Indie Comic Review – Cognition #3

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Bit melodramatic… I bet he destroys the cauldron.” Sigma (Demonic Mouse)

Time for another Indie review this week. This time I’m taking a look at Cognition Issue #3, which is currently on Kickstarter. I’ve previously had a look at the Cognition series and was curious to see how it was coming along. Although this is very much an indie comic lead by creator Ken Reynolds it has a very distinct story, art style and left an impression that made me want to come back to it. This comic is bought to us by:

  • Script and Letters – Ken Reynolds
  • Artist – Sam Bentley
  • Editor – David Hailwood

Set in Victorian England, Cognition combines steam punk with the occult and mystery to deliver a cast of steam powered robots, demonic mice, investigators and Shuck, the terrifying monster dog who recently joined their party. As with previous issues the interactions between the characters, the snark of Sigma the demonic mouse bouncing off the Cal the robot is a particular enjoyment of mine. The on-going investigation brings the team to the Welsh Countryside where they encounter Gwinddonod, a mysterious old crone whose tales of legend provide further insight into the investigation. Reynolds’s strengths are certainly at play here as he delivers a narrative which hooks the reader in, with vivid language which Bentley turns into fantastic imagery.

Bentley provides a unique and distinct art style which I cannot help but associate with the series. The black and white presentation adds to the atmosphere and sense of dread while also reinforcing the feeling that this is a tale from a bygone era. The two tone style could easily lead to a rather bland read, but Bentley manages to instead embrace it and provides a level of detail in the panels, particularly with the characters which evokes a sense of realness I wouldn’t have expected from the premise of the comic. One issue I did find is when I first read this comic as a digital PDF on my phone. I have a fairly decent size phone but I did fine the art was less clear when viewed one that sort of device and it made the story harder to get into. My second read on a computer screen was a totally different experience though, which lead to the praise I’ve given above. When you read this I strongly recommend either a hard copy or if a digital done on a screen which does justice to the comic.

It’s also worth noting that Reynolds does an excellent job with the lettering, providing distinct styles for each character, which adds personality to how I imagined their voices in my head. I’ve seen Reynolds’s work on lettering in other comics, though I feel he’s at his best in Cognition.

Final Verdict

Kickstarter is currently open for this series (link here), and if it sounds like your kind of thing then get on there and back it. In my opinion this series started strongly and is continuing to improve as it goes. Check it out on Kickstarter and be sure to pick up the previous issues too.

You can also follow @CognitionComic on twitter to keep updated

 

Have an indie comic you’d like reviewed? Get in touch with Kit at lostlighthouseindie@gmail.com!

Indie Comic Review – Lizard Men #2 (Comichaus)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“Shit. No offence, guys, but this isn’t my scene” The British Prime Minister in the Year 2020

The leader of the country is a celebrity with little to no idea what he’s doing as he’s totally out of his depth while the real establishment (lizard people) are trying to get him to ‘bend the knee’ and serve them as all other world leaders do. No, this isn’t a crazy internet conspiracy you’ll dig up about the ‘deep state’ on various message boards, it’s the plot of the aptly named comic ‘Lizard Men’. This comic came up through the Comichaus app and it caught my attention this week. This is bought to us by:

  • Writer and Cover Art – Steven Horray
  • Artist – Catia Fantini
  • Colourist – Chiara Bonacini
  • Letterer – Ken Reynolds
  • Editor – Mira Manga

The story kicks off at the Brit Awards in 2019 where Dylan, a pop star decides to get political. Fast forward to 2020 and somehow he’s won the election and is in charge of Britain, however his past drug habits and creepy lizard overlords aren’t giving him an easy ride on it. I picked this series up on Issue 2, which managed to provide enough exposition in the core concept to understand the state of play. The power behind the throne as such wielded by the lizard men is shown to be great and the main cast each provide intriguing back stories you want to learn more about. There’s more at play here than the surface story as well. The concept of a pop star miraculously becoming Prime Minister is one that would have sounded crazy ten years ago, but not so much now. There is a definite element of satire here at the expense of a certain president, perhaps trying to explain what on earth is ‘really going on’ (though this main character is a hell of a lot more likeable!)

As for the art – there’s a very professional feel to issue, backed up with a slightly ‘trippy’ aesthetic to match the surrealist nature of the story. The imagery often comes across as a distorted real world, matching the tone of the comic.  The characters are expressive and the conversations portrayed well, with body language communicating a lot through the character stances.

As for the lettering, Reynolds has a little fun early on in the dialogue between Dylan and the other popstars with emphasis on words like ‘totes’ in their conversation. Throughout the issue he provides a high standard of letting which weaves the reader’s eye through the pages.

Final Verdict

This comic was more than I expected. The art in itself is enough to keep reading on, which is portraying a fascinating story which you have to wonder where it will end up. There are a lot more questions than at this point and its worth reading on to find out.

You can back the Lizard Men Kickstarter here!

 

Have an indie comic you’d like reviewed? Get in touch with Kit at lostlighthouseindie@gmail.com!

Comic Book Review – Rocket #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“When the vault door blew, Rocket knew it was all up” Narrator

Another Marvel film, another tie-in. With the outstanding Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 now out Marvel are naturally cashing in on its success with a new series of comics of the beloved characters. Rocket naturally picks up Rocket Racoon’s story, Rocket’s character arc in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is truly great so I wasn’t able to say no. This was bought to us by:

  • Writer – Al Ewing
  • Artists – Adam Gorham
  • Colourist – Michael Garland
  • Letterer – Jeff Eckleberry
  • Cover – Mike Mayhew

Cover art by Mayhew

So what’s Marvel’s take on the lovable trash-panda? Naturally a heist. With the Guardians currently disbanded Rocket finds himself in a hive of scum and villainy in some far off planet full of low lives. Who does he meet? The ex-love of his life who got him locked up in jail a while back when he used to make a living cracking safes, relaxing on a beach, rinsing and repeating.

The issue is written in the style of a heist movie, with the quirky band of people with very specific skill sets… and an egg… pooling their talents to bust into a high tech facility and bust open an unbeatable safe, with a few unexpected twists thrown in. There’s also a narrator who provides an insight into Rocket’s inner thoughts, adding a touch of additional humour to the issue. We get to see a glimpse into Rocket’s past as well, seeing what he was like before he became a…. hero? Needless to say, he hasn’t exactly changed too much over the years.

Art by Gorham, Garland & Eckleberry

The art fits the tone of the issue. There’s a weird and wonderful cast of background alien characters, Gorham has done a great job of creating an almost fantastical setting in these weird and wonderful worlds. With the Narrator’s input a significant portion of the issue is given over to that as opposed to the regular comic panels. There’s a risk with these sorts of tropes that too much blank space is used and it detracts from the story. This is not the case in Rocket. Eckleberry manages to present the text in a simple but effective way which only adds to the story.

Right, important questions. Can Gorham draw hands? Define hand. With so many weird and wonderful aliens throughout the issue there are plenty of hands, claws, paws and everything else. Where conversations are had Gorham has done a good job of communicating through body language and adding depth to the characters. 8.5/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

This is a lot of fun. I wouldn’t expect this to reshape the foundations at Marvel but for something different and an enjoyable read I’d highly recommend it.

Score: 8.75 Raging Chicks out of 10

 

Comic Book Review – Rat Queens Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“Put on some clothes before I whip out my fuck wand again” Hannah

 

I’ll be honest, this isn’t what I planned to review today, but I was meaning to read this for a little while, so I figured I’d read the first chapter or two. Next thing I knew I was putting down the volume, the whole thing read. Rat Queens is something I picked up recently and its fast become a favourite of mine. I appreciate volume 2 is an odd place to start, but what I say in this review will very much apply to volume 1 as well. This was bought to use by:

  • Writer – Kurtis J. Wiebe
  • Artists – Stjepan Sejic
  • Letterer – Ed Brisson

Well then, Rat Queens, how to sum up what it’s about in one sentence: Imagine a graphic novel written about characters in a Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder Tabletop Roleplay Game (RP). It uses many of the same tropes, focusing on a party of fantasy characters and classes with as broad a range as you’d expect in any D&D adventure. Unlike your usual story, and much more like the way a RP game plays out, much as the characters are very competent at what they do, there is certainly a lot of chaos is their wake. From a night of binge drinking to accidentally bringing an orc army down onto a town.

The characters are incredible, packed with personality and subversion of usual tropes – from the dwarf who keeps her beard shaved to the grumpy necromancer. The main characters in the story are the adventuring party the Rat Queens, who work, compete and play hard with and against other parties (such as the Four Daves) to protect the town of Palisade. Each of them immediately feels like an RP character, with colourful backstories and much smaller quirks like having literally no cooking ability. What adds to the cast is how unashamed the story is about showing who they are, every vice, every urge, every flaw which makes them feel as much more rounded characters than you’d expect in most comic books. This is not a comic for kids however, if you like bloody combat, awesome monsters, sex and drugs this is a comic for you.

As for the art throughout is of a very high standard, the variation in the cast of characters is huge, Sejic bringing them to life with well defined line work and vibrant colours throughout.

As always, the question is though, can Sejic draw hands? Seeing as I’m looking at an entire volume here, there are plenty drawn throughout the issue. Which means both plenty of opportunities for hands to look good, but plenty for them to look bad as well. Sejic certainly achieves the former, throughout conversations, combats or sex scene and plenty of other weird and wonderful circumstances. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

This comic is a hell of a lot of fun. I have volume 3 which I expect may get both started and finished tomorrow evening. If you’re a fan of roleplaying games this is certainly for you, even if you’re not and simply want to enjoy a no-punches-pulled fantasy adventure with well developed characters this is also for you.

Also, volume 2 has awesome Lovecraftian Elder Gods wrecking everything. Who doesn’t love some of that?

Score: 9 Redbirds of Wrath out of 10

Comic Book Review – X-Men Prime #1 (Marvel Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“We’ve got much work to do” Kitty Pryde

After completing the Inhumans vs X-Men series I was curious to see what would be in store next for one of Marvel’s most iconic super teams. Following the events of IvX mutants have bought themselves a little respite, with no Terrigen Mist threatening their very existence and the team realising they shockingly have a lot in common with the Inhumans (who’d have guessed?). This series is bought to us by:

  • Writers – Marc Guggenheim, Greg Pac and Cullen Bunn
  • Penciller – Ken Lashley, Ibrahim, Roberson, Leonard Kirk and Guillermo Ortego
  • Colour Artist – Morray Hollowell, Frank D’Armata and Michael Garland
  • Letterer – VC’s Joe Caramangna
  • Publisher – Marvel Comics

Needless to say, a lot of people were brought in on this one. The story picks up with Kitty Pryde reconnecting with Storm and being asked to come back to lead the X-Men. She’s been off world recently and has seen most of what’s gone on as a bystander. This makes her well-placed as an X-Men veteran to come in as a neutral party and give the team something to unite behind. Which they’ll need. The team is fractured; people are uncertain of what to do next and everyone is on the verge of going on their own way. Kitty herself has her own share of awkward reunions with Colossus and other familiar faces. Meanwhile a sinister organisation is abducting many of the more anti-social mutants, focusing on Lady Deathstrike for some sinister purpose we only know involves killing mutants and allusions to a new Weapon X program.

The writing was at its best within the X-Men mansion, seeing the interplay’s between the team, a potential love triangle in the works within the young X-Men and Kitty finding her place again. The new villain hasn’t had much in the way of an introduction yet and their actions are yet to hold any meaning. Kitty fills a very nice role for new readers, given them a chance to be introduced to the main cast of the X-Men and cover the basics – Emma Frost being evil and so on.

The art has many hidden layers, rereading the comic for this review I found myself noticing new details I hadn’t the first time, particularly during the combat scene in the Danger Room. Character’s are very expressive throughout which supports a character interaction-heavy first issue, although Kitty does seem to have a rather large forehead at times! One very interesting panel is when Kitty calls the X-Men together to give them her first speech as the new leader. Her face wasn’t drawn at all. It’s a small area the artistic team had to work with, but they’re a very talented bunch and could have added it if they wanted to. It seems to act as a sort of mask for the readers, letting Kitty be a blank slate for a new beginning for the X-Men.

However, with so any people you’d hope they could draw hands. For the most part of course they can. Both in combat and during normal conversation, although there’s an image where young Scott’s hands are on his hips and his fingers appear to bend in a bit of an odd way, and I couldn’t quite work out one panel with Magik’s glove. 8/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

This is a new beginning for the X-Men, they’re back from Limbo and ready to be heroes again (about time!) It’s a great place to join if you’re a new reader too.

Score: 8.5 Blackbirds out of 10

 

Comic Book Review – Batwoman #1 (DC Comics)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“Kaaaate…. You… you came back… why did you come back?” – Raphael

Batwoman relaunched today (following her Rebirth issue), who has always been an interesting character for me. She always has held a position on the outskirts of the Bat-Family, holding a much higher degree of autonomy than any of the rest. There’s a strong team behind this run as well:

  • Writers – Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV
  • Penciller – Steve Epting
  • Colour Artist – Jeromy Cox
  • Letterer – Deron Bennett
  • Publisher – DC Comics

Cover by Steve Epting

The story picks up Kate following up on a white supremacist terrorist about to launch a venom fuelled attack in Istanbul. She’s running things herself with the help of Julia Pennyworth to stop the spread of monster venom throughout the world. As the plot of develops she’s lead to a mysterious small nation island known as Coryana where it appears she has had dealings before with the mysterious Safiyah. The dynamic between Julia and Kate is a very interesting variation to Batman and Alfred. Julia and Kate are friends first and foremost whereas Alfred is very much a substitute parent for Bruce. This adds to Kate’s character, leaving her feeling much more independent as a vigilante, than even Bruce himself at times.

There is also the question of Kate’s past experience at Coryana. Much is left unanswered at this point in time, except somebody very powerful lives there who wants people dead. What’s interesting is while there is more than one death in this issue, by the apparent same hand there is no obvious connection between the two, except the island. The assassin in question does make a brief appearance, quiet and very much deadly they form an imposing figure in the few panels they’re in.

Art by Epting, Cox & Bennett

The art feels very much grounded, with strong earthy colours used throughout the opening scene, these are switched up for darker blues and greys which create a more relaxed atmosphere between Kate and Julia. During the flashback a different approach to colouring is adopted, the panels are kept black and white except for Kate’s iconic red hair and Safiyah’s red lipstick. The use of red on Safiyah marks her as an equal to Kate in these scenes and we can be sure this is a sign of future clashes to come. Bennett does a very good job with keeping the lettering unintrusive throughout the issue, there are many large panels giving him plenty of space to work with. Finally, Kate herself forms an intimidating figure throughout, both in and out of costume her figure appears powerful.

However, how well does Epting draw hands? Very well of course. There isn’t much to fault for the hand drawing in this issue. They won’t quite pick up a perfect score as they don’t appear too often during the issue, however where they do – be it in a battle scene, carrying out and action or mid conversation they look great. 9/10 for hand drawing skills!

Final Verdict

This is a very interesting start to a series. It isn’t the most explosive I’ve read, but it feels like its setting things up for a run well worth picking up.

Score: 8 Mysterious Throwing Knives out of 10

Comic Book Review – The Last Sheriff #1 (Reckless Hero)

Our pal Kit reviews comics for us! This is one of those reviews.

Warning: Minor spoilers.

“Everybody calls me The Sheriff.” John H. Wilson

I was recommended another indie comic recently, and filling in for Adam this week felt like the perfect opportunity to try it. So let me introduce to you The Last Sheriff:

  • Writers – Chris Jenkins, Matthew King, Chris Imber
  • Penciller – Chris Imber
  • Colour Artist – Chris Jenkins
  • Letterer – Chris Jenkins
  • Publisher – Reckless Hero

The story begins in a dystopian western setting. New colonies have been founded, and although Sheriffs were brought in to keep law and order, eventually overpopulation and scarce resources lead to a societal breakdown and the rise of The Coalition – corrupt individuals dishing out their own form of justice. A civil war broke out and all of the Sheriffs were wiped out… at least that’s what people believe.

We’re offered an innovative western sci-fi world, where mules and revolvers meet high tech power ups and retinal implants. I wasn’t sure of the writing team’s approach of providing a couple of pages to sum up the setting before getting into the comic itself, but it did mean we could get right into the action without too much exposition once we were past it. Something that I found particularly interesting within the story is the motivation of the Sheriff. His war is all but lost, the once lawless Coalition are now the law, and society is adapting to it. It isn’t a nice society, but he is certainly an outsider fighting a battle that is lost. What makes this a little different though, is he very much still represents an establishment as opposed to being a totally anti-establishment figure. You can be sure that the disdain he has for the Coalition was once exactly how they felt towards the Sheriffs.

the-last-sheriff-coverImber and Jenkins work well together on the art, I was very much drawn to the front cover and the majority of the art inside is at a high standard. There’s the odd panel which doesn’t quite fit for me though – one where a character’s mouth simply doesn’t look right stood out, however this should not take away from the rest of the issue.  The Sheriff comes across as an intimidating and powerful figure during the action scenes and the dark tone of the comic is well supported by the colour work throughout the issue. My favourite question though:

Can Imber and Jenkins draw hands? This is an action packed issue, as such we see many hands punching, grabbing or wielding weapons. Imber and Jenkins do a solid job throughout in dealing with multiple perspectives and tricky angles to get hands looking as they should within the art as a whole. I did notice that Sheriff has very well kept finger nails for a rebel constantly battling in a dystopian western setting, but that clearly means he simply has high standards of hygiene.

Final Verdict

I was recommended this by a friend and I’m glad I read it, this is amongst the best action based indie comics I’ve reviewed and I’d recommend picking it up.

You can find The Last Sheriff physically and digitally at the Reckless Hero shop here.