Fun For All!

Power Up #1


Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Matt Cummings

BOOM! Box is such a great imprint. For real, BOOM! Studios made an excellent choice in bringing this section of their publication to life. With tons of wonderful titles such as Giant Days, The Midas Flesh, Teen Dog, the imprint is truly enjoyable for people of all ages. Power Up adds another title to the library of hits as it successfully spins a tale that everyone will have fun with. The series is written by Kate Leth who has also worked on Edward Scissorhands, Ink for Beginners (see my write up here), Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time, Fresh Romance, her webcomic, Kate or Die... all kinds of stuff. She has a pretty nifty podcast as well: check it out! Matt Cummings is the artist on this comic. He has also lended his talents to many a Cartoon Network comic including Regular Show, Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time, and Steven Universe. Check out more of his art as well as his awesome Kickstarter by clicking these underlined words!

Long ago there was a prophecy stating that "four warriors will champion us into a new age". Now in the present, it begins to come true. Amie, an animal lover and pet store employee. Has a less than lucrative but mostly enjoyable normal life. That is, until some crazy, impossible shenanigans go down while she is at work, leaving her and a goldfish very confused. What is this curious power that Amie is experiencing? Who are the other two warriors from the prophecy? Why is that gentleman on the cover wearing a skirt? I honestly do not know, but am so pumped to find out.

Leth provides a likable and understandable character in Amie. With everything from an obnoxious boss to monetary issues, she is believable and grounded (which I'm sure will change a bit as her abilities manifest). Amie also has a cheery disposition cementing how impossible it is not to like her just from this first issue. We also catch glimpses of the other three characters which will form this group, but in a way that gives you the smallest bit of info just to wet your appetite. By focusing on primarily Amie, the reader gets to see things from her perspective, giving her even more depth, but not so much as to put off some of the younger readers. Speaking of younger readers, the dialogue in this story is incredibly successful at being accessible. This is a story that I look forward to reading to my boy, as it is right up his alley. In many similar stories I could see the prophecy business being a little heady for the kid, but ending in a punch line it is really just a starting gun for the enjoyable story in the following pages.

Cummings has a vibrant, illustrative art style that tosses explosive color bursts into each panel. I found the character models to be somewhat reminiscent of Rintaro's Metropolis in a strange way, primarily in the unique hair styles, eyes, and noses. That being said, the style is still very much his own, providing the readers cartoon visuals which keep the story's tone and atmosphere in check. As the story progresses and we see the first action sequence, the tone shifts entirely into a whirlwind of highlights and accents to show the strength of those fighting as well as their intimidating antagonists. I know I touched a little on faces earlier, but I've got to say, all of the expressions in this story are priceless. From the simple frown to the over exaggerated shock, each of these characters exhibits great emotion. The pet store manager, Karen, is one of the best examples, throughout the story you can tell just from her face that she obnoxious. These expresions project feelings in a really palpable way, and that's greatly appreciated. Finally I would like to say that Cummings draws the best facial hair in the business. For real, these dudes look killer.

Power Up debuts it's six issue arc in an entertaining way, with something in it for everyone. With the humor that folks have come to enjoy, sci-fi/fantasy elements which we all love, plus a whole mess of originality, BOOM! Box has another great title on it's hands! Leth and Cummings both have styles which mix perfectly, and the result is a must buy. The first issue of Power Up came out just this past Wednesday, July 22nd and costs only $3.99! Get it!

Space Cops are Cool

Mercury Heat #1


Story: Kieron Gillen
Art: Omar Francia
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Kurt Hathaway

The date is 2015... May 2nd, 2015 to be precise. On the shelves amongst the other Free Comic Book Day issues is the preview of this series by Avatar which instantly intrigued me with a strong lead character and striking visuals. Fast forward to July 15th, and the tease is over with Mercury Heat officially getting released! Now, sci-fi is really big in comics right now. Some series pull it off very well, some don't, and others are just sort of there. This book is absolutely pulling it off. Besides being a unique story on it's own, Mercury Heat is also a bit of a new direction for Avatar to go in, as there aren't a ton of science fiction stories under the publications belt. The series is written by Kieron Gillen who at this point everyone is well aware of. The man is a force of nature in this industry, has written a ton of exceptional stories including (but far from limited to) Journey Into Mystery, Young Avengers, Phonogram, Thor, Darth Vader, and of course, The Wicked & The Divine. He has quite the knack for creating characters that feel true to the story and totally unique. Omar Francia draws this fine entry to the sci-fi genre. One of the big draws to this series picking it up was that the world looked similar to Mass Effect... which makes sense because Francia has drawn some of those as well as some Star Wars titles and even Arrow and Legends of the Dark Knight. Listen to me babbling on... let's get to the book.

Mercury Heat takes place on a mysterious planet (jk, it's Mercury... which is still pretty mysterious) that gets mined for it's resources and houses a community of workers. The planet has a wide variety of struggles, from the intense weather to the extreme temperatures to murders and various other crimes, it's a miracle the station has stayed functional. Luiza Bora, a woman from Earth with training primarily as a cop, has transferred to a different area of the planet for a new start. After being implanted with "crystals" which provide information and memories on her surroundings, Luiza consults the A.I., Grapevine, to find an occupation. She knows exactly what she wants to be, and immediately selecting the severely underpaid police position she finds herself thrown into a case. A murder occurred recently, with fishy circumstances and some questionable evidence, she is determined to get to the bottom of it. What the murderers DON'T know is that Luiza has quite the ace up her sleeve.

Gillen has created a sprawling area to explore, consisting of corridors and barracks which ignite the imagination as well as grandiose machinery with undefined purpose. We also immediately catch a glimpse into the technology of this future time period. Between the memory crystals, Grapevine, the Mercury settlement itself, and various other devices/abilities we see not only that civilization is advanced, but that some of the advancements may be doing more harm then good. For the most part Luiza works alone in this issue, these moments give us the chance to see her stronger, independent side. However, as the issue progresses and she begins to deal with some of the bottom of the barrel employees and criminals, it becomes obvious that she is more than just confident. There is also a cool effect that Gillen has used for exposition in this story. Instead of regular text boxes, context is given through pop up windows and alerts, providing a very fresh take on that practice.

Francia's art does a lot of thins very successfully. Primarily, he creates a space environment that I NEED to see more of, and he draws one kickass lady. We'll start with those environments. All area's are far from romanticizing space travel/life in space, rather they are more along the same lines as the functional rig, the Nostromo. Everything has a purpose and although not every curious set pieces is defined to us, it is obvious that these interiors were carefully planned. Onto the characters: each person that is seen on this ship, whether they are from one panel in the distance or show up throughout the book, shows some serious definition. For as much detail as is present in the environments, the same could easily be said about the character models, perhaps more so. Facial and body toning provide [mostly] realistic forms and give a greater definition of the characters even down to the level of bone structure. The visuals are eye catching already, but once Luiza puts on her police armor, you can tell it's about to go down. Looking formidable she participates in some fantastic fight scenes, complete with moments that might even make you cringe a little bit.

Mercury Heat is filling a different section of the sci-fi genre than many of the other books currently on the shelves. The Kieron Gillen's storytelling is very modernistic and provides a great amount of detail to make you feel like you know the character but there is still more to learn, while Omar Francia's art makes the metallic surroundings and the characters that inhabit them pop, with almost a flair of 80's action sequences. Luiza Bora's investigations is just beginning, and I can't wait to tag along. This first issue came out on July 15th and costs $3.99. There are a whole mess of great covers to choose from too!

He Returns

Invader Zim #1

Oni Press

Writer: Jhonen Vasquez
Pencils: Aaron Alexovich
Inks: Megan Lawton
Colors: Simon Troussellier
Letters: Warren Wucinick

In the past many series have had successful comic adaptations and relaunches. Big Trouble in Little China, Buffy, Gem and the Holograms, Bill & Ted... all of these have continued or reinvented their source material very successfully, and now we find Invader Zim getting that same treatment. For those who have been living under rocks, didn't watch cartoons in the early 2000s, or have never been in a Hot Topic, Invader Zim chronicles the adventures of an alien that wishes to conquer earth with his robot and his arch nemesis, Dib, who tries to stop them. Sounds fun right? It is! The series is written by Jhonen Vasquez who originally created the cartoon and was kind of a big shot at Slave Labor Graphics for Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee, the lesser known I Feel Sick, and his strangely engaging comic journal Jellyfist. Really peculiar, yet enjoyable stuff, all oozing (almost literally in some cases) originality. Aaron Alexovich, the artist on this book, has many works that fall into that same ilk, having contributed to titles such as Haunted Mansion, Edward Scizzorhands, and Fables. He also has some pretty cool creator owned work including Serenity Rose and Eldritch (check out the first issue here).

What's the story here? After years of not appearing Zim and his robot, GIR, have returned to wreak havoc on Earth and pester there opponent, Dib. In that time Dib has been watching and waiting for the re-emergence of the alien by waiting and watching his residence. Thus being the case... he has really let himself go. So while he is working out and getting back in shape... perhaps TOO in shape... Zim is trying to locate a weapon of massive power known as the Gargantic Array in hopes of finally conquering Earth.

Vasquez brings these characters back to life with almost the exact same voices they had on the cartoon. I say almost because if anything he has made them even funnier than they were before. The book is hilarious and WILL have you in stitches before you know it. The competitive dialogue between Dib and Zim is every present, with both feeling like they have the upper hand over the other. Whereas the friendly conversation between Zim and GIR shows off their friendship while still showing how little Zim respects the tiny robot. Look, there isn't a ton to say. It reads just like an episode of the show. IF you have never seen the show then no fear! This series doesn't require much additional backstory and what you do need to know is told in the beginning of the book by Recap Kid!

Not only is the voice the same, but those who loved the series' aesthetic will not be disappointed. Alexovich brings the strange industrial suburbia back to the forefront and doesn't skimp on the grimy imagery. The biggest change in appearance is in the out of shape Dib who just looks... gross. Seriously, if at some point this series introduced some truly nasty creatures, I have no doubt that Alexovich would be up to the task. We also get to see some aliens other than Zim, all looking somewhat out of place in this dark world and adding to the story. Probably most important to the style of this series are the exaggerated facial expressions. Some of the most hilarious moments in the cartoon revolved around the cast members going completely bonkers and that has translated to this comic exceptionally well. Of course adding to the experience are the inks and colors from Lawton and Trousselier, further cementing with the dark purple color scheme that this is the world we have come to know and love (and that new folks will love as well).

Invader Zim is back... and I couldn't be happier with his grand reappearance. Oni Press brought a cartoon back into the lives of the fans and with Vasquez and Alexovich at the helm it is bound to be a hilarious, ridiculous, out of this world ride! Oh also, wanted to mention this because it's a nice touch, this issue even has the original cast list. That a sign of respect that I personally think is just great. The first issue came out on July 8th for $3.99.

A Witch w/an Attitude

Punk Mambo #0


Writer: Peter Milligan
Art: Robert Gill
Colors: Jose Vilarrubia
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Covers: Russel Dauterman w/Matthew Wilson

Valiant, as many people may know, was around in the 90's for quite a bit, forming innovative teams and new characters. Here's something you might not have known about Valiant then: they had a bunch of Nintendo licensed titles (Captain N is hilarious). Here's something you might not know about Valiant now: Punk Mambo is a really killer comic, and it's out there. Look, you all know Peter Milligan. Through his works we have seen some incredibly stories that fleshed out characters such as Constantine, the X-Statix, Shade, and Animal Man. He also worked on one of my all time favorite Vertigo series, Greek Street (check it out for bonus points). This time around we see him teaming up with Robert Gill, who is no stranger to Valiant titles, having contributed his considerable talents to Eternal Warrior, Ivar: Timewalker, some Harbinger tie-ins (the Faith one is great, check it out for even MORE bonus points), as well as covers for Imperium, Divinity, Bloodshot: Reborn... all kinds of stuff. Each of these gentleman have a solid chunk of horror experience under their belt, and this one shot showcases their hair raising talent perfectly.

Victoria is a voodou priestess who lives deep in the bayou, waiting to help those whho bring her the proper tribute. One day when she is consulting with her spirit guide, Sid Vicious, she gets reminded of her humble beginnings that brought her from private school girl to squating punk. These recollections also bring up memories of how two of her "friends" Noxo and Doxy, tried to bargain her freedom to houngan (male voodou witch doctor)  who collected girls in exchange for youth. The strong willed Victoria escaped, and later finds her on a path of revenge and redemption.

Milligan manages to capture 3 unique worlds in one issue. The weird, magic world which Victoria finds herself to be a part of is  new and different to the readers but manages to feel just as cool as the environment of London's punk scene. That era in her life has a timeless look and the dialogue choices are perfect. The third world is the upper class private school life which Victoria experienced before her extreme wardrobe change. Obviously this is the most boring time in her life, but with snooty dialogue from all those around her, it makes her transition even more understandable. The conclusion of the story as well as the actions Victoria uses to retaliate against the wrongs done to her are very clever and well written, going between peaceful resolution and fearful engagement. Milligan has an understanding of horror and has the feel of punk well understood. He also has a good sense of time, and in one issue shows and builds upon the life progression of the other characters involved in the story

Gill's art does exactly what he meant for it to do. It is terrifying when it should be and realistic when t needs to be, but constantly showcases a morbid beauty. A small detail that I really appreciate is all of the bystanders in the book. Victoria has a unique look to say the least, and whenever she is practicing dark magic or simply waiting for the bus, she catches at least one curious glance. While we are on the subject of her look: I love it. Seriously from the vibrant explosive hair to the pinned jacket it just works in an incredible way. It looks even better when paired with Doxy, Noxo, and the evil houngan. The magic is in your face and terrifying... physically and mentally, the dark power is absolutely cringeworthy, definitely increased by Gill's level of fine lines and extra detail. Of course there is something to be said for Vilarrubia's colors, which help bring Victoria's look and the sinister nature of the magic in this book to a whole new level.

I was super stoked when this issue came out last November but couldn't find it anywhere for the longest time! Tucked away at my local shop I found a small stack and couldn't be happier. The product matched the hype, and I sincerely hope to see more of Victoria's magical shenanigans. Valiant has a large collection of great characters, and those found in Milligan and Gill's Punk Mambo are no exception. If you like horror, punk aesthetic, magic, and just great comics... then check this bad boy out. Oh, she has also appeared in the series Shadowman as well as 2 issues of The Valiant! As I mentioned earlier, this #0 is a one shot, and only costs $3.99. Thanks for reading!

Who Stole My Body?!

8House Arclight #1

Image Comics

Writer: Brandon Graham
Art/Colors: Marian Churchland
Letters: Ariana Maher

You wanna know what's really beautiful? THIS BOOK! You want to know why it didn't get more press before it's release? SO DO I! Absolutely continuing Image Comics trend of releasing incredible creator owned titles, 8House Arclight provides whimsical dialogue with some truly gorgeous visuals to produce an enigmatic fantasy tale. The story is written by Brandon Graham has worked on a whole mess of somehwat obscure titles including Multiple Warheads, Hit the Beach, King City, and most noticeably, Prophet (great stuff, check it out).He has teamed up with Marian Churchland to produce this killer book. Churchland has worked on all kinds of stuff including the aforementioned King City, as well as Madame Xanadu, Northlanders, and primarily Elephantmen. Gaze at her stunning art here!

This plot is more of a see it to believe it scenario, but here we go. Lady and her knight/guard Sir Arclight are exploring the outskirts of the Blood House Lands in hopes of finding a cure for Lady's corrupt appearance. Evil and magic have combined and the result is Lady losing her original body. Now, with Sir Arclight by her side, the two set out to use some magic themselves to cure Lady's malady. Various attempts are made, but all in vain, as Lady remains monstrous. However, whatever took her body is out there, and may be closer than they think.

Graham throws new concepts into the fantasy genre, all of which are unique and worth a look. Most notable to me is the stone statue Kainek, who guards the Mecca of Scerce-Miasta by denying passage to those who don't pay the blood toll. Intrigued yet? The mystery behind what caused Lady to become what she is flooded my mind as I was reading this, and will continue to until it is resolved. There is also a great dichotomy being produced in Lady, who may appear unpleasant, but is constantly pleasant and calm, despite her situation. We also see a network of individuals (with Sir Arclight among their numbers) with a fatal sense of competition between them. Who this cast is and what their roles are in this world has has not yet been revealed, however each one seems important and makes the fantasy environment even more curious.

Churchland's art adds to the charm as she produces a sprawling environment that captivates the reader in a big way. Many areas of this fantasy world are populated by gorgeous woods, caves made of trees, and unique architecture. The architecture becomes even more apparent (and impressive) once the city is entered. Here we see columns and buildings that are intricate while still maintaining simplicity. I'm not sure how it works, but it totally does. In this issue we also receive our first minor introduction to the creatures that are in this world, and oh what a strangely heartwarming introduction it is! Character wise, Lady is creepy. Truly, she looks unpleasant and made me a bit uneasy. Sir Arclight, on the other hand, almost glows with strength and confidence. This knight as well as some of the characters introduced later are very interesting, as the armor and garb that is worn gives a hint of the gender neutral, which I can only assume is on purpose. One thing is for certain, all of these human characters are gorgeous!

There you have it! A small taste of 8House Arclight #1. Definitely check this book out, ESPECIALLY if you like fantasy. With eye popping art, intriguing characters and a story that makes you very curious about what's going to happen next, there isn't much not to like. Graham and Churchland's team-up has started a real not to be missed, genre innovating series! Oh and here's some food for thought: this is actually the first in what is going to be a series of 8House comics, all written by Graham. This first issue is only $2.99 and was released just this past Wednesday, June 1st. Check it out!