Indie Comics Spotlight: Grizzly Shark #1, Gold Key Alliance #1, and The Doorman #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Grizzly Shark #1


“What are you, a flippin’ idiot? Ya don’t go wandering in these woods without a gun.”

A grizzly bear and a great white shark are two of the most terrifying animals in nature. Some would even consider them forces of nature. Combine the two, though, and you’re likely to get something even more terrifying. Grizzly Shark #1 from Image Comics is just that. The issue is written and illustrated by Ryan Ottley and colored by Ivan Plascencia.

The sold out, cult hit black-and-white issue is back, now in full color! Followed by all-new issues that continue the bloody adventures of the world’s most feared animal, the Grizzly Shark.

There are some pretty magnificent beasts found in the forest amidst the trees, but Ottley seems to think that none of them compare to a shark. The concept of a shark terrorizing the woods is certainly new and Ottley maximizes it beyond belief. He moves back and forth between a group of less than savvy campers and the shark as their paths cross on multiple occasions, emphasizing the ferocity of the shark. What’s great about the story is how Ottley subtly works in a theme of mankind’s hubris in relation to nature, as many of the victims of the shark are in the woods for their own reasons that clearly anger the grizzly shark. Despite the seemingly heavier tone though, Ottley infuses the book with plenty of levity to counteract the terror of a massive land shark.

The artwork is comedically gory. Ottley also handles the illustrations for Grizzly Shark #1 and his work features as much satire in it as the script itself. There’s a good amount of gore throughout that’s befitting of the story, especially in the rather gratuitous scenes where the Grizzly Shark is finding a few snacks. Otherwise, the artwork is pretty cartoony across the board, adding a sense of joy to the seemingly macabre take on nature attacking man. Ottley lends the comic book a comic strip mentality to it that further grounds the book in the humor of the situation of a shark terrorizing campers in a forest.

Quite frankly, Grizzly Shark #1 is so far out there you have to appreciate it’s insanity. There’s not really a plot to it other than a shark chasing some of humanity’s less intelligent individuals. Ottley’s dialogue is entertaining and enjoyable, eschewing seriousness for silliness. Grizzly Shark #1 doesn’t really care about being taken seriously and it actually wears that frivolity as a badge of honor.

Grizzly Shark #1 is in stores now.

Gold Key Alliance #1


“The world is a lie!”

Crossovers have a way of being fascinating looks at a publisher’s universe. It gives readers the chance to delve into plenty of “what if” scenarios and see some characters team up and fight opponents that might have seemed like pipe dreams in the past. Dynamite Entertainment has been on a crossover tear lately and their latest to join that fray is Gold Key Alliance #1. The issue is written by Phil Hester, illustrated by Brent Peeples, colored by Morgan Hickman, and lettered by Simon Bowland.

Turok, Dinosaur Hunter. Magnus, Robot Fighter. Solar, Man of the Atom. The Mighty Samson. The legendary heroes whose adventures have thrilled comic book readers for over half a century are back, only this time they all share the same time and the same world – ours! In this breakneck first issue, each warrior wrestles with the perils of the twenty-first century, but a greater evil is approaching, one that will unify the legendary champions in a struggle that will change each forever.

There’s a lot of jumping around in Gold Key Alliance #1, but it’s done in a way that works to establish all the key players. Hester gives each character a few pages of introduction that are actually quite effective at setting them up as individuals. There’s clearly patience on the part of the script to inform the reader of the events and Hester doesn’t exactly rush to reveal his hand as far as the story goes and that definitely works in favor of the story’s pacing. Most of these characters are fairly unfamiliar to many modern readers and Hester’s approach seems to take this into consideration as far as the issue’s tone goes. There’s a loose storyline that will bring them all together and Hester effectively rolls the story out methodically without spoiling what it is that will bring them all together.

The depictions of the characters by Peeples is pretty solid. Considering the disparate backgrounds, Peeples blends them together pretty cleanly, thanks to a relatively concise illustrative style that thrives on a relatively minimalist approach. The panels move between defined and loose, choices that are generally befitting of the character being highlighted at that point in the story. The empty gutters further accent this style and give the panels plenty of room to breathe in terms of keeping tabs on the action. Hickman’s colors are simple yet elegant in terms of fleshing out the action.

Gold Key Alliance #1 is another Dynamite crossover that seems to want to draw in readers by bringing together various characters from different backgrounds. What’s bringing them all together remains to be seen, but the series seems to want to savor the journey to that point. Hester’s script is straightforward in that it lays out all the players, but not so revealing that it tells the reader all its secrets. Peeples’ illustrations are a great fit for the story and effectively capture the essence of each of the characters involved. Gold Key Alliance #1 is a solid start to the series that promises to raise just as many questions as it does answers.

Gold Key Alliance #1 is in stores now.

The Doorman #1


“My name is Henry Clay Waters, and I am the last Porter of Earth.”

The universe is fully expected to be rife with plenty of beings scattered throughout. And while they may look or sound differently, it’s likely there will be aspects of their culture that clash with aspects of other cultures. How those cultures intermix with one another makes for great reading and The Doorman #1 from Heavy Metal is good reading. The issue is written by Eliot Rahal and Daniel Kibblesmith and illustrated by Kendall Goode.

Henry Clay Waters is The Doorman of Earth and hasn’t had an interstellar visitor in decades until…his last day on the job when an extraterrestrial assassin darkens his doorstep. Saved by the neurotic alien Detective Flower, the two must team up to solve the galaxy’s biggest mystery or get killed trying!

Lending a frenetic sensibility to the story is the script by Rahal and Kibblesmith, which seems to pay homage to films like The Fifth Element. The characters essentially move around from location to location in a way that feels jaunty, as Rahal and Kibblesmith infuse the tale with that sense of wonder with plenty of fascinating locations to visit. The dialogue is fresh and lighthearted, providing the characters with conversations that definitely seem to enjoy telling the story. Rahal and Kibblesmith successfully balance introducing the characters, building a new universe, and moving the story forward without overwhelming the reader. The intent of the script is clearly to entertain and it’s done so in a way that exceeds that intended goal.

Goode’s artwork is a fantastic fit for the story. The characters sport looks that really help out the humor of the story by emphasizing a wide variety of looks that really make the universe feel diverse. Goode’s style feels very clean and concise throughout the book, effectively showing the characters interacting with one another in ways that a few hits short of slapstick in some panels. And Goode doesn’t let the panels necessarily contain the action in that the characters seem to move fluidly across the pages as if they’re border on breaking the fourth wall. Additionally, the colors give the book some pep, with Goode emphasizing the zaniness with bright colors that contrast with one another extremely effectively.

The Doorman #1 is a very enjoyable romp through space with a very intriguing cast of characters. The ending offers even more suspense in that it definitely takes a turn for the unexpected – for both the characters and the reader. The script by Rahal and Kibblesmith sets out to achieve one goal in being fun and it does that in spades. Goode’s artwork is vivid and bold, keeping up with the action flawlessly. The Doorman #1 has got plenty of crazy going on in its pages, but that crazy gives it plenty of adventure to follow along with.

The Doorman #1 is in stores now.

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