Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review: Dark Entries

DC Comics's adult imprint Vertigo recently launched a new crime line. I was fortunate enough to pick up the first two titles at the library recently and I barrelled through this one rather quickly. Getting star mystery novelist, Ian Rankin (author of the Rebus series) was quite a coup, the fact that he's writing a story featuring one of the stars of the Vertigo line, John Constantine is sure to be the icing on the cake. The only problem is that this isn't really a "crime" book at all, and only nominally a Constantine book.

Anyway, first things first. It's well done, and not having read any of Rankin's work up till now, it's obvious he has a nice ear for dialogue. The set-up is that John Constantine, paranormal/occult investigator is brought into a reality show, "Britain's Most Haunted". Apparently the contestants, who are locked in a "haunted" house are being, in fact, haunted. But it's not by the producers. Constantine decides that in order to diagnose the problem, he needs to enter the house.

It's around here that we hit the big twist of the story, one that it's really difficult to discuss the book without giving away, so if you want to skip the spoilers, scroll on down to where John's giving you the finger and read on.

It turns out that all of the "contestants" are really dead souls, pulled out of Limbo into a reality show being shown in Hell. The whole point of the show was to bring Constantine on board, the most requested contestant ever. It's here the story goes from being a detective story to straight up horror, and kind of loses the point as being marketed as being a crime story. But, it is quite good, so that's just an issue with the marketing.

My other issue with the book is that Constantine doesn't really feel like himself in this book. Sure, he's aloof ad a bit of a dick at times, but really, only at times. John Constantine is an asshole at all possible times, to everyone. This feels like the normal character on Prozac. I don't want to blame Rankin, maybe he (or editorial) felt they wanted to soften him up for wider consumption. But it just felt a little off for me.

The art by Werther Dell'edera is fine, nothing to write home about, but these books aren't meant to be artist's showcases anyway. HE does a fine job to set the mood and manages some touches that feel a bit like Guy Davis (B.P.R.D., Sandman Mystery Theater) in some of the later scenes.

A quick word on the format, it is damn nice. These small, 6" X 9" hardbacks have a very nice feel in the hand, reminiscent of the feel of Hardcase Crimes little paperbacks. Though they are small, they feel substantial. I may have to keep buy all of these just to see them all lined up on my shelf, much like how I like seeing all of my Hardcase books lined up. Yes, I realize that sounds a little anal/OCD, but the hell with it, one of the biggest charges I get out of collecting these things is seeing them all up on my book shelf. My preciouses....

Anyway, overall this is a good solid book, and I'm interested in reading more coming from the line, which is fortunate, because I have Brian Azzarello's book sitting right here, calling to me. Maybe if I get through this one quick enough I'll have something up about it mid-week, but I make no promises.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's the Word?

The word is laaazzzzzyyyyyyy. Anyway, have been taking some time off from blogging lately for reasons both work (boo!) and personal (yay!). Anyway, in case you're not keeping up with me elsewhere, I can also be found on twitter:

Also, since long-form blogging seems to be beyond my attention span at the moment, I have been updating my tumblr blog quite a bit of late:

You can also clink on the linky thing over on the sidebar if you want to be my fake internet friend over at the Facebook. But I'm not there a lot.

But hey, it's Wednesday, so let's have a quick run-down of what I picked up this week at the shop*:

Batman and Robin #3
: So the first storyline wrapped up in this issue and I liked it quite a bit. I like watching Dick & Damien growing into their roles as Batman and Robin and there's a nice character arc for them, even though this an "All New!!! All Different!!!' Dynamic Duo, I'm glad that this allows them to actually grow the characters. Morrison's writing is in par with the rest of his Batman work of late (very good) and Quietly, though there are some sketchy panels, once again delivers, and hopefully he'll be back after the next arc is over. I like the mixture of campy old-school villainy mixed with the new, more grotesque style on display here.

Detective Comics #856
: While Batman & Robin is the flagship title of the Batman line, Detective is my absolute favorite book out there now. With Rucka firing on all cylinders at this point, it seems like he's finally getting to write the stories he wanted to after he created the new Batwoman in the pages of 52 (before she got drug into the whole Countdown/Final Crisis brou-ha-ha). This is some of my favorite work he's ever done, and he's long been one of my favorite writers working in comics, so that's saying something. As much as I can say about the writing, the art is just amazing. J.H. Williams III is turning in easily the best art that is being done on a big-two monthly comic right now. There's not much more than I can say about it other than to show off the cover below.

Wednesday Comics #8
: While the universal love for this novel series seems to be waning, I for one am still enjoying it almost completely. Sure, the Wonder Woman and Teen Titans strips are dreadful, but once you realize that it's just like any comics section, with thing you like and things you skip, it's much easier to deal with thos. Consistently, the three MVP's of this series for me have been Supergirl (fun, goofy all ages comics), Strange Adventures (Paul Pope Adam Strange...exactly) and Hawkman (dude with a mace, hitting things...on Dinosaur Island). There are other strips that I like, but suspect will be even better in collected form (whateve novel form that is).

Nova #28: Nova continues to be one of my favorite Marvel books, simply by delivering large-scale, cosmic action. Though I have a feeling I'm missing a bit due to only reading this part of the War of Kings cross-over, I still love this series. Also, kind of kicking myself for giving up the monthly on Guardians of the Galaxy. Anyway, not much to say other than this is good stuff here.

*who you can also follow on twitter at

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Sorry for the lack of bloggery lately, but Summer's seemingly just moved into full swing. Anyway, going to see The Decemberists tonight at The Metro, and am suitably stoked. Picked up their newest album, The Hazards of Love and am enjoying it quite a bit. Os a complete album, it holds together much better than The Crane Wife (which I liked quite a bit).

So after I've talked about their last two albums, here's a track from their album before that, Picaresque, just because I love the video so much, with it's Rushmore meets The Daily Show conceit.