Superpowers don't eliminate anxiety, you know.
Oh snap, we've got another Joe Sparrow graphic novel, and this one is quite a bit thicker and meatier than Homunculus, but still in the same sci-fi vein. Our main character, Dorothy, goes through something strange and unexplainable when she's a child, and it isn't until much later, when she's struggling with college and her future and what she really wants to do with herself, that it comes back to have a significant impact. Less of a coming-of-age, and more a coming-to-terms-with, being an adult is hard and no one articulates some of those weird feelings better than Dorothy. It's supernatural, it's weird, it's beautifully drawn - this book hits on some heavy topics in a powerful way that feels relatable and inspiring. Go get this book!
Why are wrestling books always so good?!
Dark Space: Good Deeds #1 (w: Che Grayson, a: Kelsey Ramsay)
Publisher: Image Comics
I'm admittedly biased because this book takes place in St. Augustine, FL and seems to have the exact same love/hate relationship I have with that city...
Two stories unfold parallel to one another. One story follows a writer trying to recover from some unknown incident five years prior. She is handed a puff piece on St. Augustine's 450th Founder's Day. The second story follows a high schooler whose mother just purchased an old diner in the same town. She's having a hard time fitting in at school but is excited to help her mother with this new stage of life. However, both women find themselves surrounded by something mysterious. Our writer keeps seeing a strange, haggard apparition, while our student is saved from an assault by a mysterious and violent haze.
While not much happens beyond character development in this first issue, a satisfying air of mystery has been established. I like the angle Grayson is taking, focusing on the history of St. Augustine as a backdrop for a story about ancient, almost druidic horrors. We honestly don't see much of these mysterious forces of nature beyond the establishing pages and the aforementioned mist, but it's a cool set up for a spooky tale. I like the art and the characters feel real enough to be empathetic. I really liked the first entry in the Dark Spaces collection, Wildfire, so I'm hopeful that this one can keep up that same excitement.
Ghostlore #1 (w: Cullen Bunn, a: Leomacs)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
If there's one thing Cullen Bunn does well (and there's more than that, but come with me on this), it's a ghost story that simultaneously feels new and different, but well steeped in traditional horror tropes. It's like getting a new blanket; same coziness you expect, but still a new pattern or color or size.
In this tale, we watch a family struggle to connect. The father is a paster watching his congregation walk away from the church slowly but surely, the mother is cynical and struggling to keep the family together, the teenage daughter is moody and ready to leave the minute she's 18, and the son... has just stopped talking, for some reason. It's very standard dysfunctional family, but because they're so easily relatable, Cullen's able to dive right into the meat of it all without too much exposition.
The meat, by the way, is a car crash. And that, my friends, is when it all gets weird. Body horror, demons, ghosts, lies... The vibe changes FAST, but in a good way. It's a pretty quick read, and while it doesn't up-end the genre in any way, it's still a tasty morsel for horror traditionalists.
Arcade Kings #1 (w/a: Dylan Burnett)
Publisher: Image Comics
This book is cool AF. If you've been around for a while, you know one of our favorite new (and sort of random) new genres of comics lately have been wrestling-centered tales. Not really sure what happened in the industry, but all of a sudden a TON of new stories all centered around the ropes started happening all at once, and what's even stranger is that most of them are really, really good! This one, thankfully, is no different.
Joe, our "dragonfruit-headed" protag walks into town just in time to watch a video game nerd get pummeled right outside an arcade. After interrupting the fight and saving the victim with some super cool fighting moves, they become friends and Joe starts crashing at the arcade, laying low and dominating the fighting games. Laying low from what, we only have vague details about until the last few pages, but it's safe to say he's wrapped up in some hostile crime syndicate of some kind and searching for someone important.
It's colorful, it's creative, it's both based in reality while solidly not at the same time. Dylan clearly has a vision for a Joe's upcoming adventure, and I'm really excited to see it play out.
Can we also talk about how the intro music slaps hard?
It's weird, it's creepy, it's kind of gross at times - it's very Junji Ito. Early in 2023, Netflix launched a new anime dedicated to the story-telling style you know and love from the horror king himself. Featuring some familiar faces, as well as some stories you may not know, it's a compilation of macabre with some hits, some misses, and some icky bits to keep you up at night. If you're into his style, it's definitely worth a watch.
Alexa, I want us to be friends, truly.
There's been a lot of talk about AI lately - some exciting, some scary, some that seems straight out of a science fiction novel. What's so interesting about Homunculus by Joe Sparrow is that it tackles AI head-on, but not in the "what happens when we get overtaken by robots and they enslave us all" angle we see so frequently, but more in a "what happens when humans inevitably destroy themselves, and leave all this AI behind?" It's a deeply emotional, but also uplifting and hopeful take on our relationship with artificial intelligence that left me all up in my feels.
Weekly Comic Features: May 3, 2023
Lot's of people thrown together with lots of magic this week!
Monomyth #1 (w: David Hazan, a: Cecilia Lo Valvo)
Publisher: Mad Cave Comics
So, I'll start by saying this comic isn't super unique. It follows the whole "x number of strangers are thrust together by a magical bond they didn't know about" scenario. In this case, it's seven strangers and none of them really stand out as being any type of interesting. However, two things make this book worth picking up. First: the world-building and design. Lo Valvo brings a really cool art style to the mix, and the design of the creatures and the Homunculus character is really nifty. I like the art a lot, it's edgy without going too hard and doesn't stray too far from a more traditional comic style.
The second thing making this one worth getting is the hook at the end. It seems magic doesn't work the way we expect it to, which is a really fun thing to deliver on the last couple pages. Whether purposefully or not, the book plays heavily into our expectations from the aforementioned overused set-up, and then whirls that around in the end to suggest that magic ain't what it seems. I love stories where magic has a cost, so I'm hooked. Gonna give this title at least one more issue and just hope that the characters either get more interesting or keep dying off.
Star Signs #1 (w: Saladin Ahmed, a: Megan Levens)
Publisher: Image Comics
Okay, bare with me because this is another "strangers thrust together after a magical bond" type of book, but the premise for this one is definitely a good bit more intriguing.
Rana Fawaaz is a catering chef living in New York and just trying to get through life. One day, the stars disappear. Yep, all the stars in the sky. Poof. Gone. She hears about it on Twitter (since you can't even really see the stars in NYC).
And nothing changes, life goes on. Rana continues to work, occasionally dreams of stars. She thinks about her mom, who she coincidentally lost the same moment the stars disappeared. Mainly, she just tries to not get yelled at by her clients.
And then she learns she can freeze time.
Rana is now wrapped up in some sort of event that seems to have granted people all over the world with powers tied to specific zodiac signs. Where she goes from here and what the mysterious Mr. Duke has to do with it, time will tell.
Like I said, it's a super cool premise. I dig the astrological angle. The art is also gorgeous, with Levens beautiful lines being accompanied by an incredibly bold use of colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick that fits the celestial vibe of the book extraordinarily well. It's wonderfully vibrant and fun, delightfully heartfelt and whimsical. Absolutely solid book.
You're emotions are about to get PUMMELED...
In all honesty, Marvel hasn't felt quite on their game lately. The majority of the recent films have felt just okay and a couple even outright disappointed us (looking at you Thor... sigh...).
Not this one. An emotional rollercoaster that can absolutley wreck your tear ducts, this one is well written, well directed, well acted, and serves as an incredible finale to the Guardians' storyline. Definitely go see it, but also come well prepared with a box of tissues.
Kept you waiting, huh?
Okay so we've been silent for quite a while. Turns out moving to an entirely new state is a difficult, demanding process. However, we are now officially moved and slowly becoming settled, so it's time to get back into regular content drops for the homies. Without further ado, here are some of the best comics that have come out in the month or so since we last posted.
Deep Cuts #1 (w: Joe Clark, Kyle Higgins; a: Danilo Beyruth)
Publisher: Image Comics
Deep Cuts is a six-part anthology of stories spanning the length of America's musical history and the rise and evolution of Jazz. In the first entry, titled "What it Means," we follow a young clarinetist named Charles in 1917 New Orleans. Charles has aspirations to play with his musical idol, Jack Cartier. Once he finally gets noticed by Jack, Charles soon finds himself caught between two paths. On one, through the teachings of Jack, he can sacrifice all his principals and obsess over money, lavish social gatherings and achieving the perfect set. However, another path presents itself, wherein Charles learns that music is about what it brings to the people. It's about the heart that goes into it and performing whether there is monetary gain or not.
This is a slice of life with a lot of growth, and Charles is a wonderfully sweet character. It's not horribly shocking what befalls him in his relationship with the slick Jack Cartier, but I honestly think that makes the story and the resolution all more effective. This young man is driven by hope and optimism, despite the warnings of those around him, and the audience falls in line with those naysayers telling him to be careful around Jack. We know characters like this, and we anticipate the drop of the other shoe at every page turn. And yet, when the shoe does drop, Charles remains bright and hopeful. He holds to his principals and becomes stronger for them. It's a beautiful story, beautifully presented by Beyruth's art. Definitely going to be a fun anthology for music lovers and those just looking for a swinging good time.
W0RLDTR33 #1 (w: James Tynion IV, a: Fernando Blanco)
Publisher: Image Comics
I honestly don't feel like I need to say much about W0RLDTR33 since Tynion and the comics world at large have been saying so much about it. It is worth all the hype. I am a bought and sold Tynion fan, but even beyond that bias, this is a cool book. Techno-horror, creepy naked alt ladies, murder sprees. Good times.
The Great British Bump Off #1 (w: John Allison, a: Max Sarin)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
I absolutely ADORE this book. It's incredibly witty, wonderfully cute and a compelling concept all wrapped into a delicious Tiramisu.
Our quirky and energetic hero is Shauna, one of twelve bakers participating in the Great British Bake Off The UK Bakery Tent, a baking competition with high stakes and even higher caloric intakes. As the initial excitement fades, tensions arise in the test kitchen when one baker, Neal, tries to use every oven in the kitchen for his practice recipes. Shauna and her friends, Jill and Sunil, convince everyone to leave Neal to finish while they all go to get dinner, effectively saving Neal from a full on beat down from three or four of his fellow contestants. Upon returning, Shauna finds Neal face first in a bowl of batter. He has been poisoned! Gasp!
In order to keep the show from being pulled from air, Shauna somehow convinces the producers to let her try and solve the case. Can she effectively sniff out a heartless murderer while also trying to keep herself from being eliminated? She sure hopes so!
This book is absolutely adorable and Shauna is without a doubt my newest comic book crush. She is such a fun main character follow through this incredibly wacky world. Sarin's art brings the whole thing together we wonderful energy and an animated feel. Incredible book. Definitely one to keep up with. Bon appetit!
Parting Ways #1 (w: Alex Scherkenbach, a: Gustavo Novaes)
Publisher: Scout Comics
A romance comic. No alternate dimensions. No ghosts. No people in spandex. Just a good ol' fashioned romantic drama. It's incredibly refreshing.
The premise is admittedly a bit like a Lifetime movie for me. I don't know why every dude in Romance media has to be in the military, but here we are. Gabbee is a Brazilian emigrant studying digital media, Brandon is an Army medic hoping to one day become a doctor. The two meet at the coffee shop where Gabee works and thus begins their romantic entanglement. However, things come to a head when after dating for some time Brandon finally reveals that he is shipping out to boot camp soon. Can these two lovebirds maintain their spark as their dreams and plans for their future clash?
The story is told in a fascinating way that is reminiscent of a book I read a LONG time ago called "Cry Havoc" from Image Comics and Si Spurrier. Basically, different moments in time are draped in different colors. This book opens in red, showing Gabee fretting over being ghosted by Brandon as someone is in a car outside her house (possibly Brandon, but unclear). Next we see the world cast in blue as Brandon, now a uniformed soldier, meets Gabee by a fountain to discuss his leaving and the status of their relationship. As they ask how they got to this point, the world is now thrown into yellow as we see their relationship start and blossom. Do these different colors represent moments in time, or does the title give away the surprise in that maybe all these different colors are moments where choices could have gone differently. Time will tell.
This is a Scout Nonstop imprint, so the whole story should be available in graphic novel form soon.
Exorcists Never Die #! (w: Steve Orlando, a: Sebastian Piriz)
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
This book would make a pretty sick anime. It's like Naruto by way of the Knights Templar.
A pair of exorcists, which in this case are skilled martial artists who punch the crap out of demons and occassionally summon the power of biblically accurate angels to aid them, enter into a structure to stop a massive soul auction. They have to fight their way down to the very bottom, encountering the domains of all seven sins along the way, the first being Sloth. Also, they have some baggage from previously being in a relationship that went south. Never date your coworkers, kids.
This is a cool book even if it is a bit too rapidly paced, sacrificing character development for action. I also personally find the common narrative thread of "our male and female lead have romantic history and that is where we'll get our tension from" to be lazy writing. Especially when dealing with demons and the embodiment of sins, it would be more interesting in my opinion to have their personal conflicts be entirely separate from one another. A good example of this is Garth Ennis's "A Walk Through Hell" (which I cannot truly recommend enough, that series was amazing). It's fine to let them have history together, but an entire story arch of them trudging up relationship drama is just cheap and tedious. Still, concept for the action elements is cool, and Piriz does a great job giving a fun spin to what the angels look like.
Neat book, could be better, maybe further issues will develop more compelling tensions.
Hairball #1 (w: Matt Kindt, a: Tyler Jenkins)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
This book is an exercise in what happens when you let a child of divorce deep dive into their trauma and try to see how it could have been worse. In this case, a girl retells the tale of her adoption by a couple with a lot of marital issues, and her relationship to her beloved cat, Bestie, who was brought in on the same day. There are all sorts of issues in this family: the wife is potentially an alcoholic, the father resents the daughter and her financial burden on the family, the mother is having an implied affair with the child's therapist, the father has definite anger issues... it's not a great environment for, well, anyone, really. But what's making it all the worse is Bestie seems to have more going on than meets the eye... like acid spit? Poisonous hair balls? Demon eyes? Bestie, we love you, but what ARE you?
Being told from the apparent grown-up perspective of our main character, looking back on the devastating chaos of her youth, we get a very honest and more mature view of how this family completely fell apart. Hindsight is 20/20, and all that. The pacing is solid, the characters feel very real, and Bestie inserts just enough paranormal strangeness to keep this from being too heavy but still very intriguing. Definitely one to pick up if you can!
We're back, with even more card game flavor!
RIGHT, SO, we took a bit of a break because we MOVED! We weren't totally planning on taking a break, but between the busy-ness of it all, and the lack of internet for multiple weekends in a row, it just sort of worked out that way. ANYWAY, Tee got all wrapped up into Marvel's fancy TCG, and decided to spend an episode trying to convince Chris to play it. Is she successful? Probaably not. But you'll have to listen to know for sure!
The man go down the hoooole...
Beautiful, ethereal, metaphorical - it's not a very long book, and it doesn't say a ton, but the vagueness adds to the eerie strangeness. A new tale in the Bone Orchard mythos from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, the endless depths of a hole on an island by a lighthouse leaves way more questions than answers. Of course, this all adds up to some quality creepy horror.
Weekly Comic Features: March 2023
Did we mention we're moving?
You may have noticed that we haven't been posting so much lately. It's not because we don't love you (and if you thought that, it might be something to bring up with your therapist...), but because we're going through a big cross-state move and it is taking up a LOT of our time. So apologies for the delay, but here are a good grouping of comics you may have missed in March!
The Forged #1 (w: Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, a: Mike Henderson)
Publisher: Image Comics
Apparently, at some point over the last year or so, Greg Rucka nd Eric Trautmann sat down and played some Warhammer 40k. During their tournament, they were like "Hey, what if this but... sexy?" And then The Forged was born.
Or so I assume.
Though the "40k but easier on the eyes" analogy does hold up, issue one does a nice bit of world building to separate itself. Sure, the similarities run deep: An empire ruled over by an eternal empress/emperor, genetically modified soldiers in hulking battle armor, massive space ship travelling vast distances in a dark universe, the blending of magic and sci-fi. I would definitely be SHOCKED to hear the Rucka DIDN'T take inspiration from 40k. That said, Rucka and Trautmann bring a fun spin by amping up the cleanliness, brightness and general beauty of the universe they're building. The empire in this tale feels a bit softer than the hardened, gothic Empire of the Grim Dark. Moreover, we don't yet know the extent of the Empire's outlook on the rest of the universe. Are they harsh colonisers? Are they staunch genetic fascists? Are they bringing peace and technology to the planets of their system? We don't yet know, but the characters we see definitely show an Empire that, while dealing with some class struggles within, seems to be prospering.
It's a cool book. It's actiony and tickles anyone who is a fan of the "Space Marine" trope, a la Doom or the Alien franchise. It's sexy and beautifully inked. The backing material provides a good bit of world-building in that typical Rucka/Lazarus style. There's mystery, there's blood, there's action. It's fun.
Etheres One Shot (w: Anas Abdulhak, a: Dennis Menheere)
Publisher: Source Point Press
If Source Point put out more stuff like this, I would be WAY more interested in them as a publisher.
First, I should start by saying this book is poetry. It is narrated poetically, which I know is not for everyone. It is at times a little disjunct in rhythm and at times the rhyme scheme is a bit forced, but it is overall well executed poetic narration. It didn't take me out of it and in fact, I believe it elevated the mystery of the book.
This book is beautiful. It's a gorgeous, bite-sized romp through a mysterious magical world with a narrator carrying a heavy burden. I won't postulate too much on what I believe this book is about, as I believe this is one of those stories that can be whatever people need it to be, but there are some heavy topics on display. Our narrator has a history of trauma, loss, potential abuse and perhaps has even been the abuser themselves. We follow along as they experience various trials, all while hounded by a strange creature whose intentions are obscured. As they attempt each trial, they are plagued by visions of the life they once had. This epic journey is beautifully painted, swirling in a soft dance across each page. It's a tragic book elegantly presented.
Read this one with an open mind. Feel how it affects you and see what your takeaways are. I believe this could be an important read for the right people.
Ambassadors #1 (w: Mark Millar, a: Frank Quitely)
Publisher: Image Comics
I'll start by saying, Jupiter's Legacy is one of my favorite series ever and is one of the reasons I got back into comics about a decade ago. So, I'm a bit biased. Just getting that out of the way.
HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK IS AMAZING
Enough gushing, let me explain.
Ambassadors takes place in a world where governments of almost every nation have spent decades trying to develop super-people. They tried radiation, gene therapy, evolutionary stimulation, and various other fudge sciencey whatnots. In comes Choon-He Chung, the (self-proclaimed but probably true) smartest woman in the world and brilliant tech mogul, who has successfully downloaded her conciousness into a super-powered body, despite being locked up in prison. She comes to the world with an offer: She wants to be Willy Wonka but with superpowers. She wants to give powers to the most deserving - not the ultra rich, not governments. She wants to find the best people to join her team and act as ambassadors for their home countries. Meanwhile, out in the wild we meet a man in South Africa who can crush people with his mind and a superpowered, Scottish ape of some kind who like beer, runs fast and is telekentic.
What I love so much about Mark Millar's superhero stories is how chaotic they are. When you're hanging out in a Marvel or DC Universe, every supe has one power, or a variety of powers, all centered around a central focus (i.e. telekinesis AND telepathy). In Jupiter's Legacy and now also in Amabassadors, Millar creates a world where a superhero can fly and also lift things with their mind and also shoot lazers from their toes and also turn any potato chip flavor into BBQ. His superheroes are so grand and ultra-powerful that it helps to sell the overall message of them honestly being a bit bleak and unchained. I've always loved content that explores what it's like living in a super world as much as the lives of super people themselves. How scary and chaotic would it be knowing that Superman exists? What happens the day he's no match for something, or even worse the day he decides he's had enough. The Boys does a really fun job of this, and Jupiter's Legacy touched on it a smidge but mostly focused on the inner turmoil of super world. I'm hoping this book builds up Millar and Quitely's brand of ultra-super, bombastic individuals and lets us see what a day in the life of a normal person or a government official or an insurance agent would be like.
Really cool book. I'm super glad to have another comic coming from this team.
Dead Romans #1 (w: Fred Kennedy, a: Nick Marinkovich)
Publisher: Image Comics
You guys know I love a good historial fiction, and honestly a time period that doesn't get enough love is the Roman Empire NOT surrounding the emperors. This tale takes place in Germanic land as Romans and tribes come to fight. We see a love story blooming between Arminius, a Germanic prince moonlighting as a Roman soldier, and the beautiful slave Honoria, who belongs to a high-ranking Roman official. Whoops, looks like Arminius wants a queen, and he's got his sights set on Honoria - whether she wants the job or not.
While this book absolutely begins to play out like a Diana Gabaldon novel, what I really find myself drawn in by is the promise of a woman being put into cornered scenarios and fighting back. Does she love Arminius? Maybe. Has he absolutely betrayed her people? Oh, you're darn tootin'. And she's got something to say about that.
It's a period peace with love and betrayal and violence and political intrigue and I'm IN. Let's go, book two! I'm ready.
It's Jeff! #1 (w: Kelly Thompson, a: G. Gurihiru)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Sweet landshark-lovin' Christmas, this is maybe the cutest book ever made. Marvel decided to compile the adorable adventures of Jeff the Landshark from their Marvel Unlimited "Infinity Comics" series into a one shot all about Jeff being cute and doing cute things and navigating cute scenarios.
Ever wanted to see Jeff sled down a mountain on Captain America's shield? ✔️
Ever wondered how Jeff might handle a super hot summer day with his super friends? ✔️
Ever wish you could experience Thanksgiving dinner with Jeff and the Avengers fam? ✔️
Seriously, I was squee-ing the entire book, laughing out loud, aww-ing up a storm...
I need more Jeff in my life. We ALL need more Jeff in our lives.
Cover B Podcast
Chris & Tee host this weekly comic-focused show, providing insight on new comics, entertainment news and more.