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!
The Fade Out #1
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser (colors)
$3.50 (print)/$2.99 (digital)
Writer Ed Brubaker’s work usually has a noir aspect to it–consider his run on Daredevil or the recently wrapped Fatale, also with artist Sean Phillips—so it was only a matter of time before he dove in with his own original noir series. The Fade Out, feels like the realization of a dream for Brubaker, and it’s executed to near-perfection. The story takes place in 1948 Hollywood and follows the production of a film noir (meta!) in the middle of countless reshoots. Tie in the death of a starlet, a nightmare-ridden writer, and an overly ambitious movie executive, and you have yourself a crime story. It has suspicious activity, violence, sex, alcohol, and corruption–everything you’d want and/or need out of a noir.
Sean Phillips’ art style is beautiful and varied. It switches between color and black and white, reality and nightmare, without missing a beat. The story feels cinematic, but is clearly designed for the page instead of the screen, a difficult task met without a flinch. The style is clearly influenced by neo-noir, and you can almost hear a jazzy score behind it. Brubaker and Phillips hired a research assistant to make sure everything looked accurate, and so far it feels right.
The Fade Out does something really cool on the first page: it shows pictures of the main cast, with their names and a brief description of their jobs and/or vices. I found it immensely helpful–it gave me an idea of who was who before the story even started and allowed Brubaker to avoid shoehorned introductions. If I ever forgot, I could flip back to the first page. More monthly comics should do this.
– David Lebovitz
(Click thumbnails to enlarge)
Written by James Asmus
Story by James Asmus and Fred Van Lente
Art by Kano
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
This comic is a gem. I haven’t been keeping up with Valiant’s comics lately, mostly catching up when there’s a digital sale, but with this mini-series combining the casts (and creative staff) of what have been their two strongest series so far (Archer & Armstrong and Quantum & Woody) I figured I’d take a flier on it and was well rewarded.
The comic opens in the 1930s, with the immortal Armstrong bumming around the country with Rufus, the King Of Hobos, who entrusts him with a map to the fabled Treasure Of The Hobos…which is tattooed onto a pair of skinned butt cheeks. From there we get the history of the butt-map after Armstrong inevitably loses it and it ends up in the hands of a farmer in present day who has bigger problems than a half-an-ass-map hanging on his wall. Super-powered bounty hunters Quantum & Woody are brought in to find the other half of the map with the now-alerted Archer & Armstrong on their tail to stop them.
I ranted through that pretty quick, but this issue is packed with story, and though it’s a breeze to read it’s still incredibly rewarding. It feels like this book was created with Matt Fraction & David Aja’s Hawkeye in mind and they nail the vibe of that book perfectly. Kano’s character art is very similar to Aja’s, but it doesn’t feel like he’s trying to ape him, they just have similar styles [Editor’s note: All three worked even worked together on Marvel’s The Immortal Iron Fist! – MR]. His panel layout is also much more rigid than Aja’s, working from a pretty tight twelve-panel grid but opening it up for some great “walking and talking” scenes. The colors definitely add to it, using bright neon shades in the background to brighten the whole thing up and give the book a kind of magical realism.
It obviously wears its influence on its sleeve, but it doesn’t make the mistake of trying to be Hawkeye, just to be like it yet be very much its own thing. I loved this comic; it’s just a fun caper book and though it’s only one issue in I can’t wait for more.
– Jason Urbanciz
(Click thumbnails to enlarge)
Written by Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert
Art by Daniel Bayliss and Adam Metcalfe (colors)
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Husband and wife team Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert tell an even darker version of the Batman/Joker relationship in this limited series. What if Bruce Wayne had an unhappy childhood before his parents died? What if the Joker was even more obsessed with Batman? The comic follows two intersecting timelines: the story of a young boy named Cornelius and the story of the Navigator and the Horse. Both timelines inform the other, but the reasons why are still not yet fully realized.
The art for Translucid is gorgeous and terrifying. The drug hallucinations and the more frightening events in the memories of Cornelius are illustrated with the same colorful and warped representations of reality, emphasizing the darker side of childhood. As the story closes in on its conclusion, this funhouse art has leached into both timelines more and more, blurring the lines between them.
The Navigator has all the makings of your typical superhero, but when set against a world that is more brutally realistic and at the same time more bizarre than, say, Gotham, the hero fails. This is when the relationship with the villain gets really interesting. The Horse is so completely obsessed with the Navigator that he breaks out of prison to set the stumbling hero straight, though in a way that will probably lead to both of their deaths. The Horse and the Navigator are so interwoven that the art plays an eye spy game with knight chess pieces and horse heads all the way back to the beginning of Cornelius’s childhood.
I picked up this comic because I’m a big fan of Claudio Sanchez (frontman of Coheed and Cambria) and I didn’t know what to expect, but what I got was an exploration of my favorite hero/villain trope with an introspective style reminiscent of Alan Moore. This story is building towards something sinister but has continued to play the truth pretty close to the chest. There’s only one issue left but plenty of time to catch up.
– Sarah Register
(Click thumbnails to enlarge)