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
Writer:
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
Writer:
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.

Comic of the Week: Meet the Skrulls #1

Meet the Skrulls #1 is out as of 3/6/2019.

By d. emerson emmy — I'm a sucker for spy infiltration thrillers. I love the feeling of an unexpected reveal of a character right under your nose being something other than what was shown previously. When you find out that the character than you loved is really working for the bad guys. Meet the Skrulls isn't exactly that, we already know that they're infiltrators. We're let in on the secret from the onset, much more like The Americans, which is kind of how this has been marketed to us, but this first issue still works well as the set-up for a spy thriller.

Across the backdrop of a program, Project Blossom, being implemented that is designed to ferret out and identify Skrulls across the globe, Robbie Thompson, Niko Henrichon, Laurent Grossat, and Travis Lanham introduce us to the Warners, a family of Skrulls infiltrating different levels of society in order to perpetuate their survival. Although they're definitely a foreign invading force, I think it's interesting that their approach isn't necessarily an unsympathetic one. Due to the defeat in Secret Invasion and beyond, there seems to have been a collapse in Skrull society. They're less trying to take over and more fighting for survival.

Don't get me wrong, though, they're still thoroughly evil. As the Elders point out that one member of the family is giving them concerns and require her to be dealt with, adding another complication on top of the family's regular mission, but Thompson does a great job of building these characters and making us at least sympathize for their situation. And the actions through their individual missions are quite compelling.

Henrichon, with color assists from Grossat, bring the story to life nicely. I'd probably buy just about anything Henrichon is illustrating, his work is always beautiful, but he seems particularly suited to this mix of real life espionage and the absurdity of shapeshifters. Combined with a rich colour palette, the artwork works well to make you feel comfortable in reality, but still off-putting enough with the reveal of the Skrulls themselves that you always feel like something is not quite right. That uneasiness, almost like the sensation of uncanny valley, just elevates the overall feel and tone of the story.

Also enhancing the overall feel for the story is the lettering from Lanham. There's a nice variety of word balloon and narration box styles and fonts, from the creepy singing of the agent murdering Skrulls to the shaky differently coloured balloons of the Skrulls in their own form, that adds to the experience. I really quite like the approach to the Skrull balloons because it subconsciously reinforces their ability to change shape and the idea that they're alien.

Overall, this is an excellent debut. Thompson, Henrichon, Grossat, and Lanham deliver an opening chapter into this thriller that effectively presents an interesting core cast of characters in the family, sets up their own individual foibles and missions, and provides a broader context for their mission that acts well as a hook to see what happens next.

Meet the Skrulls #1
Writer:
Robbie Thompson
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Color Assistant: Laurent Grossat
Letterer: VC's Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel
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: KINO #14 is ‘a shining star for the Catalyst Prime line’

Catalyst Prime: Kino #14 is out 2/27/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — KINO began its life in the Catalyst Prime universe under Joe Casey, Jefte Palo, Todd Klein, and Chris Sotomayor. It was always something unique, a series ostensibly about Alistair Meath, one of the astronauts caught in space in the “Event” that sparked this rise of super-powered individuals within a new shared universe. It spent its time split between an espionage story of trying to find Meath's body and in a simulation patterned after old school comics superheroics that was trying to influence Meath's mind and outlook on life. It was very good, something different that played with comics conventions and told a nicely layered story. I highly recommend checking out those first two collections.

Then Alex Paknadel, Diego Galindo, Adam Guzowski, and Jim Campbell came along and turned the series on its ear with issue #10. Basically that issue gave us an “Anatomy Lesson”, guiding us through the implication that everything we knew was wrong, upending Meath's life, and pointing us in an entirely different direction.

Often times I find that this sort of thing doesn't work in the long term, since it tends to alienate the hardcore fans and generally once the initial shock has worn off, the change becomes somewhat boring. That hasn't even been remotely the case here, as the revelations and integration with what came before just get more interesting. It's more that this entire arc has been the true “Anatomy Lesson” and not just that first issue of the new creative team's run. Because Paknadel, Galindo, Guzowski, and Campbell have taken the elements of espionage, political oversight, not knowing what's reality and what's a simulation, and the simulation itself and continued to develop the situation of two Meaths to a very satisfying conclusion. While we were led to believe that everything was wrong to begin with, maybe it wasn't?

This final issue of the story arc is a fairly bombastic fight between the two Meaths, but one of the things that Paknadel has been weaving into the story from the beginning is manipulation. That still comes through in the explanation for what happened and the “true” Meath's victory and plans going forward, leaving a compelling thread to see where this goes in name of queen and country.

The artwork from Galindo and Guzowski is wonderful, stepping up to the task of presenting this final battle on two fronts; the normal ordinary London and one of brightly coloured vintage comics. Jim Campbell, too, deftly changes approach to lettering during these shifts to the superhero simulation, adding in thought balloons and a more visceral, scratchy approach to sound effects. I love the attention to detail that goes into the presentation of the old school comics style, immersing the reader in that world to great effect.

Overall, KINO has been a shining star for the Catalyst Prime line and Paknadel, Galindo, Guzowski, and Campbell continue to make it glow. It's a very unique take on the spy thriller by way of the superhero, revelling in the style and substance of vintage superhero comics, while telling a thoroughly modern interpretation, rife with suspicion, confusion, and shades of grey. Everything may not always be as it seems in this comic, but what is unquestionable is that this story is well worth your time.

KINO #14
Writer:
Alex Paknadel
Artist: Diego Galindo
Colourist: Adam Guzowski
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Lion Forge / Catalyst Prime
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: Hot Lunch Special #5

Hot Lunch Special #5 is out 2/20/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — I can say unequivocally that Hot Lunch Special is not only one of the best crime comics of 2018/2019, it's also one of the best comics of the same time…period. I'd argue even further beyond that that it's quite possibly one of the best things that I've read this decade. All in a tidy little family crime drama from Eliot Rahal, Jorge Fornés, and Taylor Esposito.

There are the obvious comparisons to Fargo (or really any Coen Brothers movie) in its offbeat approach to storytelling and crime, taking an angle through the food service industry as a front for the illicit business. Yet the crime procedural aspect wasn't really at the forefront, it was more about the family, the Khourys, trying to get revenge for the murder of their youngest in an intimidation attempt gone wrong. It was about the family trying to deal with the loss of someone they held dear as they try to put the pieces back together of a fractured, strained relationship between the siblings and their father.

This final issue launches the ultimate plan for the Khourys revenge on Big Jim Moran for killing Ben. And it's pretty simple, but that simplicity is part of what makes it work. A simple plan, a simple plot, but from it it allows Eliot Rahal to focus still on the characters, making them interesting and unique, even new ones like Pat, all while building them up through dialogue. Then prime the detonator.

That detonator being a part of the plot, but also coming through Jorge Fornés, whose artwork for this series has been incendiary. Fornés has a style that's not dissimilar to David Mazzucchelli with a hint of Steve Lieber, wonderful use of shadow amid a simple thin lined approach, and it works incredibly well for crime comics. Add to that some inventive use of page layouts and panel compositions in ways that can really only be done in comics and it results in a story that also celebrates what you can do in the medium.

Since dialogue is often a very important part of crime drama and family drama, there is a lot of it in this story. It never feels forced or wordy, but it does mean that Taylor Esposito has a gargantuan task ahead of him to make it flow and not feel cramped or overly imposing on each page with his lettering. Working well with Fornés to ensure that the words and pictures aren't competing.

Overall, this has been a wonderful series. It's been an entertaining, offbeat story with some interesting characters and a family that you want to see succeed, even with their shortcomings and hang-ups. Rahal, Fornés, and Esposito wove a good yarn here and I hope that the hint of something more at the end of this story comes true.

Hot Lunch Special #5
Writer:
Eliot Rahal
Artist: Jorge Fornés
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
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: Thor #10 is a masterful look at fathers, sons, and toxic masculinity

Thor #10 is out 2/13/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — For more than six years now, Jason Aaron has been building an epic with Thor Odinson, weaving through god butchery, war with the Shi'ar, strife and upheaval throughout the realms, unworthiness, and flaming wolverines, collaborating with some of the best artists in the business. That list includes Esad Ribic, Russell Dauterman, Steve Epting, Frazer Irving, Christian Ward, and now Mike del Mundo. It has been a wild ride of ups and downs, victories and losses, all working towards the inevitable War of the Realms.

As this series has been counting down to the event, we've been getting one off tales taking stock of where the characters are, how they've been doing, and giving hints as to their preparedness for the oncoming war. This issue does so with Odin, who has essentially become a shell of himself, a drunkard and broken man sitting in the ruined halls of Asgard. This is an exterior state that mirrors his internal conflict. But this issue isn't necessarily a tale of woe and self-pity—though there is a measure of it in Aaron's internal narration for Odin—rather one of “tough love” from an overbearing parent.

A brief, one-page encapsulation of Thor-Odin’s complicated relationship over time.

This fractured father/son dynamic between Odin and Thor has a universal aspect to it of children brought up in homes where we were taught the rigors of what could be considered toxic masculinity, where men are stoic providers for the household, never showing the “weakness” of emotion. This is conveyed here via the juxtaposition of Odin's boorish actions, mocking Thor for crying as a child at thunder, while the narration has Odin searching for how he can simply tell Thor that he loves him, that he's proud of him, but he struggles.

It's heart-rending, but beautifully brought to life in the fluid and action-filled style of Mike del Mundo (along with additional colors from Marco D'Alfonso), who really seems to excel with the inebriated battle sequences between Odin and Thor. The almost shimmering liquidity of del Mundo's regular characters adds a kind of immersive feel to Odin, as though the audience is as well suffering from the effects of his drunkenness. Also, Thor #10 features some very nice page layouts particularly during Odin's visions. And Joe Sabino provides some interesting word balloon changes for the frost giants and Odin's narration boxes.

Overall, much of this volume of Thor has been a kind of heavy metal whirlwind through the Ten Realms and beyond as Thor Odinson returns into the series' focus. Here, we still get that in Thor vs. Odin, but Jason Aaron, Mike del Mundo, Marco D'Alfonso, and Joe Sabino go beyond in providing a familial aspect that may be all too familiar to many readers.

Thor #10
Writer:
Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike del Mundo
Colorists: Mike del Mundo & Marco D'Alfonso
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel
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: Red Sonja #1 is a great start from an impressive creative team

Red Sonja #1 is out 2/6/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — Since 2005, Dynamite has been producing some entertaining comics out of the Red Sonja property. From the straightforward high adventure sword and sorcery stories of Michael Avon Oeming, Mike Carey, Mel Rubi, Richard Isanove, and Comicraft—reminiscent of what Dark Horse were doing with sister-property Conan at the time—to the most recent run largely from Amy Chu, Erik Burnham, Carlos Gomez, Mohan, and Taylor Esposito, which mixed a trip to the real world in with some more traditional stories. Some stories have been better than others, but the creators curating Dynamite's output have been doing so very well. Which brings us this new fifth volume, tapping Mark Russell, Mirko Colak, Dearbhla Kelly, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. It's something traditional, but subversive.

Over the past few years, Mark Russell has made a name for himself reinventing and reinterpreting classic properties like The Flintstones, Snagglepuss, and The Lone Ranger, taking the core of the characters and building sociopolitical commentary and satire out of them. He does so here again by framing the tale in the traditional garb of expansionist violence in Red Sonja's kind of iron age setting. The evil empire is there, the guiding prophecy for actions, and the downtrodden poor nation crowning Queen Red Sonja to save them; all the usual set pieces for this kind of fantasy story, but there's an absurdity to the Zamoran Emperor in his quest, trickery in the Hyrkanians getting Sonja to the throne and foisting their problems on to her. That humor, that jab at how this society works within the trappings of the genre, elevates this to something above just a good sword and sorcery tale.

Bringing the story to life is Mirko Colak, who through Brothers Dracul, Kingsway West and Unholy Grail has proven time and again that he's well suited to depicting the grit and heaviness of an unkempt, uncivil world mixed with horror and fantasy, fulfilling what you'd expect of the visuals of a Red Sonja or Conan comic. Dearbhla Kelly aids this look well, largely painting the world in earthy tones, keeping everything relatively dusty and dirty, save for the Emperor in purple and Sonja's hair, setting them apart visually from the landscape. Staying true to that fantasy aesthetic, aside from looking gorgeous, is also one of the reasons why the humor works. Since the artwork is playing this straight, the more absurd riffs in the dialogue and events stand out better.

Rounding out the creative team is Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, whose lettering here, in Shanghai Red and The Lone Ranger, is quickly becoming a standout. The sign of a good letterer is usually not noticing them, letting them provide a subtle backbone for the story. When you get too flashy, the lettering can overpower the art and distract from the storytelling. Otsmane-Elhaou has been utilizing effects, changes in fonts, word balloon & dialogue box shape, size, and color in ways that overall enhance and enrich the types of stories being told in a fashion that reminds me of Todd Klein and Gaspar Saladino.

Overall, I was very impressed by this new first issue of Red Sonja. It works on that surface level of being an entertaining sword and sorcery tale, and if that's all that you want out of it, you'll still be pleased. But Russell, Colak, Kelly, and Otsmane-Elhaou are also starting what looks like a deeper story that plays with those traditional story elements in new and humorous ways.

Red Sonja #1
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colorist: Dearbhla Kelly
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite
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: Action Comics #1007 is a must-read chapter in the Bendis Superman run

Action Comics #1007 came out 1/30/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — Last year, Brian Michael Bendis walked across the aisle in terms of Big Two comics publishers. After nearly two decades of shaping the Marvel Universe, he hung up his Spider-tights and donned a pair of red underoos at DC. It was a pretty big deal, probably one of the biggest exclusivity changes we've seen in the past 10 years. Some people cheered, some jeered, some waited patiently to see what would occur. I shrugged, because I wasn't reading any DC Comics at the time of the announcement and wouldn't again until recently. I just knew I was going to miss Bendis' writing on Jessica Jones and Defenders.

Fast forward to late last year, when the temptation for The Sandman Universe and Jinxworld titles became too great. I started with those titles, before giving the broader DC Universe a chance again. Although I may have some trepidation at some bleaker corners of their publishing, I feel like Brian Michael Bendis has become like a shining light for them, a light in the darkness. With the Superman titles, Wonder Comics, and Jinxworld, I feel like he's been rejuvenated. Some of his familiar writing quirks are still there, but not to excess. The dialogue tics and decompressed storytelling approaches are present, but not at the point where they feel overboard. And Cover and Pearl (with the inimitable David Mack and Michael Gaydos respectively) feel like some of the freshest, most inventive work that he's written in years, possibly ever.

It could be the excitement of playing in a new sandbox, but that joy, wonder, and freshness carries over into the Bendis-penned Superman titles as well. People may argue about Superman itself, but I feel like he's nailing Action Comics month in and month out. Action Comics #1007 begins “Leviathan Rises” (or “Leviathan Rising” if you go by the cover) that promises to unearth secrets of the DC Universe, and this is a promising start. There have been hints of things going on since #1001, but this issue starts with a bang when it comes to someone targeting other shadowy organizations. It's a decent hook, but what particularly puts the story over the top here is a personal moment between Lois Lane and her father. I won't spoil it, but it's a conversation that will have huge ramifications and is something that you probably don't want to miss.

Steve Epting joins the series to provide the line art for this arc, a perfect choice. Shadowy conspiracy and espionage-tinged stories are his forte, and he shines here. Despite the brightness of Superman's world, he brings a tinge of darkness from the corners in the attacks on the other secret societies and black ops organizations. Those attacks are also beautifully enhanced by the explosion effects provided by Brad Anderson. It's nice to see the contrast between Superman's bright, bold colors and the darkness of an organization like Kobra as well. I'd also go back to the conversation between Lois and her father, wherein Epting and Anderson play it out like a spy meeting her handler for the first time in years in its composition and coloring, adding a nice tension to the entire scene. And Josh Reed serves as the backbone again for the series with his lettering. There's a quite nice effect with the “Faith to Kali Yuga!” chants.

Overall, Bendis, Epting, Anderson, and Reed provide a good jumping-on point here with Action Comics #1007. Although it does build on what's come before, it's not absolutely necessary to have read since the run started with #1001, giving you more than enough to be hooked by this issue alone. The mystery of the attacks and the character work pretty much make this unmissable if you're a Superman fan. It's also laying some of the groundwork for the future of the DC Universe. I'd suggest getting in now.

Action Comics #1007
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Steve Epting
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

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: Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 is a new start with much love for the original

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 is out 1/23/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — Into each generation a slayer is born...or reborn as it were. To many my age Joss Whedon's television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, even Dollhouse, served as a backbone to our cultural development. Particularly Buffy and Angel since they came first. They informed a lot of our attitudes towards the world, reflected many of our musical tastes and speech patterns, and all around showed a world where it was all right to be the outcast, the fringe, the geeky nerd, because you'd be accepted into a family of like-minded weirdos. And, of course, you'd look fabulous while dusting vamps.

It's been 15 years since Buffy and Angel have been on the air, in that time culture has changed, in some ways evolved, in some ways regressed. In those intervening years, Dark Horse and IDW continued on the legacy of the Whedonverse, sometimes taking it to welcome places, sometimes strange. At times for me it was like checking in with a friend that you've lost touch with and grown apart, but when you see one another you're picking up old conversations like you've not lost a beat. Because the memory remains.

BOOM! Studios' new launch of the series does not continue on from any of the previous comics or television series. Instead, it takes us back to a new interpretation of the beginning, and I'm perfectly okay with this. It feels right to start again, especially when it's being done with as much skill, reverence, respect, and outright love of the source material as it is by Jordie Bellaire, Dan Mora, Raúl Angulo, and Ed Dukeshire. The old, familiar faces of Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles are here representing that core configuration. Slightly different than before, but still capturing that same spirit.

With Redlands, Jordie Bellaire has proven that she can write horror and the supernatural very well. With this first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she transports some of that with the usual vampires and ancient relics and such, but she also shows an ear for the catchy dialogue and banter that was a hallmark of any Whedonverse joint. It's not a copy of Whedon and co.'s dialogue patterns, but like the overall story, it captures the spirit.

Likewise with Dan Mora's gorgeous artwork. His approach to likenesses is interesting, because the characters are recognizably Sarah Michelle Gellar, Allyson Hannigan, et al. yet simplified. He makes the characters his own, such that we don't have any of the common bizarrely over-rendered stars in a comic compared to the supporting and background characters. And equally excels with the action as with the quieter interpersonal moments.

Raúl Angulo's colors perfectly complement Mora's line art, giving the series a somewhat ethereal glow. It reminds me somewhat of the color approach that the “New Riverdale” line from Archie Comics had of mixing some of those classic vibrant comics colours with a bit of a modern haze. It works really well for adding atmosphere to the story.

Ed Dukeshire rounds out the creative team here, performing his usual exemplary job of providing some tight lettering, showing some interesting variation for vampires and the narration.

Overall, this relaunch is very well done. As a longtime follower of Buffy and the Scooby Gang, I think that Bellaire, Mora, Angulo, and Dukeshire have done a very good job at capturing the spirit of the property while also weaving it into a new and compelling story. Even if you've somehow never experienced Buffy the Vampire Slayer before, it introduces well to the cast and the overall premise and tone of this new series. There are also some surprise appearances and a twist in the tale that should have everyone champing at the bit to see the next issue.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1
Writer:
Jordie Bellaire
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Raúl Angulo
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Price: $3.99

Check out past Comic of the Week selections by d. emerson eddy on the list 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: Jessica Jones - Purple Daughter #1 is the best of Marvel’s digital-only comics

Jessica Jones - Purple Daughter #1 is out 1/16/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — For a while now, Marvel's digital original program on Comixology and Kindle has been producing some very high quality, highly compelling, and entertaining stories without exception, including Cloak & Dagger, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Daughters of the Dragon, and, for my money the best of the bunch, Jessica Jones.

That first series from Kelly Thompson, Mattia De Iulis, Marcio Takara, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Cory Petit, dubbed Blind Spot, presented an interesting case of revenge, death, and bizarre duplicates that was highly inventive, beautifully rendered, and had snappy, funny dialogue that carried on the best of Brian Michael Bendis' quirks with the character. In the final issue, it also set up the horrifying nightmare that gives us the hook for this series: Jessica and Luke's daughter, Danielle, is now purple.

Finding out that your daughter potentially isn't who you thought she was, or in Luke's case potentially not even his, is terrifying. Especially when Jessica has had such a twisted, abusive relationship with the Purple Man since back in her original Alias series. It's probably one of the most deeply invasive, thoroughly disturbing tales of violation in Marvel's comics, and I'm amazed by the amount of depth, understanding, and clarity that Kelly Thompson brings to this story through the dialogue and narration. It also still has some black humor to break the tension, but be forewarned that this goes into some dark, serious territory.

Returning for the art duties is Mattia De Iulis, who proves again that he's just an incredible artist. De Iulis' characters are beautiful, showing incredible emotional range through facial expressions and body language that just makes you want to go back and stare at the pages again, reading the comic silently. And his color art elevates it even further. His approach to color, line weight, shadow, and lighting reminds me a lot of Frazer Irving, but not nearly as exaggerated in approach. This is a very beautiful looking comic.

I know that buying digitally may not be for everyone, but I think Marvel does a good job at balancing value for your dollar with these series. You're essentially getting what would be two print comics for the price of a dollar more with these singles, and, even if this were printed physically at the same time as digital release, it's still among the best that Marvel are publishing right now. Kelly Thompson, Mattia De Iulis, and Cory Petit are delivering a solid, haunting, and entertaining story here that's well worth your time and pixels.

Jessica Jones – Purple Daughter #1
Writer:
Kelly Thompson
Artist: Mattia De Iulis
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel
Price: $4.99

Check out past Comic of the Week selections by d. emerson eddy on the list 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.