Indie Comics Spotlight (8/2/17)


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #1



“Have mercy on us.”


The B.P.R.D. is an organization tasked with protecting the world from monsters. More often than not the group prevails, even if it’s a tough battle. In B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #1 from Dark Horse Comics, the stakes might be higher than ever. The issue is written by Mike Mignola and Scott Allie, illustrated by Laurence Campbell and colored by Dave Stewart.


Before they were vanquished by the BPRD, Lovecraftian monsters created a Hell on Earth. Now Liz Sherman leads a crew through monster-infested ruins on the most important rescue mission of her life. As society tries to rebuild, strange cults vie for influence, and a demon emerges to lead the way…


As soon as B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #1 begins, Mignola and Allie let the reader know that there are still monsters out there and the B.P.R.D. is needed to put up a fight. In that regard, the script is very straightforward in that it showcases Liz Sherman and her crew putting up a fight to protect Earth. On the back-end of the issue though, Mignola and Allie offer up the potential of a new big bad who could be pretty intense to square off against the B.P.R.D. down the road. Mignola and Allie pace the issue very well in letting the events develop pretty organically. There’s a scant amount of dialogue throughout as much of the action carries things, but the dialogue that is there is very succinct in its approach.


Campbell’s artwork is fantastic throughout the issue. His style blends together the ferocity of the monsters with the otherwordly sensibilities of the B.P.R.D. itself. Campbell relies on heavy linework to emphasize those monsters, but what’s interesting is his use of perspective as he focuses on different parts of the shots. For instance, one shot shows a character in the foreground depicted with heavy shading and somewhat vague while the monster looming the background feels more detailed. Stewart’s colors further embellish this effect, providing hues that wash out the artwork in a way that gives the book a post-apocalyptic tone.

B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #1 is another strong entry in the B.P.R.D. universe that gives its characters plenty of room. Liz Sherman is more than capable of leading the charge against monsters, although there’s a vile partnership brewing that may be extremely difficult to contend with. Mignola and Allie partner together on a script that feels like a B.P.R.D. tale and takes its time to unfold. The artwork by Campbell is gritty and fits with the tone of the book extraordinarily well. B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #1 is a great read that’s definitely worth your time as it shows off a great story and some great art.


B.P.R.D.: The Devil You Know #1 is available now.


Bettie Page #1



“…but I always leap without looking.”


Bettie Page needs really no introduction as her exploits are very well-known at this point. In Bettie Page #1, Dynamite Comics is delving into a side of Bettie Page that many people may not have thought of when considering her. The issue is written by David Avallone, illustrated by Colton Worley and lettered by Taylor Esposito.


She’s more modest than Ms. Blaise, but peels more than Ms. Emma. She out-vamps Vampirella, but she’s sweeter than Honey West. She put the mod in model, and the bangs in bang-bang. Now the world can know the truth: her classified adventures back in 1951 Hollywood have been declassified.


Bettie Page is an icon, but Avallone seeks to make her something more. His approach in Bettie Page #1 is to make her something of a spy of sorts, clearly capable of holding her own in just about any situation. The script for the issue is a romp and Avallone presents Betty with a sharp wit and fiery personality. The way the issue is paced makes it feel pretty self-contained as there’s a clear resolution by the end of the issue. Avallone also makes the book feel very relevant to the time of its setting through language that feels foreign nowadays, but it really helps set the context of the issue very well.


It’s a tall task rendering Betty Page, but Worley is definitely up to it. There are a few instances where Worley showcases her figure, but for most of the issue she’s shown as extremely athletic and a firebrand. Worley uses a very heavy ink style that lends a photo-realistic weight to the illustrations and providing an appropriate context for the type of pin-up reputation Page achieved. Panels are also effective in reinforcing a camera motif as Worley mixes in a variety of square and circle panels to emphasize certain events much in the way a camera focuses on a shot. The book feels predominantly dark in terms of the colors, the darkest of which is Page’s raven black hair.


Bettie Page #1 is a pretty slick take on an industry legend. Bettie is more than just a pretty face, always ready with a retort and not one to readily back down from a confrontation. Avallone’s script is adventurous and gives Bettie plenty of opportunity to show off her intellectual assets. Worley’s artwork is gorgeous and a nice throwback to an era when Page was all the rage. Bettie Page #1 is a fun read that gives the reader a new perspective on the title character.


Bettie Page #1 is available now.

TMNT Usagi Yojimbo #1



”Get him! He’s only one guy!”


Usagi Yojimbo is a legend among both samurai and rabbits. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a legend among both ninjas and turtles. Group them together as in TMNT Usagi Yojimbo #1 from IDW Comics and you’ve got plenty of legend to go around. The issue is written and illustrated by Stan Sakai and colored by Tom Luth.


The TMNT are teleported to a world of talking animals-the world of Usagi Yojimbo! When the samarai rabbit embarks on a quest to save Japan and the deadly Jei blocks his path, a Turtle team-up may be the only chance for survival!


Sakai knows how to make a Usagi Yojimbo story work and that knowledge is extremely handy in his approach to TMNT Usagi Yojimbo #1. His script develops naturally, showcasing Usagi’s talents before introducing the Turtles into the fold and funneling the entire narrative through Splinter. The true talent of Usagi and the Turtles is their combat prowess and Sakai leans heavily on that to keep the pace of the issue fast. Splinter provides much of the expository dialogue–explaining to the reader the stakes–while the others work in their various takes on the situation. And Jei is made out to be quite a formidable opponent, prompting some pretty epic battles along the way.


Sakai’s style is gorgeous in its own way. Usagi’s billowing robes follow him through sword-swings, Splinter’s face contorts when summoning the Turtles and the Turtles themselves sport lean physiques. Just about every page features a battle, giving Sakai plenty of opportunity to flex his muscles in terms of illustrating gorgeous fight scenes. There are two particularly stunning double-page spreads that showcase all the key players in the throes of combat, emphasizing how gracious they are in combat. And Luth’s colors provide an appropriate level of oomph to the book, giving the book a throwback look of sorts.


TMNT Usagi Yojimbo #1 is a fantastic read that pays homage to great characters. Usagi and the Turtles always make for a great team-up and their talents are on full display in the issue. Sakai’s script is evenly paced and blends in plenty of action. Sakai’s artwork is familiar yet effective in showcasing all the combat. TMNT Usagi Yojimbo #1 is a lot of fun and hits everything it aims to be.


TMNT Usagi Yojimbo #1 is available now.

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