Image's Recent Number Ones Part the First

Still trying to catch up after almost an entire semester cut off from new comics. Well, Image has been releasing new series left and right all that time. Counting up the ones I'd like to try, there are like 14! Let's do this is two batches, okay? You know the drill by now. Short reviews that can hopefully help you decide if these new books are good investments for you.
Punks: The Comic by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain. I have a soft spot for experimental comics, and Punks, an irreverent and hilarious collage comic, is worthy of the label without losing its audience in elitist nonsense. It's definitely got a dadaist streak, but you can still follow the stories (unlike the truly Dada mini-comics I used to make). The characters are Lincoln, Dog, Skull and Fist, essentially those heads on human bodies, and their tales are funny, needlessly violent, and just a little bit meta. It's quite amusing and unlike anything else on the stands. There's some material from 2007 also included in each issue, but I wasn't aware of the title back then. Thanks to Image for bringing it to a wider audience.
Keep reading? Yes, it's this particular list's big winner for me. Fun and original.
Wytches by Scott Snyder and Jock. A book that's been getting rave reviews over the past couple months, Wytches is about a family looking for a fresh start after their teenage daughter was suspected of killing another girl, a bully, who was actually taken by the forest. Looks like nowhere is safe though, and old evils come home to roost. If you're a parent, Snyder's designed this book to make you FREAK OUT. There's all sorts of nastiness out there, some of it a horrific metaphor for things that could actually happen. And there's a LOT going on, more than in your average comic book. Sailor may be the protagonist, but the whole family is interesting, and have their own original back stories, jobs, and secrets. I've always liked Jock's art, but Matt Hollingsworth's watercolor layer gives it a more earthy, sensual feel.
Keep reading? Yes! Another winner from these creators, which is hardly a surprise.
Roche Limit by Micheal Moreci and Vic Malhotra. Orbiting a white dwarf close to a black hole, right at the limit of great gravitic forces is the Roche colony, and it's seen better days. Essentially a noirish crime drama - a missing girl, people getting thrown out of airlocks, a new drug, that kind of thing - I feel like the comic sets up some interesting physics, then makes all of that kind of irrelevant to the main story, which is just another tale of violent crime which just so happens to take place in a science fiction setting. There are hints of taking it further, but the first issue doesn't quite get us there, and I'm left thinking it's just one of many such books on the stands, including Image's own The Fuse (which I'm reading) and Red Mars (which I'm not). While the cover features a slick design, the interiors failed to grab me as well, with some wonky anatomy in places and inexpressive faces.
Keep reading? Not on the strength of the first issue. Sorry.
Copperhead by Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski. Yes, it's another SF crime drama, but it's also a western on an alien planet, and that's a classic trope I haven't seen for a while. Clara Bronson (badass name) is Copperhead's new sheriff. She must contend with violent aliens, corrupt mine owners, an artificial loner living up in those thar' hills, a terrible murder, a crotchety alien deputy, and a 10-year-old son. And Faerber actually DOES make use of SF tropes; it's not just a "skin" on top of a normal western. The murder mystery hinges on understanding an alien culture, there's a bias against artificial beings created to fight a war, etc. Plus, pretty sweet art making it come alive, with lots of cool aliens and action.
Keep reading? Three issues in and I'm still in like Flynn.
The Humans by Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely. A biker comic set in 1970, the tail end of the hippie movement, Vietnam, the whole deal. Except everyone is an ape. "The Humans" is merely the name of the starring biker gang. To me, this is quite clearly a homage to late 60s and early 70s independent comix. It's full of drugs, pornographic sex, and everyone's an anthropomorphic animal. But while I'm a fan of experimental comics, I've never been very keen on the head shop stuff of the 60s and 70s. I get it, they were breaking taboos and pushing the medium's limits. Today, when you can pretty much do anything, it's just retro at best and in bad taste at worst. It just left me cold.
Keep reading? No thank you. It's just not my thing.
Birthright by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan. What I was afraid would be yet another Narnia rip, where a kid goes to a fantasy world and becomes its hero, actually had an interesting twist going for it. Birthright (that is a VERY generic title) is really about that kid returning to the real world, all grown-up though only a year has passed for us, and dealing with the consequences of his disappearance. It's destroyed his family, and it's not clear how a fantasy barbarian can make things better while also going after five evil wizards hiding out in contemporary America. We flash back to his youth in the fantasy world of Terrenos (great map, by the way) as well, so there are two stories going, really, and lots of mysteries to uncover. Andrei Bressan's art is excellent, his Terrenos hitting the right notes for the trope, yet not looking like any world we've seen before; and he's just as confident with the real world and its need for emotional expressions and police procedure.
Keep reading? To my surprise, this is a resounding yes! There IS a way to do that fantasy story I haven't read before!
Oddly Normal by Otis Frampton. In the same vein, this comic is about a girl called Oddly, born a half-witch from the Normals, a mother from the Land of Fiction, and an ordinary human father. She is consistently bullied at school for being different. When she loses her parents due to a birthday wish gone wrong, she moves to the Land of Fiction, which turns the story on its head, except now she's too NORMAL to be accepted. It's a crazy mash-up, and the fantasy land Oddly inhabits has as much rocket age science as magic and horror, which gives the story a haphazard feel, but Frampton's story and art also look like animation cells, charming and interesting to look at. It's a book I wouldn't mind giving to kids of all ages and genders. A little ill-defined for me, but I did enjoy its capacity for surprise.
Keep reading? On the fence. At the very least, might wind up in my niece's hands some day.

That's half. See you later with the rest!


Eric TF Bat said...

The premise you describe for Oddly Normal reminds me of a comment Barack Obama made. He said that, by virtue of his non-homogenous origins, if he'd grown up in Kenya and become president there, he'd be the country's first white president.


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