Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Comics Wednesday: Breath of Bones & 47 Ronin

Today is Wednesday, and that means it's New Comic Book Day - the day all of this week's comics hit the store shelves (both physically and digitally). Typically on Wednesdays, I feature a comic here on Daddy Rolled a 1 that I'll personally be picking up later this evening when I go to my local shop with my daughter after I pick her up from preschool.

As I looked at the titles I'm picking up today (Batman, Batman & Robin, Harley Quinn, Justice League, Midas Flesh, and Trinity of Sin: Pandora) I realized that it might not be a great day to focus on one of those. Batman is of course fantastic, but you don't need me to tell you that. It's also in the middle of a sort of year-long origin story called "Zero Year" which would be a bit difficult to jump into mid-stream. Justice League and Pandora are both in the middle of a huge DC "Event" called Forever Evil, which again would make it weird to try to jump in on the current issue. Batman & Robin is currently titled Batman & Two-Face (given the events that happened to Robin in Batman Incorporated #8), and it's also in the middle of its story arc. Lastly, Midas Flesh is only on issue #2 and I wasn't super excited about issue #1. I want to give it another chance before I officially recommend it.


Where does that leave us? Well, I recently reviewed two trade collections over at ComicAttack.net, both of which should be of interest to role-playing gamers. [As a quick aside a "trade collection" is basically just one single book that collects a short mini-series or a self-contained story-arc of a particular comic book; it's different from a "graphic novel" in that, generally speaking, a graphic novel is a story that was originally written to be published as a single bound book, whereas a trade collection features stories that were originally written in a monthly or weekly format).

As always, please note that every Wednesday, I tweet out which issues I picked up that week, and then over the course of the week I send out individual tweets with 140-character reviews of each issue. You can follow me on Twitter here.

Lastly, if you want to read more of my reviews over at ComicAttack, just search my name-tag to see what I've reviewed lately.

BREATH OF BONES: A TALE OF THE GOLEM

This was one of my favorite short mini-series that was published in 2013; the original story was only three issues. The trade edition will be coming out next month in a lovely hard-cover edition that also includes a cover gallery and some early character sketches.

You can learn the basics of "What's It About?" as well as "Who Are the Creative Team?" and "Who Will Like It?" over at my full review on ComicAttack (link below).

Any Good Ideas for my Role-Playing Games?
This is a tale about a Golem. Well, more specifically, it's a tale about a man who builds the golem, and a young boy who ends up controlling the creature as his village is about to face destruction from the Nazis during World War II. 

Golems are ubiquitous in D&D and related fantasy RPGs - flesh golems (ala Frankenstein's monster), Iron Golems, Stone Golems, etc. While many of these do have literary or historical precedents, the actual word "golem" comes from Jewish folklore and refers to "an animated anthropomorphic being, created entirely from inanimate matter. The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material (usually out of stone and clay) in Psalms and medieval writing" (source: Wikipedia.org).

In this story, there is plenty of great fodder for your imagination to fuel your RPGs, whether you're playing a World War II themed game, a horror game, or a straight-up fantasy game. The creation of the golem in this story is powerful and touching, all viewed through the lens of a young boy and the rest of the villagers who don't necessarily have the faith to believe that the golem can be created, and yet hoping against hope that it might actually work. The golem itself is terrifying to behold and yet retains some sort of spiritual essence of the man who created it.

The story really gives you a sense of the type of person who might end up creating a golem - it's not always a mad scientist in a gothic laboratory, or a power-hungry wizard in a tower. In this case, it's a simple villager who wants to create something to protect his family.

Is It Good for Kids?
Sadly, not for younger kids, but for older kids (maybe 12+), this is a great introduction to non-standard folklore (e.g., not Greek or Norse), and it touches on history (World War II) and also features a young boy as the main protagonist of the story, and he makes the perfect viewpoint character for the reader. But, there's a lot of shooting and death, the Nazis are thoroughly cold, militant, and unconcerned with the lives of the Jewish villagers, and the golem is unwavering in its assault on the Nazis. While we want to cheer as the Nazis get what's coming to them, younger kids will probably be a bit scared, as the golem dispassionately dispenses justice in some very gruesome ways (but in a nice bit of symmetry in terms of how the Nazis themselves acted during the war).

Here's the first section of my review of ComicAttack:

Breath of Bones is a comic I read earlier this year in single-issue format. A total of three issues of this mini-series were published by Dark Horse, and they’re being collected in a hard-cover trade edition on sale February 26th. If you missed the single issues, you’ll definitely want to pick up this trade, not just for the excellent story but for the spectacular artwork by Dave Wachter.

Upon picking up the book and looking at the cover and the front-piece that leads into the first chapter, the reader may make the mistake that this is simply yet another World War II tale...
 You can read the rest of the review here.

47 RONIN
I have reviewed 47 Ronin before here on the blog, way back in May 2013 when issue #4 of this 5-issue mini-series came out. All five issues have been collected into a trade edition which goes on-sale next month.

I won't cover the usual stuff here, as you can read my previous review here on the blog and also my more in-depth review of the trade collection over at ComicAttack. Suffice it to say if you're at all interested in Japanese-themed role-playing (looking at you, Lord Gwydion), this is an excellent resource, both in terms of the story but also in the detailed drawings of the arms, armor, and architecture of feudal Japan. Don't like the cartoon-like style fool you - there is a ton of well-researched detailed in the drawings.

I'll just finish by saying that if you don't know the true, historical (yes, is really happened) story of the 47 Ronin (not the abomination that's being marketed by Hollywood right now with Keanu Reeves), then you should learn it and this comic collection is a great place to start.

Here's the first section of my review at ComicAttack:

Dark Horse Comics continues to come out with some excellent trade editions of some of my favorite comic stories of 2013. Being published next month on February 19th is the trade collection of 47 Ronin, a five-issue mini-series that was published last year.

First off, for those of you who don’t know the true story of the 47 Ronin, you need to disregard the trailers you’ve seen for that movie with Keanu Reeves that shares the same title. Although the movie looks like it takes place in Japan, as far as I can tell, that’s where the similarities stop.

The tale of the 47 Ronin is actually a true story, based on real events in Japanese history
You can read the rest of the review here.

Cheers, and Happy 2014!

Working: home office (brand spanking new laptop!)
Drinking: tap water
Listening: "Weirdo" by New Order



3 comments:

  1. Cool. I'll see if the trade of 47 Ronin will be available through the Korean online booksellers next month. Although I have to say I'm looking forward to the Keanu movie, simply because it looks to be totally OA, even if it's nothing like the original tale. :D

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    Replies
    1. Not sure if you're into digital comics or if you can access them there in Korea, but Dark Horse sells digital comics and would most likely have this. The downside is that they're pushing the use of their own app instead of just selling on Comixology like every other major publisher.

      Anyway, glad you saw this!

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    2. I'm sure I probably can, but I don't mind shucking out the change for hard copy. Interpark has it listed as releasing on March 2nd here in S.K. for only 20,000 won or so, so I'll likely just order it from them.

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