Posts Tagged ‘comics reviews’

At Home at the End of the World: The Long Defeat of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

…nearly all of the “Mignolaverse” titles are shot through with a sense of tremendous loss, of mind-warping waste. The world Hellboy and his friends inhabit is a brutal one, rendered unspeakably ugly by a combination of venal people whose minds are too small for empathy and the unstoppable forces they therefore unleash.

Moreover, there’s a specific sense throughout the saga that the violence wielded by its protagonists is futile, even counterproductive. The most gung-ho member of the B.P.R.D., heavily scarred ex-Marine Captain Ben Daimio, secretly harbored an evil spirit that eventually took over and rampaged through the team’s headquarters. An attempt by the artificial man Roger the Homunculus to ape Daimio’s hard-charging attitude led directly to his own death. The depiction of violence as causing more problems than it solves is a self-critique that few superhero stories attempt, and even the ones that attempt it usually ultimately reject it.

Yet Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. soldier on, fighting a menace they are too weak, and too late, to stop. Their goal, to the extent that they have one, is simply to survive, and to preserve what little light and life they can — to write an epilogue for a story that has already ended.

Apocalypse now and forever: I wrote about Hellboy, the BPRD, and pop-cultural armageddons for Grantland.


Comics Time: Baby Bjornstrand

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

A thing comes into three lives, without warning or explanation. A thing leaves those lives in much the same way. The time between: Baby Bjornstrand, the new Renee French graphic novel completing and collecting the webcomic of the same name. In the past, I’ve written that the hazy, watery wasteland inhabited by Baby Bjornstrand‘s masked, hooded protagonists and monstrous fauna evokes a post-apocalypticism that is, if not belied, then at least transfigured by the comic tone of the proceedings. Now that the series is finished, that’s only true to a point. As the uniform proscenium staging of its panels suggests, Bjornstrand remains much closer to Samuel Beckett than Stephen King, despite French’s astonishing proficiency with painstakingly penciled menace. Yet its morose ending has a bite that doesn’t require the jaws of a monster.

I reviewed Baby Bjornstrand by Renee French for The Comics Journal.


Vorpalizing

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been a busy boy on Vorpalizer, the blog of the Science Fiction Book Club, as usual.

In my Webcomic Wednesday series, I wrote about the art of Heather Benjamin (which I obviously love) and The Long Journey by Boulet, empty calories but tasty, and “About the Author” by Pete Toms (“Repetition works, David. Repetition works, David.”).

And in my Roots and Beginnings series, I talked about The Goonies, bullying, and escapism, and (via art by Sam Bosma) my greatest D&D experience ever.


Comics Time: The superhero comics of Kate Beaton

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

I reviewed Kate Beaton’s superhero parody comics for Vorpalizer. Such a fun cartoonist to talk about, because you can extrapolate general principles from small details. And those eyes!


Comics Time: Ant Comic

Monday, March 25th, 2013

I reviewed Michael DeForge’s masterful webcomic Ant Comic for The Comics Journal.

Please read the comic; it’s gorgeous, funny, troubling, and powerful, and you can read it all on a lovely single scrolling page.