Indie Comics Spotlight: Girl & Boy, Hit, The Mocking Dead


by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Girl & Boy
“Together we fight crime and loneliness.”

Juliet died for Romeo when she thought he was dead. Hit Girl went ballistic in Kick-Ass the movie when her father was killed. Women react differently when someone they love is taken away from them or moves on. How they deal with the change often defines them, fairly or unfairly. Andrew Tunney’s Girl & Boy seeks to shed some positive light on the female side of things in a very refreshing work. Girl & Boy is written and illustrated by Tunney.

Love (like some superheroes) knows no bounds. It’s something that can make or break anyone and–more often than not–does both at one point or another. Girl is a superhero, Boy is a sidekick. Together, the two fight crime and make love, seemingly enjoying each other’s company and madly infatuated with one another. Sometimes though, that’s not enough, as things change in their relationship, bringing them both to realizations about the other.

Tunney’s story is so brilliant in its simplicity. The metaphor of the crime-fighting relationship is very obvious as a romantic relationship, but where the book excels at is Girl’s growth throughout. She’s someone so blinded by love in the entire issue that she doesn’t really see Boy’s actions coming and it’s a scenario that plays out all too often in real life. There’s a sense of empowerment on the part of Girl though, refusing to take his actions without a fight and proving to him why she’s the hero and he’s the sidekick. It’s such a poetic and visceral retelling of one of the oldest (if not the oldest) stories in all of time: girl meets boy, girl falls for boy and girl gets hurt by boy.

There’s very much a Medea feel to the book, but the way Girl implements her scorn is by knocking Boy down, both figuratively and literally. She strips him of his ability to be a hero (even if he was just a sidekick), effectively proving that she’s the stronger person in the relationship and doesn’t have to take anything from him. Or anyone else for that matter. It’s a very powerful message for women who feel as if they’re resigned to suffering because of who they’re with. A woman in a bad relationship can be a hero who gracefully rips the dignity from the man if he doesn’t treat her right. It’s a point in the story that feels so satisfying after half the book showcases the pair’s sheer bliss with one another.

For a book that’s black and white, Tunney does a marvelous job with the art. Rain is pervasive throughout, as if portending a story that’s going to be an ongoing mess. The characters are illustrated with lean and slender looks, yet the two definitely complement one another. There are really powerful panels that focus on shoes, symbols or simple actions, all of which really drive home the emotion of the two main characters. The illustrations really bring the reader into the fold, giving them a front row seat to the events as the play out. There’s just the right amount of subtlety and knowing when to show the reader what that really makes the book feel intimate.

Girl & Boy isn’t a new story; rather, it’s a retelling of a timeless story. Tunney gives Girl all the moxie though, instilling in her a sense of defiance. She’s defiant in the face of being mistreated and shows why she’s not one to be trifled with. She does so in one of the simplest ways possible: she demotes Boy and takes away his position of power, while she’s comfortable in the fact that she’ll continue to be Girl, a hero. It’s such a great tale of confidence in the face of adversity that everyone should check it out. Definitely worth the time.

Girl & Boy is available via comixology.

Hit #1
“Just because you’re not proven guilty…doesn’t mean your innocent.”

Believe it or not, the idea of a corrupt cop is fairly old. For every good cop, there’s another cop on the take so to speak, looking to get ahead in their own personal lives by using their position of power. Sometimes though, those characters are actually ordered to be “corrupt” to better deal with the evil on the streets. BOOM! Studios offers Hit #1 as one such work. The first issue is written by Bryce Carlson, illustrated by Vanesa R. Del Rey, colored by Archie Van Buren and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

Harvey Slater is a detective in 1955 Los Angeles. He’s part of a secret Hit Squad, taking to the streets and taking out the mobsters who have been running the streets as part of the clandestine operation. They’re quite good at what they do and business is good. That is, until an old flame in Bonnie Brae. Things get a little crazy after that, with Slater in a whole new world of trouble.

Stories set in the time and place of Hit #1 aren’t quite as frequent as they used to be, but Carlson manages to revisit that world in style. Slater is very much tough as nails and capitalizes on the leverage afforded him as part of the hit squad. He’s just as comfortable beating up another cop who disrespects his mom as he is drinking at a bar to celebrate a big win. As a first issue, the work really moves along briskly, getting the reader everything they need to get up to speed and have knowledge of what’s going on.

Del Rey’s art is fantastic. There’s a newspaper texture to the characters and settings, which really helps to immerse the reader in Harvey Slater’s world. She does a great job in the panels as they focus on certain things: a flicked cigarette, people’s mouths as they talk, a quick gunshot. The story itself doesn’t really feel very fast-paced, but Del Ray’s art makes the book feel like it’s moving a lot faster. She does an excellent job framing the action and really helps the book stand out.

Hit #1 is a pretty gritty book that deals in danger. The duo of Carlson and Del Rey work very well together, with the art speeding up the methodical pace of the script. The first issue definitely leaves the reader intrigued as to what will happen next. Slater makes his living on his own rules, but the ending reminds the reader that rules can change in an instant. This is a book that has a noir sensibility to it that is definitely worth checking out.

Hit #1 is in stores now.

The Mocking Dead #1
“You can look around and see how things are now–”

Vampires, werewolves, zombies…all of the supernatural beings are en vogue these days. The trend shows no signs of abating either, with all continuing to get top-billing in whatever piece of work they’re part of. Sometimes though, it’s refreshing to take a step back and laugh it all, as Dynamite does in The Mocking Dead #1. The issue is written by Fred Van Lente, with art by Max Dunbar, letters by Simon Bowland and graynotes/colors by Aikau Olivia.

Aaron Bunch is a misunderstood genius and intelligence analyst. Actually, that might be giving him too much credit, as Vanessa Malik (Defense Intelligence Agency Directorate for Analysis) thinks he’s nothing but an abrasive, immature nerd who thinks very highly of his torrenting site. The two were part of a project called Tinseltown that was shut down, but–in light of recent events–has been reanimated so to speak. That plan involves a lot of horror movies and a lot of flamethrowing.

Van Lente has dabbled in zombies before with the Marvel Zombies series and definitely knows a thing or two about bringing back the dead to mock the living. And in that regard, The Mocking Dead #1 lives up to its billing. The story pokes fun at all the societal tropes that would still likely exist even in apocalyptic times. Grabbing your cell phone for a YouTube video, even though you’ll be mauled by zombies, overweight children on the playground…even superhero parody porn. It’s everything about society that makes it “great” and throwing zombies in the middle of it makes it much more entertaining.

Dunbar’s art is solid and well done. Considering this is a parody book, it would’ve been easy for the creative team to use illustrations that were equally nonsensical. Instead, the art on display is clean and finished, representative of something you would see in a superhero title. The grayscale effect adds an extra element of B-horror to the work, helping the reader to feel right at home in what is meant to be entertaining and funny. There’s a bit of gore on display thanks to a zombie who didn’t look both ways before crossing the street, but other than that the book is pretty tame on the blood front.

The Mocking Dead #1 capitalizes on the success of that other comic about the dead walking and zombies in general. It offers readers a bit of a reprieve from all the levity that comes with those zombie works. Aaron is somewhat of a jerk character and Vanessa seems to be very much inspired by Jessica Biel’s character in A-Team. Their pairing will likely lead to more entertaining scenarios as the story progresses. The end of the first issue doesn’t really offer much in the way of pointing which direction the story will go next though, which hurts potential interest in continuing on. Still, the first issue is entertaining.

The Mocking Dead #1 is in stores now.

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