Release Date: 10/7/15
Words: Brian K. Vaughan
Pictures: Cliff Chaing
In the early hours of the morning after Halloween 1988, four twelve year old paper delivery girls uncover a story bigger than any headlines they have ever delivered.
Fans of Vaughan will want to buy Paper Girls because they well know he can craft a good story. He has a knack for creating well fleshed out characters that will intrigue the reader from page one. Personally, I cannot pass up a book immersed in the innocence of the 80’s, especially one that focuses on the smarts and strengths of individual girls banding together. These girls are not just together for the sake of girl bonding, they are together to survive an adventure. This is the coming-of-age story of and for girls that the 80’s should have given us. It’s a bit Monster Squad meets Stand by Me meets War of the Worlds. I already love these fearless girls.
Chiang’s art is already well known and appreciated from his work on Wonder Woman. He works so cohesively with Vaughans’ story that I felt I was drawn into a movie, not just a book. His skills only solidify the character development. Each girl has her own distinct personality and expressions. You can feel the 80’s in his splash pages, the days when helicopter parenting was nonexistent and kids were able to grow up and figure life out on their own while exploring the world around them.
Also, props to the detail of the Depeche Mode poster on Erin’s wall.
If you’re looking for a new story with some good, strong female leads and/or an immediately intriguing sci-fi adventure, Paper Girls is the new ongoing series that is one for the pull list.
Release Date: 7/9/14
Words: Justin Jordan
Pictures: Kyle Strahm
A plague of sorts has spread across the world, destroying life as we know it. The Spread is some sort of parasitic alien monster that infects people, turning their bodies into something even more horrible than a typical zombie. It’s a creature that calls to mind a little Romero, a little The Thing, and a little Lovecraft. The reader meets this guy that has a bit of a badass Wolverine vibe going, who happens to be immune to the Spread infection, although that doesn’t mean he can’t be killed. His name is No because he’s not much of a talker. He’s a bit of a loner and a bit of a softie because when he meets up with some raiders bent on violence of their own, he rescues a baby girl called Hope. Of course she’s called Hope because she’s got something in her that can save humanity from this new monster. It is her third person voice that tells us this story.
Spread #1 is a good introduction to a story with a lot of potential. It’s not the typical post apocalyptic tale with the usual cast of characters. Similar to Saga, the story is told by the voice of the baby savior so you know humanity survives in some way. Again, it’s not just a monster story but a story about how humanity, life, finds a way. The Spread itself is pretty horrifying. A person trying to navigate this world cannot always be sure that people they meet are actually still human. Humanity itself is broken. There are those that are trying to rebuild while marauders have their own agenda as well as those who are just trying to go it alone. The monsters themselves can come in any shape or form, sprouting from anything and anywhere, above or below. One thing is for sure, everyone and everything evolves. The fun is in the watching of that evolution.
The art is spot on sci fi horror. The use of red on the bleak atmosphere of this world turned upside down is pretty awesome to behold. Strahm seems to know hell on a personal level. I don’t think I want to find myself in one of his nightmares. He is also very good with character expression. No is the embodiment of a guy made to survive, a loner tough guy with a soft side who doesn’t talk much. His subtle expressions say a lot.
If you are looking to start an interesting new science fiction horror story with some solid horror artwork give this one a try.
Release Date: 1/15/14
Words: Stuart Moore
Pictures: Gus Storms
The beloved super hero group known as The Earth/Galactic Operatives (EGOs) have saved the universe, a lot. But that was a long time ago and the aging members have disbanded and long since dispersed. Now the growing threat of a potential return of an old nemesis brings the remaining members of EGOs together to train and prepare the revitalization of a new crew of heroes to protect the universe once again as the new and improved EGOs.
This is one of those smart sci-fi stories where you find yourself slowing down and taking in every detail in order to get a clearer picture of what is going on. The intro is actually an epilogue and the story jumps between two different times as well as two different narratives. It has the feel of a sci-fi epic right away with it’s well developed world filled with interesting and complex characters. I’m still not sure which I find more intriguing… the motivations of Deuce, the aging super with powers of seduction, or those of the young, scary smart teleporter, Shara.
I understand Storms is a relative newcomer to books. This may account for the raw feel of his art. His strongly defined lines, pastel palette, and simplicity gives a nice balance to the weight of the story line.
Sci-fi fans and those who enjoy a little cerebral candy in their cosmic comic experience should give this one a try.
Release Date: 11/27/13
Words: Rick Remender
Pictures: Matteo Scalera
The first issue of Black Science wastes no time introducing it’s main protagonist and member of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists, Grant McKay, as he races against time to right the wrongs that have gotten himself and his friends and allies in their present predicament. The reader is dropped in the midst of desperate times and high action. All the while we are privy to Grant’s internal monologue, learning small bits of his flawed character. Clearly he is conflicted in regards to his past choices and actions – he is a risk taker, a gambler not with just his own life, but those around him, for some greater scientific good.
I like how Remender begins his tale in the middle of chaos and does not give the reader everything up front, including the the character of the protagonist himself. The best part of the journey of the story is the getting there, the slow reveal of story and character in all the right places and at all the right times. I enjoy the unreliable narrator because the reader can better understand who the person is telling the story, without all the having it being spelled out in a boring and tedious way thing.
Scalera’s art is pretty awesome for this sci-fi drama. You get the 1950’s, pulp science fiction serial vibe right away. The detail of the fantastical world of frog creatures is worth some extra admiration time. There is a lot of detail in everything from the background to the action. This art only makes an already intriguing story better, it is as gruesome as it is beautiful.
If you needed another reason to love Image comics or to solidify your fan-girl/boy status in the science fiction genre give this one a try. The cover alone is enough to peak your interest.
And yes, that is a dude using a decapitated frog head as a weapon while a sexy frog-woman dances on the table top.
Release Date: 11/13/13
Words: Chris Dingess
Pictures: Matthew Roberts
Manifest Destiny is a re-imagining of Lewis and Clark’s expedition to map out the great frontier of America with a sci-fi twist. Lewis and Clark, in this story, are still heading an expedition to map out America but unbeknownst to their crew, their real mission is to hunt down and rid the land of the monsters that dwell there. This isn’t too far off from reality, of course, being that these explorers did hunt down and displace many creatures in their effort to expand westward. In these pages, though, those monsters are more of the science fictional variety.
Re-imagining history can be a good thing. It’s interesting to see what artists can do to turn reality on its head and still tell a story that means something. For history buffs that can’t play on that willing suspension of disbelief this may be uncomfortable. If you can sit back and enjoy the ride you may be pleasantly surprised. Dingess is a skilled storyteller, each character is differentiated, Lewis is the scientist while Clark is the military leader and the not entirely trustworthy crew made of soldiers and criminals alike.
The art is spot on for a western adventure. There is a roughness without sacrificing detail. There is an epicness to the expanse of the land to be explored. It’s all very reality based, so that when the supernatural creatures are introduced it is that much more strange to see something so fantastic as part of something so natural. My favorite panel centers on a flower sample that strikes me as so innocently natural yet so potentially sinister at the same time.
The writer and artist promise something worth its weirdness and I believe them. For those looking for something a little different, a bit off the beaten path, Manifest Destiny could be the filler for that hole. There is a lot of potential and whole lot of intrigue in this first issue making it worth the time to read.
Release Date: 8/28/13
Words: Corinna Bechko
Pictures: Gabriel Hardman
A warehouse on Treasure Island hides an experiment that goes so wrong it totals the island and threatens San Francisco with various horrors from various dimensions and universes. This is a one shot deal that originally ran in three parts in Dark Horse Presents #19-21.
Station to Station refers to the previously mentioned experiment that goes awry. Scientists are trying to construct “stations” that can be easily traveled to and from in places in time and space. One of the scientists finds himself on his own to fix what he broke before the accidental portal lets in more nasties to ruin mankind. This book is like the sci-fi monster movies I grew up with. There is a lot of information packed into these pages without being heavy or wordy. In fact, the pace is smooth and quick. The creepy alien on the cover that looks like what I imagine a gigantic louse would look like is totally scary, therefore interesting. There are so many interesting bits throughout the story that a world of possibilities are opened with that portal for future stories, should the creators wish to continue.
The artwork works so well with the kind of retro feel of the written story. Along with the retro feel and the muted colors is the focus on perspectives and a lot of detail. There is so much to look at in this book. It’s not one to be rushed through, especially since it’s a single story. The reader doesn’t need to know anything before jumping in and just enjoying the book.
If you are a fan of old horror sci-fi monster movies/stories or just good old weird tales that offer a cool escape, this is one to give a moment of your time.
Release Date: 8/7/13
Words: Jeff Lemire
Pictures: Jeff Lemire
Trillium is a science fiction mystery surrounding two people from two very different times and places. Nika is from the far reaches of space in 3797, while William is from the amazon jungles of 1921. Both characters are on their own adventures, adventures that strangely mirror the other’s. Lemire tells their stories using a flip book, meaning one one half of the book is told from Nika’s point of view, the other is told from William’s. Both stories begin at the opposite covers and meet in the middle where Nika and William eventually meet each other.
Vertigo has promoted this book as “the last love story ever told” and I, for one, am totally sold.
I have not yet read Sweet Tooth, but I have heard good things about it. Some of the reason I have yet to pick up anything from Lemire is because his art just doesn’t resonate well with me. I have to say that I am glad I did not let that stop me from giving this new series a try. Lemire can tell an interesting story. It may seem gimmicky to use a flip book layout, but it works really well in this first issue. Though opposite, the two points of view are perfect mirrors of each other down to the panels, splash pages coinciding with splash pages, that it is a nice touch, forcing the reader to slow down and notice the parallels in each story in a creative way. Nika’s story seems more deep and detailed, while William’s leaves more to the mystery of things. Both sides are compelling and have fleshed out their respective protagonists very well.
As I have said before, Lemire’s art style is not my favorite but it really does do well with the story, especially with Nika’s side. Her story, her time and place, allow for him to be more rich in detail. He also has a firm grip on how to use his pictures tell parts of the story that need no words because his art makes it perfectly clear.
Trillium is set for an 8 issue run and I can’t wait to see how so much potential will pan out. I like how Nika is all hard science fiction scientist while William is all pulpy hero. Even more attractive to me is how both are searching for something bigger than themselves, yet at the same time their search is still very personal.