Action Lab: Dog of Wonder #1 is the feel good comic of the month. Read it to your younger sibling, your dog, or just read it yourself and find a ray of hope in the smile of Action Lab himself and his selfless pursuit of helping dogs, who have been neglected by their owners even if it goes against the letter of the law.
Even if Raven Pirate Princess #5 is more interested in establishing some of the side characters and general scenario of being on a pirate ship and just living together with lots of people, it’s still a fun read because Whitley’s script has a sense of humor and is relevant to real world issues while not taking you out of its early modern setting thanks to Higgins, Brandt, and Blankenship’s art.
Tomboy #1 successfully combines the Magical Girl and vigilante genres through Mia Goodwin’s art with manga-style figures to go with the grisly images of dead bodies and spattered gore and mix of bright and cold colors depending on the mood of the scene. Goodwin also builds the characters of Addison, her dad and granddad before unleashing hell with not one, but two murders of people close to them. With her authentic handling of the grieving process and the effects of violence, Mia Goodwin shows that there is room for earned darkness in Magical Girl stories in Tomboy #1.
Nutmeg #5 shake things up as Poppy and Cassia sample the effect their brownie has on their fellow students and human beings firsthand, which brings out some dark feelings in Cassia and leads to the continued expansion of their criminal empire. Writer James Wright handles the main “rise of a criminal kingpin” plot while also continuing to flesh out the supporting cast as Marjorie becomes a likable figure in this issue as she tries to cheer up Saffron while also chasing her own dreams as an artist. Artist Jackie Crofts and colorist Josh Eckert turn in some of their most eye popping visuals making the brownies look mouth watering with a rich brown color and heavy line work to go with the sketchier figures. Plus there’s a bonus essay about how Wright was inspired by the hilarious Comedy Central Broad City to focus on female friendships in Nutmeg and an adorable Ilana and Abbi pinup from Josh Eckert that’s the icing on this tasty, layered brownie of this female fronted crime/detective comic set in picturesque Southern California.
Ted Brandt and Rosy Higgins are an artistic team from Bristol, England. They are currently working on Princeless: Raven Pirate Princess with writer Jeremy Whitley. (Secret Wars: Secret Love.) It is an all ages comic from Action Lab and a sequel to the Princeless: Pirate Princess and is about Raven Xingtao, an Asian lesbian teen pirate, who must wrest back the title of Black Arrow (Think Pirate King in Pirates of Caribbean.) But, first she must assemble a crew for her ship, and that is what she has been doing over the past three issues with the help of shifty Half-Elf thief Sunshine and Katie, who is a dead ringer for Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones and inspires her to assemble an all female crew. Higgins pencils and colors the comic while Brandt handles the layouts, inks, and letters on Raven Pirate Princess. They are also working on a B-side (backup story) with Kieron Gillen in an upcoming issue of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl and an adorable all ages comic Dog of Wonder featuring Action Lab’s company mascot, who is literally a dog with a jetpack.
Hosted by the energetic Miz Caramel Vixen, the founder of Vixenvarsity.com, the #BlackComicsMonth Diversity in Comics panel featured a wide variety of panelists from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexualities. They also work in vastly different comics genres from Mildred Louis writing and drawing a Magical Girl webcomic with women of color called Agents of the Realm to David F. Walker, who directed a documentary about the blaxploitation genre and currently writes Cyborg for DC Comics and much more. One of the panelists, Mikki Kendall, only recently broke into comics with the Swords of Sorrow: Lady Rawhide/Miss Fury one-shot and is more well-known for her pieces about intersectional feminism for XoJane, The Guardian, and others as well as prose fiction. Vixen let each panelist speak their mind about what diversity means to them, and they often tied in their thoughts with their comics from Genius (which I scored a free copy of) to Princeless and even Batman.
Nutmeg #4 is a fun and refreshing comic because it shows that not just chain smoking, middle aged white men can be detectives and criminal masterminds. Jackie Crofts’ art is light and upbeat, and James Wright’s writing is clever in both plot and dialogue while continuing to develop the key relationship between the two outsiders turned culinary crime kingpins, Poppy and Cassia. (The spice puns will never not be funny.)
Katy Rex returns to NonCompliant as we discuss the new horror tinged take on Sabrina, the surprising feminist themes of Archie vs. Predator, the latest issue of female fronted Thor, and the all ages indie slice of life comic Nutmeg. Plus a couple of PSAs about the University of Mary Washington Divest arrests and Day of Silence and a very special puppy cameo.
Wednesday marked the release of the new Puppet Master series from Action Lab Entertainment. Puppet Master is based on the horror film series of the same name from Charles Band and production studio Full Moon Entertainment. Band’s film and Action Lab’s series focus on a group of puppets created by the mysterious Toulon and brought to life with an ancient Egyptian spell. Action Lab’s release marks the first Puppet Master comic since Eternity Comics’ mini-series in 1990. The new series is helmed by Action Lab founding member Shawn Gabborin, who you may remember from my earlier reviews of Snowed In and Victor Season.