Indie Comics Spotlight: Legend of the Shadow Clan, The Answer, Bedlam 3
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Legend of the Shadow Clan #1
Ninjas have maintained a place in legend and history, despite their impact being weakened as the tradition has faded. It’s not gone entirely, but it’s also not like you see ninjas walking down the street. Unless you’re in New York and work for a large, multinational company such as in Legend of the Shadow Clan #1 from Aspen Comics. The issue is written by David Wohl, with art by Cory Smith, colors by John Starr and letters by Josh Reed.
The Himura family is one that could be described as nuclear. The son Brayden plays video games and is late for class, daughter Morgan is proficient in all manner of combat and father Richard is a big deal at work. They all live life as a normal family would, trading barbs at a family dinner, prepared by Richard. Of course, a comic about a nuclear family would be less than entertaining. When Richard is called into work one night late, he’s surprised at what he finds out. It’s not that the TPS reports aren’t completed correctly. Rather, he’s part of a lineage of someone powerful, a lineage that he given him certain talents that have been dormant until he’s needed them. Those talents make for quite an interesting finale, with the Himuras being set up for more than just family dinners.
Wohl’s tale is off to an interesting start. He rather effortlessly blends a greater criminal operation with the somewhat mundane family dynamic of the Himuras. The two are clearly related and looking for where their paths intersect will keep the comic interesting. And, of course, there are a ton of ninjas, characters you can never have enough of in any book. There’s also a storybook feel to the ninjas. Again, the lore of ninjas isn’t nearly as strong as it used to be, considering the world has more or less moved on. Their talents aren’t necessarily needed anymore and they’re not quite legal either. Injecting them into a story and featuring a family whose lineage may overlap is interesting and could prove exciting.
Smith’s art is strong. There’s a solid comic book feel, evincing all the shared perceptions of ninjas. Some of the panel layouts unfold quietly, despite the crescendo of action presented. It works very well for the content of the book and Smith does the action scenes very well. Most of the issue takes place at night, but Smith ensures that details aren’t lost to the darkness. Ninjas thrive in the night and there are some interesting panel layouts that show them doing what they do best: infiltration. Legend of the Shadow Clan #1 has a good plot and solid art. It’s something worth reading if you like multinational espionage, families with history and ninjas. What’s more is that it will only set you back $1, so there’s really no reason not to check it out when it hit stores.
Legend of the Shadow Clan #1 hits stores February 6.
The Answer #1
Librarians come with all sorts tropes attached to them. Sexy, smart, shushing. Depending on the person, what kind of person that librarian is goes a long way in determining their ability to cope with intense situations. And The Answer #1 from Dark Horse puts librarians in death-defying situations. The issue is written by Dennis Hopeless, with art by Mike Norton, colors by Mark Englert and letters by Crank!.
Devin is smart. Really smart. She’s so smart that, in fact, she’s a little on the anti-social side of things, finding trouble meeting anyone or even getting along with her mom. Her intelligence has sort of alienated her from others in life, but that won’t stop her from gallivanting with The Answer. The Answer is a hero of sorts whose costume boasts a bold exclamation point on his face. He’s a crime-fighter with a unique ability to make bad guys regret their decisions to rob gas stations and have gasoline fights. He also knows the real deal behind Apeiron, a self-help movement fond of tear gas and assault teams.
Devin is presented as someone who knows the answer to every Jeopardy! question, as well as someone who’s fond of puzzles. That makes her interaction with The Answer seem even more organic. Hopeless brings the two characters together effortlessly, with their contrasting personality types generating an odd couple scenario. Devin boasts plenty of self-deprecation, which helps the issue fly along. Apeiron is billed as the big villain of the series, but so far the reader isn’t really told much about them. There’s a self-help guru seemingly at the center of the organization who holds a persuasive sway over his followers. The Answer knows a lot more than he’s letting on. Naming him The Answer and using him as a conduit for answering the reader’s questions is clever and will make for a fun read.
There’s a pronounced superhero feel to the book, with Norton illustrating The Answer as very defined and strong. Watching Devin solve puzzles is satisfying, as it allows you to almost feel her emotion and satisfaction in solving the tough puzzles. Norton handles the art well overall; especially considering half the issue takes place in a library, while the other half follows The Answer as he fights bad guys.
Devin is in over her head and the reveal at the end of The Answer #1 shows she may be even more so than she thinks. Apeiron seems to hold immeasurable sway and The Answer seems sufficiently worried about them. Future issues will likely explore his past with them, as well as their future with Devin.
The Answer #1 is available January 23.
A serial killer is on the loose. The police are grasping at straws trying to catch them and they’ve possibly gotten a break in the case when someone calls confessing to the crimes. Of course, that would be too easy now wouldn’t it? Good thing it isn’t; otherwise, you wouldn’t be as enticed to read Bedlam #3 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Nick Spencer, with art by Riley Rossmo, colors by Jean-Paul Csuka and letters by Kelly Tindall. Fillmore Press is spending some time with the police, confessing to crimes. He wanted to get the attention of the police, offering them a somewhat sobering assessment of the crime spree they’re currently chasing. That assessment informs them that the killer has grander ambitions than just killing and Fillmore’s plan to save people doesn’t quite, well, go according to plan.
Bedlam is a comic that’s very deranged, but isn’t apologetic about it. What other comic would open with a psychiatric patient being submitted to a companion test that involves almost 100 dead cats over 100 days? That opening sets the tone of the issue and fits within the framework of the series, as the killer kills because he thinks he owes it to his victims. Pitching Press as the key to the current crimes (as well as a backlog of others) through his history is interesting. It offers a unique view of the crimes and while a criminal solving crimes isn’t original, Fillmore is about as deranged in this case. The level of depravity in the comic keeps the reader on their toes, ensuring their entire attention is focused on the characters and the story. Rossmo’s art has a way of being either extremely appropriate or inappropriate. There are some panels that are very indicative of the story itself, such as the opening panels showing the companion tests. The last page is sort of a big reveal, but the art itself almost incomplete. It’s not bad and is probably something of a metaphor for the story, yet it would feel better if it looked more complete.
The third issue of Bedlam is the latest in a great series, touching on some of the darker parts of humanity. Fillmore is a calculating individual, doing what he thinks is right despite how much it may hurt him in the long run. The series is shaping up to finish off strong, with either the killer being caught or getting away. It’s a rather blanket assumption about the direction, but it’s one that will feature some great twists along the way.
Bedlam #3 is in stores January 23.