Indie Comics Spotlight: Endangered Weapon B, Oz, Dark Skullkickers Dark


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Endangered Weapon B
“I believe I can taste my teeth.”

Such words are often spoken at the height of an alcoholic bender, with the drunk so imbibed that they have difficulty standing up and experience seemingly new sensations. When you’re a wily hermit skilled in martial arts and leading a group of squids, the effects of that statement are likely going to be magnified immensely, as they are in Endangered Weapon B from Markosia Enterprises. The graphic novel is written by David Tallerman and illustrated by Bob Molesworth. It’s broken into three stories: “Endangered Weapon B and the Tentacles of Doom,” “Endangered Weapon B and the Monsters of Monster Island” and “Endangered Weapon B.”

“Endangered Weapon B and the Tentacles of Doom” pits the Professor and his crew of against Zhen Xiao Zhou Shang, a mysterious hermit who runs Squid Squad 7. The primary focus of the tale explains how the Professor enlisted the help of Tilly as Chief Engineer and Banjo as a mech-driving bear. The back and forth between the Professor and Zhen Xiao establishes the origins of most of the crew, while at the same time moving the group towards their next destination of Monster Island.

It’s on Monster Island that the events of “Endangered Weapon B and the Monsters of Monster Island” unfold, introducing the group and reader to the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein and a werewolf. Things are a lot more complex than they seem at Dracula’s castle, with all manner of science and general weirdness pervading the entire abode. The third story is titled “Endangered Weapon B” and is actually the first story done by the creative team, offering a series of small stories that have zombies, Nazi space dolphins and Wiffles the Ninja Butler.

If you couldn’t tell by the above, Endangered Weapon B is crazy. There’s a bear piloting a mech suit for starters, but that’s not even the strangest thing in the graphic novel. That’s the beauty of the work, in that everything is so strange, but it fits exceptionally well together. By the time you get to the end and are checking out the Nazi space dolphins, they really don’t seem that far-fetched. Instead, Tallerman makes sure that the reader is thrust right into the madness from the start, giving them no chance to immunize themselves from what will unfold.

Molesworth’s art is the perfect match for the zany tales. Many of the panels appear to fit together in a slightly imperfect way, which is a testament to the story itself they’re depicting. He works in a lightheartedness to all the illustrations that serve as a reminder to the reader that everything doesn’t have to be taken seriously. Sometimes, you can laugh at a bear in a mech balling up a group of squids and chucking them into the ocean.

If you’re looking for an entertaining book that doesn’t take anything too seriously, then Endangered Weapon B is for you. It’s a work reminiscent of Atomic Robo that is a blast to read from start to finish. It moves very quickly, with the first story doing the most from a character description standpoint, while the second and third stories really delve deeper into the madness that is the story. Check it out if you’re looking for some slightly lighter fare.

Endangered Weapon B should be available soon.

Oz #1
“Dorothy girl…you are in big trouble.”

Truer words have never been spoken, especially when it comes to Dorothy. The fabled lass from Kansas lives a rustic life of farms and family until a tornado sweeps her up and into Oz. Zenescope doesn’t stray too far from that recounting in Oz #1, with a few exceptions. The issue is written by Joe Brusha, with pencils by Rolando de Sessa, inks by Glauber Matos, colors by Grostieta and letters by Jim Campbell.

Dorothy has a handle on the farm, working daily to ensure that everything runs smoothly. That includes saving clumsy farmhands from violent pet bulls and confrontations with witches. That’s right: witches. Since this is a story based in the Oz universe, then you know that Dorothy’s got Toto and a vengeful witch she’s squaring off against. The issue ends where it should; only Dorothy isn’t confronted by relatively friendly Munchkins.

Brusha’s story is pretty light on dialogue, moving along very quickly with narration points in order to get the reader up to speed. Since it’s not an entirely new series, the Brusha doesn’t have to do too much to let the reader know about Dorothy. He does manage to work in Toto, giving him a slightly new origin (and size) to better serve the upcoming story as a whole. Dorothy is pitched as all-American hero, likely to poise her to go toe-to-toe with the other heavy hitters of the Zenescope universe.

There are some interesting panels in the issue. Dorothy is the star of the show, but de Sessa strives to showcase other facets of the book. The presume Wicked Witch of the West looks like a cross between Jessica Rabbit and Sofia Vergara, almost to the point that her appearance distracts the reader from the story. There’s a strong two-page layout of the tornado whipping up the house with a few inset panels that’s very well done, evidencing a lot of time spent on it to make it grand.

Oz #1 isn’t a brand “new” series per se, but it does do everything the Zenescope way. It moves very briskly to get Dorothy to Oz, which is likely where the story will really start to deviate from the traditional tale as most people know it. Why the Witch is willing to go through Dorothy to get what she’s after remains to be seen and sets the series up to really explore the wonderful world of Oz.

Oz #1 is in stores now.

Dark Skullkickers Dark #1
“What the f–”

Such a powerful expression, capturing so much emotion in so few words. It’s a phrase often uttered when faced with something truly unbelievable, like a bar at the center of multiple universes bartended by a god and full of multiple incarnations of individuals. Crazy right? Par for the course in Dark Skullkickers Dark #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Jim Zub, with pencils by Edwin Huang, inks by Huang and Kevan Raganit, colors by Misty Coats and Ross A. Campbell and letters by Marshall Dillon.

The traveling companions have made their way to quite the festive bar, where they discover that a previously deceased dwarf is alive and well. In fact, he’s so well, that’s rife with merriment and lots of booze. Naturally such a combination in a bar rarely ends well for anyone involved and things go from strange to really strange in a matter of moments. There’s a lot more intricacy to the story than the above believe it or not, but that about sums it up pretty well.

Zub really enjoys writing Skullkickers and it really shows in Dark Skullkickers Dark #1. The bar is presented as an archetype by one of the characters, offering that one bar is the same as the next and that everything is the same regardless of the location. Zub makes sure that the events in the issue at the bar do in fact seem as if they could happen anywhere else and he manages to take a tried and true event in a brawl and actually make it seem fresh. What’s more is that the events of the day are clearly paving the way for action down the road.

Huang’s pencils are phenomenal. There are quite a few pages and panels filled to the brim with all manner of being, taking in the spirits and he makes sure there’s equal variety on display. There’s one particularly enjoyable panel that showcases the effects of too much alcohol in blurred vision and it’s a nice touch. You really get the feeling that you’re in the bar along with everyone else merely because Huang does such a fantastic job setting the atmosphere. Inks by Huang and Raganit are beautiful touches to an already polished looking product.

Dark Skullkickers Dark #1 is just the latest in the one of the most enjoyable universes to venture to when new issues are released. There are interesting characters, fascinating locales and a sense of humor that continues to find new depths. There’s some tried and true themes that the creative team go back to for their issues, but they manage to make each visit to the well of stereotypes feel just as fresh as the previous visit.

Dark Skullkickers Dark #1 is in stores now.

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