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.
Darby Pop Publishing and IDW’s Doberman unashamedly and expertly channels the eighties and nineties through the lens of crowd-pleasing movies like Beverly Hills Cop, Tango & Cash, and Lethal Weapon, and the end result couldn’t be better. In fact, Los Angeles Detective Frank Doberano, nicknamed Doberman for his name and unique brand of justice, could be a dead ringer for Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs. So, right away, we know we’re in for an entertaining go-around. Frank is a larger-than-life character, and when we meet him in the eighties, where issue one begins, his ego is big enough for a whole police force. His ego’s not completely unwarranted though, as Frank is good at what he does, if not a bit unorthodox. His aggressive style and devil-may-care attitude rub some of the other officers the wrong way, but, for Frank, that’s just a part of the job.
There are a plethora of great ideas in Assailant Comics’ new anthology series, Open Tree, the best of which is the decision to make the series a genre affair. Each issue features one unique, original story, and from the looks of this first issue story, titled "Freedom Run," and a teaser for the second issue, writer and editor Chris Carlton and his various collaborators are prepared to tackle a whole variety of genres, from westerns to nautical tales, and beyond. Focusing on stories from the realm of legends and tall tales gives Charlton carte blanche to delve into the fantastic, while still keeping his characters feet planted on the ground, rooted in a relatable reality.
Issue two of Street Angel is all kinds of crazy, and bizarre, and absurd, and hilarious. It is the strangest amalgam of ideas I have seen in a long time, and it is an absolute hoot. For you history buffs out there, this is the issue for you. Writer and artist Jim Rugg and his co-writer Brian Maruca give us Incas, Spanish Conquistadors, Irish astronauts, and, of course, ninjas, and they all fit together in the most time-traveling-est of ways. There are a multitude of ideas swirling around in this issue, and Rugg’s sharp, black-and-white line work make those ideas come to totally realistic, yet unrealistic, life. Perhaps best of all is their interpretation of the Incan sun god Inti, whose appearance and dialogue elicit immediate laughter, because it is so wonderfully anachronistic and utterly unexpected. There is also a great visual of an astronaut flying through the air on a jetpack/rocket, his arms and legs dangling like wet noodles, adding a hysterical touch to an already ridiculous scenario. I’ll be lessening the calculated randomness of Rugg and Maruca’s creative insanity if I talk too much about the story, and I just can’t be responsible for that. I will say that this story zigs and zags and makes leaps that seem incongruous at first, and maybe even still seem so at last, but that is the world of Street Angel. It is a beautiful non sequitur of a comic.
Fear Agent is back, with a desperate grab at a sustainable future for the remaining people of Earth. After an inordinate amount of alien invasions have left their home planet an almost completely inhabitable rock of death and depressing memories, the survivors are running out of options for survival. This is the impetus that kicks off this book, thrusting Heath, Mara, Charlotte, and the majority of the Fear Agents into a series of splintered adventures, failures, and unexpected tragedies. It starts in an almost episodic, uniquely standalone kind of way, though still connected to the larger, ongoing story, and this lulls you into a false sense of safety until, on the turn of a dime, everything goes wrong and calamity stacks upon calamity, disaster breeds death. By the end, you’re begging for something, anything, good to happen. But, that just ain’t how things play out, not in Fear Agent, and especially not in a volume titled Hatchet Job. In this, the fourth volume, collecting issues seventeen through twenty-one, Heath once again watches his world crumble all around him, though this time he’s not solely to blame, or at least not solely blamed by others. It is arguable though that Heath not being the cause of the trouble makes it harder for him to cope with it, though the preeminent cause still hits close to home and takes its emotional toll on the emotionally ravaged hero.
Dark Horse’s sleeper hit, Dream Thief, is back, and so are the eighties. For those of you just joining us, last year writer Jai Nitz and artist Greg Smallwood created a little, five-issue miniseries called Dream Thief, and it was phenomenal. I read all of it and had the pleasure of reviewing issues three through five, and when I read it all over again to review the trade collection, I found myself engrossed in the mystery, intrigue, mayhem, and mysticism, as if I was reading it for the very first time. But, enough from my ghost of reviews past, because Nitz is pushing forward, and backward, with his story, building off the previous events and showing us a past we only got the vaguest glimpses of near the end of that first run, and the ball gets rolling fast. If you have to play catch up during the first issue of this next chapter in the Dream Thief saga, a four-issue arc titled Escape, that’s okay. I know I did, and I loved every minute of my refresher course. Part of the beauty of Nitz’s writing is that it doesn’t pander to the reader. It’s quick, intelligent, and layered with subtext and surprises, and getting the story and all its nuances straight and under your belt the first time around can be as complex and challenging as it is for John Lincoln. In that way, we’re right on pace with John, who believes his father is somehow connected to his new-found life as a Dream Thief, and his best friend Reggie, who now is in on John’s secret double life.