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.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 11 continues what has, so far, been an absolutely stellar run with the release this week of its fourth issue. Continuing an eerily topical plot line that sees the United States gripped in fear and reacting in broad and harsh measures as the result of a massive supernatural catastrophe, writer Christos Gage also sees himself paired with Buffy: Season 8 artist Georges Jeanty for this issue. Jeanty’s return to the Buffyverse is certainly not something any self-respecting Scoobie is going to want to miss!
When we last saw the Nekton family, explorers extraordinaire, they found themselves off the coast of Greenland in their submarine, The Aronnax. The youngest explorer Antaeus, also called “Ant,” was in a robot-like diving suit to investigate the remains of a massive blue whale, but he soon realized there was something roaming the waters several times larger than what was previously considered “the largest creature on Earth.” This realization came to Ant as the gigantic teeth with fins came back to devour the remaining half of the marine mammal.
Darkness surrounds you. Although a drone watches your every move overhead, it doesn’t give you comfort when your foot gets stuck after digging in a large crater, and there are explosives set to detonate soon. Second by second, your slow movements drag you up to the surface. A bluish-green planet stares out to the void of space, while your commanding officer orders you to run, and then to “get down on your stomach.” Did you make it? Were you far enough away?
In a world nothing more than a barren wasteland, the future is so much more devastating than witnessing a helpless crawl through the desert. Human life has been reduced to a minuscule existence: slavery, those in control of these camps, and others being hunted for unique abilities labeling them as metahumans. Surrounding this decrepit way of life is the origin of “the remains of Earth, A.D. 2295” – “Purists.”
The first issue of Dead Inside by John Arcudi and Toni Jejzula was enough to peak my interest. The story of Detective Linda Caruso who, after a series of promotions and demotions, finds herself working at a Jail Crimes Division. Immediately, we’re treated to the aftermath of a gruesome and bizarre murder in the Mariposa prison between inmates. A scrawny prisoner manages to kill someone 10 times his size. Everyone thinks it’s an open-and-shut case - everyone but Linda. Every corner she turns, she’s met with resistance until she finally finds a crack in the façade that opens the case back up. Where the first issue made me curious, issue two had me hooked.
Dept.H has to be one of my favorite comics on the shelves right now. Truthfully, anything Matt Kindt touches these days, especially in the creator-owned environment, is near perfect. He doesn’t think like your typical comic book creator. Every panel of every issue tells a story on multiple levels. He creates tone, a sense of space that reflects the mood and inner psyche of the characters, all while furthering the actual story along. By tackling all these elements, you get a sense of the tension and emotional journeys his characters are in the midst of taking. In Dept.H, it’s Mia’s story.
Issue #4 of Matt Kindt and David Rubín’s Ether focuses on the harrowing story of Hazel, the female character we’ve thus far only seen in flashbacks and only briefly. Hazel’s story is a fairy tale gone bad. We see how, as a child, she found her way to the Ether, and we see how the Ether revealed its darker nature. One that isn’t so fun. One that’s more Grimm’s Fairy Tales for HBO than Adventure Time.
Ron Randall immediately grabs your attention with the cover page, as he introduces the main character among a barrage of weapon fire and amazing contrasts of color. Trekker: Rites of Passage defines what a tough, intelligent, and skilled, fighting female character looks like as Randall showcases Mercy St. Clair, a “trekker” – otherwise known as a bounty hunter. The cover is surrounded with vivid pops of orange, blue-green, and white colors, while Mercy doesn’t flinch as she looks back to fire her weapon in the face of a massive assault.