book review: petrograd

I enjoy stories of Russia’s history, especially when they’re about the Russian soul, which always seems so different from mine. Petrograd, by Philip Gelatt and Tyler Crook, is about a British spy in Petrograd during the Great War (hence the interstitial name between St. Petersburg and Leningrad). The British want to make sure the Russians and Germans don’t come to a separate peace so they push their Petrograd office into making sure that doesn’t happen, by killing Rasputin.

Cleary is one of the spies. He’s in bed with revolutionaries, feeding information to his masters and the tsarist secret police, and hobnobs with princes (for more information). When Cleary is pushed into plotting assassination he’s clearly out of his depth and the book focuses on what kind of a man he is trying to be.

It’s a great book, done in a bigger hardcover than a lot of Oni Press’ stuff. The art is detailed and brushy (reminded this untutored eye of Craig Thompson’s work, but with more traditional page layouts) with faded orange washes throughout. It’s a great non-gamourous spy story with violence and repercussions and talk of “Russifying one’s soul.”

book review: sleeper (season 1)

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Sleeper is an excellent dark story about a super-powered secret agent who was sent to infiltrate a criminal organization as a deep-cover agent. When the book begins the only man who knows who Holden Carver really is is in a coma, and he’s getting in over his head in the organization.

There was a lot of awesomeness to love about this book. Holden Carver’s superpower is that he doesn’t feel pain and hals really quickly, but he can also transfer injuries that were inflicted on him to other people. So he gets shot, doesn’t feel the pain, touches you so you’ve been shot to the equivalent degree, and then he heals up while you don’t. He does a number of assassination jobs in service of the bad guys, but then he did bad things when he was a government agent too.

The book is set in the WildStorm universe, so there are a couple of references to The Authority, and the existence of posthumans is very well-established. One of the neat recurring bits is playing “origin stories” when they’re doing the boring parts of the job. It’s just one of those things that seems so right in a noirish crime book in a superheroic universe. (Ed Brubaker also worked on Gotham Central, another bunch of great noir stories in a superhero world.)

book review: close quarters (the losers vol. 4)

Close Quarters is the fourth book in Andy Diggle and Jock’s The Losers series. While the previous volume was side trips and flashbacks, this book is straight up Cayman bank heists (in England), motorcycle chases and stealing helicopters in the process of high-seas plutonium piracy. Have I mentioned what a fun book this is? It’s like the A-Team but not nearly so dumb. I have nothing more to add.

book review: trifecta (the losers vol. 3)

It’s one of those weird gaps in my comics reading that though I loved Andy Diggle and Jock’s The Losers, I only read the first volume. Trifecta is the third volume and includes the backstory of how the team got disavowed (it’s similar to the movie version except more complicated and in Afghanistan instead of Central America). There’s also a great little story of Aisha playing her former handler in Turkmenistan.

I maintain that this book is pretty much exactly what I wish more action movies were. There’s dialogue there to be awesome and twisty plots and double-crossing and revenge. [the sound of me kissing the tips of three fingers and a thumb together and having them blossom all lotus-like]