah, its light on substance, but its such a fun ride you want to see it again and buy the special edition DVD as well.

This comic seems to freely mix versions of both Arthur and Dracula. In this Dracula, you see details borrowed from vampire tales created by Bram Stoker, Francis Ford Coppola, Anne Rice, Joss Whedon (Buffy) and even a few hints at the Marvel comics version. In the Arthur saga, the mixing is even more apparent, with Merlin looking like he came straight from the recent Keira Knightley movie, but Arthur and his nights appearing like they do in the more Christianized versions found in the Renaissance tales.

This first issue is more of a set-up, but it ends with a shocker (let's just say Morgan Le Fay now has a few more powers than she did in more traditional tales). It's a set-up - the equivalent of the first half of a TV pilot, and it’s a doozy.

Read carefully, or you might miss a few small details as well.


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