Indie Comics Spotlight: Quantum Teens Are Go #1, Sun Bakery #1, and Darkness Visible #1
By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Quantum Teens Are Go #1
“I can’t get a lock! The damn thing is dampening the shot-tracker!”
There’s been a big push recently to get kids more involved in STEM-related topics and activities. There’s something to that for sure; the more creative thinking that’s encouraged in kids will lead to more creative adults. Sometimes that devotion to a science is more than just passing as it is in Quantum Teens Are Go #1 from Black Mask Studios. The issue is written by Magdalene Visaggio, illustrated by Eryk Donovan, colored by Claudia Aguirre, and lettered by Zaak Saam.
Mad science is the punkest s*** there is. Teenage sweethearts Nat and Sumesh spend their nights breaking into abandoned superlabs to steal the parts they need to build a time machine – and they’ve just found the most important part. But mysterious entities keep trying to stop them turning it on. Now all they’ve gotta do is hang on long enough to figure out why.
Visaggio mixes a lot of different ideas into Quantum Teens Are Go #1, but she does so quite effortlessly. The core ideas are those of high-tech youths and being in high school – both of which make the story feel fresh. Visaggio moves all the characters through and around Nat and Sumesh, relying on different aspects of their relationship to carry the fast-paced narrative. Where things get a little off-kilter, though, is the emphasis Visaggio places on the lead characters’ obsession with technology, prompting them to carry out raids on abandoned scientific facilities for advanced tech loot. Still, the dialogue is pretty snappy throughout and Visaggio gives each character a very unique voice with which to move the story along.
Donovan’s kinetic art style infuses the issue with the right amount of energy. Nat and Sumesh always seem to be go, go, go, and Donovan’s artwork style emphasizes that activity by relying on sharp lines and angles throughout. The characters have a punk rock sensibility to them that fits the atmosphere and mood very well, reinforcing the notion that they really are two rebels of sorts that are really into science. Aguirre’s colors are bright and vivid in a way that further bolsters the book’s goal to be about youths and science.
Quantum Teens Are Go #1 is a pretty fun and rip-roaring first issue that blends together a lot of varying themes. Nat and Sumesh are two kids in love – both with each other and a quest for scientific knowledge. Visaggio’s script is entertaining and well thought-out, providing a fast-paced narrative. Donovan’s illustrations are a great fit and capture that frenetic energy exceptionally well. Quantum Teens Are Go #1 is a great first issue that sets the groundwork for what could be a fantastic series.
Quantum Teens Are Go #1 is available now.
Sun Bakery #1
“A freaking grumpy-troid.”
Shonen Jump has a reputation as a cutting-edge volume of works that blends eastern and western artistic stylings in a great combination. The work’s influence perseveres and has offered up some great works for readers to check out. Another entry in that style is Sun Bakery #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written and illustrated by Corey Lewis.
Introducing Sun Bakery: a one-man Shonen Jump-esque comics anthology from Sharknife creator Corey Lewis. Each 48-page issue is jam packed with robo-space adventure, paranormal skateboarding, breakdancing, and social swordplay. This landmark first issue debuts four new stories: “Dream Skills,” “Arem,” “Bat Rider,” and “Freeze.”
Each of the stories included in Sun Bakery #1 offer a Japanese flair to western comics. “Arem,” for instance, is an homage to Samus Aran and the Metroid franchise, offering a social media take on a bounty hunter’s surveillance gear as she evaluates the universe. The other stories offer similar takes on society in that they infuse reality with daydreams. Lewis’ approach is very creative and really gets straight to the point in that sense, relying on blunt dialogue to parlay societal issues. And while each story is a standalone, Lewis still keeps that aforementioned thread of interesting daydreams running throughout all them.
While the stories are fun takes, it’s Lewis’ art that will likely be the focal point of the comic. The stories all wear the Shonen Jump influence on their sleeve, emphasizing very strong lines and sharp edges. Lewis uses a very stylized approach that gives the stories an edginess and anime-like flair. There’s a great mix of vibrant colors throughout as well, all of which helps Lewis’ art pop off the page even more. The black and white approach in “Bat Rider,” however, is especially impactful because Lewis relies on the black coloring and shadows in a forceful way.
Sun Bakery #1 is a lot of fun. The stories all offer differing takes on different societal woes with a flair and powerfully commanding characters. Lewis’ scripts are simple yet effective at conveying to the reader the message he’s putting out there. His artwork is very emphatic in a way that cuts the pages. Sun Bakery #1 is a pretty lighthearted book on its surface that really offers some deeper insights into life and civilization.
Sun Bakery #1 is available now.
Darkness Visible #1
“But perhaps you’ll believe me when I say that I come from the old country.”
Demons tend to get a bad rap and it might have to do with all the stereotypes surrounding them. Images of them with pitchforks poking people while flames abound isn’t exactly a postcard of a place you’d want to visit. There are some demons who defy those stereotypes – just not the ones in Darkness Visible #1 from IDW Publishing. The issue is written by Mike Carly and Arvind Ethan David, illustrated by Brendan Cahill, colored by Joana Lafuente, and lettered by Shawn Lee.
When the demons came, humanity reluctantly learned to share the world with another sentient race. Eighty years later, this uneasy co-existence has spawned an endless terrorist conflict. Detective Daniel Aston, charged with being the thin blue line between the two sides, is tested to the limit when a demon sets up house inside his soul. But to save his daughter, he’ll pay any price – including genocide.
Carly and David do a great job of mixing in the premise of the book with the daily routine of a city in a new world. Detective Aston is a believable enough lead, trying to do the right thing as a cop without letting the different lifestyles in his world get the best of him. Carly and David infuse him with plenty of relatability and that really helps drive the narrative in this regard, funneling the premise of demons living amongst humans. And the story of tolerance is a definite undercurrent throughout the issue in setting Aston up as a sympathetic character willing to go to great lengths in order to save his daughter. The dialogue is pretty straightforward and gets the point across effectively.
Cahill’s artwork is a great fit for the story as it blends together humans and demons pretty effortlessly. The demons are different enough in appearance that you know they’re not human, but Cahill doesn’t go overboard in giving them a stereotypical demonic look. There’s one instance where this isn’t the case and Cahill’s approach is equal parts terrifying and crazy in its rendering of a female demon. The panels are pretty cleanly laid out and mirror the relative cleanliness of Cahill’s linework that details concise characters. Lafuente’s colors are largely darker and help fill out the city with an appropriate level of despair that’s befitting of humans and demons co-existing.
Current day events are lending themselves to literature well and Darkness Visible #1 is no exception. Detective Aston is put in a very precarious situation but will do what it takes to save his daughter. The script by Carly and David doesn’t waste words in blending together a demon crime caper with broader points about society’s acceptance of those with differences. Cahill’s artwork is clean and lively, making the world feel as if it’s really inhabited by demons living alongside humans. Darkness Visible #1 is an interesting first issue that seems content to plumb the depths of humanity while set against the backdrop of demonic criminals.
Darkness Visible #1 is available now.