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.
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