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Weekly Comic Reviews - 3 Feb 2016

Weekly Comic Reviews - 3 Feb 2016

Ratings out of 5 stars. The mainstream books are available at Absolute Comics (Plaza Singapura). It’s the CNY weekend, go read more and something different.


Rosalie Lightning

Story/Art: Tom Hart

St Martin’s Press

The death of a child – the most devastating book you will read this year. People have been talking about Rosalie Lightning and it will be in 2016 year’s end lists. But the accolades are secondary. It is the well of emotions that is evoked in you when you painfully turn the pages that you will remember.

I didn’t know Tom Hart is married to Leela Corman. I didn’t know they named their child after a Brian Eno song. I didn’t know she died before she turned two.

In December 2000, I spent a cold winter month in NYC and interviewed cartoonists, and how hard it was to make it there as an artist. The opening chapters of Rosalie Lightning reminded me of that, and how poverty just crushes you.

(5 stars)

Mirror #1

Story: Emma Rios

Art: Hwei Lim


Originally created as part of the 8house universe, Emma Rios and Hwei Lim were advised by the Image folks to pull this out and to publish it separately. Mirror is much anticipated as it is a culmination of the friendship between Rios and Malaysian artist Lim who first met at a comic workshop in Japan in 2008. Rios has been working with Kelly Sue DeConnick on Captain Marvel and Pretty Deadly and Lim is a fan favourite at Comic Fiesta. You see shades of 1980s anime here. The fantasy world building that is Mirror will introduce Lim to a wider North American audience. A talent to look out for, especially with her innovative panel designs.

(3.5 stars)

Invisible Ink: My Mother’s Secret Love Affair with a Famous Cartoonist

Story/Art: Bill Griffith

Fantagraphics Books

So who else has not done a graphic memoir? Bill Griffith is the famous artist of the comic strip, Zippy and a pioneer in the underground commix scene. He could have easily rested on his laurels. But instead at a grand age of 72, he decided to stir up sh*t by digging up old family history, and we are the beneficiaries of a damn intriguing story.

What if you found out as a young adult and immediately after your dad’s death that your mom has been having an affair for the last 16 years? And that this man has probably influenced you more in your interest in cartoons and career choice than anyone else? Luckily Griffith is old now; he just saved himself a lot of therapy bills.

Like other autobiographical comics, Invisible Ink is about discovering one’s absent father, trying to figure out where did one come from, and trying to move on from there. You would think the genre is saturated. After all, what else can follow after Alison Bechdel, Roz Chast and Carol Tyler among others? Griffiths raised the bar, making this one of the must-read of the year.

(5 stars)

Skies of Fire #2

Story: Ray Chou and Vincenzo Ferriero

Art: Pablo Peppino

Colours: Bryan Valenza


So many good books are on kickstarter these days that once you miss the campaign, it is hard to track it down. Comixology offers the solution to that and I’m glad to purchase this online. Dieselpunk airship series that pits the army against sky pirates. To catch the bad guys, you need to recruit bad guys to help you. This would not be out of place as a Miyazaki cartoon with zeppelins, strong female character and the Prussian military aesthetics.

Great story and art by Ray Chou and Vincenzo Ferriero, and Pablo Peppino . And the colours by Bryan Valenza are stunning. One of Village Voice’s comic of 2014. Now got to wait for #3.

(4 stars)

Naoki Urasawa Official Guide Book

So how do you review a catalogue of a Japanese manga exhibition you did not attend and you can't even read it? You just do it because it’s Naoki Urasawa, probably the best shonen manga artist working today – Monster, 20th Century Boys and Pluto. His storylines are filled with numerous plot twists that you can read them several times. This catalogue contains his early sketches from age 10 or so and you feel you have wasted your life trying to draw comics. Urasawa’s determination to be a mangaka will put anyone to shame. One can see Tezuka’s influence in those early drawings. This catalogue has 140,5000 words. Can someone bring it to Singapore or to have the catalogue translated? Now I got to read Billy Bat…

Thanks James Tan for getting this for me in Tokyo!

(5 stars)

Scarlet Witch #3

Story: James Robinson

Art: Steve Dillon and Chris Visions


James Robinson has a reputation of revitalizing old characters – from Starman to Air Boy and now the Scarlet Witch. No writer has been able to do much with Wanda Maximoff since Brian Michael Bendis made her mad in Avengers Dissembled and House of M. At least the revival Hawkeye (whom the Scarlet Witch killed in Avengers Dissembled) had a good writer in Matt Fraction. It is still early days for Robinson’s run of the Scarlet Witch to say whether he can do the character justice. So far, he has been blessed with good artists. Vanesa del Rey drew the first two issues and Steve Dillon (2000AD/Preacher) is drawing this issue.  The last three pages are drawn by Chris Visions and this is an artist to look out for. Oh yes, the story – witchcraft is broken and Wanda is on a one-woman (plus a ghost partner) mission to fix it.

(3 stars)

Cry Havoc
Story: Simon Spurrier

Art: Ryan Kelly

Colourists: 3


I almost thought Cry Havoc is a new X-Men comic as Simon Spurrier had previously written X-Men Legacy and X-Force. But it’s his new monster-military noir comic that harks back to his 2000AD days. He calls it Jarhead meets Pan’s Labyrinth and has Alan Moore raving about it. So lots of expectations are being set up. I must say the first issue does deliver the goods – a lesbian, attacked by a dog-monster in London is sent to Afghanistan with other ‘special’ ops soldiers to eliminate a rouge commander. Expect monsters galore in the coming issues. There are three sections in each issue – the beginning, the present and the end, and each is coloured by a different colourist, giving that oomph to Ryan Kelly’s art.

(3 stars)

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