Tag Archives: James Harren

Banana Stand Special: BPRD #118

 So this week I’ve decided to do a more in-depth review for The Banana Stand.  I’m a huge fan of the BPRD books, and the Mignolaverse in general, so I thought this was good book to start with.

21532          Overview: Issue #118 is the penultimate issue in “The Reign of the Black Flame” storyline, and it has been one of the best all-around BPRD arcs in the series as a whole.  For starters we get more James Harren artwork–which is just fantastic–but we’re also getting an exciting culmination of the last year or so of stories.  Everything has been leading to this, basically since the Russia arc, and Arcudi, Mignola, and Co. have delivered in spades.  New York City has gone to shit, and it’s up to the Bureau and it’s Russian counterpart to save the day and keep the entire world from being overrun with monsters.  We get great character moments with Iosif, Johann, and Fenix; as well as a showcase of how badass Liz Sherman can really be.  This issue does a fantastic job of being completely gripping, while setting things up for the ultimate reckoning next issue.  So now I’m going to dive into some specifics, if you haven’t read the issue or are trade waiting–what’s wrong with you!–fair warning, ****THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD***** Continue reading Banana Stand Special: BPRD #118

Review: Rumble #1

img010              Overview: The first issue of John Arcudi and James Harren’s new creator owned series drops us right into a strange, yet somewhat familiar world.  We’re left to figure it out as we go, but the setting is interesting, and the characters are intriguing. Combine that with the always phenomenal artwork by James Harren, and you get a pretty solid debut issue that warrants your attention.

          Story: The basic premise is a mysterious figure with a mysterious weapon arrives in a city that appears to have seen better days. We meet Bobby, a local bartender, and presumably our POV character; and by the end of the issue we only learn some tidbits to chew on until next issue. This mysterious–and gigantic–sword will attract the attention of weird monsters, and the owner of this sword appears to be supernatural in some way himself.

img011           Part of me wishes we were given more context to work with, but I’ve been reading Arcudi’s stuff long enough to trust he’s taking this somewhere awesome, and the hints at something very creepy and supernatural going on are enough to hook me. What worries me, is if there was enough of a hook for the uninitiated. I was pretty smitten with this book based on the creative team alone, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I may be in the minority. A first issue really needs to grab our attention, and story wise I don’t know if Rumble was quite successful in that regard. For some readers, being left a bit in the dark is not satisfying, and figuring out the mystery $3.50 at a time, month after month just doesn’t cut it.

I really hope those new to this creative team will give it a chance, because I think this is going to be a very cool book. Though even I cannot provide an explanation for what is supposed to happen beyond the fact that there will be visceral action, creepy-rad monsters, mystery, and probably some laughs along the way.  If that’s enough or you–and it should be–then welcome to the party! If not, then at least stick around for some of the best art in comics, and the story will become more clear as we move along.

          img012Art:  For anyone not happy with the amount of story context, the artwork should more than make up for it.  James Harren has done amazing stuff in the Mignolaverse, so the excitement of getting to witness he and Arcudi’s carte blanche vision of an entirely new world is something I can barely contain.  Harren has built a name on frenetic, palpably intense action sequences, that shatter expectations of what can be done with static images. Here we get to see him showcase his equally brilliant ability to world build.

The cityscape is reminiscent of others we’ve seen in fiction, but maintains it’s own personality. I referenced 1970’s NYC meets Mad Max in my indubitable issues recommendation, but so far the Mad Max is only apparent in the dystopian-feeling spirit of the place. The streets are barren, filled with more fog than people, and it seems like a city where you’d lock your doors even when you’re home; hell, especially when your home 🙂

Harren’s character work is also given a chance to shine, each person is different, and you get a real sense of who they are, just based on their clothes and faces. Features are exaggerated, but with a fair amount of realism still intact, and his expression work is fantastic. If this is your first exposure to Mr. Harren’s work, then I’m sure this issue blew your socks off.

I have to mention Dave Stewart, who as always, colors this world to perfection. Using purples, blues, oranges, and reds to really give a pop to the mood of each scene, or paint the action with an urgent flash of bright background. He’s familiar with Harren and Arcudi from their work at Dark Horse, so the transition here is seamless.

          img013Conclusion:  Despite some concerns over it’s ability to hook new readers with the story, Rumble #1 is a solid debut from a polished and very talented team.  As a huge fan of everyone involved I sincerely hope this venture with Image attracts new readers to the brilliance of both Arcudi and Harren, and I can’t wait to learn more about this strange new world in the coming issues.

I urge anyone on the fence to check out a couple more issues, because I know the mysterious nature exists with a purpose; John Arcudi is one of the best writers working today, so if you’re looking for a wild, fantastical ride, you’ve come to the right book.  The art of James Harren, and the chance to witness this team build a world from the ground up should be enough to warrant your patience.

So what do you think NBC! faithful? Did you enjoy this issue? Was I completely wrong in my assessment? Let me know in the comments, and as always thank you for reading!