Appearances can be deceiving...
We Are Scarlet Twilight #1 (w/a: Benjamin Morse)
Publisher: Red 5 Comics
I am honestly not a huge fan of books that try and tell a Golden Age type story, but hot damn if this book didn't come out swinging with some super cool twists and turns.
I can't explain what exactly happens without spoiling too much of the really cool surprises, but I'll explain what happens on the surface at least. Captain Lancet is your typical two-note 1930s super person. He has abilities that are better than normal men and radiation guns that somehow solve any problem thrown his way. He fights villains like Dr. Occulto and Madame Satanika. We find him trying to stop Madame Satanika and her cult "the Scarlet Twilight." After beating up a bunch of her underlings, he rushes off to try to stop the Madame herself at a local gala, utilizing his alter ego of Vlad Kingsley, Prince of Wallachia. If all this sounds rudimentary, let me drop some hints:
At times a parody and at others an exploration of the format, the book stays pretty close to the style it's based on. This only enhances the effect of the various surprises and shifts out of the format that Morse works in. It's a very cool story and promises a very wild ride. I was genuinely and very pleasantly surprised by this one.
Catfight #1 (w: Andrew Wheeler, a: Ilias Kyriazis)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Felix Lamarr is a spunky cat burglar living a fast life. He is in debt to some unsavory people, heisting priceless diamonds to pay off his debtors, and mostly just trying to avoid calls from his grandma. A solo act, Felix never teams up despite the generous offers he receives from a mysterious caller named "Schrodinger." However, stuff takes a turn when Schrodinger reveals that their target is none other than Felix's grandmother herself.
A web of theft, murder and intrigue, Catfight is an incredibly exciting first issue. The characters we've met are fun and organic, while the ones we haven't met seem eccentric enough to be the rogues gallery of a Shonen anime. The story in this first issue is fast and energetic, dragging the reader along to remarkable locations and dire situations page after page. Kyriazis art keeps the energy up by playing with layout in a fun and creative way during moments of exposition, while Dennis Yatras's colors fit the beautiful, vibrant locations perfectly and bring a pop to the whole thing.
A delight and genuinely fun to read, I highly recommend giving this one a chance. Great for heist/crime fans that like their stories more fun, less noir.
Any excuse to get into spooky season!
Creepshow #1 (w: Chris Burnham, Paul Dini & Stephen Langford, a: Chris Burnham & John McCrea)
Publisher: Image Comics
I love me some good B-Horror. This book is honestly nothing revolutionary and that's mostly what I dig about it. Creepshow is like coming home. It's that cozy, warm fireplace with a snuggly blanket in the middle of a dilapidated house wherein all your friends and loved ones were just devoured by a monster of their own design.
The book consists of two stories from different teams. First up is Chris Burnham doing the words and pictures of a story titled "Take One," wherein three douchey teens come across a bowl overflowing with full-sized candy bars on Halloween night. However, the bowl comes with ominous orders from the unknown in the form of a cardboard sign that reads "Take One." The boys of course do NOT and what follows is a predictable and silly traipse through gore and mayhem. It is seen coming from a mile away, but not all good things have to be surprising. If you're waiting for a bus, would you rather have it arrive exactly when expected or do you want it to surprise you. Like I said, b-horror is comfort horror. It's the full-sized candy bar after a long day of trick-or-treating a getting nothing but raisins and those unbranded strawberry candies. It wasn't a super creative story, but I didn't necessarily hate the shock value of it.
The second story was certainly more creative and definitely went more for the silly. In this story by Paul Dini and Stephen Langford, title "Shingo," we see a mother at her wits end trying to find a performer for her daughter's birthday party after her ex-husband dropped the ball. Her prayers are answered as she receives a mysterious card from a performer named Shingo, a large costumed character with a huge gaping maw. Shingo arrives and plays and laughs and sings and starts devouring things and sings some more and where did Joey go? and dances some more and has anyone seen my sister? This story has a lot going for it in a short time. It is self-aware, genre-aware and very tongue-in-cheek. It takes a look at the nature of the "oblivious character" trope in horror, wherein terrible things are happening to one or a few characters and other closely connected characters seem just absolutely unaware of any danger or supernatural happenings at all. This trope often happens in kid-focused horror, in which the parents and adults are the oblivious ones. Think all the parents in Stranger things minus Hopper and Joyce. This short tale analyzes just how silly that trope has to be as the kids are fully sold on the danger basically from the jump and all the adults just faffing about, waist deep in their own drama and a few glasses of wine. This one gave me strong Pooka vibes for obvious reasons but had it's own thing going, and I respect it.
Eternus #1 (w: Anastazja Davis & Don Handfield, a: Karl Moline)
Publisher: Scout Comics
This book is "Created by Andy Serkis and Andrew Levitas," but I can't help but notice they don't have a writing credit, so what does created by even mean? Anyway, here we have another comic pushed thanks to connection to a celebrity, which is becoming quite a common things these days, to varying degrees of success. This one, however, is an absolute hit. It is just all around a really, really cool book. I'm guessing it exists because a movie will eventually, which is the reason for most of these celeb tied books. I'm down with that.
Eternus is a mythological tale that takes place during the rise of Christianity. In this world, the myths and gods of ancient Greece are very much real and are struggling to find their place in the new world as the Christian God assumes control over more and more of the modern world. In the wake of Zeus's death, the gods struggle to find what power they can as all their energy and life force comes from belief. When both Hera and Athena's temples are sacked by a rogue centurion, it is up to Heracles and the help of a blind child to find the man who may have murdered the father of the gods. Also, Dionysus gets people wasted and meets Caesar. It's a crazy good read and definitely a file add.
Crashing #1 (w: Matthew Klein, a: Morgan Beem)
Publisher: IDW Publishing
This book has a lot happening and every time I thought I understood where the thrust was, it took another twisty turn. I loved it.
Crashing follows Dr. Allison Osler, a doctor a Mass General Hospital who loves some caffeine and has a history of struggling with addiction. We follow her as she takes control of an ER suffering from the fallout of a super-powered conflict at a government building. Allison kicks ass, saves some lives, gets chewed out by her boss and gets offered drugs from a coworker, all before going home to be "on call." What we soon learn is that "on call" may not be what it seems, and Allison's history comes back to haunt her and challenges her very morals. On the surface, this is an interesting take on the hospital drama genre set in the backdrop of a superhero universe. Dig a little deeper, and we instead have a very clever piece on the nature of addiction, the nature of good and evil, and an analysis of what it means to save a life at any cost. It's a fresh super story you don't want to miss.
Back to school... with shadow gremlins?
It's back to school season, so we thought we'd pick up a family-friendly graphic novel this time, and BOY did it deliver! A story about new schools, bullies, magical glowing wisps and evil shadow monsters, this book might be a little scary for the smallest of readers, but it offers a lot of joy and beautiful graphics for a younger age group.
Honorable Mention Highlights: July 2022
There's Something Wrong with Patrick Todd #1
A kid down on his luck using his supernatural mind control powers to pay for his mom's medical care. Also, there's mysterious men in masks, a noble detective trying to fit together a mystery, and a guy named Zeus beheading people. It's the Neo-Noir "Life is Strange" you never knew you needed.
Above Snakes #1
A by the books Western revenger story with a teensy bit of added supernatural flavor. Following the saga of a wringed man out for revenge with his talking, blood-drinking vulture, this book doesn't bog itself down with trying to be unique in a familiar genre but instead tells the story it wants to tell while letting the reader fill in the necessary beats. It's not necessarily groundbreaking, but that's where it finds its charm.
She Bites #1
A little girl needs a babysitter. Well, mainly she needs someone who can help her buy cigarettes. Because she's 134 years old.... and a vampire. It's a silly, fun premise with two interesting characters both with plenty of room for some heavy discussions. I think if Hale really takes their time, they can make sure this series DEFINITELY doesn't bite.
Brother of All Men #1
Strong Wicker Man vibes set in 1920s Canada. A Private Eye named Guy is looking for a missing woman, utilizing a reference photo to ask for her whereabouts. Also featured in the photo, Guy's brother Bastien. Problem is, Bastien has been dead for years. The mysteries get even more stacked up when Guy discovers both his brother and the missing woman are tied to a cult run by an enigmatic man named Brother XII.
Dark Spaces: Wildfire #1
A heist set during a chaotic California wildfire. Granted, this may hit too close to home for some people, but the slow-drip character development and the general "tear down the rich" theme of this book has me hooked. Sherman has a CRAZY way of laying out the panels too, which i absolutely dig and totally fits the tone if trying to keep all the chaos of a wildfire in line.
Flavor Girls #1
There are some concepts that tickle that delightful nostalgia bone and this title is absolutely one of them. A Sailor Moon-esque story where aliens invade and four girls are turned into sceptor-wielding fruit-themed superheros is basically the best sounding plot I could never have come up with. It's adorable and fun - just go get it.
Is it a cult? Is it a society from another dimension? Is it aliens? Is it time travelers? None of those questions are answered in the first issue of Blink, but watching our main protag try to figure out where she comes from and why she can remember something that never should have been, I definitely want to find out.
When Godzilla's trying to tell you something, just listen already!
Honorable Mention Highlights: April 21, 2021
Godzilla: Monsters & Protectors #1
Big Hero 6 meets the King of the Monsters! Probably gonna have a nice message about the environment in it too. This book had some 90s Saturday morning cartoon drip and I loved it.
The Many Deaths of Laila Starr #1
Wowsers, what a trip. Ram V and Filipe Andrade hit us with some super interesting interpretations of theology while creating a dark and captivatingly morose tale of vengeance and death, all built upon a sad potentially damaged girl named Laila. The title definitely does not lie!
Women of Marvel #1
Another fantastic compilation from Marvel, but this time entirely focused on new, up and coming women authors and artists - and HECK, is it fun. Running throughout the entire piece are short one-page stories from Mariko Tamaki who fully understands how to succingly describe the female experience, and how to make it hilarious. I mean, let's be real - sometimes you just have to laugh at the stuff we go through. Definitely pick this one up!
Tesla over Edison, ALL DAY, ERRY DAY, baby.
Honorable Mention Highlights: April 14, 2021
Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Electrified Tesla #1
You guys know I'm a sucker for historical fiction, and this one presses all the right buttons. Tesla and his bird wife, conspiracies, science fiction, and a powerful female protag who smarts off to anyone who gives her grief. Match made in heaven.
Locke & Key/ The Sandman: Hell & Gone #1
Locke & Key and Sandman just go together so nicely. Not an expected combo like Peanut Butter & Jelly but one of those random combos that work like Cinnamon Toast Crunch & Shrimp. Anyway, this book picks up after the last run of Locke & Key and is going to be a wild ride.
Guardians of the Galaxy #13 [Legacy #175]
Al Ewing continues mixing things up with the guardians. We're presented with a new roster and a team that functions more like the Avengers than the spunky renegades they've typically been. It's an interesting dynamic and a good jumping on point for interested readers. Plus, a left-field bad guy reveal that has me super excited.
Big Liz vs King Monk - who wins?
It's a battle for the ages - the giant ape who just wants to be left alone, versus man's protector, the ever alpha mega-lizard. Who wins, who loses - is it the best movie ever?
It's Godzilla vs. Kong! And it's... fine? Look, we're not breaking any barriers with this flick, but come find out if our predictions were right anyway!
But like, who doesn't enjoy eldritch terrors that make you crazy?
Weekly Pull Highlights: February 3, 2021
We love it when fiction pushes the usual boundaries! From esoteric horror, to reality-bending westerns, to visual representations of drug trips, this week has all sorts of weird and wonderful goodies. And hey - we love an all-indie week, don't you?
Are mermaids the new vampire?
Weekly Pull Highlights: November 18, 2020
Talk about some eccentric titles this week! Creepy sea stories, political intrigue, and paranoia on the farm - get ready to have uneasy dreams with these cool new books. Plus, we discuss the excellent new installment of Marvel Voices.
Sometimes, there's more than snakes on the plane.
Weekly Pull Highlights: November 11, 2020
Some excellent books this week from publishers we don't normally get to talk about! The indies are teaching us all sorts of cool stuff, like how to be a parent AND be haunted, how the upper elite REALLY live, and how absolutely insane the 80's really were. Ah, adventures and then some.
Cover B Podcast
Chris & Tee host this weekly comic-focused show, providing insight on new comics, entertainment news and more.