One of the many things that I enjoy when visiting a comic shop is finding something new to read. There are plenty of series that I collect and read regularly but finding that new gem, that new title that knocks my socks off, well it can be pretty thrilling. A couple of months ago I picked up a new comic Barbaric, from Vault comics. I liked it so much I called up the shop and asked them to put it on my pull list. I got such a kick out of it I wrote about it because I wanted to share it with anyone who actually reads this blog. It’s that kind of find that keeps me searching the racks for new material.
Marvel, DC, Image, and the smaller publishers are constantly relaunching series and putting out new ones. Marvel and DC very rarely put out new series with new characters, but Image and lots of the smaller companies do. I’ll give those established characters a try sometimes, but for the last couple of years I’ve been looking to those other companies where creator controlled stories thrive. Guys like Rick Remender or Jeff Lemire write great superhero stories, but when they get the chance to tell their own stories with their own characters that’s when we get comics like Scumbag and Black Hammer, two current favorites of mine. It is those small publishers I gravitate to lately for my “new” fix, companies like Vault, Ablaze and Aftershock. Here’s a look at a couple of new number ones that I read recently.
We Ride Titans – Vault Comics
Writer – Tres Dean
Artist – Sebastián Píriz
Colorist – Dee Cunniffe
Letterer – Jim Campbell
Cover artist – Joshua Hixson
The story starts with a battle between a Kaiju and a Titan (mech) controlled by Dej Hobbs. Dej and his Titan are trying to protect the city. Things don’t go well, the Kaiju is stopped but there is plenty of damage done and Dej is blamed. The story transitions to Kit (who we learn is Dej’s sister) and her partner (who’s name we don’t learn) discussing what’s happened in the city. They argue because Kit is upset about her brother. Her partner storms off and Kit feels bad. She goes about her day and decides to make it up to her partner by cooking dinner. Kit is interrupted when her mother shows up asking her to help Dej, the family, and the city by returning to the Titan program. Kit scoffs at the idea but by the end of the story she decides to give in and do what needs to be done.
The art was fine, but didn’t blow my skirt up. The dialog was also good, and very realistic. It was well paced but the panels were big and not especially embellished. Not a lot actually happens. The opening action sequence was brief but not thrilling. The rest of the story seems to take up too much of the issue and is rather predictable. All together it was a fine comic but hardly a gripping #1 issue meant to wow the reader enough to buy the next one. If I see #2 on the shelves I’ll pick it up because it is a comic that is supposed to feature Kajiu and giant mechs which is enough to get me to give it another go, but if it lacks in the same way this one did the second issue will be my last.
Apache Delivery Service – Dark Horse
Script – Matt Kindt
Art and Letters – Tyler Jenkins
Colors – Hilary Jenkins
Matt Kindt is a writer who I am quite familiar with. I loved his work on X-O Manowar. I am really enjoying his take on the Vandal Savage character idea in the Brzrkr comic he is doing with Keanu Reeves. One of these days I’ll even find my issues of Black Badge and finish that story. The point is that he’s a guy I’ll easily take a chance on.
This comic is a Vietnam war book featuring a protagonist who happens to be a Native American. Our unnamed hero is a soldier who likes to be on his own and appears to be something of a savant when it comes to killing. He takes a fair amount of grief from his fellow soldiers which contributes to his loner attitude. While out in the bush something happens to him and he’s taken prisoner by a mysterious gentleman who asks him if he’s interested in looking for Nazi gold.
The story is told in the present and through flashbacks. We do learn that the main character is Navajo not Apache, as his fellow Americans refer to him in derogatory fashion. Other than how skilled a hunter he is we don’t know much else, but Kindt is obviously building to something and it is not your run of the mill war book. The art is really up my alley; moody and heavily inked. There are lots of panels with no dialog but there is a lot of drama that comes through in the wordless scenes. All in all it is an interesting package and left me wanting more. I really want to find issue 2 on the stands to see where the story is going.
Lunar Room – Vault
Writer – Danny Lore
Artist – Gio Sposito
Colorist – DJ Chavis
Letterer – Andworld
In this case, I preordered the comic through DCBS because the story involves Werewolves. I’m a sucker for Werewolves. The story takes place in a world where monsters and humans share the same existance. The reader is dropped into the middle of the story. There’s a sword that some creepy dude wants. The woman from the cover, Idris, fights a Banshee and then ends up at a boxing club for monsters, but I have no idea why really. She’s known by the folks who seem to be running the fights. Some stuff goes down and by the end of the story just when Idris seems to be turning into a wolf, she doesn’t, and gets really pissed about it.
I’m not familiar with the creators of this comic and this purchase was made sight unseen, based solely on the solicit and it involving werewolves. Unfortunately this book was pretty disappointing. There were no werewolves other than on the cover. There is very little world building and character development. There is some good action and certainly enough interesting things to get the reader engaged enough to want to read more. I like the premise but I did not like the art or the story enough to want to buy more issues. There is nothing bad or awful about it, there just wasn’t enough for me.
Animal Castle – Ablaze
Writer – Xavier Dorison
Artist – Félix Delep
Colors – Félix Delep & Jessica Bodard
Lettering – Tom Napolirano
This one is easy to say why I bought it, the cover. Pure and simple. The huge black bull, dogs, and the small white cat. I love the image (and animal stories) so I felt I had to check this out. I flipped through the book and the art was fantastic. I was sold. I actually bought #1 and 2 together. The art is reminiscent of the late 60’s, early 70’s Disney movies like The Jungle Book or Robin Hood. There is a lot of detail, wonderful backgrounds, and scenery that brings the world to life. The first two issues also pack in a ton of story. We meet all kinds of different characters, learn the ins and outs of their situations, their motivations, their hopes and dreams. There is some outstanding world building done.
The story itself involves a large group of farm animals living in a castle where there is a significant caste system in place. The larger and meaner farm animals, the bull, cows, and dogs are in charge. The smaller, weaker animals; goats, sheep, chickens, geese and cats are subservient workers. The story itself is similar to George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” allegory tale of the Russian Revolution. Animal Castle is not an allegory for the Russian Revolution per se, but is a story about oppression, greed, and oligarchy.
The central character of the story is Miss Bengalore, a slight, white cat with two kittens to care for. She works hard moving stones that are used to build, or reconstruct damage done to the castle. She works hard but barely earns enough to feed her kids. She interacts with other animals that are at her level in life, like the rabbits and geese. The animals are kept in line, working hard and bringing supplies to the food store by a rooster and a pack of vicious dogs. The whole castle is ruled by the big bull, President Silvio.
I read the first two issues and loved the story. Dynamite art, great storytelling, and political intrigue all told through the eyes of animals. I’d highly recommend this one to anyone who thinks those things sound entertaining and I can’t wait until issue three comes out.
Well there it is, a look at some of the good and not so good comics that I’ve tried out in the last couple of weeks. A thumbs up for Animal Castle and Apache Delivery Service, a metza-metz for We Ride Titans, and one and done for Lunar Room. I don’t think I’ll stop trying new things and thankfully in the world of comics there is always something out there that I’ve never read before.
I think I may have noticed Animal Castle in passing…but I think you’ve just sold me on it. I’ve been picking up Lost Dogs (Image, haven’t READ but looks good!) and Good Boy (Source Point Press, sort of a reverse John Wick where a dog’s human is killed and he goes on the hunt).
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Walt, do you mean Stray Dogs? If so, that series was excellent, a very different take on an animal story. Beast of Burden is another animal book I really like. I’ll have to check out Good Boy, that sounds a like a very cool concept. Thanks for checking this out.
Stray Dogs…yep! I sure did mean that one. Wonder where I got “Lost Dogs” from??? Well…it’s a Monday, so c’est la vie.