Redlands #1

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Release Date: 8/9/17

Words: Jordie Bellaire

Pictures: Vanesa R. Del Rey

The Sitch:

Welcome to the sleepy, sunny town of Redlands, Florida where the police are failing to maintain control of their old-fashioned town, and a coven of killer witches that plan on taking everything from them. Bible thumpers beware.

The Confession:

If you enjoy a good southern-gothic horror, Redlands just may be what you’ve been waiting for.

The story opens in 1977. The lynching of three witches has not gone as planned. The lynching tree is on fire and the police are immobilized with terror and hiding in their precinct. The reader is only given little pieces of the puzzle. We don’t know how the lynching went wrong or why the women were put there. There is a ghost that haunts the Sheriff, hinting at deeper, darker secrets. And what is the deal with all those people locked up in the dark? With an opening such as this, everything is turned on its head. Who is more vile, the women for whatever it was they were accused of or the police for attempting to lynch them? It’s clear the witches have plans for the future of Redlands, and said plans look bloody well promising to say the least.

The art and coloring fit perfectly with the story. There is something about the scratchy, frantic way she draws the scenes that adds to the unsettled terror and chaos. The characters seems scratched out of the shadows and it’s truly creepy how the light coming from the lynching tree is the only illumination for the things coming out of the dark. It’s a horror story lover’s dream.

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Tokyo Ghost #1

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Release Date:  9/16/15

Words:  Rick Remender

Pictures:  Sean Murphy

The Sitch:

Tokyo Ghost begins in The Isles of Los Angeles 2089. Humanity’s single, all consuming addiction is technology. This brave, new world houses only seekers of distraction from real life which has become nothing but toxic contamination. They beg, borrow, steal, and/or kill to buy their next digital fix. This virtual high is the only thing anyone lives for anymore and the drug lords rule the world, real and virtual. The only source of order in such a chaotic world are Constables Debbie Decay and the love of her life, Led Dent. Debbie is the last tech-free human in LA while Led is as tech-addicted as they come. The duo has one last job to carry out before Debbie can achieve her dream of getting the two of them out of The Isles of LA and into The Garden of Tokyo, the last tech-free nation on Earth. There she hopes to find detox for the man she loves, the only thing that makes her life worth living, the only thing that keeps her fighting.

The Confession:

Tokyo Ghost is pull-worthy.

If the team up of Remender and Murphy isn’t enough to sway you, then I will attempt to convince you.

Tokyo Ghost is a fast paced sci-fi cautionary tale set to a punk rock beat. It gives you the same sort of warm, jittery feels you would get watching Mad Max: Fury Road. Remender cannot tell a bad story. His commentary on our current reliance on tech and constant need for stimulation from television and social media is not subtle. Nothing about this book is subtle. Of the two main characters, in this first issue, it is Debbie who is most intriguing. Though she is one half of a co-dependent relationship, she is immediately likable and a badass to boot. Being the only tech-free human in such a depressing world cannot be easy. She is fierce and fearless. She knows what she wants and she’s going to get it. The big bad of the story and last job is Davey Trauma, a not-so-subtle psychopath that kills for fun. See? Even the character names are fun to read. Just as interesting as the sci-fi thrill is the twisted codependent love story of Debbie and Len. I hate spoiling a good read so, if you are a fan of Mad Max/Road Warrior, Blade Runner, Judge Dredd, or Ghost in the Shell this is a read for you.

Murphey’s art is as stellar as always. I love the look of this book. It’s so pretty. His scratchy, punk feel is perfect for such a high octane dystopian thriller. Take the time to explore every single page, no space is wasted and nothing is simple filler. The world has gone toxic and mad. The tech drenched life is a reality worse than hell itself. The constant flood of information and images is truly frightening and not so far off in our future. As Remender said himself, “Our impulse control is gone; our attention spans are shorter, and it’s only getting worse.” Look around you, at yourself, at our children. That’s the stuff of nightmares. Murphey captures this beautifully.

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The Beauty #1

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Release Date:  8/12/15

Words:  Jeremy Haun & Jason A. Hurley

Pictures:  Jeremy Haun

The Sitch:

The hook is as follows:  Modern society is obsessed with outward beauty. What if there was a way to guarantee you could become more and more beautiful every day? What if it was a sexually transmitted disease? In the world of The Beauty, physical perfection is attainable. The vast majority of the population has taken advantage of it, but Detectives Foster and Vaughn will soon discover it comes at a terrible price. Writer/artist Jeremy Haun and co-writer Jason A. Hurley offer up a startling reflection on the cost of looking good in this procedural science fiction tale.

 The Confession: 

Since this IS the part where I confess my opinion of said book I must be honest… I picked up this book, one, because it’s an Image title, and two, because I saw the cover and thought, “Pretty!” How’s that for shallow?

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Lucky for me The Beauty is pretty freaking awesome. I mean, what a concept! I was just reading an article the other day about a woman who was diagnosed with cancer. When she was healthy she had always struggled with her weight. In about two months with her illness her health declined so much, so fast, that she lost a lot of weight. People began telling her how great she looked despite her dark circles under her eyes and loss of hair. This angered her, understandably so, because what does that say about a society that values beauty over health? It’s deplorable. It’s sick. It’s ugly. It’s the world we live in right now. The public at large will certainly take advantage of a quick and easy fix. Who doesn’t want to be outwardly young and beautiful?

The Beauty depicts a world not too dissimilar from our own, only this one offers a fast and tempting fix for our vanity issues. A sexually transmitted disease called The Beauty is unleashed upon the world. Once infected the person becomes younger, slimmer, and obviously beautiful. It’s the kind of beautiful only Photoshop makes possible and many people want it. They go out and get it, regardless of the price. Of course there are going to be opposition because life is all about conflict. Enter detectives Foster and Vaughn who are called in on a new threat to The Beautys, death by sudden internal combustion. Is it the disease itself? Is it the backlash of the uninfected? The first issue sets up the hook and sinks it in firmly. The detectives are not fully developed yet but the reader gets just enough to know they are flawed and interesting. You will want to know what is going to happen to them and what they will find in their investigation of this mysterious crime in such an intriguing world. The writing is solid and the story has the potential to go in any number of directions. I cannot wait to see how it all plays out.

As one would expect, the art is gorgeous. It is painfully clear who the infected are and are not. It’s a gritty sci-fi crime tale and the art gets dark and gritty in all the right places. It’s a bit stunning when you see those infected with The Beauty in the midst of some ugly situations. I don’t think the words and pictures could have been so in tune with any other team of creators. Just looking at this book makes me sick and intrigued at the same time.

If you are looking for that something new and original with some disturbingly haunting after affects, don’t pass up The Beauty. Honestly, the hook is all you need. This title is no doubt for mature audiences, those of you that appreciate a tale of sex, beauty, and crime.

21st Century Tank Girl #1

Titan Comics

Release Date:  6/10/15

Words:  Alan C. Martin

Pictures:  Brett Parson, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Jim Mahfood, Jamie Hewlett, Craig                       Knowles, Jonathan Edwards

The Sitch:

Jamie Hewlett returns to Tank Girl after 20 years, re-teaming with co-creator Alan C. Martin and a crew of additional contributors, bringing 21st Century Tank Girl to the attention of new readers and old cult followers alike. She’s rude, crude, and unapologetic: she’s Tank Girl. And she’s always NSFW (or children, if you didn’t already know.)

The Confession:

21st Century Tank Girl #1 is a collection of micro-stories, anthology form. These micro-stories show the various talents of different artists while displaying who this icon of female empowerment and sexual-determination, risen from 80’s Brit culture, is all about.  Tank Girl is still very much the anti-heroine; anarchistic, brash, and unapologetically amoral. If you are looking for a purely entertaining read with the raddest art depicting punk spunk, this is it.  Tank Girl has a cult following for a reason, catering to a specific audience.  I can see how a lot of people may not appreciate this kind of humor, but that’s okay, more for us weirdos.

I’ll just leave some pictures here to speak for themselves:

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Curb Stomp #1

Boom! Studios

Release Date:  2/25/15

Words:  Ryan Ferrier

Pictures:  Devaki Neogi

The Sitch:

A rich metropolitan city is surrounded by three boroughs, each with it’s own gang defending their own territories.  The Fever is a group of five women undertaking the self appointed task of protecting their home, Old Beach.  When Machete Betty brutally kills a rival gang member in self defense, a chain reaction of retaliation, gang warfare and unlikely allies is set.  This is the set up for a four issue run in which The Fever – Machete Betty, Derby Girl, Bloody Mary, Daisy Chain, and Violet Volt, defend their home and each other at all costs.

The Confession:

This book is like The Outsiders and The Warriors… if they starred some kick ass women. Which, I personally, think is a long time coming.  I find it much more interesting to see how a group of strong women can band together and be willing to die for each other than witness one more story depicting the same old bro code.  Curb Stomp has a lot of potential, with a group of protagonists that are culturally diverse and all female. From the beginning we know that The Fever are not in it for the drugs or the money, they are just out to keep their home safe and taking care of their own. I like how each member of The Fever was quickly introduced through brief dialogue exchanges and manners of dress just enough to reveal their different personalities, complete with badass cool names.  Each woman has a voice and each make a point of being heard.

The art is gritty and raw.  It goes along well with the punk feel of the story.  It’s not “pretty,” but not much of Old Beach is.  The rash reality of this world is heartbreaking and brutal. As violent as the title sounds, the actual brutality of the act is not depicted, leaving much to the reader’s imagination.  Sometimes what is suggested can be more powerful than seeing it painted out for you.  Even scarier is the aftermath, the consequences of a single, uncontrolled moment.  The art and colors emphasize this feeling of desperation and brutality.

Curb Stomp is not one for everyone’s tastes, but that is why Indie books are such a treasure trove for unexpected stories.  If you are one of those more adventurous souls that like a little diversity and unapologetic, badass women doing it for themselves, this is something worth checking out.

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Bitch Planet #3

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Release Date:  2/18/15

Words:  Kelly Sue DeConnick

Pictures:  Robert Wilson IV

The Sitch:

Bitch Planet #3 is the first of special third issues in which there will be a guest artist and the narrative will focus on the back-story of one of Bitch Planet’s inmates.  This one is focused on Penelope “Penny” Rolle.  Penny Rolle is a repeat offender of “insubordination,” “assault,” and “aesthetic offenses.”  Obviously, Penny is non-compliant.  This is her origin story.

The Confession:

I normally don’t revisit ongoing books on this blog because I try to focus on what’s new, the potential new starts on some different reads for the usual pull list.  Only this week, I had to break the cycle.  I have to admit I eagerly read, and devoured, this one before any of the others.  I usually give #1’s the first, quick read of the week.  This time I indulged.

My confession is really a thank you letter to DeConnick.  As I have said before, somewhere in my review of Bitch Planet #1, this is the comic I’ve been waiting for since I picked up my first comic…. way, way back in the day.  When I was a kid there just were not many female characters I could relate to or admire.  It was so disappointing, not to mention frustrating.  I didn’t want to see women depicted as the scantily clad trophy on the arm of a man, a sidekick or some other insignificant supporting character.  I wanted to see more diverse women kick ass.  Where were the female led books?  Being an Asian American female I would be sorely disappointed for an unfairly long time.

Since then I’ve made do, like many of us do every day.  I grew up and I learned how to compromise. It wasn’t perfect but neither is the world we live in every day.  In recent years there have been advances but it’s painfully slow.  We still have a long way to go despite it being 2015.

And then Bitch Planet happened.

Bitch Planet #3 tackles body politics, racism, and the blatant misogyny of our society. Penny Rolle is my hero and spirit guide.  Just like the comic book itself, she is unapologetic.  I love her with all my heart.  In this book we learn her origin story, why she is where she has ended up.  Despite the attempts of “the fathers” trying to help her be happy, Penny digs in and takes a stand for herself.  She is not afraid to take up space and be her own person.  She doesn’t struggle.  She just is.  Oh my goddess she is what I strive to be. She is what I hope my daughters strive to be.

Non-compliant for life.

Guest artist, Wilson, is awesome in highlighting Penny’s story.  He has a softer edge than De Landro but makes no less of a point.  His renditions of the compliant women and superior “fathers” are in stark contrast to every non-compliant inch of Penny Rolle.  And his work on the last page was so satisfying I had tears in my eyes.  No one can break a woman like Penny Rolle.

Bold, Beautiful and Baaaaaad is an understatement.

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If you aren’t reading Bitch Planet already, hurry up and get it on your pull list.  Share it even. You owe it to yourself, your mother, your sister, your daughter, and your lover.

Lady Killer #1

Dark Horse

Release Date:  1/7/15

Words:  Joelle Jones & Jaime S. Rich

Pictures:  Joelle Jones

The Sitch:

Lady Killer is a new miniseries introducing the character Josie Schuller.  She is the picture perfect 1960’s housewife who can balance many hats, the wholesome homemaker, the wife to an unobservant husband, the mother of two perfectly precocious girls, and the deadly assassin.

The Confession:

Oftentimes in comic book stories, it all comes down to the execution.  There have been stories depicting the typical Joe or Josie in a not-all-is-as-it-seems environment, only to turn that world upside down.  I personally love a good dichotomy story.  Lady Killer wins as a classy, fun, dark comedy, action/adventure story.  It’s a bit campy.  I love camp.  I especially love the Kill Bill-ish feel mixed with a little Mad Men.  Watching Josie switch effortlessly between her seemingly safe and idyllic suburban household and vicious killer assassin for hire is pretty entertaining.

Jones not only can weave an entertaining story with tons of potential, she can draw some sweet lines.  I would buy this book for the art alone.  I love her style.  It is so detailed you are pulled instantly into the different time of the 60’s when women were certainly not imagined to lead a double life, let alone one so vicious.  The pages of Josie infiltrating a woman’s home to sell Avon, quickly turning into a vicious fight to the death was outstanding.  I love the little bit of the fight ending and Josie realizing she’s got a bit of gore on her perfectly pressed dress.  Kudos to detail.

If you like these kinds of stories, especially ones centered on a strong female lead, get this one on your pull list already.  There is no disappointment here.

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Also, you can go to Bleeding Cool for a little Q and A with Jones and see her awesome pin- up poster advertisements she did for fun before the narrative evolved.   Someone needs to make those into a calendar ASAP and just take my money now.  It’s too hard to pick a favorite but today, I choose this one:

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