Indie Comics Spotlight: Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #1, The Skeptics #1, Wolfcop #1

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
 
Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #1
 
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“Not getting paid enough for this fei hua…”
 
Firefly is one of those properties that developed a cult following because people weren’t overexposed to it. Since it went off the air over a decade ago, the series has really lived on in the comics. The latest comic to carry the torch for the series is Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The issue is written by Chris Roberson, penciled by Georges Jeanty, inked by Karl Story, colored by Wes Dzioba and lettered by Michael Heisler.
 
The ’verse is a complicated and dangerous place, and Malcolm Reynolds and his outlaw crew aboard the Serenity are ever experiencing tough times. When tensions rise among the crew, a call for help becomes a welcome interruption: they must track down a missing friend and the answers to the mystery surrounding her disappearance.
 
The crew of Firefly are largely like family for many familiar with them and Roberson taps into that sense for Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #1. In fact, the issue opens up and plays out much like an episode of Firefly as Roberson maneuvers the crew through a small-time heist, the realization that they need something bigger and then helping out someone when no payment is involved at all. It’s a pretty sound formula for the franchise and Roberson allows all the characters to play their parts in a way that plays it pretty safe. The dialogue is in-line with those characters as well, but readers looking for more character development are really only given the possibility of some in Jayne who may want to eschew some of lone wolf attitudes. 
 
The storyline may seem fairly recognizable to fans of the property, but Jeanty’s art is a little erratic. Many of the characters bear more than a passing resemblance to their on-screen counterparts which promises a continuity between the show and comic. There are some instances where Jeanty’s style seems like more of a caricature than anything else–for instance, Kaylee looks odd in some of the panels as her facial expressions seem exaggerated. It’s something that seems to be an issue with all the characters, in that Jeanty embellishes them to the point that there’s a disconnect between the look of the comic and the show. Story’s colors help out a little bit by contrasting the brightness of the characters with the drab tones of the ship.
 
Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #1 is definitely for fans of the property. Mal and the crew are embarking on another salvation mission that will most likely lead to bigger stakes later in the series. Roberson knows what readers will want from Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #1 and doesn’t stray too far from that. Jeanty illustrates the characters so that they’re easily recognizable, but there are some shortcomings in his approach that make them seem cartoonish. Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #1 is known territory for fans of the franchise that doesn’t stray too far from the Firefly normal.
 
Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #1 is in stores now.
 
The Skeptics #1
 
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“This way, into the lab, won’t you?”
 
The saying goes that perception is reality in that if people believe something to be true then that’s the reality for them. It’s something that works in all walks of life, from marketing to politics. It hasn’t really been tested in the superhero realm that much though–until The Skeptics #1 from Black Mask Studio. The issue is written by Tini Howard, illustrated by Devaki Neogi, colored by Jen Hickman and lettered by Aditya Bidikar.
 
A stylish, political adventure about a pair of hip, clever teens who fool the world into believing they have superpowers. It is the 1960s. The Russians have the A-bomb, the H-bomb, and now the most terrifying weapon of all: a pair of psychically superpowered young people. Terrified and desperate, the US top brass scours from coast to coast in search of psychic Americans. Enter Dr. Isobel Santaclara, an eccentric illusionist and grifter who has recruited two teenagers and trained them to trick the US government, the Russians, and the whole world into believing they are dangerous psychics. 
 
Landing somewhere between superhero origin story and espionage tale, Howard writes The Skeptics #1 with a carefree approach. The two lead characters Maxwell and Mary are pretty free-spirited and act as an antithesis to the prevailing notion of distrust prevalent throughout the Cold War. The interplay between Maxwell and Mary is somewhat innocent, but that innocence is jeopardized mainly because of the stakes thrown at them. Howard uses each character very effectively though to lay out the surprisingly intricate plot. For most of the first issue, Howard takes her time in laying the groundwork for the events to come–that pace shifts rather dramatically towards the end of the issue.
 
A nostalgic artistic style graces the pages of The Skeptics #1. Neogi’s approach embellishes the characters with looks contextually appropriate given the setting and it’s easy for the reader to put themselves alongside the characters. The representatives of the US government are illustrated with an imposing presence that makes it more believable they’d be willing to do whatever it takes to find people with abilities to combat the Russians. The panels are laid out pretty cleanly, yet Neogi does some great insets and overlays when comparing the “abilities” of Maxwell and Mary to one another. Hickman’s colors add a time-worn effect and helps further the book’s throwback appeal.
 
The Skeptics #1 is an interesting approach to the superhero genre. Maxwell and Mary are powerful tricksters for sure, but that power doesn’t necessarily come from any strange abilities. Howard creates their abilities as a response to the Cold War as the relatively interesting bit of history that it was: an arms race between the US and Russia to claim a “dominance” over the world. Neogi’s artwork is slick and fits the book’s angles very well. The Skeptics #1 is a pretty fun first issue that offers a new take on old concepts.
 
The Skeptics #1 is in stores now.
 
Wolfcop #1
 
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“WHAT THE–!”
 
A full moon is a werewolf’s worst nightmare. Not only does it thrust them into an unpredictable rage once a month, but it also means that you lose complete control and don’t really have full control. Mix that in with being a cop like Wolfcop #1 from Dynamite Comics and you get a really intresting story. The issue is written by Max Marks and illustrated by Arcana Studios.
 
Ever since hard-drinking local Woodhaven police officer Lou Garou had a late-night bender and stumbled onto dark magic, his life has been turned upside down. Now he moonlights as WolfCop, a rage-fueled, bourbon-swilling, magnum-toting, rabid warrior for justice! Everyone’s favorite alcoholic lycanthropic lawman tearing out of the big screen and onto these gorgeous pages to fight bigger, badder, and meaner monsters than anything that has threatened Woodhaven before!
 
Marks knows what makes a good werewolf cop story: a disgruntled sheriff, werewolves and roving gangs focused on violence. Wolfcop #1has all that and then some as Marks focuses on getting right into the good stuff. His take on Lou Garou is one of sobering awareness of what he can become, even if he is content to try to drown it with alcohol. The issue plays out in three acts and each act is very good at serving as one piece of the larger puzzle. Marks plays up the dichotomy of Lou and Wolfcop as an homage to other such dichotomies in comics, such as Peter Parker/Spider-man and Bruce Banner/Hulk.
 
Arcana Studios illustrates the book with a sheen and polish. The human characters are relatively simple in their appearance and the team does a great job of highlighting animalistic qualities in some of their appearances. The book focuses on a werewolf and Arcana Studios really tap into the ferocity of the creature as he tears through his opponents. There’s plenty of violence and gore in the book and at times it does get a little intense. In fact, most of the issue is just a werewolf tearing through and eating people and the action becomes a blur–much like the likely point of view from the werewolf.
 
Wolfcop #1 is purposefully over the top and it works. Lou Garou is a reluctant hero who leans on his unique, transformative abilities to wreck shop and protect himself when the time comes. Marks’ script is very no-frills and pretty straightforward, but there’s still plenty of room for heroes and villains in it. The artwork is pretty standard and handles the combat sequences well. Wolfcop #1 is a pretty nuts character whose physical prowess is guided by the moral compass of a man in law enforcement.
 
Wolfcop #1 is in stores now.


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