Indie Comics Spotlight: Idolized, The Victories, Bandthology

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Idolized #2


Reality shows continue to hold a grip on popular culture for whatever reason, but few of them match the sheer insanity of a superhero contest. It’s a good thing there’s books like Idolized #2 from Aspen Comics to fill that void.


In the quest for revenge, Leslie has chosen the reality show path. While Leslie continues to vie for one of the coveted ten spots on the show, she’s confronted with facing herself. It’s not quite the battle she was expecting when signing up to join the show, but it’s one that’s been shown she has to win in order to advance. While dealing with her own internal strife and coming to grips with her choices, she’s also forced to deal with external stressors; namely, the judges, audiences and other contestants. The interplay between fighting both the internal and external factors leads to a more resilient Leslie/Joule. Only by the end of the issue, it may all end up being for naught.


Schwartz has made the second issue more about playing the game to advance and less about backstory. It’s an interesting progression in the storyline that lampoons the concept behind reality shows. There’s obviously reality in them in that they’re “unscripted,” but the show aspect holds sway as well. Networks want viewers and if a show’s not bringing in viewers, it’s as good as canceled. Schwartz making the second issue all about liking Leslie works really well within the context of the entire story.


Gunnell and Qualano continue to impress with the art. Leslie is illustrated the strongest, always wrecking shop in battle and looking good doing it. This issue does feature some intense battle sequences and while none of them are nearly as intricate as those in, say, America’s Got Powers, they’re still hectic enough where the artistic talent shines through.


The concept of a reality show being used as a vehicle for revenge is interesting and Idolized #2 continues doing a great job with it. Clearly, the ending of the issue will likely be explained in the interest of continuing the series, but watching Leslie struggle with the entirety of her participation is fascinating. This is a solid series so far.


Idolized #2 is in stores September 26. The issue is written by David Schwartz, with pencils by Micah Gunnell and Pasquale Qualano, colors by David Curiel and letters by Josh Reed.

The Victories #2


Every city needs a defender. Someone to keep the evil people off the street. Someone to stop crime and drugs from making the city a bad place. Someone that’s part of a bigger team and has crime-fighting abilities that are unmatched by most. Someone like Faustus in The Victories #2 from Dark Horse.


There’s a drug called Float ravaging the fine city that Faustus protects. It’s a drug that has a debilitating effect on its users and leads to some desperate decision-making on the part of those looking to use it. Some people are pressed into service against their will to obtain it, which is how Larry “Link” Arnold gets involved with a group of thieves. The drug’s effect is a call to arms for The Victories. The team is comprised of Faustus, Sleeper, Sai, D.D. Mau and Lady Dragon. The powers kick down a few doors and presumably save some lives, all in the name of justice. What they don’t expect is a villain they never thought they’d see again so soon.


The second of five issues in The Victories continues to be awesome. It doesn’t have quite the same feverish tone of the first issue, which pitted Faustus against the Jackal, but it adds to context to their battle. Clearly, this city has problems and there are more helping solve and contribute to them than just Faustus and Jackal.


And while the concept of drugs ruining lives isn’t exactly new, Oeming has made it feel different. There’s probably a drug out there that simulates the feeling of Float, but the depiction of it in the issue really makes you understand why people are going crazy for it. The city these characters inhabit is just as filthy and corrupt as many cities we inhabit today, giving the reader something to latch onto as they read.


Oeming’s art is just as strong as the writing. The book looks and feels like an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, with sharp, well-defined lines cutting through the panel backdrops. Characters are depicted as caricatures of the superhero body style, adding a sense of playfulness to an otherwise serious story. There are even some great action panels that use interesting shots to choreograph the fight.


The series is still shaping up to be about superheroes at its core, but it’s looking like the characters will take it deeper than that. Jackal has been named as the only “villain” so far, but it’s likely that the combination of Float on the streets and the surprise at the end of the issue will keep the Victories more than busy. Definitely a book worth checking out.


The Victories #2 is in stores now. It’s written and illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming, with colors by Nick Filardi and letters by Aaron Walker.

Bandthology


Anthologies typically give readers a look at a smattering of different stories. Those stories will often have a thread holding them all together and in the case of Bandthology from King Bone Press that thread is being in a band.


The anthology is broken into short stories. The first is “Breakout,” written by Wendi Freeman and featuring art by Mat Nixon. The story follows an intergalactic band, desperately trying to catch a break. One of the band members decides to shower the audience with affection during a performance, which leads to his arrest and their subsequent fugitive state. The second story is “The Beast in Me” by Dan Dougherty. It’s about a guitarist in a band, recalling the trials and tribulations of the gig. His recounting seems to follow the fairly typical band lifecycle; all of his attention, though, is paid to feeding a “beast.” The beast wants fame, money…everything.


The third story is called “Closet Musicians,” written and illustrated by Matt Collander. Probably the shortest of all the stories, it’s basically two guys making music and getting pissed when someone wants to buy it. The fourth story is called “The Devil’s Beat,” written and drawn by Andy Vanderbilt. This story has a feel to it similar to that of Scott Pilgrim, with a drummer infusing his musical talent with martial arts flair. It’s even illustrated in a similar fashion.


“Devil’s Food vs. Mississippi Mud” is the fifth story. It’s about a piece of cake battling a piece of pie in a band competition. It’s all pastries, but the story ends like so many other rival band stories. Following that is the sixth story, “Anti-Hero in Death of a Frontman.” It features the talents of Westhoff and Ornelas telling the tale of a murder conspiracy. The conspiracy sounds a lot more dramatic than it actually ends up being, with the band looking to redefine themselves in the wake of some rather humorous “incidents.”


There is some art imitating life in these stories. All of them seem to showcase some aspect of being in a band that happens at some point or another. The difference is that they’re all told through different prisms of band membership. The stories aren’t really groundbreaking per se, but they do offer rather lighthearted takes on some headier stuff.


The art is sort of all over the place and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are a lot of different artists involved in this one and the range goes from what are essentially bare pencils to more elaborate inks. It’s all black and white as well, adding an up and coming band feel to the proceedings.


The collection of band-related short stories is amusing. It’s really just looking at what it takes to be in a band and it does so all in good fun. It’s a fairly quick read and those with experience in small bands will likely appreciate a lot of it.


Bandthology is available now.


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