Indie Comics Spotlight: Weird Detective #1, Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas #1

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Weird Detective #1


1

“The Captain never questioned my methods as long as I delivered the expected results.”

Solving mysteries is one of the more pronounced aspects of a detective’s job description. Some detectives are better at it than others, but it’s likely that a lot of them would be better if they had extrasensory perception abilities. Detective Sebastian Greene in Weird Detective #1 from Dark Horse Comics is one such detective. The issue is written by Fred Van Lente, illustrated by Guiu Vilanova, and colored by Mauricio Wallace.

The streets of New York have been plagued by a pattern of crimes too weird and bizarre for the average detective. Lurking in the evidence are shadows of loathsome horrors from beyond space and time, seeking to usher in the unimaginable evil of the Old Ones. And the only man capable of fighting against the unspeakable terrors isn’t a man at all. Detective Sebastian Greene is one of them—it takes a monster to catch a monster.

There’s a slow crescendo to weird that Van Lente takes the reader on throughout Weird Detective #1 – largely via the perspective of Detective Sebastian Greene. Greene is a somewhat fascinating individual in that no one around him can seem to figure out why – all of a sudden – he can take logical leaps so quickly to solve crimes. Van Lente draws upon a character such as Sherlock Holmes for his characterization, but works in plenty more mysticism and sensory perception to keep things odd. In fact, Van Lente works in parallel tracks for both Greene’s eventual reveal and the strange crimes he’s investigating. It’s this pacing that gives the overall creepy vibe pervasive throughout the issue as Van Lente forces Greene to reconcile with those around with him while those around him are forced to reconcile with Greene and the odd crimes.

Greene is illustrated with an emphasis on being a foreigner of sorts as Vilanova relies on steely, mysterious looks from the lead character. Those expressions are delivered fairly normally and actually seem to fit in quite well with the expressions from the characters around him. Vilanova is afforded more of the Lovecraft aspect of the book by providing visual representations of the various sensory capabilities that humans may or may not be in tune with. This gives Vilanova plenty of opportunity to really help the reader see the world as Greene does, providing valuable insights into what makes him tick as a character. Wallace relies on colors that are stark and gloomy, working perfectly within the context of the seemingly odd (and rather vicious) crimes being committed.

Weird Detective #1 successfully capitalizes on both parts of the title: the “weird” in Greene and the crimes themselves and “detective” in Greene. Greene is definitely not normal when compared to those around him (he’s Canadian), but his personality buoys the direction of the story. Van Lente has mixed together equal parts creepy across the characters and the events they’re contending with. Vilanova’s illustrations are moody and help set the tone of the atmosphere as one of gloom. Weird Detective #1 is a really interesting first issue that’s paced very well and delves into some pretty mythological subject matter.

Weird Detective #1 is in stores June 15.

Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1


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“Ladies and gentlemen, I know what I’ve been describing is hard to believe, but if you could see what I’m seeing here tonight…”

When giant robots attack your city, do you have a plan of action? Hope the army rolls in to save the day? Counting on your super-intelligent sibling to come up with a solution? Or just rely on a hero like Lobster Johnson to save the day? The latter is what those in Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1 from Dark Horse Comics do. The issue is written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, illustrated by Tonci Zonjic, colored by Dave Stewart, and lettered by Clem Robins.

A trio of skyscraping robots crash into a Manhattan bank and leave Lobster Johnson with two mysteries to solve: what is behind the massive machines, and why would the robots pull a heist without taking a penny?

The script in Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1 immediately sets the tone for what ends up being a pretty frenetic first issue. Mignola and Arcudi demonstrate why they’re such a potent duo when it comes to writing stories in general and the story in Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1 is very tight. The concept of giant robots attacking a major metropolitan city is certainly nothing new, but Mignola and Arcudi make it feel fresh by blending in the tone of Lobster Johnson. There’s an interesting sub-plot moving as well that seeks to answer the question through the guise of journalists doing their job and it’s an effective way to reveal things to the reader without giving too much away at once. The dialogue also contributes to this sense too, providing pretty snappy exchanges amongst one another.

Zonjic’s artistic approach in Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1 is very stylized. Characters are defined by clean lines that cut against the minimalist landscapes that evoke an art deco sensibility. Zonjic also works to ensure that the giant robots feel menacing through a blend of pretty rigid looking body structures and a somewhat flexible moveset that reminds the reader that Lobster Johnson has his hands full. The panels set amidst empty gutters that further emphasize the burgeoning battle between sides, giving the book a very clean appearance. Stewart’s colors are pretty bright considering most of them render the city at night and give the book a quality finish.

While many #1 issues take their time setting things up for the reader, Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1 gets right into it. Lobster Johnson is very ready to fight against anything that threatens him or his city, but three giant robots might be a breaking point for him. The script by Mignola and Arcudi is straightforward and engaging, moving the plot along briskly while also giving the reader enough information. Zonjic’s artwork is a great match for the script and gives the book plenty of nostalgia. Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1 hits all the right notes in blending a throwback sensibility with a character who could easily fit in with the superheroes of today.

Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #1 is in stores now.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas #1


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“We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.”

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas really needs no introduction. It’s got a special place in pop culture, paying homage to the drug-induced stupors of a different era. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t deserve a comic, though, and IDW Publishing is doing just that with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas #1. The issue is written and illustrated by Troy Little.

Troy Little’s gonzo adaptation of Hunter Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is now available in an all-new format. This comic book version is presented in black and white and at a slightly larger size than the full-color hardcover edition. Each issue also includes pages from Little’s sketchbook and other behind-the-scenes information.

Considering the cult classic status Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas has achieved largely because of the film of the same name, there’s probably more than enough people out there who know what’s going on as far as the plot goes. Little ensures that everything that makes the story sing is intact in his take – right down to the enormously entertaining drug trips. Since this is an adaptation, there’s really not much room to stray from the original source material and Little is exceedingly faithful to it, capturing the entertaining exchanges among characters perfectly. And despite the story itself being open to interpretation on many levels, Little keeps things progressing well through thoughtful pacing that’s in line with the source material.

Where Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas #1 is really going to turn a lot of heads is Little’s artwork that’s a perfect fit for the dialogue. His style is very loose in a way that plays into the seemingly disjointed approach to life taken by the characters. Little keeps things black and white here, as if to further embellish the outlandishness of their predicaments. Characters sport bold, black lines to present them in stark contrast to the desert setting, which still feels sufficiently sparse considering there isn’t a sea of sand-colored dunes and landscapes. Little relies on the blacks for great effect in various panels; for instance, there’s a scene where a trunk is being opened and the blackness inside casts a shadow outside.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas #1 isn’t anything new or revolutionary, but it is a comic adaptation of a fantastic story. Duke, Gonzo, the Hitchhiker, and more are all in play and keep their characterization perfectly in line with what’s expected. Little’s adaptation of the story is faithful and delivers all the ridiculous dialogue and exchanges originally included. The artwork by Little is sufficiently dysmorphic in its presentation with the black and white approach buoyed by the malformed anatomy. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas #1 is just what you would hope and expect from a comic book adaption of a trippy part of pop culture.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas #1 is in stores now.


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