Indie Comics Spotlight: Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd One-Shot, Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella #1, and Slots #1

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd One-Shot




“We’re artists, man. Not bed movers. What the hell kind of life is this?”

Rae Sremmurd have already got a few hits under their belt, but that doesn’t mean they’re planning to let up anytime soon. Their ability to make hits and win crowds wasn’t given to them and Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd One-Shot from Valiant Comics offers an interesting twist on their success. The issue is written by Eliot Rahal, illustrated by Renator Guedes, and lettered by Dave Lanphear.

Before they were dominating the music charts and selling out stages worldwide, Slim Jxmmi and Swag Lee were just a pair of talented, but otherwise ordinary, brothers…until a twist of fate delivered them fame and wealth beyond their wildest imagination. Now, years later as hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, the brothers are bound for New Orleans and an otherworldly encounter with the supernatural guardian called Shadowman, the lone line of the defense between our world and the Deadside that lies beyond…

There are a lot of stories in history about artists doing whatever it takes to make it big and Rahal emphasizes that in Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd One-Shot. The script is written in a way that characterizes Slim Jxmmi and Swag Lee as two kids aspiring to be big and it seems as if Rahal really knows what makes them tick. The two main characters seem extremely likely and ambitious – so much so that their quest for fame sets the underpinning of the crossover with Shadowman. Rahal also knows what makes Shadowman such a powerful character in the Valiant universe, giving him plenty of opportunity to flex his muscle and fight off some Deadsiders. One minor complaint about the issue is that three-fourths of it feels like set-up; Rahal has to pace it somewhat erratically to make it work with Shadowman making an appearance.

Guedes’ artistic approach is rather sublime in its simplicity. The work’s surreal qualities add an ethereal sense to the book that Guedes leans on effectively to convey the two disparate worlds. Slim Jxmmi and Swag Lee are rendered pretty true to their real-life counterparts and, as a matter of fact, all the characters look extremely realistic and lifelike. Shadowman is also illustrated to enforce the notion that he’s more than capable of fighting against any manner of undead being. The way the book is colored is also very unique in that Guedes does an excellent job of emphasizing the world of major musicians juxtaposed against the Deadside.

Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd One-Shot is a great crossover that plays up the tried and true story of the quest for fame. Rae Srummerd have definitely fought tooth and nail to become as big as they have, but introducing them to Shadowman offers a fun twist on their ascension to stardom. Rahal knows how to make the script move well, giving readers blunt dialogue and an interesting presentation of “facts.” Guedes’ artwork is phenomenal and really helps establish the tone for the duo’s journey to become prolific performers. Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd One-Shot is a crossover that seems superfluous, but it actually works really well when it’s all said and done.

Shadowman/Rae Sremmurd One-Shot is available now.

Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella #1




“This place, it smells of puke and perpetual desperation.”

Cassie Hack’s reputation isn’t as strong as Vampirella’s, but that doesn’t mean the former is any less formidable than the latter. The two have yet to cross paths before, but leave it to a cannibalistic queen in Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella #1 from Dynamite Entertainment to change that. The issue is written by Shawn Aldridge, illustrated by Rapha Lobosco, colored by Chris O’Halloran, and lettered by Crank!.

The Vegas strip heats up as Cassie Hack and her companion Vlad are on the trail of a deadly slasher and meet the lovely, yet lethal, Vampirella. The team-up event you’ve been waiting for is a high stakes game of chance when they have to take on The Queen of Hearts!

Both Cassie Hack and Vampirella typically dabble in events that delve into the supernatural which is what makes Aldridge’s premise in Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella #1 all the more believable. Both leading ladies are in Las Vegas for their own reasons, but the arrival of a villain as brutal as the Queen of Hearts brings them together on the same path. Getting to their first encounter isn’t hurried as Aldridge spends much of the issue getting readers acquainted with Cassie. The dialogue throughout the issue is pretty sharp and befitting two characters who don’t take flack from anyone. There’s also just the right amount of paranormal peppered throughout the issue to remind you that what you’re reading is pretty far out there, but Aldridge doesn’t let it get ridiculous.

Lobosco’s artwork is very expressive, as primarily evidenced by the wide range of emotions Cassie displays through her varied facial expressions. The characters are drawn with an emphasis on pretty sharp angles and medium-weight lines. The empty gutters afford greater attention to the action in the panels which Lobosco effectively fills with an abundance of lights and darks to represent both sides of Las Vegas. The lack of gutters is especially useful when it comes to showcasing events later on when Cassie is investigating a darkened hotel room. O’Halloran’s colors live mostly in the reds and blacks – both of which have come to define both Cassie Hack and Vampirella.

Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella #1 is a pretty fun and slick first issue. Cassie Hack is rarely out of her element, but when faced with Vampirella she might have to be a little more creative. Aldridge’s pacing is spot-on as the reader gets to enjoy a night in Las Vegas alongside Cassie in an organic way. Lobosco’s illustrations are a great fit for the tone as they handle the serious and the somewhat silly pretty effortlessly. Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella #1 doesn’t require the reader to be familiar with either characters to enjoy it, although it does require a sense of the macabre at times.

Hack/Slash vs. Vampirella #1 is available now.

Slots #1




“Gotta feed the luck meter.”

There are some people in the world who can get buy with a smile on their face and sheer luck. Those people typically drift in and out of situations without a worry in the world because they know that everything will work out for them in the end. Stanley Dance is one such character in Slots #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Dan Panosian.

You can say this about the life of Stanley Dance: he did it his way. Unfortunately, his way never took getting old into account. Now, the former boxer is on his last legs, looking for redemption…but he’ll settle for going down swinging.

Stanley Dance is a grifter with a propensity for getting into and out of trouble which is what Panosian emphasizes in Slots #1. Panosian has developed an entire universe for Stanley to interact with and that makes for a fascinating tale because it’s driven by Stanley’s choices – both past and present. As the reader follows along with Stanley’s return to Las Vegas, they’re drawn into his world as much as he is and really get a sense of what he’s up against. The variety of characters throughout allow Panosian the opportunity to ramp up the pacing of the issue into something that really gets more adventurous as it proceeds. And by the end of the issue, Panosian has introduced enough of Stanley’s universe that the reader is fully engrossed and looking forward to how he can manage any of the myriad of issues he’s now forced to contend with.

There’s a very sharp, stylized illustrative approach by Panosian that really gives the book even more of a freewheeling voice. Stanley looks grizzled and always sports a smug grin that tells the reader he oozes confidence. Panosian renders the characters with bold angles and thick, black lines throughout that give the characters plenty of weight. The backgrounds are somewhat sparsely populated, but Panosian includes enough detail that the reader can know what’s going on as well as getting a good sense of the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. The colors are harsh, giving the book more of a sense that the walls could close in on Stanley at any moment.

Slots #1 has a lot of hallmarks of a story about a con-man returning to Las Vegas for the proverbial one last score. Stanley is no stranger to being in over his head and even seems keen on poking the sleeping bear. Panosian is crafting a very slick tale that will bring with it plenty of revenge and dangerous situations set against the backdrop of one of the “luckiest” places on Earth. Panosian’s approach on artwork is strong and lends depth to the characters. Slots #1 is a great first issue that sets the table extremely well for what looks to be a fast-paced and fun tale.

Slots #1 is available now.


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