Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday Comics Round-Up - August 14

My reading and tweeting got cut short yesterday by circumstances I won't go into here, but I had an interesting, if relatively brief (for me, anyway) time of it while it lasted. This week I blundered into some stuff that I really didn't like, and rather than dwell on it here, I'm going to gently pass it over - one book got mixed into my subscription drawer that didn't belong there as I discovered when I raced to unsubscribe myself (my wonderful FLCS, Heroes Only, allows customers to manage their subs via web page - I hope all stores have taken this step, as it's very convenient). That comic was Mysterious Ways and this shall be my only mention of it. I had problems with another one, too, but there was a lot to like so I'm leaving it in.

Something I should maybe note in general and for the future: I read the solicitations in the Preview Guide and pick what sounds good, and then pretty much forget about them until they show up in my subscription drawer; so here in these blog posts is often the first time I've read "THE SCHTICK" since then; I like to dive into my comics with as few preconceptions as possible so a lot of my tweets are of the "oh, so this is what's going on" variety -- which probably seems odd right below the schtick.

I experimented a bit this week, and wrote my tweets from a new social media site, SubJot, which is very Twitter-like except in that it allows 250 instead of 140 characters (thus explaining some of my slightly longer tweets) and requires that each "Jot" be tagged with a subject. What makes it stand apart from Twitter is that people who follow one on there choose what subjects on which to follow me. Thus, say, those who were only interested in my SundayComics tweets could choose only to follow me in "comics" and ignore, say, "entomology" or "music" or "society." It's got some potential, that site, though I do sort of find having to tag everything with a subject a little tiresome, sometimes. Anyway, if you want to check it out, click here.



Writer Dave Elliot's work is new to me; he seems to be a switch-hitter in comics, having had a career as a penciller and inker as well as a writer on a bunch of titles I'm not familiar with. Penciller Javier Aranda's work may be familiar to fans of the Star Trek: TNG comics. The colors are by Jessica Kholinne, whom I know mostly as a cover artist on the remarkable Echoes, that so impressed me earlier this yearDavid Baxter is also listed on Image's website with a "story by" credit but I have no idea who that is and my crutch, the Comic Book Database, is no help there. Mysterious!


Sixty years ago the oil ran out and debts were called in. Civil war followed that splintered America into warring fiefdoms. New San Diego is a technocratic utopia that offers the last bastion of peace and prosperity, provided you live within its walls. Drake McCoy is its best protector. McCoy, an expert marksman, defends the city from the numerous threats in the wasteland outside the walls. But when the oil rich Lone Star state sends a powerful army to steal New San Diego's energy technology, even Drake's leadership and skill may not be enough to fend off the siege. - from Image Comics' website.

Starting off with #Marksmen, from Image. Don't remember what it's about but it has a sniper and an evil-looking dog on the cover.
Inside cover blurb: "60 years later, the ancestors of those Navy Seals still protect the city as The #Marksmen". FAIL.

Unless there's time travel. Since this is post-economic collapse America, chances are what's meant is descendants.

Our hero seems to bear a strong resemblance to Sean Bean. And he's just found a wolf-like doggie. Hmm. #GoT*

FINGER CAMS. There should totally be finger cams. Reach around the corner and point to see. Yes.

Savages about to attack have laced-up faces. No doubt descended from hipsters.

All this over a hard drive? Is it for the information on it or just the fact that it's intact and usable?

Just as I was admiring that the token chick is in full clunky battle armor just like the men, she's stripped it all off and has her shirt tied under her boobs to bare her midriff. And fights in *that* pose.

I repeat: she was in armor. Until she entered a melee combat. Also her hair is long and loose so any pudknocker could yank on it in a fight .

And while she poses in combat, it is she using that word "pudknocker." My will to like this comic is plummeting.

Oh wait. There are two chicks. They just happen to look way too much alike. Eyes rolling at lower intensity for now.

So San Diego is run by godless scientists powered by solar/nuclear energy. Lone Star is a theocracy powered by oil.

The Deacon has convinced the Lone Stars to go after New San Diego by force and bring the word of god to the heathens.

Ugh. Now that she's standing up, I see the armored chick's armor is pretty ridiculously boobtastic.

To be fair, our hero's armor is also fairly manboobtastic. And washboardtastic. Would anyone really wear that?

New San Diego, home of the hopelessly networked brave, looks pretty cool though.

They could have gone all dark cliche Bladerunner-y but instead it's tones of yellow. It looks hot & dusty & desolate.

"They need your solar tech to survive in the long run. In the short, God and oil are on their side." Hmmm...

There is a token (DRESSED) brainy gal who looks exactly like I pictured Greta in @bruces' DISTRACTION. Which is cool.

Oh. She looks respectable because she's our hero's momma.

So basically this is a post-apocalyptic Cowboys & Aliens, with some scientists and soldiers in the role of aliens.

The allegory is pretty heavy-handed &I'm not crazy about the art (except the coloring). I'll give it one more issue.


I was prepared to like this comic a great deal. The idea behind it is intriguing and I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic tales, especially ones involving theocracies, which stories I find way scarier than anything with zombies or ghosts or werewolves or psycho-killers because they seem actually possible. And this setting seems quite possible; we seem to be galloping towards it at a breakneck pace (even if you don't "believe" in Peak Oil). And the world looks great; a post-technological dustbowl given a poisonous intensity by Kholinne's colors - the palette tends toward the acid yellow, emphasizing the heat and unpleasantness of a world without air conditioning and still, perhaps, recovering from its overdose of greenhouse gases. But as I commented, the allegory feels pretty heavy-handed and my annoyance at the stereotypicality of the female characters (and I am not normally given to knee-jerk feminism, as any reader of this blog should know by the complete absence of feminist rants) has severely diminished my interest. And yes, it turned out to be two different women, so my outbursts about the stupidity of a woman taking off her armor to fight are invalidated -- but the differences in character design were very small: the faces both feature big beestung lips (but one woman's eyes are brown and one's are green! Though that's hard to discern in battle scenes), both women have long loose dark hair and model-perfect bodies, so this still counts as a fail. And then there's this: even the token smart woman is pretty much a caricature, there only because she is our hero's mother and was, apparently, spurned by our hero's father and is being bitchy about said father's return to the fold. That she is also apparently one of the brains-in-charge of the techno-city of New San Diego quickly fades in light of her status as Woman Scorned. Sigh. So while I said in my tweet that I was going to give it one more issue, I found myself cancelling my subscription. Life is too short and there are too many really good comics out there to waste my time and money on one that might not keep annoying me.



David Hahn is another switch-hitter, and did the pencils/inks and the writing on this Image Comics release. You may know Hahn from his work on titles like Fables and Spider-Man and a lot of other books, mostly for the Big 2. There's no colorist because this is in beautiful black and white.


Kit Bradley is a 20 year-old art student and petty criminal who knows it's time to leave her delinquent past behind, but isn't ready for the responsibilities of adulthood. Her social headquarters is an all night diner, and while trying to put the 'off' on an on-again-off-again boyfriend, she runs into an old flame, and an enigmatic loner named Martha, who alters Kit's life forever. - from Image's website


Moving on to one I know I did pick (XD) Issue 1 of #AllNighter.

Ooh yeah, it's black and white. And a bold, cartoony style. Yes.

Cool. This is set in a diner. And our heroine has a strict but weirdly flexible moral code w/r/t lying & stealing.

We may have an unreliable narrator here. Which I totally dig.

"Once they outgrow new wave music, there comes a time when every teen must decide... heavy metal or punk rock?" XD

Art students. Explains the poverty and the incipient larceny XD

I LOVE the boldness of this art. It's abstract but still depicts emotion wonderfully.

I want to know how/why our heroine, Kit, killed her mother. And they're NOT TELLING ME!

Aww! She just smashed a roach in the "borrowed" car! 8(

This is reminding me a little of #NewYorkFive and a lot of #Go (the film). Awesome.

And a nice little soap opera cliffhanger. Nice.


David Hahn should always get to do his own books completely. I like everything about this comic, from the art to the characters to the subject matter. I don't think I'm getting the unreliable narrator I sort of dream of (and why not, comics folks? Comics are a bi-sensuous medium, after a fashion; a narrator who's lying his/her head off while the truth is presented visually, or vice-versa seems a natural for it!) but Kit's soap opera-ish troubles have me hooked. I want to know what's up with the mother, I want to see if she and her silly boyfriend get busted or get away with it, and I want to see what's up with her and James (though Image's marketing copy above gives away who he is in a way Issue 1 itself did not - an old flame. Sigh). The scenes within the diner are especially enjoyable; the interior bristles with detail without ever being busy and everything looks great. Was an early candidate for my favorite of the day, but something else stole my heart.

SPONTANEOUS, Issues 1 and 2


Spontaneous, from Oni Pressis written by Joe Harris, of DCU fame - I chiefly know him from Batman: Battle for the Cowl, one of the rare forays I've taken into superhero comics. Harris also, I believe, drew the cover for Issue 1 of this book. Another switch hitter! But here he's teamed up with Brett Weldele, whom I first discovered in the prequel graphic novel for Southland Tales and rediscovered in last year's searing (almost literally) The Light but who's also done a lot of other good work, even for Marvel. I recognized Weldele's style before I noticed his name on the cover because I don't usually look at names until I'm in love with a comic and want to know whom to thank. Then I saw his name. Aha.


Driven to discover the truth regarding his father's mysterious death many years prior, Melvin Reyes seeks to prove the existence of Spontaneous Human Combustion after fresh outbreaks of the phenomenon reveal a pattern only he can see, a predictability model only he can read, and the terrifying realization that whatever phenomenon consumed his father is also boiling inside of him, just waiting for release.


Sadly moving on. I gotta wait until I've got 1 and 2 of #ZombiesVsRobots. Which I happen to have of #Spontaneous

Oh sweet!!!! #Spontaneous's art is by Brett Weldele. LOVED his work in #TheLight and this is very similar.

Weldele does a sort of ink wash/watercolor thing (I'm not an art critic so don't have the right terms probably) and then inks in lines.

Ooh, is he experimenting with spatter techniques now? I like it!

Hmm. Our focus is on a fast food worker with unusual insights into the medical condition of a customer.

YES! #Spontaneous combustion. And you'd better believe the light from it is perfectly handled.

New character. Emily Durshmiller, Investigative Reporter At Large. "At large? Sounds like you're on the run."

Ooh. So our hero is actually a student of #Spontaneous combustion and think's he's got a predictive model.

I was going with the theory that he was someone who could cause them XD 

VERY happy to have Issue 2 of #Spontaneous handy since 1 ended with a bang XD 

Wait. Revising my earlier assessment I think. Melvin has more going on than I thought maybe?

Nice scene in the E.R. police chief Donna and her daughter Kaylee interview our duo 8)

I like this reporter chick. She wants to know why Melvin just observes instead of warns.

"Erin Brockovich didn't just go after a book deal... and she didn't fight the power just to get Julia an Oscar."

Nice points about anonymous sources, too - but subtly done.

Have decided Weldele isn't spattering; just an effect of really textured watercolor paper, maybe? Like it a lot.

Checking microfiche/film scene showcases the strength of this art style perfectly. 

HAHAHAHA Continuing the newspaper theme, looks like the next "burner" is named Horace Greely.

The plot has thickened very satisfyingly. Hmm.

Um. Whoa.


This is the comic that completely stole my heart this week. These are quirky characters exploring an enjoyable, X-Files-ish story and very much being themselves. I like that the reporter hasn't made up her mind yet whether she's doing a story or not; I like that Melvin is changing his mind as a result of having met her. And it's a beautiful, beautiful book. Weldele handles light better than any other comics artists I've seen, whether it's malevolent, almost sentient light in The Light or the glare from microfiche screens, torching human flesh or sodium street lights, as here. I'd compare his work to what I've loved so in Ridley Scott's Bladerunner or Peter Greenaway/Sasha Vierny's Drowning By Numbers (two of my favorite films!). And his character designs are great, too, very honest and real. The female police chief is slightly dumpy and extraordinarily patient and kind-looking; Emily looks fiesty and brainy and beautiful and altogether believable; Melvin very much the schlub with secrets. And what secrets they are!



Repulse is an original graphic novel from Image Comics, and was written and drawn by Szymon Kudranski, whom I know for his pencils and cool cover of 2009's Zombie Cop but who has also done a lot of work on Batman, 30 Days of Night, Spawn and many others.


In the near future, when robotics and other high-tech solutions help solve the most awful crimes, a unit called After Crime allows detectives to taste, feel and see what murder victims experienced before death. Sam Hagen is an After Crime detective, a broken man with one chance for redemption catching a serial killer who preys on Hagen's fellow cops. Will the solution save Hagen, or doom him?


Onward to a big fat one-shot (at least I think it is) from Image, #Repulse. "Can a robot remember his past life as a human?"

Philip K. Dick much? More than a bit. And looks like another black/white/grey beauty.

I like the cranky, washed-up exposition guy, ranting about implanting a murder victim's brain cells to solve a crime.

It's a riff on PKD's "Pre-crime" - After Crime solves crimes via dudes tripping on dead guys' last experiences. Ick.

Dark, check. Moody, check. Gritty, check. Unsettling, check. Digging it. 

Page & panels conveying the experience of implanting victim's brain cells is effective, but exactly what I expected.

These characters address each other by name way more often than ordinary people do. Is there a reason? 

Just figured out whose art this is reminding me of: @Rekedal's. Which, as you know, I like a lot.

Dude. Serial killing robot stalking a chick. So pulpy! SO PULPY! 

Ooh. Serial killing robot killing all the suspects in a murder case.

This is proceeding fairly predictably so far, but I like it. 

Oh. Souls. Yawn.

Wow. A land line phone hanging on a wall. Cord and everything. Huh?

OK, could have done without the religious mumbo-jumbo at the end but still a pretty cool book.


I didn't realize until just now, as I assemble this blog post, that Kudranski had done Zombie Cop, which I enjoyed quite a bit, and not a little because of his work. His style is slightly cartoonish but still realistic enough to give the moody, noirish feel this subject matter required; the result was very bladerunnerish. What really sold it was the robot itself, its stark, abstract, emotionless face draped in a big hooded coat and often appearing in near-silhouette, like Bruce Willis's character in Unbreakable. Where this one-shot kind of lost me was when it diverted from its straight-up cyberpunk story into ill-explained mystical gobbledygook about souls, which was entirely unnecessary, since the brain-sampling tech could have been used easily to explain all. Still it's a nice book to have in my collection. Which reminds me -- I need another longbox. Gah!



The multiple-award-winning Matt Wagner (Grendel et al -- many al) is writing this book from Dynamite Comics, with Esteve Polls, who has done most of Dynamite's Zorro books, on pencils and inks. No colorist is credited.


The one and only Matt (MAGE, GRENDEL) Wagner returns to conclude his epic story of Zorro! We return to the story as Alejeandro de la Vega finds out that his son, Don Diego, is pulling double-duty as Zorro. How will this affect Zorro's continuing crusade against the alcalde of Los Angeles, Luis Quintero? 


Now, according to Dynamite, #Zorro Rides Again! To which I say: yippee!

Starts off with a sword fight and banter. As it should.

Nice twist with the father.

Holy exposition disguised as dialogue, Bat - er - #Zorro

I feel like I'm watching an old-fashioned movie serial, except it's in color and stuff XD 

"You worry too much about that dramatic popinjay, Luis! I have met his blade and have no fear of his petty antics!"

"Enough, murderous swine! You've spilt enough blood this night!" #Zorro silhouetted on his rearing stallion against full moon. 

The potential for visual drama of a long, cracking whip is fully realized. Fully. Realized.

This feels like a reprint of a very old story indeed, but the story is new and fresh. Bravo.


I find I don't have a great deal more to say about this book than I did in my tweets. This is old-fashioned comics storytelling, earnest, slightly hokey and very broad. The art is fine -- Dynamite seems to be evolving its own house style, not daring, but not bad -- but nothing I'm going to exclaim over (apart from the exuberantly swirling whip, which made me chortle; Polls must have had a very good time drawing it). If you like pulp and pulp characters, you'll like this. If you don't, you probably don't bother with anything Dynamite puts out.

SEVERED, Issue 1


Another great one from Image, Severed is written by Scott "American Vampire" Snyder and newcomer Scott Tuft, with pencils by Attila "Percy Jackson" Futaki, whose work I've not seen before but I'm digging a lot.


A man haunts the roads; a man with sharp teeth and a hunger for flesh. When 12-year-old Jack Garron runs away from home, he'll see how quickly the American Dream becomes a nightmare. Be there at the beginning of the series that everyone will be talking about! From Eisner-nominated writer SCOTT SNYDER (American Vampire, Detective Comics), SCOTT TUFT and ATTILA FUTAKI (NYT Best-Selling-Artist: Percy Jackson) comes the most terrifying horror series of 2011--SEVERED.


And here comes #Severed. There's been lots of buzz about this one. Lots of buzz. 

The illustration style here is more like something from a young adult novel than a comic. It really stands out.

The title is #Severed. The viewpoint character is an old man who lost his arm. And there is a line "Gimme your foot"... 

Wasn't sure how the story of the orphan hooking up electricity &our hero's were going to hook up until the last panel 

Love the period setting, too - 1916. Glorious. This one lives up to the buzz. 

Has a bit of a Ray Bradbury/Something Wicked This Way Comes feel.


I didn't tweet a lot about this book because I was just sucked in and enjoying it. This is a book that is exploiting the interesting potential of the gulf between its lush, Rockwellian art style (the character designs are downright pretty, and extraordinarily lifelike) and its grim, sad and creepy subject matter. A sense of dread is very subtly built, so the reader doesn't necessarily consciously notice it, distracted by Jack's early ventures into hobo-dom, until it all comes together in a last, horrific panel. I'm hooked.

(Note: I next ventured into Alan Moore's latest League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it's been way too long and I've missed way too much to make any sense of what was going on there, so I put it aside for much later when I've managed to catch up. I say this to explain the first tweet for the next book here.)



This Top Cow book is written by John Mahoney and Filip Sablik, with art by Thomas Nachlik - more about them from a previous Sunday Comics post here.


Immortality is the most sought after gift in human history. When does it become a curse? When the only thing you want to do is die. Alec King is a small time criminal and three time loser. When he gets his partner and best friend killed, he tries to commit suicide and finds out the hard way that he can't die. Now he has to find a reason to keep living. - from Top Cow's website


Something I damned well do remember what's going on is in #TheLastMortal. He met a chick who is probably also immortal

"My name is Alec King and for the fourth time in 48 hours I am going to die." Yeah, like that 

Oh, see, maybe I was wrong. Awesome!

Very interesting development - that also ties all the college flashbacks in well. 

For a politician's wife who once almost got rufied, this chick is pretty badass. Ouch! 

"I am a superhero. I am an utter failure." XD #TheLastMortal #SundayComics #YouShouldSeeThePictures

#TheLastMortal also continues with the awesome music quotations.

HAHAHA "I was going to get shot either way. At least this way, that bastard is dead in the process."

Gunpoint revelations: always good for twisting the story all over the place. Awesome.


I continue to be in love with Thomas Nachlik's work here, though with the transition to interior scenes instead of the train yard of Issues 1 and 2 his greatest strengths aren't quite as well-highlighted. To put it this way, I didn't notice the art as much. The story continues to intrigue -- I am relieved to find I was wrong in my interpretation of that last scene in Issue 2, when a mysterious woman arrived to pick up a wounded Alec. I had the sinking feeling that she was a part of a secret society of other immortals, come to show him the ropes; instead, she became something much more interesting: a figure from Alec's past who is now playing a very different role in his present, not quite an ally but not quite an antagonist. And those gun point revelations? Awesome. This continues to be a comic I look forward to getting each month.

*GoT is the general Twitter hashtag for Game of Thrones.

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