Indie Comics Spotlight

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

 

Karma Police #1

 

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“Life is suffering, death is a new beginning. This cycle is eternal…”

 

The concept of reincarnation is one shared by many religions and the importance of it to those religions can’t be understated. There’s something elegant about the notion that your actions in one life will have a direct impact on another life. There are some who are reincarnated with goodness in their hearts, but those reincarnated with something else need to be dealt with. Karma Police #1 from Comics Experience offers a tale where the reincarnated aren’t all on the same side all the time. The issue is written by Chris Lewis, illustrated by Tony Gregori, colored by Jasen Smith, and lettered by Nic J. Shaw.

 

A young Buddhist monk named Jack must defeat luchador demons and resist the thrall of an enchanted dagger in order to reclaim her own destiny and end a cycle of violence that stretches across lifetimes. The approach Lewis takes in Karma Police #1 is pretty relaxed, yet direct at the same time. He wastes no time setting up the bad guy, the good guy, and how their paths will cross, while at the same time offering a little insight into why all the players are involved in the first place. He’s certainly not the first person to present a story in such a way, but there’s something about the simplicity of his approach that feels inviting. It also helps that Lewis provides the characters with a slew of snappy and engaging dialogue, all of which moves the story along very well. The issue is paced very quickly even though it never feels like Lewis is rushing through to get to any point in the story.

 

Gregori’s art style is defined by characters who boast very sharp, angled faces and body types that add a jagged feeling to the action. The way these characters interact with one another is made better because of this style, as there’s a shared kineticism across all characters that the body shapes amplify. Gregori also uses interesting camera angles in showing off the characters performing various actions, which provides a sense of distance in some cases that provides depth to the 2D renderings. The gutters switch between being empty and being filled in with black for various effects as well, drawing more direct attention to the panels. Smith does great work with the colors as well, providing the books with a vividness that adds an airiness to it that’s just plain enjoyable.

 

Karma Police #1 is a very enjoyable first issue that effectively introduces the reader to most of the relevant components of the story. Jack’s role in the grander scheme of things and her abilities still require more attention, but there’s plenty more issues for that to be revealed. Lewis handles the script very deftly, giving the plot time to unfold without moving too quickly through any aspect of it. The Gregori’s illustrations are very clean and refined, providing a great look at the concept and effectively handling scenes of monks or demons. Karma Police #1 is a lot of fun and offers a pretty fresh concept that’s bolstered by great execution.

 

Karma Police #1 is in stores now.

 

The Discipline #1

 

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“Good. Welcome to the discipline.”

 

Art is many things to many people. Different works elicit different results and all of those results are dependent upon the viewer of said art. In The Discipline #1 from Image Comics, one woman’s obsession with a certain piece of art could prove more dangerous than she initially thought. The issue is written by Peter Milligan, illustrated by Leandro Fernández, colored by Chris Peter, and lettered by Simon Bowland.

 

Between fighting her sister and hating her husband, Melissa still finds time to fall in lust with a stranger who’s an awful lot more than he seems. What appears to be a simple seduction is revealed as something much darker and more dangerous. This controversial and erotically- charged tale of sex, death, and metamorphosis begins with an explosion of carnality and weirdness.

 

From the start, The Discipline #1 refuses to hide the fact that it’s a very creepy book. Milligan sets up a relatively eerie tone by putting Melissa in a constant sense of peril as a result of her curiosity. That curiosity seems exotic at first and Milligan does a great job of slowly revealing the allure to revisiting Melissa’s encounter. As the book unfolds though, both the reader and Melissa start to realize that things are much more complex than that and Melissa may be getting in over her head. While Milligan does a great job of presenting Melissa as a solid protagonist, there are broader questions about the world she inhabits that Milligan doesn’t really delve into all that much.

 

There’s a very clean artistic approach taken by Fernández for the artwork. His characters are defined by concise lines and a general lack of detail in all aspects of the artwork, allowing the simplistic style to carry the story. And there’s definitely a mature aspect to many parts of the artwork that Fernández handles very tastefully and makes it work within the grander narrative of art imitating life. Fernández manages to tap into a certain carnal instinct shared by most of the characters. Peter’s colors are somewhat washed out and mimic the finish one would find in a newspaper comic strip.

 

The Discipline #1 is a very interesting first issue that is content to spend most of its time setting up the players more than the stage. Melissa is thrown into the thick of things faster than she’d like and how she responds will be interesting to read. Most of the issue focuses on Melissa and her reconciliation with the mundane aspects of her life and hopefully Milligan delves more deeply into other aspects of the story in future issues. The concise art style by Fernández gives the book a relatively simple feel that works in contrast to the seemingly growing complexity of the story. The Discipline #1 is a solid first issue that sets the tone immediately as both eerie and atmospheric.

The Discipline #1 is in stores now.

 

The Shadow Glass #1

 

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“Am I always to be a wanderer upon the Earth…? Yet while I cross dark waters my path always spirits me here…back home…”

 

There’s something alluring about certain locations in certain eras. For instance, London in the 1590s was the pinnacle of an empire, relying on its vast naval might to explore the world and secure trade routes all over. At home in London though, there was no shortage of intrigue and mystery on the part of its citizens, one of whom is the focal point of The Shadow Glass #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Aly Fell and lettered by Nate Piekos.

 

A young student of England’s greatest occultist learns her real father is in league with the devil. When Rose finds out that the man who raised her isn’t her father, she ignores his warnings about the terrible secrets of her own past and seeks answers from her childhood teacher Dr. John Dee, the queen’s occult adviser.

 

The historic London setting is used fantastically in The Shadow Glass #1, as it provides a very unique atmosphere for the work. Fell taps into the “new world” exploratory spirit of the age, presenting a London awash in explorers and investigators. Where The Shadow Glass #1 deviates from more accepted historical accounts of the era, though, is the introduction of the spiritual into the book. Fell does a great job of slowly building up to this moment, deftly weaving together Rose’s growing awareness of her situation in life. Rose herself is billed as something of an intrepid spirit and her realizations in regards to the characters around her set up a very fascinating story.

 

The artwork features many old world sensibilities that effectively mirror the writing. Fell’s rendering of London in 1592 is very detailed and the opening, two-page splash effectively lays out the world in front of the reader to become immersed in. The rest of London is illustrated in a way that continues an attention to detail and effort to make the world in The Shadow Glass #1 feel like a living, breathing entity. Characters also boast a myriad of facial expressions that really underscores their emotions as they pertain to certain situations. And Fell’s coloring work is subtle yet manages to work in pops of color here and there via character outfits.

 

The Shadow Glass #1 is a great foray into history with a slight twist on things that have likely been recorded. Rose’s whole world opens in front of her, despite her previous disposition to seeking out such an experience. Fell’s script is paced pretty evenly and effectively moves everything where it needs to be at the end. His artwork steals the show, offering a glimpse at a London teeming with life and activity. The Shadow Glass #1 is a very solid first issue that seeks to merge the magical with the historical.

 

The Shadow Glass #1 is in stores March 23.


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