Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by Alex Paknadel
Art by Artyom Trakhanov
Colored by Jason Wordie
Lettered by Colin Bell
“Look at that sky, Marta. They’re leaving. 300 years and they’re finally leaving.”
Turncoat is an amazing, chaotic premiere that’s AKA Jessica Jones meets District 9. In this first installment we learn that aliens have colonized Earth for years, centuries in fact, and after finally striking a brutal blow, humanity is able to drive them away. After so long living under the alien rulers (referred to as “Management”), however, how do you even begin to rebuild society? Marta, an ex-Management cop and turncoat who helped turn the tables on the war, tries to live under the radar as a P.I. until a new job brings her dangerously close to old Management secrets.
This single issue features an impressive amount of world-building. Paknadel does an excellent job expanding on the necessary details and allowing the rest to fall into context, so the story progresses at a natural pace without the reader missing a beat. The plot itself is a deeper exploration of colonization fallout, something that could be found in history books but is brought to light with a more exciting alien invasion. While portions of humanity feel liberated after Management’s retreat, others feel a kind of loyalty to their previous overseers and continue to live as though the leadership is the same, with often violent results.
Artyom Trakhanov packs a lot into every panel, like organized chaos. While the illustrations feel almost messy, every detail is still rendered, and Trakhanov utilizes strategically placed circles to draw the reader’s eye to the important stuff. The artwork adds to the story context, as well, especially in clues to everything Management has left behind. For example, people still use alien tech in lieu of electronic devices, which, granted, is less techy and more squishy, organic life form that you hold up to your ear and use as a cell phone. To top it off, colorist Jason Wordie blankets everything in a drab palette, really emphasizing those gross alien pea greens and chartreuses
This comic really took me by surprise. An entire historical epic is packed into just the introduction, and we only scratch the surface of the truly juicy stuff at the end of the issue. The story feels almost cheated by its limited run, but with Paknadel’s success with Arcadia, maybe this is just the beginning.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Steven Universe and The Crystal Gems #1
Written by Josceline Fenton
Art by Chrystin Garland
Colored by Leigh Luna
Lettered by Jim Campbell
“No, no, you got to do it properly! With the scary voice and the flashlight!”
Steven Universe fans still recovering from the impact of Cartoon Network’s latest Steven Bomb should seek out this miniseries while they wait for new episodes: Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems #1 is a fun and fulfilling debut. BOOM! Studios’ previous Steven Universe comic was entertaining, but sadly ended just as the animated series was heating up; the new comic by Josceline Fenton and Chrystin Garland distinguishes itself by presenting a serialized story rather than wacky vignettes. Think of this as a quadruple-sized episode.
The first issue has a great hook: Steven Universe takes his guardians, the alien warriors known as the Crystal Gems, on a camping trip where he introduces them to human traditions like building campfires and telling scary stories. But after the Crystal Gems tell their own scary story, something really does go bump in the night, leading to a strange new mystery for Steven and the Gems to solve.
As a creative team, Fenton and Garland are perfectly in sync with their characters; the comic is perceptive to how Steven and the Gems relate to each other (note how Steven’s story casts Garnet as a protective babysitter) and knows how to mine those relationships for comedy. Garland’s artwork faithfully captures the warm spirit of the animated series and wisely uses sight gags to reflect personality traits such as Garnet’s strength, Pearl’s fastidiousness, and Amethyst’s humongous appetite. So far, the comic is a worthy extension of the beloved cartoon. It’s charming and fun, but with a surprisingly serious core under its candy coating. It may be a while before the next Steven Bomb drops; until then, Steven Universe and The Crystal Gems does its best to keep Beach City weird.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!