The Emperor Of The Universe is always a good ally to have in your corner especially if a motivated invasion force is trying to make their way in perpetuity onto your planet using an impenetrable metal sphere that can break certain elements of time space. In “XO Manowar – Vol 6: Agent” [Matt Kindt/Valiant/112pgs], Aric, who seems resigned to his exile, is brought back by the one mortal woman who can connect to him (though that exact pull without reading earlier volumes does not truly connect). Capshaw, said connected woman and a colonel with a special division of the US Government, asks him to help even though he knows she is using him and vice versa (though what would an immortal stand to gain except ego). He attacks the sphere only to find his thinking armor which usually protects him has no said defense against his foe who seems a nomad by appearance whose behavior is rendered inert. Either way he is able to still able to battle them which seems almost antithetical. It turns out this warrior is searching for his Sky Princess whom he believes has been taken by a man named David Camp. Camp is a personification of the religious sector that wants to govern its people’s whether it be a David Koresh or Jim Bakker. The Sky Princess soon turns against him but the damage is basically done. Aric defeats Camp but the last third of the graphic novel looks like it is washed in ash since it shows Camp opening up a portal to bring down a meteor or perhaps the sphere. Capshaw is able to claim victory but the end seems a bit misaligned since it doesn’t build to a specific perception. Like other ideas, the overall arch especially with those moving towards immortality loses the identifiable connection in its wake. The ash based conclusion of the graphic novel is not as detailed as it needs to be which causes the illustrations to lose their way.
By TIm Wassberg
The essence of people reflects in their domicile and how they function. of course if you are a rock star you tend to think of privacy but also creative textures. “Rock Stars At Home” [Chris Charlesworth/Apollo Publishers/176pgs] is a fascinating insight into people and how they live without being too intrusive. Complimented by interesting photos and very detailed descriptions at least of layout but also of design selections and landscapes within the houses, one gets a perspective of the people that lived in them, even for a short time. The most specific in the book that are detailed are The Rolling Stones and The Beatles for the most part. In watching how The Beatles struggled and then grew apart but also the balance really gives a perspective into what happened. Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon seemed to get along and even bought each other’s houses at times. Paul McCartney, even though some of his homes including a farm are discussed, really seems according to the book at times to be the odd man out which, as always, is a matter of perspective. The house where “Imagine” was filmed and which Ringo eventually bought gives a perspective into Lennon as does a lesser point The Dakota in NY. For The Stones, the infamous houses of Keith Richards and one of the early members that died before the advent of the 70s really give a perspective of how out-of-control those times were but never fully grotesque. Later in the book which is more in prose than visual form, the beginning lives of Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses and their almost scavenger techniques are described on Sunset Blvd. years and above all really shows the underbelly of rock n roll as compared to the British Invasion. The stories are told from a multitude of perspectives of people who were around. Some of the more interesting takes are those rockers who definitely had a sense of real estate tactic to them, most specifically Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Though he seemed a little disheveled in the early 80s after the breakup of Zeppelin (mostly it seems also because of the OD of Bonzo [drummer John Bonham], his specificity to detail seems undeniable and plays into his current methodical element of remastering (which is why one more Zeppelin show per se especially considering his penchant for detail would be great). Robert Plant’s motivations might be different but his home is not shown in this book. Their planes and the charters that were used for many in the early 70s tours were interesting but it seems as if the plane wasn’t ownedd in comparison to today where celebrities own smaller G5s which cost infinitely more. The interesting aspect is that the perspective can be show for the older crowd. Granted certain stories of Sonny Bono & Cher’s as well as Barry Gibb, Neil Young and Bob Dylan among others really paint an aspect of idyllic elements but also of isolation and connection. The unassuming shots of Young and Dylan and how these places (like Johnny Cash’s home) truly enhance the creative properties but almost the internal vision of “the voice of a generation” (when they themselves privately integrated and debated thoughts of who they were and the stories they would tell) is fascinating. “Rock Stars At Home” is a undeniable look without pretentiousness (despite a bit of detail) that gives an interesting look into who these people are and were. Even though they might not say anything, their choice of details and of lifestyle speaks in many sectors to their aspect of being.
By Tim Wassberg
Referred in many plays in his marketing as akin to “Beauty & The Beast” thereby giving away part of the story, “Belle – Beast Hunter” [Dave Franchini/Zenoscope/148pgs] plays more like a mix of “Aeon Flux”, “Ghost In The Shell” & “MacBeth”. Belle comes from a long line of beast hunters. like Xena in many ways, she is invariably striong but also at times invariably vulnerable depending on who she is close to. In this paragon, her closest friend over the years (like in many ways Gabrielle in Xena) is Mel who knows nothing of her powers until they come running straight through the front doors of Mel’s apartment and take her away. Some of the action is undeniable and the fact that Belle is led by Candlestick is obviously the other hark back to Beast beyond a late story reveal. The reveal of a sister to Candlestick who runs a hard edge weapons division is both too coincidental but also convenient although it gives the story push and a Jane Bond ploy that actually could be amped up. The family dysfunction that paints most of the story between an absent mother, a drunk father and a pissed off step-sibling who lost his original parents and the story points to an invariable conflict in terms of both control and power, While the themes are good, the story shifts around quite a bit in time sometimes without being ergonomically clear in its progression. Belle has a good sense of humor but sometimes retreats too much into action cliches despite an interesting penchant for a simpler life at times. The art is colorful and vivacious in many ways especially in a final battle with a Medusa like creature, However the cliffhanger which brings together 3 disparate forms of creatures with family secrets again seems too coincidental without enough details to support its stakes fully without more explanation.
By Tim Wassberg