Indie Comics Spotlight: Aero-Girl, Midnight Society, Psycho Bonkers

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

The Adventures of Aero-Girl #1

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“The criminal mind is a confusing thing. What we need to focus on is wrapping this up quickly and quietly. I promised your mom we’d be home in 10 minutes.”

The family dynamic is consistent on only one thing: that it’s called a family dynamic. Families vary in how they interact within said family, largely owing to how the parents were raised when they were kids. Not many families can say though that they have to contend with being a superhero, which adds another layer of intricacy to the family dynamic. That intricacy is on full display in The Adventures of Aero-Girl #1 from Action Lab Entertainment. The issue is written by DeWayne Feenstra, illustrated by Axur Eneas, colored by Juan Pablo Riebeling and lettered by Adam Wollet.

As Aero-Girl, Jacqueline Mackenzie is the protector of Foxbay. As the sidekick to Battle Jack, her father, her life couldn’t be any better; but tragedy is just around the corner! Will she be ready to defend her city against the evil of Dr. Chimera and his army of AniMen? Can Aero-Girl be the hero she (and her father) always dreamed of being? 

From the outset, The Adventures of Aero-Girl #1 feels like an episode that would be the start of a series based on The Incredibles. Feenstra’s portrayal of the relationship between Jacqueline and her father is one filled with love and admiration, which helps to play into the reveal at the end. Much of the issue in fact focuses on defining the parent-child love shared by the two of them, only to use it as a mechanism for adding gravity to the final page. Because of Feenstra’s approach, the majority of the dialogue acts as narrative, filling the reader in on why Jacqueline and her father do the job they do, day in and day out. As far as superhero stories go, Feenstra has done a pretty great job of makingThe Adventures of Aero-Girl #1 accessible to readers of all-ages as well, despite the somewhat nefarious nature of Dr. Chimera.

The Adventures of Aero-Girl #1 is infused with artwork by Eneas that’s simple, yet demonstrates exaggerated physiques. Characters present a very cartoonish appearance that reminds the reader that despite the high-stake nature of the confrontation, the book won’t get too mature in displaying combat. Character physiology is almost childish in presentation, which undersells the quality of work Eneas put into illustrating the book. Battle Jack looks very similar to Mr. Incredible himself, whereas Jacqueline looks like a character you would expect from a Cartoon Network show. Riebeling’s colors are fairly dark throughout and even though they manage to display some vividness at points, it’s an odd choice to go darker in a book such as this. 

The Adventures of Aero-Girl #1 is a book that takes offers a dramatic view of a seemingly innocuous relationship between father and daughter. That view gains the drama in the fact that the two family members are superheroes, but the complexity does make for compelling reading. Feenstra’s script is pretty evenly paced and hits all the right notes for the tale it’s trying to tell. Eneas’ illustrations are very approachable by readers of all ages. The Adventures of Aero-Girl #1 is an all-ages comic that presents the complexities of being a father (and daughter) superhero masked by the sheer joy of being superheroes.

The Adventures of Aero-Girl #1 is in stores now.


Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1

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“That was it! Just like you said! You said it would be here–and there it is!”

Treasure hunters are always conflicted about their finds. Some want to keep them as trophies, whereas others are adamant that relics belong in a museum. Amazing finds inspire even more amazing reactions, even if those actions have consequences as they do in Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Drew Edward Johnson, colored by Lizzy John and lettered by Steve Dutro.

Forty years ago, England’s greatest adventurers cast aside their friendship, making a choice that would come to haunt humanity. Now, secret agent Matilda Finn will face the consequences of that choice as she aids in a frantic rescue operation at Scotland’s Loch Ness, where something terrible is waiting to draw her into the fight of her life.

Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 opens with a fairy-tale bang, as two explorers are seeking out a mythical creature using scientific means of doing so. The exchange between the two explorers is an interesting one, as it hinges on the concept that scientists should be observers and not interfere with naturally occurring behaviors. There’s an old-school, science-fiction feel to the book as well, with Johnson affording the characters a creative mix of technology and science in their explorations. The somewhat fanciful opening immediately sets a pulp tone for the story that is furthered by the introduction of Matilda and her mission. In tackling one of history’s most storied fables, Matilda is forced to reconcile her ability as an investigator with the things that go bump in the night.

One of the main reasons that the book feels the way it does is Johnson’s artistic approach, which imbues the panels with plenty of detail. Each character boasts an intricate level of attention that focuses on the smallest of features in a way that makes them feel more alive. Panels all seem to be filled with action; for instance, there’s one panel where a group is going over a plan and every person is doing some unique action. There’s plenty of action throughout the book as well, which Johnson renders cleanly and in a way that always seems to surprise the reader. John does a great job on colors, imbuing the book with an abundance of darker shading to accent the seemingly mysterious nature of the characters and their professions.

Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 is a fun first issue that revels in its pulp nature. Matilda is tasked with investigating something known the world over and–despite her relative experience–will still be forced to adapt. Johnson’s plot is evenly presented and the dialogue delves into some rather interesting issues when it comes to scientific observation. Further, Johnson successfully blends together reality and fantasy in a way that would make Mike Mignola and creators in the Hellboyuniverse proud. Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 is a strong first issue that blends archaeologist sensibilities with hunting mythical creatures.

Midnight Society: The Black Lake #1 is in stores now.


Psycho Bonkers #1

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“I’ll be fine. Just take your foot off my brake.”

It’s never easy being the latest in a legacy family. The expectations to perform are hoisted upon future generations solely based on what their lineage did before them. It’s a gift and a curse, but it generally leads to talented individuals. Individuals such as Shine in Psycho Bonkers #1from Aspen Comics. The issue is written by Vince Hernandez, illustrated by Adam Archer, colored by Federico Blee and lettered by Josh Reed.

Crack the speed barrier wide open in this thrilling new adventure that redefines what it means to go full throttle. Join Shine, a young but unyielding teenage girl, as she races to find the true story behind the tragedy that wrecked her family, and shattered the sport of Bonk Racing to its core. Along with her trusted technician, Gabbo, and her sentient Bonk Racer, Shiza, she will discover that learning the truth about her future is as dangerous as the tragic past she is trying to forget. 

Out of the gate, it’s clear that Psycho Bonkers #1 is meant to add the emotion of Speed Racer into a run on tracks in Mario Kart. Hernandez has loaded the first issue with tons of backstory and context, both for Shine as a racer and Shine as a daughter/granddaughter. On the one hand, the issue is pretty heady, as Shine comes from a family with a mark of disgrace applied to it as a result of her father’s decisions. On the other hand, the issue feels airy in some ways, as Shine races through tracks that are ridiculously conceived and test her mettle as a racer. Hernandez does a pretty good job blending the two together in a way that either becomes too overbearing.

While the book itself is meant to be all-ages, Archer’s illustrative style feels a little more mature. Shine (and all the characters) are illustrated with anime sensibilities that give them clean, defined physiques subject to exaggerated expressions of emotion. Shine herself is the most expressive, relying on a pixie-like appearance as a means of softening the drama of the plot. Archer has a good handle on rendering the frenetic energy that comes with a race, as well as depicting some pretty crazy looking tracks that appear to challenge only the finest racers. Blee’s colors are dominated by the red of Shine’s race car, standing out amidst a variety of other colors that further set the stage.

Psycho Bonkers #1 is an all-ages book that will appeal to readers young and old. There’s a lot of superfluous action in terms of the racing, but then there’s also a rather complex relationship between Shine and her father that only they seem to understand. Hernandez pens a script that’s equal parts present and flashbacks, giving the reader a lot of information regarding Shine’s abilities as a racer and her relative popularity. Archer’s illustrations are vibrant and give the book a light feel, ensuring that the racing aspects don’t get bogged down by the family strife. Psycho Bonkers #1 is a book that aspires to be more fun than it actually is, but that’s more a testament to its desire to be something more than a thoughtless racing book.

Psycho Bonkers #1 is in stores now.


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