Pocket Change & Vampires: Single Minded February 16th, 2022

Some Short Reviews of This Week's Comics by Rob & Sean

Silver Coin #9
Written by Vita Ayala
Line Art and Letters by Michael Walsh
Color Art by Michael Walsh and Toni Marie Griffin
Published by Image Comics

A corrupt local Detective is so far gone he shakes down a local homeless drug addict for his last coin. Unfortunately for him, it's the bad penny that keeps turning up and will soon turn his life upside down in another issue of the loosely themed horror anthology Silver Coin.
This series continues to be awesome and it's even stronger to me now that instead of trying to keep the coin's history and purpose at the forefront, Walsh and his extremely talented collaborators are focusing on the damage it's doing to whomever has the coin currently, taking them from an exultant high to an inevitable downfall. The recurring theme makes these feel very much like an old EC Comics story, and anyone who's read my reviews over the years know that's a perfect sweet spot. 

Vita Ayala really makes the protagonist look like a piece of dirt willing to do anything to stay one step ahead of the wolves at his door, ignoring his inevitable fall by refusing to think about what he's doing. He's one of the most vile people who's held the coin so far, in my opinion. His recklessness would have done him in, even without the coin, but we all know it's going to make it worse. And the ending touch, letting the reader know it's not just coins that create evil, really closes this issue nicely.

Walsh's layouts here are really cool as well, especially the bit where we see the "eye" of the coin opening further and further as the detective's sins increase. The regular panels work hard to show his menace, too, and the structure of them leading the reader down the dark paths of arson and murder. Silver Coin is a book I look forward to reading every month. (ROB)

The Sword of Hyperborea #2
Written by Mike Mignola and Rob Williams
Line Art by Laurence Campbell
Color Art by Quinton Winter
Letters by Clem Robins
Published by Dark Horse

The story of the sword continues as a werewolf vampire fights against a cult that has ties to the very thing that damned her in this second issue covering the history of the weapon that's been featured along the way in the Hellboy Universe.

I'm not nearly as familiar with this branch of the Hellboy tree, so I'm sure some of the references are going over my head. But the idea that the sword has a purpose through time, even if it feels pointless to those at the end of the world, is really cool. It's fun to see how it's been a part of key events (like the re-unleashing of vampires), and the different ways in which the heroes/heroines of Mignola's world interact with it. In this case, we're focused on a young woman who is nearly too clever for her own--and the world's!--good, falling prey to her own arrogance and desire to stay out of the fray. It's a great little character arc within an issue.

Campbell's art easily adapts to the new setting, with some great visuals relating to zeppelins, cultists with creepy masks, a werepire, and a nifty, bloody fight sequence that's highlights in red and orange fire by Winter's coloring. Some of the intricate details, like the bits of broken windows--twice, no less--really show off the skills of the art team. Sword of Hyperborea is pretty far off the beaten path from mainline Hellboy (or even BPRD) but it's one well worth treading for any fan of Mignola's. (ROB)

Regarding the Matter of Oswald's Body #4
Written by Christopher Cantwell
Line Art by Luca Caslanguida
Color Art by Giada Marchisio
Letters by Andworld Design
Published by Boom! Studios

Lee Harvey Oswald pontificates and the team thinks about their future in a fourth issue that really slams home the point of this fictional look at the Kennedy Assassination.

It's hard to write about this particular issue without giving away the key details. Let's just say that this version of Lee feels very much like how I'd imagine he would act if he literally expected to have gotten away with the murder of the President of the United States. Over the course of the issue, Oswald goes on and on about his importance to a larger role, his importance to Russia as a defector, and his complete confidence in the ability to make a shot so difficult many to this day believe he didn't make it at all--at least not for the killing blow. It's a perfect characterization by Cantwell, from all I know about the man. 

Similarly, Oswald's interactions with our four patsies fit neatly with what has come before. He practically rubs it in their faces (in some awesome visuals from Caslanguida that emphasize the arrogance and annoyance of Oswald) that they're cannon fodder in a grand scheme and basically mocks them for it. Hell, he even claims not to know why they're getting any reward at all. It's a brilliant pressure cooker, and when it finally boils over, we get a brilliant splash page to show for it.

Regarding the Matter of Oswald's Body is a parable about how if there is a shadow government out there, anyone on the low end of the totem pole is likely even lower than they think. Worse, it's likely that whatever we do as ordinary people, the world's awful trajectory isn't going to stop because we act (or don't act). It's a little depressing, but makes for a great story, especially with how Calanguida structures the characters as they have their soliloquies. It's a key part to making this a comic I've been excited to read every month. (ROB)

Rain #2
Story by Joe Hill
Adapted by David M. Booher
Line Art by Zoe Thorogood
Color Art by Chris O'Halloran
Letters by Shawn Lee
Published by Image

The reality of the rain is settling in, as Honeysuckle grieves and looks to find a way to bring closure in a world where nature most importance resource--water--has been weaponized into a killing machine and the United States has only just begun to turn upside down in a second issue with a great combination of tender moments and terror.

In addition to writing comics, Hill is a skilled prose creator, and I'll be honest, I actually prefer it to what he's done with visual collaborators. Maybe that's why I'm really liking this story so far, which has such a terrifying premise (killer rain from the skies). I haven't read the original, so I don't have that as a guide, either. But I love the set up and the way in which we really get to experience the pain Honeysuckle is feeling and why we feel so close to her almost immediately. Any of us could be her, and that makes her decision to go out there and find what remains of her lover's family so hard-hitting, even as the other survivors deal with grief in their own way.

Zoe Thorogood really nails the emotional beats here, too. We could easily be focused on the horror at hand, but instead, the key focus is on Honeysuckle, Templeton the kiddo vampire, and eventually Marc Despot, whom she meets on the journey. Each of them wears the pain on their face in different ways, too. When we have a lot of talking--and to be fair, there's a LOT of talking going on--Thorogood repositions bodies, shifting them just like real people, and ensures that the looks on their faces really reflect what's going on. She's also extremely good at just slightly exaggerating any actions we see, too. Her style reminds me a bit of Tim Sale's earlier work, where there was more movement from panel to panel. You can really feel it when Honeysuckle gets hit. 

Rain is an excellent horror story so far, with a lot more bad things to come, I'm sure. There's a lot we don't know--and may never know--about what's happened, but our focus will remain squarely with our band of survivors, a King family hallmark. I'm very much looking forward to where this series goes and the awesome visuals from Thorogood and O'Halloran that will go along with them. (ROB)

A Righteous Thirst For Vengeance #5
Written by Rick Remender
Art by André Araújo
Colors by Chris O’Halloran
Letters by Russ Wooten
Published by Image

Righteous Thirst.. is a slow burn. But it’s also a train wreck taken place in the blink of an eye. If a dumpster fire were to be a comic, this would be the title you’d be fixating your stare at. Every single issue of this Remender and Araújo stellar story at Image has been magnificent.

Sonny has a quiet sensibility to his presence that make this quaint little murder mystery all the more quintessential. No matter how off-the-cuff and sporadically violent this story can get, there remains the pillar of existence with that of Sonny. With cigarette firmly planted between pursed lips, nothing shakes him off course.

Through four issues we’ve seen him: accidentally discover a dark web and a contract assassin, assume the identity of a contract assassin, manages to assassinate the assassin so as to save a stranger who was also the intended victim, only to then put his own life on the line to save another stranger (twice removed). This bloody guy (both literal and British-slang), can’t seem to catch a break.

Issue five is set to increase palpitations for those of us with such an unfortunate medical circumstance, and as for the rest of us ..we’ll more than likely settle for higher heart rate or BP. If for no other reason, the fact that two packs of reds can cost twenty bucks in this fiction is enough to get your blood boiling. It sure did mine dirty.

The pacing in this book is classic Remender. Each issue closes and climaxes with a grand reveal setting up for the next; building story in the way the art form was intended. Visually, this comic is rudimental and crude, all while also presenting itself with a life of its own. The linework that Araújo manages in this book is a crime and he is a wizard at his own craft. The basic presentation that Righteous Thirst.. encompasses is also a character in itself. We have yet to reach the end of this opening act, and I am anxious to discover how the story progresses. (SEAN)