Comic Review – John Flood #1 (Boom! Studios)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

This week I picked up John Flood #1, the first issue of a new six part mini series from Boom! Studios. It was written by Justin Jordan and illustrated by Jorge Coelho, with colours by Tamra Bonvillain and letters from Ed Dukeshire.

John Flood centres around the character of the same name, a private investigator who, following some government testing 10 years ago, no longer requires sleep. It sounds pretty useful, except for the side effect of John being in a permanent dream state, making it difficult to distinguish what is real and what isn’t any more. This is relayed to us in first page exposition as John, with blood on his hands and handcuffs on his wrists, tries to explain to the arresting officers what has happened.

Cut to a week before, and John’s assistant Lyta Brumbaugh is recruiting disgraced cop Alexander Berry to help out with a case Flood is working on. Despite being found not guilty, a video went viral of whatever Berry was accused of doing (which isn’t clear yet). So Lyta offers him a job, her job in fact. She takes him to John Flood’s run-down looking giant house, a mess of all of the books, sculptures and other hobbies that a man who doesn’t sleep needs to focus on with all of his extra time. After a scattered meeting with Flood that includes a showdown with a disgruntled client, he starts to fill him in on the case – trying to catch a serial killer he believes has been working for decades. The pattern? There is no pattern. The lack of anything connecting hundreds of murders across America over several years is what connects them.

When I first heard about this series I expected it to be a bit heavier on the dreamlike reality the John Flood perceives, but so far the perspective seems to largely be from others interacting with him, along with glimpses of the murderer he is investigating. The mystery of the case is interesting, but the lead up and reveal comes all in a rush at the end of the issue. Nevertheless, this was a good read. Flood comes across like a blend of Matt Smith’s Doctor and Ace Ventura, manic and unfocused but ultimately brilliant. The main thrust of the dialogue in this first issue comes from interaction between Lyta and Berry, which reads as very genuine, and their characters are compelling too. Coelho’s angular art is very impressive, with heavy bold lines and really nice environmental shots, in particular the front of the house, the room of books and the cabin full of dead bodies. The scenes in the woods where the killer stalks his prey look oppressive and intense, intensified by Bonvillain’s colours.

This was a very nice first issue of John Flood with really compelling characters and great art. The angle of eliminating sleep doesn’t even seem to play in to the story yet, more as a quirk for the main character (because TV has taught me that all PIs and Detectives need a quirk), though I’d be surprised if it doesn’t come in later. Check out this first issue at your LCS or digitally!

Score: 7.5 Seemingly Unconnected Murders out of 10

Comic Review – Deep State #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

This was a big week for comics, for the first time in a long while I actually picked up nearly as many Marvel books as DC, but in the end I decided to pick Deep State #1 to review. The series is published by Boom! Studios written by Justin Jordan, illustrated by Ariela Kristantina, with colours by Ben Wilsonham and letters Ed Dukeshire.

Deep State involves conspiracy theories and the agents who work to keep the world thinking they are just that. Agent Harrow recruits Agent Branch at the beginning of the story to his shadowy and unknown organisation, a group who investigate the strange and  the unbelievable to keep them a secret from the public. Harrow tells her about the truth behind the lunar landing – not that it never happened, but that it wasn’t the first time. The USSR made it there 5 years before, and they found something alive up there… but never made it back. The Americans investigated and dealt with the problem in 1969, before transmitting the famous small step and giant leap, hiding the other events from the rest of the world. However, secrets don’t have a habit of staying hidden, and the Russian capsule has made it back to Earth. Harrow and Branch investigate the crash site, but find that whatever was inside altered the craft and before breaking out. They now have to track it down before it gets to the nearest town, and do whatever it is the organisation does to keep it all under wraps.

Jordan starts a great new story here, with a mysterious Men in Black-style organisation (but serious) and genuine intrigue behind this first issue. I loved the idea that of course the lunar landing wasn’t the first, why would they televise it if they weren’t already sure they could do it? Good conspiracy theories are always the ones that are just about plausible. The two main characters are interesting in their own way, with Branch being headstrong and uncompromising even though at this stage she is the lens that the reader is experiencing this new world, and Harrow being a total enigma at this point. There isn’t much more character development past that in this first issue, but setting up the premise is more important and I assume we will get to know these two more over the next few instalments. The art from Ariela Kristantina is very impressive, looking scratchy and oppressive that really ups the horror angle of the story, especially on that last page (which reminded me a little of Vasta Nerada).

This was a strong first issue, and I can’t wait to find out more. I hope we get more information about other popular conspiracy theories and the “truths” behind them that Harrow and his organisation have covered up. The series has a sort of X-Files vibe minus the skepticism. Get on board with this first issue at your LCS or digitally.

9 Actual Moon Landings out of 10

Comic Review – Spread #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

In stark contrast to last week, this week I bought way too many comics (admittedly some were those I put back last week). I still haven’t got to all of them, but all those I have read so far have been excellent. Tough choice for a review, but I decided to go with Spread #1 as I enjoyed it the most*. Spread was written by Justin Jordan, with art by Kyle Strahm, colours by Felipe Sobreiro and letters from Crank!, published by Image Comics.

Spread takes place in a post apocalyptic world that is overrun with ‘the spread’, mysterious and grotesquely twisted organisms that will kill anything they see, infecting the living and reanimating the dead, converting them into foul mutated puppets. Think ‘The Thing’ but on a much bigger scale. People scavenge and fight over resources while trying to avoid the spread, but we open on a group that got too close for comfort. It seems that raiders are responsible initially, and now the spread is creeping closer. The protagonist, ‘No’, is connected in some way to these unlucky people, and has to despatch one of them after the spread has taken them, and later the raiders that killed them too. Visually he looks quite a bit like Wolverine, but has two hatchets instead of claws. Which is very much as cool as it sounds. No eventually finds what the group were trying to find: a baby (who will later be called ‘Hope’ apparently) who he must now protect in this hideous world.

While the elements of the plot may be familiar, the writing is very strong and everything combines to a refreshingly interesting take on the horror post apocalyptic genre. The story, in a way similar to Saga, is narrated by the baby from some point in the future (which does somewhat indicate that the child will survive at least a decent stretch of time) but there is no big information dump, no hand-holding to explain at length what is going on. We know what we need to at this stage, and it works very well. The art is disgusting in the best possible way. Gory and revelling in it, and it looks fantastic because of it. The colours are almost where this book shines the most though, the vivid blood red of the spread (and all the actual blood) juxtaposed strikingly over the snow filled surroundings to really bring the horror of the art to life.

So pretty clear this is another new series I really enjoyed, and I think you should pick it up too. If you are a fan of grim horror (and I suspect you are), then you should be into Spread. Check it out at your local comic book shop or digital comics app thingymabob.

Score: 9 Runners out of 10

 

* Also check out ‘The Life After’ by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo from Oni Press for another really interesting new series.