Can't Catch a Break

An article by, Kelly Irelan

In your average romantic relationship where a living space is shared, the person who gets home first might do a number of things to ease the arrival of their partner. They might get dinner started. They might tidy up the living room or do the dishes if they’ve begun to pile up in an unseemly fashion. They may even make the brave decision to allow their partner control concerning what television program they’ll be streaming that evening. On the other hand, what should a partner refrain from doing? Oh, I don’t know… perhaps they should control the urge to invite a group of public menaces over for supper.

God Complex #3 really knows how to rake a protagonist over the coals. Poor Seneca. The guy is already having a particularly rough time of it without his girlfriend encouraging The Coup to pop by for a game of Wii Bowling. Okay, that’s not exactly what happened, but I’m sure Seneca would have preferred it over the confusion that actually went down. His world is severely jostled when he finds out his deceased partner was working for The Coup in an attempt to push back against the Rulers’ supposed brainwashing of Delphi’s citizens. Cassandra, the leader of The Coup, provides a theory regarding the Rulers’ utilization of psycho-metrics to influence public opinion. The Coup leaves and the confrontation leaves Seneca feeling more lost than anything.

Soon after, Seneca meets with Hermes to discuss a lead named Alvar who may have orchestrated the data breach on behalf of the church. Hermes is obviously suspicious, and warns Seneca to remain loyal to the Rulers’ cause for his own sake. It seems as though he does this from a place of friendship and not anger. Seneca is ordered to visit the church where he has a hushed meeting with Prior William, and young man from Seneca’s church-going days. He says there have been three instances where the Trinity has physically manifested in front of followers of the faith, but he doesn’t necessarily seem happy about it. At mention of The Coup, Prior William asks Seneca to leave. He is clearly shaken and unwilling to provide more details. Following these events, Seneca heads home on the train where an attempt on his life is made. It soon evolves into a legitimate terrorist attack. A man detonates explosives with alarming effect, and the train is split right down the middle in a scene of devastating destruction. Seneca’s fate is unknown, but if he’d interpreted the Fates’ words sooner, maybe he would have seen this coming.

After three issues, I’m still fascinated by Jenkins’ clever use of the Trinity voice. It is so common in comics to see the narrator or the lead talking to themself. I’m not discrediting this method, but I am bolstering the author’s choice to give this hovering, mental ghost a personality. As I continue to read, I continually have to remind myself that it’s not Seneca, and that’s truly brilliant. Why? Well, if I’m correct, this seems to be the author’s intent. Seneca is made to question himself constantly because of this voice, and it’s having a similar effect on the reader. The fact that I find myself so mirrored in Seneca is a sign of narrative mastery.

My favorite pages in this issue were Prasetya’s interpretations of what Seneca’s church days were like as a child. We usually view his past as part of the congregation through a jaded lens, but for the first time, we see him happy to be one with the Trinity. I’d venture to say this is the happiest he’s appeared in the series. If Seneca ever had a soft side, this was it. He was young and trusting, and viewing these pages is to also view how far Seneca has fallen from the boy he once was. It’s sad, but it also humanizes him. Sadness is made all the more profound when you know the subject once held joy in their hands. Prasetya presents Seneca’s “fall from grace” beautifully and with a generous helping of sorrow.

I found this issue to be both enjoyable and stressful in equal amounts. The narrative is progressing nicely in an exhilarating direction. The continued existence of our protagonist currently and literally hangs in the balance, which isn’t helping my anxiety in the slightest. THANKS, GOD COMPLEX. Honestly, though. If you haven’t picked up this series yet and you want to join the “Anxiety Over the Fate of a Fictional Character” club, get that ticket punched! Just don’t get it punched for the train on that last page. I strongly advise against punching that particular ticket.

FTLI #57- Karina Killjoy, Anxious Heroes, Plumbing Gone Wrong

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Written by, Caleb Thusat
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Written by, Mike Speakman
Drawn by, Teresa Del Pilar, Pauldo, Stuart Black
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A chat with Karina Killjoy!
Learn more about radical vulnerability
Visit Karina's Instagram
Buy Femme Filth

Written by, Carol Zara & Eric Barnett
Art by, Eric Barnett
Find out more about ATM
Buy Alien Toilet Monsters

Written & drawn by, Jason Pittman
Published by, Leftovers Ltd.
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Releases on March 28th, 2018

One & Done! Or Is it?

An article by, Aaron Burton

Around the time of Halloween each year I like to treat myself to one of my favorite kinds of spooky media. Two sentence horror stories ask writers to come up with the scariest tale they can spin in just two lines. For example: "I have lived across from an abandoned asylum my entire life. At midnight on the 5th of every month, the hallway lights turn on for a brief moment." My story may not be the scariest, but many others have been able to use this restricted style to tell some of the most terrifying tales.

Some of the most powerful pieces of writing are short or use a self-restricted style. Short stories can reach their climax faster. The situations are often more intense. Writing restrictions make the plot harder to tell.  Creators need to find a way to balance immersion with providing information.  Achieving this harmony is not an easy feat.
One Page Comic Collection is written by Emmanuel Adelekun. The art is by Shangomola Edunjobi. The first volume was released on March 21st 2018. This book is a collection of comic stories that fit onto a single page. The stories vary in genre and content. However, the majority of the tales contain dark themes and noir elements.

Though each story has a different setting than the last, there do seem to be a few common threads and themes. One commonality is the invasive and destructive aspects of humanity. A few of the stories view humans from an outside perspective and it does not look good. Revenge is another prevailing motif in this book. Our protagonists often find a way to turn the tables by the end of the page.

Nothing is as it seems in One Page Comic Collection. It is astounding how the creators are able to flip the script in such a few amount of panels. This kept the book exciting in lieu of consistent characters and plots. Instead of waiting months for a story to reach its peak, we get to have a plot twist on every page.

Most of the stories feature two main colors. The backgrounds are one color with many of the stories being in black and white. Another color is used for accent and heavier shading. Having only a few panels to work with makes the accent colors even more important. These color choices provide important information and connections that enhances the plot.

One Page Comic Collection is quite the page turner. Fans of horror and noir, such as myself,  will enjoy the tone and content. This collection is also great for lovers of anthologies, especially works such as Silent Horror and Creepy. I love fast plot twists, and I am excited to delve more into the works of Adelekun and Edunjobi.

The final page of One Page Comic Collection asks the reader three important questions. The books asks which story was our favorite. It wants to know which plot twists we were able to see in advance. We are asked which color scheme was most appealing.

My favorite story in this collection was Happy Endings. This tale shows what seems to be the end of a film noir-style story. The art is black and white with red accents. This story is self-aware and shows the readers an extreme variation on the mobster story.

There were very few twists I was able to see in advance. This book does a great job of switching things up. There are even two back-to-back stories with similar endings. This gave me a feeling of uncertainty in terms of the storytelling. Anything can happen.  I was expecting completely different twists for every story. The fact that a lot of these stories share a similar theme gives this collection a wholeness among the chaos of the changing plot lines.

The color scheme in Jumper really caught my eye. The backgrounds are colored in pale orange/yellow. The shading is done in a pale purple. This story also contains a single panel that is mostly white and red. This is one of the few stories that does this. It was an exciting change in a collection where most of the story's coloring was internally consistent.

One Page Comic Collection is available through Comixology. Paperback copies can be bought through Amazon. Emmanuel Adelekun's website can be found here. Updates from Shangomola Edunjobi can be found at Oshe Comics.

Read, Listen, Enjoy

An article by, Aaron Burton

When listening to music I always try to base my opinion on the album as a whole. The way the artist chooses and orders the songs has an important effect on the listening experience. Much like a story, an album of songs takes the listener on a ride of ups and downs. A great song can have a greater level of impact when the audience knows where it fits into the artist's catalog.

This is one reason why I have always loved concept albums. My favorites include Protest the Hero's Kezia, Masta Ace's A Long Hot Summer, and anything by Coheed and Cambria. I love being able to put on an album at the beginning and listen to it all the way through. Personally, the songs feel more powerful when serve a specific purpose in regard to storytelling and concept discussion.

Skin and Earth is a combination comic book series/music album created by a multi-talented artist known as LIGHTS. The first issue was released in July of 2017 with the final issue coming out in December of 2017. The album was released in September of 2017. A trade paperback of the six issue series should be available this April. The book is published by Dynamite Entertainment. Skin and Earth is an adventure story that combines elements of  both science fiction and fantasy. You can listen to the album here or buy the comics here.

Enaia is part of the red population. These people make up the lower class of her society. They live in a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by pollution. The pink population makes up the ruling class of the society and is responsible for the destruction of the land. Enaia is given a strange tattoo by a lover shortly before their breakup. This begins Enaia on a fantastic and surreal journey to find the truth about her society and herself.

Skin and Earth provides a bleak setting for its story to take place. The writing and art combine to create a world that feels truly helpless. Enaia tries to find the beauty in little things. For example, she enjoys how the horizon shimmers like diamonds. In reality, the landscape is glistening due to its reduction to nothing but sand. Enaia's focus on beauty and love sets her apart from a world that destroys everything in its path.

The accompanying album is filled with catchy electronic pop tunes. Though the songs are fun to listen to they also serve to enhance the darkness of the story at hand. LIGHTS' powerful voice and lyrics make it easy to become immersed in the comic book. The tracks line up perfectly with the story both in sound and content.

Each issue covers two songs on the album with the last issue taking on three songs. The series does include a chart which lines up the songs with the correct issue. That said, it is not difficult to follow along without it. The song titles and lyrical content align with the sections of story. Many of the chapters are named after songs on the album. The songs themselves contain main nods to what is happening in the comic.

There are music videos for the singles on Skin and Earth. These videos play out the corresponding scenes from the comic book. I was very excited to watch my favorite scene from the book come to life. Issue four is not only my favorite part of the series but also lines up with my two favorite songs on the album. The music video for "We Were Here" portrays this part of the story with stunning accuracy. The video looks and feels like it was shot in the story's universe. Many of the shots directly line up with panels.

 I have never heard of LIGHTS before picking up this comic book, but I enjoyed the comic so much I am now a fan. I really hope there is a sequel to Skin and Earth. Though the storytelling wraps up the main plot I feel that there are still a lot of interesting concepts to be explored in this universe. Skin and Earth does a great job of blending science-fiction, fantasy, and post-apocalyptic storytelling. The concepts of the story vary from romance  and relationships to philosophy to religion. Skin and Earth has a little bit of something for everyone. You can buy the album and comic here.

FTLI #56- Fire Gods, Our Origin, Metal Rabbits

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Written by, Amy Shand & Pat Shand
Illustated by, Erica D'Urso
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Written & drawn by, Katie O'Neill
Published by, Oni Press

Written & drawn by, Daniel Locke & David Blandy
Published by, Nobrow Press

 Written & drawn by, Johnnie Christmas
Published by, Image Comics
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Written by, Jeff Lemire
Published by, Image Comics

Written& drawn by,
Anuj Shrestha, Ben Marra, Aya Kakeda, Chadwick Whithead,C.M.Butzer, Kripa Joshi, S.Y.Choi, Mike Reddy, Tao Nyeu, Charles Fetherolf, Neil Numberman, Matt Rota, Fay Ryu, Edwin Vasquez, Sal Amendola, Marshall Arisman, Paul Hoppe, Wendi Koontz, Sakura Maku,John Green, Andres Vera Martinez, Angbot Dazbog, Marion Vitus, Ben Sea,Ben Trinh,and Reuben Negron
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Written by, Ivy Noelle Weir
Drawn by, Steenz
Published by, Oni Press

Written & drawn by, Michael Sweater
Published by, Silver Sprocket
Check out Please Keep Warm

Comic releases on March 14th, 2018

Fighting Through the Sins of Man

An article by, Aaron Burton

As many of us know, International Women's Day occurred last week. This was a great day to appreciate all of the strong and powerful women that have made a difference in our world, as well as the women we love and care about. It was also the perfect opportunity to read new comics centered around some awesome ladies.

Mayhem! is written and drawn by Cait Zellers. The title is published by Miss Mayhem Studios. The comic premiered in March of last year. The second part of the story came out on February 28th 2018. Mayhem! is an action/adventure story with a strong cast of female characters.

Miss Mayhem's Underground Fighting Ring boasts the best fights from a series of costumed characters. This culture is similar to what us readers would call "professional wrestling". One night the show ends abruptly when the very odd Ambrosious Von Periwinkle, along with his army of glitter ninjas, kidnaps an important member of Miss Mayhem's crew. It is now up to the fighters to break into Von Periwinkle's fortress and rescue their friend.

There is a lot of symbolism to be found in Mayhem! The main characters are all strong women, and the plot reflects this. The neon sign outside of Miss Mayhem's is reminiscent of Rosie the Riveter. Thus far, Ambrosious and his minions are the only characters to be referred as male. Ambrosious is also openly misogynist. This makes their evil fortress, the aptly named Dante's Manferno, even more more entertaining. The layers of the base are named after the Seven Deadly Sins. The group must fight their way through each sin-themed layer in order to save the day. This is a creative way to set up a villain for female-centric storytelling. All of these symbols put together makes the story feel more allegorical than many other action/adventure books I have read recently.

Gauntlet-style story lines often offer a great foundation in which to build the plot. This setup also allows the characters to tack different issues one piece at a time. we have seen this format in many comics, including Loeb's The Long Halloween. The characters can move at a pace that fits comfortably in a single issue while still allowing freedom to discuss a variety of topics.

The second issue really ramps up the action. This is where we see the fighters battle their way through the first floor of Dante's Manferno. Seeing Miss Mayhem's crew fight together for the first time gives us a good idea of the team's strengths and weaknesses. This will come into play as they further explore the tower. Though each character has their specialty they do not feel like archetypes. This gives the characters room to grow as the story progresses.

My favorite part of Mayhem! is the character design. Every  hero and villain has their own distinct style. Miss Mayhem has an eye patch and a feather-lined cape, whereas Woodchuck dons a cutoff punk rock vest.  Each character feels original which pairs perfectly with their distinct personalities. I would have to say my favorite characters on Miss Mayhem's crew are the pair of stoic twin acrobats.

I have always loved the idea of professional wrestlers being the same heroes outside of their job in entertainment. While this is not the exact plot of Mayhem! the book still seems to embody the spirit of strong wrestling personas. With the theme being centered around the Seven Deadly Sins, we can assume that there will be at least six more issues of this book. It will be exciting to see how the group approaches each of the floor's themes as they make their way to fight Ambrosious Von Periwinkle. I hope to see a lot more  Mayhem! in my life very soon. You can buy it for yourself here!

FTLI #55- Young Love, Freaky Aliens, Funny Sexy Stuff

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Written by, Vera Greentea
Drawn by, Miyuli
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Written & Drawn by, Tillie Walden
Published, Avery Hill

Written & drawn by, Sophia Foster-Dimino
Published by, Koyama Press

Written & drawn, Gg
Published by, Koyama Press

Written & drawn by, Sloane Leong
Published by, Image Comics
Check out the soundtrack!

Comic releases on March 6th, 2018