Indie Comics Spotlight: Snowfall #1, Dead Man’s Party TPB, and Twilight Zone #1959

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By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Snowfall #1

1

“Dreaming of a time when the snow might stop falling…”

Upstate New Yorkers would probably tell you that they’d love for a winter without snow. Maybe even two winters. But ten consecutive winters? That might be asking a lot of an area of the country that prides themselves on a toughness that comes from surviving brutal cold on an annual basis. With global warming, though, snow could be on the way out and it’s something Image Comics explores in Snowfall #1. The issue is written by Joe Harris, illustrated by Martín Morazzo, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, and lettered by Michael David Thomas.

In the year 2045 it no longer snows. A catastrophic crash has left the climate ravaged, society splintered, and the newly-christened “Cooperative States of America” propped up and administered by the powerful Hazeltyne Corporation. Only one man wages an all-out weather war against the system, wielding the forces of nature themselves as weapons. He is the White Wizard. The ghost in the night. Genius. Terrorist. Outlaw. Hero?

Climate change is a real threat and Harris seems content to remind readers of that in Snowfall #1. Anthony Farrow is the conduit for doing so, serving as a surrogate for those with the ideological views that denying climate change will do more harm than good. Snowfall #1 takes place in a world where snow no longer falls (until it does) and Harris is keen to infuse the book with Farrow’s conspiracy theorist skepticism as to whether the corporations are really there to protect the interests of citizens. In that regard, Snowfall #1 a broader look at the corrupting force of money in politics as opposed to just denying climate change. It’s a lot to cram into one issue, however, and despite Harris’s best efforts, some of the world still feels a little confusing by the end of the issue.

Morazzo gives the book plenty of great panels that highlight the world’s new normal, including pretty vast backgrounds populated by characters with strange facial expressions. In fact, many of the panels tend to focus on the faces of the characters as they make certain mental realizations and Morazzo is more than capable of keeping up via effective emoting. The arrival of snow in New Mercy is definitely a big deal and thanks to Morazzo, its importance is emphasized through a contrast with other locales that don’t have any snow. One of the most striking aspects of the book happens to be Fitzpatrick’s coloring, which highlights a wide variety of pastels mixed in with darker, primary colors. It’s a great juxtaposition between scenes because of the colors chosen that reinforces the magnitude of an event like snow falling in a settlement.

Snowfall #1 is a fascinating first issue that takes the concept of global warming to the next level. It’s got a very clear science-fiction angle to it that will likely get more mysterious as the series proceeds. Harris is making a very strong statement in regards to climate change with Snowfall #1, but it’s not overtly preachy. Morazzo’s illustrations are a great fit for the narrative and effectively reveal the state of the world to the reader. Snowfall #1 is interesting and definitely has the potential to explore some pretty solid leads.

Snowfall #1 is in stores now.

Dead Man’s Party TPB
2

“Took four days of recon to find the weak spot: the two o’clock Vino Sulla Veranda.”

Parties are generally lively affairs, filled with good food, good drinks, and good conversation. You’d be hard-pressed to find a party that wasn’t enjoyable, but a dead man’s party may be one such party. A dead man’s party is when all your fellow hitmen attempt to take up the bounty on your head. It’s a fascinating concept that’s explored in Dead Man’s Party TPB from Darby Pop Publishing. The TPB is written by Jeff Marsick, illustrated by Scott Barnett, colored by Sandra Hogue and Katelyn Amacker, and lettered by Erica Schultz.

In the assassin trade, it’s called a Dead Man’s Party: Part Viking Funeral, Part Irish Wake. It’s a twisted way for your murderous peers to either honor your memory or settle a score. The Party can’t be cancelled, and each of the five professional killers who are “invited” have 30 days to collect the bounty on your head and add your distinguished name to their resume. For the world’s most feared hitman – known only as Ghost – arranging a Party is a last resort, a way to go out on his own terms. The invitations are sent, the executioners are coming…and that’s when Ghost discovers that he’s made a terrible mistake.

The biggest draw to Dead Man’s Party TPB is the lead character known simply as Ghost. Marsick writes him as the best he is at what he does and then challenges that notion by throwing some of the strongest competitors against him. The thing about Ghost, though, is that he’s still human and Marsick writes him with those weaknesses in mind in a way that makes him fallible. Much is revealed about Ghost through his interactions with those seeking to kill him and the reader is taken on a whirlwind tour of the world as Ghost seeks to uncover who’s behind the party. The dialogue doesn’t feel overwhelmingly narrative-focused; instead, it relies on presenting the story in a way that flows and feels pretty organic.

There’s an interesting art style at the heart of Dead Man’s Party TPB that leans on painted influences. Barnett’s characters feel realistic in their presentation because of the style and it adds another layer of complexity to the story. The style also affords the characters more realistic facial expressions that further adds to the realism, making Ghost’s role as an elite contract killer more believable. It’s hard to make such an art style really work for a book, but Barnett pulls it off pretty well. The colors by Hogue and Amacker are mostly understated and simple, but most of the book does have a sepia-toned hue to it all.

Dead Man’s Party TPB is a pretty interesting take on a concept not very well-known outside of professional hitmen circles. Ghost is an expert at the job, but even his mettle is tested when he’s forced to go up against others of a similar caliber as he. Marsick’s script is clean and engaging, bringing the reader along for a pretty frenetic ride. Barnett’s illustrations are a good fit for the story and add a layer of realism to a pretty intense scenario. Dead Man’s Party TPB is a great read and offers a new take on crime dramas.

Dead Man’s Party TPB is in stores now.

The Twilight Zone #1959

3

“No, Marlon. It’s mumbletypeg. You’ll hurt yourself.”

The Twilight Zone was one of those shows that blended intelligent tales with pretty simple punchlines. The endgame was to give viewers something good to watch that also made them think by way of creeping them out in some way. The Twilight Zone #1959 from Dynamite Comics is an entry in the franchise that keeps that spirit alive. “Laughing Matter” is written by Tom Peyer, illustrated by Randy Valiente, colored by Salvatore Aiala Studios, and lettered by Simon Bowland. “Initiation” is written by Mark Rahner, illustrated by Colton Worley, colored by Salvatore Aiala Studios, and lettered by Bowland. “The Comics Code” is written by John Layman, illustrated by Worley, colored by Salvatore Aiala Studios, and lettered by Layman.

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area that we call the Twilight Zone. The year was 1959, The Twilight Zone took over the airwaves, and television was changed forever!

“Laughing Matter” is about an office worker who just so happens to work for his dad. The thing is, his attention is toward professions that don’t involve a typical 9 to 5 bureaucracy, yet his father is content to ridicule him nonetheless. One thing leads to another and his dad ends up the butt of a very strange joke. “Initiation” is about two kids who bully another kid into some questionable hazing activities. The activities they’ve chosen for him though involve a very mysterious house that proves to scare even the bullies. Finally, “The Comics Code” is a subversion of the entire to-do centered around Dr. Frederic Wertham and the Comics Code Authority. Of course, there’s a twist that’s a little surprising to even the doctor himself.

Each of the three stories focuses on bullies and their effect on the world around them. Peyer’s take on a bully is a pretty familiar one to anyone aware of bullies and presents a manifestation of comeuppance in the form of the boss’ face being altered for ridicule. It’s a classic Twilight Zone twist, only the impact of the punchline, so to speak, is undercut slightly by having his face covered for most of the issue in response to the laughter. “Initiation” felt the strangest of the bunch, as Rahner looks at young boys and their proclivities for hazing. That hazing involves a mysterious house on the block and through repetitive visits, it’s hinted to the reader that something ominous is there. The problem is that the threat is very vague and even after reading the last couple of pages a few times, you’re still not any more aware of what exactly happened. Layman clearly had a lot of fun in “The Comics Code” by essentially revealing the ugly truth about the psychologist’s bullying of the comic book industry. More often than not, altruistic notions are betrayed by potential for financial gain and Layman infuses “The Comics Code” with a perfect ending befitting of the book’s namesake era.

“Laughing Matter” feels a lot like a modern take on an older style, with Valiente focusing on character actions and expressions to underscore the impact (both physical and emotional) that bullying has. As mentioned earlier though, you tend to want to plow through the last few pages because it’s pretty obvious in Valiente’s approach to the boss that he’s hiding his face from everyone around him. “Initiation” has a nostalgic feel to the illustrations that also feel the darkest. The tone of the story welcomes a grim tone and Worley manages that foreboding sense through plenty of rough cross-hatching. Worley’s illustrations in “The Comics Code” are feisty. There’s a nostalgia to the approach that fits the tone that Layman seeks to achieve by throwing back to a pretty dark time in comics and Worley’s portrayal of the ending is a heady mix of The Twilight Zone and 50s science-fiction. All three stories also boast a relatively muted color palette that is effective at showcasing the relevant parts of the stories.

The Twilight Zone #1959 features three stories that each tend to focus on bullies, all of which fits the Twilight Zone mold in some way or another. The three are joined by a sense of foreboding in each issue where you wait for the other shoe to drop. “Laughing Matter” is probably the darkest of the three, “Initiation” is vaguest (and maybe most incomplete), while “The Comics Code” is probably the most Twilight Zone aware of the three. The artwork throughout is good and effective at keeping things eerie for the reader. The Twilight Zone #1959 is great for fans of the series looking to get something unsettling in their read list.

The Twilight Zone #1959 is in stores now.


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