The slow shift to digital first seems to be hitting critical mass this week. We’ve got a webcomic that was Kickstartered (sp? Or I guess conj?) onto paper, then picked up by Image; a Monkeybrain digital-first that’s being printed by IDW; and a new hardcover volume of a book that, like so many of my high school girlfriends, is totally from France you just can’t meet her because she’s like, super busy and can’t afford a plane ticket okay? Jesus, get off my back MOM.
Hinges (Image Comics)
The latest in a series of comics that began as Kickstarted webcomics, Meredith McClaren’s Hinges is the story of a doll named Orio and her familiar, Bauble, trying to navigate a vaguely steampunk city as Orio is assigned jobs and slowly discovers the city around her. It’s terrific.
The amount of information that is communicated through simple facial expressions and body language is massive. Through the entire first volume, Orio has maybe 3 lines of dialogue total, and they all come in the last five pages of the book. There’s nary an infodump to be found in the script, with a ton of information communicated through the art. McClaren does an amazing job with this, with linework that resembles Scott Wegener’s work on Atomic Robo, and digital colors that pop while also managing to be muted and subtle.
Hinges was a spartan and yet surprisingly dense read, breezy the first time through, but rewarding on second and third readings. McClaren’s created a world so visually interesting and fun to read that it even manages to overcome my documented hatred of steampunk: “Feh, steampunk. Feh.” (Dandeneau 1/7/15).
You can pick up Hinges book 1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.
D4VE #1 (IDW Publishing)
Monkeybrain originally digitally published D4VE, a comic about a robot warrior in the throes of a mid-life crisis, which I missed the first time around. Now, IDW is releasing it as a print book and adding the DOPE Fiona Staples cover you see right over here :points next to this review, raises eyebrows expectantly: AAH?
Ryan Ferrier wrote this series about a hero in the robot army who, upon completely destroying all organic life in the universe (or so they thought, he said ominously), retired to a desk jockey job in a vague, Office Spacey box that crushes whatever passes for robot souls. It’s good stuff – it’s vividly colored and imaginatively drawn by Valentin Ramon, and using robots is a good way to highlight the absurdity of a mundane, suburban life, even if it is all well-trod territory.
Note to any readers with the power to make television shows: please please please for the love of all that is good and holy please do not make Office Spacey, an Office Space–House of Cards mash up starring Kevin Spacey. You don’t want to do that. In order for it to be anything like House of Cards, you’d need to find something fundamental about working in an office setting, like I dunno, going to an actual office, and then get it completely, catastrophically wrong, like having Kevin Spacey work from home. And then you’d have to go be smug about how much you got right about his mind-numbing experience as a cube farm prairie dog in all your interviews. Yes, I think House of Cards is hot garbage. D4VE is good though! You should read that.
You can pick up D4VE #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.
Darth Vader #2 (Marvel Comics)
This is probably Kieron Gillen’s toughest job. Everything else he’s writing right now only carries the weight of expectation that his name brings. Even on his other Marvel work (which I only just realized is suddenly and surprisingly light, not that I’m going to complain), he’s only really dealing with a small hardcore fanbase and with the expectation his past history of quality brings to a project.
On Darth Vader, he’s lucky [/sarcasm] enough to be writing an icon whom everyone’s got an opinion about, and he’s doing it while weaving around approximately 5 existing and/or ongoing stories. Based on the first issue, it’s going to be great.
In my mind, there are two kinds of Darth Vader stories: ones where he’s secretly heading for redemption, and ones where he Terminator-walks through a room full of bad guys like they don’t matter. Gillen manages to chart a different path here, going for high intrigue and adding an almost undignified thuggishness to Vader that’s really attractive. Gillen’s Vader is dealing with his failure at the first Death Star, cyborg breathing apparatus-deep in Imperial court intrigue and getting his hands dirty out on the Rim.
The pitfalls of the two typical Vader stories are obvious – when he’s heading for redemption, you know the end already, and when he robo-struts, people tend to lean hard on the unstoppable killing machine thing to the detriment of any characterization. There’s no nimbleness to him, either of body or of mind. That’s not the case in this new series. Larocca’s art is predictably fantastic, going a long way towards adding Force-infused nimbleness and grace to Vader that are often missing. This and the Aaron/Cassaday Star Wars book are both so good that I’m hoping we get more beyond just the Leia comic next month. I can’t wait for these every month now.
You can pick up Darth Vader #2 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.
The Black Hood #1 (Archie Comics)
It’s probably pass? to still be raving about Archie’s creative renaissance, but I’m still at the pounding-the-table-for-emphasis phase of accepting their Dark Circle revival: Archie Comics, publishers of several of the finest comics in the recent past, has gathered an insane pack of talent to launch a new line of hero comics that I fully expect to be excellent.
The Black Hood started out as a fairly generic WW2 vigilante character. He’s being reimagined here as a guy who, despite being repeatedly shat on by fate, or “Daredeviled,” decides to become a vigilante in his native Philadelphia to try and help people out.
Duane Swierczynski is someone I’ve talked about loving before (came out wrong; sorry Duane!) and Michael Gaydos’ work on Alias and The Pulse was perfect for that type of story. If they’re going for that kind of atmosphere – all signs point to yes, and really, why would you hire these two if you wanted bubbly pop comix? – this book is going to be fantastic.
You can pick up The Black Hood #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via any number of ways Archie sells them digitally.
Metabarons is another gap in my “should have already read” list, up there with Miracleman (working on it!) where Akira used to sit. I’ve heard people I know and trust raving about how incredible it is for years now, but I haven’t had an excuse to check it out. Fortunately, I get a great excuse to this week.
Humanoids is re-releasing Alexander Jodorowsky and Juan Gimenez’s original series now, ahead of a planned 2016 expansion on it by Jerry Frissen and Valentin Secher, with Jodorowsky’s blessing. The preview pages look incredible, and the sketchy plot summaries I’ve allowed myself to read all sound like absolute sci-fi classics – science be damned attitudes, advanced tech but devolved society, constant space wars. It’s not really surprising that this is from the same guy who saw the original Dune novel and thought “yeah…not crazy enough.” I’m very excited for this.
You can pick up Metabarons at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.
King Prince Valiant #1 (Dynamite Comics)
Ron Salas gets a little wild with the art here, and it’s an odd choice. My only experience with Prince Valiant is quickly glancing past it on the comics page when I used to read print newspapers. You know, back in the day when there was only one pair of shoes in my whole home town, and I was walking uphill both ways through only one foot of snow (back in pre-Snowlocene New England) to get to the comic shoppe.
Now, Dynamite is shoehorning him into their King Features 100th Anniversary crossover with Mandrake the Magician, the Phantom, Jungle Jim and Flash Gordon, and I’m baffled as to how it’s going to work. Nate Cosby has written a good beginning to an epic fantasy story here, and Salas’ art is very good, but with all of these King books, I keep getting distracted waiting for the crossover to happen. The Prince seems to be in some sort of cavey time portal, telling his story to the disembodied forms of Order and Chaos and presumably heading for the big crossover, but it doesn’t get there yet. I’m assuming it’s going to be a Seven Soldiers-style conclusion where the Prince falls out of the time portal on top of a car driven by the Phantom, which crashes into a light pole and sets off a Rube Goldberg chain reaction that kills the evil witch trying to take over the planet: Mary Worth.
You can help kill Mary Worth by grabbing King Prince Valiant #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.
Suiciders #1 (Vertigo)
It SOUNDS like Suiciders is like, five different genre tropes taped together to make something we’ve all probably seen a thousand times before. US Government cuts off a city after a huge earthquake (“No Man’s Land“), which becomes isolated and full of crime (Escape from New York, American Flagg, literally anything about Detroit ever), so people turn to blood sport for entertainment (Running Man, literally anything about Rome ever).
The difference here is that Lee Bermejo is also drawing it. He could draw surgery instruction manuals for flightless birds and I would be engrossed by it. He could draw courtroom sketches from traffic court and I would read it. He could draw a prequel to Watchmen and…nevermind.
You can pick up Suiciders #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Every week there are way too many comics for me to read and keep track of. So in every column, I’m going to take a look at a book that came out in the last few weeks, but that I only just had a chance to read.
This week, it’s Revenger #1 by Charles Forsman. I’ve seen other places drawing comparisons between Revenger and Copra by Michael Fiffe. The similarities are there if you squint hard enough – both are by previously indie folks trying to make comics they loved as kids – but that’s about where the similarities end. Copra is bugshit crazy. It’s an obvious Suicide Squad rip, but that is about the only thing in any aspect of the book that’s conventional by any stretch of the imagination. Revenger, on the other hand, is a fairly standard ’80s action movie riff, except if you look a little closer, it’s totally different. Revenger is a woman haunted by her kid’s death who hires herself out as a vicious, unstoppable killing machine. Imagine a movie about a mom grieving the loss of her child. Now imagine if that mom was also a T-800. Now you’re about halfway to getting the premise of Forsman’s book.
You can pick up Revenger #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online through Forsman’s web site.
That’s what I’m reading this week. What are you picking up?