Friday, November 21, 2014

Curse you, Netgalley...

...for luring me in with easy downloads of ARCs for graphic novels.  The only winner I had lately was Harley Quinn: Hot in the City, and I know a lot of diehards won't agree with me there.  S'okay.  S'wonderful.  I now give you three graphic novels that I either didn't finish, didn't get, or really, really didn't like.

The Squidder by Ben Templesmith

This said H.P. Lovecraft somewhere in the summary, so I obviously had to have it.  As far as I could tell, the main idea was that these giant spacefaring squid came to Earth and took over about a hundred years ago or so.  Some humans collaborate with the squid-monsters and worship them, giving them a sacrifice/priestess/novitiate to become a conduit of half-squid, half-human.  The Squidder is actually the main guy character.  He was genetically engineered to fight the squid-monsters in the squid-war, but the humans lost and now he roams around hallucinating about his dead wife and taking on merc jobs.  Some crime-syndicate honcho hires him to save a priestess that he (the honcho) kidnapped, but who was then stolen away by somebody else.  Despite the fact that Squidder hates squids and those who worship them, he agrees to rescue the girl because otherwise there wouldn't be a story.

I started getting really bored at this point so I went to Goodreads to check out the reviews.  A fellow reviewer whose taste in graphic novels is excellent didn't like this either, and mentioned a scene where the priestess chick gives birth to a sword.  Literally.  So of course I had to skim ahead and find it.

Right.  So, long story short, this old woman tells Squidder that he needs to have sex with the girl he rescued, which he promptly does, which is totally gross.  The priestess instantly becomes pregnant and gives birth to a sword.  Yes, the natural way.  I am unsure if human anatomy has ch
anged since the squids took over, or if the author just doesn't quite understand ladyparts, but popping a sword out of your nether regions is going to cause a lot of internal bleeding, for starters.  I'm sure this is like a blessed sword that will allow Squidder to vanquish their cephalopod overlords.  The art in this was decent, but the story ... just no.

The Divine by Boaz Lavie, Asaf Hanuka, and Tomer Hanuka

This has great reviews on Goodreads, and I have the uncomfortable feeling that I just didn't get it.  It's never fun not to be in on the joke (many apologies for all the negatives there).  This is the story of a man named Mark who leaves his pregnant wife to follow his ex-Army buddy to a place called Quanlom to "denude lava tubes."  Never mind the fact that everything about his buddy just screams "bad news."  Never mind the fact that lying to one's pregnant wife is never a good idea.  And for pity's sake, never mind the fact that "easy jobs for quick money" are never easy nor quick.  


Once Mark and Rambo (not his real name) get to Quanlom, they pop down into a volcano and set the charges.  On their way out, though, Mark espies a wounded boy.  Despite Rambo's protests, Mark has the boy patched up.  Then a bunch of child-warriors attacks and takes Mark prisoner,  It turns out that if they blow up the mountain, Bad Things will happen.  The powerful dragon spirit that just happens to live in the mountain won't have a home.  Yes, this is why Rambo came back--to destroy the dragon.  The child-warriors are led by twins called The Divine.  One of them is a seriously cranky little fellow (with an unpleasantly racist caricature-esque face) and the other can basically pull your spine out of your body with his mind.  Good times.

I'm sure you can guess what happens.  I suppose this is a meditation on war and interference and the loss of innocence, but it just felt really odd and a bit silly for my taste.

The Shadow Now by David Lis and Colton Worley

Pulp classic The Shadow has returned to his vigilante ways after spending decades "in the East" (here we go again with the fetishization of East Asian culture) learning how not to age.  Conveniently. he's had people running his tab-keeping business while he was away, and now it's time to take on ... the Russian mafia!  


Okay, so that's a little mid-nineties James Bond, but I was willing to give it a try.  Unfortunately, try as I might, I simply couldn't get past the insipid dialogue and the totally bizarre art.  So, basically, all of it.  As for the writing, "Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Did you think you would not be caught?  Did you think I wouldn't know?"  Did you learn how to write menacing dialogue from Saturday morning cartoons?  The art style is quite odd--it's hyper-realistic and very un-pulp.  It looks like a hidden object game you'd play online--that kind of artwork.  Kind of watercolor-y but not really.  It was extremely distracting.  I got through twenty pages of the dreck and gave up.

All ARCs came from Netgalley.

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