Comicbook Recommendation: Y: The Last Man


Well before The Walking Dead became a cultural sensation, I’ve always had a major interest in the zombie apocalypse. From watching George A. Romero’s first movies like Night of the Living Dead to playing games in the arcade like House of the Dead, the flesh eating byproducts of an annihilated world always excited me. It wasn’t the gore that I was attracted to, in fact used to be rather squeamish around that sort of thing, it was more the survival aspect paired next to the threat of human like brainless creatures. But most of all, it’s the splendor of a world destroyed. Monuments of man’s achievements lying around gathering dust and slowly being absorbed back to nature over time. In short, I simply love the post-apocalyptic setting. The radiation filled wasteland in the Fallout series or the urban infestation of the Left 4 Dead video games, I find myself drawn to worlds where society only once stood but no longer resides.

Before you read on, I’d like to point out I’m not trying to justify becoming some sort of super villain looking to destroy the world. Just want to throw that out there. This infatuation of the post-apocalyptic theme has always led to me to explore all sorts of media with this as a backdrop. And so I’d like to recommend a comicbook called Y: The Last Man by Brian K.Vaughan.

Y: The Last Man is not a traditional post-apocalyptic setting though, in fact it’s quite different. The story begins at the very beginning of the “apocalypse”, but the events are not detailed and no explanation through the whole story is verified as to what exactly happened. Rather than having nearly all of mankind wiped out by nukes or disease, nearly all of malekind is wiped out in an instant for an inexplicable reason and without much violence. The only survivors after this flash of male extinction is our protagonist, Yorick, his male pet monkey Ampersand, and every female on the planet. To an extent this does cause some chaos among those spared, such as male airline pilots perishing mid-flight, men driving their families on the highway, and of course much of the knowledge that they took with them. Imagine a nearly all male workforce dying at once that operate a nuclear power plant. Regardless of the half that disappeared, male or female, half an entire planet disappearing in a heartbeat would cause major problems to nations. There is also the problem that it’s not only men, it’s all male animals and others species that disappear. This leads to the ultimate issue that it can become the end of the world once the first generation of all female life dies off. But of course, you’ve got Yorick and Ampersand.

There are plenty of reasons I rank this as one of my favourite comicbooks. As mentioned above, it’s not entirely a traditional post-apocalyptic setting. It’s fairly unique compared to other end of the world books, and has its own unique problems rather than traditional zombies or mutants and I found that to be a refreshing aspect of it. There are many well written characters and with 60 issues there are plenty of good arcs that explore various themes of love, science, family, and politics through the eyes of Yorick and his travels.

I just chuckled as I remembered my first impression on the concept. It was a sarcastic momentary thought that went along the lines of “damn, someone actually made a book based on the fantasy of being the last man on earth and having to repopulate the world until he dies of too much sex”. That’s not entirely the point of the story, but it’s definitely got some light hearted moments beside the more serious themes. This ranks fairly high up on my list of comicbooks and if you’re interested and seeing survival in this unique end of the world scenario, I highly recommend picking this one up.
As it seems to be the trend these days, I believe that FX is releasing a small screen adaptation sometime in the near future. Personally I love seeing film/TV adaptations of books I’ve read so I’m looking forward to this, hopefully it will at least be half as good as Preacher.

Show Recommendation: Preacher



Normally when I tend to do a write up on a piece of media that I’d like to recommend to my readers, I like to stray from the often travelled path. There’s not much of a point to recommending Game of Thrones for a TV show, Gladiator for a movie, 1984 for a book, or London Calling for an album. These are already cultural icons praised by millions and those without an interest in them are still aware of their existence. This one is a TV recommendation, and while TV is one of the most popular forms of media consumed, the show itself is a little less known and is based off a comicbook. Though the comicbook is highly regarded amongst avid readers, the majority of TV viewers are not aware of it so I thought I’d recommend the TV adaptation of Garth Ennis’ Preacher. I finished off binging season three not too long ago and was more than happy with how the show has been adapted to the silver screen, especially with this season, which prompted me to write this.

As you read this recommendation, you’ll notice the show and comicbookare definitely not for everyone. It can be fairly disgusting and disturbing at times. Besides that it is highly unbelievable at times, a little ludicrous or absurd, and even has a dark comedic side. If that doesn’t bother you, or perhaps it’s your thing, then Preacher makes for a highly entertaining ride.

Anytime I’m discussing Preacher with someone unfamiliar with it, they tend to ask the traditional ‘what is it about’ question. This is a somewhat tricky answer given some of the absurdity in the Preacher universe so I usually bellow out a long winded summary that goes like this:

A long time ago, a demon and angel got it on and the angel gave birth to an abomination called Genesis, which is basically a floating ball of light. It’s imprisoned in Heaven but eventually breaks free and heads to Earth. There Genesis begins to inhabit the body of our protagonist Jesse Custer, a hard drinking, bar fighting, ex-con trying to redeem himself by becoming a preacher in a small town in Texas. Genesis essentially sits dormant in Jesse, the only difference in Jesse is that when he uses a specific voice he commands the word of God and no being can refuse his command. After trying to contact God to ask why he was given this power, he finds out God has basically checked out of Heaven and is having fun on Earth. And so the long quest to find God begins and is the general overarching plot to the story. Heavily entwined with the main plot is an organization called The Grail, which essentially controls most governments and corporations giving it unlimited resources. The Grail protects the bloodline of Christ, who’s only descendant is a mentally challenged man (thanks to generations of inbreeding) known as Humperdoo. This organization is headed by a morbidly obese glutton called the Allfather who is bent of capturing Jesse to transfer Genesis into Humperdoo and show the messiah to the world.

Since Preacher is a bit of a lengthy comicbook, there are several story arcs and a large cast of colorful characters. Besides Jesse, the main cast includes his badass girlfriend Tulip and his Irish junkie friend Cassidy, who also happens to be a vampire because why not. There’s Arseface, who tried to kill himself by putting a shotgun in his mouth, but missed and now his mouth looks like a sphincter. You’ll meet the Saint of Killers, a tortured soul of a cowboy who lost his family and took his revenge on a town. He was later gifted with revolvers that can kill any being in existence and is tasked with capturing Jesse. Herr Starr is a ruthless and no nonsense German commander in The Grail who has a ridiculous amount of nonsense happen to him.You’ll see Jesse’s grandmother, who has sort of voodoo like powers she uses to steal the souls of others for her possible immortality. There’s an owner of a slaughterhouse who has an extremely odd love for meat. A hillbilly who likes animals a little too much, a pair of idiotic angels who try to capture Jesse, and of course Satan. He happens to be surprisingly funny and charismatic despite being a stereotypical bodybuilding red demon with massive horns.Let’s not forget Hitler, who breaks out of Hell and begins working in a diner. I can’t cover all the characters in a short write up but that should give you enough to think about.

While the comicbook is great, I’m quite impressed with how the creative team adapted it to the small screen which is why I chose to go with the show for my recommendation. Besides adapting and following story arcs, the show has stayed true to form when compared to the comicbook in other ways. A couple of examples I can think of off the top of my head would be that the TV show is not afraid to use plenty of violence and some gore, although it doesn’t go too overboard. Also, as I mentioned earlier, there is a comedic sense to the show that comes directly from the source material. Given the absurdity of the show it’ll make you give out a guilty chuckle from time to time. In short, the atmosphere of the show feels as the comicbook reads.

Like almost all TV adaptations, the show runners have naturally made some changes. This can be a hit or miss, but in my opinion so far it’s been pretty win winwith Preacher. Some notable changes were shuffling up some of the arcs from the comic, suchas the slaughterhouse owner arc was in season one of the show while it’s fairly later in the comicbook. The visual depiction of some places created for just the show are fairly entertaining and creative as well such as purgatory. Again, all done with a bit of interesting absurdity.

So in summation, if you’re looking for a hell of an entertaining show I highly suggest Preacher, even if you’re not a fan of comicbooks this one is a unique gem. Again, it’s not for everyone, but if you enjoy larger than life stories and characters mixed with some comical absurdity and violence you’re in for a treat.

As a side note, after rereading this write up I can see it’s not written particularly well. These write ups are supposed to be both a recommendation to the reader also an exercise in writing for myself. However, there is a reason this one just sounds like rambling. I actually wrote a different recommendation for Preacher a couple of weeks ago, though the general idea of it was the same, the wording and grammar were polished a few times over. Unfortunately the file of my USB drive became corrupted and I couldn’t recover it and got frustrated. So I decided I didn’t want to write it up again, but after thinking about it again, I just decided to just write it quickly even if it’s poorly worded. Sorry.

Comicbook Recommendation: Transmetropolitan

Transmetropolitan #1

While I’ve already declared Locke & Key to be my favourite comic book, I must confess that it won the title by only a hair. Though to be honest, I’ve read several comic books that I’d consider to be pretty good, but not many that I absolutely love. Since this is only my second recommendation from this medium, the choice must still come from the top of my list. And while there are many on that list that are tied for third place, Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan sits alone on the podium as second place.

Before I continue, I must make another confession. This recommendation might be somewhat vague and short unfortunately, for I haven’t read this series in years now and some of the details may be lost in the hodgepodge that is my mind.

Transmetropolitan is set in a somewhat dystopian world a couple of hundred years down the road. The cities are futuristic cesspools of debauchery where your average citizen seems apathetic toward it all. The typical urban dweller is sedated by drugs or distracted by technology that satisfies their every desire, so they are primarily numb to it all. As you’d expect, the city is packed with a cast of colourful characters; street side scammers, sexual deviants, junkies, trendy people with cybernetic implants or limbs, average criminals, mutants and the deformed, beggars, just plain crazy, and self-proclaimed religious prophets. In additional to the population, as you stroll down the streets you’ll also see heaps of trash piles as you’re being bombarded with advertisements that line nearly every inch of the infrastructure, sometimes even under your feet on the sidewalks.

As fascinating as the future presents itself, the core focus of the story is an eccentric (and somewhat psychotic) journalist named Spider Jerusalem who is forced to come out of his hermit like retirement and begin writing again. Think Hunter S. Thompson set in cyberpunk world, but with much more tattoos. His character is more than entertaining to say the least. He has a diverse vocabulary and is always inventing new swear laden insults for anyone he has to deal with, even those he considers friends. He’s a very jaded and sarcastic individual who thoroughly enjoys drug binges. Jerusalem also sports a small arsenal at times and is always willing to kick someone’s ass to get what he’s looking for. Above all though, he’s an amazing journalist who is not afraid to do anything it takes to get the truth published and bring justice to those who deserve it most.

While there is an overall story arc to all of Transmetropolitan that focuses on Jerusalem versus corrupt politicians, Ellis takes plenty of time to throw some focus on some other points. Some of these topics are existent only due to the nature of the fictional futuristic world the story is set in, though even thosecan be boiled down to philosophy that can be applied to today’s real world. Some of these topics are religion, rallies and protests, cryogenic preservation, poverty, the media, body altering with implants, and many more real world and fictional issues. Jerusalem does this all while giving his unique opinion on the subjects, often with sarcasm and swear words as expected.

I’m sure there are other great points worth mentioning about this series, but as I mentioned it’s been years since I’ve read it. Not only that, but the world Ellis has created is highly detailed and vast I can’t go over it all in one short write up. I highly recommend this comic if you’ve got interest in a dystopian somewhat cyberpunk world, or gonzo journalism, or politics, or the media. Even if you don’t, the eccentric Spider Jerusalem and artwork make for a highly entertaining read.

Comicbook Recommendation: Locke & Key


I’ve got a bit of a confession, I really didn’t read many comicbooks when I was younger. While I had a few here and there and did visit a local comic shop (though mostly for the toys), I didn’t pick up reading them regularly until my late 20s. I used to read two or three a night before bed, but recently have slowed down a bit (I’ve been focusing on reading some actual books lately). In those few years, I’ve read roughly 2,000+ floppies but I’m fairly certain Locke & Key stands out as my all-time favourite. I must admit picking second best is very difficult among the others though.

As a side note, you’ll most likely notice all my comicbook recommendations or commentary will not revolve around the superhero theme. When it comes to almost all literature and media I like, I find myself gravitating towards the scifi/horror/fantasy genres more than anything, so it should be no surprise that I enjoy those comicbooksmore than others. That’s just my personal taste though, I know there are some great stories out there that live in the superhero universes and I’ve read a few of them as well from time to time and thoroughly enjoyed some. But it’s just not my usual cup of tea.

Joe Hill’s Locke & Key falls into the horror and tragedy categoriesas it follows the tale of the three Locke kids and their mom who move to an old manor called Keyhouse following the brutal murder of their father. Shortly thereafter, one of the kids discovers a special key in the house with ability to open a door that can essentially make someone a ghost when they pass through it. But this key is only one of many that were forged long ago, all of which have a unique power when used. The keys hidden around Keyhouse are only one of the strange happenings around the manor though, one of the kids also discovers a woman living in a well in the backyard who seeks a specific key from the kids and resorts to haunting them when they are weary about her intentions.

There are many great aspects of this series I’d like to mention I almost don’t know where to start. For starters I’d like to give Gabriel Rodriguez a tip of the hat for the artwork. The best of it I would argue is the facial expression of all the characters, they capture emotions of joy and pain wonderfully which is essential for feeling the connections with the main and side characters. While I’m pointing that out, the emotional rollercoaster you go throughout it all is truly gripping. As I read through it I felt often at the edge of my seat that the villain was one step ahead of the Locke family. With the main characters, and colourful side characters ranging from fairly young to rather old, any reader can connect to at least a few of them and be somewhat moved during the story as well. Something I feel is fairly important when a writer engages any audience.

With a concept like keys that open doors (and other things) the possibilities seem boundless. Hill does a great job of exploring these boundaries by not limiting himself to only have keys open locks, which leads to all sorts of possibilities and ties them in nicely to the main storyline. Additionally, Locke & Key is not limited to the Locke generation the reader sees. A long, dark past of the key origins and how the Locke family became tied to them is explored in great detail both in the main series and in the additional one shot readings enriching the main storyline beautifully. Manly themes are also touched upon such as growing up, love, tragedy, and loss coupled with coping mechanisms.

This is a wonderfully captivating series and my notes above only scrape the surface of a great adventure that will tug at your heartstrings while still utilizing creative horror to keep you entertained. I can say more about it, but I always try to keep my recommendations spoiler free. Also, it’s been a couple of years since I read it so some things may have slipped. However, while I know how the story ends, this is one I will go back and read again in a few years to relive the ride. I’m not just recommending this for comicbook readers, I’m recommending this for anyone who loves a good story.

Fun facts: Joe Hill is the pen name of Joseph King who happens to be Stephen King’s son and Locke & Key is currently being worked on as a TV adaption for Hulu. Also, a pilot was shot a few years back for Fox, though it was never picked up and I don’t believe was ever aired on TV.