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Trades for late August: The Exterminators, Shazam and more

<p>Horror comic books are thriving more in recent years than they have in decades.</p>





The Exterminators

Vertigo/DC Comics

$13.50/$9.99 US (Paperback)

**** (out of five)



Horror comic books are thriving more in recent years than they have in decades.


There’s books with zombies, monsters, vampires and the rest, but few of those books ever really manage to get under your skin — to really freak you out. The Exterminators is an exception.


This book is so damned freaky that it will send chills running up your spine, have you viciously stomping every bug in your house into oblivion and even eying the neighbourhood wildlife differently after just one chapter.


When ex-con Henry James takes a job as an exterminator with his stepfather’s company he isn’t prepared for the twitchy, skittering, growling and vile elements he’s forced to deal with — and those are just his co-workers! But when dead bodies, including one of his colleague’s, start piling up and the purported best insect-killing chemical on the market turns out to be bug steroids, it all really hits the fan.


First-time comic writer Simon Oliver and illustrator Tony Moore (The Walking Dead, Fear Agent) cover all the bases with an eerie plot and suitably filthy and fantastic art in a series that is sure to add to the legacy of great work from Vertigo.






Testament: Akedah

Vertigo/DC Comics

$13.50/$9.99 US (Paperback)

****



Those knowledgeable about the Bible will tell you that you can see parallels of its stories in the modern world on a daily basis.


Somehow I don’t think the dark and probing new series Testament is what they mean.


Best-selling author Douglas Rushkoff (Coercion, Ecstasy Club), along with artist Liam Sharpe (Incredible Hulk), uniquely reacquaints readers with the Old Testament tales, then reflects them within similar stories set in a near future where a global government is oppressing — and even neutralizing — any young voices against it.


University student Jake Stern’s decision not to submit to a government-sponsored tracking program leads him down a dark, but enlightening path as he and a group of young revolutionaries begin to draw back the curtain on the oppressive government controlling the planet.


Rushkoff’s ability to imagine a vivid, comic book-like world in the Bible and to make its stories discernibly reflective of some of the social conditions in modern society makes this a highly compelling new series.






24Seven

Image Comics

$24.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2



Can a robot shed a tear?


Sure can! They can laugh, spit, swear, steal and kill, too.


Ivan Brandon, co-creator of the appealing NYC Mech, gives a few dozen creators the chance to play with the idea of a world filled with naught but robots and ends up with some very entertaining results.


Some of the notable creators contributing a bit of robotic goodness are: Eduardo Risso (100 Bullets), Phil Hester (Green Arrow), Ben Templesmith (Fell), Rick Remender (Strange Girl), Alex Maleev (Daredevil) and Michael Oeming (Powers).


Neil Schaffer and Ryan Brown’s The Watchmaker, the story of a shut-in gets to know his neighbour in a very surprising new way, is a standout. Also notable is Fear And Self-Loathing In NYC by Jonathan L. Davis and Tony Moore, about a robot with the worst luck in the world with women.






Wonder Woman: Mission’s End

DC Comics

$26.99/$19.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2



The image of Wonder Woman killing a man was one of the most stirring in all of comics in 2005.


That moment, from Wonder Woman #219, had ramifications — not only in her own series, but also in a ton of others and eventually into the massive Infinite Crisis crossover series that reshaped the entire DC Universe.

So we’re talking about some pretty big stuff here.


What happened in the moment after Wonder Woman murdered the villainous Maxwell Lord, in order to save herself, Superman and countless others, is the bulk of this final collection of the 1986-2006 Wonder Woman series.


Was Diana acting in self-defence? Did she have no choice but to spin Lord’s head around like a twist-off beer cap? None of those things matter when the images of her act are made public and she faces both a real courtroom and the court of public opinion.


Writer Greg Rucka, the person who revitalized Wonder Woman and brought her back into the forefront of the DCU, goes out with a bang via a denouement that may even leave you a might misty.






Superman/Shazam: First Thunder

DC Comics

$17.50/$12.99 US (Paperback)

*** 1/2



Look! Up in the sky! It’s… two birds? Two planes?


Nope, it’s Superman and Captain Marvel!


The first meeting and friendship between two of DC Comics’ best-known caped heroes is explored in this shiny four-issue miniseries by writer Judd Winick (Green Arrow, Outsiders) and artist Joshua Middleton (NYX).


The highlight of this book, and one of Winick’s greatest strengths, is a look at what makes even the most powerful of characters human. Both the Man Of Steel and Captain Marvel are laid bare at times in First Thunder, making what otherwise might be an average superhero team-up tale something just a little deeper.


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