I have a hard time recommending books from Avatar Press to people. They are like a small press version of Marvel where you get a number of really good things mixed with some really bad things. On the positive side Avatar is the best place for Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis fans to find most of their best current work. Avatar has been forward thinking in having Freak Angels posted in installments online for free fallowed by collected trades in print (which has been moderately successful for them). On the negative side the artists tend to be second level at best along with some extremely unreliable release schedules.
Probably worst of all is that they take a page from Marvel and use the $3.99 and $4.99 price tags without the justifying page count to match. Now I realize most small press books have to charge more to meet costs, but given how creator owned comics at Image get by just fine with a lower price tag and better production qualities it leaves me annoyed with Avatar’s business tactics when they could be doing the same. Avatar Press books are worth picking up when they are priced right. So with that in mind I think the byline for Avatar Press books should be “Wait for the Discounted Trade.”
This is Warren Ellis’ latest book from Avatar. It is basically Ellis’ take on the Victorian era myth Spring Heeled Jack. In this case the mysterious Captain has steampunk like technology that runs on electricity. The artwork is servicable as it is about what you can expect from Avatar. Basically this is something that is worth picking up in the eventual trade, but who knows when the thing will get collected given Avatar’s release schedule. It is something worth keeping an eye on. The same can be said of Ellis’ Super God from Avatar as well, which is currently experiencing the usual delays.
The final issue of Crossed was released this past week. Despite the annoying delays I thought the book was well done. Crossed is essentially Garth Ennis doing his own take on the Walking Dead and a bit of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Instead of people turning into zombies they get infected with some mysterious virus that take aways all their inhibitions leading infected people to go on violent sex crazed killing sprees. They are basically horny semi sentient zombies. The book fallows a group of people that are not infected and are trying to survive. It’s a surprisingly fresh take on the zombie genre. This book features one of the better Avatar artists in Jacen Burrows. His work is very similar to Steve Dillion, so not surprisingly he works well with Ennis. I would certainly recommend this to fans of the Walking Dead. Probably the best way to put it is that the Walking Dead is a good TV show style zombie plot and Crossed is a good movie style version. Don’t waste your money on the individual issues though. The trade should be out soon and it will be worth picking up at a discounted price like Amazon offers.
Well I managed to recommend a few books that don’t have trades yet, so if you are looking for something right now I would recommend picking up the trade of Ignition City from Warren Ellis. Again it’s only worth picking up on a similar discount to what Amazon gives as the cover price is over priced. Ignition City is Warren Ellis doing his take on classic Sci Fi space heroes. The story centers around Mary Raven as she investigates her father’s, Rock Raven, death. Rock is a analog of Dan Dare. There are also versions of Buck Rogers, Flash Gorden, Commander Cody, among others all populating Ignition City. It is very much in the vein of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The artwork here is also better then the average Avatar book mostly thanks to Gianluca Pagliarani’s knack from making cool looking space ships and other non organic things as his figure work is not the greatest, although part of that is to blame on the colorist as his work looks very good in black and white. That brings up another point about Avatar Press that bothers me. Many of their artist’s work look better in black and white and the colorist are not terribly good. They would not have to charge so much for their books if they went without color and I think it would help enhance many of the stories (the Walking Dead is perfect in black and white, color would ruin that book).
So in closing, I recommend any Avatar trades that have a healthy discount. They are a nice alternative from mainstream books, especially when you are tired of reading things like Siege at Marvel or some endless story dead weighted by continuity at DC.