Book Review – Assassin’s Creed: The Graphic Novels (2012)

Assassin’s Creed: The Graphic Novels
by Eric Corbeyran & Djilalli Defali
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Titan Books

I have to hang my head in shame and admit that I have yet to play any of the Assassin’s Creed video games. Oh, don’t get me wrong…I want to, but things just keep popping up that prevent me from doing so. I am, however, a big fan of the series from a storyline perspective; blending high-tech science-fiction with historical fact is an amazing concept and one that interests me greatly. So I was extremely excited to find these three graphic novels in my mailbox, courtesy of the fine folks at Titan Books.

If you are not familiar with Assassin’s Creed, here are the plot summaries for each book courtesy of the Titan Books’ website:

Assassin’s Creed 1 – Desmond
This first volume of the French comic trilogy from Ubisoft, tells the story of Desmond Miles’ abduction by Abstergo and their plans to rip the blood-steeped memories of Desmond’s ancestors from his genetic code. Add to the mix the mysterious and violently terrified Subject 16 and a desperate flight from Abstergo, and this makes for a fast-paced and thrilling addition to the game’s universe.

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Aquilus
Second volume of the comic trilogy from Ubisoft. Escaped from Abstergo with the help of Lucy, Desmond joins the Assassins in their fight against the Templars. But, betrayed by Patient 13, the Assassins leave Rome for Monterrigioni. On the way, Desmond uses the Assassins’ animus to visit the memories of his ancester Aquilus, a Roman citizen fighting those who would become the Templars.

Assassin’s Creed 3 – Accipiter
Following on from Desmond’s previous foray into his ancestral assassin-past, Aquilus desperately strives to avenge his father’s murder. His thirst for revenge leads him to Rome, and sets him on a quest for the mystical Ankh as the savage Barbarian tribes, led by the deadly Assassin Accipiter, prepare to descend upon Lugdunum. Desmond, meanwhile, must also fight stay alive in the present day.

From what I understand, these graphic novels depict the events of the first Assassin’s Creed game as well as a bit of the second. But you don’t have to be familiar with the games to enjoy these books. The story is presented here in an easy-to-understand format, complete with intense pacing and vivid artwork.

Each book tells the story of a different Assassin but then also tells how they fit into the all-encompassing plotline. The stories jump back and forth between present day and key periods in history, giving us an exhilarating ride filled with action and intensity. And since the focus switches between characters, the plot never goes stale.

The Assassin’s Creed graphic novels are very well written and illustrated beautifully. The artwork is lush and vibrant, which helps to visualize the plot as it unfolds. And, from what I can tell, the storyline is very true to that of the game; the result is a rich, immersive story that will captivate gamers and non-gamers alike.

Whether you’re a fan of the Assassin’s Creed line or not, I highly recommend checking these graphic novels out regardless. History buffs will enjoy the treks into the past, while science-fiction geeks like me will be drawn to the high-tech toys the present-day protagonists use. And even if you aren’t interested in the story, there are plenty of great visuals to check out, too. Definitely give this a look.

MSB

Book Review – Future Lovecraft (2012)

Future Lovecraft
Edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Paula R. Stiles
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Publisher: Prime Books

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a fan of all things Lovecraft; I enjoy most of the movies that have been made from his works, and I always thrill to read new stories based on the concepts he created. Lovecraft was truly a man ahead of his time and the stories in FUTURE LOVECRAFT are a testament to his genius.

If you are not familiar with FUTURE LOVECRAFT, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Prime Books website:

An anthology featuring science fiction stories and poems inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. Decades, centuries, and even thousands of years in the future: the horrors inspired by Lovecraft do not know the limits of time or space. Listen to the stars that whisper and drive a crew mad. Worship the Tloque Nahuaque as he overtakes Mexico City. Slip into the court of the King in Yellow. Walk through the streets of a very altered Venice. Stop to admire the beauty of the fleshdolls in the window. Fly through space in the shape of a hungry, malicious comet. Swim in the drug-induced haze of a jellyfish. Struggle to survive in a Martian gulag whose landscape isn’t quite dead. But, most of all: fear the future.

This is a unique and intelligent group of stories. They were written by a number of talented authors that manage to capture the essence of Lovecraft’s spirit. What truly impresses me about this collection is that these tales are not rehashed versions of previous ideas; these are original concepts filled with terror and wonder.

Every story in FUTURE LOVECRAFT is well written and features a unique, distinct voice. Interestingly, the styles of writing vary greatly in this collection as well; there are first-person narratives, dramatic stories, poems, and even a television broadcast (of sorts). If you like diversity, you are in for a real treat here.

One of my favorite stories is “Deep Blue Dreams” by Sean Craven. In this tale, sea-life jelly is the new drug of choice, however it has dire and unexpected consequences for those who partake of it. The story also gives a compelling and horrific look at how one man’s desire for companionship can take a nasty turn.

I enjoyed every story in FUTURE LOVECRAFT and recommend you give it a shot. There are over 30 stories in this volume, so you are sure to find at least a few that will entertain you; they are fairly short in length, so they will not take too much time to read. Check this collection out for sure.

MSB

Movie Review – Juan of the Dead (2012)

Juan of the Dead
Directed by Alejandro Brugues
Courtesy of Focus Features
Release Date: January 13, 2012

When I first heard the title of this film, I knew in an instant that I would be watching it. I mean, how could I resist? Sure, it sounds like another familiar zombie spoof, but that’s no reason to ignore it. And I’m glad I didn’t; JUAN OF THE DEAD is a hilarious and well made romp into zombie madness.

If you are not familiar with JUAN OF THE DEAD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Focus Features website:

Focus World is proud to present JUAN OF THE DEAD, a fun horror comedy set in the streets of zombie-infested Havana. Juan is a slacker who has never quite managed to get his life in order until a zombie invasion takes over Havana, Cuba, and an unexpected opportunity to capitalize on the situation presents itself. Joined by a ragtag group of opportunists, Juan becomes a zombie killer-for-hire until it becomes increasingly obvious that escaping from the island is the only option.

This movie is literally laugh-out-loud funny. It is raunchy and wrong in places, but you cannot help but enjoy it. I found myself having to pause it every now and then just to catch my breath. Filled with dark humor and plenty of intensity, JUAN OF THE DEAD delivers on many different levels.

The film is shot very well with some excellent cinematography. Likewise, the acting is also top notch. But the two attributes of this movie that truly stand out to me are the story and the special effects.

JUAN OF THE DEAD is more than just a horror-comedy; it’s a light-hearted social commentary about how people deal with adversity in different ways. Some people choose to ignore it, while others try to profit from it. Such is the plan that Juan has here. The results of both are humorous and entertaining; I particularly like how the Cuban government keeps trying to convince its people that American dissidents are the ones eating people, NOT zombies.

The special effects are excellent as well, in both the zombie and gore categories. There are some truly horrific zombies that terrify nicely and also some great human carnage to go along with them. These provide a nice contrast to the dark humor that fills the storyline.

JUAN OF THE DEAD is an absolute blast and I highly recommend it. If you liked SHAUN OF THE DEAD or TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL, then you must give this film a shot. It is available in a variety of formats, so definitely give it a look.

MSB