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!
Miami Vice: Remix #1
Written by Joe Casey
Art by Jim Mahfood
Lettered by Jim Mahfood
Colored by Justin Stewart
I’m pretty sure neither Joe Casey nor Jim Mahfood bothered watching any episodes of Miami Vice before creating this new “remix” of it. The comic is basically a loving parody of what people think of when they think of Miami Vice: bright neon colors, women in bikinis stretching beyond their tensile strength, and two cops who just don’t play by the rules. Detectives Crockett and Tubbs begin the issue being chased by the police across the beaches of Miami. Of course they’re working undercover, and it was all a ruse to gain them entry into a crime boss’s confidence. From there it’s a descent into a criminal underworld and a drug so diabolical it turns its users into zombies.
Much like his Kirby homages (G0DLAND, Captain Victory, etc.), Casey takes the basic framework of Miami Vice and stretches it into something far more bizarre. He’s ably assisted by indie artist Jim Mahfood, whose abstract, graffiti-inspired work gives the comic a manic verve that fuels the batshit crazy story. The colors by Justin Stewart give the issue the look of a neon nightmarescape with odd zip-a-tone textures that help make Mahfood’s art pop into three dimensions.
As I said, this book is fucking nuts, which is Casey’s stock-in-trade recently, but it’s a switch to see him playing outside the sci-fi superhero genre he’s been mining for the last ten years or so. Much like the big screen reboot of 21 Jump Street, Miami Vice: Remix takes an old premise and spins it into something reassuringly familiar yet bizarrely new.
– Jason Urbanciz
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Transformers Combiner Wars: Windblade #1
Written by Mairghread Scott
Art by Sarah Stone
Lettered by Tom B. Long
This is sort of a weird inversion of my Spawn review, because although I’ve been a fan of Transformers as a franchise for most of my life, I’ve never really checked out the comics, I don’t think. I read Tom Scioli’s Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, but that’s pretty different tonally from anything else IDW is doing right now. But I was interested in new character Windblade specifically, and repeated recommendations from folks like Women Write About Comics’ Rachel Stevens and our own Patrick Stinson were enough to get me to check this issue out.
I’d describe myself as comfortably familiar with Transformers characters and lore, but by no means up to date. So Combiner Wars: Windblade #1 was equal parts familiar and insane. There’s Starscream! And…he’s in charge of Cybertron?! And Rattrap is there? And space bridges are still a thing important enough to be referenced roughly every third line? All in all, I followed maybe 65% of the story, which was an even split between political machinations and dudes trying to take down giant combiner Menasor. I loved every second of it, though, especially with the focus on Swindle, one of my all-time favorite characters due to his smarmy personality and huge eyes. Stone’s take on the various designs is gorgeous, running away with Swindle and other goofballs but also lending emotion to even the most neutral of faces like Superion. Everything in this comic looks super cool. It also sounds super cool, with Windblade referring to “The Forgefire Parliament” and “The Mistress of Flames.” There’s a lot of interesting looks at the lives and culture of Transformers, which answers questions I’d been thinking of but didn’t realize anyone else cared about. In short, I loved this book, and I guess I gotta start reading Transformers comics now.
– Joe Stando
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Jem and the Holograms #1
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Sophie Campbell
Colored by M. Victoria Robado
Lettered by Robbie Robbins
If you loved the classic Jem cartoon, as I did, you’ll probably love this comic. If you didn’t watch the cartoon but enjoy fun characters, killer outfits, and superhero origin stories, you will also love this comic. The book’s premise isn’t too far off from the source material: an up and coming all-girl band, the Holograms, is trying to break out big time, but they’re held back by a lead singer who suffers from debilitating stage fright. After ruining yet another opportunity for her bandmates, frontwoman Jerrica runs home to sulk and discovers Synergy, a blend of holographic tech and A.I. that was invented by her deceased father. Her eerily precognitive dad also left her a pair of red star earrings that project a hologram around the wearer. Jerrica sees this technology as a solution for her timidness in front of the microphone and creates the rockstar persona “Jem.”
The original cartoon was like visual candy for eighties fashion, and the artwork successfully updates that look in the most satisfying way. Giant hair and star-shaped accessories are still very much a thing, and each band member adopts a different color scheme with clothing styles that feel modern and, at the same time, “truly outrageous.” Sophie Campbell is able to make these characters emote more on paper than they ever did on screen (although, to be fair, eighties cartoons weren’t known for dynamic animation), which is perfect because these ladies have major personality. Character bios at the end of the issue give you even more insight into the quirky band members. Along with varying fashion sense and hair colors, the girls also have different body types, which is fun for a hippier gal like myself to see in comics.
While this first issue is technically a rockstar origin story, it still reads like a superhero origin story. Bandmates Aja, Shana, and Kimber even make Iron Man references as Synergy explains the awesome power of holograms. With Jerrica’s excitement over being able to hide herself behind her new flamboyant persona, it’s already kind of obvious what lesson this limited series will teach her, but I’m honestly fine with that open book feel. This comic seems focused on having fun more than anything. After all, it’s been said that Jem is excitement and adventure, glamour and glitter, fashion and fame, truly outrageous…
– Sarah Register
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