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!
Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #7
Written by Tom Scioli and John Barber
Art, colors and lettering by Tom Scioli
It says something that, even after six full issues of balls-out craziness and robot carnage, this month’s installment of “Tom Scioli plays with his toys” is the one that really and truly knocked me on my ass. While previous issues have favored vast, experimental splash pages, Issue 7 is uncomfortably intimate in its focus. Focusing primarily on Scarlet and her team’s captivity inside a Cobracepticon brainwashing facility (the reveal of WHERE said facility is is way too good to spoil here), the PREVIOUSLY text explains that “There is no G.I. Joe. The Transformers are a myth. It was all lies.” Scarlet, down but not out, is forced into a creepy suburbia captivity complete with a fake husband, robot children and mundane block parties with her captured comrades.
In his commentary on the issue, Scioli cites The Prisoner and Barry Windsor-Smith’s seminal Weapon X as major influences. Those are definitely on display, but it goes well beyond that. A reunion between heroic Joe “Mutt” and his dog cribs from Mutt and Jeff; Scarlet’s ennui-filled trip to a supermarket feels like it’s paying tribute to John Totleben’s dreamy take on a similar scene in Swamp Thing #40. This isn’t to say the issue feels derivative; it honestly feels like a huge departure from Scioli’s more bombastic art in prior issues. Scioli and Barber’s spotlight on mohawk-rocking Scarlet as she reclaims her identity grounds the issue’s vivid art in a story that is both involving and chilling. You root for Scarlet, even as she emotionlessly slits her Cobra agent husband’s throat and burns down her house before setting out on a revenge rampage.
If Transformers vs. G.I. Joe is the kind of brand renaissance Claremont and Byrne did for the X-Men, then this issue was its triumphant version of Wolverine crawling out of the sewer to take out the Hellfire Club.
– Max Robinson
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Help Us! Great Warrior #4
Written and Illustrated by Madeleine Flores
Colored by Trillian Gunn
Great Warrior has never backed down from a fight (well, unless she was napping or snacking or there was a hot guy nearby), but when her world needs her to vanquish an ancient demon, her hesitation reveals her darkest secret. Will her friends still admire her now that they know who she really is? Help Us! Great Warrior stemmed from a painfully adorable webcomic about a formidable fighter who loves eating chips and ogling cute boys, and who also happens to be a squishy amorphous creature with a bow on her head and a bunny on the hilt of her sword.
Creator Madeleine Flores’ transition from web to print has given her the opportunity to give Great Warrior an actual backstory, and this is an example of a comic that really benefits from the story and art coming from the same mind. Her humor is woven seamlessly into her artwork. Flores utilizes both Western and Eastern illustrating techniques, but this issue in particular feels very manga-inspired, because it features a long, dynamic fight scene sprinkled with GW’s hilariously expressive face and “OMG yaay” asides. Trillian Gunn’s color is incredibly appealing, devoid of the jarring primary section of the wheel and instead featuring a pleasant palette of turquoise and purple.
I fell in love with Help Us! Great Warrior because it’s surprisingly empowering and subversive. The protagonist is incredibly capable and confident, and despite being a turquoise lump with legs, she comes off as the type of person you can laugh with and admire. I mean, just look at this cover (by Victoria Grace Elliot), with shirtless men feeding Great Warrior pizza—I want to be her. GW’s chutzpah always shined through in her web adventures, but now that she’s starting to show her insecurities, she’s become a well-rounded hero. And as if this comic couldn’t be more perfect, the main character’s human friends are funny, powerful young women of color. I’m absolutely loving BOOM!’s current trend with these adorably illustrated comics that feature remarkably deep storytelling, and HU!GW is another win.
– Sarah Register
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Broken World #1
Written by Frank J. Barbiere
Art by Christopher Peterson
Colored by Marissa Louise
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Peterson and Barbiere’s Broken World opens with a fair amount of table-setting. We’re given the general set-up, that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and we’re in the last days of a lottery-based evacuation, as well as the specific wrinkle: Elena Marlowe’s checkered past prohibits her from escaping the planet, so she’s forced to use a forged passport and attempt to lie her way out.
Despite the heavy introduction, the story unfolds in a tight, intimate fashion, with an underlying current of dread and anxiety. From schoolchildren to religious fanatics, everyone copes with the impending end differently, from desperate preparations to aggressive attempts to ignore it. Peterson’s art and Louise’s palette are muted but still expressive, allowing emotion to creep into even subtle scenes like dinner conversations.
There’s a lot here that reminds me of other “last days on Earth” stories (The Leftovers springs to mind, too, actually), but more than anything, it felt like an Ibsen or Chekov play, where minor moments are fraught with pain or foreboding. While Marvel is busy blowing the world up spectacularly, it’s refreshing to see a story that focuses on the intimate human costs of a cosmic event.
– Joe Stando
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