You read about cartels. You read about the violence and murder that exists south of our border. It sounds scary, frightening, and unimaginable. I know people whose family members went on vacation and simply didn’t come back alive. A location scout on Narcos was just found dead, riddled with bullets, sitting in their car. These little glimpses we see are a part of a much bigger problem that the innocent people of Mexico face and it's unreal. Mexico is not a war-torn country in the traditional sense, nor is it headed by religious extremists like places in the Middle East who want to start a war; however, a war has been raging there for some time. Sean Mackiewicz (writer) and Niko Walters (artist) use this landscape as a jumping-off point for a horror story that in their words, “ . . . is an attempt to process real-world horror, centuries of it, magnify it through genre, and learn from it.” They also say, “Gasolina is a story about Mexico. It’s about how countries impact each other. The war that’s about to erupt in these pages is a global one.” Those are some ambitious comments…and I like ambition in storytelling.
Simon Spurrier wrote one of my favorite comics this previous year: The Spire, a fantasy allegory about inequality among race and privilege. His new story, Angelic, immediately had me laughing a heavy “WTF.” In what appears to be a post-human world, oceans have overflown into cities, jungle canopies hang from skyscrapers, and primates have formed a civilization based on a religious belief system that we as readers can see is completely absurd.
Samurai Jack Quantum Jack #1 is a strange compilation of Samurai Jack and Quantum Leap. In some way, it's like the original television series, and in some ways, it isn't. For readers, that might not be a bad thing. Similarly to the show, there is not so much dialogue used. Fabian Rangel Jr. and Warwick Johnson-Cadwell are certainly looking toward the art telling much of the story, which comics can do quite well in such a framework. In this sort of tale, Samurai Jack is taken out of his normal timeline and placed in alternate realities. It's an interesting notion of taking Jack away from his usual plain of existence and into something completely different.
With Star Wars: The Last Jedi about to hit theaters in only a few short months, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been reappearing all over the place. From Force Friday to personalized Apple Store sessions, everyone wants a piece of the franchise from a galaxy far, far away. That includes IDW Publishing’s latest comic book series, Star Wars Adventures.
A big part of how and why Dept.H works is due to the fact that Matt Kindt knows where to place the focus for tension and suspense and when. He juggles a lot of balls all at once, which means that while story elements are being slowly revealed, our main characters are always on the edge of death due to various circumstances, decisions, or strokes of bad luck. When you’re 6 miles beneath the surface of the ocean on a lab that’s quickly crumbling with giant-sized, deadly exotic animals in the nearby waters, possible terrorists on board, and a killer or killers trying to stay alive right alongside you, you don’t get a moment to breath. Issue #18 puts our hero, Mia, and the remaining survivors in probably the most difficult position they’ve been in, and it’s nail biting.
Political power in the city of Transylvania has been concentrated in the hands of Mayor (formerly Count) Dracula and now serves the interests of only one third of Transylvania’s population. Tired of their interests taking a back seat to those of the Vampires, and aware of rising political tensions and that real oppression may be only just over the horizon, the Werewolves and Witches decide to take matters into their own hands, after a fashion: They resurrect Frankenstein (He can’t go by “monster” forever.) who, being a one-of-a-kind supernatural being, is without a natural political alignment, and so potentially a very balanced (or at least a more balanced) candidate for mayor. This is where installment #1 of Chris Allen, Jack Wallace, and Rei Lay’s Frankenstein for Mayor leaves its readers.
In issue one of Spy Seal, Malcom, a seal in full anthropomorphic mode, very much like a character straight out of a Hitchcock film, stumbled into being a secret agent for the British Government. Hello, Cary Grant! In this second issue, we find him in the midst of his first mission, and it’s both an absurd hoot and a genuine blast. Having given Malcolm the code name “001,” Rich Tommaso’s (writer, artist, colorist, letterer) reverent homages extend beyond Hitchcock into the land of James Bond. Thankfully, it never becomes full-on parody, but really does thrust Malcolm into an adventure that is still a little over his head, despite his military background. Malcolm isn’t smooth and suave, and he isn’t clever; he still has a long way to go, and that makes the journey for the reader that much more palpable.
If you’re the type of reader who prefers to wait for the trade paperback over reading issue to issue and you were longing for all four installments of Geek-Girl to become available in a single edition, your time has arrived! As of August 25, 2017, all four chapters can be purchased in a glossy, complete volume, so the entire first arc of Ruby Kaye’s transformation into capable super hero can be yours!
Think Tank is the smartest comic book to exist, from everything I've seen. The research completed for the series alone is worth several dozen articles on the immense amount of care that Matt Hawkins puts into this series, and all of it pays off as this volume, entitled “Animal,” plays out. While judging by what has been said and the rumors that have been swirling around the book and its status, this might be the last part of Think Tank as a comic book series. If true, it's a fitting run to one of my favorite titles is the last few years.