Archive for Southern Bastards

Cold Cuppa: Twelve Gems

Posted in Cold Cuppa, Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05/06/2018 by Kevin Entrekin

Listen: Ghost- “Helvetesfönster”

Hey crew. Sorry it has been awhile since we’ve boarded the ship. Been docked for a bit while some life changes have been rapidly evolving. We are now financed by a new shipping company. We also have set up shop in a new base camp. It’s nice to be on my own, but fellow space pirates Count Mecha and Rython being next door is very nice. Everything is sailing smooth, aside from the information sharing systems not working right yet. (In short: Started a new job in the heart of Memphis, got an apartment next to my friends, and trying to get the capitalist bloodsuckers at Xfinity to do their job has been a nightmare. Three months of paying them money, still have no Wi-Fi).

TWELVE GEMS by Lane Milburn. 2014. Published by Fantagraphics, $19.99. Adult Sci-Fi novel.

I’ve been wanting to read Twelve Gems for a long time now. The first time I saw the cover, it spoke to my soul. Thankfully, the story behind the cover also lived up to my hopes.

Twelve Gems is the space-opera story of three space heroes searching for the fabled Twelve Gems of Power. The heroes: A deadly warrior named Venus; The brawling, fugitive alien Furz; and the brilliant technician canine Dogstar are recruited by Dr. Z to find the stones. Danger and adventure awaits around every corner for the three adventurers as they begin to learn more about the stones and Dr. Z’s fascination with them.

Twelve Gems is panel-to-panel packed with 80’s B-reel action (hint: read this blaring some metal and rock music). This book feels like something a friend in high school works on in science class instead of conforming to the educational system. And it turns out that friend is crafting an amazing sci-fi adventure and you’re in on this secret, fantastical thing. The black-and-white sketch style Milburn uses in this book feels like it could easily be a cheap Bic drawn on college-ruled paper, and it’s just gorgeous.

As I already said, the action is nearly non-stop, but it still has a solid plot with equally strong characters. One that flows seamlessly with the action elements. The way Milburn lays out his panels, and uses entire one and two page spreads to progress the story, is perfect. He packs so much imagery and dialogue into each page.

I’m now annoyed that there isn’t more love for this book in general. I personally feel it needs to be talked about among the comic community. And Lane Milburn needs to be funded to make some kind of sequel or spiritual successor to Twelve Gems.

SOUTHERN BASTARDS #20 by Jason Aaron (Wr) & Jason Latour (A). 2018. Published by Image Comics, $3.99. Adult Southern Crime.

I have written about my love of this series here in the past. I ended up deleting the article because it was a boring and generally poor write-up. But my love for this southern tale is unchanged. It’s probably the title I’m most excited to see in my pull list. 1) Because it’s so good, and 2) you get a new issue about every three months (if you’re lucky).

I don’t want to get too much into the story here, at the risk of spoiling anything. I don’t normally care about “spoilers”, but this is a special and dense web that should be experienced with virgin knowledge. The basic story revolves around a revered high school football coach in Craw County, Alabama who is in a world of trouble. Both on the field and with his criminal businesses. How will Coach Boss get out of this jackpot?

Unfortunately, this is the first issue in the series that leaves a bitter taste. There’s nothing wrong with Latour’s art or Aaron’s writing. But, this issue felt like the climax of things that had been building since the first issue. Chickens should be coming home to roost. But then they don’t. What had been boiling under the surface simple subsides. The southern biblical justice that has been coming down throughout the series now shows mercy. Why?

This series could perfectly end here, and it sadly should. What a perfect moment to wrap up this saga in Craw County. But what we get instead is a forced attempt to extend the longevity of the series. I vehemently despise media that extends it natural story progression past expiration. Maybe it will be worth it in the long run? That is uncertain now. What is for certain is that for a series that felt very definite and dangerous, things are now feeling relatively safe and bloated.

DOMINO #1 by Gail Simone (Wr) & David Baldeon (A). 2018. Published by Marvel. $3.99. Parental Advisory, but very mild. Personal opinion: Suitable for Teens.

This book comes with a parental advisory warning on the cover. Which, while reading this book, kept me from enjoying it. Because I don’t particularly see why that warning is necessary. Because within the second page, our girl Domino lets loose a few expletives. Or, more notably, a bunch of %#@&ing maledicta symbols. Why? You’re hall pass is right on the cover. You can let you let loose a few naughty words. Maybe some blood and guts. But the most risqué thing in this issue is our hero in her undies.

Corporate obviously is where the Comics Code shenanigans come from, I wager. In fact, there were many times while going through this issue I could feel some executive drone with White-out making his own edits. The potential for entertainment is here, but Marvel stands in the way.

There is something of a heartbeat here. After this book had been scrubbed with Marvel bleach, Writer Gail Simone is able to breathe some life into the panels. Especially during the latter half of this issue, which is a party for Domino’s birthday. There are some genuinely nice emotions and even Wade Wilson stops by (Coincidence this book came out around the time of Deadpool 2? Nah).

The first half is forgettable. It’s the set up for the series, but it is nothing of substance. It’s an action set piece to familiarize the reader to the world and abilities of Domino. We’re also introduced to a mutant named Adelbert, who is maybe important to upcoming issues.

I’ll continue into issue two with a slice of optimism. I wasn’t initially won over at the beginning, but those few heartbeats in the final pages has me curious enough to check out more.

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That’s it for now, crew. I got some interesting things lined up I think. Recently picked up an interesting haul of discount bin gems that I look forward to reading and sharing with you. Until then…

Also, here is a photo of the Ghost concert I got the privilege to see last week. This was my second time seeing them and it was a hell of a show.

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