It’s Wednesday and that means new comics. Let Deadshirt steer your wallet in the right direction with reviews (and preview pages) of titles out today from Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Boom! Studios, Archie, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!
Written by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson
Art by Brooke Allen
Colored by Maarta Laiho
Lettered by Aubrey Aiese
Lumberjanes is one of the most delightful and charming comics to premiere this year, and oh man am I happy this issue is the climax to the first arc, rather than the very last issue like originally planned. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Ripley, April, Mal, Jen, Molly, and Jo just yet. So far in this arc, we’ve seen yetis, we’ve seen a bear-lady, and now, in this issue, we see the True Power of Friendship as the Lumberjanes rush to stop Apollo and Artemis from obtaining ultimate power. After all, they might be gods, but they’re also jerks. Over eight issues, Lumberjanes has brought a uniquely magical mythos to life, with fun, colorful art, and a warmth that comes from the relationships between our main cast of characters.
Ripley, April, Mal, Molly, Jo, and Counsellor Jen are all unique characters, with quirks and traits that never reduce them to simple stereotypes. In fact, stereotypes seem to be missing from this story completely. Unlike in lazier narratives where the cast is primarily female, there is no catfighting–conflict among characters rises organically from the plot, from the character’s actions. I don’t know how to stress how big of a deal this book is. Here are young women being good at math, being good at fighting, being good at traditionally masculine things–but also excelling at traditionally feminine skills, all while supporting each other.
The Lumberjanes aren’t shoehorned into the Strong Woman archetype, destined to reject all “girly” (read: weak) traits. The best part about this, though, is the way Ellis and Stevenson make this complex characterization seem effortless. They reveal the richness of character that’s possible when we reject the traditional gender dichotomy, all while imbuing the story with a humor that keeps its more saccharine moments from being overly so–and they make it all look easy. Lumberjanes is important because of the way it depicts its female characters, but also because it encourages its readers to go out and create similar stories–stories filled with women and young girls who are treated like people, and not like objects for the male protagonists to use.
– Christina Harrington
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Written and drawn by Michael Avon Oeming
Colored by Taki Soma
Lettered by David Walker
$3.50 (print)/$2.99 (digital)
I’m gonna be honest: it’s difficult to talk about Sinergy, the new creator-owned series by Image Comics about a heroine whose superpowers are awakened by her first sexual experience, without at least mentioning Sex Criminals, the other creator-owned series by Image Comics about a heroine whose superpowers are awakened by her first sexual experience. Sexuality, especially when handled in a mature way, is a pretty deep well for stories, and there’s definitely room for both books to exist. While Sex Criminals uses metaphors involving release from tension, etc., Sinergy pulls from a more familiar conceit, the idea that you see someone, and their world, differently after sex.
For Jess, the lead character, this difference is literal. After sleeping with her boyfriend Leaf, she discovers she can see demons walking among us, including her boyfriend (and her dog). She’s understandably freaked out by this, as well as by her dad’s apparent knowledge of and interest in her abilities. It seems her dad has made a career of hunting down these demons, and is interested in bringing her into the family business.
Oeming’s art is pitch-perfect here, and some of his best yet. He’s always had a bit of a Mignola vibe, and it’s played up here, through the various demon designs and cityscapes. Soma’s colors are vivid and surreal when depicting demons, but muted in bedroom or home scenes. There’s a rough energy to the whole thing, which really sells the quick bits of action we see.
Overall, I was struck by sort of a paternal vibe from this issue. Much of the story is focused on Jess’ dad, but even beyond that, there’s sort of a protectiveness to the magical conceits of the story. It’s a cautionary tale so far, and while I’m sure we’ll see plenty more of Jess next issue, this one has a unique voice to it that I enjoyed.
– Joe Stando
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Predator: Fire and Stone #2
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Christopher Mooneyham
Colored by Dan Brown
Lettered by Nate PIekos
The chronologically latest part of the “Fire and Stone” miniseries crossover continues. The last issue was a brutally entertaining cat-and-mouse duel between a Predator and the standout character of “Fire and Stone,” Galgo Helder. With hardly a moment’s remorse, Galgo sacrificed his own crew to set a trap for the Predator, only to be overpowered anyway and have his trophy, the Engineer-designed weapon from the planet below, taken away.
But the rifle caught the Predator’s interest, and so this issue opens with Galgo restrained rather than killed. Galgo is a coward and quite likely a psychopath, but he remains interesting as a protagonist because of his fatalism. Avoiding the hysterics of Hudson from Aliens or Mac from Predator, he somehow keeps convincing his captor that he’s worth more alive than dead. Galgo has to overcome his fear of the Engineer- and Alien-infested planet in order to distract his captor with the promise of a more fruitful hunt.
Galgo’s sliminess fits in well with the theme of the recent Robert Rodriguez-produced opus Predators, which deconstructed the Predators’ love for “honorable” adversaries by making clear that their honor is not ours–they admire ruthless survival instinct as much as they respect valor. The alliance between Galgo and his captor is therefore something of a classic Aliens vs. Predator team-up, but with an added dose of Alien-universe cynicism. One of the more inspired pieces of Predator-tech I’ve seen makes an appearance here. The Predator equivalent of handcuffing dudes together involves a glowing, flexible, lethal cord, symbolizing the dark undertone to the buddy-cop antics of the pair.
I haven’t yet talked about the action, which in this book is as superb as any we’ve seen yet in “Fire and Stone.” It’s used cleverly, too, in a flashback to a faraway planet that lets Mooneyham cut loose with some new designs. The flashback gives this particular Predator–merely a generic adversary in his previous appearances–some motivation and justification for his behavior, setting him up as an effective secondary protagonist.
Aside from the flashback though, this issue’s story is a disappointingly linear journey from one plot point to the next. This has been a fundamental weakness of “Fire and Stone.” Certain issues are just there to shuffle characters around to where they are needed, rather than possessing intrinsic payoffs. As appealing as the gimmick of four four-issue series seems on the surface, “Fire and Stone” perhaps might have played out better as a somewhat longer main series with one- or two-part tie-ins. I enjoyed Predator: Fire and Stone #2, but if you read #1 and you put your mind to it, you could easily predict all of the major events of this issue, lending it an air of plodding inevitability despite Williamson’s best efforts to provide minor twists.
– Patrick Stinson
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