The more I read comics, the more I’m drawn to the idea of recurring themes in comic story arcs and how these themes are handled. I just had a really intriguing discussion with my friend about whether or not the constantly repeating themes are a hindrance to comics. I really don’t think they are. I think they are definitely an opportunity to expand, create new things within a genre, and pay homage to creators who have come before. It’s all about what you do with the theme you’re focusing on. Anyhow, I have a lot of feelings about this subject and comics in general this week so here are the comic dos and don’ts of Wednesday, February 18!
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writers: Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson
Artist/Cover Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Ei8ht immediately got brownie points from me because its color palate consists of my two favorite colors: yellow and blue. Not only is the coloring great, but the colors mean something, which is a crazy important thing for me because I’ve always been extra sensitive to color and connotation inherent in color. Because of this, the chart at the beginning of the issue that said “The past is green. The present is purple. The future is blue. The meld is something else entirely,” was a “Heck yeah!” moment for me. Now every time one of these colors shows up in the issue, I’m highly attentive to it and I feel like there is going to be some deeper, intertwining theme with them because the past is colored in blue (not green?). Then Ei8ht got even more cred because there were people riding dinosaurs, yay! The most amazing thing of all was that the story lived up to my initial art excitement and that does not always happen! I’m super intrigued by the reluctant time traveler idea. Usually in time traveling stories, the travelers are either scientists who have worked for ever for this or people who accidentally fall into another time and don’t have any idea what’s going on. Joshua from Ei8ht is different though because he would be perfectly content staying right where he is, but he knows that agreeing to be a time travel subject will be beneficial for a loved one. This was a very promising first issue and I hope the colors lead us on a great journey as the series moves forward.
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer: Swifty Lang
Artist/Cover Artist: Skuds McKinley
Here’s how I imagine the creative process went on this one: “Huh, I’m kind of running out of steam on the story here . . . how should I make this interesting?” “BLOOD! More blood! Always blood!” Now, there is certainly a time and place for gore. It can be a lovely addition to a story, but it has to be an addition not the entirety of a comic. When I read a horror comic, I like to feel a lingering tingly suspense crawling across my skin before we even get to the dismembered bodies and pools of blood part of the comic and I did not feel that at all with Plunder. I was so excited for this one too because it’s modern day pirates plus a kraken-esque monster plus a ragtag crew of misfits. That should lead to something great right? Wrong.
Ivar, Time Walker #2
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Clayton Henry
Cover Artists: Raul Allen, Brian Level, Pere Perez, and Ramon Villalobos
After the twist ending of Ivar, Time Walker #1 (which I will not spoil for you in case you haven’t read it (and you should totally read it)), I could not wait to read Ivar, Time Walker #2 and I wasn’t disappointed! I extra especially love when comics play on the stereotypes of their genre and when they bring in current cultural references. This issue does both of those things and does them well so you can bet I was internally whooping with joy throughout the entire read. Just wait until you meet The Lurker. Again, I’m not going to spoil anything, but you’ll enjoy it, I promise. This is one of those comics where I don’t want to say much aside from “READ IT!” because the unexpectedness of the characters and plot twists that happen are what makes it so exciting to follow. Also, the female lead, Neela Sethi, is loud and proud and just totally befuddled, but handling it with the utmost grace and sarcasm.
Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars #1
Writer: Ben Acker
Artists/Cover Artists: J. Bone and Jordie Bellaire
Blah, this comic has made me so frustrated and upset and I wanted so badly to love it. Robot cowboys are another one of those things that just immediately make me go “YES PLEASE!” But here’s the thing, if you’re going to tackle the whole cowboy vs. Indian dynamic, you’ve got to do something with it that’s not having your lead character be a super ethnocentric dude who shouts, “I’m . . . from Earth,” whenever he feels like things are getting a little too far from his comfort zone. This is exactly what Wild West narratives should be moving away from. Okay yeah, you’re from Earth, but the Martians who are trying to help you are from Mars . . . where you’re stationed. So maybe you should work on building relationships between the visitors from Earth and the Martians, rather than treating them like blundering imbeciles. Sparks Nevada also has an unpleasant habit of making negative comments every time a male character comes in physical contact with him. Croach the Martian saves his life by tackling him out of the way of a laser so of course his very appropriate response is to make uncomfortable remarks about the fact that it’s like a hug. I don’t think Westerns as a genre need to be abandoned, in fact I generally really enjoy Westerns, but if you’re writing one now it’s important to take into account the historical impacts of the time period you’re writing about and not just keep repeating the same drudging ignorant story arc.
Burning Fields #2
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writers: Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel
Artist: Colin Lorimer
Cover Artists: Colin Lorimer and Riley Rossmo
This comic is exactly what I wanted from Plunder, except Burning Fields actually delivers. I reviewed the first Burning Fields in January and I wanted to look at the second one to see if it lived up to the excitement of the first. It 100% did. Tying in Middle Eastern oil politics with gritty horror creates the perfect combination of realism and suspense. It handles all aspects of its material with intelligence and insight. If you’re looking for a politically relevant horror comic, keep reading Burning Fields! It continues to be grand and sophisticated. And check out the cover art.