Indie Comics Spotlight: Lola XOXO Volume 2 #1, Bastard’s Waltz #1, and Sisters of Sorrow #1


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Lola XOXO Volume 2 #1

“…that next arrow could be meant for me.”

Having good friends always makes life easier. Having good friends when roaming a post-apocalyptic world makes life easier as well. In Lola XOXO Volume 2 #1 from Aspen Comics, Lola has a great running crew which will pay off. The issue is written and illustrated by Siya Oum and lettered by Zen.

In the epic first volume, the tough-minded Lola learned the brutal reality of the apocalypse within the confines of the ruthless Wasteland Trading Company led by the treacherous Edgar and his posse! However, the true challenge lies ahead, as her desire to be reunited with her lost parents still burns greater than ever!

Oum wastes no time throwing Lola right back into the thick of it in Lola XOXO Volume 2 #1, but this time around she’s focusing even more so on relationship dynamics. Not quite romantic relationships mind you; rather, Oum is strengthening the bond between Lola, Conrad, and Monarch. Most of Lola XOXO Volume 2 #1 focuses on those three and the fact that the ruthlessness of the world around them has brought them closer together working well to develop them as characters. Toward the end of the issue, Oum switches gears a bit and focuses more on the plot for the second volume, all of which seems to revolve around a new bad. The change in narrative style isn’t really jarring as Oum methodically builds up to it, offering the reader a good bit of world-building alongside expository.

The artwork in Lola XOXO Volume 2 #1 is nothing short of beautiful. Oum has been illustrating Lola long enough now that the character herself shows a maturity that comes from Oum’s familiarity. Oum’s style emphasizes the foreground action, offering little in the way of detail when it comes to backgrounds and setting. Oum’s linework is very distinct that, when coupled with her watercolor style, makes the book feel somewhat anachronistic in a way that fits the tone of the story. Her colors run the gamut from lush greens to dusty browns and everything in between, providing a fully-realized world.

Lola XOXO Volume 2 #1 is a worthy start to the second volume volume of Lola’s travels. Lola continues her quest to find her parents, but living in a post-apocalyptic setting has a way of interfering with daily itineraries. Oum’s script is sound and provides a great blend of dialogue and direction. Oum’s art is fantastic and sets the stage well for the events to unfold. Lola XOXO Volume 2 #1 is a great read that takes the reader back into Lola’s world without missing a beat.

Lola XOXO Volume 2 #1 is available now.

Bastard’s Waltz #1

When you’re known for taking out heroes, that reputation brings with it a lot of responsibility. At some point, that responsibility of staying alive can be too much, prompting one to want to retire. In Bastard’s Waltz #1 from Darby Pop Comics, John the Bastard needs a break from being a terror. The issue is written by Mark Bertolini, illustrated by Giovanni Guida, and lettered by Micah Meyers.

Bastard’s Waltz #1 is a super-powered thriller with both unlikely friendship and tragic duplicity at its cold heart. When superhuman miscreant John the Bastard is targeted for death, he forces a young Secret Service Agent (Ezekiel Sweet) to protect both his life and his secrets. But, Sweet has secrets of his own…

The premise behind Bastard’s Waltz #1 is pretty fresh and Bertolini doesn’t do much to overcomplicate things. Where the issue excels though is in its approach to that premise – by building up John the Bastard as a truly terrifying being, Bertolini lets his actions do all the talking. It’s an interesting way to set up the issue (and series) and it’s amazingly effective because the reader gets an immediate sense of the high-stakes at play. Bertolini offers Ezekiel Sweet as something of an innocent foil to John the Bastard’s rap sheet of terror, although it’s possible that even Sweet has something darker inside him as well. The issue’s pacing also affords plenty of suspense as Bertolini unfolds the issue in parallel to a hostage negotiation where John the Bastard’s reputation is on full display.

Handling the artistic duties is Guida, whose loose style is a good fit for the work. The shaky style provides a sense of reality despite the book being set in a capes and tights world, even though Guida doesn’t really make it feel that way. Guida reinforces this notion through the use of the darker, muted colors that also set the stage for a somewhat dystopian world. John the Bastard is illustrated with a weathered look that reinforces the notion that he’s lived a very active life being terrifying. Much of Guida’s work in the panels features little attention to detail in the backgrounds, but it’s not something that detracts from the overall look of the book.

Bastard’s Waltz #1 is a great first issue that spends most of the establishing the main character’s reputation before diving in. Sweet will definitely have his hands full in protecting John the Bastard. By the end of the issue, Bertolini makes it clear that the series will be a pretty frenetic tale rife with action and intrigue. Guida’s artwork is a good match for the work in that it provides a very dour assessment of the reality that John the Bastard has made a name for himself in. Bastard’s Waltz #1 starts of slow before building up to something with a lot of momentum behind it.

Bastard’s Waltz #1 is available now.

Sisters of Sorrow #1

“I know someone who can help us hide this mess.”

People turn to religion for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they need help with something, and other times, they just want to believe they’re part of something bigger. It’s not often though that people turn to faith for a violent path toward vengeance, but that doesn’t stop the women in Sisters of Sorrow #1 from BOOM! Studios. The issue is written by Kurt Sutter and Courtney Alameda, illustrated by Hyeonjin Kim, colored by Jean-Paul Csuka, and lettered by Jim Campbell.

By day, Dominique, Greta, Misha, and Sarah run a nonprofit women’s shelter. At night, they each don a nun’s habit and move through Los Angeles hunting down violent abusers who have escaped justice. Their increasingly public vigilantism has earned them the nickname Sisters of Sorrow, and has drawn the ire of L.A.’s notorious anti-crime task force.

Sutter and Alameda open Sisters of Sorrow #1 that’s equal parts tragic and empowering. Dominique, Greta, Misha, and Sarah are given something of an origin story of sorts in that they’re tired of being bullied by men and are fighting back with equal levels of violence. Sutter and Alameda don’t shy away from said violence in Sisters of Sorrow #1, but the characters are written in a way that their take on violence is bolstered by vengeance and justice. That’s not to say that Sutter and Alameda necessarily condone any of the violence, but the message is clear that women shouldn’t be taken for granted or treated differently because they’re perceived as weaker. The issue is also somewhat self-contained in that it starts and finishes an arc; that arc just so happens to serve as a microcosm of the series as a whole.

Kim’s artwork in Sisters of Sorrow #1 is accented by very sharp, angular linework that affords the characters weight. The style also brings with it an abundance of kinetic sense about it, in that Kim infuses the characters with physical heft. The panel layout plays it slightly safe for the most part, relying on pretty straightforward grids that Kim still manages to fill in a way that makes the pages feel full. Kim does a marvelous job of filling the characters with emotion with rage being the most prevalent throughout much of the issue. Csuka’s colors are pretty bold and pop in a way that supports the notion of angered women donning habits and arming themselves.

Sisters of Sorrow #1 could easily be a one-shot, but fortunately it serves as the starting point for something more. Dominique, Greta, Misha, and Sarah are on a mission to right wrongs by any means necessary and they’ll stop at nothing to ensure that things are balanced in their eyes. The script by Sutter and Alameda is fast and robust, moving quickly through the events to get to the crux of the series. Kim’s artwork is a great match for the story as it reinforces the raw emotion found in the dialogue. Sisters of Sorrow #1 is a great read as far as first issues go.

Sisters of Sorrow #1 is available now.

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