The shortest month is also the month full of treats, whether you prefer chocolates or good comics. This month, we wrap up the road trip in Life is Strange and take a look at another entry from the world of Cutting Edge, Cutting Edge: The Devil’s Mirror #1.
Titan Comics News and Announcements
February 2021 Release Schedule
Please note release dates are always subject to change.
- Doctor Who #4: February 1oth
- Enki Bilal’s Legends of Today Vol. 5: February 16th
- Muhammad Ali, Kinshasa 1974: February 23rd
- The Moorcock Library: Elric the Eternal Champion Collection: February 23rd
- Cutting Edge: The Devil’s Mirror #2: February 24th
- Blade Runner: Origins #1: February 24th
Minky Woodcock is Back!
The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini is now The Girl Who Electrified Tesla! Hard Case Crime’s Minky Woodcock detective series returns in April with the World War II-era Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Electrified Tesla. It’s a story of Nazi agents, the first weapon of mass destruction, and of course, famed inventor Nikola Tesla. Creator Cynthia von Buhler drops this hint about her new series: “[A]s with the Houdini episode, all of the anecdotes related to Tesla’s life in my book are based on fact. I really love finding bizarre, unbelievable facts and weaving them into my stories.”
The first issue will also feature a variant cover drawn by Robert McGinnis (seen above). McGinnis is famous for his artwork on movie posters for James Bond films and the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Minky Woodcock: The Girl Who Electrified Tesla #1 will be available digitally and at comic shops on April 14th.
Doctor Who’s Missy Gets Her Own Series
I love Michelle Gomez’s Missy, the version of The Master that made life difficult for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. To celebrate 50 years of The Master on TV, Missy will make her comic debut in April in her own series. As with the main Doctor Who comic, Missy will feature a crossover adventure with Capadi and Third Doctor Jon Pertwee. And perhaps another Master will also make an appearance!
The creative team from the main Doctor Who comic — writer Jody Houser, artist Roberta Ingranata, and colorist Enrica Eren Angliolini — will reunite for this series. And writer Houser can’t wait to script Missy: “I wrote a few pages of Missy way back in The Road to Thirteen, and I’ve been dying to write more of her ever since. Her ineffable cunning and sense of fun make her the most delightful sort of monster.”
Check out one of the variant covers above, drawn by series artist Roberta Ingranata. (It also seems to give a hint at just who might be behind Missy’s machinations.) Missy #1 will be available digitally and at comic shops on April 14th.
What Are The Secrets of the Blade Runners?
Later this month sees the release of Blade Runner: Origins set 10 years before the events of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner film. Check out the trailer for the series to see what to expect from this series – and what secrets about the early days of the Blade Runners could be told.
What I’m Reading
Beginnings and endings are a part of this month’s reviews, with the end of the current arc of Life is Strange: Partners in Time and another series in the world of Cutting Edge.
Life Is Strange: Partners In Time #4
Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt (letterer), Andrea Izzo (colorist), Claudia Leonardi (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer), Emma Vieceli (writer)
January 20, 2021
When we last left Max and her friends, the High Seas van tipped over to avoid a collision. But when Max tried to rescue her friends, she made contact with another friend from another world: Tristan. The contact was brief, and before Max could make sense of what happened, Tristan disappeared. It’s a time rewind: not a big one, but just enough to have Max ask questions that don’t have immediate answers. This turn of events is also making Chloe quite frustrated. Max wants to fix things, but that fix looks to come with a price. And over in Tristan’s timeline, more and more people are starting to see Tristan. What does it all mean?
The slow burn storytelling of this series is a double edge sword. On one hand, you love the complex nuances that take this series past your typical comics fare and pay proper homage to the source video game. On the other hand, this does appear to be the end of an arc (if not a traditional ending), and there will be a break between issues. And this break can either intensify or kill interest. (There’s some conflicting information as to just how long of a break. The comic promises that issue #5 will be out in March 2021, but Titan’s website and Comixology list the next issue of the series for July 2021.) There’s certainly enough of a cliffhanger in this issue, though, to keep you wondering what happens next and have you waiting with anticipation for either one month or five months.
Another refreshing aspect in this issue is seeing conflict between Max and Chloe in Max’s timeline. Too often they’ve had a peaceful, perfect relationship: always on the same page about things. But no relationship is without its drama, and the more Max realizes this isn’t her place, the more it opens up opportunities to test their bond.
Throughout this series, one hallmark has always been bright colors, a sign of life and hope for both Max and Chloe. The majority of this issue ends up being bathed in darkness: a nighttime rainstorm. It’s powerful symbolism for the torment that Max and Tristan now feel. Each has made contact with the other. Max has been able to rewind time to prevent tragedy. But all these actions are coming with a price, and both Max and Tristan (perhaps more Max) have to decide if it’s the price she’s willing to pay.
Whenever the world of Life is Strange comes back to us, we will not find ourselves any closer to answers for Max. It has you wondering: just what is Emma Vieceli’s eventual endgame? Whatever it is, and whenever it is, we will certainly continue to enjoy the journey.
Doctor Who #3
Enrica Eren Angiolini (colorist), Jody Houser (writer), Roberta Ingranata (artist), Richard Starkings (letterer)
January 13, 2021
Oh that pesky time paradox. Putting two Doctors and two TARDISes (TARDII?) in the same place at the same time is going to put things out of sorts. The Doctors have a plan to set things right, by putting their respective time machines on a collision course to transfer Ten and Rose over to Thirteen’s TARDIS. Now the gang’s all here and it’s off to turn of the century New York to find Tesla. But there’s a problem: he’s not there. While Thirteen strategizes with their Skithra companion to clean up what she calls a “time wound,” Rose deals with some existential feelings about her own existence.
Pairing up Ten and Thirteen again, after the fun and joy of the last arc, remains a very smart move. The two play off of each other beautifully, something you wouldn’t expect with their similar personalities. The fly in the ointment is Rose, who doesn’t seem to have much of a place in this story. The fam of Yaz, Ryan, and Graham know the layout of this land, having been there before, but Rose seems very much out of place. And even in the previous arc, which was a Ten-centric story, the fam appeared to fit right in. That’s not the case for Rose here, and it drags the story down. Perhaps a wiser move would have been a companion-less Ten.
I also appreciate the balance of page time given to the explanation of the time paradox, after being swept under the rug in the previous arc. Things are explained and resolved in the proper amount of time. This was also a time to show off Richard Starkings’s skill at lettering. Throughout this sequence, you can hear the incessant drone of a TARDIS siren as Thirteen strategizes to make things right. The lettering itself doesn’t take over the page, but it’s large enough to convey that sense of urgency, that perpetual alarm in the background. It all adds up to make the right tone for this particular scene.
There have been moments throughout this series where the two-dimensional rendering of three-dimensional characters hasn’t translated to the page, but this is an issue where things work out in the right way. Facial features are in the right proportions, shading doesn’t make anything appear exaggerated. And even Nikola Tesla looks a little bit like his television counterpart, Goran Višnjić – a nice touch to series continuity.
There’s still some cleaning of time wounds to be done. But I have faith in Houser and company to heal this rift in space and time.
Cutting Edge: The Devil’s Mirror #1
Mario Alberti (artist), Jessica Burton (letterer), Francesco Dimitri (writer)
January 20, 2021
The Dodecathlon is still underway, but its participants are not any closer to unraveling its mysteries. After an encounter with a siren in the previous series (The Siren’s Song), the players are now on the hunt for the Devil’s Mirror, a mirror used by the Aztecs to speak with their gods, sought after for its divination abilities. Thus our team of three — Mark the psychologist, Stella the socialite, and Delroy the wild care — are off to London. As simple as that job is in theory, in practice, it’s going to be anything but.
This is a continuation of the previous Cutting Edge series, so I strongly suggest reading that first before this issue. But even then, you still may not be sure as to what’s going on. While Francesco Dimitri is excellent at setting up lush scenes, they all exist in a vacuum. It’s hard for the reader to see the connective tissue if any exists. Perhaps it is a victim of translation from the original Italian, but we still have no idea just what the purpose of this game is, what the players want from it, and what the final prize will be.
There is much to praise slow-burn storytelling. As you can see from our reviews of Life is Strange, slowly paced storytelling done right is beautifully engaging. But it requires an end goal for its characters. In that series, the end goal is Max’s return to her timeline. In this series, it’s really hard to tell what that end goal is. It’s also difficult to get to know these characters. You have an idea of who are they are on the surface, but nothing they do makes you want to root for or against them. They are stumbling through this game as much as the reader.
Mario Alberti’s art is lush and beautiful, full of rich detail and tricks in perspective. Each page is a work of art unto itself. But it all has a sense of trying too hard to be beautiful and subversive to hide the gaping weaknesses in script. In a way, it’s a trompe l’oeil, but tricking the reader into perceiving there’s something more going on when in fact, there really isn’t. Good art can only hide plot holes for so long.
The very first issue laid out wonderful potential for an international heist story. But as I progress further into the series, I discover a case of a book that is trying to be too smart for its own good.