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!
The Wicked + The Divine #7
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
Colored by Matthew Willson
If you’ve ever been a teenager, you should be reading The Wicked + The Divine.
What started out as a Brit-slick commentary on our generation’s relationship with pop culture has gone on to become an incredibly insightful look into what it means to be an adolescent right fucking now. Its ever-deepening mystery continues to unravel in this second-season opener issue, and the stakes feel higher than ever.
Kieron Gillen’s done an incredible job of putting you in main character Laura’s shoes as she continues to experience the trauma of Luci’s (a.k.a. Lucifer’s) death, two issues behind us. It’s tough to accurately portray a paradigm shift in someone’s thinking through writing, but Gillen pulls it off beautifully with Laura, subtly altering her tone in a way that indicates that she’s, to quote The Morrigan, “not O-fucking-kay.” Reading along with her narration puts you right in her head, the head of a high school age girl with a broken heart and a pop culture obsession, and haven’t we all been that girl once or twice in our lives? But the familiarity with the mindset comes with all its foibles as well. Laura’s insecurities are just as palpable, and as her confidence is shaken, yours is as well. The effect is chilling, and makes Laura’s accidental celebrity all the more claustrophobic.This issue especially felt taut and pointed; Laura is beginning to become more participant than observer of the doings of the Pantheon, and her choices are slowly becoming more consequential.
I’ll be honest: I thought the “gods as pop stars” gimmick would have me bored by issue 7, but I’m still really enjoying it. Gillen and McKelvie have put a lot of work and thought into their Pantheon, and the burn has been slow enough to keep me fascinated. This issue brought us our first real interaction with the Daft Punk-inspired incarnation of Woden and he’s…well, he’s a total dick, but at least you know why by the end. This series continues to impress.
– Adam Pelta-Pauls
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Zombies vs. Robots #1
Written by Chris Ryall and Steve Niles
Art by Anthony Diecidue, Ashley Wood, and Val Mayerik
Colored by Jay Fotos
Lettered by Chris Ryall and Shawn Lee
What first drew me to Zombies vs. Robots as a property was actually a set of action figures at my local comic shop. I was very taken with Ashley Wood’s big, bulky robot designs, especially when juxtaposed against the comparative frailty of zombies. As I got into the various miniseries and anthologies set in the universe, it was clear this is very intentional. ZvR is interesting because it largely removes the central element of zombie stories—humans—and focuses on what the world would be like. We become detached observers, without the fear that goes along with human characters, but also sometimes lacking the heart.
This ongoing series makes the voyeurism explicit, with the main story focusing on a drone robot sent from parts unknown is observe and report the post-nuclear bomb Earth. The drone’s conversation with its master explains and alludes to a lot of the background, while still being a pretty interesting narrative itself. Diecidue’s art style meshes well with the established designs and styles, while still being distinct. I would’ve been a little put out if there wasn’t anything from Wood in the book, but thankfully he has a quick back-up story in addition to his cover art. The final back-up story, by Steve Niles, Val Mayerik and Jay Fotos, focuses on a young human girl cobbling together a robot guardian. It’ll be interesting to see how/if these characters reappear or interact, although Ryall mentions in the foreword that continuity is pretty loose.
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with this book. ZvR has always functioned as sort of an opportunity to jam on a couple ideas, and this series seems like a logical step. I’d like to see some arcs to it (the main story looks like it’s implying one) but even a monthly anthology set in the universe wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
– Joe Stando
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The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #3
Written by Kurt Busiek
Art by Benjamin Dewey
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered and Designed by John G. Roshell and Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Kurt Busiek hasn’t made his love of Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth much of a secret over the years. While he never really got a chance to give that character the full court press he seemed to desire, it’s hard not to see the connections between that and the superb Autumnlands (formerly Tooth & Claw), in which a futuristic human soldier is thrown forward in time into a post-apocalyptic landscape of high fantasy, magic and anthropomorphic beasts.
I’m going to resist the easy temptation to describe this book as one thing plus another thing mashed up with some third thing, and just lay it straight: it’s a high fantasy/sci-fi combination seemingly, at this point, built off of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law: “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Magic’s dying, so a sassy warthog witch lady pissed off a haughty-ass dickhead owl wizard by trying to go back to the birth of magic to bring forward the Great Champion that birthed the Age of Magic. The Champion, rather than the honorable mythical beast-hero they expected, is instead basically a leaner version of the player character in every first-person shooter from the 2000s. Now it’s basically DoomGuy and a furry convention in a vulgar Final Fantasy game. This is completely my jam.
Enough about the concept, though, as much as I love it: I can’t stress enough how beautifully packaged and put together this comic is. Busiek’s a consummate professional, no doubt; he’s been in the game for a long time and knows his way around a long-term plot and a genre mash-up. This book looks beautiful, though. Three issues in and it there hasn’t been a single page that isn’t immaculately produced, and this is down to a lot of people. Benjamin Dewey realizes Busiek’s world beautifully, with immaculate straightforward storytelling elevated by imaginative worldbuilding and character design, a precise attention to detail, and a well-rendered dick or two. It’s not doing anything new, but it’s got a sort of mature-storybook style that it executes insanely well.
Jordie Bellaire’s become one of the most-requested and -lauded colorists in the business in a very short period of time, and anyone reading enough comics can figure out why really easily: she’s incredibly versatile and chameleonic, incredibly capable at modifying her style to fit in with the script and art she’s working with. She doesn’t just make herself look good, she makes everyone else look good, too. Roshell and Betancourt do a fantastic job with the lettering and design; custom word balloons and fonts go a long way towards giving this book the distinctive character and unified look it has. It’s the result of the efforts of a number of people, but it feels like a unified vision.
I recommend this to—well, honestly? Anyone into fantasy and comics at all. Ignore any misgivings over the talking animals, if you have any; this is experienced, expertly executed high fantasy.
– David Uzumeri
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Ivar, Timewalker #1
Written by Fred Van Lente
Art by Clayton Henry
Colored by Brian Reber
Lettered by Dave Sharpe
Cover art by Raul Allen
Seconds before beginning the greatest experiment of her career, physicist Neela Sethi is interrupted in her lab by a strange man who insists she needs to come with him, because she’s about to invent time travel and robots from the future are after her. From there we go on a breakneck race through the past and future as the man, Ivar, and Neela keep just ahead of their pursuers.
Ivar, Timewalker is an interesting spin on the Terminator concept, with Van Lente going so far to throw in a nod with the line, “Come with me if you want to make history.” Thankfully it doesn’t come off as stale or derivative, but rather as something new using the basic framework that gives the reader an instant familiarity. Along with that, he throws in big Kirby-esque concepts like, “Prometheans! Artificial suicide life from the fifth dimension!” and “the sentient city OBLIVI-1, a clockwork holocaust” that sound equally ridiculous and thrilling.
The creators manage to balance it all by centering it around the character of Neela, who is a gem. Though she’s completely out of her depth she manages to maintain her cool (and sense of humor) while trying to figure out if Ivar is to be trusted. Even though he’s the title character, Ivar is a mystery to both Neela and the reader. Is he there to help fulfill or to prevent her destiny? And which one of those is good? I have to make sure to mention Clayton Henry’s outstanding artwork. He successfully moves the book through multiple time periods, from the present to the 1800s to the far future, while keeping a fluid, coherent look throughout. He keeps the action scenes moving fast and maintains momentum through the long bits of dialogue.
This comic does a great job of expanding the new Valiant Universe, giving some nods to where it fits in with the other books of the line without getting bogged down in continuity.
– Jason Urbanciz
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Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues #1 (of 4)
Written by Erik Burnham
Art by Nacho Arranz
Colored by Esther Sanz
Lettered by Gilberto Lazcano
A lot can change in thirteen seconds, including the fate of a warring planet. Taking place years after the classic satirical movie, Galaxy Quest, this comic imagines the other consequences of actor Jason Nesmith activating the “Omega 13” device, turning back time thirteen seconds to change the fate of his crew. I highly recommend readers see the movie, like in general because it’s great, but also before reading this comic, because it’s assuming you already know what’s going on. This is a good thing, because with a limited series, you want to hit the ground running.
Nacho Arranz’s art isn’t photo reference, as you often expect with comics based on movies, but the characters are still recognizable. The first appearance of Tawny features a gratuitous cleavage shot, which, whether it was intentionally referencing the actress’s plight in the movie or not, made me laugh. The new alien designs feel fresh, but still fit within the universe of species created by the movie. The gentle, squid-like Thermians have yet to make an appearance, but hopefully we’ll catch glimpse of them soon.
There’s some fun fanservice right off the bat in this first issue. Fanboy Brandon, now vox-pals with an equally geeky Thermian, seems like he’ll play another vital role in this new conflict. Newcomer to the show, Guy, is taking Jason’s old role in stealing the spotlight from his costars at conventions. Speaking of spotlight, this first issue is very Jason-heavy, and if the comic should learn anything from the convention fans of the television show within the movie, it’s that fans love the crew! I look forward to Sir Alexander Dane pining for some curtain calls, and Fred Kwan being completely unperturbed at life or death situations.
– Sarah Register
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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!