(Open in a new tab for a better view. Sorry for the late post for this. Got my Loot Crate later than usual)
(Open the image in a new tab if you wish to view it in a larger format)
( * A correction about the Steins Gate manga: I discovered that the manga itself is “new” being printed January of 2016. However, I have kept my opinion on it as is, due to Steins Gate’s anime being a few years old)
(Open in new tab if you wish to read it in a larger format! – Skyler)
(Open the image in a new tab to zoom in and see it better. I will fix this sizing issue for the next episode! – Skyler)
After a long hiatus, the comic review blog is back! And boy do we have some weird ones to review this week as we look at Batgirl # 42, We stand On Guard # 1-2, and Godzilla in Hell # 1.
Batgirl # 42
Writers: Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Babs Tarr. Jake Wyatt & Michek Lacombe (Breakdowns)
Colors: Serge Lapointe
Letters: Cameron Stewart
Been awhile since I talked about Batgirl, but like I said long ago, the series has flourished under Stewart and Fletcher’s tenure, and being one of the VERY few lighthearted yet adult superhero books at DC right now. It’s fun, engaging, and fresh. Even if this issue is trying to current events in the main Batman series, it is written in a very fun and engaging way instead of feeling like a mandated crossover. For those not caught up with what’s going on in the Batman mythos right now I’ll catch you up to speed, but beware of spoilers:
To sum it up, Batman is apparently dead (again), and Commissioner Jim Gordon has become the new Batman, with funding from Powers International (yes, the same shady Powers family from Batman Beyond) who have given him a high-tech power armor suit that looks like Batman and Robocop made a baby and painted it blue. Only problem is that Powers International wants Jim-Batman to arrest all of Batman’s former allies, and get them off the street, believing only sanctioned officers should fight crime. Jim-Batman doesn’t believe in this, but he has to if he wants to remain Batman, and he knows (because this is Gotham) Powers can get their own hand-picked thug with a badge, so Jim is stuck doing what he can as the new privately funded Batman.
This, of course causes problems between him and Batgirl (who is her daughter). In between that they’re also trying to recapture Superman villain Livewire. Overall the story was really engaging, father and daughter forced against each other (even if Jim is still ignorant to the fact her daughter runs around in bat ears). Despite that, the story is written very lively and full of humor, while not enough to detract from the serious moments of them taking on Livewire. I know some fans are annoyed that one of Superman’s few notable supervillains is getting poached as a Batgirl villain, but I have to say Livewire works really well as an enemy for Babs who, until Gail Simone’s previous run with her, had little to no rogues gallery of her own.
The art as usual is fantastic, a very energetic and manga-inspired style that fits well with the lighthearted and fun tone of the series. In addition, I’m not sure if Livewire has shown up elsewhere in the New 52 before this issue, but I REALLY hope they keep the design Babs Tarr came up with for her in this comic because I love her wild punk girl look!
Overall, a great read with a good story, fantastic art, and as I said one of the few non-depressing or grimdark comics at DC right now, which we need much more of.
Recommendation: Support the HELL out of this comic!
We Stand on Guard # 1-2
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Steve Skroce
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Ever wonder what would happen if America invaded Canada with giant robots? Well this is the comic for you! Despite that silly description, We Stand On Guard is a dark sci-fi story and not for the faint of heart. It contains a lot of blood, violence, and some nudity, so not safe for your kids.
This new comic series from Image is set in the far future where a far more villainous America (retitled the American Federation) invades Canada for currently unknown reasons, and kill many in their initial bombardment, including main character Amber. Cut several years later to a hardened adult Amber trying to survive in the Canadian wilderness when she encounters the ragtag Canadian rebel group the Two-Four. After fighting a giant Gorilla-themed American mech (and losing one of their own) they invite Amber into the group, though with suspicion.
The story’s world building has been great, but unfortunately that’s been focused on so much these first two issues that character building has taken a backseat. Right now the characters have been cookie-cutter archetypes with little development. Amber so far has just been the bitter vengeful protagonist with nothing beyond her sarcastic wit and her violent hatred of Americans, and the members of the Two-Four have just been every untrusting, scrappy rebel group in fiction.
Also, a bit of warning, if you’re one of those uber-patriotic “support our troops or go to hell,” types who get hostile to any negative portrayal of our armed forces in fictional media, you’re probably not going to enjoy this book. Vaughan doesn’t jerk the reader around with any hints of “there’s two sides to these forces good and bad” stuff, no, Vaughan has written a very clear case of good vs evil with this story, at least that’s how the first two issues play out. So far, the American forces have been shown to be bullies, murderers, and utter bastards. Amber’s disdain for Americans is wholly justified in this story so far, but how badly her upbringing in post-invasion Canada was to have her mercilessly gun down a captured American mech pilot with almost no regret remains to be seen.
The artwork for this comic fits perfectly. The colors and landscapes are dirty and grimy, fitting the bleak war-time tone of the story, but the lines are clean and well-drawn, and every character has their own distinct look to differentiate them (which is really good due to the lack of current character development as mentioned above). And the mech and robot designs are amazing. They’re very original and eye catching but still fit the bleak, dirty war tone.
Overall, a promising new series with a lot of world building but not developing the characters enough, but it has my interest enough to see where this goes.
Recommendation: A fun read for those looking for something darker and involving mecha, but caution if you don’t like bloody or overly violent comics or find negative portrayals of the US Army as “offensive.”
Godzilla in Hell # 1
Writer & Artist: James Stokoe
Well…Still deciding how the heck I review this bizarre entity. You read that right, this story is literally Godzilla in Hell. Some warnings before I start:
So yeah, the “story” begins with Godzilla seriously plummeting into Hell. There’s not backstory, no explanation for why the big G is in Hell or who (or what) killed him, the only dialogue we get is the Title “Godzilla in Hell” as Godzilla falls past them into his damnation, and then a giant pillar that appears with the iconic phrase “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here.” But Godzilla, being the King of Monsters and F*** Yous decides not to take his eternal damnation lying down, and Atomic Breaths that sign into rubble and enters the Circle of Hell known as “Lust.” This so far is pretty much the story, Godzilla fighting his way through Hell, tearing demons a new one as he stomps through its many circles. All together he fights a tentacle demon hiding in what looked like a nuclear facility, passed through a storm made up of millions of suffering humans flying and flaying about, and a demon pretending to be a fellow member of the Big G’s specifies and tries to eat him. Godzilla curbstomps all of them and then falls into the next Circle of Hell.
Like I said, you are NOT going to like or “get” this book unless you’re a serious Godzilla fan. The writing style is bizarre since there’s no dialogue and ultimately everything is up for interpretation, as theres many hints that Godzilla is facing his own personal hell as the place seems to be shifting to match his life, such as the nuclear facility showing up in Lust for some odd reason. Where this story is going beyond “Godzilla fights demons while traversing Hell” is beyond me but it has me hooked.
The art for this was amazing, Stokoe really paints a disturbing yet simplistic Hell, and his demon designs are amazingly original and creepy. Godzilla himself is drawn with a lot of detail and surprisingly a lot of emotion in his often expressionless face.
Overall, a very weird but intriguing story that has me eagerly waiting for Issue 2, but again you’re probably not going to like this if you’re not a fan of Godzilla.
Recommendation: A very odd but fun read for Godzilla fans and those looking for something different.
And that’s it for this week! Its good to be back guys, and check in next week for new comic reviews!
The sad thing about being a webcomic artist who has to rely on someone else to do the artist is when something happens in the artist’s life. If you have not already heard my longtime artist from Issues 2 to the first half of issue 4 Francis Lim was forced to leave due to the demands of his current job. This also happened with issue 1 artist Kayleigh Lebak. I know most of this was out of my control, but I know the decision to ultimately leave was because of how much I was paying them compared to the amount of work and time that were going into pages, did not compete with their other projects in-between these new jobs.
Now as I work with my new artist L’Vaughn Mason, I realize just how little $30 per page is, particularly with L’Vaughn’s level of skill. I realize if I want to hold onto artists as skilled as Francis or L’Vaughn, I need to begin paying more for their services, so in the event of real life **** going down, The amount of payment for working on Iron Violet would make sticking with it much more lucrative, or in the absolute event of needing to find a new artist I’d be able to immediately find someone on L’aughn’s skill level. While he is okay with the current $30 per page, I know deep down that I am paying him rather low for his incredible skill (which I hope with garner more readership).
For that, I need your help.
I’m not gonna mince words or deflect from the obvious; I went into this Patreon gunfight with a half-loaded revolver. I stumbled over myself trying to come up with rewards on the fly without putting much thought into it (the complete wash that were the buttons can attest to that). And I kept putting off making the “thank you” page, which I do apologize for. Now that school’s out of the way and a degree under my belt I’m currently working on the proper “thank you” page.
To all my current patrons, again thank you for helping me with keeping this series up and running and with fantastic art. To everyone, I am once again updating the reward sections. While I can’t offer anything physical, I do have some ideas My goal is to be making enough so that I can afford to slowly increase my artist’s per page payment to $40, $50, and eventually $60, so that I can begin properly paying him for his level of skill.
$1 Donation – Like before it’ll get you on the (eventual) thank you page, this applies to all donation tiers. (unless you wish to remain anonymous) You’ll also be part of the “special thanks” section of the eventual collected volumes.
$5 Donation – You will be able to suggest “vote incentive” art pieces for the TWC page, and every month I will pick two suggestions for you to vote which incentive is made for that month! (Note must involve characters within Iron Violet and cannot be pornographic in nature).
$10 Donation – You will be able to suggest filler fanart for the in-between moments between the production of future issues (Note must involve characters within Iron Violet and cannot be pornographic in nature).
$15 Donation – You will be able to have an original character of your own creation cameo in every other issue of Iron Violet (when possible). Note that the OC must be your own character and not someone else’s (unless I’ve received the ok from the original creator), these cameos will be credit-less (unless pointed out in the author’s page on the site or in the extras section of the eventual collected print volumes) and your OC’s rolls will be as background characters. Also if your OC is a superhero do understand due to the nature of Iron Violet’s premise (an area with few heroes) your OC’s cameos would be regulated to things like on a tv or a poster.
$20 Donation – Would remain the same, where you yourself get drawn in as a cameo for every other issue of Iron Violet (when possible).
I thank you everyone for your time, and I hope you can help me keep Iron Violet going strong with skilled artwork and help me be able to pay my artist’s a fair wage for their hard work. I have updated the Patreon as of this post so check them out!
New comics this week! Though as a heads up (due to budgeting) I’m switching the comic reviews to bi-weekly. I’ll try to come up with a separate segment to fill in that blank space. But for now, let’s look at Batgirl # 36, Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man # 7, and All Fall Down TPB.
Batgirl # 36
Writers: Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher
Artist: Babs Tarr
Colors: Maris Wicks
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover: Cameron Stewart
*Variant Cover by Cliff Chiang shown*
When I look at the sea of bleak, grim and darkness DC Comic’s books are at the moment, I am still perplexed and loving the new direction Stewart and Fletcher have taken Bargirl. This story is so much brighter, upbeat, and cheerful. It almost reminds me of (dare I say it) the Pre-New 52 era of DC Comics. However, I will admit some people may be turned off by the jarring differences between the last run of Batgirl (which was just as bleak, twisted and dark like the other books out there), but if you’re looking for breath of fresh air, this Batgirl series is what you’re looking for!
The story picks up with Babs trying to deal with recovering data vital to her college proposal after her laptop is wiped, and dealing with a pair of deranged twins named the Jawbreakers who seem to be cosplaying as villains from an old anime Babs watched as a kid, with a violent and dangerous amount of realism. In-between all that She’s dealing with a rather hostile figure who’s seemingly stealing her identity online, even screwing with her ability to investigate crimes.
The writing for this series is very in the now. Stewart and Fletcher knows what’s going on in our generation’s circles. Last issue was focusing on social media culture in Burnside and Gotham, and this issue actually touched upon the Anime fandom of Gotham. Being a fan of anime and manga, it was a treat to see it showcased in a realistic fashion (instead of used to mock a geeky character, as I’ve come to expect). It is also humorous to see them writing Babs as someone who grew up on silly butchered 90s anime like some of us did, as one of her favorite shows as a kid is revealed to be a gender-bent homage to Astro Boy named Atomina (Science Battle Hero Nuclea, as an anime vendor is quick to point out was its true name “before it was butchered for American TV.”)
I’ve also enjoyed this series’ focus on Bab’s wits and smarts over using gadgets to get out of a situation. It’s played up to serious levels, as revealed last issue, that Bab’s entire arsenal burned up in a fire (and for whatever reason, isn’t calling up Bruce for some replacements), so aside from slowly getting her arsenal rebuilt when she can, she has to rely both on her acrobatics, and her mind. Such as when she was facing off against the Jaw Breakers, she flashbacks to the episode of Atomina that had the titular character fighting the actual versions of the twins. From that flashback she was able to realize that the twins are staying absolutely in-character, and in turn left them prone to a weakness they had in the show.
The artwork by Babs Tarr continues to be fantastic. It’s such a lively and cute cartoony style with a hint of anime influence. Some people might be turned off by this, but for me, who has gotten sick of almost every book having the same near-photo realistic perfect anatomy art style, this art (much like the book’s writing) is a breath of fresh air, and it fits the brighter and upbeat writing style.
Thankfully, I can say This new Batgirl series isn’t lightning in a bottle, and it’s shaping up to be a fun and optimistic ride, something that’s been PAINFULLY missing from the bleak and dark setting the DC Universe has become at the moment. The writing is clever and fun, the artwork is full of energy and hope, and I can honestly say this was the first New 52 Book in a long time to actually get me excited for DC.
Recommendation: A must-read! I will say those who were following the original run of Batgirl may find the shift in tone jarring, but for those looking for a breath of fun and upbeat fresh air in a DC book, this new Batgirl run is for you.
Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man # 7
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover: David Marquez with Justin Ponsor
Once again a pulse-pounding issue with the final battle between Miles and a revived Peter against Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin, and rather shocking reveal.
Although this was mostly a “fight” issue, the writing was still brilliant. Miles’ dialogue against Osborn was so full of wit and sarcasm that honestly made him his own snarker instead of sounding like Peter’s brand of snark. It is quite a treat to see how much Miles has grown from the reluctant kid he was when he started out as Spider-Man, to his own version of the real deal. Even Peter and Maria Hill point this out as he’s dealing with Osborn one-on-one before Peter jumps in to even things out (and I should point out that the Ultimate Universe’ s version of the Green Goblin is a serious Hulk-level threat).
We also get some development on Katie Bishop (Mile’s probably soon-to-be ex-girlfriend), whom Miles revealed his secret identity to several issues ago. It was only one page, but that one page blew me away. Not going to spoil but suffice to say…Miles really should have listened to Ganke. What this means for Miles down the line, we’ll see soon enough.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: David Marquez has some of the best art in the business. It was showcased once again this issue with the conclusion to Miles, Peter, and Osborn’s knock-down, drag out fight. Honestly it was one of the best illustrated comic book battles this year (of the books I’ve read). However, while Marquez’s artwork is phenomenal, he needs to work on his panel layouts a bit. Sometimes he’ll make a 2-page spread read left to right on BOTH pages, instead of the typical layout of left to right then down per-page. This can get rather confusing when you don’t notice this on one of his spreads.
A thrilling conclusion to the Return of Osborn arc, which leaves with a lot of shocking twists that have me pumped for the next arc of this amazing series.
Recommendation: A must-read for all Spider-Man fans! Miles has grown as his own character, and deserves all the support he can get.
All Fall Down
Writer: Casey Jones
Art: Jason Reeves, Cirque Studios, Gian Fernando, Anvit, Pericles Junior, Barnaby Bagenda, Al Jerek Torrijas
Letters: Andrew Diroll-Black
This was a unique graphic novel that came out in 2011 with an interesting premise that, sadly, doesn’t execute it that well. The story takes place in a world of superhero and supervillains-and the day they begin falling from the sky. On that day thirteen year old Sophie Mitchell developed her siphoning powers, and accidentally stole the powers of every single superhuman on Earth, leaving many to die, be maimed, or fates much worse than those. As she’s trained to be the last superhero, the now-depowered heroes must come to grips with their loss, as it explores many of their ways of coping with it, for good or bad.
This book had a promising premise: a look at the five stages of loss from the eyes of superheroes that lost what made them “super.” Sadly, it does not execute this concept that well. The problem is that there were far too many characters and not enough pages to go around for any proper development from all of them. Honestly this book feels like it needed a second volume to give everyone their proper fifteen minutes over the rushed ending this mini-series ended up having. This is best showcased part-way into the story when Sophie (now known as Siphon) is arrested and brought to trial for the manslaughter of all of the superheroes she accidentally killed when she took their powers. The “trial” is quick and revealed to be a show for the public to show she is not above the law, as she’s pled guilty by her lawyer and then given a presidential pardon. That’s the last we hear of the problem. We never get to see how the de-powered heroes or loved ones who lost a superhero loved one react to her, outside of the character of Pronto (a former super-speed hero who lost his speed (and his legs) due to Siphon, and his degrading sanity as he wishes to get his powers back-by any means necessary.
Out of all the characters, I would have to say my favorite was an artificial intelligence that a former super-genius made as a precaution to if he ever lost his genius, which he did. He was witty, and made some surprisingly good points when he (inevitably) goes rogue, all for the sake of his creator.
This comic has several different artists…and honestly none of them are very good save for Cirque Studios and Pericles Junior. There’s also a serious issue with inconstancy between the artists, especially in the form of the main character Sophie/Siphon. She’s supposed to be thirteen years old (and she looks it in the first issue) but in every other issue she’s in she’s drawn as either a developing fourteen year old, or a very well-developed fifteen/sixteen year old. I should point out that the course of the series runs roughly a few months.
All Fall Down was a promising graphic novel, but ends up falling behind due to too many characters and not enough plot for them, and varying ranges of bad artwork. It caught my attention, but ultimately failed to deliver in my opinion.
Recommendation: If you can get it on sale I would say give it a try for yourself. It has an interesting premise, but sadly fails to execute it properly.
And that’s it for this week. Let me know what you guys think, I always love hearing from ya!
New Comic Reviews 11/8/14-Gotham Mysteries, Giant Robot Problems, & Storybook Outlaws
It’s a new week of comics, so without further ado, let’s get started! This week we’re looking atGotham Academy # 2, Giant Robot Warrior Maintenance Crew # 2 & 3, and Fairy Quest: Outcasts # 1.
Gotham Academy # 2
Writer: Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher
Art: Karl Kerschl
Colors: Geyser, Dave McCaig, John Rauch
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover; Karl Kerschl
Once again, an all-around great issue for this breakout series. This issue we learn more about Olive, but at the same time, several questions are left unanswered. Everyone on the story references “last Summer break,” and something that Olive either did or something happened to her that has made her the center of controversy at the school. What this event was has not been stated yet, and has only been vaguely referenced, and seems to be the reason that she and Ken broke up, and why vicious mean girl Pomeline seems to give Olive so much crap. To make matters worse, Olive seems to be suffering from amnesia as far as the events of that Summer are concerned, and Pomeline accused her of being crazy “just like her mother.” Whatever this event was, the writers are building a rather intriguing mystery around it. We’re still in the dark what Batman has to do with any of this, but we’ll see about that soon enough.
In between that we meet more of the Academy’s eccentric faculty and some of the other students. Sadly Olive’s friend Maps doesn’t get much page time this issue until the last few pages, but what moments she’s in she’s an adorable dork.
The artwork for this series continues to be beautiful and unique, with so much life and expression to the characters.
Gotham Academy continues to build up interesting and endearing characters along with an intriguing mystery plot. I eagerly await Issue 3 to see what twists and turns occur for Olive and Maps.
Recommendation: A must-read! Be sure to support this book!
Giant Robot Warrior Maintenance Crew # 2 and # 3
Writer: Nate Hill
Artist: Mervyn McKoy
Colors: Dawson Chen
Letters: Nate Hill
Cover: Jerry Gaylord
Next we’re looking at the last two issues of this fun mini-series. I’m reviewing both this week because oddly both of them were released this week. My local comic vendor said the distributor was being screwy with this one for some reason. In any case, let’s get into it.
When we last left Erica, she was slowly losing her mind as part of Herotron’s maintenance crew, dealing with both the dangerously falling apart Herotron and its incompetent and insufferable pilots. The second issue has Erica dealing with Herotron’s mentally deranged accountant, who’s developed an obsession with Erica. The third (and final) issue has the pilot’s ignorance coming to a head, and puts Herotron and all of the maintenance crew in peril, forcing them to take drastic measures.
This series was a fun read, though it kept playing ping pong with the realism and the fantastical elements of the book, like pointing out how dangerously stupid it was having hot blooded pilots instead of disciplined military pilots, yet not really explaining why these unfathomably ignorant and cruel deviants were the pilots of Herotron outside of them “looking good on camera.”
There were a lot of characters in this miniseries, but the only ones to really get development were broken cutie Erica and the cool old guy of the crew Jeb. The pilots don’t really get much development outside of being selfish, idiotic assholes save for the leader Tristan (the red pilot) who shows that he’s far worse than the others, being a homicidal manchild. The only real pilot to show some slight signs of being a decent person was Guy (The Blue Pilot) and while he’s no better than the others on the asshole meter, he was the only pilot to take note of Herotron’s mechanical failures that the maintenance crew tried to warn them about, and the only one to try and get them to focus on it.
The artwork was fun, showing good anatomy while having its own unique style to it.
This mini-series was a fun read, and while I am sad to see it end so quickly, I do understand you can only take this premise so far without needing to add to it. However, I would like to see a sequel to this series, perhaps looking at some of the other members of the maintenance crew, and maybe even delve deeper into the pilots, particularly Guy after seeing his surprising moments of competence in issue 3 in comparison to his fellow pilots. Until then, Giant Robot Warrior Maintenance Crew is an funny and interesting mini-series, and I would recommend checking it out.
Recommendation: A good read if you’re looking for a comedy or a spoof of Voltron.
Fairy Quest: Outcasts # 1
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Art: Humberto Ramos (pencils), Victor Olazaba (Inks),
Colors: Leonardo Olea
Letters: Jim Campbell
Cover: Humberto Ramos, Leonardo Olea
Continuing where the last mini-series left off, our story takes place in a Fairy Tale world, where all of the Grimm stories are forced to retell their stories day in and day out, any deviation from the source material, or flat out refusing to obey the “stick to your story,” law will earn you punishment or a full mind wipe from the Think Police, who are led by the cruel Mr. Grimm, who believes that if the storybook residents don’t stick to their stories, chaos and destruction will occur. Little Red Riding Hood (Red), is a sweet girl who wants a place where she and her friend the Big Bad Wolf (Woof), can live together happy, instead of being forced to play heroine and villain over and over again, and now the two are on the run looking for the “Map Maker” who is said to know of a world where they could live without retelling their stories.
In this issue Red and Woof continue to evade Mr. Grimm’s Think Police, as the two traverse the Dark Woods, and begin to see the pain and suffering Grimm’s “Stick to your Story” policy has had on its residents, driving some of them mad. Much like the last mini-series, Red and Woof continue to be an adorably precious pair, with Red being a wide-eyed and optimistic girl and Woof, while the more cynical, can’t help but indulge in Red’s optimism about their chances. The series’ villain Mr. Grimm continues to be a vicious, yet mysterious foe that shows how far he’s willing to go to maintain his “Stick to your Story” law. If he truly believes chaos will reign without it, or if he has ulterior motives for his actions remains to be seen.
Humberto Ramos’ art on the book is fantastic. It’s a very unique and cartoony style that fits perfectly with its storybook setting. Ramos doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves for his work in comics, and I am getting sick of people giving his artwork on the current Spider-Man series crap. He has such a brilliant and lively style to drawing people that makes me want to buy any book he’s the artist of.
Overall, Fairy Quest is a dark but still family-friendly retelling of the classic fairy tales, and the dangers of oppression through forced routine. I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good fantasy.
Recommendation: A definite must if you’re looking for a good fantasy.
And that’s it for this week! Let me know what you guys thik!
New Comic Reviews 10/31/14
Apologies for no review last week. I didn’t have time to get to the comic store that week. But without further ado, let’s get back on track! This week is a little different, as I’ll be looking at THREE Indie/Other section, as nothing really caught my eye at the Big Two this week. Plus, I wanted to take a look at some truly indie comics, so I nabbed a couple from Comixology’s Submit section. For those who don’t know, the digital comic site has a section for new and upcoming comic book creators to sell their comics.
And with that, let’s get started with Wayward # 3, The Harlem Shadow # 1, and Freedom Love Forever.
Wayward # 3
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Steve Cummings
Colors: John Rauch, Jim Zub, Tamara Bonvillian
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Cover: Steve Cummings, Ross A. Campbell
Have I mentioned how much I enjoy this series? I don’t think I’ve expressed it enough.
In all seriousness though, this was yet again a fun read. This issue has Rori and her new friend Shirai (an angry, but scared boy with superhuman abilities at the cost of having to feed off of spirits to survive), as they try to figure out their strange powers, particularly Rori’s unexplained ability to see pathways and patterns no one else can see and the power to make magic kanji symbols despite her kanji skills being terrible. Along the way they run into Ayane (the oddball girl with cat-like abilities) and a young homeless boy with strange abilities of his own, and face off against a rather creepy ghost known as “Crazy Bones.”
Once again, Jim Zub has chosen to make the trickle of information as to what exactly is going on to a slow drip, building it up slowly, and making it a complete mystery for both the readers and Rori’s gang. The characters continue to be likable, especially Ayane, who is quite a hyperactive and cute cat girl (no, that THAT kind of cat girl).
The artwork continues to be superb. One thing I like about this series is the creator’s choice to make the Yokai in the series legitimately monstrous and creepy looking over falling back onto the typical “humanizing” or “sexualizing” a lot of these myths have gotten in anime and other media. In particular, some kitsune (Japanese shape shifting fox spirits) appear briefly, and instead of being the typical “sexy girl” or “prettyboy” with fox ears and a tail you’d see in anime, they’re instead shown more as werewolf-like warriors.
Another thing I enjoy about this series is the extra content in the back. Typically whenever a new Yokai appears the back will have a brief description of it along with some nice sketches of said creature.
Once again, Jim Zub does not disappoint. Wayward is an excellent book that tells a fantastical story in an authentically-written Japan, and I eagerly await Issue 4.
Recommendation: A definite must read!
The Harlem shadow # 1
Writer: Brian Williams
Art: Rodolfo Buscaglia
Letters: Derek King
Cover: Christian Colbert
As I passed by this one on Comixology Summits’ new releases, I kind of rolled my eyes thinking from a title like “The Harlem Shadow” that this was going to be some parody comic like “Black Frankenstein” or something like that. But as I read the description I realized this was a serious comic, and the name wasn’t trying to be a parody of that OTHER certain fedora-clad crime fighter. I decided to give it a read, and I am glad that I did.
The comic is told from an audio-biographical sense from the titular “Harlem Shadow,” who (as a brief introduction piece gives) was the first black superhero in this universe, and led an exciting but sadly short-lived life as a paranormal investigator and crime fighter who took on the gangs and other social and criminal ills plaguing Harlem in the 1930s, who would eventually fall prey to Johnny Law and be imprisoned. The first issue tells the story of his first outing as Harlem’s nightly defender.
While I get that the writer was going for an auto-biographical feel to the story, I feel like he shouldn’t have divulged so much of what was doomed to befall the protagonist right then and there. It takes away the suspense of what will happen to the Harlem Shadow as the series continues. But, then again, with the end being he’s unmasked and imprisoned for twenty years, perhaps it was best to get that out in the open and treat it like this is the story of everything that happened to this historical character in-between those cliff-notes.
Aside from that minor complaint, the story for this issue was good, if seen before. The pitfall that all “Men of Mystery” types of stories have to avoid is the protagonist coming off as “every other fedora-clad, masked crime fighter with a mean left hook and an unbending sense of justice.” I’ve said before that while the likes of the Shadow or the Green Hornet are iconic, their character type can get old really fast if you don’t do something different with them. Brian Williams avoids this pitfall due to the unique setting and character. One aspect that a lot of “period superhero comics” don’t particularly cover that often is the what the struggles and trials of a superhero of color in the time periods of the 30s,40s, and 50s, would be like where (sadly) most superheroes in comic books were one thing: white. This is something that the comic plans on covering as evidenced by certain dialogue by characters in the first issue.
The artwork for this comic is black and white, and it is superbly drawn and inked. The artist makes excellent use of negative space and shadows, giving off a brilliant noir feel to the comic.
All in all, I am optimistic about this series, and eagerly wait to read issue 2 of the Harlem Shadow.
Recommendation: I would say give it a try, though I recommend it to people looking for a good historical superhero comic and Man of Mystery story.
Freedom Love Forever
Whoo boy. Where to start with this one? Don’t get me wrong, this was a good graphic novel, however, full disclosure, this is one weird book. It’s like the Holy Mountain if it were choked full of comic and manga influences. It’s a very existential and philosophical story dealing with life, in all its forms, and the meaning behind it, and asking if its’ even worth living sometimes, through several different but connect stories.
The main story of the graphic novel follows Lola, a bright but bitter misanthropic college student, who’s dealing with her absent parents’ divorce, and finds no joy in life. Reluctantly, she signs up for a trip her guidance counselor suggests, which cryptically is to “The Imitation of Life.” On the trip she is joined by three men, each with their own reasons for searching out the Imitation of Life: Rozulle, a gifted, but self-absorbed and comically melancholic musician and pop star who’s lost his muse and seeks to find it at the Imitation of Life, Chronos, a mysterious grey-masked samurai who’s travel to the Imitation of Life is a rite of passage to attain his right as a Shogun of the Nine Heavens (and is obsessed with living up to his legendary ancestors), and Okis, a normal and light-hearted young man wanting to take a break from his work and personal problems.
In-between the story of Lola and the gang are several short one-shot stories that, while hit or miss, all look at the theme of life within their stories, my personal favorites being “Winter Walker”, “Little Mechanic Daniel”, and “Midnight Monkey Blues.”
The artwork is very unique, as the creator of this comic drew each one shot (and the main story) in different and varying art styles. I was blown away, I at first thought this was a collaboration, but it was all done by the same man. I was impressed.
Overall, this is a very weird, but very interesting read. I will warn you, this comic has a lot of mature language, actions, and content, so this book isn’t intended for younger readers, however if you’re looking for a comic that’s pretty out there and different, I would give this a looksee.
Recommendation: I would say give it a try if you’re looking for something different, but if you don’t like weird or pseudo-nonsensical storytelling, you may not enjoy this one.
Hope everyone has a fun Halloween!
So, it seems like these in-between issue breaks seem to keep catching me at the worst possible times. I don’t want this to come off as me spouting excuses, but I did want to explain my situation. I’m a graphic design student, in my Senior year. So a lot of my classes are project-heavy assignments that eat up a lot of my time. Especially now since I just got done with midterms. As much as I’d love to focus on improving my illustration skills, I need to focus on my graphic design projects.
There in lies the problem. As I’ve said before, The early parts of making the next Issue of Iron Violet is rather long, due to Francis needed to map out all the pages and thumbnail it all, which takes time. Francis is a really talented artist, but not one built for speed. Quality over speed ya know? Not wanting everyone to lose interest in the book due to a painfully long break between issues, I wanted to do these filler comics to keep people regularly coming to the site while we iron out the next issue’s problems. But, between my amateurish drawing skills and my lack to seriously improve due to my graphic design work, the filler comics come out rather…bad.
If I could I would love to have someone else draw these filler comics, but sadly I just don’t have the money to hire two artists.
So, with that, and I know not everyone’s very keen on these filler comics (for art, story, or otherwise), So I want to ask you, my readership, what you would want for filler content in the future after Issue 4. This feedback is very important to me, as I do really care about what you guys would like to see as the story continues into the later months.
I know some of you would like a continuation of the filler comic series, but I simply don’t have the time or skill to properly implement it unless I could afford another artist. That being said…
So, first off, again a big thank you to the current Patreon donators! You guys rock!
So I want to ask if there’s anywhere I can improve in the Patreon, like in the sense of donation incentives. What would you guys find more appealing compared to what I have posted at the moment? I’m open to all ideas, except for early previews of the main comic pages. This is because I simply cannot, in good conscience, promise that, when I’ve had issues of pages being down to the last minute or delays in getting pages from Francis due to issues going on in either one or both of our lives.
Aside from that, what would you guys like, or feel would be more appealing donation rewards? Just comment down below if you feel inclined. I’d really love your feedback and advice.
Again, a big thank you to everyone whose supporting Iron Violet up until now, by commenting, donating, and just giving me feedback on how good I’m doing and where I can improve! You all keep rocking! 🙂