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!
Contributions by Will Kirkby, LUDROE, Simon Roy, Emma Rios, Miguel Alberte Woodward, and Robin Bougie
Image’s new anthology book, Island, is beautiful. Visually, narratively, and in every other sense, I was wowed by this issue. From the dark, sweeping spreads of the first few pages to the various stories within, this is a good book.
There’s not a general theme or context holding the various stories in this issue together, and it’s better for it. They differ wildly in tone and art, from light, cartoonish fun to deeper sci-fi musings. Simon Roy’s contribution, “Habitat,” was especially evocative, with a primitive future clearly descended from an advanced one. Roy’s details are reminiscent of Stokoe or Pope, and there’s a clever balance of familiar and alien that clues the reader in to exactly the kind of evolution and devolution mankind has gone through.
I was also very taken with LUDROE’s “Dagger Proof Mummy,” a goofy but deceptively heartfelt action piece. It plays with a level of whimsy and magical realism reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim or North World, especially when a bunch of absurd bosses show up at the end. But there’s also a sense of wistfulness about the story, one that protagonist Reno muses on as she and her mummy companion are on the run. There’s a lot of heart here, which sets it apart from the usual “zany” indie fight comics.
As an anthology, you’re going to be getting all kinds of stuff in these books, but I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying the works by creators I was totally unfamiliar with prior to reading. Hopefully Island will continue to be a showcase of more distinct, less mainstream styles you don’t normally see from a big publisher like Image.
Written by Ales Kot
Art by Matt Taylor
Color by Lee Loughridge
With all the fictional stories out there telling me about this seedy, supernatural underworld inhabiting L.A., I’m starting to actually believe them. Wolf manages to feel fresh, however, approaching this concept with a much more hardboiled attitude and some crazy characters. Antoine Wolfe, a war veteran and a paranormal detective with vague but powerful abilities, has become the begrudging caretaker of a recently (and violently) orphaned girl who can see dead people. Also, the apocalypse may be on its way. After a whopping 60-page first issue that attempts a massive amount of worldbuilding, as well as an introduction to all the various awful things that are about to happen, this second issue feels uneventful, which isn’t a bad thing. Readers almost need a reprieve to comfortably settle into Antoine’s strange and complicated world.
You can tell that writer Ales Kot is excited about the world of Wolf, because there’s just so much happening; the story seems to practically spill onto the page unhindered. The comic has a solid concept, however, and even though the plot stumbles out of the gate, I’m enraptured with the protagonist and his typical interactions with L.A.’s more interesting inhabitants, including Antoine’s squid-faced friend, Freddy Chtonic, and his literal vampire landlords.
I’m also a sucker for a good cover, and the cover art for issue #2 is gorgeously stylized in dripping neon colors. This is in stark contrast with the interior, art where the creative team creates a run-down, pallid version of L.A. populated with diverse creature designs and grim human faces. Matt Taylor sets a very deliberate pace with his use of panels, choosing interesting moments to slow down and utilize an entire page for one action or one line of dialogue. Colorist Lee Loughridge, known appropriately for his work on Hellblazer, uses a palette completely devoid of primary colors with the exception of the occasional blood red.
This issue is rampant with themes of cycles—the moon, the weather, even menstruation in the case of the most unfortunate vampire ever imagined. There’s an apocalyptic convergence of sorts on the horizon for L.A., and Antoine Wolfe seems tied to it in more ways than one. Despite the overwhelming amount of plotlines, I have to admit that they’re all tantalizing. This is a title to keep your eye on.
Invader Zim #2
Words by Jhonen Vasquez and Eric Trueheart
Pencils by Aaron Alexovich
Inks by Megan Lawton
Colors by Simon “Hutt” Troussellier with J.R. Goldberg
Letters by Warren Wucinich
MWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! Prepare your HORRIBLE BRAINS to absorb the new Invader Zim ongoing series, written by show creator Jhonen Vasquez and the cartoon’s most insane staff writer, Eric Trueheart. Thanks to this veteran creative talent, this new comic series perfectly captures the unique and HIDEOUS mixture of silliness, absurdity, and cruel cruel tragedy that made the original series so memorable. I challenge you to read this issue without doing all of the character voices in your head. WILL YOU ACCEPT MY CHALLENGE? WILL YOUUUUUU?!
Picking up where last issue left off, Invader Zim #2 sees Zim in search of an ominous space artifact called the Gargantis Array, with Dib following close behind in the salvaged Irken shuttle he acquired back in “Tak, the Hideous New Girl.” All the expected Zim hallmarks are present: there are over-the-top dramatic speeches, impossibly dumb secondary characters, space vomiting, and so much yelling. The issue’s twist ending rings true to Zim’s character, in that while he’s incapable of accomplishing anything genuinely threatening, he is incredibly adept at inflicting petty vengeance upon his enemies.
The art team of Alexovich, Lawton, Troussellier, and Goldberg ably take on the challenge of capturing the distinctive look and feel of the animated series in sequential art. Alexovich’s characters hold closely to the original models, but they’re just a bit more elastic and emotive in a successful effort to evoke the show’s erratic movements on the page. The handful of original alien characters who appear in this issue likewise fit firmly in the series’ established mold, crudely mashing up the cutesy and gross like a kid sticking Mr. Potato Head parts into mounds of Play-Doh. From the heavy character outlines to the neon-on-black color palette, I just couldn’t imagine a better comics representation of Invader Zim.
Go now and grasp it in your FILTHY, *UGH* STICKY LITTLE HANDS! (They’re just so sticky.)