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13 Reviews
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing. Worthy successor.
This is the 2nd part of a trilogy that begins with 2010's X'ed Out, so you'll want to read that as well. The narrative is fragmentary enough that I suppose you could read this first if you wanted to.
I don't think I should describe the "story" for you, even if I could. Some very obvious themes, carried over from X'ed Out, are: alternate/parallel worlds,...
Published 21 months ago by Ka5par Hau53r

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars its ok
this book combines Burns 80's El Borbah hard-boiled abject humor with his 90's Black Hole surreal sexual horror phase. Frankly, and I know I'm in the minority I don't think the Black Hole stuff is his best work and it drags down this book too. Xe'd the first installment of this series seemed quite promising, but with this volume we appear to have returned to the Black...
Published 17 months ago by Michael Cohen


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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing. Worthy successor., October 9, 2012
This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
This is the 2nd part of a trilogy that begins with 2010's X'ed Out, so you'll want to read that as well. The narrative is fragmentary enough that I suppose you could read this first if you wanted to.
I don't think I should describe the "story" for you, even if I could. Some very obvious themes, carried over from X'ed Out, are: alternate/parallel worlds, relationships, (body) horror, memory, image, father and son, pregnancy, opiates, and art. This work resonates with all kinds of other comics and movies and literature and art, but this is a powerful cohesive work unto itself.
Burns has been telling non-linear narratives since before Black Hole, but this is shaping up to be by far the most advanced yet. It would take a while to map out even the explicitly distinct time/reality frames that the story takes place across so far, and to trace all the resonant images and text that link multiple strands together in various more and less mysterious ways would take much longer.
This fragmentary approach might have something to do with Burns presenting this as a serialized trilogy... also, we're constantly shown comics within comics, comics within dream sequences?, photos (not actual photos) within comics, etc... Overall, just amazing use of images that you can't get out of your head, in a way that curls back and comments on itself many times over. As with Black Hole, Burns shows himself to be a master of the comics medium, and this trilogy looks to be in every way a worthy successor to Black Hole. That said, this is "super weird" and not for everybody. Highest recommendation to those interested in a surreal body horror, non-linear narrative, thoroughly postmodern, beautifully designed, hardcover comic book.
The only complaint I can imagine is (as with the first volume) the length of this book, at 56 pages. Not an issue for me, because this is the way Burns wanted to tell his story, and it freaking works. This is a work to revisit many times.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hive mind, November 3, 2012
This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
Charles Burns resumes his surreal story of Doug, a performance artist with a troubled past and a head injury, whose story jumps from different parts of his life and another world seemingly at random. In the "real" world he begins a relationship with a new girl and tells her of his ex, Sarah, who made him wear his dead father's clothes, drugged him, and took pictures of him while he slept. Meanwhile, Doug in the other world is working at a strange facility run by lizard people harvesting the red and white eggs seen in the first book, "X-ed Out". His job is to bring comics to women with oversized bellies called breeders. But something is wrong with this otherworld: the breeders are crying at night and there are toxic smells coming from the corridors.

If you've read the first book in the series "X-ed Out", this second book "The Hive" gives few answers to the reader to help explain the story. It's clear that Doug is working through some severe emotional problems and the book seems to be building toward a hinted-at-but-unrevealed traumatic event, but Burns' storytelling choices deliberately obscure any understanding - possibly to save these answers until the next book or perhaps to remain mysterious so that the reader can come up with their own conclusions.

This David Lynch-ian style of storytelling is at odds with Herge's Tintin books which were straightforward and heavily plot-focused; Burns' anti-Tintin hero Doug remains static throughout with random events happening to him and Doug staying almost stubbornly still. For new readers, the comparisons to Herge/Tintin stem from Burns' imitating Herge's drawing style when telling Doug otherworldly storyline, drawing Doug as a Tintin lookalike.

Burns plays with this scattered storytelling style in Doug's role of comic book delivery man for the breeders, one of whom complains about reading comics out of sequence - the story doesn't make sense if you miss just a couple of issues, she says. The reader feels the same way but unlike Doug is unable to locate the missing issues for his story to make sense.

The story is as confusing as ever and it's almost as if you don't need to have read the first book to pick up the second, though I recommend you do if you're a fan of Charles Burns and/or experimental fiction and imaginative storytelling. Charles Burns shows once again that he is a master of his craft and that is work is pushing the boundaries of sequential art further as a medium. "The Hive" is an excellent continuation of a fascinating and disturbing storyline. It is a puzzling but ambitious book that is definitely worth reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book 2 of the X'ed Out series, October 23, 2012
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
Charles Burns is probably best known for his Black Hole series which remains the best starting point for exploring his works. Since then he has started a new trilogy which starts with X'ed Out and continues with this book (book 2 in the series). Supposedly, there will be only one more entry in the series. Burns has spent his career perfecting his artwork and this book presents the best example of his composition, linework, and inking abilities, combined with a coloring technique that is first being presented in this series (his previous work was in black and white). The story content is focused on an exaggerated version of teenage miseries, combined with a strange and creepy fantasy life that seems to be leaking out into the real world. In that sense it is very much of a piece with Black Hole. Many questions are asked, few are answered; and I wouldn't expect everything to be sewn up neatly in the conclusion, either. The binding, paper, and printing are extraordinary in this series, displaying Burns's superb attention to detail in every aspect of this series. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book., February 8, 2013
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
I've given this book 5 stars because Charles Burns has a very interesting art style. The book is interesting and extremely high quality. I can't wait for the third book in the series, Sugar Skull.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy Groovy, January 24, 2013
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
Charles Burns is back at it again! I read his Black Hole series from start to finish in individual comic book installments and it was, probably, one of the greatest comics I've ever read. Now, I'm not a fan of 'super hero' comics or really any of the Marvel/DC universe of comics-their just not my 'bag' baby. But I've always loved Underground/Alternative Comics and Charles Burns is, without question, not only an immaculate and skilled draftsman, he's developed into a superlative and sophisticated storyteller as well.

In this, his newest series, He's creating a bizarre world of hard narcotic hallucinations bringing on, what one can only call, an ultra bizarre mix of Tin-Tin and William S. Burroughs! It's really fantastic. The only part that has me scratching my head, is that it's a proposed 'three-part' series and I can't for the life of me see how this story will be completed in three parts? The first book was terrific, but left the reader a bit perplexed as to exactly what was happening at the end. In this installment, the bizarre story starts us off in a confused and difficult state. This isn't a bad thing, but by the time we're able to get a 'foot hold' on what's happening in this one, we are thrown off again into another 'whirl' of confusion-again, this is fine- I love difficult and challenging work. But I can only expect that the last installment must be exceptionally longer than either of these two, or that it's a story that will leave us in a state of perpetual confusion. Perhaps that is the point? Either way, I'm waiting with baited breath for the next installment of Burns' new work-he just gets better and better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A for Amazing, August 4, 2013
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
I'm enjoying Xed Out and The Hive so much more than Burns' Black Hole. The colors and artwork are incredible, but the storytelling! Burns has the knack for subtly switching narratives/dimensions, whatever. He really sold me on this approach with the Big Baby story, 'Teen Plague'. I'm glad Burns is back to using this storytelling tool with this trilogy. I'm very excited for the third and final installment to arrive this year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the third book!, June 27, 2013
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
This book - the second of a trilogy - is not as intense as the first, and won't solve many of the questions you might have by the moment you finish X'Ed Out.

By the way, considering the evolution of the story and the graphics, there is a lot of good stuff that will probably make a lot more sense with the third book - and shut my mouth forever!

Let's wait for Sugar Skull!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A case of the yips, April 9, 2013
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Sibelius (Palo Alto, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
This follow-up to "X'ed Out" maintains the creep/ick/WTF factor and then some. Multiple re-reads may be required to grasp the nuance and timeline but this is no chore when smothered by Burns' abstract, Fun-House visuals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really creepy and fun, March 24, 2013
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
I can hardly wait for the third installment. Burns at his best. This could rival Blackhole when it is done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Blackhole, December 14, 2012
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This review is from: The Hive (Hardcover)
The first two books in this series have much potential to be better than most graphic novels that I have read. Especially considering his stories aren't autobiographical memoir and they are not super hero driven. The store in this series has the potential of being on par with Blackhole, but the drawing is slightly lazier than his first effort. His uses a lot of black panels and panels that just have writing. All in all, like I said earlier its better than most the stuff out there. So check it out, but if you have read Blackhole check that out first. Hell, if you haven't read Blackhole, stop reading this review and go get yourself a copy. Hello? Are you still there? Hello?
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The Hive
The Hive by Charles Burns (Hardcover - October 9, 2012)
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