Posted tagged ‘Avatar’

Review: Frankenstein’s Womb

August 22, 2009

Frankenstein’s Womb is the latest in Warren Ellis’ occasional line of Apparat comics from Avatar.  The central premise behind these books is what would comics have been like had pulp traditions besides masked vigilantes become the dominant genre in the form?  They’ve also consistantly been his best work over the last few years (Crecy may actually be his greatest work ever).

So, now he’s essentially written an Alan Moore comic (think From Hell but focusing on Frankenstein instead of Jack the Ripper).  Within the fairly short tale Ellis manages to explore the origins of the Frankenstein story, the history of both Mary Shelley and her closest relations, and how all of these things tie together to lay the groundwork for the modern world.  

It’s a fascinating read, on a number of levels.  It doesn’t quite read like an Ellis book, or something published by Avatar for that matter.  It’s also far more readable than any of its peers (which may only include From Hell and Alice In Sunderland, not to sleight the achievements of either of those works).  Definitely recommended.

Review: Freakangels Vol.2

May 4, 2009

Freakangels is Warren Ellis’ latest experiment with the comics form (for prior examples see Fell and Global Frequency).  This time around he’s playing with webcomics, publishing the series in weekly, six page, chunks with an eye towards collecting them in trade.  For the most part this works quite well, although the pacing, with its rapid scene changes takes a little getting used to.

The quality of the actual story depends a great deal on the reader’s exposure to other of Ellis’ books.  For him it’s fairly derivative actually, taking the century babies concept from his work for Wildstorm and combining it with the civil engineering focus of much of his science-fiction output.  Don’t get me wrong it’s very good, but Ellis does have a tendancy to repeat himself sometimes.  For those who have not read him before, this makes a great introduction to his work, actually it’s maybe the best book for that purpose.  But for the die hard Ellis fans, he’s done better.

Review: Freak Angels

November 21, 2008

Freak Angels is Warren Ellis’ latest effort to play with the format of comics.  His done this sort of thing quite successfully in the past, particularly with Fell, a comic designed to be more affordable by making the story denser.  This time around the experiment is to produce a 6-page weekly webcomic that will read equally well in those small chunks as it will in a collected edition.

From the structural standpoint the book is a huge success.  The story largely accomplishes this task by switching between the dozen or so lead characters every few pages.  The characters are all strong and unique enough (although many are fairly typical for an Ellis book) to support this sort of narrative whiplash without losing the reader.

The story itself isn’t bad either, although very little happens in this first collection.  Due to the nature of the story the first volume is almost entirely given over to introductory material, and there’s a lot of it to get through.  Besides all the characters (many of whom have to be established as having psychic powers or advanced engineering skills) there’s a fairly complex world to introduce.  To paraphrase the series blurb, the book is about what happens 6 years after the world ended.  Ellis does all this work almost seemlessly, but the book does end feeling like the story is just getting under way.  Fortunately if you’re impatient for volume 2, there is the webcomic.