Indie Comics Spotlight

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Indie Comics Spotlight

By Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

To A Pulp #1


pulp

“And he’s just the latest one, Atlas.”

Heroes rise and fall. Villains rise and fall. It’s pretty clear what they have in common. To A Pulp from Pantheon Comics delves a little deeper into both sides of the parallel. The issue is written by Bobby Simpson and J. Luke Pham, illustrated by George Kambadias, colored by Simpson, and lettered by Micah Myers.

The last two surviving members of a pantheon of superheroes work together to solve it.

The tale crafted by Simpson and Pham reads a lot like the big reveal after a whodunnit. The duo decided to catch the reader up to speed in retrospect, relying on the interaction between Atlas and Argos, the two remaining superheroes. The formation of the group (and the heroes within it) is similar to that of the Justice League and it’s pretty apparent that Simpson and Pham are offering more than just a passing resemblance. The issue progresses via Argos informing Atlas about how the other superheroes met their death, all while Argos insinuates something more sinister at play. The pacing of the issue actually makes for a pretty heady reveal at the end, effectively capitalizing on the reader’s likely preconceived notion of what the characters stand for based on their resemblance to other, more popular characters.

The unique artwork in To A Pulp is extremely rudimentary, but it adds a certain level of sophistication to the proceedings. It’s very much a style that emphasizes the characters with simplistic outlines and little detail, yet Kambadias ensures that each character emotes perfectly. Each character does have a look that comic book fans will definitely recognize as “inspired,” but that does add to the overall enjoyment of the book. There’s also some jumping back and forth between empty gutters and full-page spreads, the latter of which helps further characterize both Atlas and Argos in an almost operatic way. Simpson’s colors are primary and basic in a way that doesn’t distract the reader.

To A Pulp #1 wears its comic influences on its sleeve like a badge of honor and respect. There’s an interesting cliffhanger that the creators could use as a launching point for a further series, even if it is something of a daunting task to keep things interesting. Simpson and Pham’s dialogue is equal parts universe-building and expository, working in a way that gives the reader enough information to keep them informed without telling them everything. Kambadias’ illustrations are clean and simple, working very effectively at showcasing the fall of the superheroes. To A Pulp #1 is a great first issue that may be obvious with its inspirations, but does so in a somewhat cheeky and reverential way.

To A Pulp #1 is available now on Comixology.

Agent 1.22 #0


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“Assimilating the human concept of parenting is a complex process…but I am learning.”

One day our android overlords will enslave us. Until that day, though, there’s the potential for the androids for serve and protect. Those stories are pretty interesting in their own right and DMP Publishing has one in Agent 1.22 #0. The issue is written by Stephen Nilson and Drew Garber, illustrated by Douglas Shuler, layouts by Garber and Shuler, and lettered by Charles Pritchett.

Cyborg operative Agent 1.22 is an emissary of T.E.R.R.A, cryogenically preserved in deep sleep between assignments. When external communication is lost with Fortress DX-B Biotech Facility, agent 1.22’s MotherShip S.S. Mnemosyne proceeds to the third moon of Pandora 5 to discover the fate of the facility and its staff.

Agent 1.22 #0 does an exceptional job of setting up the atmosphere primarily through narrative dialogue only. Nilson and Garber tell the tale through narrative dialogue with a little bit of spoken dialogue mixed in for good measure. Despite the fantastic atmosphere, there’s something of a vagueness in the story that makes it feel somewhat limited. Agent 1.22 is clearly good at her role, but her role is a little hazy. Nilson and Garber have her showing off a variety of combat skills against an array of enemies, yet her motivations for doing so seem to be nothing more than a training exercise of sorts. It’s possible that Nilson and Garber are positioning Agent 1.22 #0 as a primer for the character, in which case future issues will give her more of a story.

Shuler does a marvelous job illustrating Agent 1.22 and the claustrophobic environment very well. Agent 1.22 has a photorealistic quality about her that gives her presence more weight on the pages and helps to liven up the combat scenes. The spaceship and explosions therein are lifelike, with Shuler emphasizing the action with a variety of colors. The panel layouts eschew standard grids for more interactive layouts, where some pages have panels inset and others have extensive overlays. At times it can feel a little busy, but generally it adds to the overall frenetic pace of Agent 1.22 making her way through the ship.

Agent 1.22 #0 is an ambitious issue that introduces the reader to a new character in a completely isolated setting. It’s not the first work of fiction to do so, but the issue does an exceptional job of setting up a very tense environment. Nilson and Garber manage to make the story feel compelling even though it’s essentially all stream of conscious on the part of Agent 1.22. Shuler’s illustrations are very slick and feel realistic. Agent 1.22 #0 is a strong issue that fans of the isolation in Alien will want to check out, only without having to worry about anyone hearing them scream.

Agent 1.22 #0 is available now.

Lone Wolf 2100 #1


lone

“Steady. Be brave.”

An android is a good friend to have. They blend together some aspects of both humans and robots, creating a being that can be sympathetic at points and calculating at others. Relying on an android at the end of the world is something else entirely though, yet that’s what Dark Horse Comics is doing in Lone Wolf 2100 #1. The issue is written by Eric Heisserer, illustrated by Miguel Sepulveda, and colored by Javier Mena.

AD 2100: A devastating manmade plague is turning the human race into cannibalistic monsters known as the Thrall. But there is hope: young Daisy Ogami’s blood holds the secret to a cure—if Itto, her android protector, can get her to a place where it can be extracted!

Apocalypse tales are becoming a dime a dozen, but Lone Wolf 2100 #1 feels a little different. Heisserer spends most of the issue getting the reader up to speed on the events that have gotten the world to the point at which it is seen. He jumps back and forth between past and present in an effort to further expound upon that setting, presenting Itto as a somewhat non-traditional last man on Earth. It’s clear through Itto’s actions and the dialogue of others that Daisy Ogami is pretty important, but Heisserer doesn’t let the reader in on why exactly. It’s to read Lone Wolf 2100 #1 and not think about I Am Legend, but Heisserer does manage to make the book feel a little fresher.

Sepulveda’s illustrations have manga flairs peppered throughout. The Thrall look to be a cross between vampires and goblins, but there’s really no incidents that make them out to be savage creatures. Sepulveda does manage to populate quite a few panels with a ton of the Thrall, which does reinforce their imposing nature by sheer numbers alone (if by nothing else). Some of the flashback scenes have a science feel to them, as Sepulveda illustrates the explanations as to how to deal with the outbreak with a rudimentary approach. The colors by Mena are largely blues and reds, with Itto’s red cloak cutting against the pale blue Thrall.

Lone Wolf 2100 #1 is an interesting adaptation that blends its manga influences with a more apparent comic book approach. The issue gives the reader plenty of context for respecting Itto’s ability, but there are other mysteries that are left, well, mysterious. Heisserer’s script is pretty straightforward and lays out all the facts of the series without really giving the reader anything of substance (aside from a cliffhanger). Sepulveda’s illustrations are concise and effectively handle the action. Lone Wolf 2100 #1 blends together aspects of various pandemic tales in a way that feels like it has different stakes.

Lone Wolf 2100 #1 is in stores January 6.


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