Indie Comics Spotlight: Rocket Salvage, Rumble, Herald Lovecraft and Tesla


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Rocket Salvage #1


“I always knew I was destined for greatness, Dr. Utzman. This ain’t luck. It’s pure skill.”

Life as a space racer is all glitz and glamour when you’re winning. When you’re not winning, things get a little less exciting for the loser. Life goes on regardless and things have to be done to live that life, including running something like a salvage yard. In Rocket Salvage #1 from Archaia, that’s just what Primo Rocket is forced to endure. The issue is written by Yehudi Mercado, illustrated by Bachan, colored by Jeremy Lawson and lettered by Deron Bennett.

Primo Rocket used to be the fastest speeder-racer in the galaxy, but after a crash that sealed the fate of his space-station-city home, Rio Rojo, Primo has resigned himself to life as a lowly spaceship salvage yard owner. However, his two “kids”—harvest clone Beta and Beta’s genius girl-clone Zeta—can’t seem to keep out of trouble. When the dysfunctional family suddenly becomes the target of an intergalactic manhunt, the family has to come together to save their home.

For a book rife with mobsters, vendettas and immense pride, Mercado manages to make Rocket Salvage #1 feel a lot friendlier than the characters let on. Primo is the definition of fall from grace and it’s made very clear in the first issue, but Mercado leaves a lot of the details surrounding that fall somewhat murky. It’s a very effective way of allowing the story to unfold methodically, as opposed to cramming an excess of backstory in the first issue. There’s also a lot of characters here, all of whom are “introduced” to the reader via dialogue boxes that gives decent background information for them. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but it does help get the reader up to speed so they know better what’s going on.

Rio Rojo has fallen on hard times and Bachan does a great job capturing that despair. Dilapidated buildings look down on streets littered with abandoned/wrecked cars and general piles of trash, all of which creates a great parallel with Primo’s fall from stature. Bachan uses very sharp angles that are emboldened by some pages which seem to boast a convex lens filter. Both geometrical influences give the book a very distinct book and keeps it grounded in the science fiction setting that it is. Lawson’s colors also imbue the book with the sense of a future that’s diverse and boasts a wide variety of unique individuals.

Rocket Salvage #1 is a very enjoyable first issue that blends together a good mix of science-fiction and intrigue. Primo is a down-on-his-luck former superstar racer with a few secrets of his own, some or all of which are preparing to reveal themselves and make his life a lot more difficult. Mercado blends characters whose looks boast optimism despite the pessimism that’s pervasive throughout Rio Rojo, giving the book a unique look that hammers home the setting. Rocket Salvage #1 is a great first issue that lays the groundwork for an intriguing next few issues as readers explore the past of Primo Rocket; one that he seems keen on keeping quiet.

Rocket Salvage #1 is in stores now.

Rumble #1


“What color of darkness that makes blind the eyes of a caring God?”

Heroes come in all shapes sizes, which is something that can also be said of demons. The conflict between the two is often storied and epic, with few instances of either side relenting easily. That might not true when it comes to Bobby in Rumble #1 from Image Comics; a bartended with a brand new weapon and a lot of people after it. The issue is written by John Arcudi, illustrated by James Harren, colored by Dave Stewart and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos.

Rathrag is the Scarecrow Warrior God and he’s back. Not only that, but he’s also unhappy. It’s bad news for his enemies, but even worse for everyone else. Bobby falls into the “everyone else” category, as he somewhat unwittingly stumbles upon Scarecrow and his massive sword. Turns out there are others out there who also want a piece of Rathrag and his weaponry, pitting Bobby against a lot of unknowns.

Off the bat, Rumble #1 presents a very desolate world. The world Bobby lives in is rundown and dismal, with Arcudi and Harren infusing it with just about as much deterioration as possible. It works exceptionally well in establishing the setting and making it a character that could be just as deadly as Rathrag himself. Bobby is presented as a perfect foil for him as well, providing a great glimpse of innocence and general dumb luck about the events that contrasts perfectly with Rathrag’s combat prowess. Arcudi and Harren plow through the book at a breakneck pace as well, really giving the reader the same frenetic sense that the events unfolding have.

There’s a very distinct art style to the work. Harren packs the panels densely with visual pollutants that reflect the aforementioned decay. His characters boast dysmorphic appearances that remind the reader the world of Rumble #1 is outlandish in many regards. There’s a cartoonish quality to the characters that almost undercuts the presumed drama of the work, but Harren presents them in a way that works and gives them the capability of emoting effectively. And the action scenes boast a ton of kinetic energy to them that makes them feel alive. Stewart’s colors also impact the book by furthering the caricature appearance; boasting an abundance of vibrant colors throughout.

Rumble #1 is a fantastic first issue that nails everything from pacing to tone. There’s clearly a direction in mind that Arcudi and Harren want to take the series and a very strong foundation is laid out in the first issue. Arcudi’s script is equal parts intriguing and outlandish, moving along at a blistering pace and offering up an unlikely hero in Bobby. Harren’s art is very moody and the perfect match for the story itself, relying on slightly zany appearances to imbue the book with subtle humor. Rumble #1 is a great first issue that is an even better read which promises to be the start of a fantastic series.

Rumble #1 is in stores now.

Herald Lovecraft and Tesla #1


“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

Ever wonder if Tesla met Lovecraft what the result would be? Would the two hit it off instantly? Would they find disagreement in their differing views on life? Would they team up to save the life of Amelia Earhart? Only Herald Lovecraft and Tesla #1 from Action Lab Entertainment has the answer! The issue is written by John Reilly, penciled by Tom Rogers and inked/colored/lettered by Dexter Weeks.

When Nikola Tesla’s fiancée, Amelia Earhart, steals a dangerous prototype engine for a trans-Atlantic flight, Tesla seeks out the interdimensional expertise of H.P. Lovecraft to save her. Lovecraft, however, has problems of his own as he investigates the identity of Cthulhu’s Herald. One’s problems surely confound the others, but it all makes for an extremely fascinating story.

Here’s the thing about historical mash-ups: just because there are other famous individuals in existence alongside other famous individuals, they all don’t have to be included in a story. Reilly manages to work in Tesla, Lovecraft, Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, Harry Houdini and even a reference to Thomas Edison. It’s all done in a way that feels a little convoluted at times, as it’s rather difficult to discern who the main protagonists really are until the end of the issue when things are made a bit clearer. Despite the multitude of famous characters, the book does have a solid flow to it and there’s likely going to be comparisons to Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Earhart’s characterization is part independent woman/part damsel in distress, so it remains to be seen how she ends up characterized in the end.

Rogers’ pencils carry the story solidly enough, despite some inconsistencies here and there. For instance, some of the perspectives look a little uneven, which disrupt the narrative flow of the story. Characters strongly resemble their historical counterparts, so it’s very easy to keep up with who’s who when it’s all said and done. The empty gutters give the book something of an incomplete feel at times and also allow the somewhat sparsely populated backgrounds to stand out a bit more. Inks and colors by Weeks add a very vibrant feel to the proceedings, almost so much that some of the characters feel even more out of place in history.

Herald Lovecraft and Tesla #1 is a very ambitious mash-up that does offer a promising duo in Lovecraft and Tesla. Their rapport is very much in line with their reported personalities, even if the first issue is very light on any actual interactions between the two of them. The story by Reilly sets up a lot of storylines in the first issue, leaving very little time in the remaining two issues to see them all through to what is hopefully a satisfying conclusion. Rogers’ pencils are sufficient for conveying the visual aspects, further buoyed by Weeks’ bold color and ink choices. Herald Lovecraft and Tesla #1 offers a promising concept, although it remains to be seen whether or not it will pay off in the end.

Herald Lovecraft and Tesla #1 is in stores now.

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