Vault Comics Pubwatch @ SDCC

Vault Pubwatch banner - image of Aydis from Heathen, art by Jen Bartel

Vault Comics started the month off with a celebration of firsts, offering thirteen free comics in the spirit of the July 4th holiday. Download the first issues of Alien Bounty Hunter, Deep Roots, Failsafe, Fearscape, Fissure, Friendo, Heathen, Maxwell’s Demons, Songs for the Dead, Submerged, Vagrant Queen, Wasted Space, and Zojaqan to get a taste of what Vault is made of—or read on to see what I think!
Either way, we should all be picking up copies of Vagrant Queen. Get a load of Adriyan Rae in costume as filming for the series begins:

San Diego Comic-Con

Find Vault Comics at booth #1819 at San Diego Comic-Con where they’ll be offering exclusive covers for Sera and the Royal Stars #1 by Kris Anka, and Resonant #1 by Dawn Carlos, produced in partnership with Space Cadets Collection Collection from Texas. Drop by their booth to also find a special advanced preview issue of Mall #1 by Gary Dauberman, Michael Moreci, Zak Hartong, Addison Duke, and Jim Campbell.

Nathan and Adrian show off Vault comics at their booth

If you’re up for a real challenge, solve the Test #1 3D puzzle in under two minutes to gain access to Vault’s comics on Comixology!

Vault Comics' Test #1 puzzle

What I’m Reading

Vault Comics offers a wide range of stories that dance from past to present, from earth to outer space. I am slowly falling for this eclectic collection of reads. Here are a few of the books that have caught my attention lately.

Queen of Bad Dreams #2
Dearbhla Kelly (colorist), Danny Lore (writer), Kim McLean (letterer), Jordi Pérez (artist)
May 29, 2019

Cover for Queen of Bad Dreams #2 - Close up of the pink haired dream figment woman known as Ava
Inspector Judge Daher knows that she’s got to be extra careful with the escaped dream figment she’s chasing, since the client in question is the son of a powerful councilwoman. But Daher doesn’t condemn any sentient figment back to the dream world just because some politician demands it. Which is why she has to get to Ava to hear her side of the story. Of course, there’s something fishy going on. Queen of Bad Dreams works the cop-with-morals angle in a well-paced drama. It takes its time to strengthen characters and relationships, while still fitting in lots of action, including a brilliantly drawn and coloured fight sequence.

I’m eager to get my hands on the next issue of Queen of Bad Dreams, but the promised June issue hasn’t come out yet… While we’re waiting, see what Danny Lore has to say about the comic in this interview with The Beat.

Test #1
Jen Hickman (artist), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (letterer), Harry Saxton (colorist), Christopher Sebela (writer)
July 3, 2019

Cover for Test #1 - A figure darts across the cover, their face obscured by a blank white block
If you want a more complete review of this issue, I suggest checking out Emma Snape’s take, because right now, I am just gonna gush all over Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering. Starting with the scratchy font that permeates the main dialogue balloons and narrations, Otsmane-Elhaou captures the sense of mental chaos that surrounds the main character, Aleph Null, as they struggle to hold themselves together while hunting the mythical, technologically advanced Midwestern town of Laurelwood. Aleph is a young person who has given their mind and body over to various tests and has become a kaleidoscopic drug/tech-controlled/induced guinea pig. This is all communicated in the harsh edge of the letters in Aleph’s words and the words they hear, which are in turn countered by the cool, clinical blue of Mary, an AI that supports Aleph as best as it can. Like Aleph’s thoughts, the word balloons are sometimes a jumble, overlapping as thoughts and dialogue interrupt each other in conversations, with some balloons even sneaking out behind doors or around corners. And yet Otsmane-Elhaou keeps all this seeming chaos in perfect order, making it easy to read while appreciating what Aleph is going through.

Heathen #7
Natasha Alterici (writer and artist), Rachel Deering (letterer)
July 3, 2019

Cover for Heathen #7 - A valkyrie marches in the foreground with others, armed and determined, at her side
Heathen is the story of Aydis, a lone warrior cast out of her society because of her “unnatural” love for another woman. She takes on a mission to free the cursed Valkyrie Brynhild from her imprisonment by Odin, the corrupt god. Our Ginnis Tonik calls Heathen a “Feminist Lesbian Viking Comic Book” and everyone should be reading it. Its long-awaited return focuses mainly on Frejya and her confrontation with Odin after his rage tantrum. They argue over the meaning of love and how it can be twisted. Their argument, though interspersed with moments of violence, is largely a quiet, black-and-white affair that Alterici depicts with a simplicity that makes the climax that much more shocking. Meanwhile, Aydis remains aboard the pirate ship where she continues to learn that there is so much more to the world than she imagines.

Alterici’s art in the first volume was good, but inconsistent, as if some pages simply didn’t get enough attention—leaving them feeling unfinished compared to others. Her stylized, sketchy look has settled into much cleaner lines now, allowing her to focus more on telling the story through the characters’ actions and interactions without getting bogged down with too many details or even colour.

She Said Destroy #2
Joe Corallo (writer), Liana Kangas (art), Rebecca Nalty (colors), Melanie Ujimori (letters)
July 3, 2019

Cover for She Said Destroy - Portrait view of a woman with a blonde undercut and a cut on her right cheek
Nola Pfau says it best.

Sera and the Royal Stars #1
Raúl Angulo (colourist), Jim Campbell (letter), Audrey Mok (artist), Jon Tsuei (writer)
July 17, 2019

A woman floats in profile, her clothes and scarves floating around her

Sera, a princess of Parsa, has grown up with war, and in the middle of a battle, she is summoned by a deity called Mitra who says Sera has been chosen to break the bonds of the Royal Stars, where the previous chosen one had failed. Unable to ignore these visions that have haunted her any longer, Sera embarks on her journey, which involves finding unusual people, and fighting a varied host of enemies. There is a lot introduced in this first issue, none of which is touched on with much depth, but there every new image is stunning in colour and costume design, and there’s just enough context given to help shape the world and guide the reader on the path Sera must take.

Nola Pfau has more to say about Sera and the Royal Stars, including some interesting thoughts about video game comparisons.

Continuing their homage covers for firsts of each new series, this one is extra special because it’s a homage to one of Vault’s own books, Heathen.

Resonant #1
David Andry (writer), Alejandro Aragon (artist), Deron Bennett (letterer), Jason Wordie (colorist)
July 17, 2019

A close up of a young child's face, with their index finger held up and two bugs resting on it.

Resonant #1 wastes no time. We meet Paxton and his three children as the single dad readies to depart in search of medicine for his chronically ill youngest son. He leaves the children with reassurances of his return, but demands their understanding of how to survive if he doesn’t. Bec, the eldest, is missing a leg below the knee, but, though her crutches exist clearly in her every panel, they are never shown to be a weakness, especially when the Wave hits. We don’t quite know what a Wave is, only that “chirpers” — insects — can warn of its coming. And we know that a Wave is coming. Perhaps many. It is inevitable now in this world where children must fend for themselves and a father must risk everything to make sure they survive. No one can be trusted, and nothing feels safe. Aragon’s bleak, heavy lines under Wordie’s intense colours promise a world that is frightening and intense. This first issue feels short, and yet, turning each page became more and more unnerving, with its horrors waiting in every panel…

Coming Soon

Just in time for Halloween, Vault Comics introduces Cult Classic: Creature Feature #1 this fall.

A revenge story set during the apocalypse, Cult Classic: Creature Feature is a love letter to B-movie madness written by Eliot Rahal, drawn by John Bivens, colored by Hannah Jerrie and Iris Monahan, and designed by Tim Daniel.

Eons ago, visitors from outer space buried an item of unimaginable power in the primordial swamps that would one day become King Lake—a quaint little basin on the edge of Whisper, USA. Millions of years later, a comet’s radioactive waves awaken the monster slumbering beneath the lake. As the beast feeds on America’s sweet, delicious youth, brain-slugs infect the quiet town, causing victims to vomit up their kill-hungry, zombified skeletons. But for seventeen-year-old Jarrod Parker, none of that stuff matters much. For him, this isn’t about the Apocalypse. It’s about payback. Nothing—not his friends, not the undead, not even the end of the world—will keep him from vengeance.

Cult Classic: Creature Feature #1 will debut with a Vault Vintage B Cover honoring Francesco Francavilla’s iconic cover for Afterlife with Archie #1 (Archie Comics, 2013).

Also coming this fall is Money Shot #1, “a story about scientists having sex with aliens for money.” I want to say this is an eye-raising concept but uh… thanks to Star Wars and BioWare, I’m not gonna kick an asari, chiss, and/or turian out of my bed…

Money Shot’s creative five-some includes writer Tim Seeley (Grayson, Revival, and Hack/Slash), co-scripter & comedian Sarah Beattie, artist Rebekah Isaacs (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel & Faith), colorist Kurt Michael Russell (Hack/Slash, Glitterbomb), and letterer Crank! (Rick and Morty, Curse Words).

In the near future, space travel is ludicrously expensive and largely ignored. Enter Christine Ocampos, inventor of the Star Shot teleportation device with a big idea: She’ll travel to new worlds, engage —intimately—with local aliens, and film her exploits for a jaded earth populace trying to find something new on the internet. Now, Chris and her merry band of scientist-cum-pornstars explore the universe, each other, and the complexities of sex in MONEY SHOT! A story about scientists having sex with aliens for the glory of mankind—and money.

Money Shot #1 will receive a Vault Vintage B Cover by Nathan Gooden and Tim Daniel that pays tribute to John Byrne & Joe Sinnott’s iconic cover to Fantastic Four #220 (Marvel Comics, 1980). The Vault Vintage cover line celebrates the artistic achievements of both modern and legendary comic artists.

Wendy Browne

Wendy Browne

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