Locke & Key: Small World

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Back when I first heard about Locke & Key: Small World, I knew I had to add it to my collection of the Locke & Key series. My book shelves absolutely demanded it! It was only a matter of finding it. This Friday was my lucky day though, as I found a snazzy hardcover deluxe edition on one of the “Staff’s Picks” shelves at my local comic shop. 😀

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This pretty much sums up my reaction upon discovery.

I didn’t even open that bad boy up to get a good look at the contents within. I just plucked it off the shelf, grasped it firmly in my little mitts and paraded around the store like it was already mine. Which it basically was. I would dare anyone to try to take it from me at that point. Fisticuffs Mode was fully activated.

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If you’re not already familiar with the Locke & Key comic series, this might seem a bit dramatic. If you are, however, already acquainted, I’m sure you understand. 😉 Joe Hill (the writer) and Gabriel Rodriguez (the artist) are a great team, and their work always leaves you wanting more.

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“For over two hundred years, the Locke family has watched over Keyhouse, a New England Mansion where reality itself has come unhinged, and where shadows have been known to walk about on their own.

Here they have guarded a collection of impossible keys, instruments capable of unlocking unnatural forces. Those who carry the keys bear a dreadful responsibility . . .

. . . and the old wood of this house has been stained with blood more than once.”

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Locke & Key: Small World is a very quick read. It takes readers back to Keyhouse, but introduces us to a different set of characters than the ones we’ve come to love in the volumes of Locke & Key. It still holds the same magic, humor, and horror, but the only downside is that if you’re like me and have been spoiled by reading a full volume at a time, this is like getting a drop of water when you’re parched and just want the whole glass. Still though, a drop of water is of course better than going without, but it really did make me want more to read.

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The rest of the book contained extra content like a conversation about Locke & Key with the creators themselves, an art gallery with variant artwork/covers, and a very detailed look “behind the scenes” of how Locke & Key makes it from rough script to finished pages for the comics.

If this strikes your fancy in the slightest, I highly recommend you go out and get yourself volume 1 of the Locke & Key series, Welcome to Lovecraft. It’s a dark blend of great storytelling and great artwork that draws you in with all the madness that goes down between the pages of the series and leaves you with questions as well as the desire to read the next volume. I’m purposely being vague, since it’s no fun giving away all the good bits, and trust me, this series is full of plenty of good bits. 🙂

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Saga Comic Binge Read

My boyfriend says I’m a monster because I always read his new comics before he does. I say, ya snooze ya lose. lol I’m sorry (no, actually, screw that, I regret NOTHING!) because when there are great comics to be read, I’ll be damned if I’m not going to read them. 😛 In all fairness, he takes forever to actually get around to reading them, and I keep my lips firmly sealed regarding spoilers of any kind. We have a system. It works. ❤

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HIM: “You can’t keep reading my comics before I get to!”            ME: “Bitch, watch me!”

Our local comic book shop had some pretty good sales over the holiday weekend so he went ahead and added to his collection of Saga, picking up volumes 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Needless to say, I descended upon those poor, helpless trades like they were newborn infants left out to the wolves. I read all of them while I was over, one after the other, until I had to stop at volume 7 to go partake in 4th of July festivities because ‘MURICA.

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Oh, I’ll be back for YOU, my pretty! *cackles*

This series is just soooo damn good. It’s one of those gems that really lives up to all the hype surrounding it. In case I didn’t scream my love for this series from the rooftops enough in this “Cute Comic Couple” post or my spoiler-free review regarding Volume 2, let me just say:

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Spider-Gwen, Vol. 1: Greater Power

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After a lukewarm first dip into the world of Spider-Gwen with Volume 0: Most Wanted back in March, I wasn’t in too big of a rush to move onto Volume 1: Greater Power. I didn’t hate it or anything. I just wasn’t as into it as I would have hoped to be. Here’s a link to clicky-clicky if you want to read my thoughts on volume 0.

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Fortunately, Volume 1 carried over the things I enjoyed about volume 0, but toned down some of the things I wasn’t as crazy about (like all the angsty band drama). I’m still a big fan of the popping color schemes, Gwen’s costume design, and this alt-Gwen herself as a character. She’s corny and loves puns. I can appreciate that. 🙂 I also like that she isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes and she owns them and learns from them.

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We get to meet more alt versions of characters as some iconic baddies as well as good guys, and I use the term “guys” loosely, entering the fray. No worries, I won’t spoil the fun by saying who they are. 😉 Here’s the fist of one of them though:

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We also get to learn more about Gwen and her friends before she was bit by that radioactive spider, as well as get some hints at some of the shadier stuff going on behind the scenes with some of the other characters. The story overall still wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, but I think it may just be a slow beginning to something better in the long run perhaps. Only time will tell. I’d say I definitely enjoyed this volume more than volume 0 though, and would probably give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

And just for fun, here’s some of the variant covers included in the back of volume 1:

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No Spoiler Review- Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening

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I just love it when a book lives up to all the hype surrounding it, and Monstress delivered this and then some. Hands down, this story has the best worldbuilding I have ever seen in comic form. It’s a beautiful blend of magic and horror from beginning to end.

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“Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.” Goodreads

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Between Marjorie M. Liu’s dark and intriguing writing, and Sana Takeda’s consistently gorgeous and impeccably detailed artwork, it’s hard NOT to fall in love with Monstress. The only reasons I can imagine anyone complaining would be if:

A.) They get squeamish over blood and violence.

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B.) They’re offended by cuss words, and when cats are the ones uttering said cuss words.

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Or C.) They don’t like monsters. Or ghosts. Or the ghosts of monstrous gods.

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Another thing I really enjoyed about Monstress were the characters. Maika (the main character) has seen some shit in her seventeen years of life. She had to become tough to live through the things she’s been through. She has scars both mentally and physically that prove her to be a survivor. The world she lives in is not kind, with war, slavery, and murderous and power-hungry witch-nuns only providing a taste of the dangers that has left most of the population wounded and desperate no matter what “side” they are on. Also, if you are seeking a story that represents strong women, this one’s for you. I mean the pages are literally filled with them. Unlike most stories where male characters tend to vastly outnumber the female characters, Monstress actually flips this concept.

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This is the sort of story that slowly unravels with time, but not in a way that ever leaves the reader bored. It simply has layers. Layers upon layers. Like onions. And ogres. (You’re damn right I just made a Shrek reference there.)

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This first volume did a great job at introducing the readers to the world, characters, and story, but it definitely leaves us with questions. Which is honestly just fine with me because I am really looking forward to reading more when volume 2 comes out this summer! 🙂 Definitely a 5/5 star beginning to what will no doubt be an incredibly epic story.

Spider-Gwen, Vol. 0: Most Wanted

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Marvel’s Spider-Gwen presents us with the question: what if it had been Gwen Stacy rather than Peter Parker who had been bitten by that fateful radioactive arachnid?

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I was pretty excited by this premise, and had really looked forward to checking it out, but while I liked it, I’m afraid that I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped to.

I really enjoyed the art, and the color scheme was great, with bright colors that really stand out and command attention.

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But while visually, I was digging it, I wasn’t as thrilled with the overall story which just sort of seemed disjointed and cobbled together at points. When we meet this version of Gwen she’s already been bitten, learned to use her abilities, suffered a great loss that inspires her to get her superhero on, and has her costume. And she’s even already public enemy #1 in the eyes of the law. Honestly, I would have rather actually gotten to see that all go on in volume 0. I think it would have been better for kicking off her story and letting us better get to know this version of Gwen. I guess I was hoping for her origin story and just wound up feeling like I was tossed into yet another day in the life of Gwen fighting crime and struggling with drama within her band. Yup, there’s also a big side story involving Gwen being in a band called “The Mary Janes” with who else but Mary Jane Watson as the lead singer. And Mary Jane is such an unlikeable narcissist in this alt universe it isn’t even funny. I suppose this leaves her a lot of room for character growth, but I just couldn’t stand her. I know we’re supposed to root for the band to get over their drama, but I just wanted to see the other girls rise up in a hipster girl band mutiny against Mary Jane and her inflated ego. Heck, I think I disliked MJ more than I did the main bad guy of this volume, the Vulture.

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We encounter several Marvel characters in volume 0 and I know things are supposed to be all topsy turvy in this alt universe, but some of them just felt so very off that it almost made them feel less like a twist and more like a ruthless decapitation and disembowelment.

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C’mon, Felicia Hardy, I’m lookin’ at you on this one. I know you’re a known thief, but what in the hell were they thinking having it look like you’ve been stealing your wardrobe from the closets of Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj?? The girl in the green dress on the right perfectly summed up my reaction to this universe’s Felicia. WTF indeed.

Gwen at least is a likeable enough character. She has flaws that she is trying to work through and has a good sense of humor, but I think I would have liked to have gotten to know her even more by the end of this first volume considering she is the protagonist. I love her costume design though and she has a really nice heart-to-heart with May Parker that I thought was handled very well.

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I haven’t made up my mind yet about this series as a whole, and fortunately I already have volume 1 on hand to help me explore the series further before making a final decision on it. Maybe it just got a rough start on shaky little Bambi legs and will take off bounding through the other volumes. I hope so. Overall, I’d give it 3 out of 5 stars, I think.

 

Saga, Volume 2: No Spoiler Review

Volume 1 of Saga had me madly in love at first read, and Volume 2 made me put a ring on it. This series really is something special. The writing. The artwork. The characters. It’s the total package.

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It’s actually been a couple weeks since I finished reading this, but I kept getting sidetracked when it came to writing up a review for it. I think I’m going to have to attribute some of that to the fact that this is a tough series to review and define. It’s such a fresh, exciting, witty, and outrageous series that it can be hard trying to confine all of its awesomeness into a neat and tidy little package of a review. That, and sometimes I can be a total procrastinator. 😉

This volume gives all us Marko/Alana fans some much desired backstory of how they came to be the epic couple we now know and love.

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We get to see Marko way back when he was just a little tyke and get some more insight regarding the friction between his and Alana’s people. We also get to learn more about how much of a book nerd Alana was before she was too busy on the run from bounty hunters to crack open a good book. (As if we needed any more reasons to love this woman!) ❤

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And of course we have adventures aplenty from bounty hunting duo, The Will and Lying Cat, as well as a certain somebody from Marko’s past. Perhaps someone with an old grudge of her own?

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Prince Robot IV is of course still relentless in his hunt of Alana and Marko. The man is willing to do anything to find them, even reading trashy romance novels.

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Plus, you get adorable new characters like this little cutie:

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If you want a comic series that truly lives up to all the hype around it then Saga is for you. A beautiful blend of science fiction and fantasy, action and romance, laughs and thrills. As if you hadn’t guessed by now, this is a solid read and deserves nothing less than 5/5 stars. The only drawback is if you don’t have volume 3 on hand when you finish reading this because there’s a definite cliff hanger!

Review (No Spoilers): Giant Days

So, I can’t say for sure if I believe in fate or not, but it certainly seemed to ring true with this weekend’s addition of Giant Days to my comic collection.

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I’m lucky enough to have a boyfriend who also loves comics. This means many of our date days involve excitedly perusing the many shelves of our local comic book shop and/or the library. This weekend it was all about the comic shop and I was a girl on a mission! I went with several recommendations in mind, many from The Brunette Book Worm Blog‘s recent post about some of her top comic picks. On this list was volume 1 of Giant Days, written by John Allison and illustrated by Lissa Treiman with colors by Whitney Cogar.

And by some weird twist of fate, the woman working behind the register just so happened to select this exact title that was on my list to fill an empty spot on the shelf in front of me.With absolutely no prompting from me. It was uncanny!

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She was awesome and backed up the recommendation when I told her about it, so it was basically a done deal. Giant Days had officially earned its spot on my bookshelves. (Especially since my boyfriend was treating!) 😛

I am so glad I picked this little gem off the shelf. I feel like I must have devoured the first volume because I was eagerly turning the page to read the supposed next chapter and surely enough was confronted by the covers gallery and end of volume 1.

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I was so bummed I didn’t have volume 2 on hand. It was so fun and cute, and I loved the characters. It’s always great to see a story focused on strong female friendships, and that is exactly what Giant Days represents. Some people assume male writers are incapable of writing believable female characters, but to them I say “NAY!” because Giant Days is proof that this just isn’t the case as it
follows new friends Susan, Esther, and Daisy as they navigate their way through life at University. Each of our leading ladies is a different and believable character with their own talents and their own feelings and lives that they are trying to figure out.

So, enough about what I’m reading, what are you currently reading? Have you uncovered any recent gems of your own lately? 🙂