Sunday, August 06, 2006


Archaia Studios Press was set up near “indy island” in San Diego, and I must have walked by their booth an average of five times a day. I had intended to stop and make an introduction at some point during the show, but every single time I passed by, the place was surrounded by people. Wall-to-wall fans talking to creators and buying books. So I’m guessing they had a good con.

Let’s take a look at four of their most recent releases. First up is MOUSE GUARD #3, written and drawn by David Petersen. I (and many others) have offered high praise for the two previous issues of this book, and nothing about issue three makes me regret it. While I thought issue two was a bit slow as far as moving the plot forward, this effort does a good job of picking up the pace. The traitor stands unrevealed, but the three mice guards from issue one find themselves in a lawless town where the clues begin to pile up. Petersen creates some wonderfully imaginative art, and his ability to portray action sequences shows real improvement. Halfway home, I remain entranced by MOUSE GUARD.

ROBOTIKA #3-4 conclude the first miniseries by writer/artist Alex Sheikman, and while the book was inconsistent, it still has many virtues to offer. Mixing samurais and cyberpunk, ROBOTIKA is in many ways a throwback, reminding you of Frank Miller’s late 80s-early 90s work like RONIN and HARD BOILED. Our hero, Niko, has given up the life of the sword and turned his back on his queen, becoming a true yojimbo, but that doesn’t stop him from taking on a quest to help see some pilgrims across a harsh wasteland and into the arms of their god. Fortunately, it turns out Niko doesn’t need steel to be an effective warrior, nor does he need the ability to feel… which will turn the last part of the series upside-down. While the first two issues were a struggle for me, I think Sheikman does a decent job of driving the series home. It feels to me like he’s capable of stronger work, and I’ll be interested to see how the next ROBOTIKA series plays out.

Closing out my reading was ARTESIA BESIEGED #1 from writer/artist Mark Smylie. This being the latest in a long series of Artesia books, I was worried that I would be completely lost the minute I opened the cover, especially because the book lives mostly in the “fantasy” genre. However, Smylie does so many things right that I was totally sucked in from page one. First, he provides a thorough recap. Second, he dives in and defines Artesia as a character through her actions and narration, eliminating any chance for confusion. And third, Smylie is so ridiculously talented an artist that you slow down to take in all the nuance of detail and color that he puts on the page. This is a gorgeous book with a heroine like few others in comics; strong, intelligent, powerful, in full command of her sexuality… she’s riveting to watch. I may have to go back and get some of the previous trades on this one.

See you here through the week for main site updates, and next Sunday for your Weekend Blog Extra!


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