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Tag Archive: Steve Wands


  

Review by C.J. Bunce

Life in California is not all that sunny for everyone.  The fourth and last of our reviews of the initial release of graphic novels from new publisher TKO Studios looks at Goodnight Paradise, a peek into the day-by-day drudgery and dim chance of survival of the homeless.  When a homeless girl is found dead in a dumpster, the man who found her has enough information to find her killer.  Unfortunately his mind is addled through a rough life, alcoholism, and mental illness, and he’s struggling to put it all together.

Readers are introduced to a story “ripped from the headlines” like an old Law & Order episode, as real-world tech corporation Snapchat makes new millionaires and billionaires, and outside its doors across Venice Beach the poor and the homeless are getting shuffled away, the culture of the town turned upside down as real estate shifts and the past culture of the area is squeezed out.  The people living in the alleys all are at the end of their ropes, just to varying degrees.  As more young people hit the streets without income sources, those with mental illnesses run out of their prescription drugs to keep them in control, compounding their struggle as they spiral into confusion and anger.  Enter Tessa, a young woman who leaves home to come to the coast to see the ocean.  She befriends a small, tight group of people who protect each other.  When she videotapes a woman being drugged for sex by one of the new rich types at a party, she’s hunted down by his thug to protect the guy’s reputation.  But is everything as it seems in Goodnight Paradise?

Writer Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier, B.P.R.D.) creates a deconstructed superhero of sorts out of his homeless protagonist.  This man is like DC Comics’ Oliver Queen, but stripped of his money and his sanity, yet his sense of right and wrong remain intact.  Artist Alberto Ponticelli (Unknown Soldier), with colors by Giulia Brusco (Scalped), introduce readers to layered characters in scenes not using sleight of hand so much as revealing the realities of perception and bias.  Scenes that seem one way at first only are rediscovered by the reader to have their meanings changed when seen and explained from the perspectives of other characters–in a way Ponticelli shows the comic book medium can take advantage of.

Here is a preview of Goodnight Paradise:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

In the next inaugural TKO Studios series we’re reviewing here at borg, classic fantasy meets action-adventure in The Fearsome Doctor Fang A modern update to early 20th century mystery stories like The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, The Fearsome Doctor Fang blends elements from Doctor Strange, The Shadow, Tomb Raider, Allan Quatermain, Indiana Jones, and H.G. Wells’ sci-fi and fantasy novels.  No relation to the DC Comics Doctor Fang, readers meet this Doctor Fang in San Francisco–he’s a mysterious Chinese hero cloaked as a masked villain in pursuit of the location of the legendary treasure of Kublai Khan, all to save the world from a deadly menace.

Writers Tze Chun (Gotham, Once Upon a Time) and Mike Weiss (The Mentalist) create a story mixing stylistic influences from the likes of Alex Raymond and Alan Moore.  The Dr Fu Manchu comparison is obvious–the writers even incorporate the unusual character name Nayland from Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu stories).  Artist Dan McDaid (Firefly) provides the Amazing High Adventure look to the story, with layouts and close-ups reminiscent of Neal Adams, full of turn of the (20th) century exotic locations and historically costumed denizens bustling among the city streets.  Doctor Fang is a Zorro-esque hero for the people of China–and the world.

Readers will find great surprise twists and several funny scenes.  Think the 1999 big-screen version of The Mummy–the male and female leads darting between Doctor Fang and the book’s arch-villain have much in common with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in that film.  Bright period color choices by Daniela Miwa (Shaft) and interesting lettering by Steve Wands (Batman) support a unique look for the new adventure series.   Where the first two books from TKO Studios we reviewed feel more like standalone one-shots tales, this is a book you’ll no doubt want to see continued in subsequent series.  (*Editor’s Note:  Every time I type or say The Fearsome Doctor Fang, I hear the classic Dramatic Sound Effect).

Here’s a look at some covers and the first pages from The Fearsome Doctor Fang:

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