Indie Comics Spotlight – Imposter, Predator, Sagas of the Northmen

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By Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

The Imposter #1


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“Because there’s something I’ve been putting off for a long time.”

A superhero’s identity is the most important power any superhero has. It’s crucial in protecting their loved ones and allowing them to live a part of their life outside the public eye. Still, an identity doesn’t stop those around heroes from finding it out and it’s what those who discover the secret do with the knowledge that defines them. The Imposter #1 from 21 Pulp offers an amplified take on discovering a secret identity. The issue is written by James Patrick, illustrated by Martin Symanski, colored by Osmarco Valladao, and lettered by ET Dollman.

The Centipede is Black City’s crime vigilante. Captain Apex is Earth’s cosmic defender. Dr. Oculus is a sorcerer who fights demons from other realms. And Jungle Jack is the hero of the Wild Lands. All four of them are connected by a dangerous secret that could destroy the world and Hale Barker just learned what it is.

The Imposter #1 has a lot going on in it – in fact, it’s pretty overwhelming at times, requiring probably a couple of reads to actually comprehend all that’s going on. Having said that, Patrick does a remarkable job of tying it all together and making it feel as cohesive as possible. There’s a lot of time-jumping throughout the issue and Patrick handily includes reference text that keeps the reader up to speed. All of that jumping serves as the crux of the issue’s big secret, which actually pretty refreshing once Patrick tips his hand to what it is. Patrick’s dialogue is very efficient at moving the story and characters to where he wants them to be. And what makes the book feel even better is how Patrick successfully blends together atmospheres in a way that pays homage to other superheroes in comics.

Accompanying the rapidly jumping story is artwork by Symanski. His work is rough around the edges in a positive way, as it lends to the gritty feeling that pervades the entire issue. The characters all have a style that’s unique to the relative location that Symanski is illustrating for that part of the story and he gets the chance to really show off some range. What’s interesting is how Symanski frames the characters in each panel in a way that makes them stand out as who the reader should be paying particular attention to. There’s also an interesting effect with the blank gutters in that there’s a bold outline that shifts and changes based on the action on the page.

The Imposter #1 takes the concept of a superhero’s identity and blasts it. Hale Baker knows the secret of a string of heroes in the book and it’s now on him to do something about it. Patrick’s script feels a little crowded at first, but the end of the issue brings it all together. Symanski’s artwork is a great match for the disparate locales that house the heroes in question. The Imposter #1 is a great first issue that attempts to shift the paradigm when it comes to superhero identities.

The Imposter #1 is available now.

Predator: Life and Death #1


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“So, Mr. Lorimer…what kind of trouble are you walking us into?”

When it comes to warriors, few are as even-matched as the Predator. The alien has capabilities that make it a ruthless and cunning combatant, but despite all that Predator can still get away with capitalizing on human stupidity. Predator: Life and Death #1 from Dark Horse Comics is the latest to pit Predator ingenuity against humanity’s military bravado. The issue is written by Dan Abnett, illustrated by Brian Thies, and colored by Rain Beredo.

Colonial Marines on the planet Tartarus battle extraterrestrial hunters over the possession of a mysterious horseshoe-shaped spaceship of unknown origin. The Weyland-Yutani rep wants the ship, and the marine captain wants to protect her crew. But neither objective is likely when a band of Predators attacks!

At this point, you pretty much know what to expect any time you mention Xenomorphs or Predators. Abnett relies on their reputations for being notoriously savage and fierce in Predator: Life and Death #1 to keep things moving along pretty quickly. The story does feel a little familiar to those who are familiar with the Predators involved, but that doesn’t mean Abnett can’t add in his own take on it. He effectively paces the plot in a way that builds up plenty of suspense and a pretty bold ending that sets the tone for the remainder of the series. The dialogue is largely military banter throughout, relying on the interactions among characters as a means of building up to that ending and effectively characterizing the players.

Thies’ artwork has a nostalgic feel to it in terms of character designs and settings. The characters look like old-school extras in G.I. Joe, sporting all manner of jungle fatigues and a classic uniform look that’s been stylized for a space setting. This look is furthered by Beredo’s emphasis on military greens and greys, giving the entire book an almost washed out look. Thies does get the chance to explore two different locales in a spaceship and a jungle, both of which help to characterize the world of Predator: Life and Death #1. The Predator is illustrated with everything that makes him easily recognizable, but there’s one page in particular where he slowly materializes against the backdrop of the troops landing in a panel that’s downright eerie.

Predator: Life and Death #1 plays on many of the themes familiar in the Alien and Predator franchises as a means of re-introducing aliens from the latter. It’s pretty clear by the end of the issue that space military individuals typically let their bravado get the best of them in combat. Abnett’s script is clean and straightforward, moving from start to finish methodically and getting pieces in position. Thies’ illustrations are great at blending characters with environments, even skewing a little gory towards the end. Predator: Life and Death #1 is going to appeal to fans of the character and those looking for a some good old fashioned space exploration gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Predator: Life and Death #1 is in stores March 2.

Sagas of the Northmen


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“Please send your spirit to these people who yearn for salvation.”

The Vikings are one of the most famed cultures in all of history. They blended a feisty sense of combat with an almost unquenchable thirst for exploration, both of which got them in to and out of strange situations. Capitalizing their tales of valor is Sagas of the Northman by Blackjack Press. “Satan’s Hordes” is written by Mark Wheaton and illustrated by Jok; “No King But the Law” is written by Sean Fahey and illustrated by Borch; “Because It Is There” is written by Fahey and illustrated by Marcelo Basile; “The Dimming Spirit” is written by Tom Pinchuk and illustrated by Ezequiel Rosingana; “Ascension” is written by Derk Fridolfs and Ken Jones and illustrated by Michael Kennedy; “Heart of Iron” is written by Susan Wallis and illustrated by Todor Hristov; and “The Emperor’s Wineskins” is written by Fahey and illustrated by Basile. All stories are lettered by Kel Nuttall.

Each of the stories in Sagas of the Northmen looks at a different facet of the Viking mythology. Those topics range from religion to loyalty to exploration, all of which are defining characteristics of the fierce warriors. Where the book really excels is by successfully weaving all those different characteristics into a more overarching narrative. For instance, “Satan’s Hordes” conveys a message how the Vikings essentially eschewed the protection of religion for the protection of the sword, while “No King But the Law” is more about the loyalty villagers felt toward their kin.

Fahey does a lot of the writing in the anthology, working on “No King But the Law, “Because It Is There,” and “The Emperor’s Wineskins,” each of which tends to focus on the Viking virtues of persistence and determination to see something through. Wheaton’s work on “Satan’s Hordes” plays out in a fairly formulaic fashion before he essentially pulls the rug out from under the reader in a way. “The Dimming Spirit” is a pretty interesting take on the idea of Valhalla as Pinchuk essentially devolves a once proud warrior into nothing more than a sad, weak man. “Ascension” feels the most heartfelt, as Fridolfs adds in plenty of emotion shared between the characters, while “Heart of Iron” gives Wallis the chance to make the lead character as a savage survivor.

The artwork throughout the book is all in black and white and maintains a very consistent look and feel across tales. There’s a vague approach taken in many of the stories that still manages to relay to the reader the hulking physiques of many of the Vikings. In fact, much of the artwork is very stylized in a way that capitalizes on grittiness to further bolster their appearance. Many of the renderings of characters bear something of a portrait appeal in that the characters are often set stoically against a backdrop of carnage surrounding them.

Sagas of the Northmen is a fantastic anthology that gives readers glimpses into the various aspects of made the Vikings one of the more renowned cultures in history. There’s been plenty of science fiction and fantasy tales rooted in their beliefs and it’s refreshing to get those beliefs from the source so to speak. All the writers do a wonderful job of making each story feel unique on its own, but that still function as part of painting a larger picture of Viking culture. The artwork is varied enough to feel different in each story while still maintaining a look that breeds a cohesiveness throughout. Sagas of the Northmen is a pretty solid take on Viking culture that pays respect to it while also telling great stories about the people.

Sagas of the Northmen is available now.


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