It was a great week for comics here at Nerdophiles! Sam started the latest roller derby offering from BOOM! Studios, Slam, and continued to be creeped out by the mythology of the Backstagers.
Kylee would love to see more of the limited-run series Spell on Wheels from Dark Horse Comics and can’t wait to see how Briggs Land eventually transfers to television, because it’s starting to get uncomfortably good!
From IDW Publishing, Jackson is coming around go GI Joe with the latest offering, Revolutions: GI Joe.
Want to hear more about what we thought about these issues? Read on – and let us know what you thought in the comments below.
Artist: Veronica Fish
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
Over the last couple of years BOOM! Studios has done a great job of giving us some pretty awesome series featuring strong female characters. But the vast majority of their on-going series have been all-age series geared primarily to younger readers. Don’t get me wrong – Lumberjanes, Goldie Vance, and Jonesy are really great series with real crossover appeal. Still, you’ve got to admit that it would be nice to have more books about grown women in the mix, too.
Slam is a really fantastic book that fills that gap in BOOM!’s recent offerings.
The book follows two women – Jennifer Chu and Maisie Huff – as they embrace the world of roller derby. Each of them has a different reason for taking on the new hobby but they quickly become best friends during their rookie training. Their friendship is probably the primary focus for the series. Jennifer and Maisie are really finding themselves in derby. And they’ve found each other. But at the end of the issue they both get drafted to two different, competing derby teams. And that’s where this series’ conflict really comes from.
While roller derby offers a unique and intriguing setting for the story, Jennifer and Maisie are the real reason we’re here. From their first bout to bathroom pep talks to cat playdates and more, these two characters and their ever evolving relationship are going to set the tone for issues to come. I couldn’t be more excited. The thing I love most about Slam is the prospect of seeing this sort of relationship between two strong, talented women develop over time.
Pamela Ribbon does a really great job of giving us a lot of realistic little moments throughout this first issue. And Veronica Fish does a fantastic job with the artwork in this book. It’s a great team of awesome ladies writing about some other awesome ladies. It may not be as exciting as books about superheroes or superpowers or zombies but it’s real and it’s got a lot of really exciting potential. I’m really looking forward to the next issue!
Artist: Rian Sygh
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
After Sasha went off on his own into the mysterious backstage tunnels during the last issue there has been no sign of the little dude. Becket is a wreck. Aziz is completely pissed off. And the stage managers have been gone searching for Sasha for hours only to return with nothing. To make matters worse, it’s the last tech rehearsal before opening night and the douchebag wonder twins are threatening to shut down the backstage crew entirely if they don’t get into position.
Hunter, Aziz, Beckett, and Jory go looking for Sasha while the stage managers try to do everything themselves. They go to a patchwork catwalk – a precarious, haphazard bridge leading deeper into the tunnels than everyone has ever been before. Jory nearly falls into a gaping chasm after hearing what sounds like voices down below.
Luckily Sasha returns with the help of some of his tool rat friends and a mysterious, unseen kid called ‘Polaroid.’ But is it luck? Sasha has been reinforcing the catwalk with duct tape because someone hasn’t been able to come back across it. The someone isn’t identified but you can imagine that’s probably not a good sign for what’s to come. It sounds pretty inherently creepy.
Equally as creepy is the end of the issue where we meet the faculty advisor for the backstagers. He seems like a pretty normal old dude who knows the dangers of the backstage tunnels and he’s determined to keep the backstage crew going. But at the very end he enters the tunnels himself and turns into some weird, child-sized apparition. What does this mean? What does it have to do with the backstagers who went missing decades ago? You can bet we’ll find out in the next few issues.
Spell on Wheels #2
Artist: Megan Levens
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Source: Dark Horse DRC
I really enjoy Spell on Wheels, but as a five-issue limited-run series, this issue only did so much to push the story forward. The premise, that they’re supposed to hunt down all of their stolen magical artifacts, seems like such a colossal task that stopping for one single item and getting distracted for the entire night feels like stalling. And that’s after ignoring the cover that gives away the antagonist of the issue.
Beyond that, the writing from Kate Leth feels a little bit forced to conflict. Claire’s overbearing party-poop behavior could be justifiably argued because of the outcome, but throughout the issue it feels like she’s controlling the rest of her friends, while Andy is pretty apologetically full of excuses for their creepy party host.
Megan Levens’ art continues to be on point, with the female-centric diversity on display even more and the party scenes allowing for more visual comedy across panels. She’s helped along with the bright coloring of Marissa Louise to really fill out the celebratory vibe. An entertaining mix of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, this series continues to be a nuanced, engaging story that should appeal to a wide range of audiences, with the promise of more adventure to come.
Briggs Land #4
Artist: Mack Chater
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Source: Dark Horse DRC
In what is quickly becoming a slightly uncomfortable on-the-nose series, Briggs Land issue #4 looks to Caleb’s white nationalist views and how he wants to expand upon his power, even as Grace Briggs continues to make moves to cement her leadership within Briggs Land.
After generations of working together with the Hillsons to launder money through the Home Depot-esque mom and pop store, Caleb has had enough of the peaceful coexistence. He doesn’t feel as though the Hillsons are doing enough to stem minorities – they’re getting benefits through work, rather than less hours, and the ability to hang out in the parking lot for day laborer jobs – and he’s had enough. The pushback is compelling and the backlash is uncomfortable at best.
At the same time, Grace Briggs is being advised by her lawyer to file for divorce, lest her husband sell all of Briggs Land out from under her. But that comes with its own set of problems, as Grace isn’t technically a Briggs without the last name, taking some of her legitimacy and much of her power in the eyes of many others.
This series continues to be an uneasy look at some very timely topics, helmed by the incredibly talented Brian Wood, as well as artist Mack Chater and colorist Lee Roughridge. It’s a tense family drama that paints the issues in shades of gray, forcing the audiences to consider some very difficult situations and conversations and issue #4 really digs down into the matters at hand, exploring just how far and how willing people are ready to go in furtherance of their ideals.
Revolutions: GI Joe #1
Author: Aubrey Sitterson
Artist: Giannis Milonogiannis
Publisher: IDW Publishing
In so many ways, GI Joe represents the creative bankruptcy at the heart of children’s entertainment. Based off a line of toys and drawing heavy inspiration from a cartoon, it’s a franchise that normalizes and celebrates the worst parts of the military industrial complex while glorifying extrajudicial action as a necessity. It’s not a premise that should sit well with readers in 2016 and, to be fair, writers like Larry Hama, Mike Costa, and Tom Scioli have acknowledged and, occasionally, embraced, the contradiction at the heart of the franchise.
It’s a lot for new writers to deal with right up front and Aubrey Sitterson has his hands full with Revolution: GI Joe #1. A one-shot setting up the new, more fully integrated into the IDW-Universe team, Sitterson puts a new squad of agents under Scarlet’s command and sends them off to hunt dire wraiths and find a surprising ally on an island mission.
It’s a marked departure for IDW’s previous approach to Joe. Chuck Dixon, Karen Traviss, and Costa all embraced a vision of the Joes that was neither complicit or entirely critical in the crimes that the agents committed.
Books like The Fall of GI Joe, Snake Eyes: Agent of Cobra, and The Cobra Files over the last 6 years acknowledge the black heart in the center of our celebration of American Special Forces and the moral compromises that the military must make when deploying such agents. They were oftentimes gripping, emotionally draining stories about bitter men and women, forced into a war they knew they could never really win against a force that used the same tactics. The run was an occasionally painfully apt and timely deconstruction of the War on Terror and NSA spying operations but it was rarely a truly entertaining line of comics. Sitterson and artist Giannis Milonogiannis aim to change that here.
Drawing more from the day-glo neon of the cartoon than Hama or Dixon’s high-tech war stories, Revolutions: GI Joe #1 is a book that hits the ground running, serving up a host of exciting action sequences, daring escapes and white-knuckle twists. As someone who’s actively ignored all things Cybertron for my whole life, the addition of a Transformer in the book’s final pages is a source of some worry but it can’t spoil what’s arguably one of the most purely fun GI Joe books in ages.