Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Shortbox 7/31/08

A Red Mass for Mars #1 (of 4)
writer: Jonathan Hickman
artist: Ryan Bodenheim
Image Comics, released 6-11-08
One of the great regrets of my failures to regularly post on LowBrowMedia as of late has been not singing the praise of Jonathan Hickman. This guy is an outstanding creator. His Pax Romana series is amazing thus far, while Transhuman is a surprisingly original take on the superpowered genre. Between the two titles, he has me completely convinced to proclaim him as the next big thing in comics now that Matt Fraction has clearly established himself as a big thing in the biz. And I haven't even gotten my hands on his first book, The Nightly News, which has largely been hailed as a modern masterpiece by other comic reviewers.
That sets the bar very high for A Red Mass for Mars, and for the most part, it doesn't disappoint.
The story begins by setting the stage for another unique Hickman universe. In this future, Earth has been decimated by virtually every conceivable disaster, whether it be natural or a result from human ignorance. Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, it does. A massive, hostile alien invasion. So what can Earth do to combat this threat? Well, there is only one answer: one man.
Now, this is essentially the Superman archetype turned on its head, which normally wouldn't excite me much. But in the hands of an such a dynamic storyteller, it's hard to imagine the end result being anything you'd expect it to be.
In this book, Hickman stays behind the keyboard as he did with Transhuman, but the book still has (what I assume is) that distinctive Hickman page and panel layout. Bodenheim does a fine job on the art. The color scheme the two utilize for this comic is particularly interesting. It's a subdued layering and really evokes a sci-fi atmosphere in a way that I haven't come across before. It truly is art of epic proportions.
In the end, this book is hurt by the expectations I had for it, but only marginally so. One of Hickman's great strengths as a writer he has exhibited thus far is setting the stage for his stories. That is what this first issue is. For the uninitiated, I can't guarantee you'll enjoy this particular comic as much as I have. I think it may read better in trade format, but that is based on the first issue. The setup for the series necessitated a grand introduction that required an entire issue, so you may want to wait for it all in one volume. However, for this story to fall apart seems highly unlikely.
8 out of 10

Daredevil/Magdalena #1 (one-shot)
writer: Phil Hester
artists: Phil Hester and Ande Parks
Top Cow Productions, released 6-11-08
Sometimes the problem with having a favorite character is that you can't recognize a mediocre story versus a fantastic one containing them. I'm irrecoverably guilty of that when it comes to Daredevil.
I purchased this one-shot essentially because it featured the Man Without Fear, but also because I was very curious how the art team of Hester and Parks would do when they tackled him, especially considering how much I enjoyed their stretch on a significant portion of Judd Winick's Green Arrow run. I knew nothing of Magdalena, and frankly didn't care.
Unfortunately for that character after reading this comics, I still don't care.
But that's inconsequential. It's about Daredevil for this reviewer, and Hester's version of him was certainly not extremely tortured Matt Murdock of recent times given to us from Bendis and Brubaker, but the guilt-ridden Catholic of later Frank Miller and Kevin Smith tales, which makes sense, considering that Magdalena herself is a Catholic warrior.
The story here is simple and ends somewhat predictably, so I won't go into it, but it's hard to surprise with a one-shot. What leaves me cold in this book is Daredevil mixing with the otherworldly. I know he exists in the same universe as mutants, skrulls and the likes of Thanos, but I just don't like it when he enters a full-on supernatural-laden story. Demons and Daredevil just don't mix well, as far as I'm concerned. He belongs battling crooks and other street-level adversaries in the confines of Hell's Kitchen. Hester keeps the two heroes in Hell's Kitchen, but there are some devil-spawns traversing about. All-in-all, it's a decent little story.
I kinda knew I'd be disappointed by this issue, but I got it anyway. Company crossovers usually leave you wanting more. If you're a hardcore Daredevil or Magdalena fan, this may be worth your time, but otherwise, spend your money elsewhere.
6 out of 10

Daredevil #108
writers: Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka
artist: Michael Lark
Marvel Comics, released 6-25-08
Now this is more like it. This is the Daredevil that I love.
Re-teaming Brubaker and Rucka from their stint a few years ago on DC's Gotham Central, this new arc focus is on private investigator Dakota North, a Nelson & Murdock associate, as much as it is Daredevil. And really, in part two of a four-part story, she's immersed in the juiciest slice of the plot at this stage of the book.
Lark's art propels this murder-mystery in realistic fashion -- exactly the kind of story I love in a DD comic. It feels like a little piece of crime fiction rather than your standard superhero fare with art from someone of his talents.
This being the middle of the story, I find it hard to give an accurate rating (the introductory and concluding entries in a story are always much easier to evaluate), but this is the expected strong work from the parties involved in its creation. This does have the makings of a classic Daredevil story when all is said and done.
8 out 10

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Longbox - Secret Invasion Edition

The Mighty Avengers #12
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Alex Maleev
Marvel Comics, released 4-23-08
I know this book came out over a month ago, and I've since read #13, but this particular issue was so good, I had to go back and write about it.
Here we have the Bendis and Maleev re-teaming again in the wake of their run on Daredevil to tell us what Nick Fury has been up to since the Secret War fallout. There are disguises. There are skrulls revealed. And there are just flat-out superb espionage twists all over the place. The deeper we get into Secret Invasion, the more the amped up the paranoia and mistrust has become, and stories that focus on characters such as Fury only grow that much more fascinating. Between his Avengers books and the Secret Invasion mini itself, Bendis is running on all cylinders right now.
What is most surprising upon rereading this issue is how much trust Fury has put into Spider-Woman. At this point, all signs are pointing to her being a skrull. I feel that Bendis is leading the readers astray with these clues, but if it turns out that Jessica Drew has been replaced, one really must wonder what this will do to Fury. He's prepared for anything, even her being a skrull, but at some point I'd think he would hit a wall from being so isolated from every thing and every one in any form of normalcy.
All that said, the real kicker is the double-page spread at the end of the issue. It's just Fury staring at a wall of polaroids of many Marvel characters, a few with circles on them. However, there are both red and blue circles. I take that to mean that one circle represents who he thinks is a skrull and the other for those who he has deemed not to be skrulls. After reading Secret Invasion #2, we know that the Spider-Man running around on Earth was, in fact, the real Spidey. Fury has a blue circle around this picture. Daredevil, Stature, and Lockjaw also have blue circles around their pictures, so they are probably all safe for Fury to associate with. With red circles are the Sentry, Dr. Strange, Wolverine and Hulkling. I'm pretty sure Hulkling isn't aligned with the skrulls, but we do know that he is half-skrull. But in the world of comic books, it's hard to say when this moment occurred for Fury in relation to other books, so his being a skrull may not have been common knowledge at that point. I've been convinced that Wolverine is a skrull ever since reading Secret Invasion #1. He is depicted by Yu in some panels in full shadow, just as Jarvis, Dum-Dum Dugan and Hank Pym are in that same issue. Dr. Strange was acting very un-Dr. Strange-like a few issues ago in New Avengers. And who knows what's going on with the Sentry, but it wouldn't be shocking to learn that he's a skrull as well. At any rate, that's my interpretation of this panel and my theory as to who is and who isn't a skrull.
By the way, I love Maleev's art throughout this issue. The man draws street-level superhero stories as well as can be hoped for. Plus, you have to love the visual gag of Fury in disguise, but using his Ultimate Universe persona to do so.
The Avengers books by Bendis should definitely be read by anyone reading Secret Invasion right now. They will fill out the story considerably, and with this sort of story, that's what you really want.
10 out of 10

The Shortbox 5/29/08

The Immortal Iron Fist #14
writers: Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker

artists: Tonci Zonjic, Clay Mann, Stefano Gaudiano, Kano and Matt Hollingsworth

Marvel Comics, released 4-30-08

Wow. That is how you relaunch a character, boys and girls.
Three years ago, I had no clue who Iron Fist was. Now, he's become one of my favorite characters and is very close to joining the elite company, comprised of Daredevil and Hellboy, of characters whose books I will probably never stop buying. And to have done this in only 14 issues? Once again, I am amazed by Ed Brubaker and wholeheartedly impressed by Matt Fraction. Combining them just isn't fair to my wallet.
For those not reading this book, in this most recent story arc kung-fu billionaire Danny Rand initially was immersed in a martial arts tournament of six of the craziest kung-fu masters ever conceived battling for each of their representative "Capital City of Heaven" to have access to Earth for a day every 10 years, as opposed to every 50. Added to that was a civil uprising in K'un-Lun (Iron Fist's city), the personal vendettas of the Steel Serpent, and an litany of HYDRA agents holding Danny's business manager, Jeryn, as well as friends Colleen Wing, Misty Knight and Luke Cage hostage. And that's the short version.
Sounds fucking awesome, right?
Well, it is.
It feels too soon for Fraction and Brubaker to let go of Iron Fist, but they are leaving it in novelist and comic newcomer Duane Swierczynski's capable hands (his new Cable series is quite extraordinary thus far -- I will review it eventually). And judging from where this issue ends, there is a limitless array of possibilities for Swierczynski to take Danny Rand and pals in. Can't wait for issue 15.
10 out of 10

The Order #10
writer: Matt Fraction
artists: Javier Saltares with Barry Kitson
Comics, released 4-30-08
I'll continue the praise of Matt Fraction in the following entry with the final issue of The Order. This book got off to a bit of a slow start, and really hadn't gripped me completely until three issues or so ago. It's a shame because Marvel had announced that #10 would conclude the series as soon as I got hooked into it hardcore.
The mostly new group of characters (Pepper Potts and Tony Stark being the only two with significant roles here that were around beforehand) never had actual powers, but would be given them for a year's time, then be replaced by other new characters, all while protecting California as part of the 50-State Initiative. It was an intriguing premise and the new characters had some great back-stories. Toss them up against Zeke Stane, Obadiah's son, as the villain, and you had a fantastic mess of problems for the team to deal with. But Zeke wasn't known to be behind everything until recently, and the book was taking it's time a bit too much before that revelation.
Sadly, The Order found it's stride too late to save it, but fortunately what was begun here will be continued by Fraction in his new Invincible Iron Man title, while the new characters created in the this book will be folded into Dan Slott and Christos Gage's Avengers: The Initiative book. If you like what happens in those books in the months to come, it might be worth your time to check out the trades from this one.
8 out of 10

Hellboy: Free Comic Book Day (2008)
"The Mole"
writer: Mike Mignola
artist: Duncan Fegredo
"Out of Reach"
writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
artist: Guy Davis
"Bishop Olek's Devil"
writers: Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart
artist: Paul Azaceta
Dark Horse Comics, released 5-3-08
This is probably the best thing I've ever picked up on Free Comic Book Day and certainly my favorite read from this year. It is comprised of three canonical stories from the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe, all tying into three recent storylines. I've assumed that these were moments that just couldn't fit in the normal books for whatever reason, and if not for this comic, they would have been left on the cutting room floor. I love Free Comic Book Day.
The first story taps into one of Hellboy's own nightmares. It is pure magic. I don't know what else to say about this short tale. If you are a Hellboy fan, you'll love this. The only possible gripe is that Mignola didn't do the art, but I don't know that we'll ever get art from him any longer.
The second story is an epilogue to a B.P.R.D. arc that ended recently. However, what's really exciting in this one is that it's a bit of a prequel to the upcoming storyline and we see that Johan will be very much involved in it. Love Johan. Can't wait.
The final story also is a companion to a B.P.R.D. story, the recent 1946 arc. It's not a direct continuation, but rather another story featuring Prof. Bruttenholm during his youth. I'm so happy that Mignola is finally fleshing out Bruttenholm in the comics. He's been such a marvelous character in the first movie and the live-action films. I've always been disappointed of his death in the early pages of the Seed of Destruction, so to see him in action is superb.
If you're not a Hellboy nut like me, then you may not care for this book at all -- all it's stories on the vague side and seemingly very simple. But for those fellow disciples, a free Hellboy and B.P.R.D. comics is one of the coolest things in the world.
It's FREE Hellboy!!!

The Overman #5 (of 5)
writer: Scott Reed
artist: Shane White
Image Comics, released 4-2-08
So, I promised a few months back that I would check back in with this sci-fi mini series when all was said and done. I'm very sorry that I did that. This was a horrible, nonsensical story. I really can't express my distaste for this book enough. Every once in a while you take a flyer on an indie book, and results such as these really make you think twice before wasting your money again. That's a shame because there are so many overlooked books from small publishers.
Anyway, don't buy this one. Give something else a try.
2 out of 10

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Longbox: Battlin' Jack Murdock

Daredevil: Battlin' Jack Murdock
writer: Zeb Wells
artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Marvel Comics, released 12-28-07
I make it no secret that Daredevil and his world are my favorite of all the comics that I read. Matt Murdock was the first that I discovered five years ago and the more stories I've read involving him, the more I've grown to identify with him. Exactly why, I still haven't quite figured out. I'm not blind, don't have any particular affiliation for the law system, my love life is hardly tragic, my samurai master was never killed by a clan of undead ninjas, and I don't have any lingering issues with my father. In fact, my dad and I have a pretty awesome relationship considering I live a few hours away. But time and time again, I'm constantly drawn to stories featuring that ever-present father/son strife. Battlestar Galactica is fascinating on every level, but those Adama interactions are probably my second-favorite aspect of the show. I probably would have stopped watching Smallville years ago had it not been for those Lionel Luthor pep talks to Lex. And then there's that one scene in Road to Perdition where Tom Hanks tells his son the reason he was so hard on him and not his little brother was because the elder son reminded him so much of himself, which gets me every time I even think about it. In any case, the relationship between Matt and Jack Murdock can be chalked up amongst all the others that hit me hard.
While the tale of Daredevil's father has always been present in his backstory, the actual motivations and struggles of Jack Murdock have never been fleshed out. I don't think we've ever been shown Jack without Matt suddenly appearing from around the corner. Jack is the example Matt has dedicated his dual life of law and justice to, and it's a bit of an anomaly that a story hasn't been written about him before now.
That said, it's not shocking either. What we really want to see is a story about the hero, not the overwhelming failures of his father whose death is a merely a driving factor of his heroics. I had bought this trade very cheaply months ago, but had finally dwindled my reading stack down to the point where it was on the top. Nothing about it screamed for me to read it immediately, and I had modest expectations for it at best. But I have to say that Battlin' Jack Murdock was a welcomed surprise.
Zeb Wells begins with a pretty straightforward tale that we've seen many times before in other mediums -- washed-up boxer turns to alcohol, throwing fights and enforcing for the local mobster in order to keep living. Coupled with what we already knew about Jack, the first issue worth of this four-issue miniseries goes by rather unremarkably. There are a couple of highlights, however. We meet very young versions of Daredevil staples Turk, who is just a street-tough kid at this time, and Josie, Jack's doe-eyed bartender of choice.
But toward the end of that first chapter, the woman who Jack is clearly deeply in love with, Maggie, shows up after an unexplained hiatus with a baby. She drops it in his lap, tells him that his name is Matthew, and then disappears from his life forever. From then on, Jack leads his life the way he had been, the only difference being raising Matt. That is until that fateful day when Matt is blinded by toxic waste occurs. From then on out, Jack becomes a man we call all strive to be like and a true father to his boy.
The remainder of the book weaves in more Daredevil lore around Jack's story, and it thankfully moves away from the cliche. The most interesting aspect of the story is between Jack and Josie. At first, it was really hard to believe this cute young girl was the same proprietor of Josie's Bar in Frank Miller's Daredevil stories, but that character arc probably will have the most lasting effects from this book in future Daredevil continuity.
All in all, this was a solid story. It won't knock your socks off, but it is definitely a worthy entry in the Daredevil mythos.
7.5 out of 10

*** Now that LBM has expanded beyond comics, I've retooled some of the columns for the sake of simplicity. This was originally part of a feature I did called "Graphic Novel Grab Bag." I only ever wrote five, so I've re-tagged them as Longbox entries. Enjoy the early days of LBM that I've somehow resisted the urge to purge. -- JA, 1/20/10 ***

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Low Blows 02.17.08

“Hulk” #1
Marvel Comics
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Ed McGuinness

I pre-ordered this comic against my best instincts. It's a fact that I had really been enjoying the “Incredible Hulk” comic for the last few years, and I’d also gotten caught up in the excitement of “World War Hulk,” and so I decided to give this new "Hulk" book a whirl despite the fact that I haven’t read a Jeph Loeb comic that I’ve enjoyed -- at least not without reservations -- well, ever.

If I may compare apples with oranges for a moment, let me say this: in my opinion, Jeph Loeb’s writing is more or less on the level of Michael Turner’s art. They’re both pretty flashy, and they both have (for lack of a better phrase) “mainstream appeal,” but in my experience with these guys’ work, I’ve never felt as if they really had much to offer in the way of lasting impact or substance. And at their worst, I’ve even categorized them both as amateurish and undeserving of their popularity.

Now, people are always telling me how good the Loeb/Sale team was with their early DC work and the various “Color” miniseries they did at Marvel. And I’ll admit that Loeb did alright with the “Fallen Son” miniseries last year, but I still ran into the clunky one-liners and wonky characterization that always bugged me about his work in the last five years or so.

Why in the world would I chance buying “Hulk,” then? I guess it was a mixture of morbid curiosity, a love for the character, and the enthusiasm that the creators had shown for the book in interviews. And I’m happy to say that this was a really enjoyable book to read. For this first issue at least, Loeb seems to have reined in his lesser tendencies, and has given me a satisfying read, a great cast (including Rick Jones, “Thunderbolt” Ross, Doc Samson, and She-Hulk) which I hope sticks around for the long run, and an intriguing murder mystery whose resolution I am interested in seeing though to the end. The art by Ed McGuinness is strong throughout, and especially well-suited to the subject matter of large, well-muscled beings kicking the crap out of each other.

The only criticism I can come up with for this issue, really, is that it took less than five minutes to read both times I read it. A brisk read isn’t necessarily a bad one, though, and if they can keep this up, I’ll keep buying it. It’s an excellent start.

[8 out of a possible 10]

“Resurrection” #2
Oni Press
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: David Dumeer

I won’t waste any time getting to the point of this review -- “Resurrection” is a great comic, and it gets my highest recommendation. You’re really missing out if you’re not buying this book.

Essentially, though, “Resurrection” is a black-and-white post-apocalyptic book, and this has caused a lot of people to mention it in the same breath as Image’s “The Walking Dead” and fellow Oni Press comic “Wasteland” -- two of my favorite books on the stands right now. But really, these three couldn’t be more dissimilar, except in terms of their quality.

Being that “Wasteland” takes place in the far-flung future on an almost unrecognizable Earth and “The Walking Dead” is a zombie survivor/horror book, what “Resurrection” offers is a variation on a completely different sci-fi trope -- the rebuilding of our world after it has been taken over by an alien race. This is only the second issue of what promises to be a long and satisfying run, and Guggenheim is still setting his pieces up on the playing board. However, even at this early stage, we have the compelling stories of two strangers on the road to Washington to see what they can see, the strange relationship between a woman and a captured alien named Spock, and the plight of the President of the former United States which have been skillfully woven together over these first few issues. At this point, we have no idea how the aliens were defeated, or even if they’re truly gone. There’s a lot going on, but Guggenheim manages to keep the story from becoming muddled or confusing.

A lot of that is due to David Dumeer’s excellent art, too. It’s the perfect complement to the cinematic nature of the script, and there was one particular two-page spread in this issue, the one with the crashed alien vessel, which really showed off his skill.

Now, I’ve always enjoyed Guggenheim’s Marvel work, but it’s a real treat to see what a writer can come up with when they’re allowed to start the story from scratch. And that’s a big reason why I’ve been waiting for “Resurrection” to come out since it was announced so long ago -- in 2006, wasn’t it? Having finally read it, I can confidently say that it’s at the top of my stack every month. (Well, actually, it’s near the bottom, because I try to save the comics I’m most excited about for last.) It’s a distinctive book, and a worthy addition to Oni’s small but excellent lineup of ongoing creator-owned books.

[9.5 out of a possible 10]

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Shortbox 2/8/08

Captain America #34
writer: Ed Brubaker
artist: Steve Epting
Marvel Comics, released 1-30-08
By now, those of you that follow the comic industry probably know what has occurred in this particular issue -- a new Cap has emerged. Who is it? Well, I'll let you read the book or another site to find out, but in this humble reviewer's opinion, Brubaker has written another fantastic issue. Looking past the hype, it's a solid individual story. It sets the stage for the next arc while displaying what the new Captain America can do, including a few things Steve Rogers either couldn't or wouldn't have done. Steve Epting may be my favorite artist in mainstream comics right now, and this issue is a great example of why. Say what you will about the design of the new Cap outfit, but taken for what it is, Epting draws it well. But really it's his action scenes that shine over all aspects of this book. The man was born to draw Captain America throw that shield. This is definitely an issue worth owning.
9 out 10

Ms. Marvel #23
writer: Brian Reed
artist: Aaron Lopresti
Marvel Comics, released 1-2-08
I'm sure that there have been fans of Carol Danvers since her inception years ago, but the modern take on her introduced by Bendis in Alias and his House of M series has increased her profile immensely. As discussed previously at LowBrowMedia, Ms. Marvel has decided to mold herself into the greatest superhero on the planet, the title she held in the House of M universe. It's a fascinating and ultimately refreshing take for a superhero book to go on a quest of self improvement in the age of desconstructionalist approaches ala Frank Miller.
After the less-than-inspiring Civil War arc, this book has gotten back on track as of late. Reed is mixing together a very eclectic cast for Ms. Marvel, consisting of potential boyfriend Wonder Man, Sleepwalker, sidekick Arana, the hilarious Machine Man, and the surprisingly mysterious Agent Sum. Sum should have died several issues ago, but has an unexplained healing power. He is a very impressive leader in the field and, apparently, a high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. officer. His backstory is one I've become very interested in, perhaps even more so than Carol's personal mission. However, because of Ms. Marvel's inevitable involvement in the upcoming Secret Invasion event, he is also a potential skrull risk. I would be pretty disappointed in that revelation, but only because I feel his value as a support character in this book is greater than most.
In any event, this issue is strong with action, humor, emotional depth, character history and a couple of very nice twists. Lopesti hits it out of the park with his art and is a welcome contributor to the title. I assume that his new duties as regular artist on D.C.'s Wonder Woman will mean that he won't return to this book any time soon, but I hope he does. And I don't want to forget to mention Greg Horn's covers, which continue to impress. It's a solid book worth your attention.
8 out of 10

The Mighty Avengers #8
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Mark Bagley
Marvel Comics, released 1-30-08
Bendis and Bagley are back together again, and the team that brought us Ultimate Spider-Man for 110 issues combine forces for the best issue of The Mighty Avengers yet. Before this issue, I hadn't gotten very excited for this title thus far. Coupled with the long delays, the unconventional use of thought balloons, and a team full of mostly heavy hitters, the book just was really not my cup of tea. I'm a big fan of the work of Brian Michael Bendis, so this was definitely a surprise to me. I much prefer the more street-level feel of the current New Avenger squad since the split of the teams. That said, they are much more suited to deal with the symbiote problem in this issue. I've always loved Venom and Carnage (many of my first comics read as a young teen involved the original symbiote characters), so a slightly new spin on it was welcomed. Each panel had a lot of crazy action going on in it, and Bagley is well-suited for such a task. But the real treat of this issue is the interaction between the Mighty and New Avenger teams. The tension when the groups stand on either side of the same street is extraordinary, especially considering it all occurs on one page. I also have to congratulate Bendis on his use of thought balloons. Thus far, he has utilized the internal thought balloon in an almost Faulknerian manner, showing us more of their subconscious thoughts than the classic conscious monologues made famous in comic books of yesteryear. I haven't decided yet if I've gotten used to them or if he is simply doing a better job writing them, but issue 8 was the first time where I felt that they did not distract from the story.
Overall, this is my favorite issue of The Mighty Avengers. I still feel it could be better, but now I know that I'm not dropping it until after Secret Invasion at the earliest.
8.5 out of 10

The Overman #2
writer: Scott Reed
artist: Shane White
Image Comics, released 1-2-08
The tag line at the top of this comic is "Welcome to the end of the future." It's the kind of thing you'd expect to see on a one-sheet of a Sci-Fi Channel original movie, but I'm not even sure a screenplay of this mini series would be optioned. This issue was better than the first installment, but that's not saying much. The first issue was bizarrely complicated and a clear example of how not to introduce your reader's first glimpse into a new world. It wants us to think of it as a high-concept science fiction epic, but I just haven't seen actual examples of it yet. I'll check back in with this one after it concludes, and maybe it will live up to its creator's ambitions. For now, give another independent book a chance instead.
5 out of 10