For five issues now, Mia has been tossed around by circumstance. A scientist sent to investigate her father’s possible murder on an underwater station six miles below the surface of the ocean, she has been met with one disruption after the next. Sabotage, giant squids, rescue missions, crazed chefs, it has been nonstop survival with almost zero actual detective work on Mia’s part. It seems like she hasn’t slept in days and that no one wants to actually figure out what happened to her father. This has been just as frustrating for Mia as it has been the reader.
Holy crap. Black Hammer #3 was downright riveting and with nary an action scene. After spending Issue #2 getting to know the tragic tale of Gail, we now delve into Barbalien’s past, and it’s bittersweet as hell. Taking a page from Edgar Rice Burroughs' famous series, Jeff Lemire titles this issue, "The Warlord of Mars," which is smartly fitting in multiple ways: Barbalien’s home planet, the time period in which these types of serials were huge in comics, and the irony in how it deals with Barbalien’s political stance.
While the story moves forward and the format of how the story is being told makes more sense now, I still am finding it difficult to get my emotional footing. Kingsway is a killer, or at least war turned him into one, but the one thing that was keeping him human was the love of his life, his wife Sonia. Now, she’s been chased off and Kingsway and a kind of crazy guide, Zozo, along with her pet dragon are helping him find Sonia again. Even though Kingsway doesn’t want to kill, his hand is being forced and that’s drawing the attention of The United States of New York. See, this story is an alternate universe story where not everything has worked out as our own history has. Western and fantasy mythologies are shaking hands, all friendly like.
’I’ve been following you since your Belle Wood days. Tell me - were you truly prepared to fight all of these men with just your fists and a short blade?”
“No. I planned on grabbing a bottle of whiskey and clubbing some of them to death with it.”
Paris, 1923. The Great War has been over for 5 years, and everyone is reveling in the Jazz Age. Everyone except Francis Carver, back for the first time since he left six years earlier to fight in the War. Back bearing a guilty soul, a distinctive scar, and a heavy legend… “The Bloody Marine of Belle Wood.” Brought back by letter from the one woman he can’t forget and followed every step by the Paris Underworld.
The first issue of Warp Zone is fun, but a little difficult to follow. We’re introduced to several characters but aren’t really told who they are or what they’re about. As such, events are a little bewildering. Fortunately, in issue #2, we’re given a brief overview to help us keep things straight as we embark onto a strange and crazy adventure.
Bullet Gal has been making appearances in Andrez Bergen’s work for a long time now. She started out as a seemingly minor character in his noir superhero novel, Who Is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, who turned out to be more important than you thought. She then found her way into one of his later novels, Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth, before starring in her own 12-issue comic, a prequel to Heropa. Now, Bergen has adapted that comic into its own novel, and it all comes full circle.
Rebirth of the Gangster #3 is the story of police officer Lorena Sanchez. Like our other protagonists, Marcus and Hunter, Lorena’s father is a criminal whose actions led Lorena down another path; in her case working to put other criminals behind bars. And she’s good at it, too. Real good. Lorena is an interesting character. She seems by the book on the surface, but the issue reveals a troubled past and a complicated present that’s not as straightforward as one would think.
Southern Cross is a ship and it’s heading to Titan, a moon orbiting Saturn. Despite the fact that this story revolves around Alex Braith, searching for answers to her sister’s death and bringing her body back home, this issue carries about an alarming question: What’s happened to the main character?
In television and film, “bottle episodes” or “bottle films” are an interesting way to change it up, sacrificing the dramatic changes of scenery to bring in a moody, insular atmosphere that notches up tension and focuses much more on character. In comics, since the budget for the set pieces on the page is basically infinite, this technique is rarely used, which is something that made Hadrian's Wall a very curious series. Described by writer Kyle Higgins as an “'80s sci-fi murder mystery” that is set in a single, isolated place, this series gets rid of huge, interstellar expanses in favor of a single ship and the people inside.