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!
Roche Limit #1
Written by Michael Moreci
Art by Vic Malhotra
Colors by Jordan Boyd
Letters by Ryan Ferrier
Design by Tim Daniel
An eccentric billionaire decides that humanity has limited itself for too long. Mustering his fantastic wealth, he takes to the stars and builds a colony on a small planet near an amazing, black hole-like stellar object. Then everything goes to shit.
Roche Limit is the next step for humanity into the stars, a space colony with no laws and plenty of sin. The story begins with a cop from Earth coming to find her missing sister. Soon a down on his luck drug dealer agrees to help her out, but their partnership only brings more danger. This is a pretty cool comic book, essentially a noir in space, using a lot of the same conventions that post-WWII noir films (ex. The Third Man) made famous. While the colony is lawless, it has systems in place to keep order, mostly through the established crime bosses. While it’s easy to understand the motivations of Sonya, her drug dealing partner Ford is still a mystery.
The art and coloring really helps sell this series. Space is a shitty place to live and work and it shows here. The colony is dark, dirty, and dingy, and everyone who lives there looks like they could use a few showers to get it all off. Jordan Boyd’s colors really show off the colony’s ugly florescent lighting.
If there’s anything holding this book back, it’s that it’s very similar to another recent Image sci-fi comic, Fuse. Both are crime books that take place on space stations away from Earth with their own rules. Still, while Fuse is more of a cop procedural, this book is a straight noir mystery. If there’s room for a million superhero books on the stands, there’s certainly enough for two compelling sci-fi crime books.
– Jason Urbanciz
G.I. JOE #1
Written by Karen Traviss
Art by Steve Kurth and Kito Young (colors)
Lettered by Tom B. Long
G.I. JOE is kind of an odd franchise right now. Its roots are in an era of jingoism and American exceptionalism, ideas that are frowned upon today (and not without reason). The growth of the military-industrial complex has taken a lot of the shine off of these super soldiers. The series has adapted over the years by leaning more heavily into fantastic elements, to the point that it’s basically its own stable of superheroes and ninjas.
That’s why this inaugural issue of G.I. JOE was so striking to me. Rather than shying away from the real-world implications of G.I. JOE stories, writer Karen Traviss doubles down on them, imagining a world where archetypal villain army COBRA is treated (at least initially) as a legitimate political faction, with cadets and infrastructure like that of private military contractors. When a recruit laments having guard duty over assisting a rebel faction, he includes the phrase “I joined COBRA youth to fight imperialism,” a dark mirror to the gap between cinematic expectations of “protecting freedom around the world” and the reality of the U.S. armed forces’ operations.
The G.I. JOE organization itself is similarly deconstructed. A relic of “the olden days” when COBRA was seen as a more direct threat, Scarlett and Colton are now faced with increasingly disapproving oversight committees and budget cuts. Artist Steve Kurth’s takes on the characters are weathered and unromanticized, befitting the setting. Artistically, it’s the opposite end of the spectrum as Scioli’s loud, proud G.I. JOE VS. TRANSFORMERS series, and that’s a good thing. There’s room in the world for a post-modern, stripped-down take on G.I. JOE, just as much as there is for iterations with robots and super ninjas.
One caveat is that I’m sure that as the action picks up, we’ll see more hallmarks of old-fashioned JOE, from H.I.S.S. Tanks to less shaded portrayals of factions. It’s difficult to sell a story about Roadblock and Cobra Commander that doesn’t deal at least a little bit in clichés, but so far, this is one of the most intriguing premiere issues I’ve read in a long time, and I’m excited to watch the book develop.
– Joe Stando
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Greg Tocchini
Lettered by Rus Wooton
Low continues its massive world-building as this issue takes us further outside of the underwater city Salus and closer to the surface of our boiling future planet. Stel is determined to carry her son (and the prospect of her entire species) all the way to the Earth’s last hope: a probe that has landed on the planet’s exterior, outside of the safety of the ocean. It seems like an obvious mission to take at the brink of extinction, but then we meet Salus’s governing body and learn why Stel’s unshakeable optimism is so crucial.
This issue loves to play on all the meanings of “low,” regarding the depth of humanity both geographically and morally. This is never more obvious than when we see the state of the Senate. Likewise, Marik has completely given up on everything and personifies this utter surrender to counterbalance Stel’s adamant hope. Both exude their respective characteristics exhaustingly, and I almost hate them for it sometimes, but it’s truly representative of humanity at the edge of its potential demise. I do wish that Stel’s hope wasn’t so heavily based on a religion (somehow it’s made less valid) however you can’t argue that it hasn’t been tested.
This somber road to the end of everything is balanced beautifully with Tocchini’s gorgeous art. The design of the underwater city and the suits and helmets people wear seem like an ode to classic science fiction aesthetics while at the same time remaining functional. This colorful and imaginative world often lacks hard or defined lines so that human and background, nature and technology all blend together organically. While their goal is the probe, I’d hate to think that the story would take Stel and Marik all the way out amongst these monstrously imagined creatures of the sea unless we’re going to cross paths with their missing family members. We’ve had a few glimpses of the surface thus far and they do not bode well, so either way, family reunion or stepping out into the unknown, the next issue is sure to be intense.
– Sarah Register