Indie Comics Spotlight: Bounty #1, The Joyners #1, and Tales from the Dark Side #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Bounty #1


“I am very aware that unlocking the full mystery of the Gadflies will take some effort.”

Being a bounty hunter has its excitement, but that excitement is amplified if you’re a bounty hunter in space. It’s not all glitz and glamour though, as there’s a grind that has to be endured in order to make a living in space. Bounty #1 from Dark Horse Comics attempts to lighten the load of that grind. The issue is written by Kurtis Wiebe, illustrated by Mindy Lee, colored by Leonardo Olea (backup colors by Andy Cotnam), and lettered by Nate Piekos.

The Gadflies were the most wanted criminals in the galaxy-robbing corporations to redistribute wealth to the destitute. Now, with a bounty to match their reputation, the Gadflies are forced to abandon banditry for a career as bounty hunters…’cause if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em – then rob ’em blind!

There’s always been a certain romanticism associated with being space outlaws/bounty hunters (think Cowboy Bebop or Firefly) and Wiebe taps into that roguish mentality in Bounty #1. The Gadflies are every bit as cocksure and capable as one would expect from such characters and Wiebe lets their personality dictate the reactions of those around them. Wiebe relies on the first half of the book to essentially introduce the reader to the Gadflies and their reputation before shifting gears and bringing the reader into the book’s present. It’s a really effective way of setting up the backstory for the characters and their way going forward with Wiebe pacing things beautifully along the way. The dialogue is extremely entertaining throughout and reflects the aforementioned roguish mentality.

Lee’s artwork is very crisp and bold. A good portion of the book boasts plenty of action and fighting sequences where Lee illustrates the characters moving around quite fluidly. Each character has a look that feels like a great fit for science fiction and Lee even throws in a nod to Samus Aran in terms of how she illustrates Nina as a reformed bounty hunter. The artwork in general has a very refined sheen to it that makes it feel extremely slick. Olea’s colors further accent that slickness, with a color palette that’s bright and vivid, making every page pop.

Bounty #1 is a really solid, fun book. The Gadflies are notorious throughout the galaxy and aren’t shy about letting people know that, but their new career direction is a shock to their system in many ways. Wiebe’s script is a very loose – yet effective – approach in terms of setting up the universe, refusing to take itself too seriously. Lee’s illustrations are very entertaining and infuse the book with a sense of kineticism that’s befitting of athletic bounty hunters. Bounty #1 is a top-notch first issue that hits all the right notes while introducing readers to a fun universe.

Bounty #1 is in stores July 6.

The Joyners #1


“One big family…one big family of killing machines.”

Divorce is never an easy topic to discuss, but it affects a rather large number of families throughout the world. The reasons for a divorce can be many and it’s all too common for one partner to devote themselves entirely to something else at the expense of the marriage. The Joyners #1 from BOOM! Studios is about one such family. The issue is written by R.J. Ryan, illustrated by David Marquez, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, and lettered by Jon Adams.

In mid-21st-century Northern California, prosperous technology executive George Joyner stands on the brink of revolutionizing life in America (again) with his latest high-flying invention. But just as business booms, George’s private life begins to implode, with devastating consequences for his wife Sonya, their children Rochester and Michelle, and Sonya’s ailing father, David.

There’s a palpable sense of despair in The Joyners #1 that pervades all the interactions among the characters. Ryan’s script is very biting in an emotional way, offering George Joyner as a man who is wildly successful in one aspect of his life, yet something of a failure in the other parts. It’s a very common occurrence nowadays and Ryan’s dialogue captures that sentiment exceptionally well. And George is definitely the main character throughout the book as Ryan uses his viewpoint to carry the narrative. Ryan definitely focused on the interplay in The Joyners #1 and it’s that interplay that really propels the narrative to great heights.

The artwork in The Joyners #1 is extremely crisp and concise. Marquez infuses characters with exaggerated facial expressions that effectively convey the emotion throughout the book. It’s that simplicity that makes the book feel more futuristic than it has any right to be and Marquez successfully marries a modern sensibility to looks that are slightly advanced. It’s almost like the look that The Jetsons favored for so many years with Marquez focusing on the relatively sleek appearances to convey a pioneering future. The colors are also relatively simple as Fitzpatrick provides an elegant touch to the artwork.

The Joyners #1 is a fantastic book that is really about the family dynamic, but pitched under the guise of being on the cutting-edge of technology. George Joyner is a brilliant individual who can’t see the forest for the trees and it will cost him dearly. Ryan’s script is very methodical and offers a deliberate pacing that allows things to unfold without rush. The artwork by Marquez is very crisp and refined, lending the book a certain sophistication. The Joyners #1 is a strong first issue that sets both George Joyner and the reader up for an emotional gut-punch as things get worse for the former.

The Joyners #1 is in stores now.

Tales from the Dark Side #1


“Ever have that feeling that you’re sleepwalking through your life? Floating from one moment to the next without any real consequences or purpose?”

Our decisions define us. Whether we’re generous or stingy, naughty or nice, it all plays a part in how we act and people react to us. Sometimes it takes something otherworldly to change us and that something happens in Tales from the Dark Side #1 from IDW Publishing. The issue is written by Joe Hill (adaptation by Michael Benedetto), illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, colored by Ryan Hill, and lettered by Robbie Robbins.

Three stories of the macabre and malevolent! One coulda-been, shoulda-been TV epic on paper with pictures that don’t move! Step out of the warm, sunlit world you think of as reality and get ready to take a chilling walk…on the Dark Side.

It’s no secret that Hill has a way of making the mundane seem terrifying and that’s what works exceptionally well in Tales from the Dark Side #1. Ziggy is a guy who seemingly has it all, but due to some rather mysterious circumstances is forced to contend with an ability that’s beyond his control. Hill’s pacing in this regard is masterful as he slowly builds up the plot to a point where Ziggy’s curse is emotionally painful for him to endure. The issue is very succinct character arc for Ziggy that Hill captures beautifully – even as he offers up a relatively poignant ending. And there’s a ton of dialogue crammed into the issue, but Hill ensures that each exchange is valuable to keeping things moving forward.

There’s a simplicity to the artistic approach by Rodriguez that belies something much more complex. His style evokes comparisons to comics such as Tales from the Crypt, in that characters are illustrated with something of an exaggerated emotional state at times. It works very well within the context of the book and provides plenty of context for the reader to be immersed in Ziggy’s world. Each panel is deliberately framed in a way that makes the characters stand out prominently and expressively. Hill’s colors are washed out in the issue in a way that contributes to the seeming dreamlike state that Ziggy finds himself him.

Tales from the Dark Side #1 is a brilliant first issue that moves through the plot methodically to a very emotional conclusion. Ziggy transforms from a bro into something more by the end of the issue – even if it’s not entirely by choice. Hill’s script is very straightforward but layered, offering a deep look at the consequences of our actions. Rodriguez’s artwork is strong and imbues the book with just enough of a supernatural touch to make it feel eerie. Tales from the Dark Side #1 is worth a read if you’re a fan of properties like The Twilight Zone.

Tales from the Dark Side #1 is in stores now.

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