Not That Long Ago...
Pretty recently I reviewed an assortment of books from the big publishers--Marvel, DC, and Image. I thought it would be good to check-in with them and discuss the books I was reading and enjoying. Well, I also am a huge fan of the books put out by the more medium-sized as well as smaller/indie publishers, so of course I only felt it appropriate to discuss comics from those too.
Maybe Lesser Known, Not Lesser Quality
Dark Horse is probably the biggest publisher around to not quite qualify as massive but still qualify as a good deal bigger than indie. That said, as a bigger-yet-not-too-big publisher it can have the power (and nerve) to publish something a bit edgier. "Wyrd," and its second issue is an example of that. Following a supernaturally-powerful man employed by an unclear Governmental power, Pitor Wyrd fights against other mysterious entities requiring his expertise to handle In this issue he combats a British politician who has gone mad from an occult ritual that involved having sex with a pig in order to gain power and special abilities. Also, it is made abundantly clear the politician is David Cameron, who shamefully resigned from his position as Prime Minister after the mess that is Brexit was voted for (odd fact: there are actual rumors about Cameron and a pig, albeit a dead one, as well). So yeah, a weirdly political and nasty story that is funny and gross can be found within this comic. The back-up yarns also penned by writer Curt Pires are even more twisty, with an assortment of vignettes in Nazi Germany, the year 2049, and a surreal visit to a time-traveling city run by a Hunter S. Thompson-esque fellow. It is all very weird, not unlike the comic's title, but it is my kind of off-kilter storytelling so I dig it.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Donny Cates once was a little-known writer who gave us such cool works as, "Buzzkill," with the equally talented but lesser-known artist Geoff Shaw, a man with whom he still often collaborates. Now Cates is a huge name who seems to be writing all the notable books at Marvel (with Shaw illustrating some of them) but before Cates signed that exclusivity deal with the company owned by the House of Mouse he started this weird little series at Aftershock Comics and keeps plugging away at it, even if issues only seem to come out every three months or so now.
A dark comedy about a girl who gives birth to an Anti-Christ (one seems to be born every couple of decades) and has to deal with all the forces both pleased by and opposed to this, "Babyteeth," is Cates operating with basically no filter, and artist Garry Brown complimenting it perfectly. This issue has our heroes (the immediate and extended family of the baby) running into none other than Lucifer/Satan himself as they've gone to Hell on a rescue mission for some other family members. Satan is pretty chill though, with his own beach-house and states he'd honestly rather not invade Earth and lose, but knows God will make him do it. This leads to a shocking-twist, that God basically makes all these magic babies be born and Jesus was essentially one--e.g. there is no, "Anti-Christ," as all the babies are basically just the same magical beings and the most famous was Christ. It's strange, edgy, and anyone who is super-religious and can't take a joke will hate this series, which makes me love it all the more. Now, if only issues didn't take forever to come out, that would make me even more joyous.
5 out of 5 stars.
SCOUT Comics was my independent publisher of the year thanks to their stellar assortment of books and as, "Wulfborne," shows with its debut, they have not slowed at putting out great stuff. "Wulfborne," has a bit of a minimalist plot, but by this issue's end we see the overall idea is how a hero wants a witch to help him get over a broken heart--but the witch quite likely can't be trusted. The imagery that accompanies our hero facing various threats in his journey to find the witch is great, some swords-and-magic-style stuff with a cool creepy vibe. Writer and artist Brian Middleton has me intrigued by the pieces of story he has given us so far and gives us some beautiful imagery resulting in my interest being very piqued--I look forward to more, in other words!
4 out of 5 stars.
Belladonna: Fire and Fury #11
This issue the comic outright states what I discussed in a previous post it had been hinting at for some time, namely that the protagonist, Belladonna, is in fact the villain of the comic. Sure, she fights and kills some people even worse than her, but we've basically been unwittingly rooting for someone who has slowly made it abundantly clear she is the bad-guy. Credit to writer, Patrick Shand, who very carefully had the story unveil our "Hero," was actually a terrible person over this mini-series, with Boundless Comics showing yet again even if their comics are loaded with cheesecake-art and graphic scenes of sex they also can work in some damn fine storytelling. If I may spoil the end of this issue, it appears Belladonna meets a gruesome end for her evil deeds, but I'm betting that seeing as there have been other times she seems defeated that she hasn't truly been stopped and the next issue will have a clever twist in regards to how deceased (or not) she truly is.
4 out of 5 stars.
Atomic Robo: Dawn of a New Era #3
I've been a fan of the character, "Atomic Robo," since his debut mini-series at Red 5 years ago before the property moved to IDW (its current publisher). Mini-series about the smart-and-sweet robot generally are good fun, and this book has been so far, albeit I feel like so many plot-lines are happening at once it makes for a slightly jumbled read. There are stories about one researcher stuck in a time-loop, vampire-monsters from another dimension being fought by a man once thought dead, Robo teaching another sentient robot about the world, and there is a team of new researchers learning the ropes--all this is crammed into a standard-length comic! I have the feeling everything is going to come together at some point, but right now all the events going on simultaneously is a tad disorienting and makes me feel like the overall comic is moving along a little slow. It still is good fun, I just hope it starts merging the stories so it can pick up the pace before too long.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Smaller Companies, Big Ideas
Whether these publishers are not massive yet still solid in output (Dark Horse, IDW), or more indie in regards to their size (Aftershock, Boundless, Scout Comics), they all can make some quality reads and have some fantastic concepts/ideas expressed within their illustrated yarns.