IN SHOPS THIS WEEK:
WELCOME BACK #1
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Jonathan Brandon Sawyer
Colorist: Carlos Zamudio
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Description: Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of different lives throughout time, caught up in an eternal cycle as they take part in a war so old that neither side remembers what they’re fighting for anymore. As Mali wakes up in her newest life, she suddenly becomes self-aware and starts to question everything, especially why she continues to fight. But elsewhere, Tessa is already on the hunt…
Our Take: I have joked in the past about changing the name of this column to “Sebelaworld” and at this point I’ve stopped finding that funny. I mean, it’s his fault for always writing stories that just fit perfectly into the Destroy The Brain niche but I mean I could just not talk about his books. So how about artist Jon Sawyer? His previous big title was Critical Hit, a Black Mask Studios joint, coincidentally the publisher whose Young Terrorists is talked about in this very column. Sawyer has a relentless, dense style that’s expressive but controlled, though a times pages can become chaotic and require deeper parsing, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, forcing the reader to stop and smell the roses. Sawyer is helped immensely by colorist Carlos Zamudio, whose work I could write paragraphs about. Take, for example, a panel late in the issue features the protagonist in the far background, a corona of agonized red blooming across the bus window behind her as a phantasmic gathering fills the bus around her, all a washed out green-blue-gray, while in the very foreground, the barely visible bus driver is colored normally, contrasting eerily. Letterer Shawn Aldridge punctuates the tale carefully, using a gradient of expressive green-blue to distinguish the many internal monologues while also peppering the pages with subtle but key SFX, like a dog’s bark, the splat of hot coffee across a floor, etc. Welcome Back is yet another hit for Sebela, thanks to an artistic crew that makes a predictable riff on reincarnation into a wild, beautiful and intensely dark ride of nonstop action.
YOUNG TERRORISTS #1
Writer: Matt Pizzolo
Artist: Amancay Nahuelpan
Colors: Jean-Paul Csuka
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Description: The daughter of an assassinated globalist kingpin breaks out of an internment camp and leads her fellow escaped prisoners in a battle against an elitist conspiracy of shadow governments, megabanks, and military juntas in this edgy and subversive sci-fi thriller.
Our Take: Hoo-boy. Let me say this about Young Terrorists: when I was done reading, I was honestly winded. It’s brutal, for sure. The story is a messy but exhilarating stew of scathing political diatribes, explosive action and dystopian drama. Writer Pizzolo also deserves some credit for making the primary protagonist of this issue a queer male, characterized in a relatable way, but there’s an extended sequence of “fake” lesbian sex that seems far too inconsequential to deserve so much visual real estate. Artist Amancay Nahuelpan unblinkingly renders it all in a clean, strong style that varies enough in POV to stay fresh without getting in the way. The violence is as graphic as it can get but its Nahuelpan’s strong portrayals of emotion that truly add power to the story. Colorist Jean-Paul Csuka has an equally vivid presence, blanketing Young Terrorist‘s world in shadows and grime but balancing it with lurid hues of red and purple. The full page spread of a character sleeping in a snowy roadside ditch has a dismal, miserable pallor of blue-gray that still has enough variation and richness to be memorable. It’s a hard comic to read for the right reasons. It’s intensely rewarding and promising at the same time, the way challenging art should be.
OXYMORON: THE LOVELIEST NIGHTMARE #1
Writer: John Lees, Tyler James
Artist: Alex Cormack
Colors: Jules Rivera
Publisher: Comix Tribe
Description: An afflicted detective hunts a serial killer obsessed with contradiction, who is painting a bloody canvass of carnage with the entrails of politicians and power brokers in the corrupt city she calls home.
Our Take: We’re John Lees fans around these parts. Thus, it saddened me more than a bit that my LCS did not have this comic on the shelf. I have not explored the outer reaches of my city for a copy and I hope to acquire one at some time to make my own appraisal of the book. That said, this is also Tyler James’ baby, having established the character in The Red Ten and the spin-off Oxymoron collection, so having the two of them working together on the book is promising enough. The returning Alex Cormack is a perfect illustrator for the job and colorist Jules Rivera will bring the pain as well. The preview below gets its points across about as tactfully as that pun. If you can find it, I strongly recommend snagging a copy and hold on with your life.