Indie Comics Spotlight

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Clandestino #1


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“I have no name. They just call me…Clandestino.”

Revolutions have a way of upending the status quo–for better or for worse. In the case of the American Revolution for instance, the American colonial settlers fought to be their own entity, which many (Americans at least) would argue for the better. In the case ofClandestino #1 from Dark Circle Comics though, revolutions don’t always end so happily. The issue is written and illustrated by Amancay Nahuelpan.

The country of Tairona became a no man’s land after the military coup. Guerrillas were formed across the lands, and rebels unified against the dictator to resist the regime. The hopes of many lay on Clandestino, who barely escaped from the military attacks as a child, and was then recruited by the rebel forces, to later lead the revolution against the dictator.

Nahuelpan spends most of the first issue painting a picture of the world Clandestino is forced to adapt to; it’s a world that essentially created Clandestino in the process of being created. Clandestino himself boasts plenty of familiar, machismo characteristics, the most notable of which is a blatant disregard for personal safety stemming from a supreme well of confidence. His ability as a revolutionary is quickly making him a legend, which plays as the perfect foil to the more rigid tactics being taken by the dictator in power. Nahuelpan focuses primarily on Clandestino’s vendetta against the dictator as the driving force behind the book. There are a lot of gaps in Clandestino’s history as the first issue jumps around quite a bit, but it’s likely that Nahuelpan will delve into some of those gaps in future issues.

Doubling down on the art, Nahuelpan isn’t shy about makingClandestino #1 an intense, graphic comic. Characters in this book are subject to all manner of violence, evidenced most clearly in the opening few pages where Clandestino lays waste to a group of marauders. Nahuelpan fills each panel with an intricate level of detail, from meticulous placement of shattered glass to the dense foliage of a jungle. There are also some interesting panel layouts and arrangements that help the story, the most notable of which is a giant gun-shaped panel slicing through the middle of a particularly violent page. Nahuelpan’s reliance on a somewhat muted color palette gives the book a dusty feel in line with the setting of the story itself.

Clandestino #1 is unapologetic about its characters and events, which is a good thing. The main character Clandestino isn’t shy about fighting what he feels is right and doing so in a way that’s the very definition of no-holds barred. Nahuelpan presents a character and story working in tandem in the first issue, setting the table for future issues to work from in further building out both. His artwork is gritty yet particular, paying attention to minute details while characters interact with one another in violent ways. Clandestino #1 is a solid first issue that offers the potential to get a lot more interesting as it progresses.

Clandestino #1 is in stores now.

Back to the Future #1


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“Great Scott…”

Very few outside of time-travelers have any need for a DeLorean with a Mr. Fusion attached to it. There are some who find such an apparatus useful and one of those is Doc Brown from Back to the FutureBack to the Future #1 from IDW Publishing shines the light on the doctor himself. “When Marty Met Emmett” is written by Bob Gale, illustrated by Brent Schoonover, inked by David Witt, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick and lettered by Shawn Lee. “Looking for a Few Good Scientists” is written by Erik Burnham, illustrated by Dan Schoening, colored by Luis Antonio Delgado and lettered by Lee.

Take a trip back to 1985 and be there when Doc Brown and Marty McFly first meet, and then jump even farther back, to 1945, to witness Doc’s involvement in the super-secret Manhattan Project.

Back to the Future has maintained a prominence since it first debuted decades ago, largely owing to the comedic interactions amongst its characters. Both Gale and Burnham ensure those exchanges maintain that sense of humor in Back to the Future #1, as the book keeps dialogue that’s familiar. The first story is a telling of how Marty and Doc Brown actually met, which is welcome considering the unlikeliness of their pairing in the first film. The second looks more at Doc Brown’s history as a “mad scientist” of sorts, reaching back to his higher education days. The fascinating thing about the entire book is how Marty and Doc are presented as almost complete opposites. Gale characterizes Doc as somewhat of a feared mad scientist while Marty keeps up the down-on-his-luck schtick; Burnham gives Doc more in the way of sheer intelligence.

While the two tales keep a constant thread in terms of looking at Doc Brown, the two stories don’t have many similarities in terms of art style. Schoonover’s approach in “When Marty Met Emmett” is much more whimsical, with the characters demonstrating expressions that are blatantly over-the-top. Witt and Fitzpatrick accent the eccentric style with primary colors and bold outlines defining characters. Schoening’s work in “Looking for a Few Good Scientists” by contrast is much cleaner and sleeker. Delgado’s colors fill the world with a sense of intellect befitting of a group of scientists. Neither style really strays too far from the general lighthearted tone of the stories they’re illustrating.

Back to the Future #1 keeps the tone of the films running strong. Both stories fit perfectly within the Back to the Future universe and fill in some of the gaps that none of the three movies really tapped into. Gale and Burnham do great jobs with both of their stories, each of which really give more attention to Doc Brown. The artwork across both stories is entertaining and continues the feel-good approach taken by the movies. Back to the Future #1 will be worth checking out for fans of the movies looking to delve more deeply into the mythology behind the time-traveling DeLorean.

Back to the Future #1 is in stores now.

Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1


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“Did he for real fight a giant robot?”

The issue is written by Robert Venditti, illustrated by Clayton Henry, colored by Andrew Dalhouse and lettered by Dave Sharpe.

The Book of the Geomancer foretells of a deadly future for the Valiant Universe… but what if the future holds hope for one powerful hero? After hundreds of years in exile on an alien planet, Aric of Dacia has returned to an unfamiliar Earth, only to find a planet that doesn’t remember… or want him. Will Aric of Dacia fi nally find happiness in the aftermath of the apocalypse?

As the bedrock of the Valiant Universe, X-O Manowar has always been something of a larger than life figure for the Valiant universe–a reputation Venditti capitalizes on for Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1. The issue is primarily a reverence of Aric of Dacia and his role as the one chosen by the X-O Manowar armor, with two different audiences paying their respects. Venditti does a great job of balancing both entities focused on X-O Manowar, where the Vine arrive to a somewhat mundane event with Aric’s legacy at the center. And for as much as the issue spends revering X-O Manowar, at the same time it provides valuable insights into his latter days as his reign as X-O Manowar and even the seemingly impossible decisions he had to face at that time. The dialogue exchanges help bridge the past and present quite cleanly, with Venditti’s style effectively offering narration of the events that feels natural.

There’s a clear familiarity with Aric of Dacia in his appearance, courtesy of Henry’s working knowledge of the character. The X-O Manowar armor looks organic and reflects the age of the bearer well, as evidenced by Henry’s portrayal of a broken down Aric. When the armor is passed onto the next recipient, Henry reinforces its look with the requisite characteristics of strength and sleekness that come with the armor. It’s a great visual contrast for the sake of offering readers a look at the armor at various points in time. Delhouse’s vivid colors give the book the feel of a bright countryside, bolstering Aric’s claim as a genuinely well-liked and respected hero.

Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1 is a title that buries the lede in some respects. Readers will likely expect a book where X-O Manowar is part of a brutal, violent battle, but instead it plays out as more of a “this is your life” format, but it works really well. Venditti offers the two “competing” affections as a means of paying respects to X-O Manowar for all the good he did as the hero in the armor, both of which bring with them various forms of respect. Henry’s artwork is clean and simple, yet effectively demonstrates that even time catches up to the greatest of heroes. Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1 is a great book that fits within the Valiant Universe and gives readers a glimpse into those who are worthy to bear the X-O Manowar armor.

Book of Death: The Fall of Manowar #1 is in stores now.


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