Your Deadshirt New Comics Shopping List for: February 18th, 2015

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!

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The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw #4

Written by Kurt Busiek

Art by Benjamin Dewey

Colored by Jordie Bellaire

Lettered and Design by John G. Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt

Image

$2.99

After a few issues on the periphery, Dunstan returns to the foreground of the story in this new installment. “Dusty” to his friends, the young canine protagonist is very much the embodiment of a puppy—trusting, innocent, loyal, and also an appropriate vehicle through which the reader can experience the gorgeous world of the Autumnlands. Dusty is slowly discovering that many of his father’s teachings were half-truths, and is thus drawn to the mysterious human being that is begrudgingly beginning to lead (and of course it would be Dusty that would be drawn to him, man’s best friend and all).

Along with Dusty’s development as a character, Steven T. (“Steventy”) Learoyd is finally embracing his destiny as savior and champion of a strange world. The lone human decides to set out and scout the surrounding lands and, lacking a noble steed that isn’t a sentient personified being, rides a magical chair that walks across the plains like a spider. I’m enjoying this humorous and fantastical imagery, which is executed beautifully through Benjamin Dewey’s illustrations. Dewey’s inspired character designs seamlessly blend animal characteristics with human forms, and are matched perfectly in a natural world of rolling hills and canyons.

The imagery of the enchanted chair is further explored through another short tale featuring a stylized painting-like backdrop. These mini chapters seem to be building the mythology of the legendary Savior, but the story is still playing Learoyd’s history and purpose pretty close to the chest, which makes it intriguing, sure, but also frustrating. Likewise, the petty politics and tropes being played out by the no-longer-floating city’s leaders is somewhat frustrating, though I imagine that’s the story’s intention. This is a group of privileged creatures who have been so long separated from the “real” world that they no longer understand it. I feel as though I’m waiting for all the pieces to finally fall together, but it’s taking longer than I’d like.

This issue again gives us another brief but emotional glimpse at Learoyd’s life before he was spirited into this realm. If the Autumnlands is a home of high fantasy, Learoyd’s world is classic, futuristic science fiction. I have a feeling these two conflicting genres have a lot more to do with each other in this story than is currently being let on, and I look forward to the surprises to come in the next installments.

– Sarah Register 

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Secret Identities #1

Written by Jay Faerber and Brian Joines

Art by Ilias Kyriazis

Colored by Charlie Kirchoff

Lettered by Ed Dukeshire

Image

$3.50

One thing I don’t really like, if I’m being honest, is how Marvel and DC corner the market on superheroes. There are plenty of other third party characters, to be sure, but most of them are defined at least in part by their opposition to the Big Two. Indie publishers are rife with homages and pastiches related to Superman, “what if he was this or that (usually he kills and swears).” I’d be more eager to see the kinds of characters writers come up with when they’re not trying so hard to be transgressive or shocking.

Secret Identities does this right. While there are plenty of twists and surprises, even in the first issue, it’s not a “dark take” on familiar ideas or characters. Faerber and Joines have crafted a series of interesting, unique superheroes and built a universe around them, without taking a “serial numbers filed off” approach. We’re dropped right into a battle in a universe with an unfamiliar but well-defined superheroic pantheon, and their personalities bounce off each other in fun directions. The second half of the comic, in which we see them head back to their personal lives, is riveting, as more than one of them turns out to be less than heroic when they’re not fighting crime together. It’s fertile ground for any number of stories beyond the primary “mole” one, and I’m curious about all of it.

Kyriazis’ art is perfect for this kind of story, too. It’s bright and loud and unabashed, a superhero comic that doesn’t pretend to be a gritty war story or anything. From the various distinct costume styles to the more esoteric images, like the heroes’ base in the corpse of an alien monster, the craft is apparent. There’s also a couple fun bits like the initial Satanist villain resembling Alan Moore, and a heroine’s stand-up comedy alter ego being friends with Ron Funches. Good stuff all around.

– Joe Stando

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EI8HT #1

Story by Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson

Script by Mike Johnson

Art by Rafael Albuquerque

Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot

Dark Horse

$3.50

Joshua awakens with no memory of who he is or what he is doing. Slowly remembering he was shot through time by a scientist to find a man, a voice on his radio tells him to follow a dinosaur to find help. Then he gets shot. Long-time American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque tries his hand at writing (with Mike Johnson) with a sci-fi time travel yarn and the first issue is darn good. Starting the action in media res, with Joshua waking up in a crashed time ship, the book flashes us through his past (our future) to catch up with the basics. Joshua has landed in The Meld, a desert-like expanse where humans and dinosaurs eek out a Mad Max-like existence.  Albuquerque color codes the story’s time periods, making it easy to discern if scenes or communications are coming from the past, present, future, or The Meld (which is referred to as “something else”).

The real draw here is Albuquerque’s art. I’ve been a fan of his work since he was on Blue Beetle with John Rogers in the mid-2000’s. His scratchy, detailed work looks fantastic here, as he moves between the sci-fi future and the savage landscape of The Meld. The colors are also very nice, mostly monotone except for the background colors denoting the setting. It gives the book a lush look without being in full color.

Ei8ht is a quick read, but it gives us a good glimpse into what Albuquerque and Johnson have coming up for the reader. Although the main characters have been introduced, their motivations and purpose are still blurry. All the same, the book makes them interesting enough to want to join on their journey.

– Jason Urbanciz

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Bitch Planet #3

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Art by Robert Wilson IV

Colored by Cris Peter

Lettered by Clayton Cowles

Image

$3.50

Kelly Sue knocks it out of the park yet again with a “special thirds” issue that focuses on the indomitable Penny Rolle. Guest artist Robert Wilson IV takes the helm to give Penny a tie-in that meshes with Valentine De Landro’s style but still feels unique to the character, as she forcibly recollects her journey to Bitch Planet. Flashbacks are cleverly styled with soft colors and Ben-Day dots, which give them an innocence in that “simpler times” kind of way and fits the retro vibe of the piece. Still, the prejudices against Penny permeate these frames as much as they do the scenes in the present where she is strapped down by the fathers and made to “see the truth” of ideal beauty.

The concepts of prejudice and truth weave into each other in this issue, not it a way that feels heavily accusatory, but with a simple matter-of-fact tone that these are things that happen. Penny is black, overweight, and outspoken in a society that sets the thin, white, and beautiful submissive wife type as the standard. In the world of Bitch Planet, “wanton obesity” is a chargeable offense, and natural black hair that “refuses to behave” in a way that is considered acceptable is cause for punishment. Of course, this is completely outrageous and in no way reflects our present society (coughs very loudly). Despite being labeled as everything “wrong” with women, Penny is admirable and very much a hero.

With a tour de force story, reader participation, and Orwellian imagery and advertisements, this comic is just such a complete package. These “special thirds” issues are great ways to get to know each character but also opportunities to tell the stories of so many women. The patriarchy forcing Penny to show her ideal self, to expose all of her flaws and insecurities, is so crushingly relatable, but the comic delivers such a satisfying end result that I was left grinning ear to ear. I cannot wait for the first volume of Bitch Planet to be published so I can buy it for every single one of my friends that hasn’t read it. This is an important comic.

– Sarah Register 

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

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Be sure to let us know what you picked up this week in the comments below, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

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