Steven W. Alloway

Steven W. Alloway (292)

It’s been over two months since the last issue of Velvet came out, and, in that time, especially with such an intricate plotline, it’s entirely possible the reader may have lost track of exactly what’s going on. Fortunately, this issue is less a direct continuation of the ongoing sequence of events, and more background. We get to see flashbacks to Velvet’s early days in X-Ops, as well as her recruitment and subsequent training. In short, after spending several months getting to know this woman through her actions and reactions in a series of heightened circumstances, we finally get a good look at just who she is and how she came to be.

On the one hand, Murder Mysteries seems like a rather mundane title for a story like this. It makes it sound very run of the mill and doesn’t even begin to encompass the world in which this story takes place—a world outside of time, space, and humanity. At the same time, though, I can’t think of a more apt title it could have.

Weird Fantasy was a sci-fi anthology comic of the 1950s, aimed mainly at the teenager/young adult demographic. This collection brings us the first six issues: #13-17, and #6. There’s a logical reason why the first issue is #13, and Wikipedia says it has something to do with saving money on postage. It does not elaborate further.  This has no bearing on anything, but it amuses me to no end.

It’s been over four months since the last Danger Girl story arc ended. Now, finally, we begin a new one with “Mayday.” This first issue has a few jarring differences from the usual Danger Girl comics, though. For one thing, it barely has the Danger Girls in it at all.

The saga of mass surveillance and ultimate power continues. Ben, our hero, finds himself hot on the trail of the terrorist who caused the accident that blinded him. He also tries to patch things up with Chloe, the girl he’s been pining for and whom, last issue, he frightened off with his newfound abilities; however, some people seem to think he’s getting too close to the truth, which may prove dangerous for the both of them.

It’s difficult to like or empathize with any protagonist who utters the phrase, “Shut your mouth! Higher life forms are talking!” with himself being one of the higher life forms he’s referring to. In fact, that statement pretty much encapsulates what Brain Boy is all about. Matthew Price, also known as Brain Boy (much to his chagrin), is the most powerful psychic, telepath, and telekinetic on the planet, and he clearly sees himself as some sort of ubermensch.

At its core, Kill Me is a really simple story. It’s about a man who ruins his life, then has a chance to go back in time and fix things. But, surrounding that basic concept are a whole lot of other events that make the story seem much more complicated than it is.

There have been any number of versions in the past of the story of Joseph Merrick—a real person who lived in the late 19th century and whose deformities earned him the nickname “Elephant Man”—including a stage play and a 1980 film starring Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. Merrick deliberately doesn’t follow the path of any of these previous versions, though, and makes a point of saying so. It’s an all-new take on the life of Merrick, but still at least partly based in fact. I haven’t seen any other versions of Merrick’s story, so I can’t say how similar or dissimilar it is from any of them, but, as far as I can tell, this one does seem to be wholly unique.

Andrez Bergen, writer of the comic anthology Black/White, may be one of the few people who loves noir more than I do. Noir elements are staples in a lot of his work, from the broadly comedic, supernatural, hard-boiled detective antics of his “Roy and Suzie” stories to the dark dystopia of his novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. Black/White is a collection of a number of Bergen’s specifically noir-based stories, illustrated in comic form by a number of different artists. Because of the different artists, each story has a completely different visual style, ranging from high contrast to realistic to somewhat cartoony. The only thing they have in common, other than Bergen’s words and a noir motif, is that they’re all in . . . well, black and white.

As the story in City: The Mind in the Machine continues to unfold in Issue #2, we get to explore further some of the moral conundrums hinted at in the first issue: security vs. privacy, the consequences of ultimate power, etc. Shy, unassuming Ben now has his eyes—and his mind—directly connected to every surveillance camera in the city, both private and public. With a little practice, he can control them and switch between them just by thinking about it. But, more than that, he can also control just about anything else that’s connected to the network: traffic lights, streetcars, facial recognition software, and more.

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