Indie Comics Spotlight-The Wicked + The Divine #1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time #1,Eye of Newt #1

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The Wicked + The Divine #1

 

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“And once again, we return to this.”

There’s very little gods can’t do; after all, they’re typically all-powerful beings with a keen fascination with species considered to be beneath them (both figuratively and typically literally). It’s not often, though, that they express any desire to walk among humans as something else those humans idolize. Sometimes though, you have to wonder if maybe Justin Bieber is actually a god and has an expiration date like the gods in The Wicked + The Divine #1 from Image Comics. The issue is written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Jamie McKelvie, colored by Matthew Wilson, and lettered by Clayton Cowles.

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as teenagers. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. It sounds like a pretty heady proposition and one that seems potentially ripe for all manner of madcap mayhem and swooning, especially when the latest incarnations are pop stars with rabid fanbases. They’re still people in some regards, and are subject to many of the same rules that the rest of us must follow.

If you’ve ever wondered what life would be like if gods really did walk among us, then The Wicked + The Divine #1 is the book for you. Gillen has started crafting a tale that’s pretty intriguing in terms of how it addresses what a seemingly omnipotent being would do for fun in human form. The fact that the gods in the book have a two-year lifespan adds another interesting twist, because it presumably encourages them to live those couple of years to the fullest. In some ways, The Wicked + The Divine #1 feels a lot like Loki: Ragnarok and Roll and Thomas Alsop, both books that look at what an individual with great power would do when famous among humanity. Gillen seems much more ambitious in his work though, seeking to deconstruct that fame culture through the eyes of gods.

Illustrating pop artists, McKelvie imbues the book with very crisp lines and detail. In short, it’s honestly pretty breathtakingly beautiful. McKelvie brings Gillen’s script to life in a way that makes the illustrations pop quite boldly, presenting those gods truly enjoying their lives as pop stars. The visual appeal is further accentuated by Wilson’s colors, which feel darkly muted in a way, despite the fact that many of the colors are still quite vibrant. The book feels like a photo album of a pop band at some point. Emotion manages to radiate from characters through their expressions as well, something that McKelvie really focuses on to help convey the deeper thoughts associated with being a god.

The Wicked + The Divine #1 is a very interesting book that most will benefit from reading more than once. It seems Gillen and McKelvie have grand plans for where they want the story to go and it’s only the subsequent readings that those ambitions start to show. Gillen’s script is very evenly paced and concise. McKelvie’s illustrations are a perfect fit, offering characters full of pop sensibilities befitting of their current incarnations. This is a book that looks at society’s obsession with youth through the guise of pop music, which is an industry that’s in some ways a constant fountain of youth. The Wicked + The Divine #1 is a solid read that will build on some pretty heady philosophical debates further down the series.

The Wicked + The Divine #1 is in stores now.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time #1

 

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“Whooooo! Turtles can fly!”

It’s a well-known fact that deep below the city in the sewers live all manner of creature. Rats, alligators, ninja turtles. Somehow, the beings coexist and make a go of it, but sometimes those inhabitants need to get out and stretch their legs a bit. Even if that means traveling back in time, which is where everyone’s favorite Renaissance turtles find themselves in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time #1 from IDW Comics. The issue is written by Paul Allor, illustrated by Ross Campbell, colored by Bill Crabtree, and lettered by Shawn Lee.

If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles do anything, it’s get into some pretty outlandish adventures. That is, of course, when they’re not fighting Shredder, Krang, or any other form of opponent. Things get even more interesting when they’re thrust backwards in time, landing smack-dab in the prehistoric age where they run into a somewhat familiar foe. The question is who’s really a foe and who’s a friend.

It’s clear from the start that Allor is tapping into the more whimsical nature of the Turtles. The four of them maintain their personalities that they’re known for, while at the same time offer up a pretty lighthearted adventure. The story itself definitely isn’t very deep, but that doesn’t take anything way from how much fun it is. Turtles and dinosaurs are two things you didn’t know you wanted together until now and it’s great to see the four brothers back in action, even if that action is back in time. The dialogue maintains the essence of the heroes as well, providing all the witty banter you expect from each of the four turtles.

While the Turtles themselves are somewhat adult in their dealings, Campbell illustrates them with a childish sensibility that is extremely effective in the book. The anatomy of the Turtles is exaggerated in their limbs and fingers, but their facial features seem to showcase a certain innocence. Even the dinosaurs and Utroms are depicted with a certain whimsy that reminds the reader the book should be fun first and foremost. Crabtree’s coloring provides another level of intricacy that further enhances the book’s pleasant appearance.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time #1 is a pretty breezy book that takes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to their childhood core. It’s a story that’s not really meant to be part of the more mature characters and it works really well. Allor’s script is full of snappy dialogue that’s very pleasant and feels like a story that exists within the universe of the Turtles. Campbell’s illustrations further the impishness inherent in the characters, as they’re illustrated in a way that’s both childish and adult at the same time. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time #1 is something that fans of the Heroes in a Halfshell will definitely want to check out, but it also offers a very enjoyable story for everyone else.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time #1 is in stores now.

Eye of Newt #1

 

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“The eye is cold and merciless, a window to death and destruction. Only a true hero, one with a courageous heart, can stare into the dragon’s eyes.”

If you ever find yourself face-to-face with a dragon, chances are there’s not much you can do at that point to save yourself. However, if you are in a position to call that dragon a friend, then maybe you have a chance. And you might even be able to catch a ride if the dragon is headed your way. For tips like that and more, then Eye of Newt #1 from Dark Horse might be a good place to start. The issue is written and illustrated by Michael Hague and lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

As a young apprentice wizard named Newt embarks on a perilous quest, he encounters marvelous creatures of all shapes and sizes and learns a dark secret that could shape his entire destiny. Somehow, he manages to work in world-saving quests while daydreaming about being a dragon. There’s also a rather dire prophecy issued surrounding him and another apprentice, all of which makes life very interesting for young Newt.

Fantasy stories typically rely on a few tropes and known “facts” in order to help move said stories along. While Eye of Newt #1 feels like it reads from the same playbook as many of these other stores, Hague has managed to make it feel truly imaginative and slightly different. Of course, quests are all the rage in these types of stories and that’s what Hague uses as his vehicle, but there’s just something about Newt that’s so innocent and endearing. He’s depicted as a character thirsting to further immerse himself in the world, even if that world throws all manner of mystery at him around every turn. And the script moves along at a generous pace, effectively getting both Newt and the reader where Hague wants them both by the end of the first issue.

Part of what makes fantasy so successful is that sense of antiquity found in the stories and descriptions. This aspect is where Eye of Newt #1 really seems to stand out, as Hague illustrates the book with a relic sensibility that makes Newt’s tale feel a lot more storied than it actually is. Panels are depicted with intricate borders that make each image within stand out exceptionally well. Additionally, there a few pages with panels simply floating that look extremely elegant. The art has an almost grimy finish to it as well that makes it feel as if it’s a series of stories pulled from the pages of a history book.

Fantasy tales succeed best when they feel truly fantastic and that’s something Eye of Newt #1 has in spades. Newt is very believable as a main character, blending together what is clearly the potential for great power with an innocence that makes things interesting. Hague’s pacing is precise and doesn’t feel rushed at all, buoyed by some very succinct dialogue. His artwork is also up to the task of conveying a fantasy world and really draws the reader in with illustrations of wizards, dragons and all other manner of fantasy player. Eye of Newt #1 is a well-crafted book that starts an interesting series.

Eye of Newt #1 is available in stores now.


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