Another week and another slightly late top 5 post coming your way. In my defence, I have a really good reason for this one being slightly delayed in that I’ve had a completely insane weekend of
work and other busy things playing Skyrim. Yeah, a good friend of mine recently got Skyrim for the first time and having heard all about his exploits and adventures in that wonderful, snowy land I decided it was high time I had a blast through it again myself. And in fairness, it inspired me for my eventual top 5 post so, silver linings and all that.
So, this week I’m looking at my top 5 “fantasy based comics”. Anything with orcs, goblins, elves, dwarves, magic and generally medieval style capers with extraordinary creatures or situations. You know the score, I’m sure I don’t have to explain it too much and if you don’t get it now, you will as the list goes on. For reference, there is no limitation placed on this list as to whether or not the comics were released in single monthly format or just straight up OGN, I’m also ignoring anything remotely sci-fi. I feel the need to point this out since the reality is most “sci-fi” is really just futuristic fantasy since the “science” part of sci-fi seems to get completely thrown out of the window. Anyway, I seem to be in a bit of a digressive mood today so I’d better get on with this before I’ve got 1,000 words down and no list done. I will keep the list relatively spoiler free as I usually try to, for any of you that haven’t read these books and may do in the future, and as always these are my opinions. You are allowed to disagree, I allow it.
5. Son of Merlin
So I know I banged on about the whole “set in a twisted world resembling the past of humanity with weird and wonderful creatures” thing, but screw it the first one on the list today is actually a tale set in modern times. But it features magic, lots and lots of magic, so it’s ok. It’s the story of a young man named Simon Ambrose, a professor at MIT and an all round faith-o-phobe (totally a word). He is a man of science, pure unadultered science. He is also the bastard son of Merlin, the greatest wizard there ever was and is pulled into this ridiculous world of magic and mayhem that, up until recently, Simon thought was all a load of rubbish. Being dragged into this crazy world, and due to his ancestry, he is also pulled into a centuries long battle that he feels he has no place in and is unsure he even believes is happening. It’s an interesting take on the whole magic-meets-science yarn. It ran for five issues, so taking the plunge on this is not a huge undertaking and the payoff for a relatively small amount of time and monetary investment is pretty good. There’s better books out there, sure, but I quite enjoyed it on the whole. The art was really nice throughout, line work and colouring were fantastic although I think the dialogue suffered with a touch of clunkiness every now and then.
4. The Witcher
Another lisenced comic book series from Dark Horse, this is one based off the CD Projekt RED games of the same name which in turn was originally based off a prose book series of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Essentially, it follows a monster hunter, or “Witcher” called Geralt of Rivia who on top of his impressive hand to hand skills and knowledge of the monsters he hunts, also has a firm grasp of magic and displays other unnatural abilities that aid him in his work. One of the big draws with the original novel series, something the games and this comic manage to portray equally well, is that everyone that inhabits this world does so in varying shades of grey. There is no outright good or bad, and the game takes full advantage of this with it’s use of (sometimes extremely difficult) moral choices. This is the only downside to the comic, we’re following a character that we’ve had full control of and shaped into the hero we want them to be over the course of two games, and are then taken on a ride where we have no say whatsoever. That, however, is the nature of the beast and the comic manages to capture Geralt voice and the general bleakness of the world he inhabits rather well, spinning a convincing tale that has managed to sate my hunger for new Witcher content just enough to last until the new game drops. Definitely one for the fans though, if you’re not familiar with Geralt or any of the goings on of the long running story you will probably find yourself fairly lost and wondering why you should care. For me, though, this was a great book.
Straight out of the mind of Stjepan Sejic comes this absolute master crafted world, one that clearly draws quite heavily from video game tropes but spins them in a really interesting manner. Supported by Ron Marz, who takes the reins on the dialogue and scripting side of things, this is a fantasy world that Sejic had been building for near enough a decade before the first volume actually landed. It shows, too, it has all the signs of something that is truly loved by the creators and it takes you on a hell of a ride. There are several things that help pull you into this book; the characters jump off the page and practically beg to be read about some more, they are intriguing enough to make you pay attention yet many are mysterious enough to make you read on. Sejic also manages to make the initial information dump interesting and not really feel like an information dump, you get a brief but necessary history lesson at the start then it jumps into the main bulk of the story. There’s a heft index at the back that goes into further detail but it’s not required reading to enjoy the story. Most importantly of all, it has dragons. Lots of dragons. As always, Sejic’s art is top notch throughout this book, some of his backgrounds look a little rushed at times but overall it’s well worth picking this up, especially since you can get it for next to nothing if you buy it used. The only real downside to this is that it was meant to be a volume released roughly every quarter, and we’re yet to see volume 2. Of a series that debuted in February of 2013.
2. Rat Queens
Now I’ve only read the first five issues that make up the first volume so far as I’m trying really hard to keep my pull list under control, but if there was room for another book that falls outside of DC’s main continuity this would be the first one to go on. Rat Queens is such a fun book, it’s hilariously funny and unbelievably violent all at the same time, with a main cast of characters that are all equally lovable for their own different reasons. The art is perfect in every single panel, whether it be a quite moment of reflection, a druken brawl in the local tavern or a full blown battle with a huge monster. The story revolves around an all female band of mercenaries who are almost universally hated by the town they live in, but still get shit done anyway. There are multiple rival bands that come and go in the town, several of which are also permanent residents and all share an equal rivalry between each other. If you’ve not had the chance to try this book out yet (no doubt you’ve at least heard of it) then you need to get down to your local comic shop or get online and order volume 1. Image have these wonderful, introductory priced first volumes which are insanely good value for money. Go buy it. Now.
1. Red Sonja
And finally we come down to numero uno, Red Sonja. I’m lumping two seperate series into one entry here, because I write my own rules and I say it’s ok. Both “Red Sonja: She Devil with a Sword” and “Red Sonja” have been favourite reads of mine. “She Devil…” certainly has some weak points, it’s a series that ran for 80-odd issues so there’s always going to be highs and lows within that length of time, but the lows were never enough to put off buying and reading the rest and the highs were some of the greatest moments I’ve read in comics. Sonja has this incredible ability to blag her way through so many situations she has no business even surviving, let alone actually winning and that’s one the big draws for me. I’ve never been one for planning, I like to blag my way through as much as possible so she’s almost somewhat of an inspiration to me in that regard. Her newest series, the simply titled “Red Sonja” has united one of my absolute favourite characters with my absolute favourite writer, Gail Simone who has a real knack for bringing out the Sonja that we really want to see, one who finds herself in some absolutely ridiculous situations sometimes, but always manages to come out showing why she has a reputation as one of the biggest badasses this side of Hyrkania. Expect large volumes of blood and booze to flow through each issue.
And that’ll do me for tonight I think, got another post dropping tomorrow (the one I meant to have up for last Friday, damn you Skyrim!) and at some point this week I’m going to be looking into changing up the appearance and layout of the blog. I really liked the yellow theme to begin with, but I think it’s outstayed it’s welcome now and needs to go. I’m also looking at sorting out a header image which will feature a selection of my favourite comics, covers and some of the rarer gems in my collection. All of this needs to fit around work and other commitments too so it’s not going to be an overnight process. I’m also in the middle of compiling what has turned out ot be a stupidly big shopping list of comics, something I’ll be detailing tomorrow. For now, enjoy the rest of your evening/day and thanks for stopping by!