Indie Comics Spotlight: (Slayer: Repentless, God Country, Angel Season 11)
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Slayer: Repentless #1
“I’ve stopped letting the rage tunnel into me and cloud my mind with blame.”
There’s an inherent risk among society when people form groups. There’s comfort in finding others share similar ideas as your own, but when the ideals of the group become bigger than the individuals messages get perverted. That perversion leads to violence, especially in Slayer: Repentless #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Jon Schnepp and illustrated by Guiu Vilanova.
The planet’s most badass metal band takes control of comics! The ultimate thrash juggernaut, Slayer has dominated stages and destroyed audiences for over thirty years, with their latest album, Repentless, showing no signs of slowing down or showing mercy. Based on the brutal Repentless videos, this expansion of the video story lines drives deep into the darkest heart of America, a raging road trip down a bloodstained highway, a tale of the doomed, the damned…and the repentless!
To say that Slayer: Repentless #1 is dark would be a gross understatement. Schnepp takes the story to violent depths though to underscore the notion that there are parts of humanity that hide in the shadows. Wyatt is a reformed hatemonger of sorts, struggling to escape his family’s past as one keen on angrily imposing their views on those around them. Schnepp tackles this extremely well, balancing the motivations of a hate group with the motivations of a single member of that group. The entire issue is predicated on this dichotomy and Schnepp weaves the tale of revenge and redemption around it quite elegantly.
Underscoring the gruesome lives that Wyatt and his brother Adrian lead is Vilanova’s art. Vilanova fills the book with panels rife with jarring imagery that juxtaposes the simplicity of family life with the atrocity of hate crimes. Adrian is depicted as battleworn–both physically and emotionally–and the characters around him reflect similar appearances that reflect a commitment to violence. And this is a very graphic book, but Vilanova doesn’t let an abundance of gore overshadow the larger message as blood is splattered in a pretty minimal and understated way. Vilanova lays out the panels in mostly a grid format, mixing in a few insets and overlays to keep the visual look fresh and moving.
Slayer: Repentless #1 is brutal–there’s really no other way to describe it. Adrian is a man reconciling a sordid past with the potential for a more clean-cut future, but nothing is ever that easy. Schnepp’s script is well-thought out and gives the reader an antihero to root for, despite his decisions. Vilanova’s artwork is chilling in its brutality yet effective in underscoring the narrative. Slayer: Repentless #1 definitely isn’t for everyone, but there are a some poignant messages buried within the punches and knives to the gut.
Slayer: Repentless #1 is available now.
God Country #1
“The wrath of God lies sleeping.”
There are parts of the world where things move a little more slowly. When people familiar with a faster-pace visit these parts of the world there’s some adjusting that must be undertaken un order to understand the difference in the ways of life. In God Country #1 from Image Comics, nothing can prepare Roy and his family for the life that Roy’s father Emmet leads. The issue is written by Donny Cates, illustrated by Geoff Shaw, colored by Jason Wordie and lettered by John J. Hill.
Emmet Quinlan, an old widower rattled by dementia, isn’t just a problem for his children—his violent outbursts are more than the local cops can handle. When a tornado levels his home—as well as the surrounding West Texas town—a restored Quinlan rises from the wreckage. The enchanted sword at the eye of the storm gives him more than a sound mind and body, however. He’s now the only man who can face the otherworldly creatures the sword has drawn down to the Lone Star State…
Cates knows a thing or two about writing characters struggling with demons, but rarely does he get the chance to write characters struggling with gods. Emmet Quinlan is such a character and Cates infuses him with enough vitriol that the reader can be forgiven for refusing to care about him until the big reveal at the end. And Cates works in plenty of interaction between Emmmet and his son and Emmet and his son’t family, providing a ton of emotional context to prime the reader for the swerve. There’s a broader, intergalactic aspect to the book as well that Cates is looking towards to keep things interesting, promising that the story is more than just a man coming to grips with his current state and how it affects those around him. There’s something of a sweet sentimentality amongst the characters that Cates leans on heavily as a calm before the storm.
Shaw’s artwork is coarse and an appropriate fit for the dramatic character shift for Emmet. The evil that Emmet and his family encounters is rendered as pure vileness, as Shaw renders him in a way where the reader can see the evil seeping out of him. Other characters wear haggard expressions well, emphasizing the mundane nature of life that old age brings along with it. It’s these sort of expressions of emotion that Shaw advances to the forefront as a means of building up enough emotion in the reader that it can be altered pretty quickly. Wordie does a great job with the colors as well, blending together light and dark colors in a way that seems to reinforce optimism and pessimism.
God Country #1 is a clever title that works on multiple levels. Emmet isn’t the man his son (or anyone else for that matter) thought he was and his role in the coming battle is nothing short of massive. Cates’ script is a very well-heeled series of stark dialogue exchanges and raw emotion. Shaw’s illustrations offer a grittiness that matches the story as a whole. God Country #1 is a very satisfying first issue that promises to keep ramping things up as it progresses.
God Country #1 is available now.
Angel Season 11 #1
“Sun’s about to go down. We should get to it.”
Angel is one of the most interesting characters to spin out of the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer universe. His persistent conflict that brings him to the edge of insanity and destruction is always fascinating, which means he needs to rely on those around him for support. One of those characters is a goddess and she gets top-billing in Angel Season 11 #1from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Corinna Bechko, illustrated by Geraldo Borges, colored by Michelle Madsen and lettered by Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt.
Vampire Angel is tormented by a vision linking his shameful past to something very big—and very bad—that is coming. The goddess Illyria gives Angel some insight and incentive. Then she really gets involved, and Angel discovers that it might be possible to change the future by changing the past.
The issue opens up as another day in the life of Angel and Fred as the two of them seek to stem a supernatural tide overflowing in a friend’s hotel. Bechko successfully taps into what it is about Angel and his life in the show that was so noteworthy–namely, he’s struggling with a lot of demons who manifest both internally and externally. The pacing of the issue is pretty sound as it jumps back and forth between the present and images of what could be a very troubling future. Bechko does especially well in handling the dichotomy that is Fred/Illyria as the two are polar opposites of one another and Bechko ensures they feel like the two entirely different characters that they are. There are plenty of quirky Angel hooks thrown in for good measure as well that help the book maintain the feel of the larger universe that contains the show as well.
Borges does a great job on the artwork. His linework feels vibrant, infusing the characters with an extra sense of youthfulness. Despite the relatively young appearance, Borges ensures that Angel still manages to maintain his pretty typical scowl throughout the issue that underscores his plight at large. The panels don’t follow a traditional layout in any sense as Borges eschews the standard grid for an array of insets, overlays and empty gutters. Madesn’s colors are pretty simple and help to accentuate the characters very well.
Angel Season 11 #1 picks up right where the previous season left off in the sense that it knows who the characters are. Angel is every bit as tormented as he’s ever been, yet he still has to learn to trust himself enough to realize that he might be the only one who can save the world from an impending disaster. Bechko’s script is pretty lighthearted and does enough to establish a story arc without going to crazy. Borges’ artwork is vibrant and offers a new look at familiar characters. Angel Season 11 #1 is enjoyable and will definitely need to be added to all the Angel fans out there.
Angel Season 11 #1 is available now.