Frank Doberano is back in Los Angeles, and while the city may have changed, Frank is betting everything that Jasper Kane is still the same no-good criminal scumbag who killed his partner all that time ago. Rehabilitated in the eyes of the city, and never having to actually pay for his crimes, Kane is now on top of the world, but Frank doesn’t intend to let him stay there for long, no matter what anyone else says. Frank has made up his mind, and Kane is going down. Welcome to issue two of Doberman, the new buddy cop comedy comic from Darby Pop Publishing and IDW.
The Guns of Shadow Valley is tremendous, plain and simple. The deft blend of western, supernatural, and science fiction staples and surprises is sure to delight fans of all three genres, and the different genres may even win some new converts thanks to creators Dave Wachter and James Andrew Clark’s twisting tale of redemption, revenge, power, and purpose in the old west. Starting off small and mysterious, the story and its characters grow larger in scale and depth with each issue, and, before you know it, you are in the middle of a complex and rousing epic.
I am here to bring to your attention once more the outrageous and unbelievable adventures, trials, and feats of bravura insanity that make up the existence of Fear Agent Heath Huston. Continuing down his uniquely oscillating path of self-destruction and self-sacrifice in this fifth volume, I Against I, Huston finds himself coming face to face with his own worst self. The complexities and intricacies of that encounter I will let you discover for yourself, because the Fear Agent co-creators, writer Rick Remender and artist Tony Moore, have a plethora of mind-warping shocks and surprises in store for Huston, and just as he is blindsided by these revelations, so should you be, too, intrepid reader.
Sina Grace and Daniel Freedman’s reign of terror continues! I’m talking of course about their Image Comics series Burn the Orphanage, now on the third issue of its second miniseries, Reign of Terror. Grace and Freedman are co-creators and co-writers, with Grace also providing the artwork. Born out of nostalgia for butt-kicking video games and action movies of the nineties, Burn the Orphanage has moved on to create its own mythos and backstory, and Grace and Freedman adeptly pull in elements and characters from the fist miniseries, proving that nothing Rock and his friends Lex and Bear do is an act unto itself. Their actions have far-reaching consequences, and now more than ever, everyone is depending on them to save the day.
I have read issue eight of digital publisher Monkeybrain Comics’ Knuckleheads twice now, and I’m not ashamed to admit that both times I teared up. If you have read issue seven, you probably have a pretty good idea why this issue packs such an emotional punch, and it really, truly does. Brian Winkeler and Robert Wilson IV’s sci-fi buddy comedy has always focused on the hilarity and complexity that exists within friendships, and the importance of having a support system when facing tough and unexpected challenges, or when trying to unlock superpowers. Bringing the first story arc, Fist Contact, to a close, the Knuckleheads solidify that necessity for relationships as Trev, Lance, Emma, and Guy finally become something of a family, and we celebrate their triumphs alongside them.
Brian Buccellato’s Foster is a labor of love, and it shows on every page, from the introduction by long-time friend Robert Place Napton to the final scene. Eddie Foster is a down-and-out war vet living on the fringes of the gritty, grimy, noir-ish Vintage City. He has chosen the life of a drunk, and his mantra is to only look out for himself. When we meet him, the world wants nothing to do with him, and he wants nothing to do with the world. Things take a turn when he takes in his absentee neighbor’s six-year-old son Ben and suddenly finds himself protecting the boy from monsters, scientists, and the police, not to mention from Eddie’s own poor choices and inner demons. As these first six issues unfold, Buccellato slowly pulls back the layers of Eddie’s past and lets us into his emotionally damaged psyche. You find yourself both liking and loathing Eddie Foster as he battles against his own selfish impulses, setting himself up for failure sometimes, and doing all he can to help Ben at other times. Kudos to Buccellato for revealing Eddie’s dark, tragic backstory slowly and for leaving it up to the reader to decide how much of his past is his fault and how much is due to his experiences. But, even if the mistakes in Eddie’s past are due to his experiences, does that really let him off the hook for the choices he’s made? That is a question that Buccellato asks the reader, and that Eddie struggles with constantly, and this is part of what makes him such a complex, compelling character.
Issue seven of Binary Gray focuses on the aftermath and consequences of the attack on the superhero team The Virtue’s secret headquarters by the mysterious and nefarious Agency. Average guy turned fledging superhero, or rather average guy who has acquired superpowers but has no idea how to use them yet, Alex Gray is rethinking his desire for adventure and excitement. But, he is also realizing that he can never go back to the life he once knew. He finds himself at a crossroads, abandoning the most solid support system he has had, The Virtue, since his father died while protecting him from a super-powered altercation when he was a boy. Now, it looks like Alex may be haunted by yet another death that he blames himself for, and that’s not something he’s sure he can handle emotionally. If you’re intrigued but don’t know the whole story, then head over to assailantcomics.com and pick up Binary Gray issues one through six, available digitally or in print. If you’re already caught up, then you’re right on track.
This is the second issue of Dream Thief: Escape, and writer Jai Nitz and artist Greg Smallwood continue to add exciting and terrifying new levels to their Dream Thief mythology, here through a reveal that casts an ominous shadow over future possessions and makes John Lincoln’s past possessions all the more harrowing. Nitz has always been able to tap into the emotions of his characters and the victims’ search for justice always resonates with John, and now John finds himself digging deep in the present to try and reconcile the past, from the murder of his girlfriend and sister’s best friend Clare, the first person he killed as a Dream Thief, because of her wrongful murder of Armando Cordero, to the death of Cordero. That may sound a lot like plot, but Nitz does such a wonderful job of weaving the story and characters together that one never exists without the other, and the repercussions of one character’s actions may continue to ripple out into the present, creating unexpected problems or poignant situations that may assist or jeopardize John’s plans. Dream Thief: Escape continues to build in emotional complexity, and if you aren’t reading this book, you are missing out on some stellar storytelling.
My first thought for reviewing Knuckleheads: Fist Contact, IDW’s print collection of digital publishing wunderkind Monkeybrain Comics’ hilarious, sitcom sci-fi adventure comedy, was to combine all of my exuberant Knuckleheads single issue reviews into one super review. But, then I realized that would make for one very long review, and co-creator and writer Brian Winkeler, co-creator and artist Robert Wilson IV, colorist Jordan Boyd, and letterer Thomas Mauer’s names would appear way too often, paired with an in-depth celebration of their skills and talents, issue by issue. So, dear reader, to spare you that much-deserved praise overkill, I will stop my review here and simply tell you to go out and buy the amazing, the incredible, the hysterical Knuckleheads: Fist Contact, and to read it for yourselves.
The third issue of Brain Boy brings the Psy vs. Psy story arc to its roaring conclusion, but not without offering tantalizing hints at what adventures, dangers, and mysteries may be on the horizon for telepath Matt Price. Writer Fed Van Lente has successfully developed and deepened the character of the egotistical, young telepath, who has grown something of a conscience over these first few issues. Raised by Albright Industries’ Bio-Vancements division after the death of his parents, and often found working for the U.S. Secret Service on psychic safety patrol for high-ranking government officials, Matt Price’s life used to be all fun and (mind) games. But, that seems to be changing, maybe in a good way, or maybe in a slightly less good and much more deadly way. It kind of depends on the situation, and, in this issue, Price finds himself in more than a few situations that will take all of his brain power, and I mean that in the most literal sense. Van Lente sets out some intriguing stepping stones in this issue that invite you further into the burgeoning Brain Boy universe, and he sheds just a tiny bit of light on Albright Industries, albeit to introduce more questions - very engaging and possibly even menacing questions.