Indie Comics Spotlight: Feathers, Lady Killer, Red Sonja

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By Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)


Lady Killer #1

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“Mrs. Roman, when was the last time you took time out for beauty?”

Being a stay-at-home mom is rife with challenges such as watching the kids, cleaning, and having dinner hot and ready for the father comes home. Rarely does that list include knocking off targets and donning disguises to get the job done. Dark Horse Comics wants to delve a little more deeply into the other side of the housewife/assassin duality in Lady Killer #1. The issue is written by of Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich, illustrated by Jones, colored by Laura Allred, and lettered by Crank!

Josie Schuller is a picture-perfect homemaker, wife, and mother—but she’s also a ruthless, efficient killer for hire in this brand-new original comedy series that combines the wholesome imagery of early 1960s domestic bliss with a tightening web of murder, paranoia, and cold-blooded survival.

The concept of a double-life is certainly nothing new, showing up in everything from Red to Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Jones and Rich tap into that concept for Lady Killer #1, offering up Josie as a housewife/assassin. What makes Lady Killer #1 unique is the 60s sensibilities infused into the work by Jones and Rich, giving it a very cool atmosphere and vibe. Starting Josie off as an Avon saleswoman is a throwback to a different era and it drops the reader right into the thick of her life. Josie is presented as one of the best in her “profession,” yet the details behind her lifestyle still remain shrouded in mystery for the most part. It leaves plenty to uncover over the course of the next few issues and should be a fun reveal as Jones and Rich unravel her mystery.

There are some very nice artistic details in Lady Killer #1 that really give it the proper atmosphere and mood. Jones relies on sharp angles to make the book stand out even more, showcasing Josie as a woman who can play both the doting housewife and the ruthless killer depending on the situation. And Jones paid plenty of attention to the time of the work, ensuring that the look and feel of the characters and settings fit within the era being portrayed. She did a fantastic job filling out that world and making it feel natural and realistic in many regards. There are some instances where Josie looks more masculine than feminine, which may be used to contrast her two roles in life.

Lady Killer #1 is a surprising first issue that sets the tone for a series that wants to get pretty crazy. Josie is a lead character who showcases a good mix ruthless cunning and a deft motherly touch when appropriate. Jones and Rich have crafted a story that’s equal parts suspense and action, giving readers a scenario where very little is predictable. Jones’ illustrations are very well done and effectively tap into the zeitgeist of the time it’s set in. Lady Killer #1 is a fun first issue that leaves quite a few questions unanswered, something that will no doubt have the reader coming back for more.

Lady Killer #1 is in stores now.

Feathers #1

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“Look at you. All covered in…feathers?!”

Being an orphan on the street is hard. Being an orphan on the street and covered with feathers is even harder. Both scenarios make for interesting reads and Archaia has just that in Feathers #1. The issue is written and illustrated by Jorge Corona.

A recluse boy born covered in feathers must help his first-ever friend, a young girl named Bianca, as she tries to return to her home beyond the slums of the Maze. They must dodge street gangs and child-snatchers along the way and perhaps together will learn the secrets to his mysterious past. Meanwhile, the boy’s adopted father struggles to ensure his safety and knows all about the risks that come with the two of them pairing up.

It’s pretty obvious that Feathers #1 is inspired by works such as Aladdin. The core concept is a lowly outcast encountering a highborn princess and the two of them will no doubt have to contend with large odds. After reading the issue, you’ll realize that Feathers #1 is pretty enjoyable and has a very good heart. Corona presents Feathers as a mischievous little boy who just so happens to have feathers, while Bianca embodies the innocence and naivety that accompanies being a sheltered princess. Their dynamic together doesn’t really have much time to shine in the first issue, but Corona ensures that their individual personalities are on display. There are some mysteries behind Feather’s origin and it’s not clear if Corona plans on delving too deeply into them down the road.

The illustrations in Feathers #1 are gorgeous, as Corona relies on a style that’s equal parts charming and fearful when necessary. The setting of the city is depicted as somewhat grungy and riddled with poverty, while the scenes in the palace offer the requisite elegance. These different presentations further the characterization of Feathers and Bianca, helping the reader better understand the differences between the two of them. Characters are illustrated with sharp, clean angles that accentuate the liveliness of the city they inhabit. Even Feathers himself looks more human than monster, which helps ground the book in reality more so than expected.

Feathers #1 is a story that’s ambitious and offers a wide range of emotions that range from fear to hope. The origin of the main character is shrouded in mystery and it remains to be seen whether or not that origin is given more light; it’s possible that the first issue jumpstarts the series and the origin isn’t really the point. Corona’s story is rather adventurous and hits a lot of familiar notes. His illustrations border on shadowy, but they’re extremely effective in building an atmosphere in which Feathers and Bianca exist. Feathers #1 is a great first issue that presents an all-ages book that could get a lot darker as things progress.

Feathers #1 is in stores now.

Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #1

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“Her opponent is taller, heavier and stronger, as well as outfitted in actual armor. By all rights, he should be the victor…”

The She-Devil with a Sword made a name for herself by fighting the good fight. She’s a formidable opponent to whom many have fallen, despite their notions that she will readily roll over in fighting. It all makes for a great legend, but what happens when the legend gets older? Things get a little tougher in Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #1 from Dynamite Entertainment. The issue is written by Nancy A. Collins and Luke Lieberman, illustrated by Fritz Casas, colored by Adriano Augusto, and lettered by Joshua Cozine.

From shadow-haunted Stygia emerges an evil undreamt of by even the most depraved minds: the demi-god called Sutekh. Born of an unspeakable blood ritual, he is the half-human progeny of the ancient serpent-god Set, sent forth to enslave mankind in the name of his father and return the world to a primordial swamp. The new-born Sutekh leads a fearful army and uses powerful sorcery and a menagerie of demonic war-beasts to break the will of his mortal enemies as he marches forth to conquer the kingdoms of the Hyborian Age, defeating foe after foe – until he crosses the path of an older, battle-scarred Red Sonja, who has exchanged the life of a mercenary for running a school for sword-maidens.

Despite all their accomplishments, storied heroes eventually reach a point where the heroics aren’t as easy as they used to be. This is where Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #1 excels best, with Collins and Lieberman giving the reader a glimpse at a Red Sonja who’s physically feeling the effects of all her travels. It’s a pretty refreshing take on the character, as Red Sonja manages to maintain her ferocity, even if it comes at the expense of soreness and a general tiredness from age. Collins and Lieberman still manage to make Red Sonja legitimately frightening to her opponents (even if her knee is acting up on her, for instance) and it’s nice to see her training other women to be fighters as well. The curiosity of her two prize students Lyla and Xoana draw her further into battle and it’s looking like she’ll need their raw talent to help save the day.

Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #1 certainly doesn’t hide from the fact that Red Sonja lives in a very dangerous world. Casas’ presentation of a ritual sacrifice at the beginning is anything but polite, with the arrival of Sutekh heralded by blood and bodily harm. It’s a little odd to see Red Sonja in something other than her usual battle outfit; still, Casas dresses her appropriately to lead to a school to train warriors and maintain a day-to-day routine. The panel layouts throughout the book are somewhat erratic, with all manner of insets and panels peppered here and there in a way that adds to the chaos of combat. Many of the characters are emphasized by a lack of background, as Casas seemed to instead focus on them to carry the action.

Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #1 boasts a lot of what anyone familiar with Red Sonja is looking for: combat, violence, and a hero who has an affinity for being a general badass. It’s also got something a little unfamiliar in an older, less brash Red Sonja, who’s dealing with the effects of time on her body. This departure by Collins and Lieberman offers a refreshing twist on an old favorite, giving Red Sonja an opponent she can’t easily dispatch. Casas imbues the book with a look that readers will recognize, including a gorgeous two-page spread where a younger Red Sonja squares off against a much larger foe. All in all, Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #1 is a pretty solid first issue that doesn’t tread new ground necessarily, but does offer a twist in terms of Red Sonja’s ability to deal with what comes next.

Red Sonja: Vulture’s Circle #1 is available now.


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