Jodi Scaife

Jodi Scaife (162)

The latest volume of the free online comic anthology, Outré #4 takes the cutting-edge nature of the previous issues up a notch with the theme “silence.” Aside from the titles and credits for the anthology, there are no words in the entire forty-six pages.  The four stories must use only pictures to express their plots, and the three standalone portraits illustrate the theme in different ways.  It’s a gutsy move for comics, and I think that it mostly works.

Have you ever wished there were more comics that followed the same storytelling guidelines as police procedurals? Love TV shows about animal rescues or strange critters? The upcoming creator-owned, three-issue mini-series, Creature Cops: Special Varmint Unit, is for you! In a world where gene-spliced hybrid animals are the rule rather than the exception, animal control has become federalized to protect both citizens and AC officers. Join a team of hard-working government employees as they deal with King rat infestations in the projects, a stray panda dog living around the precinct, picking up a neglected horned mastiff who may be part of a hybrid animal fighting ring, and a dead animal pick up that is so much more . . . and that’s just the first day! By the end of the issue, your day job will look downright cushy, regardless of what you do for a living.

Doom Ranch 5000 isn’t exactly a comic anthology; it is more a short collection of local Texas tall tales and legends illustrated by a variety of local artists. Rather than feeling like a fully fleshed out work, it feels more like a portfolio piece to introduce each artist to the comic-reading public and garner interest for their longer works. As an introduction to relatively unknown creators, it worked, but at the end of the short, seventeen-page volume, I was left wanting something more.

Superheroes seem to be everywhere in current pop culture; their movies break bank at the box office, their comics consistently sell well, and children collect figures and video games featuring their favorites; however, society forgets that these superheroes didn’t evolve in a vacuum. Marvel and DC didn’t wake up one day and decide to invent individuals with extraordinary powers.  Author and storyteller Csenge Virag Zalka uses her book, Tales of Superhuman Power, to explore and reveal the ancient roots of many current superpowers.  Through her collection of fifty-five folktales, readers can learn how humans have been fascinated with exceptional skills since the creation of stories.

I have never been a Bond fan.  Sure, I knew who 007 was, had heard the famous introduction “Bond, James Bond,” and could ID Tom Collins’ and Angel’s lines in Rent as referencing the famous spy (although Pussy Galore never wore anything resembling Angel’s costume!), but since I had fallen asleep every time I tried to watch GoldenEye (three separate occasions; Disney’s White Fang also shares this dubious honor), I wasn’t putting the films on my must-watch list.  Then, a few months ago, a new friend convinced me to give the classic films a try.  Instead of watching just any Bond film, I needed to see some of the iconic ones that brought the franchise to life.  Working with him and another friend who is a female Bond fan, we worked together to pick some of the good Connery and Moore-era films to see if my opinion could be swayed at least a little.

The Telepath Chronicles is one of those rare anthologies where each piece beautifully matches the others, so while my emotional response varies from story to story, I never feel like any contribution is part of a game of “one of these things is not like the other.” While the genres vary slightly from hardcore space sci-fi to what I refer to as sci-fi light (There’s technology we don’t currently have, but the world is otherwise the same.), each explores different aspects of telepathy, gently tying the diverse tales together.  This is truly a book where if one story doesn’t appeal to you, skip ahead, because I guarantee that there’s something engaging for almost all readers in the pages. 

The Kill Screen #2 picks up Chris’ story some time after the events in The Kill Screen #1 – I Love You. He’s acquired a small band of human survivors, but he’s become bitter and measures his life force by the number of cigarettes left in his one remaining pack. When Chris and his group stumble across two more survivors who are fleeing a type of infected known as followers, the disenfranchised man must decide whether saving people still matters or if he just wants to live another day.

The Almighties #0 combines the brief backstories of the team from The Almighties Origins with a fun, Stefanos-centric tale and an unrelated one-shot titled "The Gimp with a Gob." As I had already read and reviewed Origins, the first story provided me with no new information; however, the one-shot was delightfully quirky, and I enjoyed the subtle pokes at pop culture and American politics in Stefanos’ story, "If I Could Turn Back Time."

Stand on a street corner in any Asian city, and you can feel the life and energy pulsing around you. Masses of people press by, transportation noises fill the air, the voices of shop owners carry, and the smells from restaurants drift by as you struggle to absorb it all. The first pages of Sonny Liew’s Malinky Robot transported me back in time fifty or sixty years and dropped me into a city reminiscent of Tokyo (There are references to the Sumida River.) peopled with a smart-mouthed, cigarette-smoking urchin, Atari, his anthropomorphic animal friend Oliver (I initially thought he was a sheep, but his family name is Oliphant.), and their friends. The result was a feeling of déjà vu as I mentally stood on that street corner taking in a world I almost recognized but that was just different enough to intrigue me.

Reviewing an anthology is perhaps the most difficult task a reviewer can face, because different creators touch readers in different ways. The job becomes even more complex when facing a comic anthology, where the changes in art style and tone sometimes prevent a seamless read from story to story; however, I cannot deny the creativity and skill of each individual who contributed to Liquid City Volume 3, and Sonny Liew and Joyce Sim’s editorial work to combine unique pieces that both fit the theme (What would you do if you knew there was only one month, week, or day of life as you know it on this Earth?) and showcased some of the best Southeast Asian creators is stellar.

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