July 21, 2019

July 17, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop July 17th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Sean's Picks:

Little Bird #5 by Darcy Van Poelgeest and Ian Bertram, published by Image Comics
This is it, everyone. The end is no longer near, for it has arrived. After last month’s shocking development undermined any prediction you may have had leading up to it, we are now able to witness if the new, unlikely alliance is enough to overcome the Bishop’s reign. Every issue of this comic has been a vivid trip into various recollections of the past, present and future as the foundation it survives upon comes to its final act. Will the Resistance finally manage to rise up enough to defeat the tyrannical authority of the Bishop and his dominion? Little Bird is a story as small or as large as you want to make it for yourself, and with this week’s conclusion I plan to set aside some time to read it once for face value and another for its deeply woven message. The art in this book has worked itself to be some of my favorite this year, and the story is easily one of the long-lasting messages that will outlive any tweet from 2019. Go pick up this book. I’m not a betting man by nature, but my money says you’ll finish it and then immediately want to read it again. It’s that good.

Resonant #1 by David Andry and Alejandro Aragon, published by Vault Comics
Earlier this week I put out a review on Panel Patter gathering my thoughts from the first two issues of Resonant and I couldn’t keep myself from also including it here in our weekly round-up of Catch-it’s. (Yea, yea.. I know. If anyone is paying attention you’d have me pinned as a liar since a few weeks back I set myself up for failure vowing to only recommend one comic a week here.. and like my gym membership, I only managed to commit to a few weeks.) If you want to slap your brain with a quick hit of how perfect this comic is then search back a couple posts and see for yourself, but as long as I have you here I’ll double up and repeat what was said then, again. I’m certain that this will end up on some best-of lists at the end of the year. Resonant is the type of story that makes your skin crawl as you read it. Not simply for the story itself, but it is also attributed by the precision in the jagged illustrations brought by Aragon that bring to life the haunting narrative David is telling. Aragon’s artistic style is perfect for the tone of this book and gives a life to the narrative not many could mimic with pen and paper. I’ve been talking this one up for a while. Join the corral and read along with us as we find out what happens to a father and his three young children as they battle… themselves during the Waves.

James' Picks:

Black Science #41 by Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Moreno Dinisio, published by Image Comics
This is a huge, epic series that's full of so many twists, turns, and big ideas. Now that it's approaching the end (this is the penultimate issue), I'm sort of bookmarking for myself that I want to go back and think about this series as a whole. I think there was definitely some parts that I felt meandered, but through it all, this book was bursting with ideas and creativity, and a very specific punk rock ethos, courtesy of Remender. But the MVP of the book is the glorious Matteo Scalera, whose stunning artwork (paired first with Dean White and then Moreno Dinisio on colors) has provided the appropriate level of both insanity and grounded moments. This book is a work of boundless visual imagination, and ridiculous ideas, and a really fun ride.

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #1 by Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber, and Nathan Fairbairn, published by DC Comics
I am SO excited for this book. Matt Fraction is a writer whose voice I miss in superhero comics. His Hawkeye series (with Aja, Hollingsworth, Wu, et al.) was a real masterpiece of humor, compassion and a slice of real life in a crazy superhero world. And Steve Lieber, well, I can't say enough great things about his work.  His work in Superior Foes of Spider-Man and The Fix is some of the best visual humor and storytelling I've seen in a comic (my review of The Fix here). So, this feels like a truly inspired pairing to me. And I've already seen a little bit of their work together in the pages of the recent Leviathan special, as they told one story about Jimmy Olsen and his visit to Gorilla City. Everything I hear about this book is that it's going to be wonderful, and with this remarkable team, I can't say I'm surprised.

Immortal Hulk #21 by Al Ewing, Ryan Bodenheim and Paul Mounts, published by Marvel Comics
I recently reread the first 20 issues of this series, and I can tell you that this book deserves every bit of praise that it is receiving. Al Ewing is writing a complex, layered, dense, thoughtful story that draws richly on past continuity, and a healthy dose of Biblical studies. And Joe Bennett has been drawing virtuoso work in conjunction with some wonderful color work. This book is consistently visually striking (and when I say striking, I mean completely bonkers and horrifying, in the best way). So it's no surprise I'd want to highlight one of the very best books being published.  But the reason I am particularly excited about this issue is that there's a guest artist, that being Ryan Bodenheim.  If you know anything about my comics fandom, you know I am a HUGE fan of Bodenheim's work.  I think he's got wonderfully detailed, gritty, powerful linework (read about my love of his work here), and he's expert at action, gritty violence, and dramatic or quieter moments (I have some original Bodenheim pages hanging up in my home and in my office, so I'm serious about my love of his work). I'm thrilled to see him drawing an issue of Immortal Hulk, particularly when paired with a fantastic colorist like Paul Mounts. This should be great.

Mike's Picks:

Outpost Zero 11 by Sean Kelley McKeever, Alexandre Tefenkgi, and Jean-Francois Beaulieu, published by Image/Skybound 
Outpost Zero is a touching coming of age wrapped in a science fiction setting that recalls 1980s storytelling techniques of vintage Spielberg and 1980s anime. Following the revelations of the previous two issues, Alea and Sam are that much closer to understanding the mystery behind the outpost's origin, all while the adults come closer to understanding the ice planet around them. But discovering the original ship that brought the first residents to the outpost only leads to a whole new set of questions for Sam and Alea. McKeever and Tefenkgi have expertly worked in both incremental developments and big reveals. Alexandre Tekenkgi and Jean-Francois Bealieu have brought McKeever's script to life this series in a way I can best describe as cinematic, allowing panels and positioning to tell as much of the story as dialogue and narration.

Little Bird 5 by Darcy Van Poelgeest, Ian Bertram, and Matt Hollingsworth published by Image Comics 
No, Little Bird don't go! I'm clearly not ready for Little Bird to conclude, and I'll be perfectly honest when I say that, after four issues, I'm still not sure how this story is going to end. Little Bird has been the miniseries of 2019 for me, and that's because it has been incredibly inventive in both its concept and execution. At the conclusion of issue 4, thinks look dire for Little Bird as her hopes to escape the Vatican's clutches as doused just as the people's revolt looks to gain momentum. In issue five, will Little Bird emerge as the reverse Joan of Arc, or will the Ameri-Vatican further cement its totalitarian regime?

Resonant 1 by David Andry, Alejandro Aragon, Jason Wordie, and Deron Bennett, published by Vault Comics 
Resonant represents the best of what Vault offers, and is a bit of throwback to their original mode of genre-mashups punctuated by eye-popping artwork. Andry's concept is a grim horror/sci-fi survival epic that questions basic human motivations, and the first issue is a tension-packed, white knuckle experience. Aragon's warped style adds to the tense feel of the narrative. Showcased here, yet again, is the superb color scheme of Jason Wordie. We're most often treated to Wordie's eye-popping aesthic, but in Resonant, he works in concert with Aragon's style and Andry's script with a more natural, drab color set.

July 16, 2019

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Outpost Zero 10 - McKeever, Tefenkgi, and Beaulieu Are Crafting Something Special as the YA Skybound Series Hits Tween Status

Outpost Zero 10
Image/Skybound Comics
Writer - Sean Kelley McKeever
Line Artist - Alexandre Tefenkgi
Color Artist - Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer - Ariana Maher

“It’s like talking to a person without all that, you know, person stuff.” 

For some reason, I always neglect Outpost Zero on our weekly “Catch it at the Comic Shop” columns. Occasionally, it’s because the series inevitably hits the stands the week I’ve chosen to screw around instead of writing my picks, but it’s often a bizarre oversight that makes little sense considering the book is on my pull list and has been one of my favorite series since it debuted.  
At this point, though, I’m not sure why the series isn’t garnering far more attention. From a narrative standpoint, Sean Kelley McKeever has been crafting an intriguing narrative that has enough twists to be a consistent page turner without feeling gimmicky, and the art team of Alexandre Tefenkgi and Jean-Francois Beaulieu are turning out superior work. It should be undeniable that Tefenkgi is a major up and coming talent and that he and Beaulieu combine for some of the best covers that you’ll find on the racks.  

One of the attributes of Outpost Zero that I find most engaging is McKeever’s narrative structure. He changes directions without upsetting the flow as he understands the need for transition issues to develop characters or allow major plot developments to settle for their full weight to be understood before moving onto the next big event. Issue ten is one of those transition issues, heavy on dialogue and decisions, as Sam and Alea come to terms with not only their major discovery from issue 9, but events that stem back to the first issue of the series.  

Throughout the series, McKeever has rarely produced as dialogue heavy an issue, and most of the action is indoors, so we don’t get any beautiful Tefenkgi landscapes, but as has become a recurring motif in the series, this issue’s big reveal comes from two beautiful wordless pages roughly two thirds of the way through the book.  

At the end of issue 9, Sam and Alea have journeyed deeper into the bowels of the outpost to uncover the mystery of the genship only to discover a giant, semi-sentient mech. Issue 10 opens with the two leaders of our otherworldly Scooby Gang learning more about their new robot friend, namely that he’s an excellent caregiver for the feral cats that live in the outpost, and, only somewhat more importantly, that he was designed to help the original outpost colonists survive their journey two and a half centuries ago. That Sam and Alea have no knowledge of their ancestral planet speaks to the nature of the outpost culture. 

McKeever has always understood the complexities of adolescent characters, and he puts that knowledge on full display in this issue. These aren’t one dimensional types, and the narrative isn’t limited merely to their quest to solve the mystery of the outpost. These are full developed characters, adolescents replete with frustrations and anxieties that transcend the immediate. And though they’re in the midst of encountering big metaphysical dilemmas, McKeever, Tekenkgi, and Beaulieu never let us forget that they are still kids. 

Interested in catching up on the series? Issue 10 is currently on the comic shop racks, and the first two trade collections that include issues 1-9 can be found at your local LCS, Comixology, or a number of different options via Imagecomics.com. 

July 15, 2019

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You Won’t Be Able to Shake Off the RESONANT

Main Cover for RESONANT #1 out July 31, 2019

So it all comes down to this. Have you ever had a fleeting thought so destructive it left your waking consciousness as quickly as it had arrived? Did you ever ease that tension and slow down the tremor enough to consider asking where that thought came from, or why? Resonant is that story. A story you were too afraid to tell yourself but couldn’t escape its destructive trail left behind in your thoughts. It is an account of events facing your would-be unknowns into abstract realities while suddenly ripping itself to shreds with no apologies. It puts to words the very thought you had after you forgot you had it at all, but were too afraid to whisper out loud once you were able to remember. This is a story so terrifying and so nightmarish that you will notice your own ability to refrain from being spooked begin to take a considerable downturn. I cannot speak for everyone, but coming from my own experience I can say that upon my read of this haunting slice of a vaguely familiar post-apocalyptic fright came with more nerves and more chills than I am comfortable admitting. This is not a comic to pass on as you prepare to finalize your summer budget.

A brief summary as pulled from the Vault website:

Do you answer the call to the void?
A decade has passed since the first Waves hit, unleashing humanity’s darkest impulses and plunging the world into chaos. Paxton, a single father of three, must venture from the secluded haven they’ve built to restock the medicine his chronically-ill youngest son needs to survive. When the somewhat routine trip goes awry, Paxton and his children – now separated – will battle everything in their path to reunite.

Written by industry veteran David Andry, Resonant is instantly compelling. This deeply crafted world is brought to life with inks from Ale Aragon, colors from Jason Wordie, and letters by Deron Bennett.

Resonant hits shelves in July, 2019!

The beginning of the story starts at an accelerated pace as writer David Andry manages to pace our introductions for things to come as one would in order to sprint toward the point of intent. It is my fair assumption that his intent is none other than the literal scaring of fresh blisters off your knuckles left from hours of none other than bracing yourself from the pages turned long after you put the comic down. While left in the dust expected to understand the whys and the where’s Andry is planting subtle details of things to come. Some of these foreshadowing visuals happen before the end of these stunning first two issues, and others I am assuming will take shape as the plot develops as we go along. He wastes no time getting to the space left between the lines, waiting for the lull between Waves.

Basic conceptual development here includes a fright pattern known simply as “Waves”. These Waves somehow catalyze vibrant upticks of rage-entrusted emotion that invoke a towering frenzy and curiosity of the painfully unknown. Andry has done an extraordinary job weaving together a plot interesting enough to warrant multiple reads while keeping the right amount of unknowns visible so it remains with you days after you put it down. This story does not leave your mind. The haunt will last much longer than the story itself.

It would be disservice to speak of this story as long-lasting if I were to overlook the brilliant visual stylings of artist Ale Aragon. His jagged linework and detailed vision of the surroundings bring to life the trepidation in that this story shapes to become. The lines literally speak for themselves giving the illustrations a voice all their own. Pages will crawl as you turn them, and whether or not that is from the artwork or your trembling hands is an answer to a question I’d rather steer away from and let you settle down with yourself. Only with the organically distraught style brought with Aragon’s own techniques allow for its stellar pairing to such a story as this one. Add to that the vibrant but dreary color palette of Jason Wordie and it becomes a complete package destined for top shelf horror. Wordie already has a resume worth noting with titles such as God Country and Abbott, so it is to be expected that the colors in RESONANT take on a character and importance here also.

The horror genre seems to have had a recent resurgence in quality and pop culture acceptance, so it seems fitting for comics to also. The Walking Dead has been chasing us with zombies for years, scaring us as we stumble and fall trying to get away from the undead. Bird Box took it a step further last year when it loosened our grip on our perspectives toward motives of self-harm. RESONANT will definitely become a story told in the same breath as these and a model for those who come after. I feel that I should probably remember where I was when I first read this comic because these are the stories worth bookmarking life’s moments to. There is something special being told here, and it is scary as all hell.

From RESONANT #1 out July 31, 2019
From RESONANT #1 out July 31, 2019
Main Cover for RESONANT #2 out August 28, 2019

July 14, 2019

July 10, 2019

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Catch It at the Comic Shop July 10th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Mike's Picks:

Strangelands 1 by Magdalene Visaggio, Darcie Little Badger, Vanesa R. Del Rey, and Mike McKone, published by Humanoids Publishing
I'll admit that at this point we need another shared universe like we need holes in our heads, but there's beens something intriguing about the Humanoids H1 universe, mostly a result of the execution of the FCBD intro book at the first two issues of Ignited. And if you're worried about a ton of exposition and world-building in this issue, fret not. Visaggio jumps into the story en media res and it flows seamlessly from there, allowing the backstory to fill in gradually while she develops the personalities of Adam and Elakshi and also sprinkles in the impending conflict. Her vision for this story is big, weaving conspiracies and external threats to her bonded protagionists while also allowing the bigger H1 narrative to come through. Readers will appreciate the dual level of structure here, building incremental pieces into a story that also functions as a fully self-contained book.

Second Coming by Mark Russell, Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk, published by Ahoy Comics 
Mark Russell has been on an absolute roll recently, churning out both great satire by way of The Flintstones and Snagglepuss and solid superhero fare with The Wonder Twins. Naturally, he should be equally suited to create a superhero-themed satire. Second Coming has had a windy road to its publication, and there is a considerable amount of hype surrounding that book. To the extent that it will artificially inflate sales of issue one, I say, good for Tom, Mark, Richard, and Amanda. For readers who hadn't been previously inclined to check out Russell's work, I say double good. For those of us more acquainted with Russell's brand of heartfelt satire, we know that we are in for something special yet again. Russel and crew are swining for the fences on this one, but if issue one is any indication, it's going to be another home run. (Shouln't write picks during the derby, huh?)

Murder Falcon TPB by Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer, published by Image Comics
I'm not a metal guy, but I had enough metalhead friends in high school to have picked up on enough of the tropes to appreciate a good metal parody. And good metal parodies are great examples of a genre and a fanbase that's too ofter perceived as self-serious. Daniel Warren Johnson turns up the absurdity in this off-the-wall series in a way that only a true metal fan can. Only a sincere metal aficionado is able to both poke fun and celebrate their particular vein of hard rock without losing consistency. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this series in the monthly format, but I'm particularly interested in how the series will read in a single session. In many ways, I think the "all at once" approach might be even better. Who wants to listen to singles when you can blast the whole album, right? The only real question for this trade is what will make it onto your reading soundtrack.

James' Picks:

Murder Falcon TPB by Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer, published by Image Comics
Daniel Warren Johnson is an incredibly talented artist. Every time he posts a commission on Twitter, people (justifiably) freak out. He's got an incredible level of detail, and the art feels visceral and kinetic. And metal.  Totally metal.  That was how I felt reading Extremity, Johnson's fantastic sci-fi miniseries about warring clans in a world lived on floating rocks. The images of people with axes, and ships crashing into castles, just felt very "badass metal".  With that in mind, Johnson's next story was Murder Falcon which gets even more at the heart of what's great about his art (and the way it feels almost musical), as it tells the story of Jake, who's shredding metal guitar is the only thing that can power the Murder Falcon, our only defense against the evil monsters of darkness. This book has incredible action, a great musical heart, humor, and is also incredibly emotionally affecting. Johnson has a great knack for action and emotion, and Murder Falcon is terrific read (and listen to something loud while you read it).

Second Coming by Mark Russell, Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk, published by Ahoy Comics 
Mark Russell has been writing some of the smartest books in all of comics in recent years (Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, Prez, The Flintstones) and let me tell you that after one issue, Second Coming feels like it's going to belong in a category with those stories. Russell (paired with some remarkable artists) has a fantastic ability to deliver some of the most biting, brutal satire and social commentary disguised with cutesy images of talking animals, superheroes or ancient humans. The delightful art makes the satire all the more cutting. In a recent issue of Wonder Twins, a story that was ostensibly about the twins themselves and their hapless Z-list villains, turned out to be one of the most scathing indictments of the prison-industrial complex that I've ever read.  So, point being that Russell tells stories that pack a punch.  Now, you might have heard about the controversy surrounding this comic (which was originally going to be published by DC/Vertigo, and is now published by Ahoy Comics), but here's what's clear after reading the first issue: Russell knows his Bible (see the extraordinary God Is Disappointed In You) and his knowledge and clear love of the scripture comes across in this first issue.  This book is "blasphemous" in the same way that all great art is blasphemous, in that it makes you reconsider assumptions and ponder deeper issues. The story here involves God being very disappointed in us, and Jesus coming to Earth and hanging out with the world's greatest superhero. The art is gorgeously rendered by Richard Pace, with passages that feel very "Illustrated Bible" mixed with modern superhero storytelling (and with artistic contributions from Leonard Kirk on the "modern" parts of the story). And it's clear that Russell is coming knives out - not for Christianity, but for the hypocrites, fraudsters and tyrants that claim to be acting in God's name.  Second Coming is a must-read.

Sean's Picks:

Second Coming by Mark Russell, Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk, published by Ahoy Comics
I’ve been charting the release of Mark Russell’s Second Coming since it was first announced as one of Vertigo’s relaunch titles. It was a large blip on my detailed radar of upcoming releases and I’ve updated it’s course through the many tribulations it has had leading up to the inevitable unveiling of the brilliance that we have come to expect from Russell. He has a handful of titles coming out of Ahoy already and with the expectedly strong debut from Second Coming I suspect no crowd large enough able to come together and shut this resurrected story down once again. I’ve read this first issue and it is everything that I was hoping for. It’s laugh-out-loud hysterical and is also side-eyed satirical all while shining new light on our modern world’s obsession with the superhero genre. This will be missed by many now that it’s on a smaller indie publisher rather than the well respected DC imprint of Vertigo, but I assure you... the quality remains! That is not a sugar coated statement. Trust me. This isn’t a book to skip or hold out for trade. This will become your new favorite Sunday morning read. But don’t come after me when you get struck down for skipping Sunday school for a healthy amount of hilarious blasphemy.

She Could Fly: the Lost Pilot #4 by Christopher Cantwell and Martin Morazzo, published by Dark Horse
I have a soft spot for this comic. I’ve been following these characters since the first troublesome pages back when we were first introduced to the mysterious flying woman and our manic teenage female lead character, Luna. A lot has happened since then in only a few short issues, but as we get closer to the end of this surprising second chapter of her life we begin to understand small bits of the plot’s intent without giving away too much of it’s purpose. New meds, same doctors, and unexpected romance lead the way as we read along this wild ride that has been Luna’s journey. At times this story feels somewhat messy; characters at all edges of the narrative, only to circle around at a new edge to the story you hadn’t noticed before. I’m digging what Cantwell and Morrazzo are doing with these characters and I hope this isn’t the last chapter of this story either.

July 7, 2019

July 5, 2019

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Quick Hit - Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter - More than a Mashup

Mary Shelley Monster Hunter #3 
“Too many a woman had been graced by motherhood, and then disgraced by the same bearer of that gift.”

Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter # 3 
Published by Aftershock Comics 
Writers – Adam Glass and Olivia Cuatero-Briggs 
Artist – Hayden Sherman 
Letterer – Sal Cipriano 

I went into the first issue of Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter expecting to like it based off both the premise and the creative team attached. I cannot express how much more I have enjoyed this series than I even originally anticipated, though. Re-purposing of classics or literary mashups have a mixed history, even if the people attached have good track records. Not everything can be Kill Shakespeare or Pride and Predjudice and Zombies. But Mary Shelley succeeds because it exists far beyond its premise.

Most of the people I know are huge fans of Hayden Sherman’s art style, and he’s been a big sell for this book. Previously, I’ve compared his art style to Jimmy Page’s guitar playing. There are technical virtuosos, and then there are uber-talented people who, like Page, can seem to bang on a guitar and elicit a whole different set of sounds. Sherman is similar as an artist. There’s an avant-garde, almost cubist approach to his style, and it works wonders for the mood of this neo-gothic tale. For Mary Shelley, we also get treated to Sherman’s coloring skills. He plays with the color scheme in concert with his shading techniques, working in noir, Francavilla-esque tones to open the book before embarking on a marriage of blues and grays and greens to channel the other-worldly, unnatural feel of Doctor Frankenstein’s creation. 

One of the hallmarks of this series has been the narrative ambition of Glass and Cuartero-Briggs. This isn’t a quaint re-tell, a linear “what-if” approach. The creators are actively trying to conjure Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley the author, not merely her writing. As issue three opens, Mary has agreed to help Dr. Victoria Frankenstein with her macabre experiment. The work consumes her, driving a wedge between she and Percy, and causing her to withdraw from her other companions. 

Underneath the horror story retell is the subtle exploration of Mary’s motivation, her consuming fascination with the process of literally making a man. There is more than the mad scientist aspect for Mary, Victoria, and Imogen, and even more than the typical “playing God” concept. The ladies are looking to remake society, if not the world. Glass and Cuartero-Briggs cast Doctor Frankenstein’s monster, Adam, as a savior for womankind, a model for modern man in line with Shelley's (and her parents’) prescription for emancipation from the patriarchy. But things go horribly wrong, and not in the way one would initially expect. The question we readers are left to ponder as Adam comes into his own after countless lessons from Mary is, “what happens when something works exactly as it’s supposed to?”

July 4, 2019

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San Diego Comic-Con Picture Series Day 4: May the July 4th Be With You

Believe it or not, San Diego Comic-Con is almost here. In honor of the show, which I will be attending on behalf of the site, alongside Kirk FM, I'm going to post a series of pictures from the first two SDCCs I've attended.

I hope you'll enjoy these as much as I did picking through my old photos. See some of you, I'm sure, at San Diego on July 17th-21st!

Needless to say, Star Wars Cosplay is extremely strong at SDCC. Here's a few of my favorites over the past two years:

July 3, 2019

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Quick Hit - Little Bird 4

Little Bird #4 (of 5)

“We want a life worth living.” 

Little Bird 4 
Published by Image Comics 
Writer – Darcy Van Poelgeest 
Line Artist – Ian Bertram 
Color Artist – Matt Hollingsworth 
Letterer – Aditya Bidikar 

Little Bird reaches its penultimate issue still wrapped in mystery and misdirection. There isn’t another book like Little Bird on the stands right now, and there hasn’t been one for quite some time. Rarely are post-apocalyptic polemics so subtle and sophisticated without turning sterile or stilted. Bertram and Hollingsworth combine to create an incredibly organic feel for Van Poelgeest’s story. Bertram’s sinewy lines, heavy on textures, allow master-colorist Matt Hollingsworth to further add to the unique style. The end result is a book that doesn’t look like much else on the stands, fitting for one that doesn’t read like most others, either.  

The narrative of Little Bird has been somewhat non-linear, incorporating flashback scenes and dream sequences into a multi-layer plot. There are points in the story where it’s hard to discern what’s real and what’s conjured. The fact that Van Poelgeest and company avoid tipping their hand is the kind of restraint that makes this work compelling. Issue 4 opens up with a marriage between a flashback and a dream, punctuated by insanely imaginative Hollingsworth colors. During the sequence, we’re given more insight into the connection between Little Bird and the creepy-yet-sympathetic prisoner child, Gabriel. We learn their connection, seemingly, but it’s a drug-induced nocturne courtesy of one of the American Vatican’s many harrowing weirdoes.  

Little Bird, though, proves her resilience and continues to prefigure the savior archetype, the reverse Joan of Arc, that Van Poelgeest builds for her. Bertram and Hollingsworth are on point during Little Bird’s fight sequence as she attempts to, yet again, break free of Vatican dominion. Her fight is juxtaposed with the nascent stages of a people’s revolt against the powerful cleric master class. The continual series of setbacks for Little Bird begins to feel almost insurmountable by the end of issue four, and we readers are likely skeptical of a final victory for Little Bird and her people against the oppressive American Empire and its legion of psychotic priests.  

In lesser hands, Little Bird is a straightforward, anti-imperialist post-apocalyptic epic, but this creative team weaves layers of satire and cultural reference with a twisty plot that keeps the reader guessing about the eventual outcome. By the end of the penultimate issue, no one is necessarily confident that Little Bird and her now-meager resistance can triumph over the repressive regime, but there are more than enough dangling plot threads that Van Poelgeest can pull together for issue five to create a spectacular finale. One thing is clear - at this point, Little Bird captures just as much intrigue as it did on its debut.