Monday, April 19, 2021

MISS OCTOBER VOLUME 3

"VERY BAD MEMORIES"
Writer: Stephen Desberg | Artist: Alain Queireix | Colorist: Kattrin


Puzzle pieces finally fall into place in this third MISS OCTOBER volume. It opens with the serial killer striking again, this time taking the life of Miss April. Meanwhile, Detective Clegg overhears some officers discussing Ariel's affair with his wife. Clegg confronts her at home, but before he can bring up her indiscretions, she mentions his dalliances with the hooker-turned-detective, Juanita Jones. She then tells Clegg that she either wants a divorce, or wants to leave Los Angeles.

Elsewhere, Viktor's father withholds new of Maddie's murder from her, and Viktor soon receives a note from the letter-writer/killer, informing her she has been selected as Miss October. At UCLA, Juanita questions a young man named Laurel Finch, who used to have a thing for Viktor, while Viktor sneaks into her father's office and finds photos of a girl named Audrey (who the letter-writer reminded her in the previous book to 'remember.'" The pictures trigger some memories in Viktor, and she begins to recall the night of her assault. She went to a party with her friends, and Laurel was there as well. Viktor chose the occasion to tell him to stay away from her, leading to an altercation.

Following a lead from Laurel, Juanita visits Jill and Mason Corton, the hosts of the party, while Viktor leaves the photos of Audrey out to let her father know she's figuring things out, then she leaves her house to go meet her friend Lana, who was also in attendance at the party, at a café. After a brief chat, Viktor leaves to find her tires slashed and a note on her car informing her that the "issues from May to September have been canceled." She's then attacked by the killer, but escapes with the aid of a taxi driver.

Monday, April 12, 2021

MISS OCTOBER VOLUME 2

"MURDER OF THE MONTH"
Writer: Stephen Desberg | Artist: Alain Queireix | Colorist: Kattrin

The second installment of MISS OCTOBER opens with our heroine, Viktor, having received a second note from the mystery person who claims to know about the night she was assaulted and rendered deaf. The letter-writer wants one hundred thousand dollars in order to reveal the secret. So naturally our ameteur cat burglar concocts a scheme to extort the cash from a friend of her father's, Hogan Harley. At the same time, Inspector Clegg's investigation finds the car he's been seaching for, abandoned in a parking lot -- and registration reveals it to be owned by Hogan as well.

So Viktor steals Hogan's "little black book" -- containing information on all the young women with whom the respected Christian music producer has carried on affairs -- and sends him a note demanding money in exchange for the book's return. The same day Hogan reads the letter, Clegg stops by to tell him his car has bene located. Hogan claims his daughter, Maddie, had the car when it was taken, and Maddie tells Clegg that she was with Viktor in order to get him off her scent. She then goes to visit the serial killer, who murders her (and who has also added Viktor to his list of upcoming victims as Miss October).

The weird thing is, Maddie doesn't seem to know the guy she's visiting is the killer; she's just there to tell him the police are on to them over the stolen car. It's only later, after he's stabbed her and taken some nude photos of her, that she realized the truth... just before he finishes her off.

Monday, April 5, 2021

MISS OCTOBER VOLUME 1

"PLAYMATES, 1961"
Writer: Stephen Desberg | Artist: Alain Queireix | Colorist: Kattrin

Set in the early sixties, MISS OCTOBER is an entry into the "hard-boiled crime noir" genre -- but unlike many such stories, its main protagonist is a beautiful young woman named Viktor Scott, the deaf daughter of a wealthy couple in mid-century Los Angeles. The story opens in 1963, as Viktor breaks into a UCLA museum to steal a priceless artifact. The police, led by one Lt. Ariel Samson arrive, alerted by an alarm, and Viktor is caught by an Inspector Clegg Jordan -- but he and Viktor share some past, and Clegg lets her go.

The story then jumps back two years, as the L.A. police struggle to solve a series of murders. Beautiful women are being raped and stabbed, with the killer labeling each victim as if she were a Playmate -- "Miss January" and "Miss February" have already died, and Inspector Jordan is on the case to prevent further such killings. Meanwhile, Lt. Ariel Samson, Clegg's rival, has been assigned to investigate a string of art thefts in the area -- which, of course, are being perpetrated by Viktor for reasons unknown.

In short order, we learn that Viktor was recently assaulted in her parents' home while they were away, and that she suffers partial amnesiam of the event, which is also what caused her deafness. Meanwhile, there's a sordid soap opera going on in the LAPD, where Ariel is having a secret affair with a female officer, but is also getting it on with Clegg's wife, Margeaux -- while Clegg spends his time banging hookers when he's not on a case or at home with Margeaux and their young daughter. It's like MAD MEN if they were all detectives instead of advertising executives!

(Oh, Ariel is also Clegg's superior, and while early on we see them nearly get into a fistfight at the office, later, Ariel says he would take a bullet for Clegg -- and he feels really guilty about all that sex he's having with Clegg's wife.)

Friday, April 2, 2021

RIC HOCHET VOLUME 3

"HOW TO COMMIT THE PERFECT MURDER"
Writer: Zidrou | Artist: Van Liemt | Colorist: Cerminaro

There are revelations galore in the opening pages of our latest RIC HOCHET installment! First off, the book opens with Ric and Nadine, who I had previously believed to be his platonic friend, in bed together. Not long after, we learn that the couple is engaged! Now, their relationship was not in any way a factor in either of the previous two stories, but still -- this seems like something that might have been mentioned once or twice.

But Commissioner Bourdon is apparently unaware of the fact that Ric and his niece are sleeping together (or possibly even unaware that they're engaged; it's hard to tell), because when he shows up to speak with Ric about a case, Nadine goes out her way to hide from him. The case, a recent string of murders rocking Paris, leads to our second unexpected revelation, as Ric goes to seek help from his father, Richard Hochet -- a "gentleman burglar" who hands out at a burlesque club with his cronies. Ric mentions that his dad showed up in ton "a few months ago," and that up until that point, he had believed himself an orphan. Not even Nadine knows about Ric's father until he tells her.

Again, this had no bearing on either of the prior adventures, and unlike the relationship between Ric and Nadine, is not something I would've expected to be commented upon in those tales. The only thing that confuses me here is -- when did this happen? As noted when I looked at volume one a couple weeks ago, that book was packed with footnotes referring readers to older RIC HOCHET stories. The second book had no such notes, but it also didn't make many (or any) references to past adventures, so I figured that was why. But if our protagonist learned at some point that his father was alive and he was not, as he had always believed, an orphan, you would think that might rate a note here!

Monday, March 29, 2021

AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES S1x026

"A DAY UNLIKE ANY OTHER"
Written by Christopher Yost | Directed by Sebastian Montes

The Plot: Around the Nine Realms, the Avengers prepare for battle agaisnt Loki's forces with their various new allies -- while in Asgard, Loki is crowned king. Hulk and the Warriors Three battle the frost giants at the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge, and are joined by Giant-Man, Wasp, and Sif and the valkyries. Hawkeye, Black Panther, and Faradei arrive to assist, and the giants (as well as Loki's loyal Asgardian warriors) are defeated.
Meanwhile, in Niffelheim, Hela continues her attempt on Captain America's soul. But Cap refuses, so Hela begins to bargain with him. Elsewhere, Loki sees the Avengers advancing on his palace and summons Hoarfen, a gigantic ice wolf, to attack them. When it appears Hoarfen has the upper hand, Captain America appears and barks out orders that let the Avengers turn the tide. The Avengers and their allies march into Loki's throne room, but Loki, empowered by the Odinforce, proves more than they can handle. He destroys Captain America's shield and is about to finish the group, when Iron Man bursts in, wearing a new suit crafted in the Dwarven forge.

The Avengers free Thor, who reclaims his hammer and joins his teammates in battle against Loki. Meanwhile, Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Hawkeye go to Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, to attempt to cut off Loki's power -- while Loki himself begins to lose control of the Odinforce. Giant-Man uproots the tree and its energy surges out, awakening Odin. Odin reclaims his power from Loki and confronts the villain. He banishes Loki and then honors Thor and the Avengers as heroes of Asgard.

Friday, March 26, 2021

RIC HOCHET VOLUME 2

"MURDER IN THE GARDENS"
Writer: Zidrou | Artist: Van Liemt | Colorist: Cerminaro

Our next Ric Hochet adventure finds the intrepid reporter investigating a government blackmail scheme (called the "High Ground" by Ric and his editor). While attempting to meet an informant, he is instead attacked by a hit man calling himself the Nyctalope (because he suffers from the confition of Nyctalopia, allowing him to see in the dark). Ric's arm is sprained and he spends the rest of the story in a cast and sling, with Commissoner Bourdon's niece, Nadine, driving him around.

Ric's investigation is interrupted when he gets involved in a new story -- three men, one a senator, have recently died in the Luxembourg Gardens park, and all the deaths occurred immediately after the men were seen kissing a mystery woman in red. When a fourth such incident happens while Ric, Bourdon, and Nadine at at the park investigating, Ric gives chase -- but the woman in red escapes when she shouts out that Ric is a pervert trying to force himself on her.

Ric is subseqently removed from the High Ground case and told to cover the assassinations instead. He has another run-in with the Nyctalope which results in him obtaining the file he was originally after when the story started -- but that file is soon stolen from the new reporter on the case, Bob Drummond.

Monday, March 22, 2021

AVENGERS: EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES S1x025

"THE FALL OF ASGARD"
Written by Christopher Yost | Directed by Vinton Heuck

The Plot: Hawkeye awakens in Asgard, where he is attacked by a pack of wolves. In Odin's palace, Loki brags to Thor about having conquered Asgard. In snowy Jotunheim, Giant-Man and the unconscious Wasp are attacked by frost giants. In Niffelheim, the realm of the dead, Captain America comes face to face with the long-dead Howling Commandos. The same holds true for the remaining Avengers, all awakening across the Nine Realms and coming face to face with various threats.
Tony Stark, armorless ave for one gauntlet, comes to in Nidavellir, realm of the dwarves, and learns from its people that Loki is behind the Norn Stone attack on Earth. Ulik the Troll appears and attacks, but Iron Man dispatches him. Meanwhile, Hawkeye struggles against the wolves until an elf rescues him. While Hulk battles trolls, Hela tries to take Captain America's soul, and Loki continues to gloat over Thor. In Jotunheim, Giant-Man is saved from the frost giants by Sif and a group of valkyries.

Black Panther fights undead spirits, while the Hulk overcomes his trollish foes. The Warriors Three and other Asgardians appear to recruit Hulk to their team. Meanwhile, Captain America overcomes Hela's ploy and then finds himself facing her directly. Meanwhile, Black Panther appears to rescue Hawkeye and his elf ally, Faraday, from the wolves. But in Nidavellir, Ulik renews his attack and defeats the dwarves, leaving Stark to defeat him by supercharging his arc reactor. And back in Asgard, Loki prepares to execute Thor.