“Trees, Vol. 1: In Shadow” by Warren Ellis

Trees, Vol. 1: In Shadow (Trees, #1)(Author: Warren Ellis) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Yes, please.

I really, really enjoyed this volume. It was what Arrival would be if it was a comic book, except with a lot more characters.

After my streak of bad comic books, I didn’t even expect much from Trees. I was definitely pleasantly surprised.

Trees tells the story of the world 10 years after people discovered that aliens exist. The “trees”  appear all over the world. Wherever there is a tree, life is much darker and harder, and bad people choose the shadow of the trees.

There are several stories which follow different locations where there is a tree (Rio, Cefalu, New York, Shu (China), Mogadishu, etc.). Some of the people there are barely surviving, while some thrive on the darkness.

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It might seem like the entire volume has too many plots and characters, but I, personally, thought that it was a brilliant way to set up the story. Every tree location has a completely different event unfolding and all of them will be important for the future fight. And if so many cities seem unnecessary to some readers, I should remind that every time they present only one city in a similar futuristic plot, people always go “But what about the rest of the world?” Because of this, I fully support the fact that we have all kinds of sub-plots, and nothing seemed out of place to me. On the contrary, every story seemed just right for what is to come in the series.

I also really liked the art of Trees. It was simple but tasteful and pretty. There were scenes including death and sex, but they were not brutal and disgusting, and instead, they seemed mild and satisfying. This, for me, shows that the creators were sure enough of the quality of the book that they didn’t need to shock the readers with unnecessary vulgarity.

I am really looking forward to the next volumes of Trees!

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“Lady Mechanika Vol. 2: The Tablet of Destinies” by Joe Benítez

Lady Mechanika Vol. 2: The Tablet of Destinies (The Tablet of Destinies, #1-6)(Author: Joe Benítez) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)


Review:

Not as good as the first one.

My general problem with Lady Mechanika, after two volumes, is that it doesn’t follow through. In the first volume she was decided on finding her maker. In this volume that story is completely forgotten and something completely different is happening on a different continent.

Not to mention that this is Lady Mechanika and the tablet of destinies, except that Lady Mechanika is not even in the story line with the tablet. So to call it like this would be something like “Aragorn and the One Ring”. I mean… uh… they are in the same world?

I firmly believe that this could have been much better, had the story been more condensed and had there been fewer sub-plots.

Much like the first volume, there is a recipe in which there is a male mastermind who has a bunch of generic soldiers and a female assistant, while Lady Mechanika on the other team finds unlikely friends and a mysterious guy who helps her from afar. Maybe if they hadn’t followed this already used story, it could have been much better.

I continued liking the art, however. It was very intricate and detailed, and also pleasant to look at. The more female characters come in, the more obvious it is that they are all the same when you remove the colors. But I will choose to disregard that and enjoy the general feel of the book which was pretty good.

“Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse” by Joe Benítez

Lady Mechanika, Vol.1: the Mystery of Mechanical Corpse(Author: Joe Benítez) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)


Review:

*** 3.5, but not enough for 4 ***

I enjoyed Lady Mechanika a lot more than I did Wraithborn. Considering my immense disappointment with the latter, I was almost scared to start Lady Mechanika.

But as I received both of these, and the 2nd volume of Lady Mechanika, from NetGalley, I had to finish it. I am glad I had this incentive, because ultimately, Lady Mechanika is by far better than Wraithborn.

Lady Mechanika is the epitome of steampunk. Everything about it is highly detailed and intricate. If you look at the illustrations, you would notice that there are layers upon layers of art and attention to detail and I can’t not admit how impressive that is.

The art, in general, was much better here than in Wraithborn. If you remember my review, I was aghast at the depiction of women. They are still very sexual in Lady Mechanika, but it’s done a lot more tastefully, to a point where I can agree that this is the wet dream of a classy high school boy.

I also found the story more intriguing. I enjoyed the main story arc about the mechanical people a lot. The part that didn’t impress me as much were the sub-plots and hints at other relations between the character that just add fluff to a story that could go without. Almost all characters are related in pairs and have common past. These two are siblings, those two worked together, the two men know each other, etc. etc. As far as the story about the Frankenstein-esque doctor who creates the mechanical people goes, there’s already enough suspense that everything else is just micromanagement of pages that need to be filled.

And speaking of, my major issue with Lady Mechanika: the writing. Literally. The author really wanted to write a book, didn’t have enough material for that, but he obviously had too much for a comic book. There is just SO MUCH DIALOGUE. It doesn’t go harmoniously with graphic novels. A book rat such as myself can tell you as much: when you are reading a book, you can take as many pages of text as there are; but if you are reading a comic book, you are not prepared for the insane amount of dialogue that is just out of place and both disjoints the story, and distracts the reader.

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Looking at this, I remember what I thought when I was initially reading it: This is honestly outrageous.

“Shutter, Vol. 1: Wanderlost” by Joe Keatinge

Shutter, Vol. 1: Wanderlost(Author: Joe Keatinge) + (Year: 2014) + (Goodreads)


Review:

*** 3.5 stars ***

I previously reviewed the first issue of Shutter, and I stand by my prediction that this book has a lot of potential.

Shutter is a nostalgic journey back into the stories of our childhoods: Indiana Jones, The Mummy – adventurers, unknown lands, suave villains. With one exception. Shutter is not limited to our small planet.

The main character of the book, Kate, is a retired explorer who is trying to lead a normal life, but even if she’s not looking for trouble, trouble sure finds her.

That is not to say that Shutter is a book for kids. It’s more like all of the adventures you dreamed of having when you were a child, but seen through the mind of an adult. Including the cursing.

I found everything about Shutter very charming: the characters, the setting, the story, and even the space-time continuum. As I mentioned in my previous review, the first issue gives little away about the world Shutter is set in. From the rest of the volume it becomes clear that this is our planet, and nation states such as Brazil and the UK still exist. Also, it seems that the story is not set in the future, so it seems to be set in an alternate reality instead. One that is full of endearing absurdity. Such as Kate’s best friend, her clock.

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However, don’t be mistaken that the story of this book is one that’s easy to understand. Having finished the first volume, I can tell you that in no moment is it explained why it’s called Shutter. Or anything much beyond the prelude. The book leaves a lot to be answered in the future. Where I usually draw the line here for books that take too much time to get to the point, I found myself interested enough to go on. There are many things that I would still like to learn, and I am willing to sacrifice some patience for that.

And also for the fact that the art of Shutter is beautiful! The art style is very specific and there’s something quirky about it that I can’t exactly put my finger on, but I do thing that it’s very pleasing and adds to the story.

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“Nowhere Me, Vol. 1: Fates Worse Than Death” by Eric Stephenson

Nowhere Men, Vol. 1: Fates Worse Than Death(Author: Eric Stephenson) + (Year: 2013) + (Goodreads)


Review:

I will go with No. This is one of those books where the characters are over-hyping themselves and each other, because otherwise it would be hard for the reader to realize that something supposedly important is happening.

“Oh, these guys are rockstars!”, “He is a legend”, “Their research changed the world!” Okay then, if the author made his characters call each other brilliant, then we must be reading about truly amazing individuals. Not.

Nowhere Men is a very confusing, messy, and unconvincing attempt at sci-fi. There is no science anywhere in the entire volume, just a bunch of characters that make things happen and you are supposed to buy into the idea that they did it thanks to science. However, considering that the author doesn’t bother to give any information about the level of actual technological development in this world, or on where humanity was before the science Beatles came into the picture, this so-called “science” could as well be magic, for all the reader knows.

There is a large jumble of seemingly important individuals, including 4 interchangeable scientist gods, who did… something, and then… something happened, and some substance was created somehow. Sometime in the past someone somehow decided to put it on a spaceship for some reason, which created some kind of a virus, which is not actually a virus. Now you know as much as I do, having read the first volume.

If you stripped the story to its bare bones, you would find a striking resemblance to the Fantastic 4, including the design of the characters on the space ship. The science rockstars remain a mystery, as does their importance, however, the reader must be aware that even though they seem like a bunch of squabbling, greedy old assholes, apparently all of them are geniuses.

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It’s really hard to find any characters to care about, or to be convinced to believe in any part of the story. The self-explanatory articles and interviews with the characters don’t help. On the contrary, they make the story even more dragged out, and they nudge the reader into the land of “Who cares?”.

The part that I did like, more or less, was the art. It was solid, well-made, and comforting. I was glad to see that they didn’t go for anything more experimental, because that would have added to the overall ridiculousness of the volume.

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Thanks, Nowhere Men, see you never.