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!
Dead Vengeance #1
Written by Bill Morrison
Art by Bill Morrison (pencils), Keith Champagne (inks) and Carlos Badilla (colors) Lettered by Nate Piekos
Dark Horse Comics
Dead Vengeance is taking a stab at recreating a bygone era, in a couple different ways. The story itself is somewhere between pulp novel and weird fiction, about a preserved corpse in a 1940s carnival sideshow who wakes up and tries to solve his own murder. But stylistically it’s also clearly homaging the early pulp comics of that era, like Dick Tracy. It’s a clever idea, and it tends to work more often than not.
Visually, the book is great, with heavy lines and compositions that are old-fashioned without being outdated. Morrison includes plenty of good period details, from radio microphones to clothes to cars. The protagonist Johnny Dover is also a nice balance of styles, macabre enough to get the point across but not too ghoulish.
The problem with the book, for me, is that it tells much more than it shows. Between the interior and exterior monologues of Dover and the flashback to his human life, narrated by a friend, a lot of this book is taken up by blocks of text. On the one hand, it feels very much like the kind of script you’d hear on an old radio serial or something. But there’s a reason comics moved past that, and there are a whole lot of talking heads in this book, even during some of the more action-packed scenes. Still, I liked the vibe the book was going for a lot, on the whole. There’s hints of more supernatural stuff scattered throughout, hopefully it leans harder into that, rather than more exposition.
– Joe Stando
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Written by Sean Lewis
Art by Benjamin Mackey
The world is ending (isn’t it always) with a holy war, and our saviors are a group of rejects and cashiers in this blaspheming new Image title. Blaise is your standard dark and misunderstood guy who broods on his darkness and misunderstoodness backstage at a death metal show, seeming all too typical until he heals the band’s lead singer (who is vomiting blood, no less) with his “dark touch” just in time for the first set. Soon some deeply iconographic visions lead Blaise to a very large gay man with arrows in his stomach, and to his own grocery store crush, all of whom have powers and seem to share a connection with religious icons.
There’s a lot of Catholic guilt in this story, as well as some Catholic resentment; the mythology of the saints and angels is treated with a kind of reverence, but then again there is a guy drinking human piss out of a goblet on the second page, so it’s like giving the religion a middle finger but in a thoughtful, not entirely disrespectful way. There’s a healthy dose of irony to balance things out, however, such as a chaste character with Saint powers who refuses to say a cuss word and can kick Blaise’s ass in a scene that is juxtaposed with the aforementioned piss-drinking and blood vomiting. This is definitely a story to approach with some humor, and clearly the creative team does.
Benjamin Mackey’s artwork and colors are very streamlined and clean, which is a refreshing approach to a dark, gritty Image story. His approach to the religious imagery, which, it almost goes without saying, this comic most definitely contains, is actually pretty subtle. Blaise’s prophetic golden dream sequences, for example, are not in traditional rectangular panels but instead circular, symmetrical patterns that look not unlike Biblical scenes in stained glass windows. While the protagonist feels like a character I’ve read about before, the story itself is compelling and trying new things with mythology, which I dig. Plus, on the last pages, some new players are revealed who are way bigger than three randos with super powers. This is a comic that’s sure to deliver one heck of a holy war.
– Sarah Register
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