A comic book you should be reading – Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire (2009)

Hey, guess what? Post Apocalyptic fiction need not be Mad Max or Dawn of the Dead or Walking Dead or even Dead Run! Sometimes it can be a little like The Road, which is more focussed on the intensity of relationships in a world changed forever. I guess The Walking Dead is like that to an extent, but The Road is a book and The Walking Dead is a comic, and they are not comparable on a lot of levels – The Road, as a novel, is an intensely suffocating experience, painful, tragic, harrowing and fearful, with only a chink of light pervading the all encompassing tragedy as the story unfolds. A new comic book is, I think, trying something a little different to the usual ‘after the bomb / plague / zombies’ histrionics. It is called ‘Sweet Tooth’, and the first issue is charming and gripping, and plays out like a modern day folk / fairy tale. It reminded me of Pinocchio, with a dash of The Road thrown in (especially the candy bar scene, reminiscent as it was of the Cola scene in Cormac McCarthys book). There is peril, there is sadness and there is hope. There is a boy with Antlers called Sweet Tooth, living in a reserve, told never to stray beyond the boundaries of his environment. The first issue holds many delights and bodes well for future episodes. I don’t know how Vertigo do it, but they continue to find and publish quality. This looks it will be up there with Unknown Soldier as the best of the current line up. I urge you to check ‘Sweet Tooth’ out, especially as the cover price for issue 1 – that is a proper issue 1, not an issue 0 with a reduced page count – is incredibly low and bloody good value. It is on my pull list and so you expect reviews of forthcoming issues.

Issue 1 has been out for a couple of weeks now, but should be available from your local comic shop. Go get!

Review – The Walking Dead #65 (2009)

Just read issue #65. I don’t know now. Maybe I was expecting something more – but with ‘Fear The Hunters’ approaching its climax, what is there to ‘fear’? Nothing, it seems.

This is no ‘No-one Is Safe’ – there is no Governor here. Just a collection of tired, miserable people, driven to do what they need to do. Rick and co take the fight to these wretches, with Rick going in and attempting to ‘negotiate’, and this allows time for some back story and exposition – the Hunters explaining their motives. All rather drab it is too – it reminded me of the Bill Hicks monologue about Saddam and ‘The Republican Guard’, who were believed to be (if you believed Hicks) something like 12 foot tall warriors, until the Allied forces got to Baghdad and found normal Iraqis in Uniform. Well, this group of Hunters are even less spectacular. Then, in a neat scene reminiscent of Jensen using the power of his mnd to floor security guards (with a little help from sniper fire) in an early issue of ‘The Losers’, Rick takes the fight to them Hunters….

I liked the last page. Rick looks feral nowadays, a yin to the yang of Sgt Fords Military style neatness. The last 4 or 5 pages nearly made up for the middle section, which was saggy and made me wonder what the fuss was about with ‘The Hunters’ all along.

There were some other nice touches – Eugene being useful, Andrea being altogether useful, caring and a crack-shot, and Charlie Adlard drawing the rack and ruin of Suburbia in such a way that the misery seeps out of the page at you. The death of nearly everything – Charlie Adlard can summon up that vista for you in a few panels of black and white art.

I still enjoyed this issue by the way, but the Hunters seem such an anti-climax.

The Walking Dead #65 is out now from Image.

The Walking Dead #65 preview (2009)

WARNING – SPOILERS!!!

To whet the appetite prior to its release later this week – a 5 page preview of The Walking Dead #65! Here is the link;

http://www.comicmonsters.com/ftopict-12160.html

and here is what I think, based on those few pages……

Eugene gets centre stage for the first time in ages, and proves he has some knowledge, which is great, as Kirkman shows him to be more than a fantasist (regardless of his agenda on getting to Washington DC).

Andrea, showing some real, believable emotion – nice scene.

Rick, showing increasing maturity by not going all guns blazing after the Hunters attack.

We get the rest of (what promises to be) a brilliant installment of The Walking Dead later this week. I CAN NOT WAIT!

The Walking Dead #68 cover art (2009)

Is this how Rick & co enter the ‘safe zone’? Does it all kick off with issue 68? Also, this covers suggests / confirms (as does #67) that Rick, Abe & Eugene survived the Hunters. Rick & Abe looks really grungey in comparison to the clean cut dude, in shadow compared to the light of the new character. Great cover – in fact, one of the best (amongst a pile of great cover art that Adlard has produced), and this issue signals interesting times ahead, and probably a change of pace, as the ‘safe zone’ promises to be a whole different world for Rick, Abe and the other survivors. Kirkman looks like he is driving this story forward again with vigour.

As an aside, it has been about a year now since Abraham Fords introduction, and it is further evidence of the strength of this series, that Kirkman can wait until over 5 years into the title until he brings on a character that rivals Rick for the starring role in this tale (and that is without taking into account the slow and inexorable rise of Carl as a major player in this drama).

Another aside – with this week seeing issue 66 of The Walking Dead released, Kirkman has kept true to his word so far on ‘in time on 09’. Bravo.