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!
Written by Dan Watters
Art by Caspar Wijngaard
Letters by Jim Campbell
Limbo is a neo-noir tale with nostalgia for the ’80s and a heaping spoonful of the uncanny. The story follows Clay, an amnesiac P.I., who gets in too deep with his city’s seething underground after a beautiful, mysterious woman shows up in his office. She’s looking for some protection, because, get this, she saw a voodoo ceremony in her club where a television ate a goat and now she’s afraid her luchador boss is going to kill her to keep her quiet about it. And for Clay, this is just another day in the office.
Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard are both somewhat new in the comics biz, but you wouldn’t know it considering this premiere issue’s impeccable timing and rhythm. The story dances across the panels, along with Clay’s savior, Sandy, a woman who channels voodoo spirits through cassette tapes while shaking her groove thing to Kool & the Gang. Wijngaard’s illustrations are dynamic and his color palette is practically vibrating. The shimmering electric neon city of Dedande baths characters in pinks and teals and infuses elements of the 1980s with Dia de los Muertos ephemera, making the reader as clueless as Clay to where (and when) exactly he is in the world.
There’s a delicious paradoxical element to this story, because Watters takes things that are familiar—elements of a standard Hollywood crime drama plot, ’80s tech and fashion, a down-on-his-luck hero who drinks too much—and bastardizes them with magic and mayhem, making this first issue fresh and highly readable. I dig this comic completely.
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Dustin Nguyen
Lettered & Designed by Steve Wands
Jeff Lemire is one of the biggest writers in the biz at the moment, and the news that he was going to tackle a hard sci-fi space opera last year was music to my ears. The result is Descender, one of the biggest comics of 2015, and with good reason. Lemire’s book is about a future where the fabled robot uprising of [insert here literally any sci-fi featuring robots since RUR] has already come and gone, and it left an unsurprisingly bad taste in the galactic races’ collective mouths. This results in a universe where robots are hunted, almost to extinction, by rovings gangs of “scrappers,” who decommission robots for money. This issue is the first in the new season of the series, and picks up right where #6 left off: with fugitive simulant (and possible robo-messiah) Tim-21 meeting another of his now-long-terminated line for the first time. But Tim-22 definitely isn’t the wide-eyed adventurer that 21 is, which opens the door for some hard lessons for our little rob’.
Lemire teams up with artist Dustin Nguyen for the series, and Nguyen’s work is pretty breathtaking, all light pencils and watercolors on textured paper. The opening of this issue, which takes place on an icy backwater planet, is done with incredible finesse and fine detail. Nguyen incorporates the texture of the paper into his rendering of the snowscapes and the effect is really, really cool, really unlike anything else on the shelves these days.
If I had to have a gripe, though, it’d be with the writing, unfortunately. Lemire has incredible story ideas that would play out beautifully, if left on their own. But the final product on the page almost always feels overwritten to me. Take this issue, for example. The big, dramaturgical reason for the issue is a plot twist that I won’t spoil, but that the book wants you to have on the last page. Problem is, all the clues are so obvious and paced such that most readers will have the revelation on page 18. The book, oblivious to this, then goes on to explicitly reveal the same information on page 25.
This kind of twist is something that I encountered in Lemire’s other sci-fi work, Trillium, as well. However, it’s conspicuously absent from his more grounded pieces, like Essex County and Underwater Welder. The latter, especially, was paced so chillingly, achingly slowly that it haunted me for days after I finished it. If Lemire can bring a little of that magic to Descender, too, I think it could be something transcendent.
(Click thumbnails to enlarge)