Maybe, just maybe, folks should just stop heistin', heh?
Sins of the Salton Sea #1 (w: Ed Brisson, a: C.P. Smith)
Publisher: AWA Studios
Not much to say about this one except that it is a no frills neo-noir book with a crazy amount of twisty-turns at a super high-octane pace.
Wyatt is a thief and an explosives expert who has given up the life of crime, now bouncing from town to town under different names, working menial jobs just to get by. One night he is confronted by his brother, Jasper, who asks him to help with one last job so Jasper can also quit: $50 million, give or take, easy smash and grab from some oil tycoon's son. However, the brothers soon find the job to be hardly as easy as promised, and as the bodies pile up, the two find the cargo to be even more confusing then the false intel.
Like I said, this book is incredibly fast paced. It goes from cold open to heist to chaos really fast. I like the twist and am curious to see if it's gonna drip a little sci-fi into the mix. Worth picking up if you're itching for an action/crime book.
In Hell We Fight #1 (w: John Layman, a: JOK)
Publisher: Image Comics
Hm, another book where a heist results in different cargo than the thieves expected.... weird...
Anywho, this book is super fun. Reminded me of a Chuck Palahniuk book from a few years back called Damned, wherein a 'Breakfast Club'-esque group of teens residing in Hell roll around mucking up the place. Similarly, this book sees three teens, namely Midori, Xander, and Ernie as they plan to rob an ice cream truck in Hell. They are joined, much to Midori's annoyance, by a young demon named Balphie. They go through with their plan and are SHOCKED by what they find!
It's a fun book. It's not the most humorous thing to come out of Layman, but it's interesting to see him write for a (potentially) younger audience. The characters are unique and have decent chemistry. The art is fun and paints a creative image of Hell. I've always been a fan of stories that make Hell into a fairly chill place. Like, it sucks to be there, but it isn't all rivers of molten blood and giant, all-devouring beasties. Some people just gotta live that day to day Hell-Grind.
North Valley Grimoire #1 (w: Blake Northcott, a: Guiseppe Cafaro)
Publisher: Whatnot Comics
So, to be perfectly transparent, most of the Whatnot stuff has been incredibly mid for me. I've tried most of what's been released, and it has all had a particular level of cheese that I just couldn't get into. Finally, however, a book has been released from them that I actually find pretty enjoyable.
This book is like Men in Black meets Constantine. We follow two main characters: Agent Malek, a field agent for a CIA offshoot called "FATHER Division," and Calista, a student at Hawthorne Academy in North Valley, VA. Malek is trying to recover a mysterious grimoire that was being sold by a black market dealer before teleporting away. Calista, on the other hand, is trying to uncover the truth of a mysterious book she found under bed and how it connects to her recently passed best friend, Jackson. The two stories, obviously, are intertwined and both characters will need to solve their own set of mysteries before the grimoire falls into the hands of FATHER Division or someone worse.
This book started as a self-published and crowd-funded novel in 2018, and Northcott has been slowly growing the IP from there. If you're a fan of modern mysticism, specifically magic that ties directly into technology, then this is a cool book to pick up.
Puc the Artist and the Myth of Color #1 (w: Miles Greb, a: Garrett Richert)
Publisher: Scout Comics
There's something inherently charming about a narrative that employs the meta of the medium as a part of the storytelling, and this book does an excellent job playing with the use of color as both a physical attribute to the comic, and a powerful magical component of the story. Another title that I loved that comes to mind in the same vein is Folklords, where the adventurous protag is seeing visions of another world - only for us to know that other world is our own, IRL. Honestly, those two books have a ton in common: young male lead just trying to do what's best, a spunky group of compatriots, a fantasy world that feels ripe with mystery; they both have a lot going for them and I'm pretty pumped about getting a new title in that same vein.
High school is hard enough without multiple personalities, amiright?
The Sacrament #1 (w: Peter Milligan, a: Marcelo Frusin)
Publisher: AWA Studios
It's like 40K with less Space Orcs and more pea-soup vomit.
Sacrament takes place in a dark future where mankind has abandoned earth and made to the stars. Knee-deep in the depressing voidness of it all is Father Vass, a womanizing priest suffering from a serious crisis of faith who has gathered notoriety for participating in a particularly grisly exorcism. Vass and his compatriot, Novice Rais, bounce from planet to planet holding mass and blessing people with an iPod Touch, all the while running from a law enforcement organization that does an incredibly terrible job at catching two people wearing heavy cloaks and not trying to hide their occupation in the slightest. However, Vass's whole steez gets turned upside-down when said law enforcement approach him with a proposition.
This book is sold as "Alien meets Exorcist" but honestly I get more Warhammer 40k meets Event Horizon meets the Last Exorcism. Marcelo Frusin's art does an incredible job capturing the cold bleakness of the universe as Milligan's story weaves us through Vass's doubt and fear. It's dark, it's harsh and it's exciting. A really cool book for people who dig absolutely ghastly sci-fi.
Elle(s) #1 (w: Kid Toussaint, a: Aveline Stokart)
Pub: ABLAZE Publishing
Listen, High School is hard. Even harder with multiple versions of yourself fighting for control. Big oof, am I right, kids? Sheeeeeeeeesh, ha, right?.... I'm so painfully old...
Elle is the new girl in school, and honestly she's handling it pretty well. She makes friends quick, stands up to the mean girls. Life is going pretty well. However, below the surface, there is a war brewing. A mysterious, dark version of Elle is out to make mischief. Once Elle finds herself in enough strain to drop her guard, Dark Elle strikes, replacing Elle with a different version of herself, while even more versions wait in the wings for their turn at the helm.
This is a really unique YA story that kicks off by instantly letting you know that it is going to be different. All the typical "new kid" tropes are immediately dashed. No mean teachers or communication issues. Elle is not a shy girl or even really that quirky. She makes friends quick, shoves away the bullying quickly. We are given a "new kid is doing pretty well" story, and honestly it's super refreshing. It leaves room for the story to focus more on an analysis of what it means to try and find identity as a young girl. How do teens define themselves and how do they allow outside factors to define them? How do teens change as time goes by and what happens to the friendships they made along the way? This book is absolutely enthralling and adorable. The art is perfect, the characters are fun, and I am sold 100% of the way.
Survival Street #1 (w: James Asmus, a: Jim Festante)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Bigots are gonna pay
On my way to pick up more R-P-G's
Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Survival Streeeeeeeeeet
Look at the cover of this comic and tell me you don't want it. Do it. Lie to my face like that, you monster. The absolutely diabolical geniuses of James Asmus and Jim Festante apparently decided that the world needs a hardcore, gritty Sesame Street story and holy fluff were they right. This book takes place in a world where the US government has officially been seized by corporations and turned into a capitalistic dictatorship. It also happens to take place in a world where puppets are actual creatures that live and breathe, and some of them are on TV teaching people the power of fairness and stuff.
Our cast of Felt Americans were abruptly thrown to the curb when their edutainment show was cancelled by the New Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or N.I.C.E. In response to the loss of their livelihood and the general sweeping mistreatment of their brethren, the cast has rebranded themselves as a gang of revolutionaries, sticking it to mans of all kinds and teaching the powers that be the meaning of the word "fairness," as well as the meaning of the words "vengeance" "caliber" and "High-Yield Explosives." Festante's playful use of the page and high-octane style keeps the action screaming forward from cover to cover as if the book was brought to you by the letters B & A. It's a no holds barred felt flingin', ice cream munchin', system dismantlin' heck of a good time, and I am absolutely hungry for more.
My favorite thing about this book is how well integrated the puppet aspect is. The narrative never loses the puppet angle, but also doesn't spend a ton of energy dragging the pacing down while making jokes about it. Shockingly, the puppet characters come out feeling shockingly real, almost more flesh and blood than the politicians and corporate shills they're fighting against. As an avid Muppets/puppetry fan, this book appeals to me on so many levels, and I will definitely be recommending this book to people for years to come. I would absolutely LOVE to see this come to a screen of some kind.
What you may have missed in April!
Honorable Mention Highlights: April 2022
Alice Ever After #1
Have you ever wanted to read Alice in Wonderland and be like... super bummed out after? Well, good news! Check out Alice Ever After for a dark, reality blurring retelling of Alice's adventures in Wonderland. Alice moves through a cruel and unforgiving world as she seeks comfort through he imaginary friends that exist in a realm only accesible through the ingestion of special pills. Oh, and it's narrated by cats.
This comic absolutely drips with that classic blend of dry Manhattan wit and sarcasm. A young(ish) woman is assigned as a caretaker for an elderly (but don't tell her i said that) woman who lives alone in her modest apartment. When she arrives for her first day, the caretaker finds her caretakee acting strange. Turns out, she's performing some spells. Timey-wimey spells! Off to the 70s we go!
Miskatonic High #1
I will always appreciate the Breakfast Club formula of throwing misfit high schoolers at random problems and watching them bond. In this case, those problems are time traveling swords and demons with tentacles. It's leans a little heavy into tropes (hello, girl who lives for social media), but has a good enough setup that I look forward to issue two.
The Joneses #1
We've been seeing a lot of books centered around "what happens when normal folks get powers?" But what makes this one stand out is very current, very social-political focus this story is taking. While it definitely touches on the "great power comes with great responsibility" trope, it focuses more intently on what it means to be different, and how being different in a very homogenous community makes life super hard.
Immortal Red Sonja #1
Sonja is cursed! What is she cursed with? A SHIRT! pause for gasps
It goes deeper than that, clearly. Beyond just being upgraded to more practically effective armor against her (and her typical audience's) will, Sonja is shackled to a talking chainmail shirt and sent on a quest into a quasi-Arthurian land of fae magics, curses and legends. It's shaping up to be an absolute load of dark, bloody fun.
One of the great things about comic books is how creative you can be with a medium that incorporates words, images, narration, omniscience, and perspective hopping. This book does something we don't see every day - it's a first person viewpoint! Seeing everything from the main character's eyes means the beautiful art style is filled with nuance and specificity. Admittedly, there's not a ton that goes on in this first book, but the style is really, really cool.
It just requires the right kind of fang-nesse. (oof)
Weekly Pull Highlights: March 9, 2022
We know we've talked a lot of trash about the amount of vampire books coming out recently, but the new title from Jeff Lemire proves that we CAN like vampires, you just have to do something interesting with them!
You don't want to get on Derek "The Gripe" Felony's bad side.
Weekly Pull Highlights: January 5, 2021
Welcome to a new year, and new type of noir! Instead of that old fashioned narrator looking back on our life, our focus character is... dead? We'll explain it all later, promise.
Jumping from the top rope is ATHLETICS, friends.
Weekly Pull Highlights: December 8, 2021
There's nothing better than a modernized retelling of a classic, and this week, we (kinda) have two! From a professional wrestler dealing with his own Lady Macbeth, to what really happened to fallen angels, these books give us something to chew on.
Honorable Mention Highlights: November 2021
The Dark Knights of Steel #1
Remember when you were a kid playing make-believe and you'd merge together very different IPs to the point where suddenly Optimus Prime is driving Mario to the next castle? This is kind of like that. Suddenly you're in a fantasy setting, but still watching the same DC characters you'd expect in a big crossover. I think is most surprising is how well it works - well done, team, I definitely care about the princes after all.
A Thing Called Truth #1
Relatable, fun characters embroiled in a tale of misogyny and betrayal. This book is delightfully developed and honestly is a story unlike a lot of what's out there. It's realistic and grounded while building to an exciting thrust.
What if Batman was a pervy jerk, got accidentally killed by a random loser, and then replaced by said random loser at the behest of "Alfred" (who absolutely hates Batman to begin with)? If that premise isn't enough to delight you, then just know that this book is incredibly clever and wonderfully cheeky. Sure, it's another "what if popular super hero but different" story, but it's got some fun twists and turns.
My Date with Monsters #1
What a fascinating concept for a book. Bad science leads to real nightmares, and the only way to avoid the apocalypse is for a very single mom to fall in love and build a stable family. Has it already built in some pretty predictable plot points? Yeah, but that doesn't take away from my investment in the very likeable characters. I'm excited to see how it all plays out.
Provenance of Secrets #1
Another day, another noir - but this time, our gumshoe is investigating a theater cult (that as a former theater kid, seems completely believable). Boldly black and white, with a swiftly unraveling mystery, this one has set up to be a very interesting read.
Good Boy #1
If you had told me I would one day read a comic book adaptation of John Wick where the dog lives and the person dies but it still turns into a bullet blasting blood bath, I would have told you to seek help. And yet, here we are. This book shines mainly for the novelty of the concept, but does have some fun art and tongue-in-cheek moments within to earn a mention.
Turkey Day One Shot
The perfect story for the holidays! It's got it all! Community. Family. History. Alien-possessed murder turkeys. If you like B-level horror movies, this book will be a fun ride for you. In the mix is also a nice bit of cheeky commentary on the problematic nature of the Thanksgiving story and the treatment of indigenous people in modern society. Oh, and also gore. Lots of gore.
Blaskowicz would be proud...
Weekly Pull Highlights: October 6, 2021
You can guarantee that if there's a book that takes place in WWII with Nazi's getting eaten by occult demons, we're gonna talk about it. That's how you KNOW it's a good week for comics. Oh, and there were a few other great ones, too.
Honorable Mention Highlights: September 2021
What happens when everyone passes out and then immediately wakes up being able to read each other's thoughts? Sounds pretty awful, doesn't it? Well, Straczinsky has taken on exactly this concept. Not a ton happens in issue number one, mostly just covering the finer details of "why" and "how," but with there being nothing more personal than your own inner-most thoughts, I could definitely see this book getting into some nitty gritty of what it means to have personal space.
Dark Ages #1
Oh look, Marvel has some sort of event going on. Been a minute since they've had one of those...
That said, this event is actually kind of neat so far. It's an interesting concept: how would superheroes function in a world of no electricity. It really only works for Marvel too, seeing as how so much of the Marvel heroism is based in science and technology. In a word full of Marvel cash ins, I'm actually pretty stoked for this one.
Search for Hu #1
Kind of like Pearl from Bendis, but set it inside a martial arts movie. There's some clichés, some "why did you never tell me" moments, some special military behind-closed-doors knowledge to be had - not a bad time, but not an exceptionally special one, either. It has potential, though, especially if you love a good "chosen-one" story.
Nine Stones #1
I like the characters of this book. The premise isn't entirely new. The narrative plays out fairly predictably. But the writing of the characters is what really shines. They just feel cute and realistic, and I find myself wanting to see their love blossom. And in general it's nice to have an LGBTQ story that just feels natural and not forced.
I have high hopes for Maw, but dang did the first issue not deliver. I get the message it's trying to say, but it's handling of that message is done with heavy hands. Like, filled with lead hands. That said, I dig the creepy atmosphere built around the self-help group/ cult, and the promise of body horror will always get me hooked.
Man, you know I love a good steampunk story. This one has that distinct "Victorian-era but MACHINES" vibe, which can be done so well in comics. What's cool about this one is that the main focus is on fashion, which just makes so much sense in a steampunk environment. The characters are well developed, the story is very familiar and engaging (I see you, Beauty and the Beast) and the twist is just twisty-enough. I'm only sad it's a one-shot, because this title sucked me in for sure.
10 Years to Death (One Shot)
This is another of those big, beautiful one-shot titles from Aftershock that we've been talking about a lot. This one is a horror title, but less gruesome than some of the others, and reads a little more like a supernatural thriller. The tale is told from the perspective of a now-grown man, retelling an experience he had as a kid with his uncle. It's well paced, spooky, and feels just grounded in reality enough to keep you sucked in the whole way through. Definitely worth picking up.
Impossible Jones #1
She was a criminal, in it for herself and the score. Now, she finds herself with powers she didn't earn, and a nagging feeling of responsibility to be on the right side of the law. Sounds impossible? Nah, just Impossible Jones. Cute, colorful, creative use of some superhero tropes - I think this is going to be a super fun titles to follow moving forward.
I'm a sucker for a good "group of ragtag, brash yahoos out in space on some sort of dangerous mission for a corporation and/or to save the earth in a mundane way" kinda scifi story. If you feel the same, are a fan of the alien franchise, or just looking for some interesting sci-fi that is more of the "this spaceship runs on diesel" type, then this is a good choice. Unborn doesn't try too hard to break the mold, but instead chooses to tell a story about interpersonal relationships and coping with the past against a backdrop of clunky space mechanisms and regenerative alien bugs.
Turbo Kid: Apple's Lost Adventure #1
This is apparently a prequel to a movie. If the movie is anywhere as balls-out bonkers as this book, I need to watch it. Turbo Kid appears to be one part Mega Man, one part Tank Girl, and if I need to say more than that then you just don't understand joy.
Human Remains #1
So, the whole "emotions are bad" thing has been done before, but usually under the umbrella of government control. Here we have some sort of mysterious entities that teleport in and obliterate anyone feeling to strongly a certain way. Cool premise that I can't help but feel like is based on something. The entity attacks people playing outside, people at weddings, people congregating at church, people gathering for concerts and parties, people blowing off steam at a bar. Where we come in, everyone is pretty much forced inside and all the revelry of the social world is gone. Where have I seen that before?
I love a good superhero book with scruples. Frontiersman was not what I expected. After Image's recent tangles with the superhero being a bit lame (looking at you, Mr. Radiant Black), I expected this to be another run of the mill super story. What I got instead was a very natural feeling character in a slowly built world struggling with concepts like relevancy, climate change and the nature of social media martyrdom. It was a moderately paced, chill kinda read with some nice world building. I'm rooting for you, Frontiersman.
You know it's a good book when it's got an exclamation point.
Weekly Pull Highlights: February 10, 2021
Look, sometimes a rant comes out of left-field and we just really need to share our feelings, okay? From unexpected hits, to misses that get bigger the more we talk about them, we discuss the big indie #1s of the week.
Cover B Podcast
Chris & Tee host this weekly comic-focused show, providing insight on new comics, entertainment news and more.