It's always a weird, unexpected sequence of events, isn't it?
Klik Klik Boom #1 (w: Doug Wagner, a: Doug Dabbs)
Publisher: Image Comics
Two Dougs, one really fun book.
In this book we have a manic-pixie dream girl badass, a flighty podcaster trying to be a journalist, a crotchety Vietnam vet, violence, flashy colors, and corporate corruption. While the nature of the corruption, the motivations of the characters, and the overall thrust of the narrative are still pretty foggy, it was a super fun first issue.
Our main protagonist is a quirky young lady who is mute and only capable of communication through gestures and Polaroid photographs she consistently takes. We open to her creeping out a family trying to celebrate a birthday for their child before she walks her way down the street and begins shooting up a business. Cut to Serena, our podcasty protag as she is trying to uncover the mystery of the Polaroid-picture-littering crazy and what the connection this person might have with a company called Minerva World Services. At the behest of her co-hosts, Serena marches into Minerva corporate and demands an interview, thus kicking off a chaotic string of events she never expected, placing her deep in the middle of the corruption she sought to bring to the light.
I absolutely love Wagner's characters. He has an incredible ability to create stories around violent, mentally unwell individuals and yet make them so endearing and sweet. Considering his last few books have all been about serial killers, this protagonist is a significant step down in the violence, though not without her quirks. This character feels very Hit Girl meets Ramona Flowers. I had a lot of fun this one and just found the whole thing weirdly adorable.
XINO #1 (w/a: Various)
Publisher: Oni Press
Xino is an anthology title that focuses mainly on technology and how it interacts with human life. This first issue is made of 4 stories.
The Oddly Pedestrian Life of Christopher Chaos #1 (w: Tate Brombal, a: Isaac Goodhart)
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
I should start by pointing out that James Tynion IV's name is attached to this as "based on an idea by" and I just honestly don't know what that means. It's got real strong "wrote something on a cocktail napkin" vibes.
Anyhoo, this book is incredible. If you're a fan of Umbrella Academy or Runaways or other indie books in the "teens surviving a crazy world" genre, then this is not one to miss.
Christopher Chaos is an average teen. Goes to school, has a crush on the cute boy from drama club, approaches each day just trying to fit in, is constantly haunted by his ability to see the equations and mathematic structure of the world allowing him the ability to construct and alter things around him. Y'know, totally normal.
While Christopher's abilities are fairly vague, they've resulted in him having a rough go of the world. He wants nothing more than to fit in. However, his isolation from the world comes to an abrupt end when he discovers that not only is the world full of strange beings like himself, but it's also way more dangerous than he first thought. Christopher must decide if he continues to try and stifle his potential, allowing tragedy after tragedy to befall him, or does he give in to the madness of the world and take control.
Christopher is a great character (with a fantastic name) and is just downright adorable. You yearn to see him connect to his mother or figure out what his true potential is. This coupled with an incredible character design and amazing art from Goodhart, this is a book destined for cult classic status. Run out and get it now!
Void Rivals #1 (w: Robert Kirkman, a: Lorenzo De Felici)
Publisher: Image Comics
Not every story has to be completely original to still be a quality tale. This story, for example, is about as predictable as it comes. Enemies made enemies by the people in power, held apart by imaginary differences and falsified hatred. It's basically Romeo and Juliet without the (immediate) love story. Two interplanetary travelers, rivals of different species and worlds, crash land on the same abandoned rock and have to work together to try to survive. But how do you put aside generations of bias and hatred?
The "twist" at the end is really hardly a twist if you've ever read any heavy-handed allegory about race or "othering." But the fact it's set on a foreign world, with what feels like an elaborate set of cultures and society just vaguely to the left and right of us, gives me a lot of interest in what could go down in this book. Will the whole narrative stay on this planet? Will we go back to their society and start a rebellion? Will it stay this transparent, or will we get some massive nuance in the middle? I dunno, but I'm pretty interested nonetheless.
Tenement #1 (w: Jeff Lemire, a: Andrea Sorrentino)
Publisher: Image Comics
We have done a relatively recent Graphic Novelties episode on another work in the Bone Orchard collection called The Passageway, so it feels only appropriate to give a shoutout to the next comic title in the line. Visually beautiful, narratively vague, and genuinely ominous, this title follows 7 tenants in an apartment building that feels strangely isolated. The cast of characters range from kindly old men, to suspicious drug runners, to a scared young boy who saw something he simply can't explain.
There's definitely something creepy going on in and around this building, but as of the first issue, it's clear we won't know what that creepy thing is for quite some time. Is it demons? Is it other dimensions? Is it just a plague of mental instability that is going to overpower everyone in this building? Lemire & Sorrentino, as always, do an exceptional job setting up the tone to make you constantly uncomfortable from the very first page.
Wild's End #1 (w: Dan Abnett, a: I.N.J. Culbard)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
This book was an absolute joy. We open up in an anthropomorphized-animal-occupied city, clearly somewhere along the English shore, sometime in what feels like the early 20th century. The town is small enough where everyone knows everyone else's business, and the biggest news story of the day revolves around new street lights being added by the harbor.
It's quaint and charming and you instantly fall in love with the crew of The Merry, including Roddy, a rough-and-tumble badger who's mended ways and wants to make something of himself, and Flo, a widowed pit-bull who's stayed on the ship even after the war was over. As they realize the fish are slow-going, they notice something else - the radio isn't quite right, and the emptiness of the sea feels a little too empty.
I'm completely drawn in to the story, the characters, the mystery. It's kind of like the title "Stray Dogs," where the art is sort of cute and cartoony, but the content seems like it's going to take a turn for the gory and dark. I can't wait to see what happens next, and fingers crossed all crew members stay careful as things get dicey.
The Traveler's Guide to Flogoria #1 (w/a: Sam Moore)
Publisher: Scout Comics
When I was young, I moved around a lot, which resulted in me spending time in different schools across the country. At three different times in my academic career, I re-wrote and repurposed the same book report on the same book. That book was Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and that's because the book was so good I could make it relevant to every class, every time. What am I rambling on about? Well, this title scratched an itch I didn't realize I still had.
Our lead, Harry Blandford, is an overly-anxious fellow who works as a reporter, trying to hide behind his desk as much as possible to prevent himself from actually having to do anything. What happens next is a series of unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on the next issue) events that lead to him getting eaten by a giant alien fish and forced through a surprising worm hole into another dimension sort of similar to our own but just-not-quite.
Every character, every every situation, every narrative push feels like it could have been written by Douglas Adams as an extension of his existing Hitchhiker's universe, and I'm honestly impressed as the way this sucked me in from the first couple pages. The characters are weird and relatable, the story is strange and exciting, and just like the Adamsverse, it gives you that same "anything could happen, even in the real world" type feeling in your chest. The world we live in is strange; it's really nice when people lean into that.
Cover B Podcast
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