New Things in Comics
New Harley Quinn Series announced
Tiana July 16, 2013
taken from Gregg Katzman from Comic Vine
Rejoice, Harley Quinn fans! The villain is getting her own monthly series!
Seeing Harley Quinn using a monkey as a melee weapon in the pages of SUICIDE SQUAD or wearing a fake mustache in INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US is good fun, but DC says it's time to give the classic character more time in the spotlight. CBR has announced Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti are the people DC has selected for the job.
When asked about the series, the duo says they want to build on her background, her motivations, where she lives and her supporting cast. And when asked about the Joker, they state there's a lot of stuff that won't involve him, but he'll "always be looming in the background."
New Image Book, Sheltered
Tiana July 16, 2013
5 stars on ComicVine
A PRE-APOCALYPTIC TALE OF SURVIVAL AT ANY COST. The men and women of Safe Haven have been preparing for any-and-all end of world scenarios for years. However, their bunkers, weapons and training can't save them from the one threat they never could have expected: Their own children.
Hot Comics this Week
Tiana July 17, 2013
Deadpool... with an afro. If that doesn't get your attention, I just don't know what will. If you read Deadpool #7 then you know these "lost" issues have the potential for a big amount of laughter and overdose of fun as Wade dives into the past. This chapter jumps into the '70s and will co-star Power Man and Iron Fist. That alone should sell you on it, but I'll elaborate a little more just because I'm generous like that.
While chapter 7 seemed like a hysterical standalone adventure, it was used to pave the way for the next big story. Based on the preview alone, this issue is definitely sure to be another dose of great comedy, but if we're extra lucky, it'll also plant some plot points for Wade's next big story... a story which will co-star Captain America and Wolverine.
JH Williams and Haden blackman have taken a great character and completely reinvented her in a way that seems both organic and groundbreaking. Not only is Batwoman Gotham's resident supernatural expert AND D.E.O. agent, but she's even taking on the #1 Bat in the city. I personally can't wait as I believe Batman's metapopularity may have even gone to the Dark Detective's head, in a strange way, and I can't think of anyone better to take him down a peg than Katherine Kane. I am truly excited to see how this all shakes out.
Avengers vs. X-men, What If? #2
I've always been a sucker for WHAT IF? books. It's probably my favorite things about Marvel comics and it's a huge part of my childhood. Also, another one of my favorite things is the writing of Jimmy Palmiotti Put both of these together, and my head explodes from trying to contain all that is fanboy within me.
Jimmy puts his own spin on the recent Avengers us. X-men event, and what I love best about this is that it is a 4-part series, not just a one shot. I loved the first issue and the spin Jimmy put on it. (No, I'm not spoiling it) I cannot wait to see the outcome of the end of issue one this week. The first issue, as well as this one, are two books you really need to buy.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #6
This could almost be left blank. It should all speak for itself.
If you read last week's Justice League #22 you know Trinity War has kicked off with an explosive beginning. All the players have pretty much arrived and we saw the set up for the gigantic clash between some of DC's powerhouses.
Of course there was also a kind of big shocking event that happened during the battle. If you've read the solicit for this issue, it looks like we'll be seeing some immediate fallout as "one hero is arrested and another goes rogue." For those that were upset over the events, it also sounds like there will be some clarification over what happened and how.
If all that was not enough, how about the fact that Geoff Jones is reuniting with Doug Mahnke. That says it all.
Hot Comics this Week
Tiana July 24, 2013
Justice League Dark #22 Trinity War
The Phantom Stranger intervenes. The lines are drawn in the sand as members of all Justice Leagues take sides.
Wonder Woman seeks out the Justice League Dark in hopes they have the answer to why Superman killed Doctor Light. Each member of all the Justice Leagues pick sides to who they think is in the right in this exciting issue.
Holy moly! I've been a fan, so far, with what's going on in the Trinity War, but this issue just gave "Trinity War" a whole new meaning. The teams have all chosen new sides. While the title "Trinity War" felt like it was a war mainly involving Pandora, Phantom Stranger, and The Question, we can see now this may boil down to a war between Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. The crossover between the teams makes sense, and more importantly, it works. My biggest concern was how the JLD was going to fit into this event. The way they fit in is ok and feels a tad forced, but the outcome from this issue and how the JLD plays into it is what I found to be fantastic.
I'm slowly turning around on Wonder Woman. She's never been a character I've enjoyed, but I feel the same way about most characters tied into myth (Ares, Thor, Hercules, etc). Her main series has been great, but I actually found myself loving her depiction here. There's quite the connection between her and Superman in the JUSTICE LEAGUE series, and we get to see that here. She will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of this, even if it means harming heroes she thinks are standing in her way. She truly cares for Superman, and it shows here.
Mikel Janin has been my favorite artist on this story so far. I love how he draws Superman, and I love the colors Jeromy Cox uses. The depictions of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Phantom Stranger are by far my favorites... especially Wonder Woman. I feel like we're seeing these characters in a brand new light visually. It's so smooth and crisp. The art is insanely clean. It's one of the big reasons why I love reading JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK so much. There's one scene, in particular, with a powered-up Supes, with his eyes glowing, that looks spectacular.
This just keeps getting better and better. The last page is one heck of a reveal. Without spoiling anything, this is a big game changer and it will change how we think about one of our heroes. I cannot wait for the next issue. This is the most fun I've had reading an event book since Civil War.
Aquaman is in this issue, but he doesn't really do anything. If you're reading the AQUAMAN book, he's in the middle of something pretty important right now. He feels like he doesn't serve a purpose other than just being there. Yes, he's a Justice League member, but it feels like he doesn't fit in this book or story.
I thought The Question only spoke in questions. There's a few moments where he just makes regular old statements. I'm a bit confused by this.
Trinity War is awesome. I'm super-pleased with how this event is going. This issue really defines what the title Trinity War means and where it's going. I loved Lemire's and Janin's depiction of Wonder Woman and Superman here. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK continues to be my favorite team book, and the tie-in works so well. I had a couple of minor complaints about The Question and Aquaman's involvement, but aside from that, this was one fantastic issue.
Overall, I highly recommend you pick this and the rest of Trinity War up.
They're not in Kansas anymore. Or Gotham. Somehow the young versions of the New 52 Batman and Superman have ended up on Earth-2. Of course there'll be some fighting.
There's a new player in the picture. In the last issue we saw the 'first' meeting between Batman and Superman. It didn't go too well. As the two fought, they suddenly found themselves in familiar, yet completely different, settings. Batman and Superman have been transported to Earth-2 by a new threat.
This series is bringing a new twist to the concept of a first encounter in comics. We've seen many times when the heroes meet, they end up fighting until they realize they're both heroes. Throw in the alternate versions from Earth-2 and our two heroes have their hands full. Instead of just dealing with a new threat, now they are in a strange world where everything they know is somehow different. Seeing Batman and Superman discover the changes from EARTH 2 is pretty cool. It's also fascinating and eerie seeing Batman, Superman, Catwoman and Lois Lane before they meet their fate which was revealed in EARTH 2 #1. Seeing this Catwoman and Lois makes you wish to see more of these versions in EARTH 2 but unfortunately...
Jae Lee's art is extraordinary. He creates such a surreal vibe through his art along with the colors by June Chung. Some of the backgrounds may be a little sparse but the art is so nice to look at. The characters (especially the one standing on the last page) look so incredibly epic.
If anything, the lack of backgrounds is a minor complaint. But being familiar with Lee's style, it shouldn't be something to really complain about.
The inclusion of the EARTH 2 characters is a little odd but it does make an intriguing story.
Greg Pak continues his ambitious beginning on this new series. For a series meant to spotlight DC's two biggest characters, you would expect nothing less. Pak is crafting a grand tale and despite being set in the past, there's absolutely no telling how this is going to end. Jae Lee's art and June Chung's colors are a thing of beauty. You can't help but be mesmerized by the character designs, especially with how majestic some appear. The story and art has such a surreal feel, you won't be able to resist getting sucked into this comic. Hopefully you won't need a passport for the journey.
The Flash #22 Reverse, Part 3
The Flash's hunt for the Speed Force Killer (aka Reverse Flash) continues as he tries to make precautions to protect the life of another.
Man oh man, as soon as you open the comic you immediately get immersed into the story. In earlier issues, several individuals, including Barry Allen and Iris West, were pulled into the Speed Force. As a result, almost everyone gained some speed powers once Barry (as the Flash) managed to bring them back. Their tenure with their newfound powers was short-lived as a new "Reverse" Flash has been targeting and killing them all.
Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato continue to do their magic on this title. Even a simple crime scene (seen on the opening pages) looks amazingly glorious. Barry is at a loss and feels it's his duty to stop the killer. At the same time, Dr. Elias continues his plans to harness the Flash's powers for what he believes will help mankind.
As the Flash tries to find the killer, he needs to protect Iris as well. Wait until you see Iris' new look here. Oh man! This is the other great part of the series - the art. Manapul's art is as great as ever and Buccellato's colors makes it look even better. These two go together like peanut butter and jelly (just don't ask me who is the peanut butter and who is the jelly).
The mystery and suspense continues and having a great story along with great art is what makes reading comic books such a blast.
Still waiting to learn what this Reverse Flash's motives are. But it's a fun ride as we wait.
How often can you say you've read a fascinating story complete with beautiful art? Manapul and Buccellato are a killer team handling both the story, art and colors. You'll want the issue to keep going and will likely find yourself going back to look over everything once you finish. The Flash is determined to stop the Speed Force Killer but it might not be as easy as he thought. You'll be kept in suspense as you turn each page. With a great story and gorgeous art, this is how comic books should be made.
The Carlyle Family has soap opera-caliber drama, and deadly tempers.
Stop. Look at the cover of this book. Forget about the intriguing story inside, and just look at that cover. If the words "bad ass" don't come to mind, flip the book over, then flip it back, and then look at the cover again. Tell me for a second that you wouldn't be afraid of that woman, and I'll tell you you're a liar. Michael Lark and Santi Arcas? They're that good.
The interiors are equally dramatic. The prime-time drama feeling is accentuated with carefully-selected angles and evocative faces, and some panels feel like stills from a movie. Deep shadows and a muted, dusty palette (sprinkled with futuristic glows here and there) heighten the intensity of a pressure-cooker of a story.
Said pressure cooker is filled to the brim with characters that beg to be explored further, from the razor-sharp, intensely angry Carlyle Family to their mysterious Lazarus, Forever, to the foreboding Morray clan and the Waste we haven't seen much of yet. Greg Rucka has dreamed up a juicy story within the Carlyle set alone; it's almost enough to stand on its own -- but then there's the much larger interplay between the Families, and the even bigger situation with the Serfs and the Waste. Suffice it to say that we're in for a LOT with this book.
As with the first issue, there's a delightful mix of science in the narrative -- last time, we learned a little bit about how Forever's physiology worked; this time, it's hints of medicine and agricultural science. The key to making a futuristic story feel more real is having science that sounds like it works, and Rucka is nailing this. Mentions of future-tech are subtle and cursory, rather than textbook-like, and they fit seamlessly into the dialogue.
And Forever? She's scary good. Part Beatrix Kiddo, part Jason Bourne. I cannot wait to see where things go next -- her fearless step into Morray territory just ratcheted things up about twelve notches, and I am dying for a Lazarus-on-Lazarus battle.
The pacing on this issue is just a hitch slower than the first, and lighter on action. I can't wait to see Forever deploy some of her Lazarus moves again -- presumably next issue -- so, while this slice of family drama was definitely intriguing, it'll be nice to see more bullets, blades, and badassery.
LAZARUS is a soap opera. A violent, dystopic soap opera. Two issues in, it's brimming with potential for an explosive story steeped in clan drama and class warfare. I'm searching for something else on the stands to compare it to, and coming up blank. I'm calling this a must-pull; "sleeper hit" is not good enough for this series.
Aw Yeah! ITTY BITTY HELLBOY First Look
Tiana July 26, 2013
I don't really need to type anything here, right? Of course you can't resist wanting to check this out.
Announced back during C2E2, ITTY BITTY HELLBOY by Art Baltazar and Franco is almost here. Set to go on sale August 28, Dark Horse has released a preview for the comic. In other words, be sure to let your local comic shop know you must have this comic.
By Art Baltazar and Franco
A ghost named Rasputin has been spotted! And Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. are going to find out what he's up to.
Who is Hellboy anyway? Why does he have such a big hand and what is it used for? Who's weirder, him or his friends? What is the B.P.R.D.? And what does chicken soup have to do with all of it? This and more answered in the debut issue, where BIG things happen to itty bitty Hellboy!
Hot Comics this Week
Tiana August 14, 2013
Marko, Alana, and crew head to a fog-covered planet to find Oswald Heist.
Marko is still dealing with the death of his father, heads out to find Oswald Heist with Alana, Hazel, Klara, and Izabel. The Will, Gwendolyn, Slave Girl, and Lying Cat try to focus in and track them down.
The stand-out part of the issue was the scene with The Will. He is quite the fan favorite, even though he's a minor antagonist to the main characters. His relationship with Gwendolyn starts to grow here, and it seems like the two may become romantic in the future. Also, Slave Girl finally gets a name. This group is quickly becoming a nice little family unit, and they already have a pet. The coolest pet in the galaxy: Lying Cat.
One thing that this book has over every single other book on the shelves is that every single character in this book is strong enough to hold their own solo series. Well, maybe not Hazel because she's a baby. Writer Brian K Vaughan's strength in this series, as well as the numerous other series he's written is developing characters and making the reader want to know more. The reader just becomes enthralled with who these characters are and what they're all individually trying to accomplish. Some characters are a bit more interesting than others, but overall, these are some of the most intriguing characters in current comic books.
While there's no giant with humongous testicles or a television screen showing some adult rated material, Fiona Staples art, in this issue, is still something that should be talked about around the water cooler. Her brilliant art style has a lot of fairy-tale elements to it. Everything just pops of the page, and her art, combine with the story, gives the reader something different from the other comics on the shelves. Also, the Bone Bugs are pretty darn cool. Who doesn't love a beast made entirely of random bones?
This book hasn't been around for a couple months, and delays can really hurt a story. While it's true most fans would rather have a delayed book with solid writing and art, rather than the artist/writer rushing or the publisher putting on a fill-in artist/writer, delays still suck for fans.
The biggest problem with this issue is that it feels like this should have been issue #12 and issue #12 should be issue #13. Everything that happens here takes place before #12. This story is all about the journey to find Heist. It feels backwards, and as a jumping back on point, the events of issue #12 would have worked much better than what happened here.
Here's the thing about this issue, overall. I wasn't as happy with it as I was with the other issues. Sure, it's good, but this delay really created a big disconnect for me from the characters and story. There's a pretty, what should be, emotional scene towards the end of the issue that fell a bit flat for me. The art and writing are perfectly fine. The problem is just that it's been a while since the reader has been with these character and in their world. Regardless, the art and writing are still great, and it's a very good issue. The biggest problem a lot of fans will have is frankly, we're all just a bit sad the book has been gone for so long, but we're extremely happy to have it back.
Overall, I highly recommend this issue.
Deadpool #14 - The White Man Cometh!
Can Deadpool, Iron Fist and Luke Cage stop the power of the White Man?!
So, there's a villain from the '70s who dresses like a pimp and goes by the name 'The White Man' because... well, he's really white. He was frozen back in that decade when Deadpool "teamed-up" with the Heroes for Hire. He's now free and if him blurting out a line like, "Why is it so hard for the White Man to get a cab in New York City?!" makes you laugh, then you're about to have a ridiculously great time with this issue. If not... well, then I guess you haven't been digging the humor in the book, and I have no idea why you're even reading this review.
Look, I'm a girl who loves her Deadpool with a lot of layers and a strong focus on why he's an anti-hero. The character had depth in the earlier years, made some great developments in CABLE & DEADPOOL and, of course, is seriously badass. There's no sign of that Deadpool in this issue whatsoever, but you know what? I couldn't care less because co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn do such a great job delivering an onslaught of laughs that it more than makes up for it. You'd think "The White Man _____" lines would get old, right? Well, they didn't for me. At all. This writing duo had me cracking up throughout the whole read. From Luke Cage absolutely loathing his connection to Wade to the White Man's defeat, I had a goofy smile planted firmly on my face virtually the entire time. It's a super silly issue crammed with so many big laughs. Besides, can you really expect a different kind of tone when you're dealing with an enemy like this?
Scott Koblish provides the art in the issue (along with Val Staples who does solid coloring as always) and slides right into the crazy chapter with no problem. His style draws similarities to both Mike Hawthorne and Tony Moore's, providing an animated and fun atmosphere, while also bringing it when it comes to the more violent elements of the book. He's more than capable of stepping up when it comes to a joke that relies purely on visuals (as seen by the guy discovering what's in his soup). Plus, his ability to make the kids adorable in even the most ridiculous events adds so more much levity to a few moments. There's something truly special about a group of adorable kids attacking a villain dressed like a pimp.
I have some minor problems here and there but literally all of them can be countered with, "dude, it's an issue focusing on comedy, not logic."
Duggan and Posehn continue to do what they do best... and that's make me laugh like a fool. They successfully bring this absurd villain to the modern era and it makes for a wildly entertaining adventure which is every bit as enjoyable as the "lost issue." It's essentially slapstick and one-liners for a vast majority of the ride, but the conclusion switches things back into a more serious direction and has me legitimately curious to see how they'll handle the next issue. I love me some purely comedic Deadpool, but I really hope the next issue will be able to incorporate a more serious tone as well because the scenario certainly calls for it.
Batman #23 - Secret City, Part Three; The Pit Review
Zero Year continues but it looks like this could be the end for Bruce Wayne. And get ready for a pretty insane backup story as well.
Last issue ended with an explosive cliffhanger. Going back to the Zero Year, we're seeing Bruce Wayne begin his war against crime before he officially became Batman. Having just returned to Gotham City, he's found the Red Hood Gang running amok and after a couple run ins, things have escalated.
One of the amazing things about this arc is seeing a less experienced (and less perfect) Batman. We're seeing a rawer version and he is taking quite a beating. But he is determined to carry on his mission. The encounter with the Red Hood Gang is a pretty big turning point. You absolutely will not want to miss this issue. One scene in particular really should get you to jump out of your seat and cheer. You'll know what I'm talking about when you see it. It's a very classic moment done in a really cool way that makes much more sense in this fashion.
Of course it's not just about the Red Hood Gang. We also have Edward Nigma running around plus more on Uncle Philip's plans.
Greg Capullo's art continues to impress along with Danny Miki's inks and FCO Plascencia's colors. I've mentioned it before but throughout this arc, we've been exposed to some very non-typical Batman scenes. The colors have been jumping off the page in the daytime scenes and even in this issue, pretty full of darkness, it all looks so incredible.
If the issue ended with the main story, this would still be a great issue. But instead, it continues. Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV continue the stories that journey even further back into Bruce's training. Taking place near Norway, we get an amazing story of Bruce Wayne fighting in death match. Rafael Albuquerque's art is so good it almost makes you cry.
Nothing bad here. This just might be my favorite issue of the arc. Maybe my favorite issue of the series (so far).
If you thought Zero Year couldn't get any better, you were mistaken. Scott Snyder is taking Bruce Wayne on a rough journey as he is on the verge of becoming Batman. You can see the story meticulously being laid out. We may not be used to seeing this less experienced hero but we are seeing the determination and tenacity that will shape him into the hero we know and love. A certain key scene is laid out with such extraordinary care, you'll be in awe as it plays out. Greg Capullo's art with Danny Miki's inks and FCO Plascencia's colors continue to make this a visual feast for our eyes. In the backup, Snyder, James Tynion IV and Rafael Albuquerque show us a remarkable chapter in young Bruce's life. I didn't think I could like a BATMAN comic more than I have before until I read this one. It just keeps getting better and better.
Buckle your seat belts, the next Marvel Comics Event is here and it's definitely one you will not want to miss.
Most people seem to have similar feelings towards events in comics. Regardless, they do sell and people do read them. Marvel knows this and the very first page makes it clear this is "A Marvel Comics Event." With this issue featuring Jonathan Hickman, Jim Cheung and Thanos on the cover, I dare you to resist checking it out.
The great thing is, this isn't your typical event. If you've been checking out Hickman's AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS, this almost feels like a natural progression rather than a sudden event that brings all the characters together. This is something that Marvel has been leading up to. That's one thing that makes this feel different from past events. There's also the fact that this is a more galactic story and even though AvX involved the Phoenix Force, it's almost as if you can't compare these two events.
This massive comic begins with the INFINITY Free Comic Book Day issue for those that might have missed it. Also drawn by Jim Cheung, it seamlessly flows right into the main story. Speaking of Cheung's art, it has to be mentioned that he knows how to draw fearsome alien races. Often in comics, alien species appear too artificial and sometimes comical. The look can also be attributed to Justin Ponsor's colors and Mark Morales' inks in the opening section.
If you haven't been keeping up with the AVENGERS titles, there is a convenient scorecard informing you who the main players are and what affiliation they have. This is helpful with the different alien races and the fact that there are a lot of characters that will be involved here.
Other events try to have a big feel to them. INFINITY simply is big. You can feel an epic story in the making. We just need to sit back and watch it unfold.
New readers can make their way through this issue but there will be a slight sense of confusion if you haven't been reading Hickman's AVENGERS titles. Parts of the issue are divided into separate sections and you almost feel like you're being thrown around from scene to scene, trying to figure out what is going on. You barely get a chance to see what's going on but you will have a sense of awe at the same time which does lessen the confusion. But some readers might feel as if they walked into a movie theater, having missed the first couple minutes. It almost feels like too much is being set up here.
We also see the return of the Builders, first introduced in Hickman's AVENGERS. They weren't characters I was too crazy about as we've seen so many different characters and species that were determined to evolve other species.
It may be unfair to this 'event' but knowing there's already another brewing after this makes it a tiny bit hard to swallow.
Whether you love events or are trying to avoid them, there's no denying the grand scope Marvel, Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung have established with the very first issue of INFINITY. Hickman has been building this story in recent issues of AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS and this is where it all bubbles to the surface. Reading those are not crucial but will help a good deal.
For those in fear of "another event," the good news is this makes it feel worthy. There is a lot going on. Perhaps too much but you will feel satisfied after laying out your dollars for this comic. There's some huge things coming to the heroes in the Marvel Universe. With a battle on different fronts, it's going to be fun seeing the Avengers fight one threat while a certain other individual takes advantage of their absence. If we have to have events, this is how I want it to play out. There is a grand feel to the story and you'll feel yourself staring at each page in awe over what transpires. Too often comic book events are hyped up and fizzle out but INFINITY delivers in the first issue. You'll definitely want to come on board for INFINITY. It's going to be a crazy and thrilling ride.
Trillium #1 - Chapter 1: 3797 - The Scientist; Chapter 1.2: 1917 - The Soldier
Put your space helmet on and get your machete. It's time for the last love story ever told.
TRILLIUM, on title alone, sounds like a work of hard science-fiction; cold, clean, robotic. In actuality, like the eponymous flower, it's delicate, intricate, and rich with mystery -- though there are certainly elements of sci-fi to be found. Jeff Lemire has composed a beautiful adventure, bookended by two different points in space and time, and assuredly poignant at their intersection.
It's "the last love story ever told," and while those lovers have only just had their meet-cute (if having a disoriented encounter with a stranger in fugue state counts as a meet-cute!), the tone has been set for a layered story of two incredibly different paths that cross in uncanny ways. It's far too soon to tell if TRILLIUM is a tragedy or a triumphany story, but it's undoubtedly interesting.
The shift in perspective from Nika in 3797 to William in 1921 is fascinating; on the surface, they're wholly different stories, from different times, and even different ends of the universe, but they're also the same story. Nika is among the last of the human species, in a strange new land, on the run from a plague. William is the last of his battalion, in a strange new land, on the run from his haunting memories of the war. Both are in foreign environments, drawn to the trillium flower because it represents life and healing, and both reject the warnings of a guide in their quest for it (they both seem to have a bit of an authority problem bubbling under the surface), and the convergence is breathtaking.
I found this issue to be thoroughly engaging and enjoyable, and have no comment in this category.
Jeff Lemire has distilled the art of crafting compelling first issues down to a science, and TRILLIUM is no exception -- layered characters on the verge of making interesting choices, a looming threat with meaningful consequences, a solution that seems too easy to be true (so we know it isn't!), and heaps of mystery. His sweeping, watercolor-tinged illustrations add to the otherworldly, adventurous feel of the book, and it's captivating from the start.