Did I ever tell you that I was a procrastinator? I am! I put things off! Here’s a story to illustrate:
About a month or so ago, Benjamin Shahrabani of Com.X Comics got in touch with me and asked if I wanted review copies of a couple of Com.X publications. Now, you may have noticed that I spend good money to review things already, so doing it for free is a no-brainer - I think that the only time that I wouldn’t accept a review copy is if it looked like I’d hate what’s being offered and it’s being offered by a creator or a smaller outfit rather than a faceless corporation (Fun Fact: remember when we reviewed those X-Men DVDs and we were not kind? Well, they responded to our scorn by offering us Season 2 to review. The scars were too deep to accept, I’m afraid). I’m not a monster, after all.
So the books arrived and I sat on them for a week and then I read one and sat on them for another week and my friend ran off with one and I got it back and read it and sat on them for another couple of weeks, in the meantime writing long posts about Green Arrow in the woods and how Batman should dance more.
Luckily, Benjamin seems to be a very patient guy and has responded to my poor review punctuality with aplomb. Good show, sir! Look: your postage was not in vain!
The first of the Com.X books that I read was entitled Razorjack, by John Higgins. Razorjack is a perfect example of the joy of getting review copies, because I’m pretty sure that I never would have picked this book up on my own - not that it looks bad, so much as that it doesn’t have the proper plumage to fire up the wallet-opening portions of my brain (Tip for publishers looking to attract that ever-so-lucrative Johnathan Market: top ways to attract my eye include images of super-heroes having lunch, titles that are elaborate puns, robots, guys with the approximate build of a gorilla punching monsters).
I think that I might’ve been in a bad mood the first time I read this, because I remember liking it but being grumpy at the same time. Like one of the fonts used for a special character’s speech balloons really stuck in my craw, but now it looks fine. Maybe it’s a good thing that I procrastinated after all.
So Razorjack is an interdimensional conqueror type who is into bondage gear (and aren’t they all, those interdimensional conquerors? I think that it’s high time for a pan-universal tyrant who has some more esoteric tastes in fashion - one who dresses like an English professor or like someone from Renaissance Italy, only with a Viking hat) and has just discovered our dimension, leading to all kinds of crazy attempts to open a portal between where she is and where we are, for the purpose of further conquering. Oh, the wackiness: piles of severed heads and angry, bullet-riddled zombies and possessed drama students abound!
The heroes of the piece are Ross (the young lady on the cover) and Frame, a couple of maverick police types who get mixed up in the inevitable rash of violent deaths that always seem to accompany an attempt by an evil nigh-omnipotent interdimensional warlord to pass from one dimension to the next (and how different would those old JLA/JSA teamups have been if crossing from Earth-1 to Earth-2 required a series of ritualistic murders? Jay Garrick and Barry Allen all running toward that guy on the cover of Flash No. 123 holding knives…). I guess that I can’t really go into the details without giving too much away, but there’s all kinds of crazy hoodoo and blood and such. It wasn’t quite to my taste, I must admit, but not due to any fault with the comic. Actually, I’d kind of like to see the further adventures that are hinted at at the end, as the abandoned building where everything went down becomes a crazy portal to innumerable dimensions and it’s supernatural detective vs. Razorjack across space and time. Hear that? That was the sound of my wallet trying to flip open reflexively at the sound of the words "supernatural detective".
The second book was Path, by Gregory Baldwin and let me tell you, it was a hoot. If Razorjack was an exercise in being exposed to something new then this was one in saving a few bucks, because there’s a pretty damn good chance that I would have picked it up if I’d seen it in a store.
Path is concerned with the adventures of one (1) anthropomorphic rabbit (Doppler) and one (1) anthropomorphic elephant (Dodge) as they attempt not to get eaten. The two bounce from hazard to hazard for the whole damn book, just barely squeaking out of one scrape in time to get into another. And it’s delightful! There’s not too much time for deep and meaningful examinations of character when Doppler and Dodge are constantly running for their lives but enough comes through to let you know that they’re both pretty damn enjoyable folks. I kept hoping that they’d have a couple of pages in which to rest and have a bit of a chat but no such luck.
Of course, it helps that everything looks so pretty. There’s lots of vertiginous landscape for our heroes to cling to and fall off of and giant creatures for them to flee and smaller creature for them to flee and even a giant robot at one point. And it all looks great. Mr Baldwin, I commend your monster design. Here: my scanner is out of commission but I lifted a couple of pages from Amazon:
This is where the whole thing starts - some crazy monster-filled canyon, somewhere.
And this is just one of the many things that try to eat our heroes. I think that it's a spire-dwelling life form.
In short, Path was fantastic. It's basically just wall-to-wall action and fun and crazy creatures. I cannot stress the crazy creatures enough. And with a great ending!