Indie Comics Spotlight: 4001 A.D. #1, Mae #1, and Hyper Force Neo #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

4001 A.D. #1


1

“Father is willing to destroy the body to save the mind…”

There are more and more advances being made in terms of robotics. And – inevitably – we’ll reach a point where robots will likely exceed our own capabilities. Whether that’s good or not remains to be seen, but it’s arguable that morality will come into question. All that is in play in 4001 A.D. #1 from Valiant. The issue is written by Matt Kindt, illustrated by Clayton Crain and David Mack, and lettered by Dave Lanphear.

Exiled from the only realm he’s ever known, Rai now walks the ravaged world of 4001 A.D. in search of forgotten heroes like himself…on a mission to collect the last surviving legends of a broken planet…and to forge a rebellion with the power to bring the most advanced civilization in history crashing back down to Earth. Earth must rise. Father must fall. The war for the ultimate fate of humanity begins.

There’s no question that Kindt is one of the hottest writers right now and 4001 A.D. #1 is no exception. Despite much of 4001 A.D. #1 being a set-up issue, Kindt doesn’t let that stop him from crafting a pretty compelling narrative that clearly establishes Father as a monster of sorts. His pacing is very deliberate throughout the issue, methodically moving along with Lula and Rai as they struggle to survive in the new world Father is creating. And that world is terrifying, reflecting a very dystopian take on society that animes such as Psycho-Pass trade in where the benefits of the many outweigh the few. The dialogue exchanges between characters exemplify this too, with some characters seemingly more aware of the impending disaster as such while others view it as a necessity.

The artwork by Crain and Mack is very sleek and modern-looking. The duo does a fantastic job of capturing a pervasive sense of technophobia throughout the issue that blends perfectly with the script itself. The appearance of Father in contrast to another character like Lula is pretty stark and reinforced when Crain and Mack get the chance to illustrate New Japan literally falling apart. All the characters are very emotive and bear photo-realistic qualities to them that offer another layer of sophistication to the issue. And the colors are extremely moody throughout, with Crain and Mack relying on blues and pinks that remind the reader of the technological aspects of the book.

4001 A.D. #1 is a pretty brilliant first issue. The marriage between organic and robotic entities is handled pretty flawlessly, crafting a world that’s easily believable as one on the brink of being torn apart. It’s something Kindt uses masterfully to really establish the stakes of the series and help set the tone for remainder of the series. The artwork by Crain and Mack is atmospheric in a way that feels hauntingly realistic in some ways. 4001 A.D. #1 is setting up Valiant Universe to have a big, big summer and it’s off to a great start.

4001 A.D. #1 is in stores now.

Mae #1


2

“Shooting stop signs: the sport of kings!”

Finding a portal to a new world brings with it equal parts wonder and terror. Sure, there may be really cool things on the other side, but not all of those things may have your best interests at heart. Having someone on this side to defend from the horrors of the other side is always good and Dark Horse Comics has plenty of good in Mae #1. The issue is written and illustrated by Gene Ha, color assists by Rose McClain, and letters by Zander Cannon.

When she was just a girl, Abbie discovered a portal to a fantasy world and for the last couple of years has been having great adventures there defeating horrible monsters, power-mad scientists, and evil nobles. She was a celebrated action hero! But when she turned 21, it all came apart and she decided to return home. Her sister, Mae, has had no idea what happened to Abbie all this time. Her tales are too hard to believe; that is, until the monsters and other terrible creatures start to cross over to our world…

There’s been a push recently to merge high fantasy with reality and Mae #1 is another entrant in that genre; this time, it comes courtesy of Ha himself. Most of Mae #1 is written as a set-up issue, introducing the reader to sisters Abbie and Mae and Dahlia and the crazy situations that Abbie is about to introduce them to. Ha paces the issue very well in this regard, moving the plot along at a tempo that starts off slow but picks up speed by the end of the issue. There’s enough of a fantasy hook prevalent by the end of the issue as well that will definitely pique the reader’s interest and it’s clear that Ha is drawing upon better-known works such as Wizard of Oz for inspiration. The dialogue feels pretty easygoing as well, contributing to a lighthearted approach overall that feels appropriate for the book.

Ha’s artwork is photorealistic in many regards. He illustrates the characters with very bold lines that make them stand out that much more, but he also manages to give them striking silhouettes against other backgrounds that don’t count on those thick lines. Every character is illustrated with a definite sense of purpose that gives their bodies a sense of heft. The settings are pretty simplistic, but they still fit with the small-town vibe that the comic is going for. The colors by Ha and McClain are pretty dark and do their part to differentiate Abbie and Mae, for instance, who are clearly from two different worlds.

Mae #1 is a very interesting first issue that doesn’t really tread new ground per se but is still enjoyable nonetheless. Abbie and Mae are sisters who come from different backgrounds and their worlds will likely collide in ways they don’t expect. Ha’s script is energetic and bears all the hallmarks of a great fantasy adventure tale. The illustrations by Ha are also up to the task of giving the book some fantasy credibility, thanks to characters who feel real enough – especially when chasing munchkins. Mae #1 is a lot of fun and definitely worth picking up.

Mae #1 is in stores May 18.

Hyper Force Neo #1


3

“Yo there! As you can see, I’m just a little over my head here. It’s been the craziest week of my life. Let me explain.”

High school is hard enough without having to contend with the responsibility of maintaining a mech suit that’s been assigned to you for protecting the planet. That still manages to become and extracurricular activity for some students, though, and Dean is one of those students. His trials and tribulations are on display in Hyper Force Neo #1 from Z2 Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Jarrett Williams and colored by Jeremy Lawson.

It’s the year 21XX and Dean Masters is off to his first day of 9th grade. But unbeknownst to him, Dean will become the leader of Hyper Force Neo, a super-secret group of techie-teens who pilot massive Neo Mechs to defend the planet!

The story is pretty simple and Williams does a great job of making its protagonist Dean someone you want to root for. He’s just a kid struggling with attending New Sigma High School and dealing with all the requisite things that come along with that – in fact, most of the issue is Williams focusing on a day in the life of Dean. At its core, the story is pretty standard fare as far as what’s going on, but Williams really makes it feel different through the use of plenty of narrative in some pretty inventive ways. Williams throws anything and everything at the reader in a way that’s effectively bombast for the reader’s mind, asking them to reconcile a lot going on and keep up. In that regard, Williams script feels sufficiently fast-paced and adventurous, both traits that ensure there’s always a lot going on.

Mirroring the frenetic pace of the script is Williams’ artwork. On many pages, the artwork is completely overwhelming, in that there’s so much visually to take in that it becomes a little too much. Williams’ linework is very appropriate for the work itself as it emphasizes a very loose style that provides a Saturday morning cartoon feel to the action. Having said that, there’s almost always too much action to really appreciate what’s going on in the book – Williams is pretty much moving the reader’s eyes across the pages so fast that it’s dizzying. Lawson’s colors are bright and pop, but they also contribute to the sensory overload as well.

Hyper Force Neo #1 is definitely geared to be an all-ages comic whose underpinnings are familiar to just about anyone who is or ever has been a youth. Dean is a reluctant hero tasked with massive responsibilities and how he copes with those is the crux of series. Williams does a pretty solid job of making the story feel less cookie-cutter with relatively snappy dialogue and interesting storytelling conventions. His artwork is organized chaos in a way and is actually pretty good, but there’s just a lot going on visually on every page to fully appreciate the talent. Hyper Force Neo #1 clocks in at a larger size for the first issue and if you can manage to make your way through it without getting lost in the artwork you’ll find a pretty amusing story.

Hyper Force Neo #1 is available now.


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