Showing posts with label Justin Gray. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Justin Gray. Show all posts

Thursday, May 28, 2015

21 Down Volume 12 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 12
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!

Well this was a real disappointment to me but only because I thought this series finished with this volume and discovered that it doesn't! Instead, it really stirs things up. First, Mickey and Preston are stalked by two new psychos who want to kill both them and Jack Lahana, so they can go home.

As if that isn't enough violence, Mickey's daughter Alex, now with powers of her own, is staging a mass breakout from the imprisoning facility in which she's been kept for some considerable time.

And what's with Mickey's death? And can Jack Lahana really turn time back? So why didn't he save his girlfriend?

Finally, Mickey and Preston and Jack all sit down for a good long talk - and a few questions are answered.

Series so far: Good. Entertaining. Great art work. Cool story, and some awesome action. A bit of confusion here and there (more there than here, actually), some dull spots, but overall, still worthy of reading.


21 Down Volume 11 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 11
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!

So the penultimate volume finds Mickey and Preston in my neck of the woods looking for the guy who even the church turned away, and debating who will be brave enough to approach the pit bulls to ask Lahana's dad where his son is. Pit bulls kill an American about every three weeks on average. Fifty percent of the time, it's their owner of a member of the owner's family. But I digress.

The guy who thinks he contained Alex, Mickey's daughter, turns out to be very mistaken. She breaks out and breaks him. She's dressed like Lelu from the Luc Besson movie The Fifth Element, and she wants all the locked-up kids to be set free.

This is also where we learn why Jack Lahana isn't welcome at church. Jack has some way special powers, but his powers beg the question: why is he such a pariah at church?

This volume was a wee bit confusion-infused. There was so much switching back and forth between people and time periods that it was really hard to keep a good grip on what exactly was being told here. But the guy getting eating by a giant monster at the back was cool. Although that may have been an ad for the Magic card game instead of a finale to this story....


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

21 Down Volume 10 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 10
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!

This felt like a really short issue and not a while heck of a lot happened in terms of different events. There were really only three main thrusts to the story, but I liked the way the coloring alternated from dark muted hues to bright ones, and back again, while the text went the opposite way at the start, only to descend slowly into darkness as the story progressed.

It was dark in the cavern where Preston and Mickey took on the creature, but their vocal tone was light and at times, tender. This was followed by the blinding explosion of Mickey's daughter into the story, accompanied by dark prognostications. It became darker in hue again when we returned to the couple and even though they were doing something heroically good, their actions were overshadowed by darkness which was maintained even when the light of the church scene flooded in. And it was all downhill from there!

Making a hair-raising escape from the Monstrosity of bad thoughts, Mickey and Preston rescued the young child and the Champion returned her to her home. Meanwhile, Mickey's daughter is being held in what's believed to be a secure location. Yeah. That's what they believed.

At this point it was decided to introduce a couple of new characters. Well one now - the other is saved for the cliff-hanger ending. The first guy is the young Mr Lahana, and he's and has evidently done something so bad, even his preacher won't forgive him. Or is that hymn?

The second guy introduces himself to Mickey's daughter at the very end of this volume. And she doesn't like it one bit.


21 Down Volume 9 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 9
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!

This volume nudges the story again. It used to be all about Preston and his power of reading dead flesh, but even as his power changes we learn more and more than he's not the only one.

Preston's instincts and visions have led him and Mickey to the circus where they meet Hank Champion - a legendary war hero from the Vietnam era. Presotn;s visions have led him to believe that Hank is the kidnapper of the missing girl they heard about in the diner in an earlier volume. He's not. It's much stranger than that.

Meanwhile (you knew there was going to be a meanwhile, right?), a couple of hikers out in the forest find a bunch of trees bunched-up together. It seems unnatural. It is unnatural. The girl wisely wants to leave well alone, but the guy wants to carve their initials into it. The tree has other ideas. Funnily enough, it's the same tree which was formed when Harmony turned twenty-one....

So now teaming up with the guy with the number nineteen on his shirt, Mickey and Peston follow him into an underground layer where there's more than one surprise waiting on them.

Yes, this one definitely kept the pace going and kept challenging our expectations, so both the script and the art work were fine. I am still enjoying this series and this marks three quarters of the way through it.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

21 Down Volume 8 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 8
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!
21 Down Volume 8 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

In this volume, Mikey and Preston are traveling down to Texas to talk with yet another Genie who has come to light down there, but the story opens with a Hulk-like human rampaging through a city and this moronic guy from the government thinks they can cover this up. They're still not getting along. Despite the fact that he now knows that Mickey's fifteen-year-old daughter is being held prisoner and that this underlies, if not justifies Mickey's every action, Preston is still pissed off with her.

They stop at a diner where people are talking about a missing child, and then the client├Ęle all mysteriously head outside en masse. Preston and Mickey follow to discover that they've all gone to see a solar eclipse. This is nicely drawn by the artist, but he has the moon moving in the wrong direction! Instead of moving down and to the right as it's drawn here, it should be moving up and to the left. Unless, of course, the Earth's movement and/or the Moon's movement has changed radically. In this story, this could well have happened, I suppose...!

Preston changes his mind about moving on, at the last minute, and decides to stay in town to go to the circus. He's been seeing the number nineteen - the bill at the diner was nineteen dollars, their hotel room is number nineteen, and something he sees at the circus convinces him that he knows who kidnapped the missing child.

This volume was much better - the story picked up again, and things got really interesting. Plus the dynamic between Preston and Mickey is really engaging. it was nice to feel at home again with this story!


21 Down Volume 7 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 7
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!
21 Down Volume 7 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

This volume begins with Preston telling his dead brother Rob's partner exactly what went down when Rob died. He also has a brief and inexplicable flashback - the flashback itself makes no sense. It's purported purpose is to show how Preston got to be Rob's bitch. Like I said, it makes no sense.

Preston wakes up to find he's in a hotel room with Mickey, and he's pissed at her because now he can't go home - his apartment is evidently under surveillance because of her tangle with Agents Ishikawa and Sizemore. He walks out on Mickey and contacts his old friend Clyde from the tattoo parlor. Clyde arranges for him to visit his brother's corpse.

In touching his brother's skin, Preston finds himself not seeing events that led up to his death, but events immediately after it, in which Rob literally strolls off into the sunset and meets their dead parents. because that's everyone's ambition when they die - to go back and live with their parents! This was way too cheesy for me. And there's no precedent for it. Maybe he only sees the future event when he's personally witnessed the past one?

In an idea right out of John Cafferty's Just a Matter of Time (which he no doubt purloined from elsewhere), "...you take just one small grain of sand right into the palm of your hand...." Preston takes a bright sparkle from Rob's outstretched spiritual hand and suddenly he's a new man - one with a purpose. No, not a porpoise! That would be silly. A purpose. Yeah, he's now got the trite stuff!

Almost forty percent of this comic was advertising. This is another reason I don't like comics that much. Graphic novels tend to have a lot less space devoted to advertising. That said, I liked the story. It seemed like not much was happening in this volume, like the writer was drawing his breath, and as I understand it, this one marked the finale of the first 'season', but there was plenty of food for thought.

Why comics would have seasons or anything like seasons is a complete mystery to me, but this one left us with an interesting ending - not so much a cliff-hanger as a teaser for the next sequence. At this point I am still on-board with the series.

Monday, May 25, 2015

21 Down Volume 6 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 6
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!

Volume six sees the return of Agent Michelle "Mickey" Rinaldi to the cover, although not in a provocative pose! I thought that maybe the cover artist took a sensitivity course during the volume five hiatus, but I was wrong. Rinaldi comes roaring back on the cover of volume seven!

The story is a bit trope-ish and corny, as we get a huge info dump instead of some real action and drama. In the end it was the priest wotdunit. Preston kicks the living Jesus out of him, and the boy he was using is safely removed from the premises and taken to an ER.

Meanwhile, the belated arrival of Agents Ishikawa and Sizemore lends some fun and humor to the proceedings. I have to say that this volume was the weakest of the first half of this series (which actually ended with volume seven).

The art work was excellent and the interactions were realistic except for the info dump. Preston's change of character was too abrupt and dramatic to be believable, but while I was a bit disappointed here, it was still an okay story and a worthy read as part of the series to this point.


21 Down Volume 5 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 5
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!
21 Down Volume 5 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

Volumes five and ten in this series are the only two which don't feature Agent Michelle Rinaldo on the cover. I have no idea why that is. Maybe the cover artist got embarrassed by his obsession with her provocative poses and leggy presence? Maybe not.

We left her and Preston Kills, the "Genie" guy making out in his apartment. This comic kicks off in the same place, but their swelling passion is interrupted by loud knocks on the door which initially are indistinguishable from gunshots. That's worth keeping in mind if you write comics! It turns out that it's not gunfire, but something just as disturbing to Preston: it's his brother Rob reporting to him about their aborted capture of the serial killer. The serial killer who spoke a few strange words and then took lead to the head. Rob obviously wants Preston to press the flesh once again, and see if they can figure out if there's more to learn about these killings.

While Mickey is taking a shower (yes, they were evidently going to have sex and be all stinky and sweaty before they began!), Preston sneaks out with Rob without telling Mickey where he's going, but once again telling Rob that this will be the last time he does this for him - like really the very, very last time this time.

Agents Ishikawa and Sizemore choose to arrive at Preston's apartment right after Mickey gets out of the shower, but she rolls right over them, literally, and arrives at the precinct just in time to see Preston and Ron leave for Rockland psychiatric institution. This is the clue which Preston got when he pressed the flesh. What he doesn't expect, however, is that Rob will lose control over himself - and especially over his gun, as soon as they set foot inside the building.

'
For me this was the first faux pas in the entire series so far. We have a cop entering a building and seeing dead bodies, and yet he fails to immediately turn around and call for back-up. This makes Rob look completely stupid and incompetent to boot. It also makes him seem callous since he has his kid brother with him who is not police and is unarmed. He never once considers his kid brother's safety.

That said I still recommend this series for the consistent plotting and art work, and for a great story overall.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

21 Down Volume 4 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 4
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!

Volume five begins with Preston taking his evidently disabled and aging friend Sam down to the beach for a walk (or in Sam's case, a wheel) in the pouring rain. He ends up telling him everything that's been going on. Disturbingly, Mickey Rinaldi shows up and asks if they're talking about her. Is she stalking Preston? Spying on him?

Meanwhile a homeless person reports the discovery of two dead bodies - females, found in a bed stitched together with a legend above them on the wall reading "I want to be judged". This harks back to volume one, where Preston entered info on a website with a name reminiscent of that same legend.

Preston and Mickey, having conveniently been out in the rain, now get to strip down to their underwear in Preston's apartment. She puts on one of his T-shirts, and suddenly, they are kissing up a storm - literally if the image is to be judged! What's she up to?

Again the story moves fast, offers suitably intriguing revelations and teasers, and the artwork is the same high caliber as always. The thing that bothers me about comics is that they're so short, and then you have to wait a month until the next edition comes out and you can continue the story. I am not a fan of series, either as novels or as comic books. This is, of course, the advantage of buying graphic novels, but even those, which used to be self-contained, now come in series. Another alternative is to do what I inadvertently did, which is to fail to discover this series until long after it was issued (like over a decade after!) and then being lucky enough to find all the editions you want when you do discover it. After four volumes I still recommend this!


21 Down Volume 3 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 3
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!

This volume continues immediately after the end of the previous one. Mickey Rinaldi has taken Preston Kills to see a young woman rather inaptly named Harmony. She engenders such a powerful attraction in people, male and female, inducing them to curry her favor, that they will do whatever she wants. She's about to force Preston and Mickey to fight it out over her when Agent Rinaldi simply knocks her out and then sedates her.

They carry her off to a less public location, with Preston bitching about it all the way, and Rinaldi comes up with a sure-fire method to be able to talk to her without Harmony being able to exert any of her persuasive power over them. It's at this point, as they communicate inventively with the restrained girl, that we discover what it is that Mickey wanted with Preston. And it wasn't very nice of her. You may recall that I did describe her in my review of volume one, as rather morally ambivalent.

While Rinaldi is taking Kills and Harmony to the forest, we meet two more agents, both with the FBI. Ishikawa and Sizemore are trying to track down the "Genie's" (Genetically Enhanced Individuals) too, and neither they nor their boss are very happy about Rinaldi swooping in and taking off with the subject so efficiently.

Preston has two serious issues: a power which not only promises to terminate his life as soon as he turns 21, but which also forces him to relive the last moments of a murder victim's life if he touches their skin. This works for his brother who's a police officer, but it makes the character's life lousy and like Ella in Ella Enchanted, he most definitely does not want this 'gift'.

Neither does he want to be used by this woman who came into his life apparently for the sole purpose of having him be close by when another person who has this same curse (but a different power) dies. Mickey wants him to be able to experience the girl's last moments so he can describe what happens to her. Why does she die when she turns twenty one? What exactly happens? In this volume, we find out part of the answer.

I loved this story for its intelligence. The artwork is really good, the whole idea is nicely put together and well-executed, and the story doesn't stop to let you catch your breath. Overall, I rate this as a very worthy read and a really good story as part of this complete series! It's nice to see a comic book that's not just remarkable art, but which also sports a good story along with those pictures.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

21 Down Volume 2 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 2
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!

Preston Kills has a power which not only promises to terminate his life on the day he turns 21, it also curses him with reliving the last moments of a murder victim's life if he touches their skin. This is a boon to his brother, who's a police officer, but it makes the character feel wretched, and he doesn't want this in his life - a life which was threatened in volume one by the very murderer Preston was hoping his brother would take down.

Preston's life was saved by the very provocative Agent Mickey Rinaldi who fortunately, is more than just her looks. She walks with him along the ocean front and explains to him about the existence of Genies - Genetically Enhanced Individuals. It's her job to study them, but she doesn't tell Preston that she has ideas of her own about how this study can be undertaken.

This story is intelligent and moves at a pace. The artwork is really good, and the whole package is nicely put together. For me, Mickey Rinaldi borders dangerously on comic book trope, but in her favor, she's a lot more complex than way-too-many comic book characters turn out to be, and one of these facets is her, shall we say, relaxed morality. She sought out our main character not just for his having a special power, but for the specific power he has. What he doesn't know, but she does, is that there are other people like him but with other powers.

It's in this volume that Preston learns that he's not the only one who has both a power and a death sentence. Rinaldi explains these things to him during their walk on the beach. She's not only provocative in appearance, she also shows that she's the same way in her behavior as she takes off her shoes to wade in the ocean, and invites Preston to "Get wet with me". Preston's hilarious response to that is to say, "No thank you Mrs Robinson"! At this point Rinaldi whisks him away to meet someone, although Preston isn't very enthusiastic. She suggests that she maybe will let him get her drunk if he complies. He doesn't deem to be much of an incentive evidently.

Through Rinaldi, Preston meets a woman like him, but whose power is that of having people fawn over her. She's like the goddess of love, and everyone, including her own parents, will do anything to curry her favor and attention, even to the point of viciously fighting-off rivals. Hence the problem our two characters have in trying to get their hands on her: they want only too much to get their hands on her! They both begin to succumb to her power, and this comic ends!

Overall, I rate this as a very worthy read and a really good story. It's nice to see a comic book that's not just great art, but which also sports a good story along with those pictures.


21 Down Volume 1 by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray


Title: 21 Down Volume 1
Author: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Publisher: Warner Bros
Rating: WORTHY!

I found this one in a comic book store (Austin's Tanglewood Village Shopping Center - the one on the left not the fancy new one on the right, which really isn't a comic book store) that’s a treasure trove of older comics, and which incidentally has a thriving week-end card-playing gathering.

I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, and some editions were missing, so I picked up only the first three (four and five were two of the missing editions) to begin with but after I read those I went around and picked up the rest of the series, which runs to twelve volumes. So this marks the first time I've read and reviewed a complete comic book series.

The main character, Preston Kills, has two problems, not least of which is that he’s going to die the day he turns 21. Why this is so, is a mystery, but it appears to be most definitely connected with the other problem, which is a power that he has, whereby he can relive the last moments of a murder victim’s life.

It so happens that his brother is a cop, who has the ambition of achieving the same success their father enjoyed as a detective, so his brother’s power is proving to be really useful. Of course, the main character doesn’t think so, since he has to suffer along with the victim every time he relives a murder; consequently, he’s constantly on the verge of refusing to do this any more.

Unfortunately, he really has no choice, as we discover. Preston works as an artist at a tattoo shop, and this guy who comes in there to have a web put on his hand starts giving off vibes which the main character hasn’t experienced before. He suddenly realizes that this guy is also a murderer and calls it in to his brother. The guy, with the rather clich├ęd name of Mad Dog Duggan, realizes how the police tracked him down, and as he's about to dispatch Preston, to his rescue comes the highly provocative woman on the cover, who knows way too much about our main character.

I loved this story. It was smart, fast moving, well portrayed, and neatly put together. Yeah, the woman is just a tad too much comic trope for my taste, but in her favor, she’s a lot more complex than way-too-many comic book characters turn out to be. She has an agenda in seeking out our main character of which we’re kept in ignorance until volumes two and three (I’m glad those were not missing from the comic book store’s collection!).

Overall, I rate this as a very worthy read and a really good story. the art work is pretty cool, but it’s nice to see a comic book that’s not just remarkable art, but also has a good story to tell in those pictures and interesting characters to unveil.