After last week's plethora of new material, there's only two new non-Marvel, non-DC, non tie-in of some kind books with a number one this week! Or at least, that's all we got at my store. So today's post will be rather short. But I will do a quick summary reminder of some of the other stuff that came out this week, and what's on my pull. To make up for it, I hope to get out another individual book/series review here in the next few days! It's been a while since I did a singular topic review or op-ed. Anyway, let's jump right in!
Lost City Explorers #1, Aftershock Comics
Lost cities aren't just the stuff of myths. They exist hidden right under our noses. But when a mysterious expedition is disrupted by supernatural activity, and an antiquities professor goes missing, his teenage daughter and her friends must become underground urban explorers, follow his tracks on a coming-of-age journey through subterranean tunnels, and ultimately find the holy grail of lost city: Atlantis buried right under New York City!
This is a surprisingly good book, suffering from a common problem especially among books from smaller publishers: a boring cover. A palette of muted colors, mostly grey? Check. Grungy texture effect? Check. Some shiny blue void? Check. Bland title? Also Check. Looking at Lost City of Explorers on the shelf, I honestly wasn't expecting much, and can you blame me? Nothing about it grabbed my eye, or looked like it carried something unique (as opposed to probably a dozen other books about kid explorers) to prompt me to want to pick it up. However, I was pleasantly surprised once I did.
This book has the feel of 1980s style kid-adventurer movies, but more modern. Imagine that Chunk and Mike and the rest of the gang were never there, it's all Stef and Andy and Nancy and Steve Harringtons (God bless). In their older teens (or early 20's), the protagonists of Lost City Explorers make a ragtag crew of their own, but rather than being separated by that classic friendship-ender high school social status, these kids are marked by tragedy - Hel and Homer's father, Dan, a professor and lab consultant, dies in a freak accident while on the job. His body is never recovered, and the two siblings are left alone, their mother having died ages ago. At the funeral, Sagan Labs, the company their father was consulting for, sends a representative to let the siblings know that they had an accidental life insurance policy taken out on their father, with enough money to have them set for life. The money would represent a new lease on life for the siblings, with Hel wondering about being able to afford college, or if school is even right for her, and older brother Homer worrying about how he will take care of them both. The only catch is that they have to sign a waiver saying the gas leak their dad died in was an accident. Homer wants to sign right away, and get on with their lives, while Hel thinks it all sounds too fishy. And after the funeral, when they arrive to find their dad's office ransacked, he can't help but agree - especially after a former coworker of their father clandestinely meets Hel to let her know Dan may still be alive.
This is a fun little issue, with lots of promise, that delivers the same feeling that any good adventure story should feel: a mystery, anticipation, and the promise of excitement to come. The supporting cast is ok, mainly thus far it's Hel's girlfriend Maddy, earnest and, well, supportive, and Homer's girlfriend June, who is probably the weakest part of the whole thing, for me - her she's a millennial character, meaning she's obsessed with Instagram and live-broadcasting everything, thereby revealing that the author hasn't spent time with anyone actually in their early 20s in years. But with this trope being as annoyingly common as it is, I have no choice but to forgive it.
Overall, I'd say give this book a go. It's not anything totally unique and special, mind blowing, gut busting, side-splitting, or anything remotely close to that. But... it could be. I want it to be. And like our protagonists, I'm willing to go forward into the abyss (er, sparkly blue whirlpool) and see what's on the other side.
Shanghai Red #1, Image Comics
Red is one of hundreds shanghaied out of Portland in the late 1800s. Drugged, kidnapped, and sold to a ship's captain, she wakes up on a boat headed out to sea for years, unable to escape or even reveal who she truly is. Now she's coming back in a boat covered in blood to find her family and track down the men responsible for stealing her life out from under her. Eisner-nominated writer CHRISTOPHER SEBELA (High Crimes, Heartthrob, We(l)come Back), JOSHUA HIXSON (The Black Woods) and HASSAN OTSMANE-ELHAOU (Felix & Macabber) bring you a tale of revenge, family, and identity that stretches from the deck of a ship outside Shanghai all the way to the bleak streets and secret tunnels of Portland, Oregon.
The solicitation above pretty much covers the plot synopsis, there's not much more to say about that. I feel like there aren't many comics that take place at sea. A few have come out in the last few years that I can think of, only one I can actually remember, and mostly because it's bad. I don't know what it is about the sea, and stories about water, but something about them is always seen as somehow less than good. It's like how there hasn't been a really good, important movie about sharks since Jaws, and why Aquaman is still always stereotyped as the lamest member of the Justice League. Water is weird, apparently. Perhaps that's why Shanghai Red only starts on a boat. As the final pages of the issue approach, they Red prepares to step onto dry land for the first time in three years. Looking for her lost family, and promising vengeance on those that put her into slavery to begin with, Red puts that part of her past behind her.
The flashback sequences in this book were particularly good, showing Red's upbringing having to be the little boy her father wanted (and that most frontier families needed to function). There was a page in particular where Red was expositioning about how she enjoyed the freedom she was allowed when dressed as a man, and while of course I don't need to be told how difficult it is to be a woman in a world that very much still belongs to men, it's always nice to be reminded how women lived in the past, and the kind of freedoms I have now, especially as a white woman (Read: even though I have things better now than my great grandmothers and great great grandmothers did, they had it better than black and brown women in at that same time, and I still have privilege as a white woman that my black and brown sisters don't have, even today).
Shanghai Red promises to be an action-packed, bloody revenge story, and if that kind of thing is up your alley, I say go for it. It's 19th centry wild west flavor with a crusty sea-salt scent, something fresh, and I'm into it.
Other stuff not to be missed this week is the first issue of Tony Stark: Iron Man #1, setting us up for new adventures now that Stark's out of his coma and back on his feet (and Rhodey is back from the dead), and X-Men Gold #30, the much awaited wedding issue, with a surprise twist, leading into the future Mr. and Mrs X #1, coming soon.
Favorite issues from my own pull this week include Batman #49, Flavor #2, Justice League #2, and my favorite new issue this week, Gideon Falls #5. I am definitely planning about writing up Gideon Falls when the trade comes out, every new issue leaves me on the edge of my seat and dying for more.
Anything I missed this week? Wanna tell me what you're reading? Let me know in the comments below! See ya next time!