Welcome to this week’s edition of The Haul. It was a good week for comics as I spent a ton of money, but came home happy. So here’s a sampling of what I picked up:
A Strange Day (Alternative Comics)
A Strange Day is a short original graphic novel in which Miles, a Cure fanatic, skips school to pick up the new Cure CD and meets Anna, another fan who’s had the same idea. Miles is a loner, estranged from his only true friend, and prone to wearing black clothes and sunglasses. Anna isn’t any of these things – she’s pretty, extroverted and prone to saying and doing whatever she damn well feels like saying and doing. While waiting for the new CD to arrive, the two strike up a friendship that will change both of their lives.
I’m a big fan of writer Damon Hurd – everything he has written has been great. He’s one of those special authors who seems to understand not only the what and who of a story, but the why as well. Interspersing the story with lyrics from Cure songs, Hurd weaves a beautiful tale of how we end up like we are and he gives us hope that we can be more than we are. And he has help from artist Tatiana Gill, who does an excellent job of capturing Miles’ aloofness and despair and Anna’s mercurial attitude toward life. There are so many scenes I liked in this comic, but the two that stand out the most are when Anna places her hand on Miles’ hand at the swing set and the scene on a bluff overlooking the ocean where the story comes to a close. This is highly recommended. (5/5)
Mora #1 (Image)
Mora is the tale of three characters: Mora, who will grow to become a powerful witch; Anandra, whose part to play is not known yet; and an unnamed lion cub. This issue is narrated by Rabbit and Turtle, who both bear scars from the lion, and take the reader through the childhood of the three main characters. The lion cub is cruel and kills for pleasure, but it’s not until an unfortunate encounter with his mother that he gives into his inner beast. Anandra has a loving family, and her early years seem fairly normal. But Mora is hyper-sensitivite to the supernatural world and can see fairies and other creatures for what they really are. And one of these creatures doesn’t like her poking around.
Written and drawn by Paul Harmon, the first issue of Mora is mostly exposition on the part of Rabbit and Turtle. I’m not a big fan of third party exposition in comics, but it actually works here – in fact, it’s needed if you want to understand the story of the lion cub, who’s the real star of this comic. This issue’s focus on the lion cub left little time to develop the characters of Mora and Anandra, but I’m sure that Harmon will rectify that in the future. As for Harmon’s artwork – wow! His humans are drawn in a Disney-style that’s crisp and attractive, and his animals are extremely realistic. Each page is full of detail, and Harmon’s not afraid to break the rules, like when he has a zebra jumping out of a comic panel. This is a solid debut from a new talent – I only hope that the entire series isn’t in third person narrative. (4/5)
Beyond Avalon #1 (Image)
The newest comic from Desperado Studios is Beyond Avalon, the tale of a princess, Megan, who has grown up in a world where nothing ever changes – nobody is born, nobody dies, the weather is always sunny, etc. But Megan is an anomaly in Avalon in that she’s the only person who’s ever been born there. When her father disappears, Megan is confronted by her destiny when a magic sword washes up on the beach. As Avalon is struck with strange occurrences, including rain (well, strange for Avalon), Megan must make a decision – does she stay in Avalon or does she journey beyond the mists to whatever awaits her?
Writer Joe Pruett crafts a solid if basic fantasy story. There’s some awkward dialogue at the beginning and a lot of expository dialogue throughout the comic (including one long scene where Megan talks to herself in a way that only comic book heroes can talk to themselves), but it all comes together pretty well in the end. The art by Goran Sudzuka is good, but nothing spectacular. The best scene art-wise in the book is when the elf or dwarf or whatever he is tries to break into the Tower of the Two Dragons – it’s also the only action scene in this issue. All in all, if you like fantasy/sword & sorcery, you should give this a look. Otherwise, pass. (2.5/5)