Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.
THE AUTUMNLANDS: TOOTH & CLAW 2
Ugh, now this book is really pissing me off. If you recall from last time: it's really good. That's still true. You might also recall I said this was close to a comic I've been writing. That's even more true after the second issue. Personal gripes aside, this comic is great. If you're into fantasy stories, I recommend giving this a read no matter what they name is.
Jodorowsky. Manara. I'd be interested in any book by either of these creators, but together? Doing historical fiction? It was too much to resist.
This is one seriously twisted tale. Encompassing the rise of Rodrigo Borgia to pope, through to his family's eventual downfall. This book is filled with corruption, murder, treachery, debauchery, and countless instances of hypocrisy.
The book is good, and I really enjoyed it, but knowing how touchy Americans can be about sex makes it a bit difficult to recommend. So, if you're into historical fiction, either or both of the creators, and can handle some sex and violence, I say give The Borgias a shot.
My love for this book is beginning to waver. The first had an emotional family story with a fantasy twist thrown in. The second issue largely continued that while diving deeper into the fantasy world. Here, in a weird flip, the family moments just didn't resonate with me and the story of child Mikey in the fantasy world was more interesting. Previously, I couldn't stand the whiny child story and wanted to get back to the real world. Now, I want to see more of the war criminals and Kallista. I'll have to see if the next few issues can recapture the fire.
DOC UNKNOWN v1 and v2
I backed the second volume of Doc Unknown when it was on Kickstarter, after reading some of Doc's adventures in the back pages of Five Ghosts (a fantastic series). It's classic pulp, with Lobster Johnson being the closest similarity.
Volume one tells a complete story, including a flashback of Doc's backstory. Volume Two is mostly a collection of stand-alone stories that occasionally reference earlier events or characters while building out Doc's world and overall story.
I was actually reminded of the early issues of Invincible while reading this. In the way that the issues were good, but the team was still getting their feet under them. Given a bit more experience, this team could go from good to great. Both volumes are currently available from Comixology.
STRANGE GIRL v1 - v4
I became a fan of Remender's through Fear Agent and X-Force. Strange Girl was brought to my attention a few years back via a Twitter dust-up over "creator owned" vs "writer owned." That's definitely a conversation worth having, but not here. As a fan of the man's work, I went to Amazon, found a good deal on the box set, and quickly purchased.
Strange Girl begins with the Rapture before jumping ahead a decade to an Earth controlled by demons, lording over the few remaining humans. Bethany, the titular strange girl, learns of a portal to heaven, and she wants in. With a couple humans and a few demons, the band trek across the US and Europe to reach the portal all while trying to avoid getting killed by just about everyone. That sounds pretty heavy when summarized like that, but the series has a lot of humor. It also has a fair bit of religious rhetoric, as Bethany is not at all pleased with how things have shaken out.
There are a half dozen artists credited on the slipcase, over the course of 18 issues. To say the art is inconsistent is a bit of an understatement. While certainly an interesting read, I have a difficult time recommending it. If the above sounds like your kind of thing, go for it. The slipcase seems to have rocketed in price, though there's an omnibus that's more reasonable.