You can't kill the metal...
Briar #1 (w: Christopher Cantwell, a: Germán Garcia)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cantwell's strength has always been his ability to look at narratives from a creative, often unexpected angle, and Briar is a perfect example of this. This book is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty wherein the princess was never awoken by love's true kiss, or whatever fairy tale nonsense. Instead, she is left in perpetual sleep as her family's kingdom falls to ruin. When the shattered remains of her castle are raided by a lone thief a hundred years later, the thief decides to steal a smooch in addition to stealing her necklace, which awakens Briar Rose into a horrible, twisted new world full of danger. She soon meets a Norrish woman who calls herself "Spider," and the two women are thrust into a campaign of survival. Dripping with style and Cantwell's brand of subtle humor, this book is an absolutely fascinating tale beautifully rendered by the softness of Garcia's art. Incredible book and easily the next big thing.
The Roadie #1 (w: Tim Seeley, a: Fran Galán)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Cringe lyrics and bad takes on music aside, this is a pretty fun book. It comes in with a very Tim Seeley premise: A Heavy Metal roadie who is the son of a warlock and travels around with bands so he can banish the demons they inadvertently summon with their gosh dern devil music. Mixed in is a commentary on the evolving nature of the music industry and what it's like being those that have been left behind. Now, it's possible that said commentary could go in the "thems was better days, darn this hip hop music" kind of direction, and while we see two characters dunk on rap music, it's possible that line of thinking is just limited to the characters themselves and establishing their POV instead of that of the creators, which I'm hoping is the case. Time will tell. Anyway, our lead man Joe is living a mostly boring life as the tide of Heavy Metal has slowed in recent years. He works at a car shop and lives modestly - until he is contacted by a demon and drafted into saving the world from a rising demonic power out to assassinate a daughter he never knew he had. It's old school heavy metal versus MAGA vs pop music. It's weird, but I dig it.
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.
This is not your father's Oogie Boogie.
Boogeyman #1 (w: Mathieu Salvia, a: Djet)
Publisher: Ablaze Publishing
This book absolutely went a direction I wasn't expecting. What started as a seemingly run of the mill boogeyman story with a scared kid and unbelieving parents turns into a dark kid + monster adventure story. The boogeyman we originally hear about turns out to not only be real, but some sort of elder being known as Father Death. We are thrust into a war between elder entities and lesser entities, a war that didn't seem to turn out well for father Death and his ilk. There's action, murder, mystery and horror. It's a really cool ride.
Ninjettes #1 (w: Fed Van Lente, a: Joseph Cooper)
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
It's like Sucker Punch meets Battle Royale in an art style reminiscent of a gritty Archie story. Ninjettes features 11 young women dropped into the desert in order to fight to the death all because they failed a personality test designed to weed out mass shooters from society. It's an incredibly dark way of handling the issue of gun violence in this country, and yet oddly believable since we seem to want to do everything aside from actually regulating guns and gun violence. This book follows one specific Ninjette who failed her test because she decided to doodle her teacher hanging instead of actually taking it, an action she claims is innocent but honestly makes me more concerned for her than the people that actually took it and failed organically. It's bloody, violent and a little silly, all presented in a moderately pastel art style that gives the whole thing a bit of an arthouse-feel. It definitely walks the line of exploitative, but what do you expect from Dynamite? A fun romp for fans of the "teens fight to the death" genre.
Go forward to go backward, but also go unfunded because academia sucks.
Forever Forward #1 (w: Zack Kaplan, a: Arjuna Susini)
Publisher: Scout Comics
I feel like time travel has become another hot-button concept for comics recently, but because they come out so sporadically, we as readers feel less overwhelmed than by things like vampires or, Odin help us, Norse mythology. This book does its best to make time travel feel more grounded, more realistic, and more centered in today's world and timeline, but by doing so, they had to steep it in the miserable world of university-funded academia, and honestly, no one wants that.
The main character is an insufferable PhD-hunting prat who's knocking off all the tropes of being a bad friend, to the extent I was less surprised when everyone got yeeted into the future, and more surprised that any of his "friends" showed up for his birthday at all. I think the story could be interesting - rarely do we have a full group of mostly-unscientific normies fighting their way as a team through the war-torn future - but it's going to be a slog if our lead continues to be as pretentious as he was in this issue (and weird flex to have him call out a historical figure that had their science stolen in the same breath as revealing himself as an Edison-stan.... k, sure).
Thunderbolts #1 (w: Jim Zub, a: Sean Izaakse)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Whenever a new movie or show is revealed or picks up some steam in the MCU, you can bet your bottom that a similarly-titled comic is going to come out to milk that hype. What's nice about the new Thunderbolts book is that it has effectively nothing to do with the MCU Thunderbolts (US Agent is there, but not there) and is entirely about poor Luke Cage having to deal with a rebrand with an unstable Clint Barton as his leading show-pony. As someone who deals in brands every day, Luke is gonna need a stiff drink, stat.
They've already done a good job setting up some weird up-comings, like America Chavez spewing after a portal-making attempt and Gutsen Glory (not kidding) struggling to keep some strange energy/demon/spiritual awakening at bay. At the end of the day, I just really enjoy watching comic-based Clint be a hot-mess-express; makes me feel a lot better about what I've got going on in my own day-to-day, that's for sure.
When getting hit by a train means joining an IRL dungeon crawl...
Heart Eyes #1 (w: Dennis Hopeless, a: Victor Ibanez)
Publisher: Vault Comics
Lupe is a fascinating character. A person who is fearless, not out of a hardness or rigid attitude toward things, but more out of a general lack of fear through innocence and kindness. This book isn't perfect and I honestly debated talking about it, since the first half felt a bit bland and samey to some other books. However, I really just find Lupe to be very interesting. The subtle hints to her backstory and what may have shaped her into the hyper-positive creature she is leave me wanting for more. On top of that, Victor Ibanez's art and Addison Duke's colors are hauntingly beautiful. The book itself is a post-apocalyptic story set in a world ravaged by huge, Lovecraftian beasties. Again, it doesn't really break a lot of new ground, but it is weirdly cute, so it's worth picking up and trying it on.
Minor Threats #1 (w: Patton Oswalt, Jordan Blum, a: Scott Hepburn)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
This is definitely a book for those looking to scratch that "The Boys" itch. I hate to make such a direct comparison, but it's honestly hard not to. That said, this is less of a story taking inspiration from "The Boys" and more a story sitting down at "The Boys" dinner table and grabbing some mashed potatoes without asking. It's fresh, unique and alive in it's own right.
Minor Threats takes place at a very interesting point in a superhero universe: The moment where stories get dark. We've seen it happen in Marvel and DC, the moment that the playful, single issue romps of do-goodery turn into epic, sprawling stories of death, darkness, and betrayal. Heroes that were once stalwart icons of truth, justice and looking good in spandex become damaged, broken and in need of a positive parental figure. The nexus is where this book lives, at the point where a villain pushes things too far, forgetting the rhythms and patterns they are supposed to follow and stretches the heroes into desperation. For a book coming out of the mind of Patton Oswalt, this is not a comedy as much as a dark look at what it's like being the lowest on the hierarchy when your entire universe shifts for the worse.
Minor Threats follows Frankie, a former villain named plaything and sidekick to her mother, the Toy Queen. Having been in and out of jail, Frankie is done with that life. She has a daughter, a parole officer and the desire to move on into legitimacy. After getting out of prison, she gets a job as a bartender at the Lower Lair, a bar for villains to congregate in order to unwind, hatch new plans and lick their wounds. It is here where Frankie both experiences her universe change and also decides to ride the tide of that change in a bold and dangerous way. Oswalt and Blum have crafted a familiar world, albeit with new characters and unique terms for things we all know, while moving the focus way, WAY down from the galaxy-spanning, world-punching heroes we're used to watching. The audience finds themselves in the gutter with the D-listers, just struggling to survive and make it to that next page. With Scott Hepburns sharp and grimy lines and Ian Herring's use of extreme contrast in colors, we are taken on a dumpster dive of broken, downtrodden and probably pretty smelly villains who are damned-determined to take their lives back. Hope they survive the experience.
,META: Metalinguistics Crime Division #1 (w: Marcelo Sarava, a: Andre Freitas)
Publisher: Scout Comics
This book has one dude without facial hair. That's not a criticism or anything, I just found it interesting.
Anyway, the story is pretty cool. It's like Crossover in reverse, to some extent. It also opens with a guy torturing a cartoon cat as an interrogation. Funny, funny stuff.
The META Division deals with things going meta. Seems to be focused on fictional characters milling about in the world and committing crimes. First the cartoon cat, then a character from a play. Eventually, they end up in the world of comics after an artist is killed. The story mainly follows the artist's brother-in-law, a failed writer who hustles writing classes and gets swept up in the weird world of meta murder. As the book goes on, we find out that Alan may have more of a tie to comics than initially led on.
It's a fun setup for a story. As part of Scout's "Nonstop" line, it will be issue one and then graphic novel, so shouldn't be long before you can take in all the mystery of the story. Art wise, it's fine. Nothing really exceptional and the one-note fair styling of both the male and female characters just felt like an odd choice: all dudes have black hair and beards (except one who has a mustache and one who has no facial hair) while the ladies both have basically the same hairstyle, just one is blonde and the other is red. It seems nitpicky, but it honestly just made things feel a bit boring. Maybe there's a story reason for it, who knows.
Little Red Ronin #1 (w: Garrett Gunn, a: Kit Wallis)
Publisher: Source Point Press
Wasn't it just a week or two ago that we had an adorable pupper running around being a heckin mean samurai? Well, this week we have a fluffy, fighting twist on Little Red Riding Hood. Confused? Don't be, it's not as strange as it seems. We're immediately introduced to Red and Dave, two anthropomorphic animals on a quest through the woods. Dave, who can manifest ice cream like my dream persona, is following a begrudging Red who is clearly on a hunt for revenge, vengeance, and violence. All the V's. What we learn is that she lost a loved one to the big, bad wolf and is now very ready to take that huffin' and puffin' butthead down. But our traveling twosome are thwarted by a rapscallion gang of d-bags, led by perhaps the meanest of the three-not-so-little pigs.
This book is weird, and creative, and engaging, and cute, and gruesome - when you take a ton of concepts that have all been done a lot, and make it into something I don't think I've seen done at all, I find myself very impressed.
End After End #1 (w: David Andry & Tim Daniel, a: Sunando C)
Publisher: Vault Comics
People have long theorized what happens after we die; do we go on to reincarnate into a snail or a goat or something? Do we go to an ice cream-filled heaven or a consistently-sunburnt-forever hell? Do we simply go back into the earth and become one with the trees? Well, according to this book, we don't actually die at all. A fascinating spin on the afterlife, for our protag, getting hit by a train doesn't mean getting met with the sweet release of death, it means waking up in some strange, foreign fantasy land with fairies and dwarfs and a beautiful princess... queen... ruler... unclear. Anyway, they are perpetually in battle, and apparently, when we die in our world, we go immediately to their world until we die there, too. Then it's lights out. But you do get this strange, not-quite-limbo, battle-beaten middle life that I think has a ton of potential. Not a whole lot happens in the first issue to be fair, but the concept is so intriguing I'm willing to give issue two a go just to know more.
What a good widdle slaughtering pupper!
Love Everlasting #1 (w: Tom King, a: Elsa Charretier)
Publisher: Image Comics
Love is a many splendored time loop...
This is a dream team of comics creators. Words by Tom King, art from Elsa Charretier, colors from Matt Hollingsworth and letters by Clayton Cowles. This comic is like that sundae that you make for yourself at home so it has exactly all your favorite ingredients and exactly the right proportions. It's a masterclass in comic creation, tbh, from top to bottom dripping with an understanding of the medium that only comes from a super group of creators. To be fair, I could be a bit biased since I've been in love with Elsa Charretier's work for years (Infinite Loop is still in my top 5 books of all time). That said, this book knocked my socks off.
I think what I liked most about it is the choice to keep the pace incredibly slow. This book is mysterious and slow feeds the greater plot at foot. In the beginning we are presented with a basic romance comic to the tune of books from the 50's & 60's with titles like "Modern Love" or "Teen-Age Romance" or "Betty and Veronica Do Dallas." Joan is our femme principale, and we experience her blossoming romance with her boss George. Then marry and the story ends. We then move on to tale of tail (heh) number 2, wherein we find main character Joan (huh?) as she falls in love with a musician named Kit. Finally, we are yee-hawed our way back to the wild, wild west where Joan (hm...) is being courted by both the sheriff's son and the new ranch hand her father hired, and it's up to Joan to decide which one get-alongs her lil' doggies. Joan, Joan, and more Joan. Different tales, different loves, all Joan. What force has pulled her into this time twister? Who is it that seems to have trapped her here? Why does the Clay Mann cover make my nose bleed so much? This and many, many more questions leave the reader head over heals by the time they reach the back cover.
This is an incredibly genre aware, super charming, and painfully well-constructed book that could only be created from the minds, hands and hearts of true masters of the medium. I love this book now, I love it in the 60s, and I'm sure I'll love it whenever I'm a cowboy. I hope you do, too.
Samurai Doggy #1 (w: Chris Tex, a: Santtos)
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
much ronin. so vengeance. wow.
Winning the award for best use of [what to me looks like] a shiba since memes and crypto, Samurai Doggy is definitely trying to dine on some turtle soup. In the sense of earning the respect of the TMNT and sharing a nice bowl of soup at their house, maybe also some finger foods. It will be a nice evening, y'know, maybe they'll invite Usagi Yojimbo. Not in the sense of him eating the turtles. We don't promote creator beefs here.
I say this because too often "anthro animal becomes a warrior of vengeance" stories just kind of bore me and feel too TMNT inspired or adjacent to really grab my attention. This one, however, felt fresh. I like the world and the characters being constructed here. While I am jealous that he has a much more rootin' tottin' name than mine, Chris Tex does an absolutely amazing job creating a solidly paced ronin story in with a decent enough hook to keep me wanting more. Mixed with Santos's somehow simultaneously bright and gritty art, it's a refreshing take on both the cyberpunk and revenge stories that seem all too popular these days and dreadfully nocturnal. Is it too much to ask for my broody swordplay to happen during the magic hour?
Is it necessarily the MOST unique story out there? No, and that's a fair criticism. Revenge stories, especially those taking place in some sort of cyber/industrial collapsing society are fairly common on the shelves these days. I honestly don't know how to explain it, but I just find myself really drawn to this one. The character seems much more approachable than the ultra-walled off broodsters we often get. They take the time to chow down on a steamed bun, go out of their way to help a kid ride a Ferris Wheel (granted, in exchange for info, but still) and are also a cute one-eyed puppy floofster. It's cool action, a fun if familiar story, and some wicked neat art all in a T H I C C first issue. It just works for me.
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.
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