Want to catch up on my latest comic book reviews and articles? No? Well, too bad. Each month I'll be posting a round-up of all my stuff, so watch this space.
Shutter #13 from Image Comics is a book about a lot of things. Despite its fantastical settings, off-kilter storybook cast, and the distinctive theatricality of Kristopher clan drama, this title’s lofty yet deeply personal themes often fly close to the sun. To the credit of series writer Joe Keatinge and artist Leila del Duca, however, the presentation is deft, thoughtful, and delightfully understated. Seemingly disparate elements such as family, loss, memory, anger, and identity are all tightly interwoven components of Kate Kristopher’s journey, a complex web of ties so tight they often choke rather than bind. Shutter #13 is no exception to this rule. As this quirky adventure series kicks off its second year, Kate Kristopher is back in an issue full of surprises, mystery, and exciting possibilities.
Negative Space #1 from writer Ryan K. Lindsay and artist Owen Gieni is a book about monsters. The horror its cover promises is one of subterranean nightmares, where fleshy pink tendril creatures stand at the ready outside lavish stone altars. Hooded figures loom in the shadows like Lovecraftian cultists, serving as caretakers of their otherworldly domain. But Negative Space is so much more than its monsters. It’s a book about depression, isolation, and human connection in a world where emotions are commodities and experiences are quantified. If what makes us human can be bought and sold, who among us are the real monsters?
Wolf #1 from Image Comics promises a city full of monsters and the pulpy swagger of crime noir. The creative team, consisting of writer Ales Kot, artist Matt Taylor, and colorist Lee Loughridge, deliver on that promise with bravado. Theirs is an otherworldly Los Angeles drenched in myth, magic, and film noir allusions, as rich as its sun-bleached hills and the murky darkness that swallows them at night. Leaning on the familiar tropes of Raymond Chandler’s crime novels, hardboiled paranormal detective Antoine Wolfe has a headful of nightmares and a death wish, moving comfortably from one recognizable tableau to the next. He walks mean city streets populated by conmen and creatures, racists and hired goons as he reluctantly takes on the case of orphaned teenager Anita Christ, who may just prove to be a major player in the impending apocalypse. Just as Antoine burns above the dirty city below, so too will the world in this genre-bending noir mystery.
Starve from Image Comics is a sharp character drama that examines America’s increasingly bizarre relationship with food. The creative team, consisting of writer Brian Wood, artist Danijel Zezelj, and colorist Dave Stewart, do so by lampooning the melodrama of competition cooking shows. Taken on face-value, their critique is straightforward. Combining the format of Iron Chef with the demands of Chopped, adding in the high-stakes sensibilities of an international sports tournament, Starve embraces the cultish idolatry surrounding celebrity chefs to wave its finger at contemporary food programming. But Wood, Zezelj, and Stewart’s criticism of American food culture is much more nuanced than that, examining how class affects our relationships with food, and how the media we consume warps it even further.