Comic Sense with Julia: March 18th Edition

The weather in Minnesota has finally started to feel like not death so that is super exciting and made a couple of the comics I read this week especially welcome. I know what you’re thinking, “Here goes a Minnesotan talking about the weather again, she must not have anything interesting to say. Oh weather, the perfect conversation filler.” But that is where you’re wrong! There are certain feelings that go along with spring in Minnesota for me and one of those is the overwhelming desire to sit outside, soak up the sun, and read something by Steven King, Ursula K. Le Guin, or Isaac Asimov. Spring is for epic stories and expansive plots and that is way Shaper and Invisible Republic really hit the spot for me this week.

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Shaper #1

Publisher: Dark Horse

Writer: Eric Heisserer

Artist/Cover Artist: Felipe Massafera

Price: $3.99

Shaper took me off guard. From the description I went in to it thinking it would just be another sci-fi story to file away with all the other multitudes of sci-fi stories that were entertaining, but not super memorable. Boy was I wrong! Shaper started off with a description of a trading card game that was based off of the reality of the world the main character, Spry, lives in. As a Magic: The Gathering enthusiast, I was immediately intrigued. I stared at the page in awe and thought, “This comic is setting up its world and backstory through the rules of a trading card game?? And the trading card game’s actual purpose is propaganda for a corrupt government??? Color me enthused! Color me giddy!!” This is exactly the type of spring reading I didn’t even realize I was looking for, but when I found it, I immediately had flashbacks to days spent with a book by a pond or on a cliff or in a tree. Shaper #1 creates a world that promises a story of epic proportions. Reminiscent of Star Wars and Dune, there are aliens and space ships and armies and it is perfection. My favorite moment? When Spry meets the main character of his trading card game in real life and says, “Tor Ajax. I have your holo-card–” because you know we would all say that to Jace or Liliana , even if we were pretty sure they were going to kill us in about two seconds.

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Invisible Republic #1

Publisher: Image Comics

Writers: Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko

Artist/Cover Artist: Gabriel Hardman

Price: $2.99

I read Invisible Republic right after I read Shaper and the tones were very similar in a pleasing way. I felt like I was still in the same universe, just in another part of it. Maybe across the galaxy or in a nearby solar system. Invisible Republic is a political sci-fi comic that looks at a dystopian future through flashbacks and the work of a disheartened journalist. I liked that it was very serious, but still engaging. A lot of things I read these days either rely on humor to maintain interest in the story or are so serious that I get lost in a slew of political jargon and dark, shadowy art. Invisible Republic was a perfect balance between intense and dark and well written and captivating. If you’re a fan of classic sci-fi, definitely check Invisible Republic out. We’re just one issue in and I already wish there was a trade out so I didn’t have to wait a month to find out what happens next.

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Ei8ht #2

Publisher: Dark Horse

Writers: Rafael Albuquerque and Mike Johnson

Artist/Cover Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

Price: $3.50

The best thing about Ei8ht #2 is that it doesn’t lag compared to the first issue. I’ve found a lot of series have rip roaring first issues and then a second issue that gets bogged down by establishing climate and setting. Ei8ht #2 has enough information to fill like five episodes of a TV show, yet I don’t feel lost, confused, or overwhelmed. The pacing is precise and seamless. In this issue, we learn more about The Meld, the history of scientists searching for The Meld, the political structure of The Meld, and the backstories of both Hari and Joshua. Yes, all of that in one short comic and it is wonderful. And the colors! Wheeee, the colors! I’m still so excited about the color scheme of this series. Not only is it just astoundingly gorgeous, but the fact that the colors mean something will never cease to make me hop about in excitement. Another thing I’m not going to be getting over anytime soon – the dinosaurs galumphing about in the background. Ei8ht #2 is a really well done piece and a great addition to what is already shaping up to be a fantastic series.

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Chrononauts #1

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Sean Murphy

Cover Artists: Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth

Price: $3.50

I guess I should have been prepared for Chrononauts, having read Millar’s work before, but I’m always astounded by how much testosterone is flung about in his writing. Okay, maybe being an incredibly successful scientist would lead to one acting like an obnoxious teenage dude-bro, but it’s not something I really enjoy reading about. I get enough of that in my business classes at university. Chrononauts is the story of two guys who think they’re the shit, but then massively mess everything up as they attempt to make history by traveling through time. While it wasn’t my favorite book in the world, it is certainly a pretty book. The art of Chrononauts is great. Murphy’s sketchy style fits well with the uncertainty of future travel and the unexpected change of events in this issue. But unfortunately, being attractive doesn’t make up for a bad personality, as the guys in this comic have yet to find out, it seems.

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Red One #1

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Xavier Dorison

Artists/Cover Artists: Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson

Price: $2.99

I’ve been sitting in a coffee shop for about an hour just staring at my computer and staring at Red One trying to decide if I should even review it. I generally try to keep my reviews light hearted and positive, but Red One brought up an issue for me that I can’t get past and I feel like needs to be discussed. When I first saw the cover of Red One, I expected there to be some sexual undertones. With a picture of a busty female heroine on the front, these things often happen. But there is a difference between having a character use her feminine wiles for her benefit and having other people exploit her sexuality. In a series of panels in this issue, we see Vera, the female protagonist, discussing her plans to travel to America with her male superiors. After Vera leaves, one man asks the other to set him up for dinner with Vera because he is sure she has “talents” that can aid the party. The other man replies that these talents are the only ones that she refuses to use for Russia. This scene is charged with the understanding that Vera’s reluctance to engage sexually with her superiors is something out of the norm and a detriment to her character. I am super not okay with this. I have been in situations before where my male superiors have tried to use their positions of power to take advantage of me and it is one of the worst feelings in the world. It is never okay and it should never be shown casually and humorously. Red One is not a comic I will be reading again.

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Giant Days #1

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Writer: John Allison

Artist/Cover Artist: Lissa Treiman

Price: $3.99

To end on a much lighter note, I loved Giant Days! I totally want to hang out with the three quirky ladies in this comic and make them my best friends. And I admire the mustachioed man’s dedication to gravy because, yum. Just trust me and read it!

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