Anderson, PSI Division #2Anderson PSI #2 Cover, Smith & Critchlow, IDW 2014

Matt Smith (w)

Carl Critchlow (a)

IDW

I’m a little surprised at how much I like this series so far. The first two issues have dealt with introducing Anderson’s character more fully – her background, a little bit about her powers, and her interactions with other judges. Anderson is an action hero who relies as much on her mental powers as her gun and, by pulling her out of the city and into the swamp, is shown to be tough, quick-thinking, and still wonderfully compassionate.

While her normal armor is badass(!), I didn’t buy the depiction of Anderson and DeGroot’s psychic forms as long haired beautiful naked women. DeGroot has long hair, but Anderson’s sudden flowing mane was a little distracting. And while their lack of clothing can be read as a signal of vulnerability and intimacy in that form, it came across as a little off, with their breasts and belly buttons realized but no detail given to either nipples nor vulva. That lack of detail, combined with idealized facial features, made it hard to determine which Judge was which and left me curious if they would have depicted a male Judge in psychic form the same way.

Otherwise the art is really nice with a nice balance between line drawing and graphic shapes. Anderson and DeGroot have different body shapes, and the rest of the characters are easy to distinguish based on silhouette alone. The weakest element might be the color; while it tries to be unified in different scenes, it ends up being muddy throughout.

— Sarah 

Father's Day #1, Dark HorseFather’s Day #1 (of four)

Mike Richardson (w)

Gabriel Huzman (a)

Java Tartaglia (colours)

Nate Piekos of BLAMBOT! (lettering)

Cover by Keron Grant

Dark Horse

We meet an ex-hitman in his mid-life, post-retirement, deserted-beachside safe house. Classic: wooden walls, sparse but comfortable second-hand furniture, blinds to peek through. Do houses really look like that? This one specifically seems precarious, in fact dangerous; the house just grows straight up, not two metres back from the edge of the cliff. Maybe the stone here is particularly hard to erode. The grass grows green right up to the foundations, too. The soil must be so nutritious. Despite being on a sea-facing cliff. There’s no apparent path around to the back (front?) door — the cliff is right there, on either side — and the woodpile seen a little later can’t be out front or so would the car. And it isn’t, because if it was, the people in it would see them escaping.

I need to see a map.

I’m nitpicking because these things bother me (the house just looks wrong somehow), but also because there’s not too much more to say about Father’s Day yet. This is a first issue, a new story, and it’s all setup. Here’s the bad man turned good, here’s the daughter he left behind (all grown up), here are the people chasing them. Okay.

The colouring’s largely grey toned, again, which would put me off fast in a shop. So are the emotions; daughter Denise is hardbitten and densely angry about her father’s lifelong absence, but I don’t really feel her pain. She speaks in short sentences, one after another (multiply bubbled speech), accusative and with words like “asshole,” and her face looks tight. When she speaks about her mother having died recently, her face relaxes into a familiar “it is sad” expression:

{:[

A single tear rolls down her cheek. I cannot relate to her. She seems like a liar — who knows, maybe she is. What does it mean to her character that she wears one feathered earring? The earring is blue and pink; it’s the brightest and most singular thing in the story.

Nothing is shared re: the current life of said bad dad with a heart full of repentance. He sits at home (or occasionally stands, looking out to sea) wearing khakis and an oversized button-up shirt, collar undone. He looks rumpled and his hair is messy. He has walking boots on indoors, sitting in his nice green armchair. Who is he? Why is he so nondescript? Perhaps this works in a novel, but in a comic I just think “what a boring design.”

— Claire

The Life After #3The Life After #3 Cover by Nick Pitarra, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Oni Press 2014

Joshua Hale Fialkov (w)

Gabo (a)

Cover by Nick Pitarra

Oni Press

This comic is weird, but not outlandish. It’s bible-fantastic, and a-respectful — God, father of Jesus, appears as a sort of meat-coloured Doop — but I have a hard time imagining anyone being offended by it. It’s so unassuming in its wild proclamation. An angel (a seraph) opens its face in four quarters, fly-eyes and heavenly maw revealed, but the colouring is so gentle. The colours are spackled on, many soft tones and texture to create one field of “greyish sweater.” And the seraph says, “BLAAGH!” as it lunges.

The Life After is not balls-out progressive like Prophet is, all ~taste the weird~. It reminds me of Prophet in a sort of negative sense, because it’s so much, I don’t know, sweeter? There’s an odd confidence to its tentative introduction of concepts like… infinite zombie corpses condemned to eternal cave piles, having died before Christian afterlives — which, I suppose, “won” the goodnight wars here, becoming the only post-death option — were introduced, leaving them uninvited to heaven/hell/purgatory. This is introduced towards the end of the issue, the protagonists just sort of trip over a big pile of zombie corpses, and then light comes out of Jude and–! Etc. The characters aren’t given page time to react to the revelation of such mythic injustice. The issue just moves on and then ends. It’s a little frustrating (the visual pacing, I suppose, is the most perplexing element throughout), but it’s also quite interesting; it creates an ambivalent mood, which I believe the main characters are also suffering from. I mean… purgatory, right?

The main characters are Jude, apparently the newer son of God, and Ernest Hemingway. Ernest shoots a gun at a seraph, remembering Spain. Ernest talks of retreat, fear, and bravery. He carries matches. He does double duty: guide/neophyte. He’s been in purgatory a lot longer than Jude, but the island of Jude is new territory. So are Heaven and Hell, where it looks like things are going soon. Someone who’s read Dante’s Inferno, rather than just Dan Brown’s Inferno, could probably make a lot of all this.

Jude looks like Squall from Final Fantasy 8, having accidentally got a job and passed forty. I wish he would either tighten up or remove his tie.

— Claire

Butterfly #1Butterfly #1 Cover, Bennett & Fuso, Archaia 2014

Marguerite Bennett (W)

Antonio Fuso (A)

Cover by Phil Noto

Archaia

I promised the WWAC Majestrix that I’d try to give a look at more comics written by women, so I picked up Butterfly on a whim. The main character’s name is … or was… Rebecca. But now she works in a Dollhouse-esque environment where no one has names that they go by. She describes herself in terms of the skills her employers find useful about her: She’s a muscular, athletic, pretty blonde who is capable of disguise (what, no wig cap? artist research failure or Hollywooding it up), handoffs in crowds that look casual, and using an innocent baby she got somewhere as a cover. She gets hosed on her mission, a la the USA show “Burn Notice” and has to go on the run — where she finds out a childhood memory turns out to have been manufactured: her long-dead dad is … not so much.

This isn’t really my cup of tea. I outgrew James Bond/Bourne Supremacy kind of spy stuff awhile back. The writer may be female, but there’s a guy’s name as the credit for the story itself. The art by Antonio Fuso is a little too angular for my taste.

It’s only a 4 issue mini. Maybe I can make my way through it.

— Jamie