Indie Comics Spotlight – Hot Schitt #1, Blood Brothers #1, and Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Hot Schitt #1

“Don’t mind him. He just got Schitt-faced.”

Being a detective in a big city isn’t for everyone. For those who can pull it off though, it can be a fun gig – especially if you’re as reckless as Jack Schitt in Hot Schitt #1. The issue is written and illustrated by Gordon Johnson.

The Schitt hits the fan in Hot Schitt, a no-holds-barred action-thriller set on the crime-ridden streets of 1980’s Los Angeles. One cop, Jack Schitt, declares war on the biggest gangs in LA. When the gangs hit back, they’re going to learn the hard way that you don’t mess with Hot Schitt.

Johnson is unapologetic and unabashed in his approach to Hot Schitt #1 as the titular character is an amalgamation of 80s cop tough guys. The entire issue plays beautifully into this narrative as well, as every page features the main character Schitt spouting one-liners perversely on the nose. Those one-liners pepper the dialogue and infuse the book with an appropriate level of nostalgia that sometimes gets a little carried away. Johnson strings together the issue with a broader, loose narrative that affords Schitt the vehicle to move from one crime scene to the next. The issue is paced pretty frenetically as Johnson manages to his all the stereotypical high notes in terms of 80s cop movies.

Johnson also handles the art duties on the book, illustrating Schitt in gritty black and white tones. There’s an extreme coarseness to the hash black lines that define the characters and settings that are made even more apparent by setting them against the stark white pages. Schitt is illustrated with a grisliness that’s expected for a cop dealing with the caliber of criminals he contends with. The artwork is also illustrated in a landscape format that’s befitting of the VHS it’s paying homage to. It’s a little curious why Johnson decided to go with black and white instead of the more “traditional” 80s neons, but the absence of color doesn’t hurt the book overall.

Hot Schitt #1 is a rough-edge trip down memory lane. Schitt is a cop who’s really good at what he does. Johnson gives him plenty of avenues for reminding characters (and the reader) that he’s not one to be trifled with. His artwork plays out like a cheesy instructional video in the sense that it guides the reader to what’s happening. Hot Schitt #1 is definitely a unique experience that may seem familiar in terms of its content, but the presentation is a breath of fresh air.

Hot Schitt #1 is available now.

Blood Brothers #1

“It’s time to get to work.”

There are plenty of things around us that go bump in the night, but not everyone can see them to investigate. That’s why it’s a good idea to have people like Diego and Gabriel Soliz of Blood Brothers #1 from Dynamite Comics available to check those things out. The issue is written by Fabian Rangel, Jr., illustrated by Javier Caba, and lettered by Ryan Ferrier.

Diego and Gabriel Soliz are two unusual brothers just trying to do their job in an even more unusual city. What’s their job? They’re detectives in a city populated by creatures from mythology and fantasy. When an Aztec skull is stolen from the museum, the Blood Brothers are assigned to the case!

The script by Rangel, Jr. in Blood Brothers #1 is very clean and effective in getting the reader up to speed on what’s happening. Diego and Gabriel are two brothers who work well together and each bring their own strengths to the table. Rangel, Jr. lays out the first issue in a way that’s really easy to follow along and know exactly what’s happening, informing the reader without holding their hand. The dialogue is pretty sharp and amusing as well, providing the characters with plenty of personality. And Rangel, Jr. paces the issue smoothly in getting the narrative from point A to point B, throwing in some scenarios that are more entertaining than you would expect from a book such as Blood Brothers #1.

Caba’s art style is a mix of drama and comedy. The way he renders characters such as Diego and Gabriel is somewhat unique in that he blends together curves and sharp angles well. Each of the two main characters look distinctly different in a way that plays into their character strengths and the characters that surround them are also illustrated in a way that’s imaginative. The way that Caba lays out the panels is pretty safe in that they’re mostly aligned to a grid, but that doesn’t take away from the flow of the story. There are some interesting colors throughout the issue as well as Caba emphasizes various panels with appropriate hues.

Hellboy has more or less cornered the market on investigating paranormal events, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be room for books like Blood Brothers #1. Diego and Gabriel are investigating the latest supernatural case in their workload and might be in over their head if the end of the first issue is any indication. Rangel, Jr. crafted a script that’s equal parts buddy comedy and supernatural detective case. Caba’s illustrations are a lot of fun and fit the personality of the book very well. Blood Brothers #1 is a very slick and easy read that brings a lot of creativity with its characters.

Blood Brothers #1 is available now.

Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1

“Do you ever look back at your life and just have a million questions?”

When faced with a threat from another dimension you can either cower in fear or deal with it. Sometimes dealing with it means relying on a team specifically put together for dealing with such threats. A team like the one in Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1 from Dark Horse Comics is a great place to start. The issue is written by Kevin Panetta, illustrated by Paulina Ganucheau, colored by Sarah Stern, and lettered by Christy Sawyer.

An elite group of teenage girls with magical powers have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures…as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests — they’re also battling monsters! After defeating a former ZS member and her mean-girl minions, the girls thought they’d get a little break! But a new big bad’s come out to play, and demons are starting to overrun the downtown!

Panetta picks things back up with the Zodiac Starforce team in Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1 by showing the reader what the team has been up to since their last go-round. In getting the reader up to speed, Panetta sort of reintroduces all the main players in the issue – even as some of them have slightly different roles this time around. Because of the way Panetta brings the reader up to speed on the current lives of all the members of Zodiac Starforce, the issue is paced pretty evenly as it moves from one member to the next. Some of the issue is devoted to Lily learning more about her role and powers, but the rest of the members are really just jumping right into the thick of things. The dialogue is just as snappy as it was previously as Panetta gives each character their own voice.

Ganucheau’s illustrations in Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1 are very airy. Each of the characters sport a look that’s unique to each of them and Ganucheau does a good job in rendering their looks. The “monsters” in the issue are the type of creepy alliance between technology and organic life that Fiona Staples pulls off so well in Saga. Ganucheau stacks panels in a way that keeps up with the pace of the book as it snowballs from checking in with the team to a fight downtown. And Stern’s colors lend the book plenty of vibrant flair.

Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1 is a fun return to characters who are a good team that face an array of weirdness. The Zodiac Starforce think they have a handle on the current situation, but clearly things are going to get worse before they get better. Panetta has a firm grasp on each of the character’s personalities and meshes them together seamlessly. Ganucheau’s artwork is bright and bold as it follows along with their latest confrontation. Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1 is a lot of fun and definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of team-ups.

Zodiac Starforce: Cries of the Fire Prince #1 is available now.

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