Silver Fox #1 Written by Darren Dare Art by Carlos Trigo Colors by Hannah Templer Letters by Taylor Esposito
Disclaimer: Silver Fox contains sexual content, and some violence; so it’s not for readers under 18.
Silver Fox issue 1 follows James and Leo from their first meet-cute on the boardwalk, to the realization that Leo is a monster hunter that targets supernatural creatures like James- but every relationship has its issues. But some issues are harder to overcome than others. As Leo grows closer to James he struggles with his assignment and realizes that he’s falling in love with James. This realization puts him in direct conflict with the rest of his “family” who have been sent to make sure he completes the mission. Leo has to decide if his budding relationship is worth leaving behind everything he knows, while James has to grapple with his feelings surrounding Leo now that he knows the truth; their relationship is based on a lie.
In addition to its unique plot- it’s kind of a contemporary romance meets supernatural mystery- Silver Fox has a beautiful, bold art style that relies on strong lines and intense colors. And all of the characters have their own unique and distinct looks. This really adds visual interest and personality to the story.
The story wonderfully combines the mundane moments of daily life with sweet moments, and intense action. The same level of care and detail is put into each scene and this really visually solidifies how important all of these aspects are to the story. Silver Fox is just as much a story of supernatural thrills and elite monster hunters, as it is a story of new love and found family. One page consists of a compilation of Leo’s memories with James as he chooses between the only “family” he’s ever known, or the possibility of creating a new family with James. The art on this page is so well done and very emotional; there’s a panel where you can see exactly when James makes his choice, and how even if it’s the right choice, it’s still a very hard one to make.
Even though James chose to save him, Leo (understandably), feels hurt and betrayed. Despite James developing legitimate feelings for him, it doesn’t change the fact that the trust in their relationship has been fractured. And a healthy relationship can’t exist without trust. However, because James did start to genuinely fall for Leo, hopefully with time (and lots of hard work by both parties), Leo will be able to rebuild the trust he had and their relationship will recover.
The official Silver Fox website describes the book as “An action-packed, supernatural tale about assassins and monsters and a queer relationship just trying to survive the end of the honeymoon period.” How can you not want to jump right into the story after reading that? Plus, you can support the independent creators behind the comic.
Silver Fox #1 is available on gumroad for a “Pay What You Will” system making it accessible for all budgets; and if you’re a fan of queer stories, mysteries, action, the supernatural, (or all of the above!), you won’t regret purchasing this book.
A young high-flyer named Jason Lynn goes off-script in a match to win the world title and sets the southern territory on fire as the face-painted wrestler, Phoenix. Jason’s battles between the ropes are only outperformed by his struggles outside the ring. First dates. Crooked promoters. Cage matches. Factions and families. No matter what problems smack him with a steel chair, Jason lives by his catchphrase: I. Will. Rise.
Solicitation for OTT #1
STORY – Jay Sandlin ART – Antonello Cosentino COLORS – Francesco Segala LETTERS – Justin Birch
Full disclosure: I’m a wrestle-head. I grew up on 6:05pm EST on TBS watching World Championship Wrestling. The NWA and later WCW featured megastars like Sting, Flair, The Horsemen, Road Warriors, The Russians, The Rock N Roll Express, Dusty Rhodes and so many more. I was a kiddo during the heyday of the 80’s wrestling boom and then was the perfect age for the 90’s explosion. I was ecstatic upon hearing the announcement of this book.
Sure, there have been several comics featuring pro wrestling and there are ones currently on the shelves. This one though, is different. Over the Ropes from Mad Cave is written by Jay Sandlin. I’ve been fortunate enough to have gotten to know him a bit through social media over the last 18 months or so. In this time we’ve had several conversations about pro wrestling. Jay is a fan. This is huge in regard to the fact that he’s writing this comic about pro wrestling. He understands what makes pro wrestling entertaining … and what makes it magical. In the press release through Newsarama Jay stated “The characters grew out of my desire to write the kind of wrestling story I gravitated to the most; where the predetermined nature of in-ring action and backstage drama blends with shades of reality until the two are indistinguishable.” The main story line of OTT follows Jason Lynn (a play on a highly popular 90s wrestler) who is a curtain jerking jobber (guy that opens shows and loses to the big names). The in ring and real life persons start to merge as the chosen one of the promotion Lynn works for gets himself beaten out of the title picture, literally.
In a perfect marriage of Kayfabe (the portrayal of both real and staged events as being real) and real life, our underdog hero gets the opportunity of a life time. There’s a big issue though. See, the owner of the promotion is the reigning champion and he’s been grooming his son as the hotshot boiling over to challenge and eventually take him down. The whole plot line borrows from real instances that played out during the 80s and 90s pro wrestling scene. For wrestling fans it is an absolute treat. Comic fans will appreciate the person behind the persona story line. Jason is the low man on the totem pole and doesn’t gain from the nepotism coursing through his biggest personal (but not professional) rival. As the persona becomes too much for Billy Raddison (the champ’s son and next in line) to handle outside of the confines of the wrestling ring he finds himself on the end of a real life ass kicking. This tosses a huge wrench in the plans. Jason Lynn finds himself being given the silver platter but with a huge catch.
Being told that you’re going to be the champion is undoubtedly the pinnacle of a pro wrestler’s career. Everything you’ve done has been noticed and the promotion feels that not only have you earned the chance, but that the business will be better with you as the face. It’s got to be just as big of a gut punch though if you’re told you’ll be champion … but not as you. This is exactly what happens to Jason. See, our hero isn’t the only one with a huge opportunity. The SFW (the wrestling promotion in Over the Ropes) is sitting on the cusp of a huge deal with a major TV Network. Just as Jason’s opportunity comes with a catch, so does the SFW’s. The network wants a new face as champion. It’s a situation that has to be acted on for the promotion to step into the limelight. With this knowledge the plan is hatched and Jason looks to make his move. Going off-script he jumps on the opportunity and takes flight.
With the inner workings of pro wrestling serving as the backdrop for this book to draw from I can’t wait to see just which dusty road we go down. Both Jason and the promotion are set up and in precarious positions. The entirety of the situation is tenuous at best and danger is now lurking around every corner. Hidden behind the references and nods to pro wrestling tradition (such as a Luchadore that wears his mask at all times) is a carefully curated personal story. As a wrestle-head I am well served with this book and get plenty of feel good moments/bits. What I do feel though, is that the casual, merely familiar, or not hip at all to wrestling comic reader won’t be able to connect as much to this book. There is a decent amount of nuance that they’ll blank on because they simply don’t know. The perfect example of this is Jason’s outfit on his date. This book is done well and the real life subject matter it borrows from is wonderfully infused and alluded too. However, there’s going to be a good chunk of folks that simply miss out on that and don’t know how well this is done. The effectiveness and execution of this title simply won’t be recognized by many comic readers, and that’s a shame.
Beyond Sandlin’s scripting, Cosetino delivers fantastic visuals. The artwork is excellent and captures the look and feel of what the title is portraying. Segala’s coloring matches the lines. Only thing I’d have liked more would have been a little more dynamic approach to the wrestling personas and scenes. Part of the appeal of pro wrestling is that it is larger than life. I’m not digging on the colors from Segala mind you. I just feel that there is a missed opportunity to enhance the book here. The same goes for the lettering. Birch is very good. You don’t get in the Ringo convo and letter books for literally more than a handful of publishers if you aren’t. As with the colors though, I feel there was some missed opportunity given the subject matter. Bottom line is that this is a very good debut that does more than a little justice to its source matter. There is a solid premise set up and I’m eagerly awaiting what this series brings. I just wish that everyone picking it up would “get it” as much as I have.
IN SHOPS NCBD DEC 4th!
Driving Creators grade for Over the Ropes #1:9.2
The heart and soul of pro wrestling is evident in this book. Jay knows what makes it tick and what makes it relatable. Being a fan of the sport gives Jay the ability to create things within the comic that other writers couldn’t but it is also a slight alienating factor as well. The book’s effectiveness does rely on a certain level of interest/understanding of the reader. While slightly limiting, if it is the biggest thing working against the title then this will be a great series.
Lane Lloyd is a creator you need to be getting hip too, full stop. Early on in my comic book twitterdom I was fortunate to have come across Lane as God Puncher was getting ready to debut. Now, with three issues out, this fantastical explosion of imagination is a book that deserves your diving head first into. This self-published comic is as raw as they come in the best possible way. Lane’s unbridled joy for the medium shines through in the work he produces. Self described as “if Dr. Seuss dropped acid before drawing,” the train of thought is pretty spot on for describing Lane’s art. It is unconventional, cartoony, mesmerizing, off-kilter, and an absolute breath of fresh air to take in. Chances are you’ve not come across anything that’s very close to what you’ll see in the pages of God Puncher. A truly unique approach to comics and storytelling sit within the ballad of Tim Finnly.
One of the best parts of this story is the simplicity through which a very broad and complex world is filtered. Lane has taken a very basic and primal thought (who we are in life and what our placement in it is) and thrust it directly into the confrontation that man, as a species, begs for. The very title, GOD PUNCHER, elicits this confrontation and the action we’d likely take were we to meet our creator(s). Despite being prideful and having an indescribable urge to understand our belief systems are predicated on that which we can’t and weren’t meant to understand. In God Puncher we get a point blank exploration of the gifts (in this case Tim Finnly’s ability to fight) that the Gods have bestowed to mortals. Within that gift we see the hubris of both man and God. Finnly has become a legend and grown to have a God-like status himself. One of the Gods seeks to erase the false claims and put ‘man’ right back where he belongs. As both entities suffer the consequences of their actions the story of Tim Finnly truly sets off on a wild and fantastical journey.
The confrontation of Man VS God is but the start of this tale. Focused and with new purpose Finnly charts a course for redemption. The chase, showdown, and comeuppance of both Finnly and the God is an entire saga in of itself. The fact that it is just the opening salvo to the God Puncher story speaks volumes to the ground work Lane has put down and the ambition with which he is creating this story. Issue two gives us a rather grand introduction and we get a glimpse at just how big of an area Tim (and we) are playing in. There are other deities and powerful beings that would have their wills imparted. The tale is grand but Lane is more than up to the task of telling it. The rampant imagination explodes from every page. While slapstick in approach there is a sharp edge to things that keeps the humor in check. Truly unique in its presentation, you cannot help but be drawn to Lane’s art. With this series we actually get to see just how much and how quickly that Lane has grown and improved in just four issues (a zero issue and #1-3) of work. Seeing how he’s played with color usage and the advantages that his zany style provides is an added treat to the books themselves. You can still jump into God Puncher with ease. The story moves quick and the pages flow. You’ll find yourelf going back and forth to fully take in the art. In going back you’ll find an added layer to the book. I did when I re-read after getting issue three. The big scale world and big time issue that Lane tackles with God Puncher is perfectly juxtaposed by his art. One of the many (and most successful) ways people deal with overbearing situations is humor. Seeing the God figures with a slapstick edge to their look helps endear Tim and his endeavor to the readers. It allows for the connections to be made and the heartstrings to be tied.
Mafiosa #1 is a refreshing take on a classic organized crime story because it follows a female lead and does it so well; without falling into overused and annoying tropes.
The first panel of the story is the ultimate “power move”; Nicoletta, the main character, is shown standing over a man’s dead body reflecting on all of the times in her life she’s been told to “smile more.” This sets the tone for the story. Nicoletta will not be taking anyone’s shit now, or ever; she’s going to get what she wants and she’s going to do it her way. She’s not going to give up her interests or femininity — she won’t adapt to your world—you’ll adapt to hers.
It would’ve been easy for this story to fall into the very tired narrative of “I’m not like other girls” (this is still happening in 2019 and it’s exhausting!), with Nicoletta rejecting values traditionally thought of as feminine in order to take her place in the world of organized crime. Instead a flashback shows Nicoletta practicing her ballet before sneaking off to a meeting between her older brothers and representatives from another crime family. She doesn’t switch between two worlds, between what’s expected of her as a woman and what’s expected of a member of a crime family, rather she merges the two together to get what she wants.
This appears to be a very deliberate choice as the letter from the creative team at the end of the issue explains. Nicoletta enjoys many of the aspects of traditional femininity and doesn’t believe that those traits should shut her out of power. She’ll wear bright red lipstick while committing murder and handle a gun in a dress. She won’t ask for things, she’ll demand them, and heaven help you if you don’t listen.
The way Nicoletta’s drawn the same way as the men in the story enforces this idea of her power. While she may not be as physically strong as some of the men around her she exudes the same level of power. She handles herself with extreme self assurance and confidence taking center stage in the scenes she’s in. No one can silence her or put her in the background.
It’s refreshing that Mafiosa didn’t fall into another often occuring pitfall of the strong female character- the idea that in order to be strong, she has to be emotionless and care for no one. Or her one emotion is anger. Nicoletta has plenty of anger and frustration but it’s not her only emotion. She cares about her family, both biological and the members of the crime family, and that drives her to do the things she does.
Throughout the story Nicoletta’s musings as she disposes of the body are interrupted with panels showing what other guests at the hotel are doing. This compares and contrasts her situation with that of the “normal” guests. While they aren’t all hiding bodies, they’re all hiding secrets of their own. It’s a reminder that no one ever truly knows what happens behind closed doors.
“One year after an alien insectoid invasion has wiped out almost all life on the planet, the last remaining superheroes must make one final bid for freedom and safety, but with technology failing them, dwindling supplies and emotions running high, how will they survive? How will they escape the INFESTED EARTH? “
Solicitation for Infested Earth #1
First and foremost I have to say that David’s art is as good as you’re going to find regardless of where you look. At the absolute least you will be compelled to digest this book simply to see the beautiful images within. The first time I saw the promo images for this book I was completely blown away. While Infested Earth is a different type of superhero tale it does revolves around superheros. Nobody is going to believe whatever story you’re going to tell if what they see doesn’t match what you’re telling them. David Golding has no issue here. The superfolks in this book absolutely look the part. They aren’t the only ones though. Infested Earth is the title of this book and the nasties are also every bit their part. In fact just about everything Golding draws is wonderful. Cityscapes, crowds, cars, people, backgrounds and little details are all top notch. You will be very hard pressed to find artwork like this outside of a major publisher.
Excellent art is all well and good but the plot and execution of the script have to live up to the images. If that doesn’t happen then you’ve just got an art book or pin up collection. While nifty, those aren’t comic books. Thankfully David doesn’t just do pretty pictures. The hook, line and sinker are all there. After a quick opening that helps establish the superheroes in their world … everything goes to shit. While a few regulars are enjoying a day at their Local Comic Shop something absolutely horrid ruins the day, the day after, and well … their world. You know it’s bad when one of the superfolks “crashes” into the shop looking like something came out of him in a very violent, messy way. *Potential warning – it’s graphic. There are other portions of the book where blood/guts/gore/injuries are graphic but it isn’t there for shock value or just to have it. With the action and the plot it fits and helps tell the scale/give perspective of what’s going on. What is it that is going on, exactly? Well if you’re a fan of Starship Troopers then you’re in for a treat. For reasons unknown and by means unknown the planet is invaded and destroyed by insectoid death bringers. Big nasty bugs lay waste to everything and everyone. Now, it’s very clear that this invasion as led to the end result of Earth being a wasteland. However, there is a ton of story left to tell in regards to the time between the inciting event and six months after.
You see, six months after the initial attack is where Infested Earth #1 picks up the plot. Only, there’s a slight tweak to the story. The solicit does its job perfectly. It tells you what’s going on but purposefully leaves out what’s going on. The focus of the story is on a black female hero named Brass Bell. In the middle of taking down a couple of lowly super thugs stealing an armored van she quickly finds herself with much larger issues. Much like the why of the bugs showing up, the how of Brass Bell being thrust into the middle of a destroyed Earth isn’t known. As she is quickly and horribly introduced to the situation she now finds herself the super heroes show up to help her out. Except she has no clue what is going on or why. That is where Golding’s tweak on things comes into play. Brass Bell (and the hapless would be thieves) aren’t from the Infested Earth. You read that right. The band of super heroes that come rushing to her aid have no clue who she is or why she’s here. There is clearly plenty of story to tell with Infested Earth. The bugs and how/why, Brass Bell being pulled to this parallel Infested Earth, what connection if any the Earths and/or heroes have, and ditto on any connection with the bugs. This one has layers folks. Amidst the immediate extinction level threat of the bugs there are several mysteries to unravel.
Infested Earth #1 is an absolute dream of a first issue. It does exactly what a first issue is supposed to do. The plot line is cast, introductions are made and scenes are set, the immediate threat is front and center, the overbearing issue is hinted at, questions are asked but left hanging, and the visuals make you want to keep flipping the pages while also standing on their own. I truly hope that Golding is able to continue producing this book. I’m here for the big bug action. I want to know why they’re invading and destroying this Earth. I need to understand why Brass Bell was plucked from her Earth and dropped into the one that’s gone to hell. I hope to know more about the super heroes of said hell Earth. I must find out just what in the hell sits below it all that has caused all of this.