Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trade Waiting - The Luna Brothers' Ultra: Seven Days, Girls Vol 1: Conception, and The Sword Vol 1: Fire

The Luna Brothers, Jonathan and Joshua, are two up and coming creators in the world of comics. They worked with Brian Bendis and Brian Reed on Spider-Woman Origins and have three creator owned works from Image - Ultra, Girls and The Sword, all of which I'll be tackling today. They are an extremely talented duo and are definitely creators you should keep an eye on in the future. You can check out their website to find out more and read the first issues of The Sword, Girls, and Ultra for free.

A quick note, much like my manga reviews, these will be divided up between a general thoughts section and then the reviews for the individual trades so I won't have to repeat myself three times. Anyway, hit the jump for the reviews.

In regards to all three books, the Luna Brothers do just about everything right. First off, the characters are great. There is nice variety and they seem like real people thrust in a story instead of the cliched characters in a story. Dara Brighton and Ultra are two good examples of this. They are believable and down to earth characters which helps their respective stories and the fantasy vs. reality undertones that their books have. The same goes for many of the supporting characters as well. They are generally well defined in a short space of time and function well as characters.

Their stories flows nicely and there are no real problems with the plot for me and there are some nice surprises through out their books.

The art is equally fantastic. It's stunning, yet subtle. There isn't a lot of the flashiness that you see in a lot of art from Marvel and DC. Simple, elegant, to the point and engaging. The layouts, panels, and action scenes all flow well. There is also a "softness" (can't think of a better word to describe it) to the art. This probably has to do with the fact that here are not a lot of straight lines and right angels in their work and the inking probably helps as well.

And speaking of inking, I really like it in their books. The lines are pretty thin and don't get in the way of the art like they do with some artists. Leinil Yu would be a good example of this depending, such as his New Avengers work vs. his Secret Invasion work. The one problem I have with the art is that the gore and violence clash pretty badly with the tone of the art, but it doesn't happen that often.

Written by Jonathan and Joshua Luna
Art by Jonathan and Joshua Luna
Collects The Sword #1-6

The Sword is a sword and sorcery book set in modern times. It stars Dara Brighton and it is about her life after three siblings kill her family.

The story follows Dara, who is a college aged, paraplegic art student whose father protects and hides a magical sword. The three siblings, named Zakros, Knossos, and Malia, have been looking for Dara's father for centuries in order to reclaim the sword and accidentally find him and track him back to his and Dara's home. There, they proceed to interrogate the family, killing all but Dara, believing she died when they burnt the house down. In actuality, Dara found the sword in question and it granted her powers, most notably the ability to walk again.

The rest of the trade is about Dara trying to escape from the authorities while trying to track down and learn more about her family's killers. There are plenty of twists and turns to be found and it is especially true with the sword's origin. There are a lot of chase elements to the story, but there are also some nice low key moments that help balance out the pace and tone of the book.

Verdict - Must Read. A stunning tale with great characters that weaves together the mundane with the fantastic to create something better than its parts.

Written by Jonathan and Joshua Luna
Art by Jonathan and Joshua Luna
Collects Girls #1-6

Girls is something of a suspense/horror book, which is generally not the kind of thing I like to read or watch. They tend to bet very formulaic, predictable, generic, cliched and kind of boring for me. Luckily, Girls is a series that does not fall under any of those descriptors.

Despite my claims to the otherwise, Girls does seem kind of have a lot of generic elements to it, such as the small town in the middle of no where and the cliched locals found in those towns. However, it still manages to rise above those cliches and is a very good read.

Much like with The Sword, the characters are strong, as is the plot. It moves briskly without leaving things out and works nicely. The characters are also some of the strongest ones to be found in the Luna Brothers' work I've read so far.

The story is foreboding and truly suspenseful at times without being oppressive. The fact that most of it takes place during the day and out in the open really helps with this. Girls isn't really ground breaking, so far, and who knows if that will change with future volumes, but it definitely rises above its genre roots.

Verdict - Must Read. An unique suspense/thriller that moves past it genre roots to create an enjoyable and intriguing story.

Written by Jonathan and Joshua Luna
Art by Jonathan and Joshua Luna
Collects Ultra #1-8

Ultra is one of the many celebrity super hero books out there, but unlike many of them, it plays up the celebrity part over the super hero part. Now, I loathe celebrity obsession in general, but the Luna Brothers do a great job getting a story out it.

Ultra details a week in the life of the super hero Ultra and her two friends, also super heroes, Cowgirl and Aphrodite. The story is about how Ultra learns that she will find true love within seven days after seeing a fortune teller, hence the title. The superhero and celebrity aspects of the story are down played, but still there and, instead, the story focuses on Ultra and her friends.

It is definitely a character driven story and is better for it. Super heroes and celebrities are not subjects that are easy to reinvent or reimagine. Of course, they still play apart in the story but they are not the main focus but, rather, they are used to highlight the lives of the characters. As mentioned in the intro above, the Luna Brothers create fantastic, believable characters, so this is only a benefit to the book.

One of the nice little touches in Ultra is that parts of it are like a magazine. Most of the covers from the issues are styled after magazine covers, there are interviews with the characters that are taken out of fictional magazines from the world of Ultra and there are even "advertisements" featuring the characters from Ultra.

Verdict - Must Read. Although Ultra covers well traveled territory, it manages to stand out with a strong plot and engaging characters.

Like these reviews? Interested in these books? Purchase The Sword Vol 1: Fire, Girls Vol 1: Conception or Ultra: Seven Days from and help support The Weekly Crisis.

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Bill said...

I enjoyed Girls and Ultra quite a bit, and I'm glad to hear good things about Sword. It's on my list of things to check out over the summer (when there's less TV occupying my time).

Eric Rupe said...

The Sword was probably my favorite of the three, but I fan of the genre more so that's probably why.

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