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.

 

Executioner (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse #3) by Laurell K. Hamilton, Ron Lim, Jess Ruffner-Booth

Current queen of the book charts and soon to be the star of her own television film, best-selling author Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampire hunter continues to take comics by storm As The Laughing Corpse enters its haunting final act, Anita Blake thinks she has the deadly voodoo priestess who’s made her life hell dead to rights… but the necromancer is about to find out her nightmare’s only just begun Find out why everyone in America is talking about Anita Collects Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse – Executioner

#1-5 Hardcover, Graphic Novel, 112 pages Published June 9th 2010 by Marvel Comics (first published 2010)

ISBN  0785136347 (ISBN13: 9780785136347)

As Anita’s problems begin to worsen, one dead body after another showing up. All the clues start pointing to the Vaudun priestess. She is accused of a murder with possible proof, but then the proof disappears. She is a very magical being and recently Anita’s been causing her some grief.  She decides it’s finally time that Anita pays for causing her life so many problems…

Anita eventually gets trapped in the middle of the biggest mess of her life and taken hostage. There is a blob of zombie parts that have been molded together guarding her in the basement. She has to get past the guards who have weapons and take on a battle with this grotesque rotting corpse to get herself as well as the other hostages free.

In the end, we get to see Anita be the most powerful and truest form of Animator. She has to fight back with what she knows best; all out Zombie Apocalypse.

These are some of the best renditions of novels into graphic form I have come across. I love that that there is just as much dialogue to go along with the illustrations and full colored glossy pages.

 

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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