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Nate Piekos

Sword Daughter

Sword Daughter is yet another Viking era tale told by Brian Wood of Northlanders fame, this time told by a young girl living in the Scandinavian region who survives a massacre on her village when she is a toddler.

The story picks up ten years later in 991 AD, and we discover that Elsbeth has improbably taken care of her father, who was catatonic with grief, and was the only other survivor besides her. First off- what? Although there is mention of Elsbeth trading with nearby seaside villagers, how did a toddler survive the harsh winters and stay clothed and fed during that decade before her father awakens from his fugue state? It defies logic. Getting past this was impossible, and colored my feelings towards the rest of the story.

Once Dag awakens he vows revenge against the Forty Swords, the group who attacked his village and killed most of his family. This group is made up of a bunch of young radicals who have no fixed ideology, they slaughter simply for the pleasure of it. And off Dag and Elsbeth go in the name of vengeance. And that’s the rest of the story – this father and daughter journeying together to find the Forty Swords and challenge them. Dag tries to connect with his mostly non-verbal daughter due to guilt, with a bit of a Lone Wolf and Cub vibe, but I wasn’t feeling it. Stuff happens and then there is a flash forward with a mystery of what happened in the years between Dag awakening and Elsbeth becoming a young woman that leaves some story line threads for the future.

The art by Mack Chater is sketchy with an earth toned color palette, and it is very reminiscent of his earlier Briggs Land collaboration with Wood.  The only additional color is red, when there is blood spilled, plus the evocative red drenched panels during the attack on the village. There are some interesting choices in his panel placement, with a good flow to the narrative; however, some of the art lacks definition with the landscapes simply drawn.

Considering how much I typically love Wood’s work, this story is a real disappointment. While his Viking saga Northlanders is a real treat and his other Viking story Black Road said something fresh about faith and conversion, this story was lacking. What I really want Wood to do is to revisit Briggs Land with Chater and to also continue Rebels, his American Revolution series. So while this particular story didn’t work for me, I still look forward to future work by Wood and Chater.

-Nancy

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I Hate Fairyland: Fluff My Life (Volume 2)

Gert is back! And she is still the foul-mouthed violent sociopath that you remember fondly from volume one- Madly Ever After.

At the conclusion of the previous book, Gert has been crowned the Queen of Fairyland, and as you can expect her tenure as queen does not go well. She is unsuited for queenly duties, and as such her kingdom falls into chaos, albeit in a funny candy coated gory way. But author Skottie Young never intends for Gert to remain static, so she manages to get terminated from her job so she can move onto her next adventure.

As always Gert wants to get the fluff out of Fairyland, so she embarks on a quest with her trusty sidekick Larry the Fly. Never to think of anyone but herself, Gert leaves a wake of destruction across the kingdom as she follows different clues that could perhaps send her home. There is a very brief poignant moment, as Gert and Larry speculate what awaits her back home if she should actually leave. But the moment passes, and Gert is back to her destructive ways.  A showdown with a Manga-inspired purty princess leads her to abandon a vulnerable new character,  who will come back for revenge later.

Each book, or even issue, contains stories that are stand alone in nature. This series is geared to be a lighthearted romp, with dark humor and satire interwoven into it. The illustrations continue to be a treat, with a lot of pop culture references drawn in for laughs. Young recently drew a hilarious spoof of the series, I Hate Image for Free Comic Book Day and had Gert encountering other Image Comics series characters.  Young and his creative team continue to have fun with the series, although I must admit, too much of a good thing can start to get old. I will continue to look through future volumes, but am leery of falling into a candy-induced coma if I read too much of this series.

-Nancy

( I will be taking a brief break from writing for the blog, as my family is heading to Florida for a vacation. But never fear- Kathleen and I rearranged our Wednesday posts so she will be writing next week, and Michael from My Comic Relief wrote us an awesome guest post about Deadpool for next Friday. I hope to get some good reading done, plus I’ll still be peeking in at the comments and checking Twitter while I am soaking in the rays. Stay geeky my friends!)

Young, Skottie, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Nate Piekos. I Hate Fairyland: Fluff My Life. 2016.

I Hate Fairyland: Madly Ever After

Whoa, this book! It was so fluffing inappropriate,  bloody and over the top. So of course I loved it.

I first became aware of this book when one of my fav bloggers @ The Green Onion Blog reviewed it, and then a friend of mine on Goodreads, so afterwards I knew I had to check it out. When I requested it at my go-to comic book store, Graham Crackers, they asked me where I planned to keep it at the library, and after I assured them it would be in the adult section, they told me they knew I’d love it (They know me well!).

The writer and illustrator, Skottie Young, has quite a distinctive illustrative style and is already well known for his past work such as Rocket Raccoon and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Plus, his chubby baby superheroes are a fan favorite for variant art in the Marvel books. As such, he is the only artist I can imagine pulling off this storyline.

The cover art and title page splash panels show us that we are in for a gruesome treat. We are then introduced to sweet green haired Gertrude in her home as she wishes for a fairy land adventure. The phrase “Be careful what you wish for” is accurate here, for she is unceremoniously dropped, or shall I say plunged into Fairyland. She is met by Queen Cloudia and all the cute citizens of the realm and told all she has to do is find a key back to her world. Expecting this would only take a day, she is given a map and a guide, Larry the fly. Things don’t go as planned, and although Gertrude does not look as though she has aged, 27 years has gone by, and Gertrude has turned into a foul mouthed psychopath.

The Queen is quite disturbed as Gertrude terrorizes Fairyland, still on her quest to get the muffin fluffing way out of there. As the queen can not be the one who hurts a guest of the land, she employs others to do her bidding. It doesn’t go well. The final straw for Gertrude is when another little girl is successful in her quest for the key, when Gertrude herself has been unable to find her way back home. All chaos breaks loose, with some hilariously gory sequences, and a twist to keep Gertrude in Fairyland permanently.

Read this candy colored comic book, only if you have a sick sense of humor and are not offended easily. If you meet the above criteria, you will not be disappointed in this violent comedic series, and it will become a guilty pleasure of yours!

-Nancy

Young, Skottie, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Nate Piekos. I Hate Fairyland: Madly Ever After. 2016.

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