She Said Destroy #1

W – Joe Corallo / A – Liana Kangas / C – Rebecca Nalty / L – Melanie Ujimori / P – Vault Comics

If you don’t know this already, Liana Kangas’ art is drop dead gorgeous.  She Said Destroy #1 showcases it wonderfully.  In the next book to drop from the absolute top end on fire publisher today, Vault Comics, She Said Destroy takes us right into a brewing battle between Gods.  Two Gods actually, because that’s all that are left.  The Goddess of the Sun (Brigid) is standing opposed to her sister, the Goddess of Death (Morrigan).  As it is set up though, it is the Goddess of Death that appears to be our “good guy” in this tale.  I know better than to take face value in Vault books as they are DEEP with meaning and the layers of story are usually uncountable.  For those reasons I’ll take it as it is presented but I’m quite curious …

… and that curiosity will have to wait.  The first issue of SSD drops us face first into what’s going on.  I think this was the best approach seeing as how this story has quite a few characters involved within.  Clearly we’ve got much to cover and I appreciate the foregoing of a huge dump of exposition in this case.  There will need to be some fleshing out of course, but seeing the characters ‘in fashion’ from the get go is refreshing and allows me, as the reader, to put some things together and build my own take.  This initiation also sees the book move quickly and gives glimpses of several different aspects of the larger world/universe in an “at once” kind of fashion.  Personally I love seeing the entirety of a story being displayed and interacting with itself before too much is known/given to us. 

Joe Corallo has drawn inspiration from several places to create a world unique unto itself.  While you’ll see nods to a certain popular RPG, an all time movie franchise, and some influences from fairy tale stories it is the creation we’re being shown that stands out.  The struggle between Brigid’s followers (which is essentially everyone at this point) and Morrigan’s devout order (which are akin to rebels in this tale) is a construct separate from these nods.  There is a flair of personality that sets these characters aside from their inspirations.  Gods butting heads over followers has taken many forms in many different mediums.  With SSD I’m hoping that the individual flair from the characters we’re shown is a precursor for what’s to come with this story.

Liana Kangas, Rebecca Nalty, and Melanie Ujimori have combined to blow you away with the presentation of She Said Destroy’s visuals.  Comics are a visual medium.  This team has taken an excellent premise from Corallo, stolen it, and run away to the hills.  Deliberate lines, immersing colors, and synergistic letters create a down right stunning palette for this book.  It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a team be so individually compelling with their pieces of the art yet so intertwined with the finished product.  The aesthetic of this book threatens to take your breathe away with each page.  The final splash steals it.

She Said Destroy more than lives up to the well earned reputation that Vault books hold.  It is a fantasy driven, visually remarkable book that manages to present an excellent first chapter while maintaining the larger tease of what is coming.

Rush to the shop and nab She Said Destroy #1 TODAY NCBD 5/29 !!!

Wailing Blade – Preview/Rich Douek Q&A

WAILING BLADE #1
Rich Douek – Joe Mulvey – Chris Sotomayor – Jules Rivera – Taylor Esposito

This brutal tale of kick ass is brought to you by the ComixTribe.  It should be no surprise that this Heavy Metal-esque poetry of punishment comes from this outfit.  Yes, you know ComixTribe … they brought you the creator owned favorite SINK!  If ever a title was perfect for a publisher, this is it.

HOLY $#!^ … This IS sci-fi fantastical wonderment!  I cannot help but be transported back to 1980 something watching a gruesome post apocalyptic tale riddled with harsh circumstances and even harsher realities.  As I read through each page I was just giddy with the brutal, metal nature of this tale.  What’s more, is that the book opened up with a sequence reminiscent to the opening montage of an industrial tragedy that fills you with dread and hopelessness in the face of what you’ll have to eventually come to deal with.  The executioner and his blade are iconic in both look and feel.

Beyond the heavy metal exterior there is a very fine tale of actions and consequences.  The root cause of bad things happening is almost always us, as people.  Now, the current situation isn’t given much back story but there are hints to where this world has come from.  Man has fallen from the stars and the blade itself is a remnant of technologies that existed before.  Something pretty tragic had to have happened for the oppressive ruler Tyrant to have his heavy hand suffocating everything and everyone.  The setting though, adds the backdrop for the razor thin margin of living.  This allows us as the reader to feel the gravity of the error made by Tychon (son) as he goes against the advice of Auros (father).  It isn’t just a simple set up, but rather, a grand illustration of the dire plight facing everyone in the pages of Wailing Blade.

The story has given us plenty already and very clearly defines that there is MUCH MORE going on.  The best illustration of this, to  me, is the revelation we get in regards to the Executioner.  Yes the one that wields the blade is everything the legend speaks to, BUT the eyes under the mask tell a much deeper tale.  Of course, the last panel of the book makes it very clear that we’ve only just begun.  I can’t help but wonder about the grander tale behind all of this.  The crafting that has been done in bringing this world to life is very clearly large in scope.  The way the narrative is driven is rather point blank while remaining careful not to rush just to get from point to point.  Every scene within the panels is treated with care and details are everywhere.  You don’t do this if you’re just writing an arcade button masher of a book (though it would still be glorious if this were the case).  From the line art to the colors this world is crafted with care.  There’s a focus and point to have certain things stand out (the blade, the executioner, the remaining technology) but not so much that they feel out of place or unbelievable in the setting we’re given.  All of the details are woven together to create something special.  The lettering doesn’t just lend to, but purposefully injects building blocks into the world (the wail of the blade being a part of the blade itself).  The pieces stand on their own before coming together to make a perfect final product for the brutal, blunt force tale being told.

I could go on, but quite honestly you need to see it for yourself.  Go over to Kickstarter and look over the project.  Of a rather BIG NOTE on this project the price/reward structure is flat out astounding!  You are going to get some serious swag bang for your buck.

Q/A WITH RICH DOUEK

Q – Ok, where in the blue perfect hell did this story come from?  What was the birth of all of this?

Douek – It pretty much started when one of my favorite classic sci-fi authors, Jack Vance, passed away in 2013. When I heard about it, I reread his Dying Earth books, which are a really cool blend of fantasy and science fiction, and it inspired me to start working on a story in a similar setting; a point so far in the future it’s almost unrecognizable as our own world. There were a lot of other infuences, and things I added on my own, but that was the seed.
Q – Immediately upon seeing the images I was thrust back to my childhood.  80’s sci-fi and post-apocalyptic movies mashed up all sorts non-sensical pieces to make an underbelly genre that worked.  Wailing Blade thrusts me right back to being a kid for all the right reasons. Was the environment of WB built specifically or did it grow around the story as it came together?

DouekPart of it grew organically, but I grew up on 80s sci-fi and post apocalyptic stuff too, so that stuff is definitely in Wailing Blade’s DNA. I think a lot of my influences for this came from classic sword and sorcery, stuff like Conan and Elric, but also from crazy 80s cartoons like Thundarr the Barbarian, and Masters of the Universe. A bit of Mad Max, too, though you won’t see many cars in this world!

Q – The Blade itself.  I mean come on. Just, how?  Symbolic or intended to be the the “IT” factor.  Sure, the book is named for it but did that come about as it grew or was that the aim all along?

Douek – Tough one! Because I’m not sure I can explain the origins of the blade without giving away things about the story I’d rather keep secret for now. I will say that yes, it was always a part of the story I wanted to tell here, and it is meant to be symbolic in a way. We kind of touch on in the first few pages why it wails – or at least why everyone in that world thinks it does. But, in the story, the blade has been around for centuries, and has accumulated as many legends about it as lives it has taken. And there’s definitely a reason the title is centered around the blade, and not the person wielding it.
Q – The only thing I’ve read recently that even comes to mind as being close to this is Atomahawk.  Even that isn’t the brutal, over the top, full metal awesome that Wailing Blade is. As the story unfolded was there a goal to make it as unique as possible or was that just a very happy end point of the project playing itself out?

Douek – Wow! That’s a really nice comparison. I love Donny Cates’ work, and Atomahawk is totally up there for me as an example of the kind of over-the-top action we’re going for. As for the question of uniqueness, I’d say that for sure, it’s something we were striving for. I know that when I started talking to Joe about his designs for the book, one of the things he stressed was that he wanted everything – from the costumes right down to the trees and bushes, to look unique to this world, and unique to comics in general. So that was definitely the intent, and as we worked together, and with Chris Sotomayor and Taylor Esposito, we kept feeding off each other and trying to make everything look unique and dynamic.

Q – This is a very big book with a bold scope.  Just how big is the Wailing Blade universe? Is the hyper focused first issue setting the stage for a much broader arena?


Douek – Not going to lie, it’s pretty big. If you look at the map we included in the first issue, you’ll see that the Tyrant’s empire spans an entire continent. And there’s a whole world, and universe beyond that. We have a story in mind that will carry far, far beyond this first series, and, if we are able to financially, we could keep this going for years and years. Just a small example of what I’m talking about – the Wailing Blade and the Headtaker are the most famous of the Tyrant’s executioners, but they’re not the only ones. We’ll meet a second one before this series is done, but there are even more than that, and they all have a part to play in the tales we want to tell in this world.



Q – I have to give you recognition for the absolutely insane reward/price point structure on the Kickstarter campaign.  There is some excellent swag regardless of how much, or not, you’re able to kick in as a backer. How were you able to do this?

Douek – For that, I have to give all the credit to Tyler James, our publisher at Comixtribe. Tyler’s practically made a second career of studying what works, and what doesn’t when it comes to comics and Kickstarter. He runs a podcast called Comixlaunch where the whole focus is on strategies creators can use to make sure they run a campaign that’s great for them, and their backers – so there are a ton of lessons he’s learned over the years that we applied to this. But a big part of what you’re talking about is a commitment from all of us to provide a great experience to everyone who picks up the book, no matter what format they’re reading in, or how much they kick in.


THERE YOU HAVE IT FOLKS! Click below to go straight to the campaign and get on board!

TAKE THE BLADE:


VFTD – Deuce of Hearts

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Richard Mo – Tony Gregori – Claudia Aguirre – Ryan Ferrier – Kim McLean

Tony Gregori is quickly becoming my favorite artist if he’s not already captured that title.  I’ve watched the last couple of years as his style has remained clearly identifiable while growing leaps and bounds.  This book is a delight on several fronts. It takes a truism of today (app life) and brings it into the heart and soul of comicdom.  We get a fantastic voyage that is full of cooky, crazy fun that also delivers a wonderfully written story.

I love the complexity in the book as it mixes several elements in the batter yet still yields a very even tasting final product.  There is obviously a social commentary aspect with the entirety of the app based plot point.  Taking that and merging it with the absurdity (in a good way) of comic books was quite fun.  An app that grants a superhuman ability?  A video game type of buff?  That’s straight comic book at its finest.  Yes, yes there’s clearly a tongue in cheek yet clear message about a particular part of today’s culture BUT it is merely a wonderfully crazy backdrop for the … er, heart of the book.  Those afore mentioned elements are woven by Gregori’s art into a very eye catching visualization of a vanity and ‘how can I up myself’ driven society.  As insanely rich as the presentation is, the true to each of us narrative isn’t overpowered.

Yes, I’ll say it one more time.  Gregori and Aguirre’s work in this book stands on its own.  You can flip through the pages just looking at the incredibly rich and wide cast world that they’ve created.  As you take it in while reading Mo’s story line you can get a feeling of just how well this creative team works together.  The characters are absolutely independent creations and are brought to life in the best possible ways to enrich the book.  Sure, there’s some “base level” dudes/dudettes but that’s the point.  The expertly portrayed fantasy type characters are equally fantastical as the “base” are base.  All of these play perfectly as each of their interactions are as unique as they are as characters.  And that, that right there is the crux of the book.  Despite the overly sci-fi, fantasy, perfectly comic book cast … the point of it all is about US.  Who we are, how we interact, and just what we all come down to when dealing with one another.  Ferrier and McLean lend to the characterizations with spot on lettering.  As with their looks each character’s dialogue feels personal and comes off as unique to them.

Deuce of Hearts is a wonky ride through who we are, what we do, and how we see and value others.  The tale takes a true to form comic book approach in telling us quite a bit about ourselves.  Vanity and superficial machinations are all too often in the driver’s seat.  Very quickly our past choices and actions catch up to us.  We aren’t flawless though and genuinely the truly “bad” folks are outweighed by the good ones.  All of us fall flat on our faces at times with our decision making and none of us are perfect by any stretch.  The tag line is PERFECT.  “Trade up.”  Indeed.  Throughout life people and relationships are often treated and thought of as nothing but just another currency.

Grab Deuce of Hearts.  Read through it and enjoy the superb visual journey.  Read through it again and enjoy the superb personal one.

Comics You Need To Read

CURSE
Michael Moreci/Tim Daniel/Colin Lorimer/Riley Rossmo

When is a Werewolf story not about a werewolf?  Curse gives us that answer as we find a deep dive into just how far a father will go for his son.  This, I think, is why so many have either missed the boat, or the point with this book.  I read it in one sitting and was able to watch the entirety of the story play out.  This was best as this book works best as a once act play cut into scenes rather than a traditional chapter to chapter break type of format.  What Curse does, is give us a standard story BUT with the basic nature of the characters AS the main characters.  A simple premise by no means equals a simple book.  The depth of the writing is incredible as the narrative is driven by the basic nature of those involved.  Usually this is twisted or mutated into something else in order to move things along.  Here we’re given a darling exposition on the basic driving principles that every single one of us can relate too.  A father with a sick son and the Werewolf, an animal, are the two biggest devices.  They make the story and they ARE the story.  Both are essentially broken and in desperate situations.  Neither can afford a single misstep but are beyond the point of rational thinking.  You come to Curse on the premise of a horror book and you get one … just not the one you’re thinking you’re getting.  That’s A GOOD THING.  As the masterful take on the Werewolf unfolds you get a mirrored image of a father who is equally changing with each passing day.  Subtle art elements create the perfect shadowed environment for this story.

All in all CURSE nails the story IT intended to tell.  Read deeper and see how the word applies and embrace the metaphoric setting of characters … you’ll find a fantastic book.

HIGH CRIMES
Christopher Sebela/Ibrahim Moustafa/Lesley Atlansky/Shawn Aldridge

People are divided on this book and that’s a shame.  MOST that aren’t very ‘high’ on it seem to let their personal agendas get in the way of a great noir story in a very unique setting.  Outside of the ‘agency’ High Crimes gives us fresh settings for our main character, scene, and backstories.  I found that quite appealing.  Don’t let your personal agenda get in the way.  Allow yourself to read an excellent book.  Using the backdrop of Mt Everest creates a tie to our shattered protagonist’s past while dramatically illustrating the difficulty and complexity of a mind that has gone through the wringer.  You’ve got be in a rather dark and hard place to take on the job of recovering the hands of fallen climbers for the sake of identification for loved ones.  That’s where we are when all sorts of fresh hell erupts from the frozen over landscape.  That’s what happens when one of the recovered hands is flagged by the CIA!  Now we’ve got all sorts of issues for our issue laden ex-Olympic snowboarder.  The plague of trying above all else to do what is right, but continuously falling into not quite being able to follows the story all the way through.  This makes for a full frontal facing of ones’ self of the harshest nature.  Each step up the mountain is revealing on many different layers.  The book is flat out beautiful and the creative team executed their chosen elements perfectly.  The underlying issues weighed equally, if not more so, than the literal problems within the story.  It is layered and has roots that run deep.  It seems like there’s too much going on but there’s not because everything is tied to who we’re exploring and the mountain she represents.

This is a great take on a classic noir type story that presents a very unique environment.  Risks and dangers abound that normally wouldn’t in this type of story thanks to the use of Everest.  Bravo.

THE GIFTED
Adrian Wassel/Damian Wassel/Nathan Gooden

If you’re looking for an absolute brilliant piece of art, in comic form, then this is what you’re looking for.  So often minimalist is used to dampen an otherwise unfavorable take.  Not here.  Taking a less (and just about absent) approach to dialogue opens up the entirety of the creativity with this team.  The art, forms, and purpose of this book are all the ‘words’ you need to take it all in.  The execution of emotion and understanding through the art directly, and indirectly is on a scale I’ve rarely seen.  There is no question as to what is happening, nor why.  This book is filled with purpose.  Each page is a narrative of its own that when put together presents an unrelenting and powerful piece.  Using elements other than the raw lines sparingly creates a breathtaking gone when they are introduced.  As our main focus (the wolf) is given a precious gift the page literally explodes with color.  The IPA introduced towards the end of the book is another perfect example of not only the creativity, but the intelligence that sits within these pages.  It is clear that the build (represented by emerging elements from raw lines, to color, and to the IAP) hasn’t reached its final form as book two ends.  I truly hope that this story does eventually get completed.  It is hard to create a truly unique vision but we have one here.  The analog for the wolf is the book itself.  Unreal.

The Gifted is a master artistic piece.  The brilliance in art contained within is something that everyone should experience.

THE LAST DAYS OF AMERICAN CRIME
Rick Remender/Greg Tocchini/Rus Wooton

The seedy underbelly of life is what makes the noir/crime story so fascinating.  For every ray of light and good deed there’s the other side of things.  We’re presented a very close knit bare bones outline in The Last Days of American Crime but the novel approach to the antagonizing event is what shines through.  It isn’t just that a heist is planned, it’s that it is a genuine last chance.  Even criminals and low life types are slaves to the underwritten laws of being human.  We want to succeed, to do something worthy, or at the very least make SOME kind of impression.  With a week left to commit a crime our story is given a birth and a wild crime romp ensues.  The overbearing tones (huge government endeavor to signal boost the end to crime) drive the pretense that no matter what you just may not be able to outrun who you are destined to be.  Drugs, sex, and bad doing are in the blood of some.  For others its is a genuine desire to be good but simply unable to get out of one’s own way long enough to do it.  Then of course there’s the good hearted soul that will take a karmic gift even if it may have come from ill intentions.  The characters come crashing together and both the good and bad nature of who we are, and can be create a glorious train wreck of interactions.  As the week winds down and hands are forced the end product leaves much to smile about, but plenty to long for (as a person).  The presentation is realistic when needed and over the top when necessary.  Each page is a treat.

TLDOAC is more than just a classic crime thriller.  There are several elements combined to make a different kind of take of the genre.  All in all a good take that is fun too read all around.

TOP COMICS – 2018

To close out 2018 we’d like to list our “top comics” of the year.  This has been a fantastic year for the comic community in terms of the breadth and depth of the books coming out.  The last quarter of the year exploded with prime examples of this.  There are a few books that would have made this list MUCH MUCH harder to dwindle to 10 if they’d have come out earlier in the year.  I’ve even got one in that section that was majorily a 2017 book but did have 4 issues this year to conclude the series.

     First up is the “I wish there was more but holy hell are these fantabulous already” section (to include that one that ended this year).  The White Noise 4 Horsemen (Dan Watters, Ryan O’Sullivan, Alex Paknadel and Ram V) have put out absolutely stellar books for Vault Comics that are pushing the boundaries, and rewriting some, of the comic book medium.  Fearscape, Friendo, and These Savage Shores have shot out of the gate and blown our collective minds.  Fearscape (O’Sullivan) flexes the literary muscle and manages to make a comic book feel like so much more.  The power in its prose is unrelenting and oh by the way we’ve got one hell of a story on our hands.  Friendo (Paknadel) isn’t to be out done though.  This is the horrific tale of the all too real barrel we’re staring down and how we lose ourselves before the trigger is even pulled.  We literally sell ourselves, souls and any shred of who we are for the next shiny thing.  This one’s scary because it’s true.  Of course These Savage Shores (Ram V) brings the traditional horror characters but a completely unconventional script to lay them out.  Right as you get the feeling you know what’s going on you’re shown that the horrors have horrors greater then them.
     Vault isn’t the only one having fun however.  Infinite Dark is showing off Ryan Cady’s writing prowess with a tale of dread and woe.  Hopelessness and dread fill the minds of everyone at times and what could be more hopeless or dreadful than being on a “malfunctioning” space arc holding the last remnants of the human race after the heat death of the universe … YEAH.  This one is fantabulous, dark and full of icky that makes you want more.  Keeping in vein of that icky but wanting more, Hot Lunch Special from Eliot Rahal has its icky in an outlet much closer to home.  We all know that small town with big secrets.  Here we’re being given a big time mafioso war playing out through a family tale.  The heart chords he’s plucking are very clearly personal.  It makes for damn fine reading.  Damn fine reading is exactly what Saladin Ahmed gave us with Black Bolt.  The tale of the ‘Midnight’ King wrapped up this year and it was one of the best ever expositions of a character.  We got a bare bones stripped down to the core story of one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel universe.  For all his power he’s never been more powerful than he was in these 12 issues.  The thought and care put into this story was superb.

So now we head over to what we feel are the TOP COMICS of 2018!


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Immortal Hulk
Al Ewing – Joe Bennett – Ruy Jose – Paul Mounts
Everything you know and love about the Hulk … isn’t here.  This is a return to the roots of the character and what the Hulk is.  A monster.  The outward rage machine driven by the inward hate machine is front and center.  Even more appealing is that the mythos is being built upon and there is so much more to the Hulk and the gamma radiation, than we ever knew or dreamed.  Both his friends and his enemies are after him and “sightings” have started spotting the map in the vein of the serial killer hunts.  This is a down right excellent book.  You know nothing about the Hulk.  Read this book.

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Spectacular Spider-man
Chip Zdarsky – Adam Kubert – Juan Frigeri – Jordie Bellaire
If you had to describe the essence of what makes Spider-Man, and more so Peter Parker, such a perfect ideal of a super-hero character this book would be a great way to capture that description.  It’s a little over the top here and there, is way more involved than you’d ever feel you could believe Spidey could be and features classic characters and issues from the way back days of Spideydom.  It’s a nice package of everything that is Spidey and what makes Parker so endearing.

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Black Badge
Matt Kindt – Tyler Jenkins – Hilary Jenkins 
This feels like an old book in all the right ways.  Page worn looking art really brings about the espionage tale of the boy scouts!  Yes, that’s right.  An elite ops group that navigates by way of the good ‘ol boy scouts?  Too good.  But wait, there’s more!  It ain’t just the Black Badge … there’s a few others as well.  But who can be trusted?  Expert espionage under the guise of wholesome America is a sure fire winner.  Expertly done and a fresh take on the genre.


Evolution
James Asmus – Joseph Keatinge – Christopher Sebela – Joshua Williamson – Joe Infurnari – Jordan Boyd 
A big team but this is a book with a big scope.  Horror comes in all shapes, sizes and forms.  Here we’re dealing with the horror of human evolution.  At least, that’s what it seems is going on, but is there something else at play?  A doc that caught on quick is now considered a crazy outsider but of course he’s uncovered the truth.  There’s familiar set ups but this is a book that is delivering a different type of approach to the potential end of the world.  Consistently good and engrossing.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, truly.

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Dark Ark
Cullen Bunn – Juan Doe
We all know the story, but in the immortal words of Paul Harvey, this is “the rest of the story.”  Everything has another side and the good in the world is no exception.  This is the story of the OTHER ark built to withstand the flood.  The unnatural, evil and monstrous creations and beings inhabit this and it’s as bad of an idea as you’d think.  Treachery, deceit and of course murder are all on tap in this twisted tale of salvation from the flood.

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Bone Parish
Cullen Bunn – Jonas Scharf – Alex Guimaraes
It’s as if Cullen has felt his ‘horror kingpin’ title is being challenged.  With Dark Ark (and Cold Spots) and this book he’s FIRMLY reminding people that he’s THE horror author in comics today.  This book is showing just how wide of a net he casts over the genre.  This book brings normal disputes (drugs, territory, opposing families/groups) into his dimly lit cave of storytelling.  This book is haunting as well as out right scary.  If you want a combination of some of the darkest corners of self-inflicted horror and tangible terror, then look no further.

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Wasted Space
Michael Moreci – Hayden Sherman – Jason Wordie
The galaxy, well, sucks at this point.  There’s a literal rag tag group here that can save it, or … well do something about it at least.  It isn’t often that something comes along and immediately grabs you and TELLS YOU that it is going to be special.  This book does that and lets you know that you’re going to forget all about those Space Opera Epic type stories because THIS one is where it’s at.  While managing to be fun, funny, functional and forward with the narratives Wasted Space is a finely woven piece that is far more complex than the fuqbot facade implies.  You want epicness?  Here you are.

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Deep Roots
Dan Watters – Val Rodrigues – Triona Farrell
A lesson in expertly laid out duality, Deep Roots was actually the first salvo in the afore  mentioned White Noise 4 Horsemen.  This book landed as the announcement was being made and it set a tone that was completely unreal.  Current political/social realities are merged with a fantasy realm to paint a disturbing yet beautiful picture of not only our current state, but our potential future.  The commentary runs layers deep and touches on very real issues.  Though, this does not keep the book from being an utterly fantastic fantasy tale.


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Long Lost
Matthew Erman – Lisa Sterle
There’s truth in “you can never go home again” and with Long Lost we get an absolute brilliantly laid out dreadful reckoning of two sisters that make the attempt to do so.  People change, places change and so does everything else.  When you hear “it’s worth it” this is a book that is absolutely that, worth it.  A slow burn but only because there are layers of metaphors and symbolism that are peeled back to make the payoff that much more impactful.  It is all but wrapped up and the ending to this book will be tragic in several meanings of the word … but in the best possible way.  This is easily the sleeper hit of the comic year.

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The Wilds
Vita Ayala – Emily Pearson
A zombie book that is anything but a zombie book was my most pleasant surprise of the year.  In an overstuffed genre we got a team that took it and made something else out of it entirely.  This book is beautiful in both exposition and visuals.  Several ideals are visited (mob mentality, self identity, social identity) as the odd and disturbing events unfold.  Of course, the secret of it all reveals the true horror of things and how it relates to us.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but found an absolute gem.