It’s Wednesday and that means new comics. Let Deadshirt steer your wallet in the right direction with reviews (with preview pages) of titles out today from Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Boom! Studios, Archie, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!
Writer: Alex Grecian
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Thomas Mauer
Published by Image Comics
Beginning on the evening of his “death” and flashing back to his childhood origins, this new Image series examines the somewhat “tru-ish” beginnings of the Russian mad monk Rasputin. Son of an abusive father and loving mother in the cold wastes of Siberia, Rasputin is a child with magical gifts that he uses to help his family, when it suits him. In the mostly wordless flashback to his childhood you see where his inscrutable nature and the literal ghosts that will haunt his life are born from.
Riley Rossmo’s art is the real star of this book. With very little dialogue and some brief captions, almost the entire story is told via his art. Rossmo does great work in moving the story along and forming characters with just facial expressions. The colors are also exceptional, with Ivan Plascencia giving a lot of depth to pages set in landscapes of dense snow which could have looked very flat.
While the story is brisk and manages to convey a lot of of information, it’s still pretty short on details of the story to come or where it’s going. It definitely feels more like the opening chapter to a graphic novel rather than a complete story in itself, but it’s enough to get the reader to want to come back.
– Jason Urbanciz
Aliens: Fire and Stone #2
Written by Chris Roberson
Art by Patric Reynolds, colors by Dave Stewart
Lettered by Nate Piekos
Publisher Dark Horse
Dark Horse’s new sequel/side story to the 1986 film Aliens continues in this comic book, with refugees from the film’s doomed colony settling in at their new home: the planet where the events of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus took place, now shrouded in a mysterious forest. Fire and Stone tells separate four-part stories in each sub-franchise that tie into a bigger picture. I appreciated this, because despite missing the Predator tie-in I didn’t feel like I missed anything. It’s always tricky to get tie-ins to feel nice, but not necessary and frustrating.
This particular issue doesn’t have the pleasant connectedness of Aliens: F&S #1 though, nor the strong characterizations of Prometheus: F&S. Unlike the best entries in the franchise, we don’t have reason to care about most of the victims here, and the three characters who are named and important spend the entire issue having the same argument. Reynolds’ art saves the day in some areas, with gorgeous vistas, distinct human characters, and Alien beauty shots, but his action scenes are still a little muddled. The Aliens don’t blend in with the forest the way they do with the bulkheads of a ship, so instead they…just pop up out of nowhere from time to time.
What’s saving the book for me are two things: first, the nicely-executed Lovecraftian deterioration of the main character, whose scorn for his bickering peers develops into full-blown neglect and a secretive obsession with both Engineer and Weyland-Yutani relics. Second, the reveal at the end that there is some kind of symbiosis between the stowaway Aliens and the forest, with designs on the humans that go beyond simple feeding and mayhem. I like this overall story, but I don’t feel this issue has a strong intrinsic purpose, just sort of filling in space between the last issue and the next issue.
– Patrick Stinson
Southern Bastards #5
Story by Jason Aaron
Art by Jason Latour
Being a diehard fan of Jason Aaron’s since Scalped, I was stoked to see him back on a long-form creator owned book, but the first couple of issues of Southern Bastards didn’t quite thrill me. I dug it, no doubt. The aura, Latour’s chicken fried steak art aesthetic, the hicksploitation premise. But it felt too much like it was falling into the easy rhythm of the “Vertigo” aesthetic most long running creator owned books follow: an amalgamation of the kind of pacing and plot structure HBO and similar water cooler programming have espoused over the years. In hindsight, it’s clear Aaron was plotting this way as a red herring. What seemed like the straightforward vigilante justice tale of Earl Tubb’s return to Craw County was flipped on its head in issue #4’s tragic finale, and in its place we’re left with an entirely new world of possibility.
This issue begins a new arc by flipping to the perspective of Coach Boss, thus far the book’s main villain. Seeing the humble beginnings of the man who clutches an entire town in his grasp would normally be the type of thing you save for, say, the third or fourth trade paperback, but here, Aaron and Latour use this glimpse into the man’s psyche as a sort of “coming up this season on…” segment, hinting at all the newcorners of this rich world that are going to be open to us now that we’ve moved beyond what, frankly, felt like a comic book version of Walking Tall. Pick up the first trade and start reading monthly here. I think we’re in for a treat.
– Dominic Griffin