Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Possessed Trade Paperback Review

The Possessed
DC Comics - Wildstorm - Cliffhanger!
144 pages
$14.95 (2004) Trade Paperback
ISBN 9781401202927

Contributors: Geoff Johns, Kris Grimminger, Liam Sharp, David Baron, and John Layman

Reprints: The Possessed #1-6 (of 6)

Synopsis: A very secret war is being raged between the real world and what can only be called Hell.  Innocent people are being possessed by vicious demons who only care about causing destruction and corrupting humans.  The Church is aware, but lacks the tools to truly make a difference.  Only one group has stepped up to make a difference in the struggle.  This motley band of exorcists are possibly scarier than the demons they face, but all share a common bond - they were possessed as children and rescued from their fate.
From left to right: Burroughs, Walt, Christian, Holly, and Trixie
The team is led by Christian whose ultimate goal is to defeat the Devil himself, but most consider it an impossible task.  Burroughs is a tough-as-nails priest who is even more devout.  Holly bears the scars from her possession as a sign of strength and is perhaps too sentimental towards the innocent victims the team rescues.  Walt is Holly's father and he was absent for most of her life and especially during her possession as a child.  He's making up for lost time and disapproves of her and Christian's relationship.  Trixie doesn't rely on faith when there's firepower available.

Burroughs uses his faith as a weapon
during an exorcism
Employing the latest gadgets and tactics against their cunning prey, the group exorcises demons and sends them back to Hell.  Christian has uncovered a pattern to the possessions which may very well lead to his ultimate goal - the Devil!  Is he being tricked by the ultimate trickster?  Can even this group of hardened exorcists hope to stock the

Pros: Demon-killing action, mildly interesting premise, the team of exorcists use some cool tactics, Sharp's art is hardcore and suits the book very well

Cons: Plot is very simple, Sharp's art gets less detailed as the series progresses, characters are flat

Some cool covers by Sharp
Mike Tells It Straight: This book feels like John Carpenter's version of The Exorcist!  I was surprised to see Geoff Johns involved since he's known almost exclusively for mainstream superhero comics with DC.  I've been a fan of Sharp's art since his Incredible Hulk days and he's gotten better over the years.  The first few issues have some highly detailed art, but he cuts corners in later issues.  The book is definitely a one-off for the two big names attached.

Johns' and Grimminger's plot is fairly simple and they progress through it respectably.  Each chapter gives a nice hook leading to the next and overall it's a competent effort.  The book remains mediocre due to flat characters and can't be saved by Sharp's art.  He shows some great chops early on, but I think everyone lost steam by the end.

TO BUY and Recommendations:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A God Somewhere Graphic Novel Review

A God Somewhere
DC Comics - Wildstorm
200 pages
$24.99 (2010) Graphic Novel
ISBN 9781401226831

Contributors: John Arcudi, Peter Snejberg, Bjarne Hansen, and Wes Abbott

Synopsis: This is the story of three friends who grew up together and would be torn apart when one of them became a god.  Eric and Hugh are brothers, but complete opposites.  Hugh was good with studying and ended up mildly affluent while Eric was always a trouble-maker.  Both of them had good hearts and befriended Sam when they were kids.  More like saved Sam from getting beaten up for being the only black kid in school and an easy target.  They've been close friends ever since.

Now they're older and Hugh has a beautiful wife named Alma.  He lives in a nice house and has a high-paying job while Sam and Eric work at UPS.  Eric is happy, but Sam feels like he's missed his potential in life.  Hugh starts to feel like an outsider because of his higher social status.  The three plan to buy a boat together so they can reconnect.

Eric exhibits some extraordinary abilities
One night a meteor hits Eric's building and he's the only one left unhurt.  During the rescue operation to find survivors he shows incredible powers.  Some kind of miracle has changed him into a superman.  The media descends on him and his friends are unable to see him except in brief encounters.  Eric turns to religion to understand what has happened to him and begins doing good deeds.  He gains immense and unwelcome fame while losing touch with his family and friends.

A gap forms between Eric and Hugh which causes them both irreparable harm.  Sam ends up as a kind of sidekick to Eric and rides his coattails to fame.  What happens when a normal man becomes something beyond humanity?  Eric begins to change as his newly gifted powers set him apart from normal society.  What human authority can stop him when he's no longer human?  Is the world organized by God or by chance?  All that is certain is nothing will ever be the same.

Pros: An interesting take on the 'superbeing', good characters, competent art, suitably dark and shocking, definitely makes you think, Snejberg nails the emotional expressions of the characters

Cons: Snejberg's art is not particularly realistic, a few events were a little corny (like the LA showdown between a militia group and the police), probably offensive to people who are serious about believing in God

Mike Tells It Straight: John Arcudi writes a lengthy graphic novel to explore the moral crisis and resulting destruction a normal person would produce if randomly given superpowers.  This book reminded me of Arcudi's cult classic series Major Bummer where a slacker gains superpowers.  That series was funny while this story is grim and philosophical.  I enjoyed both and you know I love a good deconstructed superhero story!
Eric becomes a god-like figure

Arcudi focuses on the relationship between the three friends and its eventual breakdown once Eric becomes a demigod.  We see Eric, an essentially good man and a Christian, imbued with power that sets him apart from humanity.  He slowly questions why he needs to conform to human rules and society any longer.  The rift between brothers is particularly difficult to witness.

I really liked Arcudi's possible explanation for Eric's powers and the name of the book.  I won't give it away, but it's an interesting take on God and could be highly offensive to religious types.  Snejberg's art is pretty good.  He's done work on The Sandman with Neil Gaiman and is highly competent.  His art is fairly simple and I almost would have liked a more realistic artist, but he really draws great expressions on the characters' faces.

I suggest A God Somewhere as a mature alternative to superhero comics which gives a unique take on what happens when a regular person receives great power.  It's not pretty and I have to say it's more believable than someone putting on a costume to fight crime.  Despite being 200 pages the book is actually a fast read.  Check it out!

TO BUY and Recommendations: