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Comic Pick for November 6th 2013

Great Stories selects….


Alex & Ada (Image)







Image does it again with another book that we are pretty excited to get into.  Alex & Ada starts off with a look into the post-mortem of Alex’ relationship with a girl named Claire,  and his painfully uninspired view towards life in the wake of its destruction.  Not without his caring friends and family, who do their best to lift his spirits and help him shake off the despair.  Now, this is no ordinary relationship gone bad and heading towards the predictable victorious rebirth tale.  You see, Alex lives in a world where artificial intelligence is all of the rage, and robots are beginning to become the new face of human interface!  Even Alex’ well-to-do grandmother has “hopped” on the bandwagon so to speak (in what may be the most cringeworthy scenes in comic this year), and her efforts kickstart her grandson’s social life on his birthday of all days may change his world forever.


Alex & Ada is penned by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn, and can be found at comic retailers everywhere!  Check it out and let us know what you think!

Great Stories are everywhere!


-Chris (for the Great Stories Team)

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The Honor Roll: Best Scary Movies (Part Two)

The Honor Roll is a Great Stories feature column that gives you the best in class movies, books, and multimedia from the Great Stories team.  This month Jim and Chris make their top five picks for the best Halloween movies of all time!  A total of ten movies you should consider watching after all the candy has been given out and the cold chill of darkness has settled in.  Here is part two of the list with Jim’s picks!


“The Essential Alfred Hitchcock”

What can you say about Psycho? This was the forerunner of all of the slasher/maniac-on the loose movies, both good and bad, that succeeded it. It’s story is, of course, old hat by now (how many headlining stars have been offed 40 minutes or less into the movie?—see Angie Dickinson in Dressed to Kill or Drew Barrymore in Scream), but the artistry of Alfred Hitchcock and his associates still remains. It’s there in the ghostly black and white images of Anthony Perkins watching Janet Leigh and her car sink into the swamp, and it’s there in the ragged harshness of Perkins mopping up Leigh’s blood beforehand. The loneliness of Leigh traveling on the highway (accompanied by Bernard Herrmann’s famous score),  along with the famous house silhouetted against the sky set a mood that would sadly be lost amongst today’s shockers. As effective as it still is, can you imagine how it went down when it was released during the peachy- keen Eisenhower years?

Chris’ Comment:  Hitchcock was undeniably influential and I count Rear Window as one of my favorites.  Psycho no doubt shocked audiences when it was released to theaters, as it had no real cinematic equal.  A precursor to a new breed of horror that did not involve giant insects or alien invaders, it has to be considered an innovative and controversial movie exposing the dark nature of man.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

“The seed is planted….terror grows.” 


 The 1956 version was certainly effective for it’s time as a well-made  low-budget shocker, but this Me Generation update expands upon the ideas of Jack Finneys’ novel. It’s one of the best black comedies ever made. Donald Sutherland is an unusual (and sometimes creepy) choice for a hero and Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy both turn in iconic performances—gotta love the eccentric Goldblum! And whatever happened to the lovely and appealing Brooke Adams?  Director Philipp Kaufmann serves up a moody succession of shadowed imagery, along with still top-notch (though not overused) special effects. And who can forget the wonderful sound effects provided by Star Wars’ Ben Burtt?  That ending—wow.

Chris’ Comment:  Donald Sutherland’s mouth agape and pointing stance still haunt my memories from childhood.  I never knew that Leonard Nimoy could perform any non-Vulcan role before seeing this movie in my teens.  I have not seen the original for a comparison, so for me this version was the genuine article.  


Dead of Night (1945) 

No Tagline






This scared me silly when I was a kid. This was one of the first horror film anthologies, beating similarly-styled British horror films from Hammer and Amicus by nearly 20 years. An excellent cast (hey, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s Sally Ann Howes as a teenager!) and wonderful atmosphere set up by several directors. A great, surrealistic ending that’s not to be missed.

Chris’ Comment:  One of the two movies from Jim’s favorites that I had not previously seen, I looked forward to getting into a movie from a generation of films very under-represented from my own viewing archive.  What I found was a story that I could sincerely appreciate (think Groundhog Day meets Twilight Zone), but ended up being a very mixed bag experience.  Set up as a loosely connected group of short tales, the characters in the film share their spooky experiences before the ending that brings it all together.  A couple of the stories are truly creepy and effective including a race car driver’s near death experience and the final story about a ventriloquist who may or may not be in control of his dummy partner.  Other than that, I found the stories to be not so compelling.


An American Werewolf in London

“Beware the moon.”




The classic hipster comedy from John Landis. Funny and scary, a wonderful combination. A great soundtrack and Oscar-winning makeup effects by Rick Baker. “Have you ever talked to a corpse? It’s boring!”

Chris’ Comment:  One of my early favorites too, and only narrowly missed my own top five, American Werewolf contains one of the most visceral and scary werewolf transformations you are likely to see on film. And the relationship between the afflicted and his dead ghost of a friend is classic!



Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein

“More howls than you can shake a shiver at!”






The old-school funny and scary and still great fun. Too many great Lou Costello moments to mention. Bela Lugosi back as the Count for the second and final time! And Lenore Aubert as….SANDRA!!!  Fondly remembered as one I used to watch with my dad every time that it was on TV. And wait a minute—what’s the deal with the Count’s reflection in the mirror as he’s biting Sandra?! Didn’t they study their vampire lore?

Chris’ Comment:  The other movie from Jim’s top five I had not previously seen (at least from start to end) is truly a fun experience.  Harkening back to a more innocent time when comedic laughs did not have to be drawn from something grossly inappropriate or shocking behavior, Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein certainly will give a nice option to the feint of heart who can’t quite handle a true scare but want to relish a film in the spirit of the season.  The famous duo actually tackle Dracula and The Wolfman played by Bella Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr as well.  Have fun!


Honorable Mentions from both Jim & Chris include:

Slither-the most recent movie on the list, this gets kudos for keeping CGI effects to a minimum and relying on amazing, full-scale make-up effects. Boasting a great cast, it’s one of the funniest and least self-serious horror movies to come along in years.



The Raven (1963)—more scary-funny hijinks (though mostly funny). A low-budget treat with the great Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, plus Jack Nicholson as the young hero (man, would he change!). Script by the great Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man) and tongue-in-cheek direction by exploitation movie maestro Roger Corman.


When a Stranger Calls (1979)—“Have you checked the children?”  Forget the 2006 remake and go find a copy of the original.  And then try to steel your nerves to an unexpected phone call the next time you are all alone in the dark.


The Exorcist–William Peter Blatty, who fashioned himself more a writer of comedy, is best known for this terrifying novel and movie.  This one sent people streaming out of theaters in terror and shows us a true test of good vs evil in the battle for a little girl’s soul.


Thanks everyone for reading! And Happy Halloween!!!


-Chris & Jim

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Comic Pick of the Week October 30th 2013

Great Stories selects……


The Trial of the Punisher #2 (Marvel)







Last month we recommended Guggenheim’s first issue of this two-issue limited series…..go see our comments from that entry to see what we are raving about.  And if you have not, go pick up both issues for a unique Punisher story.


Enuff said…… 🙂


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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The Honor Roll: Best Scary Movies (Part One)

Honor Roll is a Great Stories feature column that gives you the best in class movies, books, and multimedia from the Great Stories team.  This month Jim and Chris make their top five picks for the best Halloween movies of all time!  A total of ten movies you should consider watching after all the candy has been given out and the cold chill of darkness has settled in.  Chris’ picks are up first and we will have Jim’s picks out to you tomorrow morning.



Session Nine

“Fear is a place.”



Man, they got that tag line right.  The Danvers State Mental Hospital served as the Massachusetts locale for filming this absolute gem of a horror movie from Brad Anderson.  Peter Mullan plays the struggling owner of Hazmat removal company bidding on the job to clean up the old abandoned hospital which contains some horrifying secrets.  Also part of the team are David Caruso, Josh Lucas, Stephen Gevedon, and Brendan Sexton III.  As the team draws closer to their deadline for finishing the job, things begin to unravel for the team.  David Caruso gets hacked on quite a bit for his work, but he is perfectly cast in this role.  Alongside Peter Mullan, both turn in a great performances playing off each other as they struggle for control of the group.  This is one of the Josh Lucas’ earlier roles before he gained a measure of stardom, and his philosophical and morally conflicted role as Hank is dead on as well.  There are plenty of unsavory undercurrents and sub-plots between the characters to add some context to the unfolding events that transpire.  Director Brad Anderson really nails the atmosphere and tension, and his sets and location almost serve as another actor in the film itself.  Lots of tension and skin-crawling moments in this one.  Check it out!

Jim’s Comments:
Chilling movie, kind of reminded me of Kubrick’s The Shining in the way that it was filmed and scored. Don’t see this one when you’re home alone like I did.



“The night he came home.”



In 1978, John Carpenter gave my generation the boogeyman.  Babysitting on Halloween has not been the same since.  We were introduced to Jamie Lee Curtis and the presence of Donald Pleasance lent a credibility to the cast of relative unknowns.  No doubt about it, Halloween (with an assist from Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre) gave birth to the slew of slasher films that invaded theaters and late night television for the next decade, but what Carpenter managed to do was create an effective film without gratuitous gore and left much to the viewer’s horrified imaginations.  This film had audiences quaking with a building tension and dread, leaving us all to wonder what lurked within every shadow.  A classic that remains the standard bearer of the genre!

Jim’s Comments:
The most successful independent film ever made. I’m not convinced that this is the “classic” that many regard it to be, but there’s no denying it’s effectiveness. It could be held up as a model for low-budget filmmaking technique. My favorite part was when we see the station wagon that Myers is in drive past the girls, stop, then start off again as if he is biding his time.


The Thing

“What you fear most is among you.”




After Halloween, John Carpenter moved on to do an Elvis TV biopic, The Fog, and Escape from New York before releasing The Thing to an unwary public.  Kurt Russell headed a great cast for Carpenter, who went away from his usual style by letting the special effects crew go wild.  Some of the most grotesquely horrific sequences in the history of movie cinema are captured in this film.  Combine that with the moodiness, isolation, and paranoia that this film delivers the stuff of nightmares.  My parents actually claimed that I woke up with nightmares for about two weeks following a viewing of this movie as a child.  Yes, it is that scary.

Jim’s Comment:
A critical and box office flop when it was released in the summer of 1982, this has gone on to become one of the most popular horror films of all time. Rob Bottin fills the screen with one eye-popping makeup effect after another (the “spiderhead” sequence still makes my jaw drop) and John Carpenter fills the running time with a sense of menace. Unlike the 1951 original (another great movie), these research scientists clearly don’t like each other.



“Some rooms are locked for a reason”




John Cusack delivers a fine performance as the somewhat notable author of books such as “Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Castles” and “Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Houses”.  His works seem to be a fruitless search for hope in an afterlife, following the tragic passing of his daughter to sickness, which has destroyed his marriage and left his own heart and soul barren.   His next work’s material leads him to the Dolphin Hotel in New York City and the events that transpire are far beyond anything he would ever expect.  This was John Cusack’s show the whole way, as for much of the movie, he is the lone character.  Samuel Jackson provides some support as the hotel’s manager very effectively.  But clearly this is Cusack v one incredibly evil room.  The director (Mikel Halfstrom) amps up the tension, and the repeated soundtrack use of the Carpenter’s song, “We’ve Only Just Begun” is brought towards a terrifyingly maddening effect.  Pull your loved ones close when watching this one!

Jim’s Comments:
Saw this one a few years ago. I don’t remember much about it, but I remember liking it.



The Fourth Kind
“There are four kinds of alien encounters.  The fourth is abduction.”




Generally not a fan of viral campaigns and found footage movies, this one happens to be a very big exception.  Milla Jovovich stars as psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler.  The setting is Nome, Alaska where a series of disappearances have afflicted the frontier community.  As Dr. Tyler begins to see some similarities in her patients experiences during hypnotherapy sessions, she digs deeper to find the ultimate truth of some very sinister happenings in their quiet community.  Parts of the movie juxtapose “actual” footage with re-enactments from the actors in an attempt to help the viewer believe all that they are seeing.  And what we do see is a very convincing and disturbing display of otherworldly phenomena.  White knuckle syndrome is sure to hit you at points of this movie.  I am a sucker for a good alien abduction story (loved Fire in the Sky too…check that one out as well), but I also have to say that this is the best acting we have seen yet from Milla.  On top of that, Will Patton appears as Sheriff August and Elias Koteas as Dr. Tyler’s colleague, Dr. Abel Campos.  A superb cast, and a thrill of a movie for sure, in spite of the panning it received from critics.

Jim’s Comments:
Well-acted and intense. I wasn’t a big fan of the “faked” footage vs. the “ real”—both cross-cutting and split screen. Such a presentation can’t help but call attention to itself, with the effect of it taking me out of the movie. I’m also not infatuated with the harsh, fast editing of many horror films today. But you can do far worse than this film for a nerve-wracking 90 minutes. There are some extremely intense sequences (my phone rang during one of them and made me jump) and a somber and eerie mood is kept throughout.



Check back tomorrow for Jim’s Top Five!

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Comic Pick of the Week October 23rd 2013

Great Stories selects…..


Pretty Deadly (Image)




Image does it again, this time enlisting the pen of Kelly Sue DeConnick who recently worked for Marvel on the latest Carol Danvers (former Ms. Marvel turned Captain Marvel) relaunch, which we can recommend highly as well.


A western theme and a tale of tragedy turned vengeance is what you will get as the words meet the art work provided by Emma Rios.  The female tandem do a great job in setting up the storyline with some very interesting characters and a plot line that has us genuinely intrigued.  No shortage of mysterious and dangerous women abound.  Who knew the wild west was not just a playground for the adventurous and unruly men of their time?


Provided at the back of the book is also a wonderful insider’s view from the writer on how both career and story came to be.  One can truly gain and understanding of where inspiration takes root and just how long the creative process for a story can take to mature.  We appreciate the writer’s expose into her own personal story, which in this case, is like getting a bonus story for free!


You can pick up Pretty Deadly at a comic store near you!


Great Stories are every where!


Chris (for the Great Stories team)


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Comic Pick of the Week October 16th 2013

Great Stories selects…..

Mind the Gap Volume 1: Intimate Strangers (Image)







Yes, another collection is our pick of the week, even though it is not a new release.  Great Stories got on the Mind the Gap bandwagon a little late, and quickly discovering it to be a worthy read full of intrigue and compelling characters.  The first volume collects the first five issues, which finds a young woman left in a coma after some very sinister foul play.  To make matters worse, her families motives and perhaps their very involvement may have something to do with the poor woman’s predicament.  But what no one seems to know is that the victim, Elle Peterson, is very much aware of what is happening around her in the hospital and having an out of body experience that places her in the realm of the in-between where she can reach others in similar states.  And she is doing her best to return from this beyond and find out who is responsible.


We are tearing through the second volume, Wish You Were Here, as of this post.  Hope you do the same!






Great Stories are everywhere!


Chris (for the Great Stories Team)

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Getting Into the Spirit

Hey Everyone,

Just a fun little update that shows a bit of the behind the scenes action in the lives of the bloggers here at Great Stories.  Jim Cannizzaro of  “The Front Row View” column here shows his personality for co-workers at the day job.  Going with a video store theme for the upcoming Halloween season, Jim is happy to help you pick out a flick from his own personal collection of favorites.













Browsing Jim’s Shockblister DVD selection has me itchin’ for a scare.  We’ll be giving you our thoughts on the best scary movies of all time coming up soon.  Have a great weekend!

Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week October 9th 2013

Great Stories selects…..


Coffin Hill #1 (Vertigo)







Vertigo Comics is DC’s harder edge comic line, and as the cover for Coffin Hill #1, you may agree that this is not for the average spandex super-hero reading comic fan.  But I admit an affinity for the horror genre when done right, and the Vertigo line has been offering up some pretty good stuff over the past year or so (check out New Deadwardians and Saucer Country to name a couple).  So, it is with this morbidly hopeful heart that I swiped this one off the local comic store shelf and forked over the $3 for a story spun by the mind of novelist Caitlin Kittredge (Black London series) with artwork handled by Inaki Miranda (Fairest).


Eve Coffin, the protagonist of the story, was a naughty little teenager into all of the wrong things in her home town of Coffin Hill (named for her more than well-to-do but very cursed family), including drugs and witchcraft to name a few.  When she returns to her hometown a decade later a gunshot survivor as a Boston police officer, she discovers that the sins of her past have caught up with her in the most supernatural of ways.




Coffin Hill is off to a terrific start.  Kittredge is already weaving a fascinating yarn and Miranda’s pencils are a perfect compliment to the mood and tone being set.  I’ll be on board for issue two when it hits, and I encourage you to get a copy today (if you are of the mature reading age, of course).


Great Stories are everywhere!



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Fresh Popped Corn: October 2013 Movie Trailers

Once per month, we will be taking a look at movies released for the upcoming month, and telling our readers where we would be spending our movie dollars each week, based on the look of the trailers.  Links to the chosen trailers will be provided so you can see just what we are so excited about.  Movie release dates are subject to change.


October 4th

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock kick the month into high stratosphere with the outer space thriller Gravity.    Runner Runner sees Justin Timberlake take on gambling kingpin Ben Affleck.  Parkland retells the story of John F Kennedy assassination with a host of talent that includes Billy Bob Thornton, Zac Efron, and Paul Giamatti.  Giamatti pulls double duty this week as he appears alongside Paul Rudd in the off-beat comedy All is Bright.  Dario Argento does classic horror with Dracula 3-D with Rutger Hauer as Von Helsing.  Adam Scott stars as an unwitting subject of study in children of divorce who is forced to confront his parent’s fifteen year battle in A.C.O.D.  Bad Milo is a dark comedy/horror about a demon who lives in the intestines of a man in one of the weirdest movies you may likely see.  Grace Unplugged has a young church performer (AJ Michalka) rebel against her reformed rock singer father to make her own way in the big wide world.  Nothing Left to Fear is a atmospheric horror from new producer Slash (of Guns ‘n’ Roses fame).  While Gravity certainly looks to be great, and will almost certainly rule the box office this week, Parkland is looking like a pretty compelling look into one of the darkest moments in modern American history.  Check out the trailer for a closer look.


October 11th

This week was the most release-heavy of October, including all of the limited release films.  Starting things off, we have the sequel Machete Kills with Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Alexa Vega, Amber Heard, and many others.  Robert Rodriguez writes and directs all of the mayhem.  Captain Phillips tells the true story of a Somali pirate takeover of an American freighter with Tom Hanks starring and Paul Greengrass in the director’s seat.  Romeo & Juliet is a classic re-telling of the Shakespearean tragedy, and also features the third movie this month starring Paul Giamatti. This guy is busy!  Not to be outdone, by Amber Heard is also seen in two movie releases as her much delayed horror spin All the Boys Love Mandy Lane finally gets a release.  Sweetwater is a frontier grudge match between a fanatical preacher, renegade sheriff, and a butt-kicking prostitute starring Ed Harris, January Jones, and Jason Isaacs.  Brad Dourif plays the voice of the famous killer doll in Curse of Chucky (yes, it is Halloween people!).  I Will Follow You Into the Dark continues our scary movie trend in time for the holiday and seems to be a more sophisticated ghost story starring Mischa Barton.  CBGB tells the story of the rise of the famous New York City punk club with Alan Rickman and Malin Akerman.  Zero Charisma seems to be Napolean Dynamite for fantasy game geeks.  And Escape Plan is the Schwarzennegger/Stallone pairing in a prison action movie everyone demanded, right?  Captain Phillips is looking like the clear winner here.  Greengrass is best known for the Jason Bourne movies and his standout United 93, and this one looks to be of the same quality we have come to expect.




October 18th

All is Lost is about a solitary man sailing solo across the ocean when disaster strikes, starring Robert Redford.  Hellbenders with Clifton Collins Jr. is about a group of dysfunctional exorcists who take on the toughest jobs the Vatican is asked to handle.  The Fifth Estate tells the story of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his war on the establishment.  Torn is a drama about two women who lose their sons in a mall explosion, only to find out that each of their departed is suspected of being the perpetrators of the crime.  Stephen King’s Carrie gets the remake treatment, this time with Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz playing the role Sissy Spacek made famous.  Ja Rule stars as a drug dealer who confronts his demons for a woman in I’m In Love with a Church Girl.  Kill Your Darlings has Danielle Radcliffe shed his Harry Potter image as poet Allen Ginsberg.  Ben Foster also stars.  The Counselor stars Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, and Michael Fassbender in a Ridley Scott film about a lawyer who get in over his head with a drug dealer.  Finally, Paradise gets the Russell Brand kiss of death in a “comedy” about a repressed church girl (Julianne Hough) who breaks loose in Sin City.  Make it three for three in the serious drama category this week, as we hop aboard the SS Redford for his scary seafaring adventure.  Check out the trailer for All is Lost below.



October 25th

Ok, we promise not to pick another ocean drama for you folks who are subject to sea sickness this week.  Bad Grandpa from the crew that brought you the Jackass movies is up first.  Johnny Knoxville is out to shock you again with more crazy inappropriate antics as he dons the old man makeup and takes his 8 year old “grandson” out on a cross-country trip.    Spinning Plates is a documentary about three incredible restaurants and the various forms of tragedy their proprietors meet, and how they move past it all.  Blue is the Warmest Color is a foreign movie about a young girl who attempts to learn about love through a relationship with a blue-haired girl with a similarly unorthodox view of life.  But what better way to celebrate Halloween than checking out the creepy Skinwalker Ranch, a found footage film that attempts to explain the legend of a rural Utah community with a potentially supernatural problem.  Check out the trailer below.



And with that, Great Stories would like to ask what you are most looking forward to seeing at the movies?


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week October 2nd 2013

Great Stories selects……


 Whiteout Vol 1 (Oni Press)





This week we are delving back to 1998 for a story created by the one and only Greg Rucka.  Great Stories must admit a sort of love affair with Rucka’s writing and we sincerely hope that the perception of rose-colored glasses does not dissuade you (the reader) from seriously considering the purchase and enjoyment of this awesome tale.  The picture above is actually from the graphic novel collection that was released by Oni Press in 2007, and can be found on Amazon as well as the Great Stories retail site (at least for now).  The story caught the eye of Hollywood as well, as it was optioned for a movie release starring the lovely Kate Beckinsale in 2009, but took some serious liberties with the characters.  As well, the movie did not even come close to capturing the quality and feel granted us by Rucka’s words and Steve Lieber’s art, but it did grant the story some extra exposure to the commercial market elements.








Whiteout was originally released as a four issue series (cover art can be seen  above and below) and the story features two very powerful female leads.  U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko is stationed on Antarctica, and she has a problem.  A killer is on the loose in one of the most harsh and dangerous environments on the planet.  And the presence of an undercover British agent may complicate matters even more.  The claustrophobia and isolation of the setting is palatable, especially as visually presented through Lieber’s pencils.  And Rucka has a gift for making characters come to life while making a connection to the reader.  He moves the action and plot development along at a satisfying pace as well as closing the story with a really great final panel.  Hardcore mystery bloodhounds may balk at the lack of a total misdirection, but I think Rucka’s more direct storytelling approach is more a result of wanting to give us a character piece (the subject being a wounded and displaced Carrie Stetko) as opposed to a swerve that would overpower the true star of his story.  Suffice to say, it works well and leaves the reader wanting more (which Rucka & Lieber kindly provide with the sequel Whiteout: Melt, which is not previewed here).









For novelist Greg Rucka, Whiteout was his first foray into the world of comics.  And he obviously caught the attention of the DC and Marvel brass with this debut.  Before long, he would be writing Batman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and Daredevil books.  Greg Rucka had arrived, and you can recapture his debut on the comic scene with Whiteout, a creator owned independent work worthy of your attention.


And for added entertainment, you can go rent the Hollywood version with the aforementioned Kate Beckinsale.  Just don’t expect that one to measure up with the source material.  😉




Great Stories are everywhere!


Chris (for the Great Stories team)