Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

Phillip Kelly, Fanbase Press Contributor

If you can imagine a Kaiju story as told by David Cronenberg, you’ll get Ultramega. The very first issue taught me to expect the unexpected, and, even with that, the unexpected doesn’t seem to cover everything. While creator James Harrem certainly cares about the characters he’s writing, or at least cares about their depth and complexity, he isn’t reverent to his creations. This is a harsh, weird world with not a single character archetype to safely guide us through it. Every moment of heroic certainty is followed by one of, well, now what?!

This is the same world that Joe Golem, another Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden character, inhabits. It’s a world of witches and alternate time lines. In the case of Cojacaru the Skinner, we have witches allying with the Nazis. The first issue started us in the middle of the action, with a group of allied soldiers trying to get important information to a church without dying.

Black Hammer is about stories: the stories we’re steeped in; the stories we’re trapped in; the stories that define us or that lie just out of reach of who we are; the stories that set us free; the stories that we tell ourselves; the stories that others tell us to make things easier; and the stories that we fight to live. While Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston dedicated a story arc in the main series of Black Hammer specifically to this meta-level storytelling, Visions takes our heroes of Spiral City and looses other creators upon them. In this case, Mariko Tamaki and Diego Olortegui approach this idea of shifting stories with some creative mischievousness. They take the family dynamic we’ve grown used to and drop them into different genres and archetypes all together. Seemingly, our center point to all of this is an unphased Captain Weird who is able to travel between alternate realities/stories.

If nothing else, I know that I’m never going to go wrong with a release from BOOM! Studios, but I’m still consistently caught off guard by the quality of their showings. Their most recent is Eve, an obvious reference to the Biblical story. Taking place not terribly far in the future, we are introduced to a girl and her father who have a job to do - a mission one might say - that Eve is just about to learn about. When a twist occurs in the story, we realize that maybe Eve isn’t where we thought she was (or never has been) and the circumstances are far worse. An android that looks like an old, mangled teddy bear named Wexler becomes her introduction to this new reality, and the adventure truly begins.

Wynd is on the run. With him is his best friend who is basically a sister, a prince who is fleeing his father (the King), and the prince’s gardener turned bodyguard. The first issue found them outrunning the Bandaged Man, a person who could smell magic, and since Wynd is magical, he stayed hot on their trail.

Fanbase Press Contributor Phillip Kelly plays and reviews a handful of brand new independent video games, all costing no more than $25. Why?  There are a lot of indie games out there, and if he can help you, curious reader, to parse through the selection with even a little more knowledge, then, by god, he’ll die content.

I love Japanese folklore and horror. I also love the wise dogs of Beasts of Burden - dogs that use witchcraft to protect the world. Normally, they’re protecting their neighborhood, but we’re getting a flashback to World War II during which a dog (Emrys) and his master have arrived in occupied Japan, where decapitations have been occurring.

I will never know true, unfettered fear. Not like some people. I’m not wearing that as a badge of honor, it’s simply a reality of the world we live in. I have more fear for other people than I do myself, and yet, I’m afraid. Like so many of the rest of the world, we are taught to fear: fear the other side, fear circumstances yet unseen, fear the unknowable. Especially in the last four years, as a culture we’ve lived in a cacophony of fear, because we see just how vulnerable we truly are: vulnerable to the whims of a terrible leader, vulnerable to a wide-ranging disease, vulnerable to the people who are supposed to protect us.

There’s an absolutely masterful sequence in the third issue of Dead Dog’s Bite in which shadows are used so effectively that you feel a real sense of dread and danger simply from their existence, long before that danger is confirmed, and even then, it’s kept abstract, like a nightmare.

America has a fascination with violence, everything from our Mortal Kombat games to Saw films. Somehow, somewhere, that desire for violence became a necessity in our lives. It’s not very often when that violence is used to make a point or to tell an emotional story. Often, you have to look overseas or seek out World War II or Vietnam films that will use violence to remind you that “war is hell.” In America, we have learned to glorify the act of violence for the sake of violence. So, when a story comes along that treats you to a healthy dose of ultraviolence and then wings you emotionally in the end, that’s something special.

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