Indie Comics Spotlight: Pathfinder: Worldscape #1, The October Faction: Deadly Season #1, and Villain #1

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
 
Pathfinder: Worldscape #1
 
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“Time for answers. Where am I? What have you people done with my friends?”
 
There are plenty of fantasy worlds out there to explore. The important thing is to remember to explore them with people you can trust and know will help out you in a tough situation. If those people are taken away from you and you have seek them out (as in Pathfinder: Worldscape #1 from Dynamite Comics), then just make sure you’re good with a sword. The issue is written by Erik Mona, illustrated by Jonathan Lau, colored by Omi Remalante and lettered by Simon Bowland.
 
Into the Worldscape – Dynamite’s fantasy adventure crossover event kicks off as the Pathfinders are drawn into the mysterious Worldscape, where the greatest warriors of Hyboria, Barsoom, Golarion and Earth clash in an ancient battle of life and death! Magic, monsters, and mystery co-starring Red Sonja!
 
Mona introduces readers to the sheer outlandishness that is Pathfinder well, opening with what seems like just another Monday for the crew as a set-up for things to come. Much of the first issue is told from the perspective of Valeros and Mona infuses him with plenty of strength and character. The plot in the issue is also a very clean way of laying the groundwork for the rest of the series by establishing to tone and atmosphere for the joined world. Each of the two major parts that Mona breaks the book into are very clear and effective in getting the reader up to speed and intrigued. And the inclusion of Red Sonja isn’t forced at all as Mona works her in to the tale quite naturally and her reputation is a welcome addition to the book.
 
Lau’s artwork is clearly fantasy-inspired. All of the characters are rendered with an emphasis on physique or looks that fits with the Pathfinder style. This affords Lau the opportunity to craft some pretty fantastic looking fights throughout the issue, convincing the reader that it’s completely possible for a warrior to square off against a giant, four-armed monkey. Red Sonja is illustrated with her signature looks and style that allows her to fit right in with the other characters as well. Remalante’s colors do a great job of accentuating the differences between the character while also making their world feel lush and realized.
 
Crossovers as a concept aren’t new, but something about Pathfinder: Worldscape #1 just feels right. Valeros is a reluctant participant in a new world and he’s eager to find his friends and a way out. Mona seems to have an understanding of what makes the fantasy genre work and is starting to to bring together the worlds well. Lau’s artwork is entertaining and a great way to follow along with the action. Pathfinder: Worldscape #1 is a very entertaining first issue that will obviously appeal to fans of the properties involved, but might also be worth checking out for new readers too.
 
Pathfinder: Worldscape #1 is in stores now.
 
The October Faction: Deadly Season #1
 
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Family is family. Sticking together is immensely important and requires members of a family to protect and support one another. That’s especially true when faced with the undead in The October Faction: Deadly Season #1 from IDW Publishing. The issue is written by Steve Niles, illustrated by Damien Worm, color assists by Alyzia Zherno and lettered by Shawn Lee.
 
Ghouls in the graveyard! Giant Monsters downtown! The Allan family comes face to face with a whole new threat. This one comes from the past and it won’t stop until the Allan’s are dead.
 
Niles is no stranger to horror and that tone is pervasive throughout The October Faction: Deadly Season #1. Even though horror is Niles’ forte, there’s a remarkable sense of family in The October Faction: Deadly Season #1 that makes it more than just another horror story. Each of the characters are very fond of one another and demonstrate bonds indicative of a strong family which makes the book even more of an interesting read. Niles offers very deft dialogue that gets this point across while also moving the story forward at a relatively brisk pace. There’s also a sense of dread hanging over the issue, both because of the atmosphere and the impending conflict on the horizon.
 
The moody representation of the characters by Worm really adds to the overall atmosphere of the issue. The style is somewhat vague and detached in a way that bears a resemblance to work by Edward Gorey and it really works. The members of the family each have their own distinct look to them, but Worm still infuses them with little features that make their personalities stand out from one another. The gutters are all black and add to the moodiness of the book. Worm’s colors (with assists from Zherno) are equally as dark and ominous–the book is littered with blacks and grays that make the reader feel as if they’re reading a haunted ghost story.
 
The October Faction: Deadly Season #1 is a very solid first issue that blends together elements of terror and family. The Allan family are a united front and all trust one another, making the impending events even more worrisome. Niles is a master of his craft and his approach in the issue is very subtle yet extremely effective. Worm’s illustrations are sufficiently gloomy in a way that imbues the book with an abundance of murkiness. The October Faction: Deadly Season #1 taps into the spirit of October by evoking the eeriness that accompanies the end of the month.
 
The October Faction: Deadly Season #1 is in stores now.
 
Villain #1
 
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“Them superheroes always make me nervous.”
 
In a world of superheroes and powers, it’s only natural that those without would feel nervous. It’s often likely that those powers are never used on innocents, but when they are things go bad really quickly. For a former villain like Gil Grimes in Villain #1 from Evoluzione Publishing, things are probably going to get a lot worse. The issue is written by Joshua Metzger, illustrated by Grzegorz Pawlak, colored by Ryan Burt and lettered by E.T. Dollman.
 
The premise behind Villain #1 isn’t exactly new, but Metzger seems to have something grander in mind to flesh things out a bit. Gil Grimes is a villain turned everyman who’s trying to make a go of it and Metzger conveys this to the reader in a way that’s imbues him a sordid past that’s not entirely revealed. Metzger does lay that past on pretty thick throughout the issue and it’s almost to the point where it’s a little heavyhanded–Gil is clearly not a good guy, but the reader is seemingly reminded of that fact a little too often. The dialogue is a little forced at times as well in that Metzger was clearly trying to infuse the book with a sense of the streets even though the language is a little unnaturally rough at times for the sake of being rough. There are a couple of minor plot inconsistencies throughout as well; for instance there’s a moment where one character indicates a month timeline as being too short a time to make a decision and then informs the other party that he’ll fill him in on the details a few weeks later, presumably cutting heavily into the previously too-short month timeline.
 
A good portion of Villain #1 takes place at night and in the shadows which allows Pawlak to illustrate the issue accordingly. Characters are presented in a way that masks many of the details of the features and bodies as Pawlak takes a relatively simplistic approach. The city and characters illustrated are done so in a way that emphasizes the rundown nature of the atmosphere. Pawlak uses this to give the issue an almost hard-boiled approach in appearance. Burt’s colors further this notion in that they’re very dark and seem to emphasize a world where darkness is pervasive throughout–both literally and figuratively.
 
Villain #1 is an ambitious book with a premise that capitalizes on a presumed fear of superheroes and villains. Gil Grimes is a man content to leave his villainous past behind him as long as can. Metzger relies on the notion of recidivism when it comes to Gil though, giving him a motivation to go back to his villainous ways. Pawlak’s illustrations are gritty and grimy, giving the book a very dark tone. Villain #1 is a first issue that effectively sets up the series.
 
Villain #1 is available now.


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