Some comics take reality and smash it up against the fantastical. With a mixture of things that seem possible as well as the impossible a great blend can be made. The comics below have a variety of fantastical elements that play a major role in creating their tales.
Entering a New World
The Joyners #1
Fantastical Element: It's the future and our technology has advanced, but of course it goes horribly wrong.
As I understand it (and somewhat recall), this was originally a big graphic novel that could be read with 3-D glasses. Now however it is being collected in a monthly format minus the 3-D aspect and in standard color. I don't think the book suffers too much from the lack of the extra dimension, as the artwork by David Marquez and Kelly Fitzpatrick works well with the writing of R.J. Ryan to create a sci-fi tale that has my interest piqued. We open in a prologue that is also the end of the story it appears, where things have gotten to a bad point for our characters, then jump to the past to witness the discussion of a new invention that is going to change everything for the better. Clearly, if the main character ruined things that isn't the case.
The artwork is gorgeous and I said the story has my attention, but one huge flaw is you can really tell this was originally written for trade as this first of the four issues comes-off as really decompressed. A ton of questions are raised with nearly none answered, which makes sense if it's the first chapter of a book, but when you're serializing a story you've gotta give the reader something to grab onto. The lack of answers doesn't upset me as much as this reviewer, but clearly others are a bit perturbed too. My concerns about how serialization will impact the story may hopefully be addressed by a 2nd issue that explains more, but for now I'm mostly confused, but at least have some great artwork to be confused with.
3 out of 5 stars.
The Dark #1
Fantastical Element: It's a quiet forest, with something horrible lurking in it.
Suppose that the legends of Sasquatch were a bit wrong. Imagine that the theoretically hairy big creature were in a fact a hideous witch who wears the skin of her victims. Yeah, that's terrifying. Writer and artist Kelly Williams fills us in about the witch and sets up a lot of story before a very scary conclusion. This is labeled as, "Chapter One: Boo Hag," so I'm thinking future issues will tackle other things that lurk in the dark (hence the title). Williams says a bit more in the back about the Boo Hag and how the idea of it draws from a variety of mythologies and I appreciated the extra history.
Williams art is minimalist yet expressive, with the grotesque imagery appearing as really unpleasant (which is the intention). I'm just tickled by the concept that the potentially big, smelly, and hairy creature we all talk about could very well be a shriveled-up and hideous witch. This was a great first issue and has me excited for future ones. As this is a digital comic from Alterna you can find it here and purchase a copy for your enjoyment.
4 out of 5 stars.
I Hate Fairyland #6
Fantastical Element: An adult trapped in a child's body is forced to live in a magical land she despises.
Writer and artist Skottie Young admits to pulling a bit of a bait-and-switch this issue in the back-matter, as when (spoiler) Gertrude is only briefly queen despite having taken on the role at the end of the last arc it is a bit surprising. Young says how this allows him to have her go back out into the magical world, and it's his story so he can do whatever he wants. Regardless of the power Gertrude is or isn't wielding however, her snark and attitude always are awesome. The weird mixture of adorable artwork and gore still impresses and I really get the vibe that Young is happy to let out some twisted dark humor after doing all those books that were strictly kid-geared for years.
While the art and humor continue to be great, honestly not that much occurs this issue. Gertrude whines about being bored and things are a little more dull than some previous issues. It could be due to the fact that this is the start of a new arc that it feels that way, but at least--as I've said--things look awesome and are hilarious.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #98
Fantastical Element: Witches and ghosts go up against criminals
"Tarot," is a comic that I at first found incredibly weird when I first started reading it. I was at times a little tough on it in old reviews, but then I started to enjoy it more and more as I kept picking it up to the point now it is one of my favorite books. As we near the 100th issue, which will feature the wedding of Tarot and her fiancé Jon, this issue actually has them out doing their own things until they meet-up at the end to relax after a long night.
In this issue Jon fights some grave-robbing criminals and Tarot wraps-up a loose end of fighting an old foe. Jim Balent and Holly Golightly turn in a great comic with the scenes featuring Jon being full of action and Tarot's part of the comic having a strong horror-element as she faces-off against an eerie Doll-Woman she beat once before. I like the way that the Tarot comics feature a world that seems normal but reveals such an image to be a paper-thin veneer hiding a whole world full of weird and magical stuff. I look forward to the next issue and am even more excited for when it hits triple digits!
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Vote Loki #1
Fantastical Element: The God of Lies runs for President...so actually not that unrealistic.
This comic hits really uncomfortably close to home. In its process of Loki saying how he might run for President and stating, "If I were your President, I'd have the guts to lie right to your face. And you'd love it," is grotesque in how right now in the real world we see the American people loving it when they are lied to by someone whom it is proven repeatedly tells falsehoods (I'm talking about Trump, in case you live under a rock). Characters in the comic talk about how politicians shift stories to fit their statements, and when followers are faced with evidence to the contrary it simply hardens their beliefs. The whole thing reads like a startlingly accurate take on American politics that happens to feature the Trickster God running for President, and looking really popular whilst doing so.
It's an amazing comic that is full of humor, but the kind of humor that makes you laugh and then feel really troubled about how you're laughing at something quite accurate. The anxiety comes from the fact that a hero known for lying seems to take so well to politics, because it is absolutely terrifying to think the personification of falsehoods and trickery fits perfectly as a candidate for the highest office in our Nation. This is a book to follow without a doubt.
5 out of 5 stars.
Fantasies Fulfilled...Wait, that Sounds Vaguely Dirty
Now that we have run through some comics with a mixture of the fantastical and more realistic it is clear that injecting a bit of imagination into our more normal reality almost always makes for something fun to read. At the end of the day our comics have gotta entertain us after all!