Last week's Wednesday fell on a fourth of July, and if you're at all caught up with comics, you know it was a massive day. There was the Batman/Catwoman wedding (or non-wedding-- too soon, New York Times?) in issue #50, the new much anticipated issue of Captain America #1 by Ta-Nehesi Coates, and Cosmic Ghost Rider #1, among others. Now that the fireworks are over and people are mostly done yelling at Tom King, let's move on to this week's reads!
DIE! DIE! DIE! #1, Image Comics
We don't like to admit it, but this is an evil world where evil people do evil stuff all the time. Thankfully, there is a secret cabal with the United States government that works outside our normal system to influence world matters through targeted assassination. The world around us is manipulated right under our noses, mostly for the better... sometimes for individual gain. So if you're hurting people, somehow making the world worse than it already is, or even just standing in the way of something good happening... someone could right now be giving the order for you to...
In the world we live in now, it's occasionally nice to indulge in a good old fashioned violent revenge story. It's fun to pretend that bad people in bad places get what's coming to them (rather than a cushy seat in elected office). And it's nice to imagine that there's a government agency, no matter how deeply buried, that is looking out for... well, if not the little guy, something. If you're into that kind of pathos, then DIE! DIE! DIE! is for you. Funnily enough, we didn't know in advance we would be getting this issue. Like, at all. Seriously, when I opened a box on Tuesday and found 65 copies of something I couldn't find on our shipment's invoice, I was totally stumped. It was a surprise to retailers, in an attempt by Robert Kirkman to recapture the experience of scanning the shelves to find something new, and being legitimately surprised by what you find, in an era where you can see what's coming out in Previews three months ahead of time, and major news networks have no qualms posting spoilers for a major comics event in the headline (two New York Times jokes in a row? who do I think I am?). Therefore, in the spirit of this comic, I'll not reveal any more of the plot, suffice to say that if you're into good gunfights, car chases, a little bit of violence and risk-consequence analysis on butterfly effect levels, definitely give this pulse pounding title a try.
Farmhand #1, Image Comics
Jedidiah Jenkins is a farmer-but his cash crop isn't corn or soy. Jed grows fast-healing, plug-and-play human organs. Lose a finger? Need a new liver? He's got you covered. Unfortunately, strange produce isn't the only thing Jed's got buried. Deep in the soil of the Jenkins Family Farm, something dark has taken root, and it's beginning to bloom.
When I saw the cover of this book, I was less excited for it than I might otherwise have been. It's cover dress reminded me a lot of other titles that have come out in the last few years, that seemed to want to hybridize southern themes with horror, and with which I was less than impressed. However, while these previous series dealt with horror staples like vampires and werewolves, Farmhand goes a very original route, experimenting with the horrors of the genetically engineered kind. Not to say there isn't something supernatural afoot (no pun intended) - there are hints that there could be something in the soil, and in the soul, of the Jenkins family farm, and with echoes of how truly terrifying things can be "in your roots" - a double entendre for family based trauma and scares as well as the literal body part plants growing I'm excited to see what happens next. Farmhand also incorporates a really nice sense of humor, with lots of visual gags packed into the background, on signs, and in every square inch - there's no wasted space in the illustrations here. Strap in for some home-grown horror, Farmhand takes my pick for favorite new series of the week!
Outpost Zero #1, Image Comics
Welcome to Outpost Zero, the smallest town in the universe. The people there work the land, go to the fights every Friday night, and tuck their children into bed-but the Outpost is no place for dreams or aspirations. To survive is ambitious enough. As Alea and her friends graduate to adulthood on a frozen world never meant to support human life, something stirs. Something sees...
Outpost Zero is an ambitious first issue, from the get-go. Packed with introductions to new characters, as well as their families, exploring the station where they live, and developing their relationships with each other all the while setting up the plot for future issues is tricky, at best. Lots of comics try, and fail, to successfully give you so much background without giving you an exposition dump, which is cliche at best. Outpost zero, however, does an admirable job. I do think the book suffers a little from something I discussed in my last review, with Bedtime Games, where occasionally our main characters, Alea and Steven, are talking to each other early on, and in an attempt to converse like real human beings do, there's a slight sense of not knowing who is saying what, which can be tough to follow, especially when said characters look similar (I assumed they were meant to be brother and sister, until they made a joke about kissing each other). That aside, though, I found myself surprsised at how sucked in to the mysteries that Outpost Zero set up, especially since I am not the biggest fan of sci-fi, as I've stated before. I'm actually interested in these kids, their families, who the people are in Outpost Zero, how they got there, and what lies beyond. Also looking at how a society has developed, where you're an adult at 14/15 and get assigned a role based on your strengths, and how class systems have formed around that (or at least the illusion of class) is interesting to me. It creates an interesting and fresh-yet-familiar take on a coming of age story. I'm anticipating issue #2.
She Could Fly #1, Dark Horse Comics
In Chicago, an unknown woman appears flying at speeds of 120 miles per hour and at heights reaching 2,000 feet. Then she suddenly dies in a fiery explosion mid-air. No one knows who she was, how she flew, or why. Luna, a disturbed 15-year-old girl becomes obsessed with learning everything about her while rumors and conspiracy theories roil. Will cracking the secrets of the Flying Woman's inner life lead to the liberation from her own troubled mind?
I was initially attracted to this book due to its cover; between the title and the colors used, I expected a light, airy, fun and fluffy Boom-style read. I was very very wrong. This book is really good, but it's not a walk in the park (or rather, a flight through cotton candy colored clouds). This book is a look at the darkest side of OCD and intrusive thoughts, from an author who struggled with OCD for over 30 years before opening up and seeking help. Our man character, Luna, and her search for the flying woman represent a freedom from the constant violent visions that appear in her head, the voice telling her she is bad and deserves bad things, that she'll hurt everyone she loves. The mystery of who the flying woman is, and how she came to be, weaves in the story of Physicist Bill Meigs and his girlfriend Verna, the mysterious reappearance of Luna's grandmother after living in Kyoto for 7 years, and one very unfortunate pet death. This story creates a sense of unease and guilt that is hard to escape, and for someone suffering from any form of anxiety, intrusive thoughts, or depression (not just OCD), this story will likely feel very familiar to you in some way. However, if you can step out of your comfort zone and into Luna's mind, I think we're in for a complex and deeply personal mystery.
That's it for this week; other new number ones of note include The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's The Tempest #1, The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (marking the first issue of Nick Spencer's run after Dan Slott's departure from the title), Superman #1 (the first official Superman #1 of Bendis' time at DC) and X-23 #1 by Mariko Tamaki, who previously worked on She-Hulk and Supergirl: Being Super.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? hit me up in the comments below! Til next time!