If you know fantasy artist Aly Fell from his pin up work, think again, he’s worked on covers for Heavy Metal and in recent times he’s done a cover for Buffy. It’s his work on the former that led to him working on an Elizabethan thriller The Shadow Glass, a mini-series that he’s writing and drawing for Dark Horse. Aly took time out of his busy schedule to talk to PopOptiq about The Shadow Glass, his career, and drawing women.
Predator: Life and Death isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, here. (A group of trigger-happy, battle-hardened military types touching down on a far-off planet, totally unprepared for the alien predators they’ll find lurking there? You’d be forgive if you feel like you’ve seen this movie once or twice or six times.) But I’m encouraged by the total competence with which this creative team checks all the boxes of a good Predator adventure. And with three issues left in this arc–and with sixteen parts left in Dark Horse’s new Xenoverse story cycle–there’s plenty of time left to stop checking boxes and do something outside the box.
Even with good solo character moments and a beautifully gritty color palette, Barb Wire seems to rely too much on presumed reader nostalgia to carry it as a story. Instead of re-presenting or re-crafting her world, it functions on half formed ideas and doesn’t try to explain any of them. Maybe if you’re a fan of hers from the 90s, the book will make a ton of sense, but for the rest of us, it’s not worth the trip to Steel Harbor.
Evan Dorkin’s Eltingville Club holds up a mirror to the dark side of fandom and doesn’t flinch. It’s basically a guide on how not to be a good fan of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and gaming written by an actual fan with plenty of geeky references and an old school humor meets underground art style. Act the opposite of Bill Dickey, and you will be golden. Because, hey, comics are fun, especially when reality sucks.
King Conan: The Wolves Beyond the Border #2 is a resurrection of the rule bending, genre crafting Robert E. Howard pulps, but with a modern sense of humor and quicker pacing.
Star Wars Tales is a quarterly anthology series published by Dark Horse from 1999 to 2005. Each issue was 64 pages long and contained a variety stories, in both number, length, content, and tone. Most stories were considered non-canonical “Infinities” stories unless canonized elsewhere (though of course, now all such stories are deemed non-canonical “legends”). In the course of its six year run, Star Wars Tales featured stories from dozens of different creators, covering numerous facets of the Star Wars universe, from serious, thoughtful tales to comedic ones to straight-up fan-demanded “what if?” type stories. Here are ten of the best, entertaining in their own right but also representative of the breadth of content available in this series
Across nearly four decades and two publishing companies, the Star Wars comic book universe has seen thousands of issues chronicling tales set in a galaxy, far, far away. Following Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm, fellow subsidiary company Marvel reclaimed the license to publish new Star Wars comics in 2015. Along with it, they received publishing rights to all prior Star Wars comics, including those released by Dark Horse when it held the license (from the early 90s up to 2015). Now, thanks to Marvel’s digital subscription service, Marvel Unlimited, the vast majority (though not yet all) of these comics are available for subscribers of the service to read in one convenient place.
While Neverboy does have its struggles with story, the atmosphere created by Simon, Jenkins and Fitzpatrick is an easy one to get lost in. Between the gorgeous art and the heartbreaking story of Neverboy himself, Neverboy is a fun and quick mini that’s worth the time to open up your imagination.
Having this stand-alone graphic novel completely take place in a very stark black and white, adds immensely to the horrific stories contained within. Pixu is not for the faint of heart and aims right for the jugular.
The last issue of Rebels was mired in how hard it was for Seth to accomplish the task of transporting cannons to Boston. This almost insurmountable task pales in comparison to how hard Seth will have to work to win back Mercy. The best scenes in Rebels have been the tumultuous relationship between the two lovers. Seth’s return from the war leads the two to discuss how frayed their relationship has become. To add to the complicated matters Seth meets John, his six-year-old son. John is a capable and conscientious young boy who never has to be asked twice to do the work around the home and land. A fine juxtaposition to Seth who says he had to be beaten and roughhoused to accomplish any chores. This shakes Seth to his core because all of John’s ability and personality has grown from a single-parent home. At the end of the issue Seth is proud because his land, liberated land, is in good hands. Of course, it’ll be extremely interesting to see this new relationship blossom or wither.
Angel and Faith #18 has all the elements of a good Whedon-y tale, including female characters with agency that aren’t necessarily Amazon warriors (Fred and Mary in this case.), some witty dialogue, and a nice use of monsters of metaphors. It doesn’t hurt that this metaphor is driven home by a formidable and entertaining villain in Drusilla, whose role as Mother Prior in the last Angel and Faith series gets expanded upon in this issue. Some of Cliff Richards’ figures seem overly posed, especially in the fight scenes, but his storytelling is clear, and Michelle Madsen adds a special fiery “Oomph!” to vampire staking parts.
Two issues in, Midnight Society: The Black Lake is proving to be a well-written, artistically beautiful series. This makes this book well worth the cover price for anyone who values a good read and well-rendered art, but if you are especially enamored of cryptozoology, myth, or legend, you just cannot pass up reading this series.
Most of Rebels #5 deals with how Seth’s determination is what gets him to accomplish his mission, however lofty it is. Tasked with taking extremely heavy and bulky cannon down to Boston from New York, Seth is dead set it’ll take longer than two weeks. The mission seems to set Seth up for failure, for some unexplained reason, but Seth accomplishes this duty. The issue juxtaposes the cannon transportation mission with Seth’s journey to save his father’s life as a boy. Brian Wood does a good job of showing how Seth was taught to finish his undertakings no matter how long they take. While dragging his father’s body across a frozen land, Seth uses his grit and determination, instilled by his father, to drag him all the way home.
This Damned Band #1 starts to answer this question, “What if the Satanic connection that fundamentalist Christians said rock ‘n’ roll bands had was actually true?” The comic follows a British five piece called Motherfather as they play a show in Japan, get laid backstage, say all kinds of supernatural mumbo jumbo, and keep forgetting that they’re in a documentary. Sadly, writer Paul Cornell doesn’t go beyond rock star excesses for most of the issue with the exception of Kev trying to have a wife and four kids while his bandmates have an impromptu drug filled orgy. There is also Clive, who calls himself the “creator” of Motherfather, and starts out as a posturing, mane sporting frontman a la Robert Plant, but becomes more twisted as the story progresses.
The Tomorrows follows a slew of titles that attack the current state of the technologically hypnotized society that we live in now. It is great to see an influx of books that tackle a very timely subject matter existing in both the present time, such as Material, or even the future, with The Surface and this very title. No matter the locale, the influences, or the timeframe of said books, analyzing and deconstructing how control and consumption is exhibited through the mass individuals of the world can be uniquely tackled through the visual medium of comic books.
While Angel is off dealing with Old Ones, demon lords, and Spike actually dating Buffy over in Buffy Season Ten, Angel and Faith Season Ten #16 focuses on Faith, Fred, and Magic Town’s (An area of London where demons and various magic and “special” folk live) top cop Brandt’s more “low key” work. Victor Gischler writes Faith as both wistful and sassy as she moves out of the apartment she and Giles used to share and starts to investigate some mysterious killings at a prep school. She and Fred have a nice buddy dynamic, but Cliff Richards draws their faces in a similar manner and it is hard to tell them apart. Richards’ combination of hyper detailed figures and less detailed backgrounds give the art a static feel, and there isn’t much in the way of facial expressions even if his anatomy and monster designs are on point.
It didn’t take long for the Predator to cut a swath through the idyllic town of Riverdale. It’s to be expected; it’s literally in the name. “Predator.” After taking out most of the background Archie characters, the alien menace has it’s sights set on the central Archie gang. However, after last issue’s bloody events, how long do Archie and his friends have left?
Midnight Society: the Black Lake is off to great start in issue #1. The theme, plot, and art, when taken together, have all the elements for a successful sci-fi meets fantasy book. Readers who are looking for action and adventure should give this series a try, as it is shaping up to be an epic tale.
Buffy Season Ten #16 is a successful start to what will probably be the climactic storyline of the Season Ten Buffyverse with its character driven storytelling in both art and writing with splashes of action. Gage uses the pre-existing emotional connections between important characters like Buffy, Angel, and Spike to correspond with the raised stakes in their fight against the Big Bad, Archaeus. Archaeus uses Angel and Spike’s pasts to tempt them to become soulless killers once again, and they must also confront their pasts with Buffy and each other in order to become effective allies to the Slayer and Scoobies. Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs effectively use both internal and external conflict along with one of the greatest fictional love triangles to kick off this mini-crossover in a way that will make fans smile and squee.
Seth Abbott finds himself in the middle of a game of tug of war. On one side there’s his sense of adventure and his extreme patriotism, on the other side there’s his marriage to Mercy. Seth can’t stay in the middle and expect both war and love to coexist peacefully. This triangle is at the center of Rebels #3. Most of this issue is dedicated to juxtaposing a story of Seth having to literally pull his father home in a frozen wilderness and scenes of Mercy’s droll and lonesome life. It was easy to see in the first two issues that Seth would be hard pressed to continue to be a patriot and a devoted husband, now we find out he’s to be a father as well.
Now that we’re halfway through Archie Vs. Predator, it would make sense for pieces of the overarching plot to begin to take shape. If Archie Vs. Predator was a bad comic, it would fail to accomplish this task. If it was a good comic, it would already have done it and be content with itself. As it happens, Archie Vs. Predator is not simply a good or a bad comic, but an absolutely insane one. Our outdated notions of “quality” have no bearing on a comic such as this, and require a more in-depth analysis in order to fully understand it’s secrets.
Rebels is starting to gain some traction and we see it especially in the relationship between Seth and Mercy. While Seth is away Mercy must make sure all the chores are done and the house doesn’t burn. She feels like the adult and Seth is the child who gets to run away from responsibility and run around with his friends. On the other side of the coin, though, Seth is trying to help with the revolution.