Written and Created: Michael Colbert
Cover Art: J.K. Woodward
“Trail of Tears”
Artist: J.K. Woodward
Colors: Josh Finney
Artist: J.K. Woodward
“Coffee & Dreams”
Artist: J.K. Woodward
“Waiting to Explode”
Script: Mike Colbert/Josh Finney
Artist: Ryan Sergeant
Layout & Colors: Josh Finney
Artist: William Blankenship
I’ve been trying to come up with the words to describe this graphic novel. Unique, interesting and imaginative really just don’t fully cut it…but that’s as close as I can get. This is a graphic novel I received from 01publishing and once I knew it was on the way, I was incredibly antsy waiting for it to arrive…a few days seemed like a week.
As soon as I got it I immediately looked through it, just scanning the artwork and the layout, something I often do with new comics. I was instantly struck by the bold and vibrant artwork. And there’s an interesting technique that is used periodically throughout the book that has a ghostly overlay kind of effect. It’s really awesome since you would think that is only able to be achieved in film. Also, there are what I would almost call episodes, not chapters. They aren’t numbered but, they each have a specific name relevant to the part of the story it preempts. I like it. It reminds me of when, in film, they cut to a general view and tell you the date and location or like in Pulp Fiction when each part had a name like “The Bonnie Situation” or “The Gold Watch”. I’ve always liked that. It just adds a little something extra for me. It’s almost easier to follow because it’s categorized like that. And since I’m a detail-oriented person, that works for me.
But, let’s talk about the story for a minute. This is a story surrounding a woman named “Crazy Mary”. The reason for this name is mainly because she sees things that, to the rest of the population, aren’t really there…ghosts, if you will. She also hears voices. They talk to her, she talks to them. She has spirits guides and a somewhat psychic ability. However, Mary is a freelance mercenary now. This current vocation is the result of being part of a cybernetically enhanced group of people turned into trained, emotionless killers. Now, you couple that kind of training and skill with the fact that she’s some sort of ghost whisperer truly makes for a unique story.
Just picture for a moment what it would be like. Let’s say you close your eyes for ten seconds and then, when you open them, you see and hear all kinds of haunting things that no one else sees or hears. And you see them all the time. And some of them talk to you, tell you what to do, how to be better at your job, hints to finding people that need to be found, etc. What an incredibly overwhelming and stressful life that must be. Plus, the only people you have to talk to about it are your delusions. That can’t be healthy. And whoever it was that pumped her up into this murder machine, well, they don’t seem to be too worried about what their subjects go through once they are done with them.
Mary, and other people that were part of this human alteration process, are the kind of people you don’t want to make angry but, would love to have on your side in a bad situation. These are the “dirty deeds” people AC/DC sings about. They are the bounty hunters, the bodyguards, the mercenaries, the hunters of the people who hunt people. They’re hard core.
So, putting all that together, this was a fun read. I didn’t see a second volume on the catalog so I hope that it IS in the works. But, I did enjoy this book.
If you want your own copy of “Crazy Mary”, you can get it at the link below:
Created by Josh Finney and Kat Rocha
WOW!!! THIS was an incredibly interesting read. The story is chockfull of ideas that might, at first, seem unbelievable. But, as you read, you see how this isn’t so much Hollywood dramatization as it is perhaps cunning foresight into what the human race and our governments might actually be capable of.
In this story, we deal with drugs, depression, PTSD, a whole slew of bad guys and one very “spooky-bitch”, as is her moniker in this tale of woe.
It’s almost a post-apocalyptic kind of scenario. Except it’s not an alien invasion or a zombie takeover. It’s the aftermath of the gigantic, world-wide pissing contest that has been going since people of this earth realized they had differences…and didn’t like that.
And as nature and humanity would have it, the more we fight, the worse it gets.
Here, the US government has developed a completely independent military force called Intersec. These people are volunteers of sorts. People who want to help the US fight the war on terrorism and the like. They are whisked away to the government messed up idea of Club Med meets Bootcamp and are trained to be true killing machines. And it’s not just the normal tactics that the government and military use to break you down and rebuild you as a soldier. These “volunteers” are given drugs that change who they are completely, submitted to horrific circumstances and trained to kill first…and then kill second and third.
These drugs are a fascinating thought. The idea of them is pretty simple to explain generally but, the science behind it is wicked and complicated, very intricate. These drugs are shot into the veins in the forearm, just like regular needle drugs users would do. Except, these syringes are disposable, one-time use, one shot, one dose. Some of these drugs are liquid emotions. Some are whole new personalities that people inject to behave in a different way. It’s as if they inject a whole new soul and become a completely different person. And the drug that Intersec uses…is called a C.A.S.E. dose. It stands for Combat And Survival Enhancer. Now, the idea behind this is that once injected (and injected on a regular basis) the user will lose all sense of fear and be a better soldier and a better fighter…a better killing machine. Anybody that’s ever personally known a soldier or a cop that has been in violent and dangerous conflict knows that one of the biggest things that keeps these people alive is the ability to function without a sense of remorse, without hesitation, to follow their orders and their training and, if it comes down to it, to get the other guy before he gets them. They live on the edge, always tense, always evaluating their surroundings, the potential opponents around them, the exits, the dangers that lurk in the places they can’t see or hear. They have to form the ability to remain cool and calm under the worst kind of pressure, things we as civilians cannot possibly fathom unless we’ve lived it.
That would be a huge boost in the fighting forces, right? Well, apparently the government thought so too. So, they manufacture a drug that makes those soldiers. But, this drug, is like a Navy Seal meets the blind faith of an extremist plus the killer instinct of the most primal nature. And it’s all rolled into a one-shot injection. And these Intersec soldiers are to dose hard and dose often, in order to keep the fight alive in themselves.
The biggest problem is that this C.A.S.E. dose has some highly, shall we say, unpleasant side effects. The government version is more potent than what can be found on the street however, they ALL cause addiction and withdrawal. And unfortunately, once that sets in and the soldier is released from service, they are rendered mentally unstable and unfit for service, left to wallow in the shreds of what was once their life and soul.
Now, “spooky-bitch” is some sort of underworld boss that is gathering up down trodden addicts and ex-Intersec people to do all of her dirty work for her. A true crime boss rarely has to get THEIR hands dirty. She has an almost poetic and prophetic way of speaking which is eerie in itself.
The story has all kinds of little bits of creepy information that, when you put it all together, it doesn’t exactly seem so far-fetched.
I love the whole premise of this story. Though this is only volume one, it is incredibly interesting and the only reason I had to read it in two separate sittings was because “life” got in the way. It was just so incredibly fascinating and such a quick read, I breezed right through it. I can’t wait until the next volume is available.
The artwork is great for the story at hand. It perfectly captures the serious aspects of the story, the gravity of the situation and yet, it is subtle enough that it doesn’t take away from anything. It’s really a great balance in this book.
If you want your own copy of Utopiates, you can find it at the website below.
Be sure to look at what else they offer. I have three more reviews coming just from this publisher alone.
Created/Written by: Brian Michael Bendis/Marc Andreyko
Executed by: Brian Michael Bendis
This is the story of “The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run”, also known as “The Cleveland Torso Murderer”. This was a serial killer active in the United States during the depression. His total confirmed murder count is thirteen but, there could have been as many as twenty victims.
During a twenty-year period over the 1930s-1950s, the Butcher killed men and women alike, preying on people from the transient and drifter type lifestyle. These are called high-risk victims. People that are often homeless or living in poverty, people who live and work on the streets, these are people whose very survival sometimes requires staying below the radar. These souls are often people who don’t have anyone to report them missing and since coming and going at will is part of the drifter lifestyle, it may be a long time, if ever, that they are reported to be missing. All victims were decapitated and dismembered. All of the victims were found to be of the lower-income society, living in shanty towns and barely scraping by.
Some of the male victims were castrated (pause for all the guys reading as they wince really quick) … … …Okay. Some victims also showed evidence of chemical treatments to the body. Unfortunately, back then the autopsies were not very conclusive nor were they done in the fashion we do things now. So, many details of the crimes are still unknown for certain.
Also, another part of this story that makes it so appealing is the involvement of legendary “Untouchable” Eliot Ness. At the time of the murders, Ness was the Public Safety Director of Cleveland. In truth, he didn’t have much to do with the actual investigation but, it does add a certain “awe factor” for the story.
This book is fairly accurate with a little dramatization to make it a graphic novel. The bodies, in real life, were found out of killing order (for instance, the first victim found, Edward Andrassy was probably the second victim killed). They copy this order in the book in a very detailed but, sometimes confusing way. All of the characters are accurate from what I can tell though and the victim names are accurate as well.
The artwork is…unique? It’s all black and white, with a heavy use of negative space. The panels and pages go in all directions. They can be extremely busy and look very hap-hazard, making the panels somewhat hard to follow here and there. But still, it’s good artwork. It’s just all put together in an extremely creative way however, it’s not the easiest thing to read. You end up turning the book in different directions and going back a few pages every now and then, thinking that you missed something.
Still, I thought it was pretty good. They don’t manufacture a final suspect to complete the story because in reality, the killer has never been caught. So, they do keep it true. And it was entertaining to read because you get a little insight into how complicated such murder investigations can be. I will say that the best part of the images are the actual real life images they incorporate into some of the pages. That definitely adds a horror and chilling feel to the novel.
The Black Dahlia (a crime graphic novel)
Based on the novel by James Ellroy
Adapted by Matz w/David Fincher
Illustrated by Miles Hyman
Lettered by Deron Bennett
Nowadays, almost everybody is at least partially familiar with the case of The Black Dahlia. This is the story of Elizabeth Short, a young woman who was viciously murdered in Los Angeles in 1947. Though over 150 suspects were developed throughout the course of the investigation, the killer was never apprehended.
The general known case summary is as follows:
On January 15, 1947 Elizabeth Short’s dead, nude and mutilated corpse was found in a vacant lot in a highly undeveloped area of Los Angeles at the time, known as Leimert Park. A local woman was the first to discover the decedent in two pieces at about 10:00am while walking her three-year-old daughter.
The body had been completely severed at the waist and totally drained of all blood. The young woman had been sliced across the mouth, the split going from ear to ear like a wicked smile of death. (There is apparently a name for this, it’s called the Glasgow Smile. I don’t know what’s creepier, the fact that it was done OR the fact that it happens often enough that there’s a name for it.) In addition to the already heinous site, there were cuts and slashes on other parts of her body including her thighs and breasts, in some areas, flesh was completely removed. The two halves of the body were positioned about a foot apart and posed in a sexually revealing manor, her arms above her head, bent at the elbows and her legs spread apart. Her intestines had been carefully and distinctly tucked under her buttocks.
Little evidence was found at the crime scene; a heel print near tire tracks and a cement sack with watery blood inside. It would also be later discovered during autopsy that she died by exsanguination due to the lacerations on her face and several severe blows to the head. The severing of the body in half was found to done postmortem as there was very little to no bruising at the incision line. It was also suspected that because of trauma sustained to various parts of the body that she may have been sexually assaulted but, no spermatozoa were found during the autopsy examination.
A number of suspects were developed throughout this case. People called and claimed to be the killer, some sent letters, an address book was mailed to The Los Angeles Examiner along with some of Short’s personal belongings including her birth certificate and various business cards and other small items. Over 750 investigators worked on this case meaning hundreds of people were interviewed, some suspects and eventually either ruled out or there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed further.
This unsolved case eventually brought a spotlight down on the LAPD and whether or not they were working to their full capacity and ability when trying to solve various violent crimes, particularly those of women and children.
There was also speculation that Elizabeth Short’s murder could have been related to another series of crimes that had happened about ten years prior known as “The Torso Murders” or the killings of “The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run”. This theory was later ruled out for various reasons.
Another idea was that William Heirens was her killer. Some alleged that there were many similarities between the murder of Suzanne Degnan and Elizabeth Short. This theory was never proven either. (His conviction for the murder of six-year-old Suzanne Degnan has remained highly controversial.)
Many other theories have been investigated and dismissed over the years. To this day, a lot of questions surrounding The Black Dahlia murder still go unanswered with the fascination with the case growing more and more as time goes on.
This graphic novel was a great fictionalization of the basic story of Short’s murder. There aren’t a lot of actual facts in this book so, when you read it, don’t start thinking that this is how things really happened. Although the basic crime is still the same, the story surrounding is entirely fiction as far as I know.
Also, if nudity or graphic violent images or even profanity offends you, then this is not something you will want to read. I happen to think that it’s entirely up to the author whether or not to use such aspects and it’s up to the reader whether or not to view said chosen aspects.
You also have to understand that this happened in 1947. There weren’t all these documentation rules about crime scenes and suspects and all the procedures and regulations to follow. In 1947 they didn’t even have Miranda rights yet. Investigators could do pretty much anything they wanted to when questioning suspects or running down leads. Violence was often a part of police work in many jurisdictions at that time. The Press were allowed to enter crime scenes as the cops were investigating, they were even sometimes asked their opinions about the scene and the suspect themselves. The Press!!! So, do understand that the depictions of these 1940s police officers and investigators will be different than what we would normally consider when thinking about such characters now that it’s 2018.
Other than telling the story of the discovery of the body and the investigation, it also tells tales of the investigators themselves.
The artwork is interesting. There is an entire muted tone to the color scheme and most of the colors are what I would consider fairly neutral, earth type tones. Again, there are very graphic images depicted in some of these pages. I will say that the makers really did try to get the actual body images as accurate as they could, it seems.
I was a little disappointed at first because it was so much more fictional than I had thought but, it actually turned out pretty good. It IS strictly an adult graphic novel though. This one is not suitable for kids.