Showing posts with label Juan José Ryp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Juan José Ryp. Show all posts

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Brittania We Who Are About to Die by Peter Milligan, Juan José Ryp

Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I got this because the blurb promised an interesting story about a gladiatrix named Achillia. As is often the case, the blurb lied! The story unfortunately featured very little of her, and instead focused far more on the activities of Antonius Axia who is repeatedly described as a 'detectioner' when in fact that isn't how Romans would have described what we know today as a detective. The actual word would have been one we know well: inquisitor. This failure to get simple names right (Achillia is never described as a gladiatrix either) was annoying, but it wasn't the worst problem with this graphic novel.

The worst problem was that there was scarcely a page went by without bared teeth and blood. It was obnoxious and laughable. The blurb describes Juan José Ryp as an "incendiary artist." I never knew that a definition of 'incendiary' was someone obsessed drawing endless mouths full of teeth and graphic depictions of gratuitous blood-letting and violent death. I think Nero the emperor was not once depicted without his teeth bared. It was asinine.

There really were gladiatrices in ancient Roman times, but they were not common. We know of one apparently described as Achillia from a carving found at Halicarnassus, which was the home of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - the only remaining one of which is the Great Pyramid at Giza. Halicarnassus is in modern day Turkey, and the small carving featured two female gladiatrice. It was labeled Achillia and Amazon, but whether these were intended to be understood as their names is not certain.

This story actually follows Antonius as he tries to figure out why there is so much wanton slaughter going on, of the young men of certain noble families in Rome. His interest in Achillia is really incidental to his investigation, btu she does show up eventually. Unfortunately we never get to know her except in relation to his investigation, so she really isn't the leading female character the blurb led me to believe.

When she does appear, the same illustrator who has zero compunction about depicting endless violent slaughter and blood spatter galore, was evidently squeamish to a fault about illustrating bared female breasts, because Achillia was fully-clothed throughout, which flew in the face of the fact that gladiatrices fought topless, just as gladiators did.

I'm not a fan of splatter-punk in comics or text novels, so this turned me off, but the lack of any real story concerning Achillia was the major downer here. And I have no idea why it was titled 'Brittannia' since all of it took place in Rome. The final insult was that volume four, the last volume of this collection, was completely devoid of text in my ebook copy! It was a picture book only, and as such was utterly useless.

Once I'd ascertained that it was indeed totally bereft of text, I quit reading right there and have to rate this as a thumbs down, not because of the missing text but because of the overall story - or lack of an interesting story to be more precise. When in Rome, all I can do is as the Romans do and offer a Roman warning: legit cave! This has the added advantage of also applying when the words are read as English words! Reader beware as this novel is a legit cave!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Clone Fourth Generation by David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, Wade McIntyre

Title: Clone Fourth Generation
Author: David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, and Wade McIntyre
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: WORTHY!
Art work: Juan José Ryp.
Colors: Andy Troy (no reliable website found)

I began this thinking it was the last in the series and thrilled that the library had all four volumes in at once, but when I reached the rather cliff-hanger ending, I have to wonder if there are more volumes, but I have no word on that as of this blog. This story takes off where three left it - with the clones and their clone ninja escort making its way to an airlift which is two days' hike away. Eric the tattooed clone refuses to travel to the island.

The rest of them stop at a cabin in the forest and Amelia is shot. Feeling bad that every single character in this series has been white to this point, the writer or artist or both made the two villains in the cabin black and clone-haters. None of this massive universal hatred of clones was ever explained in this series. Amelia recovers from her gunshot wound and Luke lets the clone haters go - only to discover that they've been intercepted and slaughtered by one of the ninjas.

Meanwhile Mrs K joins the psycho reverend and ends up kidnapping Amelia and Luke's baby even though she's supposed to have reformed. This does not end well for Mrs K. Eric joins the clone haters as a spy. This is how he discovers the kidnapped baby and manages to rescue Eva and return her to her mom. The plane leaves with out Amelia supposedly by her choice, we're told.

Everything seems to have worked out fine until the clones arrive at the island, and in a series of views to which we're party but to which the clones are not, we discover that there's something rotten in the state of Japanese private islands. To be continued? Who knows? This series has been optioned for TV, but given that it took seven years to get this thing from conception to print, who knows how long it might be before - or even if - a TV show appears? Orphan Black does provide a precedent for clone shows, and The Walking Dead provides one for the rampant violence. We'll have to see. I recommend this series as a whole as a worthy read, although some parts of it are not that great.

Clone Third Generation by David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, Wade McIntyre

Title: Clone Third Generation
Author: David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, and Wade McIntyre
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: WORTHY!

Art work: Juan José Ryp.
Colors: Andy Troy (no reliable website found)

The third novel in this series is much more violent and sexual than the previous two and the one I liked the least of the quartet I read. Luke is still stupid unfortunately. This is also a kind of Joss Whedon tribute edition in that favorite characters are killed off (or appear to be killed off) willy-nilly.

This novel introduces cloned sisters, just as Orphan Black introduced brothers. The ones we meet are Kazumi, Meiko, Rei, and Sayaka Hatanaka daughters of Ayato, a friend of Luke's father. They are trained in martial arts. When they learn of the plight of the Luke clones being hunted down like animals in the US, they decide to take action.

The problem I had with this whole scenario is one I have with a lot of US-based stories, TV shows and movies. The US is only a tiny portion of the planet - less than five percent of the population - yet it acts like it is the planet, and we see that same arrogant, aggressive stance starkly illuminated here in that this entire story is a claustrophobic world of its own. Every single one of these clones lives in the USA - not a one of them has moved abroad for any reason despite being army brats every last one of them.

Worse than this, when the pogrom comes, not a word is spoken about these people moving to Canada or Mexico or some other place where they would be safe at least temporarily. Not a word of objection to this bloody and barbaric slaughter is heard being voiced neither from within the US nor from any other nation. It's like the US is the world, and there is no other place, and this story is taking place in a vacuum, and frankly, it simply isn't realistic. It's this which made me start to doubt the worthiness of this story for the first time.

At one point, one of the characters suggests that it's time to "...cut tail and run..."?! Cut tail and run? What the heck is that? Does he mean "turn tail, and run" and is perhaps confusing it with "fish, or cut bait"?! Who knows.

It's at this point that we learn that Ayato Hatanaka is willing only to take the clones - no family members, helpers or loved ones. Obviously this is going to create maximum friction. Amelia has already deposited the baby with her rather estranged (if not outright strange) mother, which I considered to be a serious mistake. This is supposed to ensure the safety of the child, but it's with her mother - do they not get that the evil government will know that Amelia has a mother and might leave the child there? No one raises this as a problem, but I predicted big issues with this (and I was right).

The novel ends with a show-down at a house in the country where the clones are hiding out until Hatanaka can organize their escape to an isolated island off the coast of Japan - a place which will be a sanctuary for them. Before they can leave, there is a government assault on the clones. Jennifer, Sanah, and Bennett hold-off the assault rather ineffectually as everyone escapes down a tunnel, and then the house blows. Did anyone survive?

I had some issues with this particular volume but in the end consider it a worthy read as part of the entire series, and I looked forward to volume four.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Clone Second Generation by David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, Wade McIntyre

Title: Clone Second Generation
Author: David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, and Wade McIntyre
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: WORTHY!

Art work: Juan José Ryp.
Colors: Andy Troy (no reliable website found)

Luke is now at the secret underground (literally) clone base, but he's understandably obsessed with finding his wife Amelia and child Eva, who have been abducted by elements in the government who are themselves obsessed with wiping out every member of generation one of the cloned Luke, and so have no regard for the life and welfare of his family - except, of course for the scientific interest the child might hold.

This novel opens with Luke trying to escape. He's prevented from doing so but he convinces his clone family that he must find his wife. At an arranged meeting at a truck stop, with a scientist who knows where Amelia is, Luke instead meets an evil clone named Patrick, who is slowly killing off every one of Luke's siblings. The clone passes himself off as a victim, desperate to find sanctuary from the purge, and like an idiot, Luke blabs everything about the secret underground location to him.

Meanwhile, the vice president and his daughter are both taken there, his daughter having been rescued by the indomitable Jennifer. That's unfortunate, because after Luke stupidly revealed where the base was, it immediately came under attack and scores of the clones were killed. Luke helps to overcome the attack, and most of the clones along with the VP and his daughter, escape. They retreat to the VP's country residence, which is a profoundly stupid thing to do. It's not like no one knows where that is!

Luke, Jennifer, and Sanah leave to track down Amelia and Eva. A new clone, this one named Eric, who is tattooed up the wazoo (I'm guessing, given how pervasively his entire body is covered!) comes down on Amelia's side and helps her escape the facility. He is attracted to Amelia the same way Luke was, but Amelia, not being a clone, isn't attracted to him in the same way. She does kiss him in gratitude for his help.

Again the art work was fine, but artist Ryp quite clearly has no idea what a woman looks like post-partum. Women are not weak and helpless (well, a few are, just like a few guys are, but in general women are pretty darned tough and recover well after pregnancy, even difficult ones), but Amelia's "recovery' here is simply not realistic.

A woman's ability to bounce back after delivery doesn't mean she isn't debilitated or weakened to one extent or another by the ordeal she's more than likely been through. It can be a real work out, and even the easiest of deliveries is accompanied by certain physical states which do not miraculously disappear overnight as Amelia's evidently did according to Ryp's art work!

Her large pregnant belly has magically gone - there's no "jelly-belly" which in any ordinary woman takes time to disappear, and which in some women never does really vanish completely. There are other physical facts, too, as other reviewers have pointed out: lactation is in full swing (although this varies from one women to another), and there is post-delivery vaginal discharge for which pads are needed.

No matter how strong a woman is or how easy the delivery may have been, she still needs time to recover and time for her body to return to something akin to her pre-pregnancy state, yet Ryp depicts Amelia as being quite literally no different in physical appearance or stamina immediately post-partum than she was before she became pregnant! It's not at all realistic.

What's also not realistic is Roy's horniness for Amelia. Yeah, guys like that have few qualms about using helpless women, but the way Roy is presented I got the feeling that he was the kind of spineless loser who wouldn't actually want to have anything to do with a woman, sexually or otherwise, who had just given birth. Despite this he's all over Amelia like she's a nymphomaniacal swimsuit model (which is how Ryp inappropriately depicts her - the swimsuit part at least). It just didn't strike me as realistic at all.

We also got Navajo medicine tossed into the mix as we met both Luke's dad and later, his mom, who is evidently a Navajo healer. While I acknowledge that there is medicine to be found in herbs and other plants, and I acknowledge that what we consider to be primitive peoples might well have had a handle on some of this through history, none of them were scientists or medical doctors, so I take all this new age and native medicine stuff with a large pinch of salt. Since we spent little time with this however, it was not a killer for me. It was actually nice to see that part of Luke's life. Not that he really knew anything about it!

One thing which bothered me was Patrick's readiness to slaughter his siblings. This was never accounted for to my satisfaction. We're told he was bred to have no feelings, but this is nonsensical. Even if we take that at face value, however, this still doesn't constitute a motive for his dedication to wiping out the other clones.

Those caveats on the table, I did still enjoy this novel, and I considered it a worthy read. I'm looking forward to volume three.

Clone First Generation by David Schulner

Title: Clone First Generation
Author: David Schulner
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating: WORTHY!

Art work: Juan José Ryp
Colors: Felix Serrano.

Being a big fan of Orphan Black on TV, I was curious to see what this graphic novel series would do with the idea of multiple clones. It's a very different story, and much more gory and violent, be warned, but I found volume one to be a worthy read.

Luke is happily married to Amelia who is heavily pregnant. Nothing unusual here until Luke shows up at work one morning to discover that he has a twin, who is bleeding to death all over his nice clean floor. It turns out this isn't a twin, per se, but a clone nick-named Foss, and Foss advises Luke he had better get to his wife fast.

But it's too late - his wife has been abducted, and Luke is picked up by Foss and some female non-clones (Jennifer and Sanah) who spirit him away to a secret underground - literally - base, where he learns the truth - there are scores of clones developed in an army program many years before. Now, with a senate vote due to ban embryonic stem cell use, the government is planning on eliminating the evidence of their past indiscretions, and some of the clones are hunting down and slaughtering the rest of them.

Luke's wife is of particular interest because none of the clones is capable of reproduction - so we're told. The only exception to this would be the original. Is this Luke?

Luke has a picture of a very brief meeting with his father. The odd thing was that whereas one page shows a photograph of Luke wearing a plain white T-shirt with a super hero logo on the front, all of the other pages showing this photo depict Luke in the same T-shirt but with blue sleeves. I guess someone screwed up!

The rest of the story depicts Luke trying to find and rescue his wife (not that Amelia or any of the females depicted in this story look like they need any male help to effect an escape).

Cloning - yes, clones do look all alike, but no, they're not exactly alike. As the saying goes, even identical twins have different fingerprints, and the reason for the differences in clones, especially in this case, is that it's not just nature, it's also nurture. More than that, your genome isn't just about genes, it's also about epigenetic material which can influence how genes are expressed, so even amongst true clones, there will be differences.

The other problem I had with this, and having read volumes two and three at this point I can tell you it's not addressed there either, is what was the point of this experiment? If it was to get super soldiers, how come none of the clones were in the armed forces or even cops for that matter?! It's not explained what the point of this experiment was, or why it was suddenly decided to terminate it with extreme prejudice as they say. Yes, they had the second generation "coming on-line" as it were, but it's never explained why the arrival of the second necessitated the destruction of the first. Since none of the clones knew about each other, and the program had been kept secret for three decades or so, it made no sense that they should suddenly be afraid that it would all come out in the news.

I liked this story and now intend to go on and read subsequent volumes. the artwork is bloody but realistic, and competently done. I saw one reviewer dismiss this because all the females were masculine looking. I guess he likes his women ultra feminine because I saw no problem here except that had Jennifer been drawn with the same red hair as Amelia she would have looked like her twin. The story itself, though a bit too bloody and violent for my taste for a story like this, was nonetheless well written, skillfully illustrated, and realistically colored. I liked it and I recommend it as a worthy read.