Weekly Comic Features: March 2023
Did we mention we're moving?
You may have noticed that we haven't been posting so much lately. It's not because we don't love you (and if you thought that, it might be something to bring up with your therapist...), but because we're going through a big cross-state move and it is taking up a LOT of our time. So apologies for the delay, but here are a good grouping of comics you may have missed in March!
The Forged #1 (w: Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, a: Mike Henderson)
Publisher: Image Comics
Apparently, at some point over the last year or so, Greg Rucka nd Eric Trautmann sat down and played some Warhammer 40k. During their tournament, they were like "Hey, what if this but... sexy?" And then The Forged was born.
Or so I assume.
Though the "40k but easier on the eyes" analogy does hold up, issue one does a nice bit of world building to separate itself. Sure, the similarities run deep: An empire ruled over by an eternal empress/emperor, genetically modified soldiers in hulking battle armor, massive space ship travelling vast distances in a dark universe, the blending of magic and sci-fi. I would definitely be SHOCKED to hear the Rucka DIDN'T take inspiration from 40k. That said, Rucka and Trautmann bring a fun spin by amping up the cleanliness, brightness and general beauty of the universe they're building. The empire in this tale feels a bit softer than the hardened, gothic Empire of the Grim Dark. Moreover, we don't yet know the extent of the Empire's outlook on the rest of the universe. Are they harsh colonisers? Are they staunch genetic fascists? Are they bringing peace and technology to the planets of their system? We don't yet know, but the characters we see definitely show an Empire that, while dealing with some class struggles within, seems to be prospering.
It's a cool book. It's actiony and tickles anyone who is a fan of the "Space Marine" trope, a la Doom or the Alien franchise. It's sexy and beautifully inked. The backing material provides a good bit of world-building in that typical Rucka/Lazarus style. There's mystery, there's blood, there's action. It's fun.
Etheres One Shot (w: Anas Abdulhak, a: Dennis Menheere)
Publisher: Source Point Press
If Source Point put out more stuff like this, I would be WAY more interested in them as a publisher.
First, I should start by saying this book is poetry. It is narrated poetically, which I know is not for everyone. It is at times a little disjunct in rhythm and at times the rhyme scheme is a bit forced, but it is overall well executed poetic narration. It didn't take me out of it and in fact, I believe it elevated the mystery of the book.
This book is beautiful. It's a gorgeous, bite-sized romp through a mysterious magical world with a narrator carrying a heavy burden. I won't postulate too much on what I believe this book is about, as I believe this is one of those stories that can be whatever people need it to be, but there are some heavy topics on display. Our narrator has a history of trauma, loss, potential abuse and perhaps has even been the abuser themselves. We follow along as they experience various trials, all while hounded by a strange creature whose intentions are obscured. As they attempt each trial, they are plagued by visions of the life they once had. This epic journey is beautifully painted, swirling in a soft dance across each page. It's a tragic book elegantly presented.
Read this one with an open mind. Feel how it affects you and see what your takeaways are. I believe this could be an important read for the right people.
Ambassadors #1 (w: Mark Millar, a: Frank Quitely)
Publisher: Image Comics
I'll start by saying, Jupiter's Legacy is one of my favorite series ever and is one of the reasons I got back into comics about a decade ago. So, I'm a bit biased. Just getting that out of the way.
HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK IS AMAZING
Enough gushing, let me explain.
Ambassadors takes place in a world where governments of almost every nation have spent decades trying to develop super-people. They tried radiation, gene therapy, evolutionary stimulation, and various other fudge sciencey whatnots. In comes Choon-He Chung, the (self-proclaimed but probably true) smartest woman in the world and brilliant tech mogul, who has successfully downloaded her conciousness into a super-powered body, despite being locked up in prison. She comes to the world with an offer: She wants to be Willy Wonka but with superpowers. She wants to give powers to the most deserving - not the ultra rich, not governments. She wants to find the best people to join her team and act as ambassadors for their home countries. Meanwhile, out in the wild we meet a man in South Africa who can crush people with his mind and a superpowered, Scottish ape of some kind who like beer, runs fast and is telekentic.
What I love so much about Mark Millar's superhero stories is how chaotic they are. When you're hanging out in a Marvel or DC Universe, every supe has one power, or a variety of powers, all centered around a central focus (i.e. telekinesis AND telepathy). In Jupiter's Legacy and now also in Amabassadors, Millar creates a world where a superhero can fly and also lift things with their mind and also shoot lazers from their toes and also turn any potato chip flavor into BBQ. His superheroes are so grand and ultra-powerful that it helps to sell the overall message of them honestly being a bit bleak and unchained. I've always loved content that explores what it's like living in a super world as much as the lives of super people themselves. How scary and chaotic would it be knowing that Superman exists? What happens the day he's no match for something, or even worse the day he decides he's had enough. The Boys does a really fun job of this, and Jupiter's Legacy touched on it a smidge but mostly focused on the inner turmoil of super world. I'm hoping this book builds up Millar and Quitely's brand of ultra-super, bombastic individuals and lets us see what a day in the life of a normal person or a government official or an insurance agent would be like.
Really cool book. I'm super glad to have another comic coming from this team.
Dead Romans #1 (w: Fred Kennedy, a: Nick Marinkovich)
Publisher: Image Comics
You guys know I love a good historial fiction, and honestly a time period that doesn't get enough love is the Roman Empire NOT surrounding the emperors. This tale takes place in Germanic land as Romans and tribes come to fight. We see a love story blooming between Arminius, a Germanic prince moonlighting as a Roman soldier, and the beautiful slave Honoria, who belongs to a high-ranking Roman official. Whoops, looks like Arminius wants a queen, and he's got his sights set on Honoria - whether she wants the job or not.
While this book absolutely begins to play out like a Diana Gabaldon novel, what I really find myself drawn in by is the promise of a woman being put into cornered scenarios and fighting back. Does she love Arminius? Maybe. Has he absolutely betrayed her people? Oh, you're darn tootin'. And she's got something to say about that.
It's a period peace with love and betrayal and violence and political intrigue and I'm IN. Let's go, book two! I'm ready.
It's Jeff! #1 (w: Kelly Thompson, a: G. Gurihiru)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Sweet landshark-lovin' Christmas, this is maybe the cutest book ever made. Marvel decided to compile the adorable adventures of Jeff the Landshark from their Marvel Unlimited "Infinity Comics" series into a one shot all about Jeff being cute and doing cute things and navigating cute scenarios.
Ever wanted to see Jeff sled down a mountain on Captain America's shield? ✔️
Ever wondered how Jeff might handle a super hot summer day with his super friends? ✔️
Ever wish you could experience Thanksgiving dinner with Jeff and the Avengers fam? ✔️
Seriously, I was squee-ing the entire book, laughing out loud, aww-ing up a storm...
I need more Jeff in my life. We ALL need more Jeff in our lives.
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