I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got 2 new comic plus a trade paper back collection:

  • Ex Machina – 30
  • Apocalypse Nerd -5
  • Jack Staff “Everything Used to be Black and White – TPB
  • And now for some reviews of things I’ve read this week.

  • Finder: Mystery Date (TPB)
  • “Finder” is one of my favorite comic books out there. It’s author and artist, Carla Speed McNeil, is the one person whose work reminds me of Jack Kirby. Not because she writes or draws anything like him (she doesn’t) but because her comics are so full of ideas. They’re bursting with concepts and contraptions.

    The title “Finder” refers to the lead character, Jaeger, who comes from a tribe where he is a Finder. That means that he’s good at scrounging up things that the tribe needs. The problem is that Jaeger is also a “Sin-Eater” which means he’s the official scapegoat for the tribe. And as such was eventually driven off.

    The setting of “Finder” is also very interesting. It’s a post-post-apocalyptic world. I think it takes place on a future Earth but we are so far in the past that almost nothing is known of us. Hints do come through here and there though. A lot of the people live in old domed cities filled with technology but are not even sure who originally built the cities. The people invent things on their own too and are not just keeps of old technology. There are many types of people in “Finder” from different clans of humans to human built constructs to strange intelligent animals. There is even a clan of lion people who walk on two legs yet mingle with actual wild lions. It’s a real interesting world.

    All that being said Jaeger is only in this book for a few pages. This volume is a collection of stories about a young woman named Vary who is from a small province and now is in the big city to study to be a prostitute. That’s a respected profession in the world of “Finder”. Remarkably there is very little in the book about prostitution. It’s just kind of in the background. The story is actually about Vary and her crush on a grumpy professor who has no crush on her back. That and a second professor who Vary befriends and is a giant ostrich type creature.

    This isn’t a collection from the series “Finder” but a collection of shorter pieces that appeared elsewhere over a series of years. As such it doesn’t hold together as a “graphic novel” as much as the other “Finder” volumes but I still enjoyed it. Like I said it’s filled with ideas.

    Another interesting thing about the “Finder” collections are the footnotes in the back. Carla Speed McNeil writes notes about things that are happening on each page and expands on the ideas. She tells you what she was thinking and some background about the cultures, peoples, and objects that she comes up with. You don’t need to read these notes to get the story but they are fun. Recommended.

  • Orson Scott Card – Red Prophet Tales of Alvin Maker Volume 1 (Hardcover)
  • There has been a little bit of a renaissance of comics adapted from novels in the last few years. They all but disappeared for a while but I guess the lure of a popular book license has drawn companies back in. Who wouldn’t want to sell comics to a large group of an author’s fans.

    These adaptations tend to be wordier than other comics. Especially in today’s world of “decompressed” storytelling. And they often have a traditional third person narrative. “Red Prophet” is no exception. If you’re someone who complains that a comic takes three minutes to read than this one is for you. “Red Prophet” takes a while to get through. That’s not a a complaint, just an observation.

    The story takes place in an alternate history sometime back in the early days of the USA. Except that white people aren’t as numerous and in control of the continent as they were in our past. The Indians still rule the roost west of the Mississippi and other European powers have influence over the lands of America. Oh, and magic is real.

    “Red Prophet” is a frontier story (on the mighty Mississippi) where the Reds and the Whites have the greatest potential for conflict. There are forts, soldiers, traders, braves, settlers, plus good and bad folk. Alvin Maker, we are told, will go on to do great things and be very powerful. But here he is a small boy and we are at his beginning.

    It is a wordy story, as I said, but it’s pretty well written. The art is only adequate though. It gets the job done but without much flair or craft. The biggest problem I have with this book is the ending. There wasn’t one. It ended with a bunch of spirit magic mumbo jumbo and literally a “To Be Continued” blurb. The spirit magic mumbo jumbo bothered me worse than the blurb. This is comics. I’m used to things being continued.

    I would have liked the story better without the magic angle but that’s neither here nor there because plenty of people prefer it with the magic in the story. I liked this book mainly because it was different and I’m the type of person who likes different. I really can’t recommend it as being good but neither is it bad. If any of the ideas in this book intrigue you pick it up. You could do a lot worse.