Category Archives: Books

Fantasy Friday: The Sword

Do you love the Luna Brothers?  Because I do.  They’re best known for their amazing work on Girls and Ultra, but they also worked on the successful Spider-Woman: Origin, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Brian Reed.

Their newest effort is the spectacularly bloody series, The Sword.  No, really, it’s bloody.  Blood, guts, eviscerations, bone shards, etc.  All over.  I love it.  Fortunately, there’s also a really good story to go along with the amount of violence and gore.

trade_oneThe Sword centers around a young woman named Dara Brighton whose life is destroyed by three strangers who viciously murder her family while looking for a mythical sword.  Dara is the the one who ends up finding the sword, which brings her the ability to heal as well as a slew of super-powers and strength.

Dara begins her bloody, gory quest for vengeance that leads her to find that the three strangers are actually immortal gods, and that her father was hiding a huge secret about his past

So far, I’ve gotten through the first two trade paperbacks and I have to say, I really, really like it.  The story and art are really great, and (as far as mythical swords and immortal gods are concerned) very realistic.  I find myself genuinely feeling for Dara and being disgusted with the acts of some of the villains.  You really find yourself rooting for this girl.

sword_pageThe action sequences are well-drawn and put together and the flow is very cinematic.  These are fast and exciting reads.  I think I finished each trade in less than half an hour.  I couldn’t put them down.  I really can’t emphasize enough the amount of violence, though.  The image at right is the only one I could find without blood, guts or beheading.  Personally, I don’t think the violence is unnecessary in terms of the story and I happen to like it.  But it may not be something you want your little cousin picking up.

The first issue of The Sword can be read online for free at Image Comics.  Otherwise, you should head on down to your local comic book provider and buy some trades and/or back issues.

–DB

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On the topic of Vampires

Over the weekend, I went to the Barnes and Noble in Rittenhouse Square to drool over books I can’t afford (sadly, I can clearly remember a time when books took precedence over food in my budget), and found myself even further confused by the hoopla surrounding the release of the last book in the uncomfortably tweeny Twilight Saga series (penned by Stephenie Meyer), Breaking Dawn.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I just don’t get the appeal. I attempted to read the first book, and the writing is just so….livejournal-y. An example:

Facing my pallid reflection in the mirror, I was forced to admit that I was lying to myself. It wasn’t just physically that I’d never fit in. And if I couldn’t find a niche in a school with three thousand people, what were my chances here?

I didn’t relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period. Even my mother, who I was closer to than anyone else on the planet, was never in harmony with me, never on exactly the same page. Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same things through my eyes that the rest of the world was seeing through theirs. Maybe there was a glitch in my brain. But the cause didn’t matter. All that mattered was the effect. And tomorrow would be just the beginning.

I mean, it isn’t the worst writing in the world, and I suppose it’s geared towards the target teen audience, but I know a fair number of adults who idolize the series as well. The main character, Bella, seems….flat, without a personality. Which works when the hopelessly awkward teen girl reading the series wants nothing more than to project her personality onto this blank template of a character. It’s like having your very own Mary Sue without the hassle of having to actually write a fan fiction.

But Edward, the dashing, luminescent (don’t get me started on how many times he’s described as “glowing”), vampire love interest? I find him downright creepy. And not just because he’s a vampire. You don’t need to be a Vampire to be a creepy stalker. And (pardon me) Edward is a wee bit of creepy stalker.

My friend suggested to me that perhaps I just don’t like Vampire stories, which often have a “creepy stalker doomed romance” vibe. So I got to thinking, what Vampire stories are out there that cater to an older, and slightly less Hot Topic-clad fanbase? I came up with a few options:

Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck! by Christopher Moore.

From the man who brought us such gems as Lamb, Fluke, and A Dirty Job comes Bloodsucking Fiends, and it’s sequel, You Suck!. The first book is infinitely better than the second, but even Moore admits he only wrote the second book because readers demanded it. So we get what we ask for, I suppose. Nonetheless, these are great vampire stories, full of Moore’s trademark wit and with a love story that doesn’t leave you feeling like you need a shower.

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The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Anne Rice is (well, was, before Jesus got to her) the master of all things Vampire. While I’m a fan of pretty much all the Vampire Chronicle books, Lestat is my favourite by far. The amount of depth, charisma and humour Rice brings to this very, VERY dark character makes him pretty damn irresistible. Plus the historical spin of these stories makes them really compelling and realistic. The love threads are there, but they focus on the animalistic side of the vampires, rather than their tortured souls.

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Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi.

I don’t care if you don’t like anime or manga. Vampire Hunter D is everything a good Vampire story should be. Dark, funny, apocalyptic, violent, erotic and very bloody. It’s a little Van Helsing, a little Ninja Scroll, a little Final Fantasy, and a lot good. Don’t get the movies, read the books. The animes (while good) don’t do the character justice. The post-apocalyptic setting gives it an almost western/sci fi (think Firefly) feel, and the landscapes are almost as fleshed out as the characters. It’s a must.

Of course there are other good Vampire stories out there. The Buffy universe being the one that comes to the forefront of my mind, but these three really stand out for me as examples of why Vampire stories can be good, without relying on the “love story with a mortal” nonsense (of which, I’m aware, the Buffy-verse is decidedly guilty of). Consider these your anti-Twilight.

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