Larime Taylor (w & a)
This one doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but the reason I felt compelled to try it is that Larime Taylor, the mind behind A Voice In The Dark, is disabled and drew the entire comic with. His. Mouth. The art is really unique — strong foregrounds and vague backgrounds (for which I cannot blame Taylor — I hate drawing backgrounds, too), so even though the story of a woman of color who suffers from a compulsion to kill is not my usual fare — I quit Dexter in Season Two — I gave it a go.
The killing is framed in such a way that the character thus afflicted Zoey resists it until people become bullies or abusive around her. Then her restraint slips. She is still trying to maintain life as a normal college student with a call-in show.
I’m not excited about the fact that Zoey keeps a diary — it seems ill-advised for a woman who’s fought this compulsion for most of her life and who knows there’s someone else out there watching her. I do like the fact that Zoey is supportive of her queer friends, and she firmly tells a stalker he’s being a creeper.
But the way Taylor tells the story — with muted colors and interesting dialogue is drawing me in. He does an excellent job of building the suspense. His characters have dimension. Zoey’s relationship with Rio, such that it is, is unarguably weird, but Zoey is the one with the power so far, which I really liked seeing. Rio himself is an angry black man, but he is not an Angry Black Man. He’s the victim of cruel bullying and social coping issues. The “you are not alone” aspect of finding out about Zoey is what drew him to her — this is something I feel strongly about since a lot of marginalized people and people with invisible illnesses experience loneliness and isolation until they encounter someone else who understands. That’s very powerful.
Unfortunately, the comic isn’t going to go anywhere after this 5 issue mini unless people start buying it. Larime Taylor has already gone on record as saying he thinks the poor sales might mean people don’t want to see comics with PoC leads, women leads, or queer content, but he doesn’t want to believe it.
Neither do I. That’s why I gave it a chance. And despite it being off my usual beaten path, I’m finding it a more interesting read than I expected. It deserves a chance.
[Editors note: Be sure to check out our interview with A Voice in the Dark creator Larime Taylor and his wife and colourist, Sylv Taylor.]
Kurtis J. Wiebe (w)
Roc Upchurch (a)
First off, I’m not thrilled with the cover swap they’re doing with Peter Panzerfaust. Cross marketing is cool, but…it just doesn’t feel like Tyler Jenkins really gets the Rat Queens, you know? It’s so totally sword and sorcery, but not quite far enough to hit the irony needed for an issue all about tradition. In Violet’s words, “Fuck tradition.”
In this issue, we’re treated to a flashback to Violet’s full-bearded past, where she spars with her father and brother over a gala they’re sponsoring in order to sell some of their sweet armor. Violet’s pissed because she’d rather be fighting, and her entire world is turned upside down when she meets Morgan of the clan Meldhammer. Morgan is a middle-aged mom who introduces Violet to the idea of “fuck tradition,” then promptly wins the tournament, albeit off-screen. Violet pushed past her tolerance of the event during her turn at modeling and runs to her room to impulsively claim her independence. Then her mom shows up, and oh man, who is cutting onions nearby? (Blink, blink.)
The interior art is great with some stand out panels focusing on Violet’s face as her temper spikes. Her mom’s character design is wonderful as well with her earrings and dress balancing out the full dwarven beard. Violet has her nose and eyes, and their scenes together are truly beautiful.
Jason Aaron (w)
Russell Dauterman (a)
I was getting my happy Thor dance on, bubbling over at new Thor, and looking forward to reading all about her. Then I read this issue.
New Thor has 2 pages.
The issue is really all about old Thor and Odin getting his kingship back on while Freyja plots in the background. I never read the Thor comics because he just didn’t interest me that much. I’m more of a Loki girl – give me complexity, trickiness, steamy shower scenes. Thor struck me as a bit one note, and page after page of him moping over Mjolnir did nothing to dispel my impression of him.
There’s also a bit about frost giants attacking Midgard, and this is where the art really stood out. The full-spread image on pages 4-5 as the frost giants attack the underwater installation is beautiful. The colors really convey that underwater feel with the bone ornaments and furs standing out in nice contrast.
I’ll be picking up the next issue in hopes of getting to know the new Thor, but this issue was a little disappointing. There’s a little bit of leeway on my part, but not much.
Just to back up my girl Sarah: I found Thor #1 lackluster, too. I guess they had to go this route for people who haven’t read or followed Original Sin, but I found Snortblat-to-be hanging out on the moon begging the hammer to find him worthy again — tedious. She-Thor doesn’t even show up until the last page, and it’s fair to say that it’s extremely unlikely she’s human since Mjolnir’s been sitting on the moon since Original Sin.
Actually, I kinda liked it!
Saga # 23
Brian K. Vaughn (w)
Fiona Staples (a)
Yeah, so the split mentioned a few issues back gets going in this issue. Marko storms off to hang out with Hazel’s dance teacher after learning Alana’s being doing drugs around their daughter, while Alana pops two more Fadeaway and has a heart-to-heart with Izabel. Then things get worse.
Alana and Izabel’s conversation was hard to read. Alana conflates Marko throwing groceries at her with her father’s abusive behavior, and Izabel tells her she’s wrong. While I don’t disagree with either Alana’s or Izabel’s point, is this the conversation about domestic violence that should be had in this comic in particular? Their conversation frames it as Alana overacting, and Izabel says she should forgive Marko since he’s otherwise a great guy, and this is an all-too common trope directed towards women in abusive relationships. Downplaying the pressure on victims to excuse their abusers is an odd narrative choice for an otherwise thoughtful and nuanced comic.
During this talk, Izabel comes out as gay. Awesome! Except for the fact that she’s dead. Although there are other gay characters in the series, such as the gay reporters and Gwendolyn, her heart-breaking story just highlighted how young she was, how early in life Izabel had died. So we have the gay reporters who had to leave home because of stigma, Gwendolyn is on my grrr list due to killing Oswald, and now the other gay character is dead. Yuma mentions during this issue (while she’s spilling her traitorous guts) that the best way to get people to pay attention is sex. Saga has plenty of sex, and most of it is the heterosexual or the lesbian-for-viewing-pleasure sort that goes on at Sextiliion. Does ghostly Izabel get another chance at love after death with no bottom half? Will we get any man-on-man action? Important. Questions.
The art this issue is fabulous as usual. Check out the back of Ginny’s sleep shirt on page 13 to see that concert t-shirts are the same no matter the world.
Antony Johnston (w)
Christopher Mitten, Ben Templesmith (a)
Antony Johnston, Christopher Mitten (creators)
I picked this up on a whim; the story’s in full flow, and I’ve no idea what’s going on. I don’t even care: the art is BEAUTIFUL. Black and white, line based — this isn’t a “looks homemade” backhander, it’s a heartfelt compliment — it’s the kind of art that reminds you that human hands have made it. A lot is going on (the marketing copy tells us “the truth” is finally being “revealed,” so, uh, whoops), and it all seems to be to do with a big naked man with long, densely curly hair. Am I interested in finding out more? Yes I am. Point me to the trades.