If you remember the Marvel Comics Presents anthology series you’ll remember there was a different story on each side. Flip that sucker over and you get a whole other comic to read! Given, it shortened each story, but what’re the chances both stories are bad?
Well, Image has introduced a one-shot with that concept in mind, two stories in a flip book at $4.99 (which is technically less than the price of two comics). Of course, that doesn’t guarantee both stories (or even one of them) are worth reading, so is it good?
Love Stories (To Die For) #1 (Image Comics)
The first story is a Viking tale called Bloodlust: Deceiver of the Gods. This story is set in 946 AD and opens in a monastery where some monks are looking for some help with devils; more specifically, vampire zombie thingies. The second story is titled Symptom of the Universe which is set on some kind of spaceship in outer space which is about to explode.
Is that a, “Look at the sexy muscle man” gasp, or a “Oh dang we’re in trouble” gasp?
Bloodlust is drawn by Rich Bonk which looks a lot like Cary Nord’s work. A comparison to Nord, most famous for his work on Conan with Kurt Busiek, is high praise to Bonk’s work here. He does an excellent job capturing the brutal battle sequences and jovially berserk Vikings. The dirty and worn look of the Vikings also looks great and fits the story nicely.
I bet that name gets him free food from all the monks.
The story on the other hand, I’m not so sure about. Writer Dirk Manning does an excellent job setting up things, particularly the Viking folklore that is touched upon here and there. Where the monsters in this tale fit with that folklore remains to be seen. Most of this story is an action sequence between the Vikings and monsters. It’s fun, goretastic and keeps things moving forward.
Just where the love is in this story seems to be off page, though. Once we get around to it you wonder if this story started and ended in the wrong place. Even though the final page says “The End,” the story doesn’t feel complete in the slightest. The twist reads more like a cheat than anything compelling or interesting. On top of all that, the cover seems to have more story in it than the comic itself.
Of course, there’s another story, so all is not lost! The second story, also written by Dirk Manning, does a good job showing the complexities of love. This one opens on a man and woman who are deeply in love, but the woman’s ex is on a hike to reach her. He seems to think they’re still in love and to make matters worse, he’s on a mad dash to get to her so they can escape in the last two person escape pod. Oh, he’s also a mega badass with a big gun, while the woman’s latest love is a dinky scientist. There is a monster aboard eating and killing everyone, so blowing up the ship makes sense, but will true love prevail?
Frankly, this story is pretty flippin’ sweet. It has a compelling premise, and our macho man is well rendered. He’s in love, thinks she’s still in love with him, and his not knowing is endearing and sad at the same time. The twist at the end pulls things to another level as well.
To top that off, the art by Owen Gieni is simply gorgeous. The art reminds me of Zoran Janjetov, famous for The Technopriests (Google his stuff, it’s amazing). The coloring is very realistic, the machines and spaceship clean and rounded and the monsters oh-so-cool to look at. Everything pops and looks futuristic and suits the story mighty fine. If Gieni can draw this well quickly he should be put on something stat. The world is being disserviced without more of his work readily available.
- The science fiction story kills it on all levels
- Viking story looks great
- Viking story is misguided and doesn’t really work
What we have here is a good example of why a flip book is good in the publisher’s eyes. If you have one knockout story and one okay one, people will more likely buy the whole thing. It sucks the Viking tale didn’t add up to a perfect 10 like the space story did, but at least the art in the Viking tale didn’t disappoint. The concept behind this issue is sound if the quality of both stories is at least half what these are. For what it’s worth Bloodlust: Deceiver of the Gods would get a 6.5 and Symptom of the Universe a perfect 10.
Is It Good?
Yes, the concept of the flip book is tested and wins, but just barely.