Category: Graphic Novel Reviews

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The First Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Graphic Novels 0) by Laurell K. Hamilton, Jonathon Green.Her fans have been asking for it – now, Laurell K. Hamilton delivers a look into Anita Blake’s past! Written by Laurell K. Hamilton herself, along with Jonathon Green,

The First Death takes place almost a year before the events being chronicled in Guilty Pleasures. Witness the first meeting of Anita and Jean-Claude, Anita’s first time inside Guilty Pleasures, her first serial-killer case, and an early encounter with Edward. Prepare to be thrilled by this original story produced especially for comics!

Collects Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The First Death #1-2 and Anita Blake: Guilty Pleasures Handbook.(less) Hardcover, 96 pages Published February 27th 2008 by Marvel Comics ISBN

0785129413 (ISBN13: 9780785129417)

This book is a combination of a prequel in graphic novel form and a handbook/guidebook to the Anita Blake graphic novel books. It contains spoilers to the series,so I would suggest that this is the last thing you read, unless of course you don’t mind spoilers and would like a look into the graphic novels.

We get to see a younger Anita going on her first job with the police force to try and identify what type of supernatural creature could have murdered a boy. She is nervous, throws up and is unsteady, never having seen a newly deceased body before. The reader gets to see her interactions with the other policemen and how some of their relationships were formed. Some of the policemen trust her decisions and others are still cynical about her opinions on the deaths. That is, until they see her in action.

She gets in an all out fight with a vampire that does not finish well, is bitten a couple of times and held hostage and tortured.

This particular story has less dialogue than the other books but the guide in it makes up for that. The guide has pages jammed with information about each character we meet in the graphic novels. It contains their photo, some background to the character and what they are most known for in this series. It is very detailed, with small writing while the illustrations are still in full-coloured glossy pages, with lots of  action scenes. Anita is a little less feisty than we are used to but the story gives the reader a good insight into the person she becomes in future storylines.

The Battle of Blood and Ink: A Fable of the Flying City by Jared Axelrod, Steve Walker (Illustrator)

Hardcover, 144 pages Published May 8th 2012 by Tom Doherty Associates (first published November 8th 2011) ISBN 0765331306 (ISBN13: 9780765331304)

If you’re visiting the flying city of Amperstam without the latest printing of The Lurker’s Guide, you might as well be lost. This one-sheet is written, edited, and printed by Ashe, a girl raised on the streets of the flying city, and is dedicated to revealing its hidden treasures and deepest secrets—including many that the overcontrolling government doesn’t want anyone to know. The stakes are raised when Ashe accidentally uncovers the horror of exactly how Amperstam travels among the skies and garners the attention of those who would rather that secret be kept in the hands of the city’s powerful leaders. Soon Ashe is on the run from thugs and assassins, faced with the choice of imperiling her life just to keep publishing, or giving in to the suggestion of a rich patron that she trade in her voice and identity for a quiet, comfortable life. It’s a war of confusion for Ashe, but one thing is very clear: just because you live in a flying city, you can’t always keep your head in the clouds.

Ashe and her friend Tolbin have a little one page paper that they disperse among the city. One day her journalistic adventures lead her to find out how the city is able to fly. She struggles with the idea of letting the secret out or not, but the leader of the city, Provost knows that she has found out and is after her. This is where most of the excitement and action comes into the story. Ashe can really hold her own and is flawed, yet strong and really kicks butt.

The story is very fast paced, all black and white pictures with mostly bold black lines defining the characters and settings. Not very much shading at all and no colored pages. In the very beginning pages we get a sample of the paper that she puts out and it gives the reader a lot of details about characters, setting and world.

I loved Ashe, she’s feisty and fierce. This was my first look into a steampunk graphic novel and the thought of a flying city really appealed to me.

After doing a little research online I found that Jared Axelrod also has a podcast that discusses this series and if you’re interested to give it a listen here is the link to episode #1 from iTunes.

Jared Axelrod – Fables of the Flying City – http://itun.es/isJ9rQ #iTunes   and in which he introduces you to the website as well http://www.fablesoftheflyingcity.com/

I would suggest checking out the podcast and the websites first as they give a lot of background information, character info and world building.

 

Mercy Sparx #01: Heaven’s Dirty Work  by Josh Blaylock, Matt Merhoff

Meet Mercy Sparx – a Devil Girl hired by the big shots in Heaven to secretly take down rogue angels. Follow our unlikely heroine as she battles the forces of “good” while trying to figure out which side is the lesser-evil. It’s either succeed and get a free pass through the pearly gates, or fail and risk going somewhere much worse!

Paperback, 144 pages Published November 2009 by Devil’s Due Publishing (first published 2009) ISBN 1934692611 (ISBN13: 9781934692615)

“Mercy Sparx was born in the land of Sheol. A strange place between heaven and hell and purgatory. Against her will she was sent to our world charged with a mission from god. A devil girl secretly living amongst us, Mercy now hunts rogue angels hiding on earth. doing heavens dirty work.”

We get very little introduction to the actual land of Sheol. Mercy is introduced to the reader as a quick-to-anger girl who loves to drink and spend time at the bar. She is very upfront and hates being told what to do,or even worse, being forced to do something she doesn’t want to do. She can take a punch, but is quick to fight back and can kick some major ass.

In the beginning bar scene, Sheol is shown to be a place of many different types of creatures. She is approached by a Demon who tells her she is required to take a job on Earth and tells her she does not have a choice. Of course, she mouths back, refuses and gets knocked out, only to awake on Earth in a human form.

The first job we get to see her do is to de-halo the angel Serendipity. Serendipity is a DJ at a club and Mercy tracks her down. By transforming into devil form she is able to fight stronger and better. She also has some great weapons that help her fight the angels. The reader does not really find out what happens to the angels after she takes their halos. They just fall into a sleep-like state and she dumps their bodies at the agreed upon spots.

Serendipity has a friend that follows Mercy and knocks her off her motorcycle. Here is where we finally get some answers. The angel asks Mercy why she is taking down other angels. Is it because they have gone rogue? Or is it a random attack? We find out then that most angels who have gone rogue, do so to gain some freedom, or to have sex with humans. Mercy tells the angel that she is not on her list and lets her go.

Next we get introduced to Hank, Mercy’s room mate and maker of the bad-ass weaponry that Mercy has started using to battle the angels. Sometimes he also comes to her rescue as well.

Mercy’s next job is to capture a muse named Elsa who became a guardian and then went rogue. Elsa is expecting Mercy and knows about the special weapons she has been using. But with the help of Hank, Mercy is able to overpower her as well.

The demon tells her  to check in with pastor Jeremiah from now on. But when she finally does, the pastor announces that her jobs have all been completed. However, he requires her to do one last thing … get baptised.

There is not much as far as character development. It jumps from action scene to action scene until the story-line is developed. After Elsa though, Mercy starts asking questions about why she was really sent to Earth. She wants to know why she’s been instructed to hunt down specific angels, especially when they are not necessarily the more dangerous ones. It seems that Mercy is stuck between a century-old battle between heaven and hell.

The dialogue and scene setting are incorporated as part of the artwork. When Mercy speaks, it’s in black bubbles with red writing. When the angels talk it’s blue bubbles and yellow writing. There are also contrasts between scene changes or introducing new characters into the story.

It was the first time I have seen that incorporated into the graphic novels and when looking at the whole page, it was visually effective. But when actually reading, I found some of the red on black harder to read.

I thought this story was a very fast and entertaining read. Constant action and a combination of fun characters.

 

Awards

davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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