Friday, July 22, 2016

Rant-Reviews: Getting Indie With It!

Lesser-Known but Not Lesser-Quality
There are of course the bigger publishers who sell bunches of copies of their books and get mainstream-media attention, mass-market deals--all that jazz. There are plenty of smaller independent publishers with books worth reading and discussing too however. Let's spotlight some of those books and maybe I can get you interested in something you might have otherwise missed out on.

Checking Out the Indies
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #2
An intriguing book from the publisher Black Mask Comics, this series has centered on some young friends who have become embroiled in all kinds of crime-situations not even most grown-ups would be comfortable with. The mixture of humor put in the story by writer Matthew Rosenberg and the amazing art by Tyler Boss results in a really fun read. Tyler's fascinating way he lays-out a page depending on the situation works perfectly. When one character uses a computer he splits the page into a fascinating mixture of wires and digital imagery, for example. This group of friends is falling further and further down a rabbit hole of trouble, and I'm eager to see how wild things will get.
5 out of 5 stars.

Kim and Kim #1
Another comic from Black Mask, "Kim and Kim," can best be described as a buddy-comedy about bounty hunters set in outer-space with LGBTQ themes and discussions. I guess that isn't an especially simple description, but, "Kim and Kim," is a pretty delightfully complex book in some ways and straightforward in others. There is a lot of plot and scene-setting, but overall it is a story about two bounty hunters who discover their target maybe isn't the bad guy. Again, sounds kind of cliché, but the injection of science-fiction scene-setting and the delightful inclusion of discussion about sexual fluidity are welcome. Plus, when was the last time a comic had a trans person as a main character--and handled that well as opposed to it being some kind of stunt or horribly-written and offensive stereotype? "Kim and Kim," has a solid first issue here that maybe wasn't amazing, but was without a doubt a good read.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

The acronym-filled sequel to Eric Powell's highly controversial, "Satan's Sodomy Baby," this book sets out to be silly, tasteless, and crass, and quite handily succeeds. Published by Powell's own, "Albatross Funnybooks," this title goes all-in on the idea of how people are both at once too sensitive about their own feelings and not sensitive enough towards the feelings of others. It mocks, "Liberals who hate comics with sexy drawings," and idotic, "Gamergaters," in the same page, points out the idiocy of people who claim we need more guns and that states should secede, really insults Donald Tump and concludes with the idea that if people can't figure out how to be good to each other regardless of our views we are probably all going to die in a fiery nuclear blast--one that is basically a self-inflicted death for our world due to the sheer moronic nature of humanity (that's a mouthful).

This is written and illustrated by Powell, and you can see his effort in every panel. It's dark, depressing, and also pretty funny even if a few jokes fall flat (aren't we past mocking Tom Brady at this point? I mean, yeah, he sucks, but it's just a fact of life). If you're easily offended this book will make you scream in rage, but if you can handle some hard truths being spoken--albeit in an often gross way--you will probably quite enjoy this book.
4 out of 5 stars.

Solarman #1
Originally a Marvel character, this version of Solarman published by Scout comics (becoming especially known for their, "Henchgirl," comic), is a very different take on the character, but doesn't yet have a particular, "Hook," to get me especially excited. We a have genius hacker who gains the power of the sun and appears ready to fight injustice, alien invasions, and etc. It all looks good and the story is decent, but nothing really impressed me enough to have me go, "I gotta read the next issue!" It is just a mish-mash of ideas put together (The kid is a hacking genius! Earth fights aliens!) and I'm not sure how well it will all gel together. Still, as I mentioned, the art is really solid and there isn't anything particularity bad about the story. it just is an above-average and unremarkable opening to the series. Perhaps it will really take off or it could just end-up as a pretty good yarn. We shall see.
3 out of 5 stars.

The Ravening #1
Published by Boundless, this publisher is in fact an imprint of Avatar Press so it maybe isn't exactly a tiny independent publisher, but the Boundless books have been interesting little titles with relatively smaller print runs (and considering how many covers an issue can have, certain versions can be really hard to find), so I'll count it as a smaller-indie because I made-up these arbitrary rules for this post and can bend them any which-way. Anyways, "The Ravening," is another one of Boundless' new comics that draw from old Avatar Press series to tell new stories while including excerpts of the old comics as back-matter. Some of the books are better than others but up to this one they have existed separate from each other in their own, "Universe," of sorts. This title actually draws from the, "Hellina," comic however to tell its story of two vampire women who as a result of losing their fathers now have to try and run their respective vampire, "Houses," while putting up with threats from other blood-sucking groups as well as shape-shifters.

If you're been reading any of the other Boundless books that reboot old series you know what to expect by now--humorous stories, bloody fights, and surprisingly explicit sex-scenes for a book that isn't straight-up porn, but clearly likes to show adult situations mixed with some solid storytelling and a dash of humor. Thanks to the solid art and good writing these books aren't just awfully-done, "Dirty comics," but instead are quite enjoyable reads that happen to also be a good deal raunchy in nature. A bit of a guilty pleasure-type read for sure, but when a book is this much fun you don't really mind.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Try Something New and Different!
Some of these books may be harder to find on the stand at your comic-shop unless they are the kind of store that orders a wide array of titles. Should you want to seek these out I would recommend trying various internet sites that sell copies, and as always, if you want future independent-books one big thing you can do is ask your local comic-seller to order you a copy. That way they know they've got a guaranteed sale for a book and the publishers behind these fine wares can feel more comfortable about how many copies their books might sell.

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