Top Cow Pubwatch: January

Top Cow Pubwatch - Banner designed by Cori McCreery (Aphrodite V and logo copyright Top Cow Productions)

Though the Christmas season was slow for Top Cow’s publications, the publisher and its creators have lots on the horizon for the new year. Here’s a rundown of what’s been going on.

Top Cow News

Ryan Cady, creator of Infinite Dark, writes a few other titles for Top Cow. Here he is chatting with Dreamers Comics Podcast about his work on the Warframe comic.

If you’re a fan of Stjepan Šejić’s work, spend some time on his social media feeds to enjoy the artistic musings of his talented brain and get a taste of what he’s got coming up with Sunstone, Death Vigil, and Letters to the Vampire Queen.

The digital first issue of La Voz De M.A.Y.O: Tata Rambo is available on Gumroad. As told by Ramon Jaurigue’s grandson and Top Cow’s Director of Operations, Henry Barajas, this is a slice of history depicting the story of the WWII veteran who was instrumental in forming the Mexican, American, Yaqui, and Others (M.A.Y.O.) organization. Barajas intends to donate the first $500 worth of profits from the publication to the Immigration Advocates Network, with Top Cow promising to match the donation.

September Mourning’s latest video, “Glass Animals,” was released on December 29th.

Finally, CEO Matt Hawkins doesn’t feel that he uses his masters degree in physics for much these days, though I’d beg to differ, considering the “Science Class” he adds to the back matter of many of his comics. Regardless, Top Cow will be working with Hawkins’ alma mater, UCLA, on their upcoming Geek Week.

What I’m Reading

Ares IX
Charles Crapo (writer), Brendan Hodgdon (writer), Sara Knaepen (cover artist), Balazs Valyogos (artist), Mark Whitaker (artist)
December 2018

Ares IX Charles Crapo (writer), Brendan Hodgdon (writer), Sara Knaepen (cover artist), Balazs Valyogos (artist), Mark Whitaker (artist) December 2018

The winners of the Top Cow 2016 talent hunt offer up another one shot from the future where there is no more death and the nines have established fiefdoms and attempt to rule a new world that is anything but peaceful. Though not officially listed as part of the IXth Generation series from 2015/16, this one shot—like the Aphrodite IX:Ares one shot published earlier last year—takes us backwards to learn more about the players that shape the world of the nines. In two short stories we first meet Ares followed by Hades, siblings that are, we learn, connected by the Darkness. Ares faces off against a monster in a battle that he believes is intended to prove his strength, but according to the spirit that haunts him, proves only that he is a pawn. Hades’ story is a bit more obnoxiously fun, if only because it brings back the lewd and crude darklings that accompany the Darkness.

Both stories offer a glimpse, but no conclusions, leaving just enough questions to inspire curiosity about the world of the IXth generation.

Infinite Dark #2 and #3
Ryan Cady (writer), Andrea Mutti (artist) Troy Peteri (letterer), K. Michael Russell (colorist)
November/December 2018

The world has ended and the few remaining survivors are at a loss for what to do next. With investigating a murder on her to-do list, Security Officer Deva Karrell must also deal with the so-called “Void Exposure Syndrome” that is making her question her sanity. She is certain that she saw something out there in the black, but of course no one believes her, and maybe she doesn’t quite believe herself?

In issue #2, Deva’s struggles with the shadow in her mind are mirrored by the shadows that populate the space station. Mutti’s style is well suited to the trauma and isolation that Deva and the crew experience, with Russell’s colours emphasizing the coldness and loneliness that the survivors are floating in, which is then contrasted by bright oranges and reds when everything truly starts to fall apart and panic sets in.

When the pieces of the puzzle start to come together for Deva, the strength of will that is implied at the beginning starts to shine through, and she pushes through to confront the true darkness that will spell the end of humanity if she can’t stop it.

Each issue is accompanied by essays from contributors expressing their thoughts on what shaped their views on horror. Though each experience is very personal, they are also often very relatable, and they echo the fears being expressed through Cady’s storytelling.

Witchblade #9 and #10
Roberta Ingranata (artist), Caitlin Kittredge (writer), Troy Peteri (letterer), Bryan Valenza (colourist)
November/December 2018

Alex wants to take apart NGEN, and that means trusting Johnny, her once-thought-dead love. She can’t trust him, but his connection to NGEN is her foot in the door, which results in her being captured and experimented on by Artemis Fallon who wants the Witchblade Artifact for herself.

Alex’s friends are as unhappy with Johnny’s seeming betrayal as they are with the return of Ash, whom they can’t trust either. Team Alex is basically comprised of traitors with answers, and Debbie and Maj, her super loyal friends. At least everyone mostly wants the same thing: to rescue Alex. But does she need rescuing?

As fun as torture isn’t, it does provide Alex with ample opportunity to get in touch with her Artifact side and learn to use the Witchblade’s powers better, but at what cost?

The Freeze #1
Phillip Sevy (illustrator and colourist), Troy Peteri (letterer), Dan Wickline (writer)
December 2018

The Freeze (Top Cow Productions, December 2018)

See my full review here.

Aphrodite V Volume 1
Bryan Hill (writer), Jeff Spokes (artist)
December 2018

Aphrodite V, Volume 1 collects the four issues of the new series that I’ve been gushing over for months. While the new Cyber Force series offers the history and future of the Aphrodites, this is a look at where she fits in the almost present, taking place in a not-so-far-off future Los Angeles.

Hill has breathed new life into this version of the Aphrodite series of android assassins, introducing us to a stoic and mysterious being who apparently wants to do the right thing and has decided that the young genius entrepreneur, Martin Carver, is the right person to attach herself to in order to achieve her purpose and defy her creators. Carver’s bodyguard and confidante, Hui-Men, is none too happy with the idea of working with Aphrodite, and Carver himself has much to learn when it comes to the true stakes of advancing technologies and the techno-terrorism that he becomes embroiled in.

Spokes’ art truly sets the series and character apart, with vibrant solid colours and thick lines contrasting shadows and darkness. There is barely any in between, and Aphrodite flows through it all with a cat-like grace and aloofness.

That rounds up the end of the year for Top Cow. Let’s see what the publisher has to offer for 2019.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

Publisher, mother, geek, executive assistant sith, gamer, writer, lazy succubus, blogger, bibliophile. Not necessarily in that order.