Comic of the Week: Last Stop on the Red Line #1 is an intriguing mix of crime and horror

By d. emerson eddy — There are many different kinds of horror. Some horror stories are straightforward monster tales, with a slasher out to get you. Others are more insidious, doling out terror via psychological means. Recently, there has been a push towards mixing the sub-genres, working through ideas and themes that are common across them, and presenting a more cerebral kind of horror, utilizing the things that go bump in the night to make you think about more of the existential terrors in your everyday life. Last Stop on the Red Line #1 appears to be one of those things.

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Comic of the Week: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6, a poignant story of everyday heroics

By d. emerson eddy — Every now and again there is a story in comics that kind of blindsides you, something profound, poignant, and moving that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Stories that tackle difficult subject matter in a heartfelt, intelligent way that often can only be told through the allegory of super-heroes and how powerless even godlike beings are in the face of certain forces. Marvel has done a number of these in recent years, including the gun issue of Champions #24, and Deadpool #20's handling of a suicidal girl. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 doesn’t quite deal with a big issues topic, like gun control or suicide, but it’s…

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Comic of the Week: Self/Made #6 is a layered and complex finale

By d. emerson eddy — Since the first issue, Self/Made has been about change. Unexpected change and strange revelations, but change nonetheless, going from one state of being to the next. A large part of that has been rooted in playing with genre conventions and upending the status quo from issue to issue, so I don't want to go into detail about the plot so much, but I will say that the structure of revealing layers upon layers as the story progresses, like an onion, is one of the freshest narrative methods I've seen in some time. It's not so much an “everything you know is wrong” type of shock, but a continuous evolution of perspective. There is always…

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Comic of the Week: Ghost Tree #1 is a well-done opening chapter for a horror story

By d. emerson eddy — I'm a sucker for fairy tales, folklore, and mythology. It doesn't really matter to me where it's from, I'm always interested in what different cultures and peoples came up with for their morality tales, for their explanations of natural events, and everything that formed their core beliefs. There's often a lot of overlap and similarities between the stories, but also some very unique differences that give a perspective to how a culture, or parts of a culture, thinks about certain concepts. Like household gods or ancestors being tied to a family's home serving them as a kind of supernatural protector. And I enjoy seeing differing cultures interpret those folktales from other lands, though I can certainly understand people being put off by…

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Comic of the Week: B.P.R.D. Devil You Know #15 is the end of an epic

By d. emerson eddy — Hellboy celebrated its 25th anniversary just last month. Honouring the plucky little creation of Mike Mignola that began in 1994 featuring a red demon with a funny hand, a pyrokinetic, and a fish guy in a bad disguise searching out frog monsters and a Russian madman. That initial series, Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, planted a figurative seed in the imagination of the world and it would bloom into a multimedia juggernaut. Bearing fruit in the form of Sir Edward Grey: Witchfinder, Lobster Johnson, Abe Sapien, and others, as well as…

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Comic of the Week: Invaders #4 and Namor’s secret history

By d. emerson eddy — Since his surprise heel turn in the most recent volume of The Avengers, Namor has been a difficult character to pin down. This has been true of his motivations and actions lately through the stories in that series, as well as in the Defenders: The Best Defense crossover, and here in the new Invaders series, too. His erratic mood swings, as he went back and forth seemingly indiscriminately between hero and villain, were once explained by an “oxygen imbalance” in his blood, but we were told earlier in this series that this isn't the case now. With all that in mind, this issue begins to explain Namor's hidden history and how it might feed into why…

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Comic of the Week: Jim Henson's The Storyteller - Sirens #1

By d. emerson eddy — Jakub Rebelka is one of BOOM Studios! secret weapons. Like Dan Mora, he's an artist that always turns in interesting, captivating, and beautiful artwork for the company, deeply enriching whichever project that he's working on with his unique character compositions and approach to color. His shapes, lines, and the appearance of almost a mix….

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Comic of the Week: Martian Manhunter #4

By d. emerson eddy — I often spotlight a comic starting a new arc, launching with a new #1 issue, standing alone as a contained story, or ranking as the finale of  a series. I do this because it's easy to talk about a jumping on point or a finished arc as a whole. It gives you a good amount of material to write about in order to entice readers into the world that the creators are building. It's not as easy to pick …

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Comic of the Week: Dungeons and Dragons - A Darkened Wish #1, another excellent comic based on the RPG

Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #1 is out now.

By d. emerson eddy — For some time now IDW has been producing entertaining Dungeons & Dragons comics, with some of the most recent stories following an adventuring party made-up of many pre existing characters from the video games. These books have been largely written by Jim Zub, and the most recent was a hilarious and fitting crossover with Rick and Morty. This new mini-series promises new characters and a new beginning on the Sword Coast of Faern. I suppose it's fitting to set it within the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, since there's a lot of world-building already accomplished, allowing the creators a lot of toys and rules to play with, including some new favorites like kenku, a race of crow-like avians that can mimic the sounds of others.

After starting in the middle of a chaotic battle, B. Dave Walters, Tess Fowler, Jay Fotos, and Tom B. Long flashback to introduce us to a group of adventurers through the point of view of a young wizard, Helene, and her friends as they leave their hometown for the promise of adventure with the White Sails mercenary company. We get some interesting characters in the twins, Karrin and Kerrin, the kenku, Solivigant, and the mysterious dragonborn, Rayonde. Through misadventure following a trip to a tavern, we definitely get the impression that Helene and her friends, new and old, are a bit out of their depth, but still capable at this early stage. Contrasting the formation of the party versus the battle in the present is compelling, hooking us well into trying to figure out what's going on and what happened to move the characters to this point. It's a great set-up for the story and characters, also giving that anticipation for what happens next that you often tend to feel when playing D&D.

What elevates the story even further is the gorgeous artwork from Tess Fowler and Jay Fotos. Fowler is a master of fantasy art, from her work on Rat Queens through to her artwork featuring the characters from Critical Role. She expertly captures and presents unique and captivating designs for human and non-human fantasy characters, giving an immense level of detail when it comes to populating and filling this fantasy world. Just the opening splash page alone gives us a breadth of different and unique attacking forces of Morayans and it only gets more fascinating from there as we're guided through our main cast and finally getting to Mintarn.

Jay Fotos enhances the line art with a rich colorful palette, well-fitting the fantasy setting, with some very nice effects when it comes to depicting magic. The action scenes, in particular, like the opening battle and an early fight with a pack of wolves, show a very nice variety to how Fowler and Fotos are working together to create some visually interesting sequences. Tom B. Long also nicely embellishes the story with some banner-like headers for sequence starts that adds to the feel of the fantasy world.

Overall, I've been impressed with this first issue from Walters, Fowler, Fotos, and Long. It has some richly developed characters and an intriguing hook to see what happens to the party, all with some beautiful artwork.

Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #1
B. Dave Walters
Artist: Tess Fowler
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Publisher: IDW
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

Comic of the Week: The Life and Death of Toyo Harada #1

By d. emerson eddy — Since Valiant Entertainment was acquired fully by DMG last year, the comics have been undergoing a bit of a change. Movement, change, and progress had been one of the themes that outgoing Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons instilled in the publisher since it began operation in 2012, but there's been a bit of uncertainty with Valiant's future direction as editorial has switched about. This current “Breakthrough” initiative appears to be a melting pot of old and new ideas. Outside of Punk Mambo, the series seem to be taking the next steps in a number of ongoing narratives, like Ninjak's story in Killers, the future of 4002 AD in Fallen World, and Toyo Harada's next stage of trying to save the world from itself in this series, The Life and Death of Toyo Harada.

After guiding us through the spark of creation in the universe and a tour of some of Toyo Harada's history from birth through his genesis as a psiot, Joshua Dysart picks up on threads from Imperium and X-O Manowar, as if there's not been a missed beat in the past almost three years. The explosion of cast members, motivations, and such may seem a bit overwhelming to new readers, but, personally, I think it adds a bit of a feeling of chaos and confusion that helps add atmosphere to the story. I've read those previous stories, and though they do give more context to who the characters are, what Harada's motivation has been, and why exactly that debris ring is out there, it doesn't necessarily inform anything for the story that isn't present here in this script. Everything you really need to enjoy it is already here. Toyo Harada sees himself largely as a savior of mankind, who will do anything to essentially save it from itself, redistributing knowledge and power to ensure equality and survival, and those ideas are fascinating.

The story is beautifully brought to life by Mico Suayan, Cafu, and Andrew Dalhouse, with Suayan handling the flashbacks, Cafu the modern sequences, and Dalhouse providing colors atop. The opening spread of creation, from darkness to the spark of light and formation of stars and galaxies is breathtaking. The beauty of the artwork helps ground us through the existential narration. And adds an extra layer of horror when we see Hiroshima at ground level.

Overall, The Life and Death of Toyo Harada #1 gives us a bit more insight into one of Valiant's major players, raising an important question of what kind of monster do you possibly have to become in order to save mankind and what kind of monster you would have to be in order to stop him. It's an interesting moral quandary that Dysart, Cafu, Suayan, Dalhouse, and Sharpe set us down the road toward.

The Life and Death of Toyo Harada #1
Joshua Dysart
Artists: Cafu & Mico Suayan
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant
Price: $4.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.