Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

In Conan the Slayer, Conan has found himself leading a group of warrior Kozaks. So far, the story has dealt with family intrigues on par with something biblical: brother against brother, son against father, and dark demons. In Issue #7, Conan finds himself with his fellow Kozaks crossing the sea. A Conan story wouldn’t be Conan without a little violence – he is “the Slayer” after all – as they come across a ship full of pirates.

Matt Kindt is a writer’s writer. I really don’t know what that means, except that I’m a writer and to speak in a voice as unique as his own is what every writer aspires to do. To have every comic he puts into the world be a fully formed and authentic vision is a staggering achievement.

I can see a potential path beginning to form: the possibility of where this may be going. Black Hammer is a psychological superhero mystery. I imagine it would be what the superhero genre would look like if Philip K. Dick had any interest in it. A team of heroes has been stuck on a farm for 10 years. Up until now, the events surrounding this have been a mystery. Instead, we’ve been drawn into this secluded and compartmentalized world in which these characters are ghosts of their former selves simply trying to maintain. It has been ponderous, exciting, heartbreaking, disturbing; it has been a joy to read.

John Arcudi has been around since the '90s, writing everything from Aquaman to Hellboy to Aliens. I’ve seen his name on comics that I’ve read, but I don’t think (of what I’ve read) anything has quite hit me like Dead Inside. This feeling took me by surprise. Dead Inside is a murder mystery set within the confines of a prison system. The first issue set things in motion; it didn’t quite grab me, but it was interesting enough to continue on. After four issues, I’m hooked.

From issue to issue, Matt Kindt’s books are a thrill to read, and Ether is no exception. We’ve been following the story of a scientist, Boone, who travels into another dimension, a fantastical one called the Ether, to solve crimes and disprove the magic of the world. As it turns out, this fantastical world is pretty dark at its core, and Boone, like an addict it seems, has slowly lost his life to it. In the Ether, he is a hero. He is Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones rolled up into one. In the real world, he lives on the street and has pushed everyone he cares about away from him. Even the way to get into the Ether could only ever be discovered by someone willing to basically kill themselves.

Welcome to the Grass Kingdom, a microcosm of civilization. In Matt Kindt’s newest series, Grass Kings, a collective of people have laid claim to a small territory of land. Here, they abide by their own laws and rules. The first issue has the local officer escorting a trespasser off the private land. The trespasser is a young man who calls the people who live there squatters. From there, the first issue is mostly expository as we’re given a tour of the Kingdom; it’s not a terribly involving first issue story-wise. Despite its lackadaisical beginning, Kindt has earned my trust in building a story, which only comes into focus at the end of this issue. Echoes of the past point to conflicts in the future, conflicts that appear to rise from a mystery that has been left unsolved: a crime.

I’ve been reading Harrow County since the second story arc, and not once has Cullen Bunn broken the reality for a good scare. Not once has he cheapened the world by breaking the rules set forth. That’s not what kind of horror this is. The horror Bunn is dealing with is much deeper and darker than that. I think even profound. Yes, it has the witches, the monsters hiding in the dark, the struggles that take place at the ledge of life and death, but we’re talking about a character’s soul here. The soul of Emmy: a young woman born of evil, the offspring (of sorts) of a witch, and imbued with the power to direct the fate of others - humans and haints (those monsters in the shadows) alike.

I’ve taken to listening to music while reading comics, and I found the perfect (for the moment) song to listen to while reading Joelle Jones’ Lady Killer: "Zorba’s Dance" from the film score for Zorba the Greek. It has a nice, slow build with escalating anticipation, a playful rhythm, and a promise of something that’s about to happen while the enjoyment of what’s happening unspools before you. Like with the classic score by Mikis Theodorakis, you can tell Jones is having a hell of a good time on this book and that she really cares about it. How can I tell? Look at the detail.

The Life and Death cycle by Dan Abnett has had some really good issues and some very mediocre ones. I feel like the story he had in place wasn’t quite bulky enough for such a long run, and so issues have passed to move some of our intrepid colonial marines from one place to the other in preparation for a better issue. I felt this especially about some of the Prometheus issues and the previous issue of Aliens vs. Predator. But as we near the final issue, Abnett has no other choice but to tighten the noose, and so we have issue three.

A reverie through Dave McKean’s mind - that’s what Cages is: a perfectly undiluted vision plucked from both his conscious and subconscious mind. This massive volume from Dark Horse marks its 25th anniversary, and I have only just discovered it. To think on the same shelves as the superhero comics I read in my youth this living, breathing examination of that place where fiction, music, art, memory, dreams, love, loneliness, and hope all intersect was screaming at me to read it, and I only just heard its call. Cages isn’t so much a comic book as it is a sincere work of art, never finished, because it will change as we change.

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