Comic Review: The War of The Worlds

It’s 2005, and Earth is invaded by a seemingly unstoppable Martian army of tripods and flying machines.

As seen from the viewpoint of one American family, this is a story of human survival that will resonate with today’s readers, just as the original galvanized its audience more than a century ago

I must admit that by the time I started reading this I was a tad frustrated. I hadn’t been able to lose myself deeply in a novel for several weeks or more and it was getting to me. Plus I’m a H.G. Wells fan and one of my favourite stories is The War of The Worlds so at the beginning of this one I was already rolling my eyes at it. The first thing I found myself asking in a huff was, ‘Why does this have to be set in modern times, and why is the main character driving a sporty convertible. Why, oh why?’ Yes that’s what I asked myself. I really was not impressed when I came across that very early on, but I forced myself to keep reading even though that had turned me off. You never know when it could turn out differently to what you expect.

To be fair when it comes to the art work, I think I can be a bit spoilt when it comes to reading graphic novels. I never grew up or read a lot of comics, my main exposure has been artsy graphic novels and Heavy Metal magazines so the art is really plain and generic to me. It’s a typical black and white comic art rather than anything else, but in a way that is good because it leaves me to focus more on the story then on the art itself and getting lost. And yet there are some really cool artistic panels in there, mainly the ones that have action instead of dialogue and take up an entire page.

I don’t remember there being aircraft along with the alien pods in the original story and nor do I remember there being red weeds and poisonous gas, speaking of which; are white surgical masks going to save you from a poisonous cloud of gas?

Ok, I shouldn’t be too mean, I’m mostly taking my frustration out on a mediocre version of an awesome story, but it isn’t all bad. It is interesting to see a new twist of the story and how they tell it from yet another perspective, but I would really have liked the story to follow the original plot.

All I can really say is that the art is not completely typical art with a bit of artistic flair, it is well adapted to a more modern time, and it is a good novel for a quick little read.

  • Created By: Stephen Stern and Arne Starr
  • Genre: Science Fiction, War
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2005 by Best Sellers Illustrated
  • Adapted/Based: The War of The Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • Rating Out of Five: 3
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Comic Challenge Completion

Since the beginning of October I have been taking part in a comic challenge of which I also host (at BA’s Reading Challenges) and today is the last day for it so I thought what better day than today to post my completion list?

Challenge Levels

  1. Pow! – Choose 5 comics to read
  2. Zoink! – Choose 10 comics to read
  3. Kerplunk! – Choose 15 comics to read
  4. Ka-Boom! – Choose 25 comics to read
  5. Holy Smokes! – Choose 35 comics to read
  6. Pow! – Choose 50 comics to read
  7. Bam! – Choose 75 comics to read

For non mix and match

  1. Graphics – Choose 40 graphic novels only to read
  2. Comics – Choose 40 comics only to read

I chose the Kerplunk level and these are the ones I read

  1. Warhammer 40K: Fire and Honour – Graham McNeil
  2. Godspeed: The Kurt Cobain Graphic – Barnaby Legg, Jim McCarthy, and Flameboy
  3. B.P.R.D. Hollow Earth and Other Stories – Mike Mignola
  4. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born – David, Furth, Lee, and Isanove
  5. The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel – Nicki Greenberg
  6. Vlad The Impaler: The Man Who Was Dracula – Sid Jacobson & Ernie Colon
  7. The Crow: Flesh and Blood – James Vance & Alexander Maleev
  8. The Sandman Presents: The Dead Boy Detectives – Ed Brubaker & Bryan Talbot
  9. Alice in Wonderland: Campfire Graphic Novel – Lewis Helfand and Rajesh Nagulakonda
  10. Frankenstein: Campfire Graphic Novel – Lloyd S. Wagner and Naresh Kumar
  11. The Time Machine: A Campfire Graphic Novel – Lewis Helfand and Rajesh Nagulakonda
  12. Harry Houdini: A Campfire Graphic Novel – C.E.L. Welsh and Lalit Kumar Singh
  13. Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The First Death – Laurell K Hamilton and Jonathon Green
  14. Dracula: An All Action Classic (Graphic Novel) – Michael Mucci, Ben Caldwell, and Bill Halliar
  15. The War of The Worlds (Graphic Novel) – Stephen Stern and Arne Starr

I enjoyed it, read some really good ones, and have found more to read later on. I’ll also be hosting a comic challenge for next year which runs throughout the year. Anyone can join in and you can find that on the reading challenges blog as well.

Comic Review: Dracula

Before the dozens of night stalkers slain by Buffy, there was the first and the best: Dracula. And now everyone’s favorite bloodsucker is back, and captured in a thrillingly told, spine-tingling graphic novel.

Originally written by Bram Stoker in 1897, Dracula gave the world one of literature’s most compelling characters. Michael Mucci translates the tale and Ben Caldwell adds action-packed images—with meticulous attention paid to the finer details in each piece of art, from facial expressions to the historical accuracy of costuming, architecture, and heraldry.

For years I read and watched adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula before I even read the book. Beforehand I did not have the original to compare to, but now that I do, I still find myself enjoying them and not being overly critical, if I am critical at all sometimes.

This adaptation I couldn’t help myself though because even though the amount of the original story used is far better than expected there’s still something to be desired. It isn’t so much what has been cut out from the original, but what has been left out between panels so the story doesn’t flow smoothly in places, leaving it to feel disjointed and even confusing at times. I know I have mentioned in previous reviews for comics that I can get easily confused, but after doing my comic reading challenge and nearing the end of it, I’ve learnt to appreciate the difference between my problem of following and a graphic novels’ lack of seamlessness.

Other than that it isn’t a badly done graphic novel. It is aimed at a younger audience and that would probably explain the art. There isn’t anything wrong with the art, in fact it is pretty good, but for me it is too cute. Not only for an old school horror story, but for Dracula. That doesn’t feel right to me and I also feel that the story, and any sinister aspects it may have had, wasn’t at it’s full impact because of it. But if the art is done the way it was to help lesson the horror of it then it has achieved what it was meant to do, which is cater to a younger audience with an intriguing story.

  • Genre: Horror, Supernatural
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2008 by Sterling Publishing
  • Adapted From: Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Rating Out of Five: 3
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Comic Review: The Great Gatsby

Because this is an adaptation of a classic and there is no synopsis anywhere on the book I’m going to be sharing the synopsis of the original The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but my review is only of the graphic novel.

Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything. But one thing will always be out of his reach…Everybody who is anybody is seen at his glittering parties. Day and night his Long Island mansion buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby – young, handsome, fabulously rich – always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.

I have attempted to read the original of this before, but gave up pretty quickly. In the original the characters were too self absorbed and pompous for me to handle, so when I saw this at the library I decided it was an opportunity to find out what the story was without driving myself up the wall again.

I loved this graphic novel from the moment I picked it up and flicked through it’s pages, but it is not the story I love. It is the art. Nicki Greenberg’s version is told with the use of creatures in the style of a photo album. A glance at that is enough to win me over because I think it really is gorgeous art, a lovely interpretation of these characters, and so well set out. I’ve included a panel, but if you want to see more and learn more about Nicki Greenberg (who is an Australian based artist which I just found out) I’d recommend checking out her website.

As for the story itself, I can’t say if it was a fair adaptation seeing as I have never finished the original, but for someone who has never read the original it is not a bad story. I’m really glad I picked this up because now I get it. I get the story. I understand what it was about which I never would have otherwise. The characters did not grate on my nerves and infuriate me in this adaptation either, the panels helped build an emotional connection, and I found myself wanting to pick it up and not put it down.

I would recommend it if you love art and love a different interpretation to what is usually expected. I would also definitely recommend it if you have tried to read The Great Gatsby, but could not finish it. Especially if you’re like me and the curiosity of what others were on about gets to you.

Comic Review: The Gunslinger Born

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. With those words, millions of readers were introduced to Stephen King’s Roland, an implacable gunslinger in search of the enigmatic Dark Tower, powering his way through a dangerous land filled with ancient technology and deadly magic. Now, in a comic book personally overseen by King himself, Roland’s past is revealed.

Sumptuously drawn by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, adapted by long-time Stephen King expert Robin Furth (author of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Concordance) and scripted by New York Times Best-seller Peter David, this series delves deep into Roland’s origins.

I’ve read the first novel in The Dark Tower series and it must have been all the way back in 2007 because I remember seeing the cover for the graphic novel after I finished reading it and wondering to myself if perhaps I’d enjoy that more.

I pretty much grew up on Stephen King when it comes to my reading background, but I have not read much of his work in several years. Either I overdosed or needed to expand or both, but I was looking forward to his Dark Tower series. I was disappointed with Dark Tower which was upsetting, but I did have high expectations.

Since reading The Gunslinger Born I am considering going back and trying the series out again because the story is an intriguing one. I realise that The Gunslinger Born is Roland’s background (the main character in the Dark Tower series) and it may put a different light on the reading second time around.

Even though the story does have an element of intrigue, with the mix of western meets dark fantasy being very appealing, it wasn’t the story that won me over. It was the art. I absolutely love the artwork in this graphic novel. I’d put posters of that on my wall and would even consider buying the graphic novel for the art alone.

The reason the art was a winning factor instead of the story was because the story felt disjointed to me (I swear sometimes I shouldn’t bother with graphic novels and comics). When I get really tired my brain freaks out and I can lose my way quite a bit, but my brain wasn’t that tired when I was reading it. The story eventually came together and I did know what was going on, but it didn’t feel like it read flowingly. I also didn’t appreciate how the narrator would give you titbits to what was going to happen in order to prepare you for action or travesties or whatever else was coming along.

Otherwise I enjoyed it and I did give it a fair rating, mostly because of the art. I will be reading the rest of the series as well at some point.

Comic Review: Harry Houdini

This is the life story of Ehrich Weiss. If you don’t recognise this man’s name, that is because the world came to know him as the one and only Harry Houdini.

George Bernard Shaw once remarked that Harry Houdini is the third most famous name in history after Jesus Christ and Sherlock Holmes. While that might be a bold and debatable statement, there is no doubt that Houdini is the most famous magician to have ever lived. Almost a hundred years after his death, his name is still synonymous with death-defying stunts and unimaginable escapes.

His ability to get out of seemingly impossible situations, along with his knack of dealing with the public and the press, made him a legend in his own time. Some of his most notable escapes, which still cannot be explained, were the Mirror Handcuff Challenge, the Milk Can Escape, the Chinese Water Torture Cell and the Suspended Straitjacket Escape.

How did a poor, uneducated boy rise out of poverty and become the greatest illusionist of the 20th century? The story of Houdini’s life is not only entertaining, but also educational. His struggles in life and his determination to succeed are a lesson to all.

For such a famous figure in history and for someone who finds performance artists, especially magicians, fascinating I really do not know that much about Harry Houdini. That is until I read this graphic novel and now I know a bit more.

I love it when something you read is not only enjoyable, but it can inform and educate you as well, such as Harry Houdini has. I haven’t been able to read that much lately due to writing, but when I was able to read it I found it quite well written and presented, enough for it to draw me in. I am also a sucker for biographies, but it does have a lot to do with how it is told and who the figure is.

I think the art suits the story and time setting as well. The figures are well drawn, the panels are neat which I think suits the time period, and I really like the interspersion of journal entries in the story. The story is told in Harry Houdini’s perspective, but the journal entries are in another’s perspective which I think gives it a nice touch.

Given those aspects of it and the fact I learnt several new things about Houdini himself (such as how he died and it’s true I didn’t know it was from a ruptured appendix), and the inclusion of explaining several magic tricks with fun factoids at the end make it an enjoyable graphic novel to read, especially if you are a Houdini fan.

  • Created By: C.E.L. Welsh and Lalit Kumar Singh
  • Genre: Biographical
  • Comic or Graphic: Graphic Novel
  • Published: 2009 by Campfire
  • Adapted/Based: Harry Houdini
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Challenges: The Two Month Comic Challenge

Review: The Crow, Flesh and Blood Graphic Novel

Iris Shaw is a federal conservation officer who is murdered in a bombing by a ragged band of right wing terrorists.

Her tortured soul cannot rest, because not only was she unjustly murdered – at the time of her death she was an expectant mother.

Raised from her coffin by the crow, Iris hunts the terrorists down one by one.

I don’t know if I really have many positives to share about The Crow: Flesh and Blood, but I’ll see how I go.

Right from the start the story gets into the character’s transformation from once alive to vengeful undead. I found myself already nitpicking at it before I had reached 10 pages or there abouts. To me it read like a fan fiction, a disjointed fan fiction, because Iris goes from being buried in a white flowing dress to being dressed in a tightly clad black outfit and already to kick some arse.

I really can’t stand it in a graphic novel, comic, or film when the character goes from one situation to the next without an explanation of certain things like their abrupt change of clothes. Of course sometimes it can be obvious so therefore an extra panel or scene is unnecessary, but there are other times where you wonder where they got the clothes from in this case and usually that gives an impression of the creator trying too hard for something cool or living vicariously via their character and not caring about the lack of flow.

This was only once instance of a disjointed feel. There were quite a few times where the story didn’t feel it had enough cohesion. Yes the story gets across, but it felt like it was jumping in some cases and missing what may have been appropriate information or perhaps not communicated smoothly enough.

At first Iris gives the impression she is going to take some sort of high road because she says to the crow that anyone can shoot someone and call it revenge, but really all she does is draw the death out leaving this graphic novel to become yet another story of  a vengeful murder spree. I do not have a problem with vengeful murder sprees unless they lead you to believe that it will be something far more mental rather than point and shoot or lets just go kill people, but I do have a problem with being misled in such a way as Flesh and Blood did.

On some positive notes the art was pretty cool, in a black and white setting giving it a noir feel which I love. And yes I did like Iris’s get up even though it wasn’t creative or inventive, it was only tight black pants and a tight black top, but the kicker was her make up. This is also something that bothers me though. Both the images on the front and back cover are no where in the book and the closest the make up gets (or should I call it face paint?) is the front cover image, but even then she doesn’t have that make up till much later and you barely see it. What I enjoyed was that she painted a crow in black make up on her face so it covered around her eyes and on her nose. It was a like a crow mask. Why, oh why not have that image on the front cover? Why have a cover with a scene that doesn’t even exist in the graphic novel?

I’ll leave it there otherwise I’ll keep going on with nit picking and that’s something I’d like to avoid when I can. I do recommend it for Crow fans, but I also recommend seeing if you can borrow it first if possible.