Indie Comics Spotlight: I.C.E., Remnants, and Rise of the Antichrist


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1


“I’m thinking about cashing it all in. Becoming a traffic cop or something.”

Life as an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent certainly has moments of excitement and intrigue, but those moments are usually balanced out by what is perceived as n obscene amount of paperwork. There’s never seemingly a dull moment though, especially for the agents in I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 from 12-Gauge Comics. The issue is written by Doug Wagner, illustrated by Daniel Hillyard, colored by Charlie Kirchoff and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.

The Infektsi, a group of Chechen mercenaries, have entered the city of New Orleans, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. I.C.E. agents Cole and Ezra head to Louisiana to try and keep the terrorists from taking out a main hub of the US power grid. 

As far as first issues go, I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 crashes through a lot to get things to where Wagner wants them to be. Cole Matai and Ezra Delgado are the two central characters who rally around the shooting of a fellow agent and the appearance of Chechen mercenaries, but along the way there’s plenty of time for some good old cop stuff. Wagner’s approach in the issue is to infuse with the sensibility of a police procedural, ensuring that the main character demonstrated a sufficient level of “gumption” that comes with being hard-nosed cops. In that sense, the dialogue mostly works, save for a few instances where it feels a little corny. The actual plot itself develops pretty well, with the reveal of the Chechen terrorists handled in a way that presents them as truly unpredictable.

Many of the settings in the book are ones you would expect I.C.E. agents to contend with: dark warehouses and docks, typically at night. Hillyard’s work is very strong here, as he doesn’t allow the nocturnal settings to overtake the appearance of the characters themselves. Both Cole and Ezra boast sharp, angular faces and sport body language that helps reinforce their experiences in their line of work. The book follows a very traditional panel layout as well, allowing the reader to better focus on Hillyard’s work. Kirchoff’s use of color is phenomenal, as it effectively captures many of those night settings well, in addition to effectively lighting up panels in the case of an explosion or Mardi Gras.

I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 is an intriguing first issue that features a lot of familiar elements. It certainly doesn’t break new ground, but its take on the police procedural/buddy cop formula works generally well and there’s a rather interesting villain so to speak in the form of the Chechen mercenaries. Hillyard’s story features a lot for one issue (that just so happens to be 40-pages), which certainly isn’t anything to complain about. Kirchoff’s art is strong and presents a great rendering of the action. I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 is worth a read if you’re a fan of cops and robbers duking it out with high stakes.

I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #1 is in stores now.

Remnants #1


“Those who had shielded underground shelters survived but they had to stay under and outlast the energy generator.”

The goal of clean energy continues to elude even the best scientist. Unless your name is Tony Stark, the chances of achieving something that is self-sustaining and strong enough to power the world is a pipe dream. IN Remnants #1 from Hound Comics it is created, but with disastrous negative consequences. The issue is written and illustrated by Mark Vuycankiat and lettered by Apol Geronimo-Vuycankiat.

In 2015 AD, the UN approved of a worldwide activation of a machine that would generate unlimited, clean energy that would be distributed to everyone via airwaves. A few people opposed this and some even moved underground. They only became right when there was a miscalculation: once the machine was turned on, everybody’s brain got “fried” and almost all human and animal life died. Those underground who were smart enough to install the proper shielding in their habitats survived. They had to stay underground and outlast the Energy Generator. They finally got out after 52 years when the machine finally stopped functioning due to lack of maintenance. A new form of government was formed around Lawbringers, Relic Tecs, Gatherers, Traders and Hunters.

Remnants #1 demonstrates that Vuycankiat has a pretty elaborate world in mind, even if it is a post-apocalyptic one. There’s an overarching struggle on the part of humanity evidenced as they emerge from underground and attempt to put the world back together. Vuycankiat chose an interesting approach in basing this new world on the interactions amongst the new roles, as each has a very clearly distinguished role in building the new society. The narrative approach in presenting their roles feels a little forced, in that Vuycankiat spends a few pages up front spelling out the workings of the new society to the reader. It slightly detracts from the reader putting the pieces together on their own, as Vuycankiat instead chooses to fill the reader up to speed with an abundance of narrative expository.

The black and white illustrations are the strongest part of the book, as Vuycankiat relies on something of a fantasy style to render the world of the future. All of the characters sport looks that make them fairly easy to distinguish, both from one another and as a reflection of their role. Stacking the panels atop one another gives the book a more frenetic feel and helps with the pacing of story. And action sequences are handled pretty slickly, giving the reader plenty visually to take in as far as the characters look. Vuycankiat focuses more on the characters instead of the setting, but the appearance of said characters and the black and white look work together well to contextually set the atmosphere.

Remnants #1 offers a new spin on a more recognizable story of reconciling with the post-apocalyptic world. The new government is being established with a foundation built of the five roles and the interactions amongst the roles will create some solid dynamics. Vuycankiat’s tale feels a little heavy-handed when it comes to presenting the world to the reader. His art is a great presentation of the world after the meltdown of the clean energy device, blending strongly defined characters with a minimalist coloring style. Remnants #1 is a little uneven at times, but there’s very much a fantasy world feel to the characters and the setting.

Remnants #1 is available now.

The Rise of the Antichrist #1


“God works in mysterious ways.”

Faith is a powerful means of dealing with life. Some people use it as a guide, whereas others use it exclusively to make tough decisions. There are still others who feel completely devoted to it in a way that borders on obsession, which leads to situations such as those in The Rise of the Antichrist #1 from Ether Comics. The issue is written by Betvin Géant, illustrated by Kay and colored by Milton Das.

A man who is killed for his beliefs and returns to life convinced that he is the second coming of Christ. He’s God’s most devout follower and he is bent on saving the world. Nobody has better intentions than him, but as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The struggle between good and evil is pretty much eternal. It’s that struggle that Géant taps into for The Rise of the Antichrist #1, offering a main character in Michael who constantly seeks to reconcile his life with his faith. That battle never seems to end for anyone who’s devout and Géant ensures that Michael’s choices make him just that. In a way, the story is pretty haunting in its commitment to maintaining faith, providing the context for a story about a character so absorbed by his belief system. Géant capitalizes on that as a means of creating a new hero–or anti-hero depending on how you look at it. In that regard, The Rise of the Antichrist #1 does a pretty solid job of building up to the big reveal at the end, where a man’s constant attempts to maintain devoutness are essentially punished.

Many of the illustrations have an indie, photorealistic quality to them. Kay relies on that look to hammer home to more mature nature of the book, as Michael acts out quite violently when it comes to demonstrating his commitment to religion. Generally speaking though, the artwork is fairly minimal in terms of character designs and setting. There are some interesting panel layouts that feature some fairly terrifying renderings of the characters and the mental health facility where Michael is residing. Kay does an exceptional job in illustrating Michael’s pain, which is further amplified by Das’ muted colors and helps his tribulations resonate with the reader more effectively. 

The Rise of the Antichrist #1 boasts an abundance of references to faith (Christianity in particular) in a seemingly scholarly fashion. It’s clear that the book draws heavily on that background, but does so in a way that’s fitting. Géant successfully infuses religion into all of Michael’s decision-making, as well as using it as the pretext for his transformation. Kay’s illustrations are somewhat scattered yet effective in relaying Michael’s plight–both physically and mentally. The Rise of the Antichrist #1 is an interesting first issue that tackles one’s blind devotion to faith as a mechanism for coping with life.

The Rise of the Antichrist #1 will be available on Comixology May 20, while The Rise of the Antichrist #2 will be available on Comixology on May 27.

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