Quick Hits (JAN 2021)

Luke Barnes
Nick Goode
Harry Hughes


A piece of a larger puzzle, Odyssey is futuristic zombie romp. The larger ‘Snow-verse’ that this is part of has seen climate change wipe out pretty much everything. This book hits on the isolated bastions of civilization being infected (literally) from the desolated world outside. The race is on to reach the Odyssey, an spaceship orbiting Earth. With the knowledge that this is set in a larger scale universe of stories the stakes seem a bit more real for those involved here. This book also does an excellent job of presenting a stand alone while being connected to the larger scale universe it resides in.


Ryan Bis
Crizam, Nathan Olson, Cristian Sauret, Nazareno Acuña, Sabrina Deigert, Renan Balmonte, Elijah Isaiah Johnson, Emma Southey-Ray, Jaka Prawira, Harold Palad, Heidi Black, Max Moda, Matias Zanetti and Mauro Mantella, Kathleen Brown and Iwan Yoko Triyono


An anthological look at the future takes place through the eyes of various citizens that are experiencing it. Written by Ryan Bis and illustrated by a host of outstanding talents, CFAW takes seemingly unconnected takes and weaves a singular overarching tale through perspective. Akin to Astro City’s “big picture through the tiniest threads that create it” approach to the themes that make us, CFAW is a grand tale being told piece by piece. This way of storytelling allows for exponentially more breadth and depth without bogging the reader down. There isn’t expositional world building as this is done by the individualism of the tales themselves. An entry into things to come, CFAW is a great project that hopefully sees future explorations.


Dalton Shannon and Wells Thompson
Serg Acuna, Kath Lobo, Mia Strizzi, Mary Landro, Andrea Modugno, Leonardo Grazzi, Antonio Russo Tantaro, Fisher Lee, Sleight, Walter Ostlie, and Doctor Fantastic


Boasting a who’s who of indie talent this horror anthology hits the mark as both a horror book and well put together anthology. Now, obviously not every story is going to be a hit or fit for everyone. That’s not the point. The anthology format is about mood, setting and displaying the talent involved. Aces on these fronts with this one. With an author pair delivering the scripts for each story there is a commonality of tone that really allows each artist to put forth their own flair. This really works as each story is drastically different in setting in order to showcase all types of horror. Whether it’s the terror of a new job or the horror of a cosmic threat you’ll find something in this book that hits that dread button.

Scout’s Honor #1



AFTERSHOCK COMICS
STORY: David Pepose
ART: Luca Casalanguida
COLORS: Matt Milla
LETTERS: Carlos M. Mangual

Fallout meets Mulan meets The Handmaid’s Tale
in this post-apocalyptic thriller. At the heart of the series is a cult that has built itself in the aftermath of a nuclear war, with one artifact of the before-times as its guiding light: a Boy Scouts manual. But the series lead, Kit, has a secret that could upend the entire society in one fell swoop.“In a harsh survivalist society that only allows men to serve, Kit has concealed her identity as a woman to pursue her calling as a Ranger Scout.

But when she makes a shocking discovery dating back to the Ranger Scouts’ conception, Kit will be forced to reexamine everything she once believed, as she struggles to survive both her fellow Ranger Scouts and the radioactive horrors of the Colorado Badlands


David Pepose is dead set on creating all of our favorite comic books. From the hauntingly good Spencer & Locke, to the RomComAction Going to the Chapel and over to the high fantasy O.Z. Pepose has impressively flexed his masterful writing ability. Now we get yet another strikingly different genre but more of the same mastery of writing. Concept alone is brilliant. Execution of this debut issue is flawless. Even though we venture to a dark new setting the prevailing themes of Pepose’s writing hold true. The personal aspect and relatable states have extended into Scout’s Honor. Even more so, the absurdity associated with these things gets even more visible play thanks to the setting – overly large mutant pigs anyone? The tried and true masked gang of baddies is present as well but as with all of his previous writing, Pepose makes them feel wholly his own. Perhaps the biggest piece of brilliance in the first issue is how the Scouts themselves have been made anew. As with what we know of them today, the scouts in this adventure earn their merit badges (listed at the back of the book) according to the new world they live in. Most telling of these badges is the ‘History of the Badlands’ entry. I won’t spoil anything for you but unless I’m reading far to into things, the description is telling and has me ready to dive into each issue going forward.

Adding a dash of fantasy to belief systems that have and currently do exist in society has created an unyielding and unforgiving world on several fronts. The social commentary and allusions in Scout’s Honor drive home the stakes and ramp up the tension to believable levels danger that grip the reader. The bow on this book is the visual representation. Our characters feel both individual unto themselves as well as collective to the environment they inhabit. Post-apocalypticness comes across very well with neon green eyed killer boars, a gritty overtone, rustic and beat up settings and of course the outfitting of the characters themselves. Surprisingly the book is colorful even though it is steeped in the juices of nuclear war aftermath. Again, credit to the art team for delivering an aesthetic that is as gripping as the narrative. Subtle touches with the lettering bring across the atmosphere perfectly. The dystopian reality Scout’s Honor is housing is given its due in spades. It is the scenes outside of the main narrative that really seal the deal though. How Kit earns the Eagle Guard badge as well as a type of cut scene displaying the ‘honor’ of the scouts gives a glimpse of the bigger picture of struggling to survive in the post apocalyptic new world.

Finishing off the first issue is an excellent hook that throws a wrench into everything. It immediately calls for a second read through as it exposes, brings light to, and alters how you see and comprehend what was presented to you. Within the patriarchal framework of the seven laws that guide the Scouts’ way of life there is very serious sci-fi going on. Nothing is ever what it appears to be and that holds especially true in the nuclear ravaged future of Scout’s Honor. As beautifully as this book is put together I hardly noticed the amount of dialogue/narrative. It all moved together and flowed from page to page effortlessly. I have no doubt that this book will end up on quite a few lists come the end of the year … and we’ve only just begun.

Wishful Thinking

Wishful Thinking #1

Writer: Jackson Raines
(twitter: @mysticmike8, insta: @zachbrains
Artist: Carlos Trigo
(twitter and insta: @carlos_trigo)
Colorist: Ester Salguero
(twitter and insta @estersa_art)
Letterer: Letter Squids
(twitter and insta: @lettersquids)

Described as a comic with inspirations such from the Dresden Files and Better Call Saul, Wishful Thinking is an effort to produce a character driven trip while hitting on themes relating to identity (losing identity, finding your identity, etc) which are struggles we all face.

The book is stylized very well with the art and coloring. The lettering adds to the environment and setting and really helps the overall feel of the book fall in line with the story. I couldn’t help but think of ” … the animated series” type of presentation as I read through. The art, colors, and lettering shine as they make rather mundane settings (an office and bank for the most part) feel extra worldly, as the plot and characters certainly are. The creative team did an excellent job of creating the magical scene while keeping things grounded enough in the reality of it to maximize effect.

So what’s it all about then? Well we’ve got an ex-genie that is now a wish consultant. Borrowing from tried and true tropes we are given an almost animated take. Don’t be fooled by the famous blue genie-esque look of a certain someone however. He’s more actual genie (Djinn) than the other guy. It is this usage that drives the narrative, action, and consequences of the book. It works extremely well as our main character (Jim, the blue guy) goes about helping his clients go through what he used to do do on his own (grant wishes, but with the whole untidy back end part). What we end the book with is a bit of a mess, both literal and figuratively, as a fairy is introduced. This all sets up what would appear to be a whole heck of a lot more for good ‘ol Jim. The trappings of the law (real and supernatural) are utilized perfectly and create a truly unique premise. The promise of relating to identity is delivered upon in this very first issue. Our first “adventure” sees Jim’s client knowingly and vehemently willing to give hers up to have her wish. In doing so we’re given what is very surely the main antagonist for Jim as this book continues on.

If you get the chance go find this one. It delivers on more than one layer and was a very good read.

AHOY THERE!

In the last few years we’ve seen a slew of new indie publishers enter the comic realm. With attention spans lasting less than a second and the speculation sector once again trying to crash the whole damn party, Ahoy Comics has quickly made a name for itself by doing something so outlandish that it worked. They put out good comics. Yes, I know. Crazy concept yeah? Well they dared to do it and have excelled thus far. Admittedly there’s a fresh approach employed by Ahoy that … well, borrows directly from comic’s past! That’s right folks. Ahoy has masterfully crafted a comic book for today by amalgating so much of what we loved about comics from yesterday and stuffing it between the covers along with fantastic stories of their own. You will be quite hard pressed to NOT find a title that suites you under their banner. Below I highlight some of my favorites from their lineup:

WRONG EARTH
Dragonfly & Dragonfly Man

A perfect showcase for what Ahoy is doing is this series right here. A throwback to the caped crusading do-gooders of yesteryear, this book landed on our favorites of 2019 list. The first two volumes are phenomenal. It illustrates the combination of today and yesterday quite strikingly by essentially telling a shared story of Adam West era Batman and the Jon Bernthal Punisher character being the same character but from different worlds. Yes, there’s classic campy caped crusading alongside vigilante justice dealing all made possible with a little sci-fi/magic chicanery.

In short, it has it all. Thankfully we’re scheduled for a third installment come January 2021.

CAPTAIN GINGER

Cats. Cats rule the roost and it is the most gloriously hilarious book on shelves in some time. Rather than just paint humans as cats in a cheap sci-fi set up, this book gives us actual cats and it is brilliant. Soaring the starways in their ship, the feline brigade led by the titular character is searching for other evolved felines. Between the infighting, dirty litter boxes, and killing of mice the efforts to herd this band of felines are serious in nature even though hilarity ensues. The double nature of this book hits perfectly on both tones. It’s comedy gold as well as an excellent sci-fi epic. The cats are trying to figure things out before their resources run out.

A race against time … potentially derailed by a hairball. What more could you want?

PLANET OF THE NERDS

Ever wondered how BIFF from BTTF would do in today’s Nerd ruled world? Welp, we’ve got a pretty good view of things in this book. An accidental cryogenic freezing of three typical 80s jock head types lands them in 2019 upon their unfreezing. Everything they know is upside down and backwards. There’s plenty of the expected tropes but also a good story underlining the nostalgic/present day mash up of geekdom. There’s a harsh reality that slaps the biggest biff of the bunch square on the nose too.

It’s loads of fun and very well done. A yesteryear romp courtesy of today’s flipped coin.

These three are just the tip of the iceberg at Ahoy. My personal favorites of the bunch thus far certainly don’t encompass all that they’re offering for comic readers. Perhaps the most well done book overall, Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror perfectly encapsulates what Ahoy is capable of as a publisher. Dead, drunk, and alone the famed author has been sized down to merely introducing horror stories in this anthology. This is an ode of sorts to both Tales from the Crypt type mags of the golden age as well as the crass adult humor mags like Mad and Cracked … a dash of Drunk History seems to be in there too. Meanwhile Penultiman takes the harshness that life deals folks and tosses it on a Superman type. Truly out of place he’s caught between where man wants to go and being ahead of where he is. Rather than fall into attempt #1000 at being an archetype book, it brings forward an excellent tale about the battle of feeling deserved and deserving of.

Take a gander for yourself here folks: https://comicsahoy.com/series
Ahoy Comics has brought some masterful books to the shelves and show no signs of slowing down. Thoughtful and innovative, their new but old but new approach to comics is delightfully fresh. You’ll certainly recognize plenty of the creators and I highly doubt you won’t find more than one book you like. While satirical and tongue in cheek, they’re not afraid to tackle issues head on (Second Coming – Billionaire Island – Happy Hour). I highly urge you to check out Ahoy folks.

TALES FROM THE PANDEMIC

Featuring a bevy of red hot creators, Mario Candelaria’s Tales from the Pandemic is a showcase of the amazing talent that resides in the comic community. This “Mix-Tape” is a reflection of the ways in which comic creators have coped with the current state of the world. COVID19 threw everyone and everything for a loop to say the least. As shared as this experience has been and continues to be for us all, there are also countless individual stories to tell. Mario tells some of these tales while partnering with some of the hottest up and coming artists in independent comics.


TALES FROM THE PANDEMIC
VOL 1

All seven short stories written by Mario Candelaria (ASHESTHE CHARTGOOD FIGHT ANTHOLOGY) and illustrated by the following up-and-coming artists in the independent comics scene:

Adam Ferris (JENNY RAYGUNTHE GOOD FIGHT ANTHOLOGYPARALLEL)
Joe Hunter (BEAST HEART STRIKERS!)
Dan Buksa (HOWL)
Randy Haldeman (THE JACKETPRETTY LITTLE STINGS)
Andy Michael (sLAsherMOTEL6VE)
J Paul Schiek 
(DENIZENSASHTOGETHER FOREVER)
Sachi Ediriweera (LIONBORNGALLUS)

Cover by Skylar Patridge 
(REVERSALVOLUMERELICS OF YOUTH)

Fully lettered by Scott Ewen (CORKTOWNTHE SUNDAYS)

Book-ended with an intro & outro by MLS Cup winning soccer/football player Danny Earls (BAROQUE POP ANTHOLOGYWARHAMMER)


AVAILABLE ON GUMROAD NOW:

It is immediately apparent the talent that crafted this collection. The design and overall aesthetic is the proper introduction to the team that delivers Tales from the Pandemic. Brilliantly curated and executed there isn’t a publisher making comics today that wouldn’t benefit from having this book in their line. Taking an obviously old school comic love and seamlessly applying a modern look to it has born into our lucky hands an expertly done period piece that will certainly not be restrained by the times. Borrowing narrative leads and finishes from the likes of The Twilight Zone is just one of the ways that Mario’s writing ability stands out. Being able to use a classic tool to lend a hand to your own distinctive style isn’t an easy task. It is beyond evident that he’s used that tool to fine tune his own voice and amplify it beyond the pages. Every time I read a new piece from Mario I’m amazed at the genuine tone he’s able to portray regardless of the subject matter. Within these pages though, that genuine tone is able to shine insanely bright. There’s also nods and tips of the hat to the larger world of comics and pop culture if you’re paying attention.

The striking cover of Skylar Partridge is an open invitation to the fun and a caution that Tales from the Pandemic contains. At place on the shelves of today and yesteryear it serves as the introduction masterfully. Elements of all that Mario and the entire creative team put on the buffet table in this collection are given a wonderful snapshot that captures the imagination, and piques the interest of anyone that sees it.

Danny Earls‘ book end pieces both set up and close out this collection perfectly. His inclusion boosts the overall feel of the collection and lends to the ‘Tales of’ aspect through which we view the stories. The two sections house the presenter, or narrator that you find in these classic types of presentations. This inclusion is that finish touch that makes the whole package perfect.

The entirety of the Tales from the Pandemic is lettered by Scott Ewen. The stylistic choices he employs sews the strings of connectivity throughout the collection. As individual as the tales are, and the artists that present them, that common pulse of relatability truly cinches the stories together into a shared experience.

The individual styles of the artists that give life to the stories have been perfectly paired with the tales they showcase. Andy Michael’s raw approach brings out the seedy nature that resides in the primal regions of our brains. While justifications such as ‘opportunistic’ are bandied about the true nature of folks is revealed in times such as this pandemic. J Paul Schiek’s reality grounded ethereal tone allows a reminder of the importance of rules to provide a ghastly picture of how dire consequences can be. Randy Haldeman’s rough lines display the aggravation and aggression that boils to the surface when crisis and hardship overcome us.

Joe Hunter’s cartoon-ish take epitomizes one of the mental escapes we create in uncertain times with a frantic energy. Dan Buksa captures the grimy results when flippant attitudes prevail. Sachi Ediriweera’s capturing of the fantastical lengths in which our mind will try to protect us is a wonderful encapsulation of the hysteria that’s been on display during this worldwide pandemic. Adam Ferris rounds out the collection with a surreal look at normalcy, routine, and how they are just as infectious as any outside force.

The whole of Tales of the Pandemic is a masterclass in comic book making. Top notch writing, expert design, perfect artist pairing, and fundamental execution that major publishers wish they could pull off are what you’ll find in this modern day love letter to classic storytelling. The emotional gambit we’ve faced during this crisis gets a full discourse by way of creative means. All of us face our own demons and challenges when things are “normal” but tossing a global pandemic into the mix tests the resolve of even the best of us. Fitting that this collection has come about despite the mounting hardships and difficulties the world has thrown at us.

Ironic?
No.
An outlet only available in the pandemic