Indie Comics Spotlight: The Witcher, Space Riders, No Mercy


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Space Riders #1


“–and it’s Capitan Peligro.”

Venturing into space requires the right equipment and the right people. A shortcoming in either regard and your trip into space could turn into a nightmare. Finding that right combination is always a challenge, which is sometimes why you just have to settle for the devil you know. Black Mask delves into such a scenario in Space Riders #1. The issue is written by Fabian Rangel, Jr., illustrated by Alexis Ziritt and lettered by Ryan Ferrier.

From the galactic core to the outer quadrants, one name strikes terror in the hearts of evil beings everywhere: the Space Riders. Sailing the cosmos in the Skullship Santa Muerte, Capitan Peligro and his fearless crew deal harsh justice to the scum of the galaxy while searching for the forbidden truths of the universe.

Off the bat it’s readily apparent that Space Riders #1 is very unstable and it makes for pretty off-kilter reading. Rangel, Jr., seems to draw upon books such as God Hates Astronauts and Punks, as there’s an outlandishness to the characters and events that just feels silly. That silliness is capitalized on in a great way though, as it gives the rest of the book a very tongue-in-cheek attitude that’s befitting of the plot. That plot blends some aspects of space sci-fi with a general foolishness on the part of the characters that makes for a somewhat ridiculous tale. Capitan Peligro has an air of confidence about him that matches up well with the foolhardiness of the issue in general.

Accompanying the outlandish tale is Ziritt’s art, which can best be described as psychedelic. There’s really no clear distinction between panels and background pages, as Ziritt allows all the art to fill whatever space is available to him. It’s very easy to imagine finding Space Riders #1 up in an attic somewhere after decades of being forgotten, as the pages have that nostalgic, weathered appearance to them. Zirritt isn’t shy about mixing up the character types, as there’s quite a variety of leading characters in Space Riders #1 that underscore the sheer insanity of that world. Additionally, Space Riders #1 boasts an impressive mix of colors that further emphasize a mind-bending experience.

Space Riders #1 is pretty out there. That’s the biggest selling point of it for sure, as readers will definitely find the shenanigans of the issue somewhat endearing and an interesting read. Ranel, Jr. gives the book a purpose despite the seemingly erratic approach to life on the part of the main characters. Ziritt’s illustrations are shaky and the perfect fit for the story’s no-holds barred approach. Space Riders #1 is a pretty fun first issue that doesn’t shy away from the fact that it’s unhinged in many respects.

Space Riders #1 is in stores now.

Witcher: Fox Children #1


“A Witcher is a Witcher.”

Being a Witcher comes with a lot of notoriety. You’re expected to be more than capable as a warrior and you’re often sought out for your talents. That doesn’t mean that any mission you accept is any easier because of your talents. It does mean that things are certainly exciting and Witcher: Fox Children #1 from Dark Horse Comics has some intrigue to it. The issue is written by Paul Tobin, illustrated by Joe Querio, colored by Carlos Badilla and lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

Geralt’s journey leads him aboard a ship of fools, renegades, and criminals—but some passengers are more dangerous than others and one hides a hideous secret. Along the way, Geralt trades stories with Addario the dwarf along the way. Mixed in for good measure is an adventure on the high seas that will likely prove to be more than Geralt bargained for when offering his services as a Witcher.

Witcher: Fox Children #1 taps into the mythology created by the game itself, living comfortably in its universe without missing a beat. Tobin infuses the issue with many fantastical elements that would work outside of The Witcher property, mixing in dwarves, trolls, pirates and a mysterious creature named a Vulpess. His dialogue moves effortlessly and manages to discuss all the aforementioned elements of fantasy, while allowing Geralt to maintain his reputation as a Witcher. That’s what’s good about Witcher: Fox Children #1: if you’ve never played any games in The Witcher series, you can still enjoy the book and not feel left out. Tobin makes it feel very inclusive to all readers and even offers up a story that shares some inspiration with Homer’s Odyssey.

Many of the characters in Witcher: Fox Children #1 have strange appearances to them reminiscent of something you would see in Richard Corben’s work. Facial expressions on many characters appear distorted and perverse, whereas other characters look slightly more normal for comparison’s sake. Many of the gutters are left empty which further accents such disparities in character appearances. Querio does seem to have a little fun with the illustrations–who else would draw a semi-naked dwarf dancing in the forest with somewhat reckless abandon. Badilla’s colors are muted and cast a pall over the book that fits in with the atmosphere Tobin is creating through the story.

Witcher: Fox Children #1 delves further into the mythology of the game. It works in more common fantasy elements in an effort to make the book more accessible to all readers. Tobin’s script is pretty clean and takes Geralt to a variety of different locales, all of which feed into the fantasy narrative. Querio’s illustrations reflect a rather unique look at the world of Witchers, blending many varied looks at different characters and settings. Witcher: Fox Children #1 is a pretty crazy book with familiar characters, even if you haven’t played any games in The Witcher series.

Witcher: Fox Children #1 is in stores now.

No Mercy #1


“I mean, it was a stupid idea anyway.”

Field trips in school were generally some of the best days. It gave students a chance to get out of school–even if just for a day–and explore parts of the world that might not otherwise be explored. Most of the times those trips happen without incident, but there are some occasions where things seem to go bad real quick. No Mercy #1 from Image Comics is one such tale. The issue is written by Alex de Campi, illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil and colored by Jenn Manley Lee.

It was just a trip, before college. Build schools in a Central American village; get to know some of the other freshmen. But after tragedy strikes, a handful of once-privileged US teens must find their way home in a cruel landscape that at best doesn’t like them, and at worst, actively wants to kill them.

If there’s one complaint about youths of today it’s that they sometimes seem even more flippant about things happening than what’s expected from youths in general. That attitude tends to be exacerbated by social media and de Campi isn’t shy about working that into No Mercy #1 as a very effective means of characterizing the main characters are completely naive about what they’re getting into. de Campi does a brilliant job of subtly weaving in many of the youths’ attention to their devices and social media as a mechanism for advancing the story, providing their viewpoints of the events without them necessarily over-narrating. The plot is made much clearer by the end of the issue, even if the first three-fourths of the issue feels a little like reading a Real Worldcomic book. de Campi’s dialogue effectively captures the frenetic energy that accompanies a bunch of students on the verge of attending college on a field trip though.

There’s an interesting finish to McNeil’s linework that boasts characters defined by sharp angles mixed with rounded faces. Many of the panels feature only the characters and not much in the way of background, but it does lend a certain scrapbook quality to the book that fits within the context of the characters’ lives. McNeil handles the crowded panels very well. Her panel layout towards the end of the issue particularly effective at showcasing a very chaotic incident. The way she mixes the panels together feels scattered and random, but the presentation works for the events in the book. 

No Mercy #1 is an interesting first issue that ends with a lot of questions and really little indication as to what answers will come forth in response. The kids have stumbled into a conspiracy of sorts and are forced to contend with being in a foreign country with little to no ability to survive on their own. de Campi’s story moves along at an impressive clip and feels like the steady ascent on a roller coaster before the massive drop. McNeil’s illustrations are strong and buoyed by Lee’s color choices, which infuse the book with an 80s high school sensibility. No Mercy #1 features a wide array of characters, all of whom are poised to have to band together and overcome differences in order to survive what will likely be quite an ordeal.

No Mercy #1 is in stores now.

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